Sunday, October 30, 2011

‘Hide the Decline’ – Part Deux

CO2 Insanity

Here we go again. More questionable warmer data released, which only takes a short period of time to be discredited. Yet more unprecedented, irrefutable proof going down the global warming toilet. That this was touted as the “scientific study that ended the global warming debate once and for all” is laughable.

From the Daily Mail we get this information:

It was hailed as the scientific study that ended the global warming debate once and for all – the research that, in the words of its director, ‘proved you should not be a sceptic, at least not any longer’.

Professor Richard Muller, of Berkeley University in California, and his colleagues from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST) claimed to have shown that the planet has warmed by almost a degree centigrade since 1950 and is warming continually.

Published last week ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, next month, their work was cited around the world as irrefutable evidence that only the most stringent measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can save civilisation as we know it.

Amazing timing these warmers appear to have . The inconvenient truth is conveniently published a mere week prior to the next global warming cabal with key words and phrases such as irrefutable, stringent and save civilization. So, what’s the problem with this irrefutable evidence?

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis.

No scientific basis? My, what a big surprise! (Not!)

Like the scientists exposed then by leaked emails from East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit, her colleagues from the BEST project seem to be trying to ‘hide the decline’ in rates of global warming.

In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

Tucson citizens respond to the choice by mayor and council to defy U.S. and state constitutions

Defense Lobby in Full Tilt as Corporate Welfare Receives Public Scrutiny


Defense giant Lockheed Martin had a totally sweet quarter, raking in $700 million and looking forward to the same this time next year. So it raises eyebrows when Lockheed’s anointed mouthpieces predict mass economic disaster if Congress touches the defense budget.

On Tuesday, the aerospace industry put out a report saying that chopping the defense budget would put over a million Americans out of work. Cuts that could total up to a trillion dollars over 10 years would “devastate the economy and the defense industrial base and undermine the national security of our country,” said Marion Blakeley, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, which sponsored the report.

But while Blakeley’s group paid for research to draw that dire conclusion, some of her members reported a sunnier economic outlook to their shareholders. In its third-quarter earnings report, also released Tuesday, Lockheed – manufacturers of the F-22 and F-35 jets — told investors to expect that as long as Congress passes President Obama’s next defense budget, ”the Corporation expects 2012 net sales to be flattish as compared to 2011 levels, and that consolidated 2012 segment operating profit margin will remain at approximately 11 percent.” Boom: another $700 million in earnings, on its way.

While there’s no doubt that defense cuts will mean job losses, there’s also no doubt that a report prepared for an industry so reliant on defense cash will paint a stark picture of what happens if that cash is threatened. Congressmembers looking to get reelected pay attention, since fighting for defense money as a jobs program is easier than making a case for what a sensible, appropriately funded defense strategy ought to be. That’s the problem with reports like these: They make it easy to ignore structural economic and defense problems and imply that all will be well if the cash keeps flowing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Oakland Rubber Bullet Bruise

Shooting people giving aid to the wounded is a violation of the Geneva Accords.

Retired Pakistani Interior Minister: Injustice and Poverty Root causes of Terrorism

The International News
Interior Minister Lt Gen (retd) Moinuddin Haider on Sunday said that world development is unbalanced despite the IMF and World Bank claims of helping the poor nations and alleviating poverty.

He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a TB clinic in the Manora Health Project being run by the Hamdard University Hospital for the denizens of Manora Island.

Moin said: “The IMF and World Bank say they are helping alleviate poverty but we see unbalanced development causing despondency and frustration.”

The minister said he had asked foreign journalists in Islamabad to investigate the root causes of terrorism world-wide. He counted inequality, injustice and poverty the root causes of terrorism, besides finding a nexus between poverty and violence responsible for the unrest in the third world Muslim countries.

“With limited employment opportunities one has to work from dawn till dusk,” he added, “even after a full day of labour people cannot feed their children adequately and few of their acquaintances do get beyond their means without working, which flares up frustration at mass level.”

The minister stated that the rampant injustice was influencing the mindset of people in Pakistan, where justice and rule of law have yet to find its way. Only justice and law can keep the mental temperature down to normal level, he said and added, “300 psychiatrists for 140 million people are too few.”

Moin observed that both injustice and imbalance would breed disturbance and negative thoughts, which could only be ironed out with strong family support and care. He said Islam is a peaceful religion as it advocates self-contentment. “Religion is an anchor which helps us come out of mental stress.”

CIA Criminal Revolving Door: CIA Officer “Albert” Involved in False Intelligence Linking Al-Qaeda to Iran, Iraq

Boiling Frog
Kevin Fenton

A recent book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows that the same CIA officer was involved in generating intelligence that falsely linked al-Qaeda to first Iran and then Iraq. The officer was also involved in a notorious torture episode and was reprimanded by the Agency’s inspector general.

The officer, who Soufan refers to as “Fred,” but whose real first name is “Albert” according to a February 2011 Associated Press article, served at the CIA station in Jordan in 1999. During that time, al-Qaeda, aided by a collection of freelance terrorists headed by Abu Zubaidah, attempted to commit a series of attacks in the country, known as the Millennium Plot. However, the attacks were foiled by the local Jordanian intelligence service, working with the CIA and FBI.

During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn. Although the withdrawing of the cables was first mentioned in a July 2006 article by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, Wright did not mention what was in the cables or by whom they were drafted. The content of one of them and the drafter were first revealed upon the publication of Soufan’s book in mid-September 2011.

According to Soufan, one of the twelve withdrawn cables falsely stated that the group of terrorists later arrested for the Millennium Plot in Jordan was linked to Iran. Albert’s reasoning for this was that the group had trained in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, an area of high activity by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Therefore, the group in Jordan had to be working with Hezbollah and be backed by Iran.

Soufan was also sending reports to Washington, and someone in DC noticed that Albert claimed a link to Iran while Soufan did not. An investigation followed and Soufan was proved right—the Millennium Plot had nothing to do with Iran—leading to the withdrawal of Albert’s cables. In his book, Soufan attributes Albert’s error to “a tendency to jump to conclusions without facts.”

Albert had previously worked with the FBI as a translator, but had failed to make agent status, and Soufan says he was reputed to bear a grudge against the Bureau for this slight.

The contents of the other eleven cables that had to be withdrawn are unknown.

The second episode, where Albert played a part in the generation of false information that helped justify the invasion of Iraq, is notorious. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a senior militant training camp commander in Afghanistan, was captured by US forces and turned over to the FBI towards the end of 2001. Al-Libi was being interrogated by George Crouch and Russell Fincher, an FBI agent a group of CIA officers had withheld information from in the run-up to 9/11. Al-Libi was co-operating with Crouch and Fincher, and had even provided information about an ongoing plot in Yemen.

Albert burst into the interrogation room, told al-Libi that information about plots in Yemen was meaningless, and made threats against him. As a result of this, al-Libi clammed up and refused to provide more information that day. Albert was subsequently banned from Bagram air base, where the interrogation was being conducted.

Hypocrisy's Elegant Symmetry

Fukushima Radioactive Fallout Much Worse than Previously Reported

The nuclear power plant in Japan crippled by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, released nearly twice as much radiation as the government claimed.
Researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research examined dozens of radiation monitoring stations throughout Japan and across the world and concluded that the amount of the primary contaminant, cesium-137 (an isotope with a 30-year half-life), that escaped into the atmosphere was about double the quantity estimated by Japanese officials.
The experts also reported that, despite what the Japanese government has claimed, the spent fuel rods stored at the Fukushima Daiichi plant contributed to the radiation release and that this added trouble could have been mitigated by a faster flooding of the pool that contained the fuel rods.
The report blames the unnaturally low Japanese estimate on the fact that Japanese scientists only measured radiation inside Japan.  Only about 20% of the total fallout landed over Japan. Most of the rest fell over the Pacific Ocean, and some drifted all the way to North America and Europe.
Even though clouds of radioactive cesium-137 passed over Tokyo, the city was saved from serious contamination because the weather was dry and the clouds swept by without the cesium-137 falling on densely populated regions.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

The New Libya: Assassination, Ruination, Broken Promises and Body Snatching...

Global Research
Felicity Arbuthnot

Saif Quaddafi
       “As usual, we swim in a pile of dishonorable politicians. An Arab poem describes how the rotten rubbish floats to the top of the water while all the gems - corals and precious fish - stay at the bottom.” (An Arab friend.)

If events of the past few days are anything to go by, the UN-NATO insurgent allies are set to bring a grim, lawless, murderous and fundamentalist future to the “New Libya.”

Polygamy is set to return as the disenfranchisement of women, the West’s new friend and interim leader, Mr Jalil has declared. (He didn’t put it quite like that, but the particular interpretation of Sharia Law he espouses, does.)

A country which had health, education and welfare services of which most could only dream(i) is also set to instantly revert fifty years. Flying King Idris’ flag, Libya is being plunged seamlessly back to his era of illiteracy and neglect.

It will not get better. Britain is already demanding that bombarded, bereaved, largely broken Libya, pay compensation for its “liberation.” No, not satire, see:ii.

Libya also has its very own Falluja, in the fled, dead and now destroyed city of Sirte, flooded, ruined and heart rending. It also has its own Basra Roads. See the melted, bombed vehicles leaving Sirte and across Libya. Those inside them also melted or vaporized, a mirror image of that 1991 US massacre of the fleeing in Iraq..

Soon Libya will also have its own living memorials to their release from free healthcare, gasoline too cheap to meter and the highest living standard in Africa: deformed babies from the radioactive and chemically toxic depleted uranium weapons which rained down on them. Another mirror image of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans where these weapons were also used.

The events though, of the last days, have shone a light on the grim reality of the future for the population. The shocking spectacle of Colonel Quaddafi and his son’s bodies, displayed to the public, in a meat cooler in a mall, until decomposition forced a furtive, body snatch and night time burial in an undisclosed location, hardly bodes well for the “human rights” to come.

Neither does the breaking of the commitment to return the bodies to the remaining, so far, un-murdered family (iii.)

Their: “corpses should be dumped in the desert to be eaten by foxes”, stated one “liberator”, claiming that at the deaths: “we all took turns to stamp on” the former Leader’s face, some hitting it “with shoes.”

When Aisha Quaddafi called her father, minutes after his death, reports state that one of the thugs answered the call telling her: “Fuzzy head is dead.”

Aisha lost her husband and baby in a NATO bombing in July. She is an internationally respected lawyer, whose cases have included being part of Saddam Hussein’s defence team and who also defended Muntader Al Saidi, the journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush in Baghdad, for: “the widows, the orphans ..” the former President had created in Iraq, on his declared “Crusade.”

She is also a former Good Will Ambassador for the United Nations. One can only speculate how much good will she feels towards a UN which has endorsed the murder and plunder of family, people and land, now. She had lost her father, four brothers, her baby daughter, with her two little cousins, within little over three months.

One (of many) questions which should be answered over the shoddy, surreptitious disposal of the bodies of Libya’s rightful leader, his son and his Defence Minister, Abu Bakr Younis, is, if the stated reason is because the insurgents did not want his last resting place to “become a shrine”, was he really the monster Washington and Whitehall have trumpeted? Or did the “coalition” just have an eye on the resources he stubbornly kept, largely for the benefit of his people?

America’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate “first black” President, has declared the death of Muammar Quaddafi: “A momentous day in the history of Libya.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Student loans? "Don't worry, be happy."

The Examiner
William Heuisler

To further an altruistic notion that every American needs to go to college government encourages everyone to borrow…because taxpayers will pay.

Tuesday, President Obama announced Improved Income-Based Repayment (IBR), a plan to allow student tuition-loan borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 10% of their discretionary income as soon as 2012. The new government policy supposedly saves students lots of money. Bottom line? Income adjusted deferred repayments will stretch schedules beyond the reasonable capacity of conventional lenders to carry the debt.

Imagine car dealers saying, “Take the new car. Pay when you can afford to.”

And who underwrites these generous policies? US Taxpayers, of course.

Over 20 years, college tuition has increased twice as fast as the cost of living. Student debt grew from under $200 billion eleven years ago to more than $1 trillion this year. Average student debt is $23,000 (up 8 % from 2010). Students owe more to colleges than everybody owes credit card companies. From 2005 to 2008, college tuition increased four times faster than the Consumer Price Index. In 2011 college tuition increased almost 8 % in all US State Colleges. (Lewin, 2008)

Arizona’s State Universities voted to raise 2012 tuition for instate students an average of 18.8%. Tuition increased 22% at UofA to $10,027; increased 19.5 % at ASU to $9,716; and increased 15% at NAU to $8,824. Added to the flood of tuition money, Arizona State Universities will receive more than $692 million in State taxpayer Funding next fiscal year. (Meyers, 2011)

The Death Of Global Warming Skepticism, Or The Birth Of Straw Men?

Editor's Note:  This article suggests that there are positive aspects to the warming trend, but indigenous populations worldwide report that the warming trend has already produced extreme, often negative effects on the environment in different territories.  This article is chosen because it spells out the most obvious point: the Berkeley Study is merely confirming a past warming trend - not the cause of the warming trend.  Timing is also a likely factor for the BBC's hysterical article about the study, which appears to be so clean that it contradicts the desired outcome of its funding sources.   Reporting of the Berkeley study occurs two weeks after the court in Virginia ruled against Michael Mann and his ridiculous attempt to prevent public disclosure of the data used in his taxpayer-funded studies.   If the Berkeley study was as rigorous as they claim, shouldn't this have been the appropriate action for East Anglia instead of investing in a PR firm?

Forbes Magazine
James Taylor

The mainstream media has been spiking the football in the proverbial end zone ever since a paper released last Friday claimed two-thirds of global temperature stations show some warming occurred during the past century. The media have been claiming the new paper delivers a death blow to skepticism, but the paper itself brings almost nothing new to the global warming debate and instead shows how far global warming advocates are from presenting credible evidence of a crisis. Rather than delivering a death blow to skepticism, the media has merely invented and shredded an insignificant straw man.

University of California, Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller analyzed land-based temperature readings from temperature stations around the world and found two-thirds indicate warming temperatures and one-third indicate cooling temperatures. As a result, “Global warming is real,” summarized Muller in an editorial he wrote in the October 21 Wall Street Journal .

Muller acknowledged that many of the stations produced incomplete temperature records and had poor quality control. He claimed that he nevertheless included them in the study to avoid “data-selection bias.” Scientists such as Anthony Watts have pointed out several additional flaws in the Muller paper. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Muller’s paper is flawless in its conclusion that two-thirds of land-based temperature stations report warming rather than cooling. Even under such an assumption, Muller’s paper does nothing to dispel skeptical objections to the theory that humans are causing a global warming crisis.

The case for a human-induced global warming crisis requires the demonstration of several components. These include (1) that global temperatures are rising, (2) that global temperatures will likely continue to rise in the future, (3) that the rise in temperatures is or will be sufficiently rapid and substantial to cause enormous negative consequences that far outweigh the benefits of such warming and (4) that human emissions of greenhouse gases account for all such temperature rise or enough of the temperature rise to elevate the temperature rise to crisis levels.

Gadhafi son seeks flight to Hague war crimes court

The Vancouver Sun

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi
DUBAI - Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, fearing for his life if captured in Libya, has tried to arrange for an aircraft to fly him out of his desert refuge and into the custody of the Hague war crimes court, a Libyan official said on Thursday.

Details were sketchy and confirmation not available but a picture has built up since his father's grisly killing while in the hands of vengeful rebel fighters a week ago that suggests Moammar Gadhafi's 39-year-old heir-apparent has taken refuge among Sahara nomads and is seeking a safe haven abroad.

Even if he can still draw on some of the vast fortune the Gadhafi clan built up abroad during 42 years in control of North Africa's main oilfields, his indictment by the International Criminal Court at The Hague over his efforts to crush the revolt limits the options open to Saif al-Islam.

That may explain an apparent willingness, in communications monitored by intelligence services and shared with Libya's interim rulers, to discuss a surrender to the ICC, whereas his mother and surviving siblings simply fled to Algeria and Niger.

The Court, which relies on signatory states to hand over suspects, said it was trying to confirm the whereabouts and intentions of Saif al-Islam and ex-intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, the third man indicted along with the elder Gadhafi.

A source with Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), which drove the Gadhafis from power in Tripoli in August, told Reuters the two surviving indictees were together, protected by Tuareg nomads, in the rugged wilderness of the "Triangle", close to the borders of Algeria and Niger.

"Saif is concerned about his safety," the source said. "He believes handing himself over is the best option for him."

The younger Gadhafi, once seen as a potential liberal reformer but who adopted a belligerent,

win-or-die persona at his father's side this year, was looking for help from abroad, possibly Algeria or Tunisia, to fly out and take his chances at The Hague, where there is no death penalty:

"He wants to be sent an aircraft," the NTC source said by telephone from Libya. "He wants assurances."


ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said the court was trying to confirm the NTC comments and work out how to move the suspects:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Military to Have a Greater Influence in CIA Intelligence Reports

David Petraeus
WASHINGTON — David Petraeus, the former general who led the Afghanistan war and now heads the CIA, has ordered his intelligence analysts to give greater weight to the opinions of troops in the fight, U.S. officials said.

CIA analysts now will consult with battlefield commanders earlier in the process as they help create elements of a National Intelligence Estimate on the course of the war, to more fully include the military’s take on the conflict, U.S. officials say.

Their input could improve the upcoming report card for the war.

The most recent U.S. intelligence assessment offered a dim view of progress in Afghanistan despite the counterinsurgency campaign Petraeus oversaw there and painted a stark contrast to the generally upbeat predictions of progress from Petraeus and other military leaders. Petraeus has made no secret of his frustration with recent negative assessments coming primarily from the CIA, and said during his confirmation hearing that he planned to change the way the civilian analysts grade wars.

The CIA’s analysis makes up the bulk of national intelligence estimates, which help guide the White House and Congress in drafting future policy.

The CIA says Petraeus’ tweaks to the agency’s part of the assessment will add to its accuracy, not tilt the results, and that military commanders’ views were always part of the equation.

“Analytic debate and discussion haven’t been chilled; they’ve been promoted,” CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said.

The change has been backed by National Intelligence Director James Clapper, another senior U.S. official said.

VIDEO - Marine Scott Olsen Moments Before He Was Shot By The Oakland Police, Olsen Now In 'Critical' Condition

If the police claim that Scott Olsen attacked them, show them this clip.

Olsen remains in critical condition. Officials at Highland Hospital in Oakland are refusing further comment at this time. At first, Doctors told Olsen's friends that he was stable. Now they're being told that his skull has been fractured and his brain is beginning to swell. Neurologists are in the process of determining whether or not he will require surgery.

According to Keith Shannon, a friend who served with Olsen in Iraq, Olsen was shot in the head with a tear gas or smoke canister, and he has the scar to prove it. Police policy specifically prohibits the firing of these weapons at a person's head.

Meanwhile, Oakland police admit that they used tear gas and baton rounds, but have denied the use of flash bang grenades (even though this video shows conclusively that an officer lobbed a flash grenade into the crowd attending to Olsen).

Olsen hails from Wisconsin, served tours of Iraq in 2006 and 2007, and is active in both Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Address for the hospital where Scott Olsen is recovering, if you wish to send a card.

Highland Hospital
1411 E. 31st Street
Oakland, CA 94602

Oakland Policeman Throws Flash Grenade Into Crowd Trying To Help Scott Olsen

Endgame: When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy


We hold this to be self-evident: When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy. Today I present an important guest essay by long-time contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis, who suggests that when debt is essentially fraudulent, then debt forgiveness is both the logical and the only remedy. In case you missed his previous analyses on, I list some of Zeus's previous essays at the end of the entry.

Endgame: When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy, by Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D., copyright 2011.

Finally serious economists are considering a position I have been maintaining and writing about since the 2008 financial meltdown. Whatever its name— erasure, repudiation, abolishment, cancellation, jubilee—debt forgiveness, will have to eventually emerge forefront in global efforts to solve an ongoing systemic financial crisis.

“On a grand scale the only way to erase counterfeit money and (counterfeit) assets of hundreds of trillions of dollars is to erase the debts associated with those fake assets. (Let me underscore again, these are not “toxic” assets, they are fake assets.)… Forgiveness in general, and forgiveness of debt in particular, stand as virtues if they free us up to acknowledge, address, and learn from our culpability, start anew, and create forward.” ( The Big Squeeze, Part 3: The Quiet Rebellion: Civil Disobedience, Local Markets, and Debt Erasure (January 29, 2011)
Debt forgiveness, therefore, accomplishes two important things. It eliminates the increasing and outsized portion of productive enterprise to pay off unproductive obligations, and it clears the ground for new opportunities, new thinking, invention, and entrepreneurialism. This is why the ability to declare bankruptcy is so essential in the pursuit of both happiness and innovation.

Currently we are mired in a “new normal” and calls for “austerity” which are nothing more than the delusional efforts of a status quo to avoid the consequences of its own error and fraud and to profit evermore. So bedazzled by the false wealth created by debt multiplication and its concomitant fantasy of ever-higher returns, this status quo continues to be stupidly amazed that people are not spending and that the economy is not picking up. But how could it be otherwise?

America's Endless Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Global Research
Jack A. Smith

The 10th anniversary of Washington's invasion, occupation and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan was observed Oct. 7, but despite President Barack Obama's pledge to terminate the U.S. "combat mission" by the end of 2014, American military involvement will continue many years longer.

The Afghan war is expanding even further, not only with increasing drone attacks in neighboring Pakistani territory but because of U.S. threats to take far greater unilateral military action within Pakistan unless the Islamabad government roots out "extremists" and cracks down harder on cross-border fighters.

Washington's tone was so threatening that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to assure the Pakistani press Oct. 21 that the U.S. did not plan a ground offensive against Pakistan. The next day, Afghan President Hamid Karzai shocked Washington by declaring "God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan.... If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”

At the same time, Washington has just suffered a spectacular setback in Iraq, where the Obama Administration has been applying extraordinary pressure on the Baghdad government for over a year to permit many thousands of U.S. troops to remain indefinitely after all American forces are supposed to withdraw at the end of this year.

President Obama received the Iraqi government's rejection from Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki Oct. 21, and promptly issued a public statement intended to completely conceal the fact that a long-sought U.S. goal has just been obliterated, causing considerable disruption to U.S. plans. Obama made a virtue of necessity by stressing that "Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year."

This article will first discuss the situation in Afghanistan after 10 years, then take up the Iraq question and what the U.S. may do to compensate for a humiliating and disruptive rebuff.

The United States is well aware it will never win a decisive victory in Afghanistan. At this point, the Obama Administration is anxious to convert the military stalemate into a form of permanent truce, if only the Taliban were willing to accept what amounts to a power sharing deal that would allow Washington to claim the semblance of success after a decade of war.

In addition President Obama seeks to retain a large post-"withdrawal" military presence throughout the country mainly for these reasons:

• To protect its client regime in Kabul led by Karzai, as well as Washington's other political an commercial interests in the country, and to maintain a menacing military presence on Iran's eastern border, especially if U.S. troops cannot now remain in Iraq.

• To retain territory in Central Asia for U.S. and NATO military forces positioned close to what Washington perceives to be its two main (though never publicly identified) enemies — China and Russia — at a time when the American government is increasing its political pressure on both countries. Obama is intent upon transforming NATO from a regional into a global adjunct to Washington's quest for retaining and extending world hegemony. NATO's recent victory in Libya is a big advance for U.S. ambitions in Africa, even if the bulk of commercial spoils go to France and England. A permanent NATO presence in Central Asia is a logical next step. In essence, Washington's geopolitical focus is expanding from the Middle East to Central Asia and Africa in the quest for resources, military expansion and unassailable hegemony, especially from the political and economic challenge of rising nations of the global south, led China.

There has been an element of public deception about withdrawing U.S. "combat troops" from Iraq and Afghanistan dating from the first Obama election campaign in 2007-8. Combat troops belong to combat brigades. In a variant of bait-and-switch trickery, the White House reported that all combat brigades departed Iraq in August 2010. Technically this is true, because those that did not depart were simply renamed "advise and assist brigades." According to a 2009 Army field manual such brigades are entirely capable, "if necessary," of shifting from "security force assistance" back to combat duties.

In Afghanistan, after the theoretical pullout date, it is probable that many "advise and assist brigades" will remain along with a large complement of elite Joint Special Operations Forces strike teams (SEALs, Green Berets, etc.) and other officially "non-combat" units — from the CIA, drone operators, fighter pilots, government security employees plus "contractor security" personnel, including mercenaries. Thousands of other "non-combat" American soldiers will remain to train the Afghan army.

According to an Oct. 8 Associated Press dispatch, "Senior U.S. officials have spoken of keeping a mix of 10,000 such [special operations-type] forces in Afghanistan, and drawing down to between 20,000 and 30,000 conventional forces to provide logistics and support. But at this point, the figures are as fuzzy as the future strategy." Estimates of how long the Pentagon will remain in Afghanistan range from 2017 to 2024 to "indefinitely."

Obama marked the 10th anniversary with a public statement alleging that "Thanks to the extraordinary service of these [military] Americans, our citizens are safer and our nation is more secure"— the most recent of the continuous praise of war-fighters and the conduct of these wars of choice from the White House since the 2001 bombing, invasion and occupation.

Just two days earlier a surprising Pew Social Trend poll of post-9/11 veterans was made public casting doubt about such a characterization. Half the vets said the Afghanistan war wasn't worth fighting in terms of benefits and costs to the U.S. Only 44% thought the Iraq war was worth fighting. One-third opined that both wars were not worth waging. Opposition to the wars has been higher among the U.S. civilian population. But it's unusual in a non-conscript army for its veterans to emerge with such views about the wars they volunteered to fight.

The U.S. and its NATO allies issued an unusually optimistic assessment of the Afghan war on Oct. 15, but it immediately drew widespread skepticism. According to the New York Times the next day, "Despite a sharp increase in assassinations and a continuing flood of civilian casualties, NATO officials said that they had reversed the momentum of the Taliban insurgency as enemy attacks were falling for the first time in years.... [This verdict] runs counter to dimmer appraisals from some Afghan officials and other international agencies, including the United Nations. With the United States preparing to withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of this year and 23,000 more by next October, it raises questions about whether NATO’s claims of success can be sustained."

Less than two weeks earlier German Gen. Harald Kujat, who planned his country's military support mission in Afghanistan, declared that "the mission fulfilled the political aim of showing solidarity with the United States. But if you measure progress against the goal of stabilizing a country and a region, then the mission has failed."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Oakland protests - live coverage

Police used tear gas to disperse an Occupy Oakland march overnight, with reports of injuries from rubber bullets or baton rounds. Follow live developments here

Occupy Oakland
Occupy Oakland protesters trying to make a stand and protect their encampment at Frank Ogawa plaza run from tear gas deployed by police. 
10am: Good morning. Police used teargas at Occupy Oakland overnight after scuffles broke out between officers and protesters demonstrating against dozens of arrests.

The 1,000 strong march was intended to reclaim the occupations original base at Frank Ogawa plaza, which police cleared in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

At least 85 people were arrested as the camp was cleared.

Sam Jones writes that on Tuesday afternoon, protesters marched through the streets of Oakland towards city hall, vowing to retake the plaza. During the march, a small group scuffled with police not far from the city centre, and several were arrested.

Reuters reported that police dispersed the crowd with teargas and what appeared to be a stun grenade.
At Frank Ogawa Plaza, police ordered protesters to move away and they were largely co-operative.
"I'm here because I'm incredibly sad and incredibly angry," said one protester, Samsarah Morgan. "I'm hoping our city government comes to their senses and stops dealing with us like a fascist state."
Another protester, Jeremy Tully, a 30-year-old internet company worker, accused the authorities of using unnecessary force.

"I left work early today to come and stand up against the kind of repression that happened this morning," he said.

City chiefs said they had told protesters last Thursday to cease camping and cooking at the plaza. More warnings were issued on Friday and Monday.

Report: US, Afghan Troops Forced Locals to Walk Mined Road

Military News

Villagers in Afghanistan say they were forced to walk ahead of Afghan and U.S. Soldiers along roads in areas believed to be mined by the Taliban.

National Public Radio reports villagers said the Afghan and U.S. troops pulled them from their homes one evening in early September and forced them to walk in front of the troops for more than a mile in the Panjwai district, southwest of Kandahar city.

No one was injured, but if the incident happened, it would appear to violate the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of civilians, NPR said.

The Afghan general in charge of Afghan troops in the Panjwai district and Panjwai's district governor denied the villagers' accounts, while a spokesman for NATO's joint command said the incident was under investigation.
The Panjwai district had been a Taliban stronghold until the U.S. troop surge in 2010 started to displace insurgents, NPR said. The Taliban now use roadside bombs and suicide bombers to fight there, said Faizal Mahmud, the deputy head of Panjwai's council of elders.

He said scores of villagers at a district meeting hall in Panjwai complained last month they had been taken from their homes and forced to walk along roadway in an area believed to be mined by the Taliban.

NPR said local residents corroborated Mahmud's account.

Ahmad, a 22-year-old from Zangabat, said Soldiers forced him to walk along what he believed a mined road.

"[Soldiers] kept telling us to show the mines," Ahmad told NPR. "We said we didn't know where the Taliban planted mines. Then they told us to move forward to the next village [and] on the way if anything happens, you are responsible for the consequences. We kept praying, 'Oh, God, save us.' "

Hillary Clinton knew of Qaddafi ‘White Flag’ truce: US drone fired at Qaddafi convoy after negotiated truce

Asia Tribune

Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi was traveling under a negotiated “White Flag” truce last Thursday in an agreement to leave Libya. More claims from sources inside Misrata, Libya that the Libyan National Transitional Council did in fact agree to allow Qaddafi and his convoy safe passage out of Libya.

In addition rebel sources in Misrata claim US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was informed of the “White Flag” truce negotiated and agreed to by Libya’s NTC while visiting Libya Wednesday October 19.

A widely read Internet blog site Larry reveals the above information noting that the site received them from reliable sources inside Libya.

The question now emerge is whether Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama engage in the firing on a White Flag convoy with the intent to assist in the capture and murder of Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi?

The web site Larry further reports: “It is our opinion that the information received from our sources inside Libya is factual. It has also been reported that journalists were not immediately allowed to report from the site of the US Drone attack on Qaddafi’s convoy until the rebels had the opportunity to dispose of any remaining evidence of the “White Flags” which were clearly connected to the convoy vehicles.”

The question today is: Was Secretary Clinton told of the “White Flag” truce giving Qaddafi safe passage out of Libya? Did Secretary Clinton use this information to prepare a US Drone attack on Qaddafi’s “White Flag” convoy? Who authorized the US Predator Drone strike on the “White Flag” convoy? Will Barack Obama be called to answer for the US firing on a “White Flag” convoy?

Wednesday October 19 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Libya meeting with the Libyan armed rebels. It has come to the attention of Larry Web Site via sources inside Libya that the Qaddafi convoy was traveling under a White Flag of truce which sources say had been negotiated with Qaddafi. If the information concerning a negotiated truce to allow Qaddafi to leave Libya is true and verifiable, and the United States was involved in or even made aware of this agreement, the US Drone strike on the convoy would be in direct violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime.

NYPD Face Gun Smuggling Charges

US cops tried to erase online evidence of brutality

Russia Today

The police block streets near the Oakland City Hall
as the Occupy Oakland protesters march towards the
city hall on October 25, 2011 in California
Google has been asked by a US law enforcement agency to remove several videos exposing police brutality from the video sharing service YouTube, the company has revealed in its latest update to an online transparency report.

Another request filed by a different agency required Google to remove videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. The two requests were among 92 submissions for content removal by various authorities in the US filed between January and June 2011. Both were rejected by Google along with 27 per cent of the submissions.

The IT giant says the overall number of requests for content removal it receives from governmental agencies has risen, and so has the number of requests to disclose the private data of Google users.

Brazil heads the first list with 224 separate demands to remove a total of 689 items from its search results, as well as from YouTube and various other services. Google says its social networking service Orkut is very popular in the Latin American country, which partially explains the number of requests.
Heading the list of countries requesting the disclosure of personal data is the United States, where a total of 5,950 submissions targeting 11,057 user accounts have been filed. Google fully or partially complied with 93 per cent of those requests. Second on the list is India, with 1,732 requests over a six-month period.

Russian officials filed fewer than 10 requests to remove content and 42 requests to disclose user information (which was the first time the number reached Google’s threshold for reporting). The company complied with 75 per cent of the Russian requests concerning content and none of those concerning user data.

Google says it hopes that its report will contribute to the ongoing public discussion on the ways the internet needs to be regulated.

Commenting on the incident, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, points out that YouTube is a public platform and any steps to censor it should be backed with a court order.
Police seem to be advising Google on what material might be breaking the law, and then Google decides to censor this material without a court order,” he said, stressing that a court appearance should be part of making such judgments.

Ultimately, public media seem to becoming more of a police tool to gather evidence. Killock recalled British Prime Minister David Cameron urging the news outlets to hand over material collected during the UK riots – both published and unpublished – to the police.

Obama defies base, hires Wall Street lobbyist for re-election campaign

Daily Caller
Matthew Boyle

President Barack Obama’s new senior campaign adviser is a longtime Wall Street lobbyist, and has the potential to damage the president’s aspirations to appeal to the protesters currently “occupying” New York City’s Zuccotti Park.

Obama’s new adviser, Broderick Johnson, has an extensive history of lobbying for big banks and corporations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2007, he lobbied for JP Morgan Chase and in 2008 Johnson lobbied for Bank of America and Fannie Mae. From 2008 through 2010, he lobbied for Comcast and in 2011 he lobbied for Microsoft.

Johnson is currently a partner at D.C.-based communications firm Collins Johnson Group, which boasts that it excels at “providing superior strategic planning and political consulting services to multinational corporations, government entities, political campaigns and parties, elected leaders, nonprofit organizations, issue groups, investors and entrepreneurs.”

Including open houses and social events, Johnson has visited the White House 17 times since 2009, according to White House visitor logs. One of those meetings was with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.
In early 2009, Johnson was named partner at lobbying firm Bryan Cave LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. In that role, his responsibility was to “establish and lead the firm’s new Public Policy & Governmental Affairs Client Service Group.”

That means that during those White House visits, Johnson was a registered lobbyist.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BREAKING: Oakland Police Use Rubber Bullets, Flash Grenades, And Smoke Bombs To Evict Occupy Oakland

Think Progress

Late last night, Oakland police, under orders from the city, began surrounding the Occupy Oakland encampment in preparation to oust the protesters from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Approximately an hour ago, hundreds of Oakland police officers raided the camp. Dressed in riot gear,

the police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, and gas canisters to forcibly evict and/or arrest the demonstrators who remained in the plaza. The Occupy Oakland Twitter account live-tweeted the raid:

One protester at the scene captured an image of the riot police using smoke bombs:

If you have any video of the raid on Occupy Oakland, feel free to send it to ThinkProgress.

  One protester interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle remained upbeat. “People are going to keep coming back. What are they going to do, send cops in every night and waste taxpayer dollars?” asked Gabe Meyers. “The cops are the 99 percent, but they’re doing the work of the 1 percent. Wall Street is proud of them every time they clear out an encampment.”

One protester captured video under the punkboyinsf UStream account. At 11:40, protesters began chanting, “You are the 99 percent!” to police moving in on the camp. At 17:30 in the following video you can see the police utilizing gas weapons. As the camp is raided, the protester says into the camera, “Sorry guys I can’t be any closer this stuff is going to make me sick,” referring to tear gas. The videographer also claims to have seen a sound cannon being used by the police: 

Video streaming by Ustream

In Few Years, Social Network Data May Be Used in Underwriting

Insurance Journal

The insurance industry is paying increasing attention to what people and businesses post on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Already, scouring Facebook and other social network pages of the insureds is a common practice on the claims side of the business. Many investigators say it’s one of the first things they do when looking into potentially fraudulent claims, including both hard fraud (staging auto accidents, etc.) and soft fraud. (over-reporting damaged values after a fire, etc.)
Crack the Data
Currently, social network data are being used as sources of evidence in courts of law in claims cases. Individual underwriters are retrieving risk evaluation information on their insureds through manual searches on social sites.

But in a few years, automatically mined data from social networking sites could find their way into the underwriting pricing process. It could become a factor in determining premiums for both personal and business insurance, according to a new report from Boston-based research firm Celent. The report, titled “Using Social Data in Claims and Underwriting,” was published on Oct. 10.

Right now, most insurers are using social medium for sales and advertising, Michael Fitzgerald, Celent senior analyst and co-author of the report, told Insurance Journal. “Some are using it in claims. Underwriting is next.”

State regulators have not yet offered official guidelines in terms of overall use of social data. And such data are not yet approved for use in the pricing process, Fitzgerald added. But that could soon change.
Could Offer Similar Insights as Credit Health
“Just as insurers recognize a link between credit health and risk in auto insurance, social data may offer similar insights for insurers who set out to crack the data,” the report stated.

As users interact with multiple social networking sites, purchase items online, and communicate with others in public forums, they leave behind data about their preferences, lifestyle, operations and habits, according to the Celent report. This data can be used to develop a risk profile for an individual or for a company. On the corporate side, companies postings also include descriptions of new product offerings (hence new added risks), services and operations.
Connections and Links
Another piece of useful information is the “social graph,” which shows how individuals or companies are linked together: a picture of who is friends with whom, who follows whom, and what friends of friends people have. In addition to identifying fraud organizations, these graphs can give insurers further insight into how an individual may perform as a risk, based on the behavior of those he or she is connected to.

Such a profile can be used to build a real-time risk profile that can be integrated into an insurer’s existing process and automation environment. They can be compared to any previous risk information about that entity to identify material changes that should be addressed from an underwriting perspective. The data can also be used to develop conclusions as to the attractiveness of a risk at renewal or at policy lapse.
Part of Underwriting in 3 Years
Use of social data is still in its formative stages, but it’s developing rapidly. Celent predicts that over the next three years, social data will be “incorporated into core underwriting and claims processes” and become standard inputs into risk evaluation and settlement activities.

ADL Tries to Remove Israel as a Talking Point in the Presidetial Debates


Anti-Defamation League chief Abraham H. Foxman under fire for releasing 'National Pledge for Unity on Israel,' meant to avoid Israel becoming a debate point in the road to the 2012 presidential elections.

Abraham H. Foxman
In these days of political grandstanding, in the build up to the American 2012 presidential elections, with the constant bickering between the Republicans and Democrats over who really supports Israel in the background, the promise of "bipartisan support" seems to be a naive pledge.

But that didn't prevent the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) from offering Jewish organizations and individuals to join them in signing the “National Pledge for Unity on Israel," aimed, as it stated, "to rally bipartisan support for Israel while preventing the Jewish State from becoming a wedge issue in the upcoming campaign season."

AJC Executive Director David Harris said that all the candidates could agree on "the importance of the long tradition of bipartisan support for our friend and ally, Israel."

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman's explanation stressed that "we want the discourse on U.S. support for Israel to avoid the sometimes polarizing debates and political attacks that have emerged in recent weeks, as candidates have challenged their opponents' pro-Israel bone fides or questioned the current administration's foreign policy approach vis-à-vis Israel."

"The last thing America and Israel need right now is the distractions of having Israel bandied about as a tool for waging political attacks," he added.

"Support for Israel has never been merely a plank in a Republican or Democratic Party or candidate’s platform", the pledge stated, adding: "It is a core American policy that serves our nation’s most fundamental national interests."

"The Jewish community has had a strong interest in ensuring that American support for Israel is one of the critical strategic issues that unites rather than divides parties and officials... Now is the time to reaffirm that Israel’s well-being is best served, as it has always been, by American voices raised together in unshakeable support for our friend and ally," it added.

A couple of days after the pledge landed in the mailboxes of the Jewish activists, Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks issued a combative response, saying: "This effort to stifle debate on U.S. policy toward Israel runs counter to this American tradition. Accordingly, the RJC will not be silenced on this or any issue."

"An open and vigorous debate on the questions confronting our country is the cornerstone of the American electoral process. Allowing the American people to see where candidates stand, pro and con, on critical issues, is the hallmark of our free and democratic political system. For this reason, the RJC will not be a signer to this pledge," he concluded.

Emergency Committee for Israel joined the opposition to the pledge with a blunt opening: "You must be kidding" and promised that "this attempt to silence those of us who have “questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-a-vis Israel” will re-energize us... Directors Harris and Foxman need a refresher course on the virtues of free speech and robust debate in a democracy. Their effort to stifle discussion and debate is unworthy of the best traditions of America, and of Israel."
So far for the unity.

But those who know Foxman did not really expect him to take the contemptuous responses lying down, and he indeed replied, saying that "there has been some distortion of our announcement of the ADL-AJC National Pledge for Unity on Israel.”

"The pledge is not intended to discourage raising questions about a candidate’s support for Israel or the policy decisions of the current administration regarding Israel. In fact, ADL has been outspoken in questioning and even criticizing U.S. policies and positions toward Israel during the last three years. We will continue to raise concerns about those policies and positions when we believe it is warranted, just as we will be supportive when we feel that is appropriate," he said.

What the pledge meant, Foxman explained, was to encourage "measured and thoughtful expressions of different points of view regarding U.S. policy toward Israel. What prompted ADL and AJC to launch this initiative was a desire to ask participants in the political discourse to avoid harsh and personal rhetoric or tactics in the form of attacks on political opponents’ positions on Israel."

Libya: A Brutal, Gratuitous Slaying, the New World Order in All Its Transparent Barbarism

Global Research
By Rick Rozoff

How are you today, Mr. Rozoff?

Rather distressed by the news of this morning. Or yesterday morning in your case.

Ok, what is your first impression?

It was a brutal, gratuitous slaying of an almost 70-year-old man, killed after being captured. And if the intent of 216 days of NATO bombing was to kill him in the first place, which is clearly the case, with the multiple bombings of his compound in Tripoli, which in one case killed one of his sons and three grandchildren, it is clearly targeted killing and I suppose NATO can now claim success. It has got what it wanted.

President Barack Obama said that there is going to be a pull-out from Libya very soon, so in your mind does that mean the objective has been met?

Yes, it has entirely. Regime change, take-over of Africa’s largest oil reserves, the incorporation of Libya, which hitherto had been the only North African country that was not a member of NATO’s so-called Mediterranean Dialogue, into what is now according to Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen a military partnership with the North Atlantic Alliance... So in every sense their objective has been accomplished. It’s certainly nothing that is going to benefit the Libyan people.

You don’t see this as being justice for the oppressed Libyan people? I mean there are people saying that Gaddafi was a terrible guy. He killed thousands so he deserved to die.

There is just so much – what term do I want to use? – low taste, gratuitous reveling in the murder of this man, who was born 70 years ago in the very city he was murdered in on the 216th day of NATO’s bombing of his country. He was born under Italian Fascist occupation and he died under NATO occupation. I think the parallel there can’t be missed, including the fact that Italy supplied some of the warplanes that have devastated his country since the middle of March, since March 19th. If he was the monster they’ve portrayed him as being – and I invite your listeners to go to the NATO website and see some of the crude caricatures of Gaddafi they’ve posted over the last few days – wall graffiti and so forth – portraying him in a demeaning and belittling way, to further dehumanize him preparatory to murdering him.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Madsen: Gaddafi Flying White Flag When Killed

Editor's Note:  See how much different this looks from the previous incident alleging the assassination of Osama Bin Laden?

Kurt Nimmo

Appearing on the Alex Jones Show today, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen said his sources in Libya provided information revealing Moammar Gaddafi was set-up in an assassination plot.

Early on October 19, Twitter messages from Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte reported the presence of white flags across the devastated town. Flags were reported at multiple locations in the town, leaving some to believe the rebels were surrendering.

The use of white flags to signal surrender is an ancient tradition going back to the Eastern Han dynasty in China and the Roman Empire. Violating the widely accept convention is considered an act of extreme treachery.

Under both the Geneva and Hague protocols of international humanitarian law, it is forbidden to kill or injure persons hors de combat (outside of combat) and doing so constitutes a major war crime.

Madsen’s sources said Gaddafi was told to surrender to the al-Qaeda rebels besieging Sirte before morning prayers at 5 am, but that it was decided to surrender after the sun was well up in the sky so the white flags would be clearly visible.

It also appears likely the arrival of Secretary of State Clinton in Libya may have played into the plot and convinced Gaddafi to surrender.
According to official accounts, however, Gaddafi was attempting to flee Sirte and avoid surrender.

He was wounded in a Predator drone attack and subsequently killed by crossfire, either from the rebels or Gaddafi supporters. Video footage released hours after the attack, however, clearly reveals a seriously wounded Gaddafi abused by a crowd of rebels. A choppy cell phone video then shows the body of the deposed leader.

A NATO rebel fighter later bragged that he had killed Gaddafi.

Both Madsen and Jones said the official cover story does not make sense. If Gaddafi wanted to escape Sirte, why didn’t he do it under the over of darkness? It makes little sense to attempt an escape convoy in broad daylight in rebel territory with U.S. predator drones likely on constant patrol.

Madsen’s information reveals that Gaddafi was set-up for a double-cross and execution. Dead men, as they say, tell no tales. Gaddafi’s cooperation with the globalists, his business deals with the war criminal Tony Blair at the behest of JP Morgan, his talk of nationalizing Libya’s oil fields, his close relationship with oil corporations and American politicans like John McCain were all liabilities for the elite and would have been extremely problematic if he had surrendered and faced the ICC at the Hague.

A full report on the incident will be forthcoming at Madsen’s website.

Tucson Citizens Ask Their City for Explanation for Defying the U.S. and State Constitutions

Open letter to Tucson Mayor and Council

Dear Mayor Bob Walkup and Council Members:

Many Tucson citizens participating in the Occupy Wall Street activities at Armory Park have been criminally cited for violating the city park ordinance. City ordinances do not include a policy protecting political expression or assemblies for the common good.  We understand that the city attorney Mike Rankin has offered his opinion on the balance between park ordinances and the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens by both the Federal and State Constitutions.

We understand that the 'attorney-client privilege' applies to Mr. Rankin's advice to the city council. However, the council is the client, and as the client the council may waive that privilege at any time.  We request that the council agrees to make Mr. Rankin's opinion public, providing the residents of Tucson with a document that clearly states what that opinion is. In this way, all of the residents in our community will understand what Mr. Rankin is advising you to do and why.

The Tucson community places great importance on the rights of all people to peacefully assemble, to, among other purposes, discuss their grievances to advance the common good.  That right is confirmed by the Arizona Constitution, which states that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”

Fundamental to our Democracy is the right to petition the government.  The Council should be outraged that former State Legislator Ted Downing, clipboard in hand, was arrested along with fellow citizens who signed his petition for Open Elections/ Open Government an initiative to change the Arizona Constitution.

If, the council believes it necessary to treat citizens as criminals, citizens who are exercising their democratic rights and assembling for the common good, this opinion should be made public.  The choice is the council’s alone, and not the city attorney's.  The sunlight of liberty is the best disinfectant: citizens of Tucson should not be arrested night after night because of the secret opinions and opaque reasoning of others. Our fundamental rights are no secret; they should be primary in decisions concerning the law.

We want to help the council carry out its responsibilities for the sake of all Tucson residents. We all need to examine these fundamental issues. It is only by reaffirming our fundamental principles of freedom and openness that America’s individual rights can be protected and the perpetuity or our democratic government perserved.

Physicians Received 760 Million from Pharmaceuticals in Past Two Years

(CBS News) A dozen pharmaceutical companies have given doctors and other healthcare providers more than $760 million over the past two years - and those companies' sales comprise 40 percent of the U.S. market.
The numbers come from the non-profit journalism organization Pro Publica, which assembled and continues to update a database on the payments.

The payments, says Pro Publica, are for consulting, speaking, research and expenses on the part of the providers.

Drug companies have traditionally been very tight-lipped about those payments, Pro Publica notes, but, "Over the past two years, companies have begun posting this information on their websites, some as the result of legal settlements with the federal government."

What's more, Pro Publica points out, "Federal law requires that all companies publicly report this data beginning in 2013. That information will be posted on a government website."

With bucks that big flying around, is the quality of care offered by providers accepting them compromised? "Absolutely," said Dr. John Santa, head of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

"Money works," Santa told "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor Russ Mitchell. "Doctors are human. Doctors who take money from drug companies are more likely to give you an expensive drug or more likely to give you a drug you may not need."

A recent Consumer Reports survey had 72 percent of respondents saying they believe pharmaceutical companies have too much influence on the drugs that doctors prescribe; 85 percent saying they were concerned about drug companies rewarding doctors who write a lot of prescriptions for their drugs; and 76 percent saying they were concerned about doctors providing testimonials or serving as a spokesperson for a drug.