Monday, July 7, 2008

Who owns the national debt?


Why Fly When You Can Float?

ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik

The view inside the cabin of a Zeppelin NT during a flight over southern Germany. The dirigible can carry 12 sightseers.

PARIS — Imagine gliding in a floating hotel over the Serengeti, gazing down at herds of zebra or elephants; or floating over Paris as the sun sets and lights blink on across the city as you pass the Eiffel Tower.

Such flights of fancy may one day be possible, if the dream of Jean-Marie Massaud, a French architect, comes true.

As the cost of fuel soars and the pressure mounts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, several schemes for a new generation of airship are being considered by governments and private companies. "It's a romantic project," said Mr. Massaud, 45, sitting amid furniture designs in his Paris studio, "but then look at Jules Verne."

It has been more than 70 years since the giant Hindenburg zeppelin exploded in a spectacular fireball over Lakehurst, N.J., killing 36 crew members and passengers, abruptly ending an earlier age of airships. But because of new materials and sophisticated means of propulsion, a diverse cast of entrepreneurs is taking another look at the behemoths of the air.

Judge Rejects Bush's View on Wiretaps

logoby: Eric Lichtblau

A federal judge ruled that Bush's views on wiretapping were beyond the constitutional authority of the president.
(Photo: ABC News)

    Washington - A federal judge in California said Wednesday that the wiretapping law established by Congress was the "exclusive" means for the president to eavesdrop on Americans, and he rejected the government's claim that the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped that law. The judge, Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge for the Northern District of California, made his findings in a ruling on a lawsuit brought by an Oregon charity. The group says it has evidence of an illegal wiretap used against it by the National Security Agency under the secret surveillance program established by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    The Justice Department has tried for more than two years to kill the lawsuit, saying any surveillance of the charity or other entities was a "state secret" and citing the president's constitutional power as commander in chief to order wiretaps without a warrant from a court under the agency's program.

    But Judge Walker, who was appointed to the bench by former President George Bush, rejected those central claims in his 56-page ruling. He said the rules for surveillance were clearly established by Congress in 1978 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get a warrant from a secret court.

Human rights body condemns counter-terrorism bill

Government plans to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days are "unnecessary, disproportionate and counter-productive" and should be rejected when they come before the House of Lords next week, an international human rights group said today.

Human Rights Watch said that the 28-day detention period introduced by former prime minister Tony Blair is already "excessive" and violates Britain's obligations under European and global conventions.

And the report warned that other features of the counter-terrorism bill - such as post-charge questioning and secret inquests - are incompatible with the UK's duties under international human rights law.

Gordon Brown needed the support of the nine Democratic Unionist MPs to get the bill through the Commons and faces further difficulties in the Lords, where it has its second reading on Tuesday - a day after the third anniversary of the July 7 bombings in London.

Human Rights Watch's western Europe researcher Judith Sunderland urged peers to reject key parts of the bill, including 42-day detention.

"The third anniversary of the 2005 bombings in London reminds us that Britain faces a real terror threat," she said. "But locking people up without charge for six weeks will not make the country safer. The Lords should take a principled stand against this dangerous and unnecessary proposal."

In today's report, Human Rights Watch said it was convinced that the current 28-day period "already violates the right to liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".

It concluded: "Further extension would be unnecessary, disproportionate and counter-productive."

The report warned that the bill's provision for post-charge questioning "lacks adequate safeguards against violations of the right to silence and against oppressive questioning, undermining the right to a fair trial".


RIP Jesse Helms

North Korea Smackdown: How the "Dear Leader" blackmailed Bush

Smirking Chimp


by Mike Whitney

After seven years of nonstop belligerence, the Bush administration has caved in to all of North Korea's demands and gotten nothing in return. The UN's nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, will not gain access to Kim Jong-il's nuclear stockpile or its "Top-Secret" file on weapons programs or be allowed to conduct surprise "go anywhere, see anything" inspections. None of the main objectives have been achieved. At the same time, Kim will continue to develop his long-range ballistic-missile delivery system, the Taepodong 2, and (allegedly) continue to export nuclear weapons technology to allies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The present agreement does nothing to mitigate the danger of a nuclear-armed North, but sends a message to America's rivals that the US can be blackmailed if the stakes are high enough. The administration has been humiliated by a man who many believe is an unstable megalomaniac and a ruthless tyrant. It's another black-eye for US foreign policy.

There was a time when George Bush would have nothing to do with Kim Jong-il, he privately scoffed at the reclusive dictator and called him "a pygmy". He placed North Korea on the State Department's list of sponsors of terrorism, froze their foreign bank accounts, refused to honor the terms of the Agreed Framework (which was negotiated by Bill Clinton) and threatened to take military action if Kim did not comply with US demands.

What a difference a few years and a few nuclear weapons make. Now the blustery bravado and swaggering insolence has changed to hand-wringing and hyperactive backroom diplomacy. The Bush team has shifted from its ritual chest-thumping to damage-control.Unfortunately, the change comes too late.

On Thursday, Bush announced that he would remove North Korea from the terrorism list and lift other economic sanctions. This follows an earlier decision to provide Kim with massive quantities of oil to meet the North's energy needs; a fact that is predictably ignored by the establishment media. On virtually every issue, the sullen despot in the oversized Foster-Grants has gotten whatever he's asked for. This has infuriated many of Bush's biggest supporters. Last week, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton blasted the agreement saying:

"I think it's actually a clear victory for North Korea."

war profits


What John McCain Didn’t Learn in Vietnam

Common Dreams NewsCenter

by Joe Conason

Nobody has denigrated the service of John McCain or his suffering in captivity as a prisoner of North Vietnam, as much as his supporters wish to pretend that someone did. Nobody has denied that his valor in captivity offers insight into his character. But so far almost nobody has asked the most important question about McCain's military experience, which is how his past might influence his future as president.

The most pertinent issue is not what McCain did or didn't do during the war in Vietnam, but what he learned from that searing, incredibly bloody and wholly unnecessary failure of U.S. policy. Clearly he learned that torture is morally wrong, illegal and counterproductive, and he has spoken with great moral authority on that issue. But listening to him now and over the past decade or so, he also seems not to have learned why that war itself was a tragic mistake — and why we needed to leave Vietnam long before we did.

Indeed, what is most striking about McCain's attitude toward Vietnam is his insistence that we could have won — that we should have won — with more bombs and more casualties. In 1998, he spoke on the 30th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. "Like a lot of Vietnam veterans, I believed and still believe that the war was winnable," he said. "I do not believe that it was winnable at an acceptable cost in the short or probably even the long term using the strategy of attrition which we employed there to such tragic results. I do believe that had we taken the war to the North and made full, consistent use of air power in the North, we ultimately would have prevailed." Five years later, he said much the same thing to the Council on Foreign Relations. "We lost in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight, because we did not understand the nature of the war we were fighting, and because we limited the tools at our disposal."

Very few military historians agree with McCain's bitter analysis, which suggests that a ground invasion and an even more destructive bombing campaign, with an unimaginable cost in human life, would have achieved an American victory. But perhaps because he is obsessed by the humiliation of defeat — which fell directly on his father, Adm. John S. McCain Jr., who served as the commander in chief of Pacific forces during the Vietnam conflict — the former prisoner of war seemingly can formulate neither a rational assessment of that war's enormous costs nor of its flawed premises and purposes.

quote of the day

 "A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Albert Einstein -

Ron Paul: I hear members of Congress saying "if we could only nuke Iran"

Congressman warns of imminent confrontation

by Steve Watson

Congressman Ron Paul has warned millions of radio listeners that the US is heading into a deadly confrontation with Iran, revealing his disbelief at members of Congress who have openly voiced support for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the country.

"If we do (attack) it is going to be a disaster," the Congressman told the Alex Jones show this Thursday.

"I was astounded to see on one of the networks the other day that the debate was not are we going to attack? but are we going to attack before or after the election?" Paul continued.

The Congressman recently voiced his concern over House Congressional Resolution 362 which he has dubbed a 'Virtual Iran War Resolution'.

"If that comes up it is demanding that the President put on an absolute blockade of the entire country of Iran, and punish any country or any business group around the world if they trade with Iran." Paul told listeners.

China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo

WASHINGTON — The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of "coercive management techniques" for possible use on prisoners, including "sleep deprivation," "prolonged constraint," and "exposure."

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Arabs find barriers insurmountable

by Vita Bekker, Foreign Correspondent

Abed and Asma Nasar and their two children live in Jaffa near Tel Aviv. Asma is an illegal resident in Israel and is unable to go out or work. Ilan Mizrahi for The National

JERUSALEM // Asma Nasar is afraid to leave her home. Like many other Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs, the 21-year-old from the West Bank city of Hebron is living illegally in Israel with her husband and two young daughters.

During the four years she has resided in the central Israeli city of Jaffa, she has not worked, remains in the family's apartment for entire days and barely ventures out of her predominantly Arab neighbourhood.

Her husband, Abed, 26, who works at a shawarma stand, said he was afraid his wife would get caught by police and be sent to Hebron. "I'm dying to take her on a trip to Jericho or Tiberias, but it's not possible," he said, smoking a cigarette in the family's living room as his blue-eyed wife sat quietly nearby. "It's like carrying a large pack of [illegal] drugs on you – it's a risk."

Abed and Asma Nasar are only one of thousands of mixed Israeli-Palestinian couples facing an uncertain future as a result of Israel's strict limitations on granting citizenship or permanent residency to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who are married to Israelis.

Would the White House be Able to Eavesdrop on Obama Under the FISA Bill Barack Supports? You Bet.


FISA Amendment Just In Time To Steal Election

By Elliot D. Cohen

Senate Democrats and Republicans alike are now poised to pass H.R. 6304, known as the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a bill touted by both House and Senate leaders to be a compromise proposal to prior Senate Bill 2248. Unfortunately, H.R. 6304 may give the Bush administration, in its last months, the ammunition it needs to hijack the 2008 presidential election.

It has been known for some time that, since 2001, the Bush administration has conducted mass surveillance of the email and telephone calls made by American citizens. All electronic messages passing through switches in the US, regardless of whether they were international or domestic communications, have been systematically intercepted and screened by the National Security Agency (NSA). Technologies, which were installed at major hubs of telecommunication companies throughout the nation copy and deposit all electronic messages into a giant NSA computer network. The NSA then uses complex algorithms to parse through these messages using matching criteria such as key words, phone numbers, and dates, and linking these data to further data--anything from credit card and bank records to movie rentals.

H.R. 6304 does not, on the face of it, require that these complex algorithms that are used to parse through our electronic messages be examined and approved by a FISA Court. The role of the FISA Court seems to be limited to approving the general design of the software used in conducting acquisitions of information. This consists of reviewing the authorizations made by the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence to see if this general design satisfactorily conforms to "minimization procedures," that is, that they take reasonable precautions to avoid targeting American citizens. However, without access to the algorithm itself, as well as to the actual source code and a representative sampling of the data that ultimately get caught in its electronic net, there is no way to confirm that the actual procedures pass legal muster and are constitutional.

The Manchurian President


IRAQ: Journalist Charges Censorship by U.S. Military in Fallujah

By Dahr Jamail

SAN FRANCISCO, Jul 3 (IPS) - U.S. journalist Zoriah Miller says he was censored by the U.S. military in the Iraqi city of Fallujah after photographing Marines who died in a suicide bombing.

On Jun. 26, a suicide bomber attacked a city council meeting in Fallujah, 69 kms west of Baghdad, between local tribal sheikhs and military officials.

Three Marines, Cpl. Marcus Preudhomme, Capt. Philip Dykeman, and Lt. Col. Max Galeai, were assigned to 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The explosion also killed two interpreters and 20 Iraqis, including the mayor of the nearby town of Karmah, two prominent sheikhs and their sons, and another sheikh and his brother. All were members of the local "awakening council," one of the U.S.-backed militias that have taken up arms against al Qaeda in Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi authorities.

Miller was embedded with Marines on a patrol one block from the attack when it occurred. He had originally turned down the option of going to report on the city council meeting that was bombed.

Miller ran with the Marines he was with to the scene of the attack. "As I ran I saw human pieces...a skull cap with hair, bone shards," he told IPS during a telephone interview from the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad. "When we arrived at the building it was chaotic. There were Iraqis, police and civilians running around screaming. Bodies were being pulled out of the building."

"I went in and there were over 20 people's remains all over the place," Miller continued, "Of the Marines I jogged in with, someone started to vomit. Others were standing around, not knowing what to do. It was completely surreal."

"At that moment I realised this was far beyond anything I'd experienced, and I realised I wanted to focus and make sure I could capture what it felt like, and the visual horror," Miller explained.

"I thought, 'Nobody in the U.S. has any idea what it means when they hear that 20 people died in a suicide bombing.' I want people to be able to associate those numbers with the scene and the actual loss of human life. And to show why soldiers are suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]," Miller told IPS.

Miller was taken out of the building by Marines, but then allowed back inside where he took one last photo of the carnage before they closed the scene to him.

Towards a Second American Revolution




That existing government by engaging in criminal wars, embargoes, blockades and other black-listing of foreign nations has made the United States not just an international bully but a piranha, world's leading perpetrator of genocide and dislocation of people

By Ben Tanosborn
04/07/08 --

A Re-Declaration of Independence

By the People of the United States of America

On This Fourth of July 2008

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with its own government, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the denunciation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, a new government must be instituted, deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of the people of the United States of America; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their existing system of government. The history of the Executive in this government, exemplified and accentuated by the current administration; together with a long history of a lobbies-corrupted Legislature and a politically-appointed Judicial, are histories of repeated injuries and usurpations, not acting as to balance power but jointly providing a unified corruptive government, all having in direct object the establishment of a world empire and a domestic ruling class able to exercise absolute tyranny over the people. The present and recent past administrations of the United States of America are hereby deemed non-responsive to the interests and well-being of the people of this nation while also acting as an imminent and constant danger to the cause of peace in the world. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

…That existing government has made itself a self-perpetuating tyranny where the channels to change and impeachment are de facto blocked by the duopolistic party system.


Barlow's Forth of July message

Vinay sez, "John Perry Barlow is in Iceland for the Icelandic Foundation for Digital Freedoms' conference. We shot this Fourth of July talk with him at Thingvellir, the ancient site of Iceland's historic parliamentary republic, B. 930 AD, D. about 3 centuries later."

A Modest Proposal for the 4th: Take Back Old Glory


In Dr. Seuss's The Sneetches, there were two kinds of these odd beach-dwelling creatures -- those with stars on their bellies and those without. The ones with the stars saw themselves as inherently superior:

When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts

Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,

They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.

They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.

Then along came a stranger, one Sylvester McMonkey McBean, who had a contraption that applied -- for a price -- stars to the bellies of the decoratively challenged:

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,

"We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart.

We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties!

And now we can go to your frankfurter parties."

Then the snobby Sneetches had their stars removed -- yes, McBean's machine could do that, too -- and starlessness became the coin of the realm, after which it all descended into on-again-off-again chaos until it was impossible to keep track of who'd been who and they decided to just all get along as equals -- albeit impoverished equals, as they'd given all of their money to the con man who'd repeatedly applied and removed their stars.

But enough, for now, about Sneetches.

Of all the stupid things done by the anti-war crowd, the most gratuitously moronic was allowing the sanctimonious hypocrites of the right to co-opt the nation's most basic icon, its flag. The emblem of the country's highest aspirations was mindlessly ceded to the holier-than-thou zealots who used it as a bludgeon against the less fanatical.

Having unburdened itself of patriotism, the left proceeded over the years to also give away religion, national security and, finally, the elections themselves, but this devolution, into the pathetic puddle of unprincipled, acquiescent wimpiness that the Democrats have become, started with -- or rather, without -- the flag. It's hard to remember a presidential election in which that cavalier surrender hasn't exacted a serious price.

Who owns you?

George Carlin - 3 Minute Video

The game is rigged! Nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care.


Suffering from HIDDEN TALENTS -- 1950 magazine ad