Daily Show: Brain expert says administration figures who ‘can’t recall’ might be lying (video)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Published: Wednesday August 15, 2007

Jon Stewart on Monday’s Daily Show showed a series of clips of various administration figures saying “I don’t recall” when asked to respond to questions.

What would explain this epidemic of memory loss in the executive branch?” he asked, introducing the Director of the Center for Brain Health at New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Mony De Leon.

“The brain is a complex organ,” said De Leon. “Stress is a very big factor in recall.”

“Why are they all catching it?” asked Stewart. “Could it be a virus of some sort? Some sort of administrative herpes?”

“Certainly the issue of truthfulness is very important in terms of recalling,” said De Leon,

“You think they’re lying?” asked Stewart.

“It’s a possibility,” said De Leon.

The following video is from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, broadcast on August 13.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod



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Big Ben & The Shit-Cloud by Josh


Dandelion Salad
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Josh’s Blog Post

Aug. 16, 2007

Everybody and his mother these days is fixated on the wild fluctuations of the financial markets. The stock market, while proving itself to be very vulnerable to sudden gut-wrenching drops, still stands near an all-time high. Oil, precious metals, and other commodities have appreciated alarmingly over the past couple years. The well-to-do seem to have more money than ever before, and the displays of conspicuous consumption grow ever more extreme, yet the majority of Americans are struggling just to stay afloat. The powers-that-be assert that the economy is robust & healthy (except for a few “isolated” problems, like the sub-prime mortgage meltdown), while many financial professionals foresee doom and gloom of epic proportions ahead. So, what gives? How are we to make sense of this confusion?

Well, the first answer is that nobody really knows. Although the authorities would like us to believe that they’ve got everything under control and that maintaining a healthy economy is simply a matter of finding very smart people and letting them make the right decisions, the fact is that many of the best thinkers in history have recognized that economic processes are so complex that no human (or group of humans) can ever hope to achieve a comprehensive understanding of them. Rather, if someone like Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve) was to momentarily abandon the false certainty required of top officials and speak candidly, I suspect that he would admit that, while he has spent his life trying to understand the markets, he still has a very imperfect understanding, and his opinions represent, at best, educated guesses.

So, what is the average American citizen to make of all of this? If Ben Bernanke doesn’t even understand it, how can we hope to make any sense of it all? Well, the obvious answer is that we can’t. But the fact remains that most of us still have to make important decisions (buying a house, planning for retirement, making career choices, etc.), the outcomes of which will be heavily influenced by complex processes that we will never fully understand. In a sense, financial decision-making is comparable to the game of poker. Poker is a game where one never has all of the relevant information and where big decisions must be made on the basis of incomplete information. And, in poker at least, it is a demonstrable fact that those who are skilled at analysis of incomplete information can consistently outperform the competition.

To extend the analogy, we can then ask, since Ben Bernanke is presumably one of the most highly-skilled players in the financial field, can we expect him to achieve good results, despite the fact that he can never attain a complete understanding of his domain? Unfortunately, my opinion is that at the current juncture it is highly unlikely that he will be able to navigate the increasingly treacherous terrain while avoiding a major economic crisis of one form or another. This is no judgment on Mr. Bernanke’s abilities, since the situation he has to deal with is not of his own making. He is in the extremely unenviable position of having to try to hold together a situation that is the product of years of irresponsible decision making on the parts of government, financial institutions, and individuals.

So, now that I’ve just finished explaining that nobody can really make complete sense of the complex financial picture, I am going to try to share my understanding of some its important aspects.

One thing that is a virtual certainty is that if you borrow money, you eventually have to pay it back. (Of course, it is possible to default on a debt, but this normally entails severe consequences including a greatly diminished ability to borrow money in the future.) We appear, at the present time, to be going through a painful process of coming to terms with this basic economic reality, which for several years has been unheeded by market participants large and small, public and private. Our government has pursued the obviously unsustainable course of reducing revenue (via tax cuts) while simultaneously increasing expenditures (most notably, through the economic sinkhole that is the war in Iraq). Simultaneously, more and more of the American public has been treating real estate as if it were a magically inexhaustible source of wealth. American families have spent more and more money (on homes, cars, consumer electronics, travel, etc.) without a corresponding increase in earning capacity. This unsustainable trend was made possible by the extraordinary increases in real-estate values which enabled families to borrow more and more money against the value of their homes. Such a situation works just fine as long as real estate continues to climb, but as soon as it levels off (or declines), the artificial fuel that drove consumer spending dries up, and the chickens come home to roost (witness the alarming increases in mortgage delinquencies).

So, where does this all leave poor Mr. Bernanke? I would argue that job of the Federal Reserve is basically to prevent the proverbial shit from hitting the fan. The typical balancing act that the Fed must attempt is to keep both unemployment and inflation under control simultaneously. Under normal circumstances, these two directives work in opposite directions. If the Fed is too tight in its monetary policy (i.e. sets interest-rates too high), businesses will have a hard time raising capital and will therefore have a diminished ability to create jobs, thus unemployment. On the other hand, if monetary policy is too loose (i.e. interest-rates are too low), business owners will have no problem raising capital, but the currency will begin to lose value (i.e. inflation), which, if it gets out of control, can be every bit as harmful as widespread unemployment.

To illustrate the challenge faced by the Fed, let’s imagine that there is a giant fan, and Ben Bernanke’s job is to stand in front of the fan and prevent a cloud of shit from reaching the fan. The shit-cloud corresponds to the ever-present possibility of financial collapse. Let’s further imagine that if Bernanke moves too far to the right side (which corresponds to tight monetary policy), the shit will hit the fan from the left side, while if he moves too far to the left, the cloud will reach the fan on the right side. (This is a highly simplified analogy, since it is possible to have both high inflation and high unemployment at the same time – this is the highly problematic condition called “stagflation”, which we experienced in the 1970s.) Now, if the financial system is healthy, the shit-cloud is relatively small and manageable. A little shit may slide past Bernanke on one side or the other, but he is able to skillfully keep his balance and prevent the bulk of the shit-cloud from reaching the fan. However, if, due to a lengthy period of unusually irresponsible behavior, the shit-cloud has grown in size, the task of interposing his body between the cloud and the fan becomes increasingly difficult. If this situation is allowed to proceed unchecked, the cloud will grow so large that, regardless of the skill of the Fed, a large amount of shit will hit the fan from one side or the other (or both, i.e. the aforementioned stagflation).

To return from the world of fans & shit-clouds, let’s look at how this all might play out in the actual realm of the financial markets. One obvious fact is that the United States government has built up an enormous debt that requires hundreds of billions of dollars per year in additional borrowing just to pay the interest on the outstanding debt. The on-going ability to fund this ever-increasing liability has been largely due to the unique position of the US dollar in the global economy.

Holders of wealth around the world are always in search of ways to safeguard their assets. The form in which you hold wealth can have huge implications for how well that wealth holds up over time. For example, if you and I each have $100 at the beginning of the year, and I use my hundred dollars to buy gold, while you use your hundred dollars to buy milk, and then we both store our respective assets in a warehouse and come back at the end of the year, our initially equivalent positions will have changed dramatically. I will still have the same amount of gold that I had at the beginning of the year. You, on the other hand, will be the proud owner of a stinking pile of sludge with zero economic value (and possibly the additional burden of having to pay to clean up your mess). In a similar manner, any participant in the global economy who generates wealth will want to find a suitable way to store the portion of this wealth that is not intended for immediate consumption. And, since most tangible assets deteriorate over time, it is extremely important for anyone who wishes to store wealth to find a form of value that will not diminish with time.

For much of human history, people have chosen precious metals, most commonly gold, to fulfill this vital economic function. Gold, unlike almost any other form of matter, is both rare and never deteriorates. It is therefore considered a very sound store of value. During the first stages of a paper-money economy, the value of money was secured by the fact that it was convertible into a fixed amount of gold. Over time though, various factors pressured governments to suspend the convertibility of currency into gold, and nowadays, money has zero “intrinsic value”. This creates a problem for anyone wishing to store wealth.

The result was that market participants around the world chose the US dollar as the pre-eminent store of value. The reason for this was that the US economy was the largest and most robust in the world, and the US financial authorities were considered to be the most knowledgeable and trustworthy. So, for example, if you were an Argentinian businessman and you generated wealth in excess of your current consumption needs, and you furthermore feared that the local financial authorities were not trustworthy, you would have chosen to convert your wealth into US dollars, which you considered a better long-term store of value. Such has been the case globally for most of the last century. As a result, there was always a steady demand for US currency (and securities, since it is even better to hold a US Treasury Bill than plain currency, since the T-bill has the additional benefit of providing an interest payment). So, this has been the engine that has allowed the US government to borrow a seemingly inexhaustible amount of money to fund its perpetually imbalanced finances. If the general consensus that the US dollar is the safest store of value was to ever change, however, the on-going ability of the government to borrow as much as it needs could be jeopardized.

This is one of the elements of the increasingly difficult challenges faced by Big Ben. Following the dot-com bust in the early part of this decade, the Federal Reserve (under Alan Greenspan) pursued a very loose monetary policy in order to prevent the losses from spreading to the economy at large. The problem though (keep in mind the image of the fan and the shit-cloud) is that by overcompensating in one direction, an even larger problem was created. The loose-money of the last several years fueled an increase in real estate values that was completely out of line with the underlying economic fundamentals. This should be familiar to most Americans who saw almost everyone they knew suddenly becoming real-estate speculators over the past few years. It seemed like the easiest thing in the world – borrow money at a very low interest-rate, buy property, wait for the property to appreciate (due to the fact that everyone else had the same brilliant idea), and then sell the property for a profit and pay off the debt. Unfortunately, like anything that seems too good to be true, it was indeed too good to be true.

Now that real estate has stalled, the magic money machine doesn’t work anymore, and all of the borrowing that fueled it must be reckoned with. And this leaves Big Ben with a truly daunting dilemma. If he raises interest-rates, more and more homeowners (and real estate speculators) will be unable to pay their increasingly burdensome debts. As homeowners are forced to sell their homes, the supply/demand situation in the real estate market will deteriorate, causing yet more people to be forced to sell, thereby creating a vicious cycle. If, on the other hand, Bernanke keeps interest rates low, market participants world-wide will start to question whether the US dollar is still the rock-solid store of value it once was. (In fact, this process has already begun, with many foreign financial institutions choosing to hold a diversified portfolio of world currencies, instead of dollars exclusively.) If this were ever to happen to a large degree, the US government would be faced with the very real possibility of not being able to borrow ad infinitum. The US would then be faced with no choice but to raise interest-rates (since global investors would demand a larger return to compensate them for the increased risk of holding dollars). An increase in interest-rates would, as described above, have a disastrous impact on heavily indebted Americans. Thus, the dilemma of the shit-cloud. The cloud has reached such an alarming size that, even if Big Ben was the most skillful Fed Chief in history, he might still be incapable of preventing a calamitous meeting of shit & fan.

Whether the scenario ends up being one in which rising interest-rates cause a worsening of the real estate market (which would eventually impact the larger economy and cause a recession or depression) or one in which the Fed attempts to stop the slide in real estate by cutting interest rates (which would then lead to inflation), I doubt that Big Ben is capable of averting a major economic crisis. In fact, just today we learned that the Fed pumped $38 billion into the economy in just the past few days in order to support the sagging stock market (with little success). Just as the analogy of the shit-cloud would predict, once the cloud gets too big, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re guaranteed to wind up with an ugly and painful mess.

Colbert: Why not go all the way and make Gonzales robo-cop? (video)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Published: Thursday August 16, 2007

With Alberto Gonzalez under fire from all sides in Washington, Stephen Colbert said Wednesday that the beleaguered attorney general’s problem is a common one to bright-but-slacking underachievers everywhere: he’s just not being challenged. Continue reading

The Daily Show: Interview with Author of “Cheney” (video link)

Dandelion Salad

By Manila Ryce
Published Thursday, August 16th, 2007, 8:26 am

Jon Stewart did all the work last night by taking down Stephen F. Hayes, yet another douchebag from The Weekly Standard, and all you have to do is watch. Hayes came on to discuss his new book called “Cheney,” and seemed quite uncomfortable undertaking his own task of defending the man 54% of Americans want to see impeached. Hayes’ suggestion that “we need more Dick Cheney” or that he’s a misunderstood victim is so ludicrous that I doubt even he believes himself anymore.

If you haven’t seen it yet, references to this video of 1994 Cheney, explaining why it would be a bad idea to topple Saddam, are made during the interview.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Padilla found guilty of supporting terrorists

Dandelion Salad

Note: if you are looking for a different post on 9/11, here it is:
The Ignorance Of The Highly Educated (video; Peter Dale Scott; 9-11; Cheney)

Associated Press
Aug. 16, 2007 11:29 AM

Story here

h/t: ICH

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Monsters Among Us: Living in a Torture State by Chris Floyd (Padilla)

US terror interrogation went too far, experts say By Warren Richey (Jose Padilla)

Israel’s “Second Lebanon War” by Jonathan Cook

Dandelion Salad

by Jonathan Cook
Global Research, August 16, 2007

A year after the Second Lebanon War: Most of the war crimes were Israel’s

This week marks a year since the end of hostilities now officially called the Second Lebanon war by Israelis. A month of fighting — mostly Israeli aerial bombardment of Lebanon, and rocket attacks from the Shia militia Hizbullah on northern Israel in response — ended with more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians and a small but unknown number of Hizbullah fighters dead, as well as 119 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians.

When Israel and the United States realised that Hizbullah could not be bombed into submission, they pushed a resolution, 1701, through the United Nations. It placed an expanded international peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, in south Lebanon to keep Hizbullah in check and try to disarm its few thousand fighters.

But many significant developments since the war have gone unnoticed, including several that seriously put in question Israel’s account of what happened last summer. This is old ground worth revisiting for that reason alone.

The war began on 12 July, when Israel launched waves of air strikes on Lebanon after Hizbullah killed three soldiers and captured two more on the northern border. (A further five troops were killed by a land mine when their tank crossed into Lebanon in hot pursuit.) Hizbullah had long been warning that it would seize soldiers if it had the chance, in an effort to push Israel into a prisoner exchange. Israel has been holding a handful of Lebanese prisoners since it withdrew from its two-decade occupation of south Lebanon in 2000.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who has been widely blamed for the army’s failure to subdue Hizbullah, appointed the Winograd Committee to investigate what went wrong. So far Winograd has been long on pointing out the country’s military and political failures and short on explaining how the mistakes were made or who made them. Olmert is still in power, even if hugely unpopular.

In the meantime, there is every indication that Israel is planning another round of fighting against Hizbullah after it has “learnt the lessons” from the last war. The new defence minister, Ehud Barak, who was responsible for the 2000 withdrawal, has made it a priority to develop anti-missile systems such as “Iron Dome” to neutralise the rocket threat from Hizbullah, using some of the recently announced $30 billion of American military aid.

It has been left to the Israeli media to begin rewriting the history of last summer. Last weekend, an editorial in the liberal Haaretz newspaper went so far as to admit that this was “a war initiated by Israel against a relatively small guerrilla group”. Israel’s supporters, including high-profile defenders like Alan Dershowitz in the US who claimed that Israel had no choice but to bomb Lebanon, must have been squirming in their seats.

There are several reasons why Haaretz may have reached this new assessment.

Recent reports have revealed that one of the main justifications for Hizbullah’s continuing resistance — that Israel failed to withdraw fully from Lebanese territory in 2000 — is now supported by the UN. Last month its cartographers quietly admitted that Lebanon is right in claiming sovereignty over a small fertile area known as the Shebaa Farms, still occupied by Israel. Israel argues that the territory is Syrian and will be returned in future peace talks with Damascus, even though Syria backs Lebanon’s position. The UN’s admission has been mostly ignored by the international media.

One of Israel’s main claims during the war was that it made every effort to protect Lebanese civilians from its aerial bombardments. The casualty figures suggested otherwise, and increasingly so too does other evidence.

A shocking aspect of the war was Israel’s firing of at least a million cluster bombs, old munitions supplied by the US with a failure rate as high as 50 per cent, in the last days of fighting. The tiny bomblets, effectively small land mines, were left littering south Lebanon after the UN-brokered ceasefire, and are reported so far to have killed 30 civilians and wounded at least another 180. Israeli commanders have admitted firing 1.2 million such bomblets, while the UN puts the figure closer to 3 million.

At the time, it looked suspiciously as if Israel had taken the brief opportunity before the war’s end to make south Lebanon — the heartland of both the country’s Shia population and its militia, Hizbullah — uninhabitable, and to prevent the return of hundreds of thousands of Shia who had fled Israel’s earlier bombing campaigns.

Israel’s use of cluster bombs has been described as a war crime by human rights organisations. According to the rules set by Israel’s then chief of staff, Dan Halutz, the bombs should have been used only in open and unpopulated areas — although with such a high failure rate, this would have done little to prevent later civilian casualties.

After the war, the army ordered an investigation, mainly to placate Washington, which was concerned at the widely reported fact that it had supplied the munitions. The findings, which should have been published months ago, have yet to be made public.

The delay is not surprising. An initial report by the army, leaked to the Israeli media, discovered that the cluster bombs had been fired into Lebanese population centres in gross violation of international law. The order was apparently given by the head of the Northern Command at the time, Udi Adam. A US State Department investigation reached a similar conclusion.

Another claim, one that Israel hoped might justify the large number of Lebanese civilians it killed during the war, was that Hizbullah fighters had been regularly hiding and firing rockets from among south Lebanon’s civilian population. Human rights groups found scant evidence of this, but a senior UN official, Jan Egeland, offered succour by accusing Hizbullah of “cowardly blending”.

There were always strong reasons for suspecting the Israeli claim to be untrue. Hizbullah had invested much effort in developing an elaborate system of tunnels and underground bunkers in the countryside, which Israel knew little about, in which it hid its rockets and from which fighters attacked Israeli soldiers as they tried to launch a ground invasion. Also, common sense suggests that Hizbullah fighters would have been unwilling to put their families, who live in south Lebanon’s villages, in danger by launching rockets from among them.

Now Israeli front pages are carrying reports from Israeli military sources that put in serious doubt Israel’s claims.

Since the war’s end Hizbullah has apparently relocated most of its rockets to conceal them from the UN peacekeepers, who have been carrying out extensive searches of south Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah under the terms of Resolution 1701. According to the UNIFIL, some 33 of these underground bunkers — or more than 90 per cent — have been located and Hizbullah weapons discovered there, including rockets and launchers, destroyed.

The Israeli media has noted that the Israeli army calls these sites “nature reserves”; similarly, the UN has made no mention of finding urban-based Hizbullah bunkers. Relying on military sources, Haaretz reported last month: “Most of the rockets fired against Israel during the war last year were launched from the ‘nature reserves’.” In short, even Israel is no longer claiming that Hizbullah was firing its rockets from among civilians.

According to the UN report, Hizbullah has moved the rockets out of the underground bunkers and abandoned its rural launch pads. Most rockets, it is believed, have gone north of the Litani River, beyond the range of the UN monitors. But some, according to the Israeli army, may have been moved into nearby Shia villages to hide them from the UN.

As a result, Haaretz noted that Israeli commanders had issued a warning to Lebanon that in future hostilities the army “will not hesitate to bomb — and even totally destroy — urban areas after it gives Lebanese civilians the chance to flee”. How this would diverge from Israel’s policy during the war, when Hizbullah was based in its “nature reserves” but Lebanese civilians were still bombed in their towns and villages, was not made clear.

If the Israeli army’s new claims are true (unlike the old ones), Hizbullah’s movement of some of its rockets into villages should be condemned. But not by Israel, whose army is breaking international law by concealing its weapons in civilian areas on a far grander scale.

As a first-hand observer of the fighting from Israel’s side of the border last year, I noted on several occasions that Israel had built many of its permanent military installations, including weapons factories and army camps, and set up temporary artillery positions next to — and in some cases inside — civilian communities in the north of Israel.

Many of those communities are Arab: Arab citizens constitute about half of the Galilee’s population. Locating military bases next to these communities was a particularly reckless act by the army as Arab towns and villages lack the public shelters and air raid warning systems available in Jewish communities. Eighteen of the 43 Israeli civilians killed were Arab — a proportion that surprised many Israeli Jews, who assumed that Hizbullah would not want to target Arab communities.

In many cases it is still not possible to specify where Hizbullah rockets landed because Israel’s military censor prevents any discussion that might identify the location of a military site. During the war Israel used this to advantageous effect: for example, it was widely reported that a Hizbullah rocket fell close to a hospital but reporters failed to mention that a large army camp was next to it. An actual strike against the camp could have been described in the very same terms.

It seems likely that Hizbullah, which had flown pilotless spy drones over Israel earlier in the year, similar to Israel’s own aerial spying missions, knew where many of these military bases were. The question is, was Hizbullah trying to hit them or — as most observers claimed, following Israel’s lead — was it actually more interested in killing civilians.

A full answer may never be possible, as we cannot know Hizbullah’s intentions — as opposed to the consequences of its actions — any more than we can discern Israel’s during the war.

Human Rights Watch, however, has argued that, because Hizbullah’s basic rockets were not precise, every time they were fired into Israel they were effectively targeted at civilians. Hizbullah was therefore guilty of war crimes in using its rockets, whatever the intention of the launch teams. In other words, according to this reading of international law, only Israel had the right to fire missiles and drop bombs because its military hardware is more sophisticated — and, of course, more deadly.

Nonetheless, new evidence suggests strongly that, whether or not Hizbullah had the right to use its rockets, it may often have been trying to hit military targets, even if it rarely succeeded. The Arab Association for Human Rights, based in Nazareth, has been compiling a report on the Hizbullah rocket strikes against Arab communities in the north since last summer. It is not sure whether it will ever be able to publish its findings because of the military censorship laws.

But the information currently available makes for interesting reading. The Association has looked at northern Arab communities hit by Hizbullah rockets, often repeatedly, and found that in every case there was at least one military base or artillery battery placed next to, or in a few cases inside, the community. In some communities there were several such sites.

This does not prove that Hizbullah wanted only to hit military bases, of course. But it does indicate that in some cases it was clearly trying to, even if it lacked the technical resources to be sure of doing so. It also suggests that, in terms of international law, Hizbullah behaved no worse, and probably far better, than Israel during the war.

The evidence so far indicates that Israel:

* established legitimate grounds for Hizbullah’s attack on the border post by refusing to withdraw from the Lebanese territory of the Shebaa Farms in 2000;

* initiated a war of aggression by refusing to engage in talks about a prisoner swap offered by Hizbullah;

* committed a grave war crime by intentionally using cluster bombs against south Lebanon’s civilians;

* repeatedly hit Lebanese communities, killing many civilians, even though the evidence is that no Hizbullah fighters were to be found there;

* and put its own civilians, especially Arab civilians, in great danger by making their communities targets for Hizbullah attacks and failing to protect them.

It is clear that during the Second Lebanon war, Israel committed the most serious war crimes.

Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, and the author of “Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State”. His website is  www.jkcook.net
Jonathan Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Jonathan Cook

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Do the Neo-Cons Need Karl Rove When They Can Count on the Democrats? By Harvey Wasserman

Dandelion Salad

By Harvey Wasserman
08/16/07 “ICH

Karl Rove scoots off the sunken White House ship with his plans for future neo-con dominance safe and secure—in the hands of Democrats unwilling or incapable of challenging his dirtiest deeds.

Elected to end a lunatic war, the Democratic Congress has prolonged it, earning approval ratings even lower than those of George W. Bush, whom Rove designated as a “war president” long before the attack on Iraq.

The Democrats have also signed off on the GOP’s all-out assault on the Constitution, meekly certifying a “unitary executive” with totalitarian demands for a blanket suspension of civil liberties, arbitrary detention, official torture and more.

Once again voters will approach a presidential election asking themselves—why vote for Democrats who won’t challenge the most catastrophic GOP outrages?

That question must now be asked again about the illegal destruction of 1.5 million ballots from Ohio’s stolen 2004 election. The mass shredding includes a wide range of official documents critical to conducting a valid recount in the state that gave Bush/Rove a second term in the White House.

Breaking a total mainstream media blackout, the Cincinnati Enquirer has finally printed a front-page story on the felonious disposal of these federally-protected records by 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The records were shielded until September 2, 2006 by federal mandate, and since then by a federal court order obtained through a class action lawsuit. The counties were also required to inform the Ohio Historical Society before any such records were destroyed.

The counties have responded to critics with an absurd array of “dog ate my homework” excuses reminiscent of Rove’s laptop during his lighter moments. Some of the ballots were ruined by a coffee pot, says one county. Flooding hit others, they say. In one county, recyclers were to blame. In another, counterfeit ballots have been discovered.

In short, the excuses for destroying Ohio’s election records are every bit as credible as Rove saying he’s resigning to “spend more time with my family.”

But far from reacting with outrage, the Democrats have merely shrugged, much as they’ve done with the continuation of the Iraq War and the shredding of the Constitution.

Ohio’s Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has told the media she sees “no evidence” this mass deep-sixing of official records was done “purposefully” by nearly two-thirds of the state’s counties.

By contrast, under Republican Governor Jeb Bush, only one Florida county destroyed its records and ballots from the 2000 election. The rest of the materials are safely on file at a repository in Tallahassee. A thorough media-sponsored investigation used them to conclude that Al Gore was the rightful winner.

While campaigning in 2006, Brunner promised to establish a similar facility in Columbus. Riding a huge popular revulsion against incumbent Republicans, she won in a landslide that also ushered in a Democratic governor, attorney-general and U.S. Senator.

But except for Freepress.org, no independent team has conducted a systematic analysis of Ohio’s 2004 election. Our conclusion remains that John Kerry was the rightful winner. Evidence continuing to surface has deepened that conviction.

As part of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit that secured a federal court mandate for the protection of these materials, it was our expectation that the Freepress.org and other media teams would have time to access those preserved materials for a definitive, ultimately conclusive study.

In a new reality emblematic of the Age of Rove, that will now be impossible.

By all rights, the staff and election boards of all the 56 counties should be subject to investigation and possible federal and state felony charges.

Emblematic of the Democratic Party in the Age of Rove, there seems no movement in that direction.

In the wake of the destruction of these historic materials, Brunner has also told the media she sees “no evidence” that Kerry could have won the 2004 election.

But Bush’s official margin was less than 119,000 votes out of 5.4 million counted, with exit polls showing him the clear winner. More than 100,000 ballots remain uncounted. The litany of ballot stuffing, electronic manipulation, voter intimidation and fraud has now been overshadowed by the illegal destruction of 1.5 million votes cast in precincts that had inflated totals for Bush, according to exit polls. Essential auditing materials were destroyed in the key Republican counties that gave Bush his official margin of victory. In at least one of those counties, counterfeit ballots have surfaced in large numbers.

The Democrats also don’t seem to care that the servers used to compute the Ohio 2004 vote count were the same ones that housed the web site for the Republican National Committee.

Those servers (which were lodged in the basement of a bank in Chattanooga, Tennessee) mysteriously “malfunctioned” during a critical period in the deep night of the election when a 200,000-vote exit poll margin for John Kerry somehow morphed into a victory for Bush/Rove. Rove’s notoriously missing “extra-official” e-mails flowed through those same servers.

Congressional Democrats now pursue Rove over the firing of federal attorneys who refused to play along with the GOP plan to disenfranchise millions of American voters in the lead-up to 2008. But Bush is certain to shield Rove with a pardon, and the matter seems as likely to fade away as those 2004 ballots.

The fifteen months until the 2008 election can qualify as many lifetimes in American politics. Unless the Democrats confront this horrendous war and stop the obliteration of the American Constitution, they’ll give voters little reason to bother coming out for them in 2008.

And unless they face the realities of the last two stolen presidential elections, Karl Rove’s twisted vision for a neo-con America could easily survive the loss of the presidency to a nominal Democrat in 2008, just as it thrives unimpeded after the 2006 loss of Congress and the Ohio statehouse.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, is at http://www.solartopia.org. He is senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, and writes regularly for http://www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared.

© 2007 The Free Press

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An Appealing Chinese Import: Accountability by Ted Rall

Dandelion Salad

by Ted Rall

Should Leaders Who Ruin Lives Go Unpunished?

Zhang was co-owner of the Lee Der Industrial Company, the Chinese company that made toys for Mattel using toxic levels of lead paint. Mattel issued a recall expected to cost the company in the neighborhood of $30 million.

Poor guy–he probably didn’t even know the paint his workers were slathering on nearly a million toys for preschoolers was dangerous. “The boss and the company were harmed by the paint supplier, the closest friend of our boss,” reported the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper.

“It is not uncommon for Chinese executives to commit suicide after suffering damage to their reputation,” noted the UK Telegraph.

Zhang’s death followed the July execution of Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, head of China’s State Food and Drug Administration from 1994 to 2005. Zheng was convicted of accepting $850,000 in bribes from eight pharmaceutical companies in exchange for approving fake and substandard drugs. An antibiotic involved in the case killed at least 10 people.

The Xinhua news agency didn’t say how Zheng was killed, but most Chinese executions are carried out with a single gunshot to the back of the head. Shortly afterward a policeman notifies the condemned man’s family by presenting them with a bill for the cost of the bullet.

Now that’s accountability. Can we import some of that too?

The late Mssrs. Zhang and Zheng oversaw corruption and incompetence that pales next to catastrophes for which no American has yet been held to account. Thousands died in hurricane Katrina because officials all the way up to George “Heckuva job, Brownie!” Bush made a conscious decision not to help. Two years later, what’s left of New Orleans is dying, murdered by an appalling political calculus: It is (was) black. It was Democratic. Shouldn’t government officials face a firing squad for killing a major city?


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The U.S. Economy Is Toast By Peter Schiff

Dandelion Salad

By Peter Schiff
Speaking Truth to Power
Wednesday, 15 August 2007


“The beginning of the end”

He’s one of the doomsayers having a day in the sun as the US stock market plummets. A regular on the business shows, Schiff is shouting from the rooftops that this is the beginning of the end for the US economy.

The disturbing thing is he’s been right so far, making his clients at his Connecticut-based brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital wealthy by having predicted years ago that the US dollar would start falling and tipping them into euro-denominated assets.

Among his predictions: a housing-led slump, even depression, with at least a 20 per cent US economic contraction. He says the US dollar will lose half its value.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The World After Bush – Part II: Somalia By Liam Bailey

By Liam Bailey
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Thursday, August 16, 2007

I said in a recent article that the U.S. arms sale to the gulf is a possible sign that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might be closer than Bush wants to admit. With all my conviction I say: there will be no U.S. victory in Iraq and eventually they will have to pullout, if not before Bush leaves office then sometime soon after.

Continue reading

TPMtv: Rep. Don Young’s Plot Against the Constitution (video)

Dandelion Salad

August 15, 2007
From:  Veracifier

There’s been a system in place for some 200 years of how a bill passes through congress to become a law. It’s a standard enough process that Schoolhouse Rock was able to sum it all up in a 3 minute cartoon in 1975. But no matter for Rep. Don Young (R-AK). When it comes to legislation, he makes his own rules.

Britain: Guantánamo detainee details years of torture by Paul Mitchell (Omar Deghayes)

Dandelion Salad

by Paul Mitchell

Global Research, August 15, 2007


A British resident, Omar Deghayes, detained at Guantánamo Bay as an alleged terrorist, reports that he has suffered years of torture, sexual abuse and death threats. Last week, Omar’s family released a dossier documenting his terrible ordeal, which he dictated to a lawyer visiting the United States-run military prison.

Deghayes, a lawyer, aged 37 and married with a five-year-old son, has been incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay for years with four other British residents—Saudi Arabian-born Shaker Aamer, Jordanian Jamil el Banna, Ethiopian Binyam Mohamed and Algerian Abdennour Sameur. In addition to their physical and mental ordeals, all have found themselves in a Catch 22 nightmare. Although granted refugee status, indefinite leave or exceptional leave to remain in the UK because of threats of mistreatment in their own countries, the Labour government ignored pleas to press for their release from detention on the grounds that they were not UK citizens. At the same time, the US administration refused to negotiate their release with the countries of their birth.

Omar’s family was granted political asylum in the UK following the arrest and execution in 1980 of his father, a Libyan trade union leader and political opponent of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. He grew up in Brighton and studied law in the UK in the hope of becoming a human rights lawyer. Although the rest of his family are British citizens, Omar missed an interview because he was abroad and still has a Libyan passport, which means the Gaddafi regime is legally responsible for making diplomatic representations on his behalf.

In 2001, Omar decided to look for work abroad, ending up in Afghanistan where he started a business exporting dried fruit, married his wife and had a son. When the US invaded Afghanistan, the family attempted to return to the UK via Pakistan, but were arrested in Lahore in April 2002, reportedly for a bounty of US$5,000.

In Pakistan, Omar says he was told the US had ordered his detention. Guards subjected him to “systematic beatings,” threatened to leave him in a room full of snakes and submerged him under water until he thought he was going to drown. Faced with electric shock treatment, Omar explains, “The more I scream they will laugh and do it again…my screams all in vain.”

Omar was returned to Afghanistan and the US-run prison at Bagram air base, which he likened to “Nazi camps that I saw in films.” When asked by his lawyer about his treatment, Omar replied, “Of course, beating and torture is considered normal [there].”

His captors subjected him to forced nudity, deprived him of food for 45 days and locked him in a box with very little air for long periods. British intelligence agents are reported to have interrogated Omar up to seven times while he was in Bagram.

Omar claims the “guards forced petrol and benzene up the anuses of prisoners. This would burn horribly.” He said guards issued death threats and that he witnessed them shoot one prisoner who tried to help a detainee being abused and then beat another one to death.

“One by the name of Abdaulmalik, Moroccan and Italian, was beaten until I heard no sound of him after the screaming.

“There was afterwards panic in prison and the guards running about in fear saying to each other the Arab has died. I have not seen this young man again.”

Omar claims another detainee was beaten to a bloody pulp, leaving him “paralysed and mentally damaged.”

US authorities transferred Omar to Guantánamo Bay in September 2002, where he alleges he was beaten on his first day. He says guards sexually assaulted him and other detainees during a strip search. And when he challenged them he was repeatedly pepper-sprayed. One guard forced his finger into one of Omar’s eyes, blinding him.

After an eight-month period of solitary confinement, Libyan intelligence agents interrogated Omar in September 2004 and threatened him with violence and death. One allegedly said, “You will be brought to judgement in Libya. In here I cannot do anything but if I meet you [later] I will kill you.”

Omar claims his captors said he would not receive a proper trial and faced execution. He says, “Many times one FBI interrogator by the name of Craig said, ‘Omar, it is nothing like the law you studied in the UK. There will never be a proper court and lawyers, etcetera, it would be only a military tribunal to determine your future and your life. Your best choice is to cooperate with me.”

Omar’s family protest his innocence and are campaigning for his release. His brother Abubaker says, “I cannot believe how the Americans can do this to him, and astonished how he could survive this.” His mother, Zohra Zewawi, added, “I worry that something has happened to his mind. He is being tortured. I read his diary. When he gets out I fear he will not be normal Omar. I’m sure he will have changed.”

They say that although Omar’s name is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, the accompanying picture taken from a training video of a Chechen separatist group looks nothing like him, a view supported by facial recognition experts.

Three Britons—Asef Iqbal, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul—held for two years in Guantánamo Bay, and who published a 115-page dossier accusing the US of carrying out mental and physical torture, were flown back to the UK in March 2004 and freed without charge.

In a similar development last week, Sandy Hodgkinson, US deputy assistant secretary of defence for detainee affairs, said that although the inmates were “still considered to be of a significant threat,” the US government would not insist on their arrest and imprisonment in Britain as a condition for transfer.

Hodgkinson’s statement was prompted by a formal request sent by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for the release of the British residents. He claimed the UK government had changed its mind because of recent steps taken by the US government to reduce the numbers of those detained at the camp, initiate a “move towards” its closure and “include an increasing emphasis on engagement with third countries over the transfer and resettlement of those detained.”

Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer who represents the five men, greeted the UK government’s decision to ask for the detainee’s release, stating, “This is good news for everyone, even George Bush. For all his statements about wanting to close Guantanamo, he can’t if it’s chock-a-block. The Europeans have been pretty pious in their criticism, but done nothing to help close it until now. This is a remarkable turn for the British government.’’

The “remarkable turn” is not based on a change of conscience by Tony Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, a sudden discovery of democratic principles as the media proclaims.

For one thing, the High Court had instructed the Home Office to decide by last week whether one of the five detainees, Jamil el Banna, would be allowed to return to live in the UK after his release.

More importantly, after the lies used to launch the Iraq war, and the systematic undermining of civil liberties in the name of the war on terror under Blair, Brown has come to office lacking any popular support.

In addition, there is mounting international condemnation of Guantánamo Bay and its violation of the US constitution and international law. A report released in April by Amnesty International describes “deteriorating” conditions at the prison camp and called for its immediate closure of the camp and the right of victims to pursue reparations in US courts.

In an affidavit submitted to the US Supreme Court in June, Army reserve officer Stephen Abraham became the first officer to openly criticise the Guantánamo Bay military tribunals where he served as a panel member. Abraham’s affidavit provides first-hand evidence that the tribunals are a travesty of justice in which personnel are poorly trained, information is withheld or misused and panel members are pressured to declare detainees guilty of being “enemy combatants.”

Global Research Articles by Paul Mitchell

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