tagged w/ Accountability
President Barack Obama is seeking to block the immediate release of hundreds of photos showing U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An Obama administration official said Wednesday that the president told his legal advisers last week that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. troops. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
Obama wants the issue to go back to the courts, although federal appeals judges have ruled the photos could be released.
The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have told Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are telling President Barack Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.
The Pentagon has said it will release the pictures this month. But the Pentagon now says that the three top commanders have weighed in with concerns.
And the Pentagon still insists this torture is not systemic?President Barack Obama is seeking to block the immediate release of hundreds of photos... more
On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture.
View them at the link
For more than five years, the ACLU and other advocacy organizations have been seeking the release of Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos that supplied the basis for the Bush administration's interrogation, detention, rendition, and warrantless surveillance policies.
The OLC, which is a component of the Justice Department, was created to provide objective legal advice to the Attorney General and to resolve legal disputes among federal agencies. During the Bush administration, however, the OLC became a facilitator for illegal government conduct, issuing dozens of memos meant to permit gross violations of domestic and international law. Some of these memos have become public through leaks to the media and through the ACLU's litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. But most of them are still secret.
The Obama administration should release the still-secret memos. As the ACLU wrote in a January 28, 2009 letter to the OLC, the release of the memos would allow the public to better understand the legal basis for the Bush administration's national security policies; to better understand the role that the OLC played in developing, justifying, and advocating those policies; and to participate more meaningfully in the ongoing debate about national security, civil liberties, and human rights.On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the... more
Confronted with the once-in-a-century opportunity to remake the financial system, the reformers in Washington have a choice: Succumb to the temptation of serving financial supermarkets or lift up community banks and street-level economies.
Enter Reverend Billy Talen, the New York-based street preacher, performer and activist who -- along with his flock, the Church of Life After Shopping -- believes government has a moral obligation to support communities before big banks.
David Weidner speaks with Rev Billy Talen, a self-ordained minister who preaches against the evils of consumerism is now running for mayor of New York City.
"I've been trying to drive people out of their institutions," Reverend Billy says. "Their institutions aren't working."
It's hard to imagine Timothy Geithner taking advice from an iconoclast dressed in a white suit, clerical collar and Elvis-inspired hair, but the Reverend Billy may be on to something.
In place of a system where big banks and corporations enter neighborhoods only to profit from them, Reverend Billy wants to empower small banks and credit unions that hold a stake in the communities they serve by offering incentives and making it harder for big finance to undercut local business.
It's hard to argue against the system he envisions.
Think for a moment about what community finance could mean for the nation: Neighborhood banks would lend to local businesses. Profits could stay in the community.
Simply knowing who your customers are and living near them could bring common sense -- the most basic and sound form of risk management -- back to banking.
Sure, it sounds kind of dreamy, but such systems are already in place in the neighborhoods large and small. Small businesses thrive, but they are often at the mercy of big banks who giveth and taketh credit according to shifts in economic cycles.
"The Wall Street experience is parallel and equal to the destruction of neighborhoods through chain stores," Reverend Billy says.
Basic economics are on the Reverend's side. For every dollar spent at a chain store, studies show only 50 cents stays in that community. By contrast, 90 cents of every dollar spent at a local business remains in the local economy.
"It's a little reductive, but people recognize there's a truth in it," Reverend Billy says. "Neighborhoods are economic powerhouses."
Despite his anticorporate stance, Reverend Billy, whose father is a small-town bank chairman, isn't bashing Wall Street right now. (However, he's previously led some disruptive and amusing protests against corporate retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Walt Disney Co.)
The painful fallout of the financial meltdown has led him and his followers to preach centered calm over rage.
"There's not a Puritan attitude about it, there's a practical attitude about it," Reverend Billy says. "People want to know what they can do for their friends and for themselves. We're trying to help each other; share money, share energy, share homes."
It's unlikely that sharing is on the business plan at Citigroup Inc. or Goldman Sachs Group Inc., companies that Reverend Billy excoriates in his sermons. He says the steel and mirrored-glass buildings that house major banks are designed hide what happens inside.
Though colorful, Reverend Billy is no longer a fringe figure. Since he began preaching on the street corners in Times Square a decade ago, Reverend Billy and his anticonsumerism message have gained mainstream attention, thanks in part to his book and a world tour with the church's 40-member choir.
"Preaching is the landscape between talking and singing," Reverend Billy says. "It's like finding a saxophone in your chest."
His breakthrough came in 2007 with the release of "What Would Jesus Buy?", a documentary about church efforts to promote a shopping-free Christmas.
This year, he's running for New York City mayor on the Green Party ticket, campaigning on a community-first platform. CandidaConfronted with the once-in-a-century opportunity to remake the financial system, the... more
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for harsh, painful interrogation of terror suspects Thursday, even as his administration released Bush-era memos graphically detailing — and authorizing — such grim tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods.
Human rights groups and many Obama officials have condemned such methods as torture. Bush officials have vigorously disagreed.
In releasing the documents, the most comprehensive accounting yet of interrogation methods that were among the Bush administrations most closely guarded secrets, Obama said he wanted to move beyond "a dark and painful chapter in our history."
Past and present CIA officials had unsuccessfully pressed for more parts of the four legal memos to be kept secret, and some critics argued the release would make the United States less safe.
Michael Hayden, who led the CIA under George W. Bush, said CIA officers will now be more timid and allies will be more reluctant to share sensitive intelligence.
"If you want an intelligence service to work for you, they always work on the edge. That's just where they work," Hayden said. Now, he argued, foreign partners will be less likely to cooperate with the CIA because the release shows they "can't keep anything secret."
On the other side, human rights advocates argued that Obama should not have assured the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations would not be prosecuted if they used methods authorized by Bush lawyers in the memos.
Obama disagreed, saying in a statement, "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for... more
Naomi was right. History will not vindicate Bush and his crime family. History will indict him. I hope the nation does as well.Naomi was right. History will not vindicate Bush and his crime family. History will... more
Baucus told the head of CBO last Wednesday that the CBO will play a significant role in efforts to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system because the agencies cost assessments will make or break this enterprise. Experienced observers assert that this is Baucus way of pressuring the agency to come up with figures to justify the kind of healthcare reform Baucus wants.
The fact is, the CBO has issued a series of recent studies which have found that most savings claimed, in the effort to keep private-for-profit insurance companies in the mix, do not exist.
Alternatively, a single-payer system would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.
The CBO has been recognized for the accuracy of its findings and projections and for its non-partisanship. Lets keep it that way.
Tell him we need accurate numbers not creative figuring. Single-payer should be on the table and should be given a full and fair hearing by the Senate Finance Committee.
Easily email Sen. Baucus here, or contact him using the following information.
Senator Max Baucus
511 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2651 (Office)
(202) 224-9412 (Fax)Baucus told the head of CBO last Wednesday that the CBO will play a significant role... more
"Tax the Greedy, Not the Needy"
This is where the 'class war' that only the rich, like O'Riley and Limbaugh McCain were waging, crumbles under its own weight.
This is the result when the bankers and investors get married to the politicians.
If the European countries economies are anything like the US economy, the working people have had their wages stagnated for the last 30 years, they are already living on the edge of subsistence and can not take any cuts. I hope the American people can respond with as much organization."Tax the Greedy, Not the Needy" This is where the 'class war'... more
Thank you for your recent communication asking me to support HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act. I am a co-sponsor of the legislation and appreciate the time you have taken to let me know you support it, too.
HR 676 is one of many pieces of legislation highlighting the need for health care reform within our country. While some Americans question the need for health care reform, I believe the fact that more than 45 million Americans lack insurance coverage, and that more and more consumers are losing control over their own treatment process and their choice of provider, means that our system of health care needs a major overhaul. The health care issue will not go away, and I am committed to fight for health care reform that provides universal coverage. Universal coverage is the only way to ensure that health care becomes affordable. By assuring that people get primary care instead of emergency room care, bringing healthy people into insurance pools will lower costs for everyone, and end cost-shifting -- the means by which insured patients pay for the bad debt of the uninsured patient.
I support a single-payer system as the best means of accomplishing universal coverage. Since 1993 and every subsequent session of Congress, I have introduced the American Health Security Act (HR 1200). The plan laid out in this bill would provide universal health coverage, and tax payers would save $175 billion per year in health care expenses. Also, eighty percent of Americans would pay less for their health care while gaining a health benefit package that includes all inpatient and outpatient care, prescription drugs, mental health benefits, and comprehensive long-term care. HR 1200 would accomplish all of this and still provide a deficit reduction of approximately $100 billion per year.
I will continue to support any legislation that moves the U.S. closer to universal coverage for all Americans. Again, I want to thank you for contacting me. As your Representative in Congress, it is critical that I understand the views of my constituents.
I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
Member of CongressDear XXXXX: Thank you for your recent communication asking me to support HR 676,... more
Whoo hoo! Net neutrality from the stimulus bill! Go Bama!
Beginning the effort to assure neutral access to high speed internet to every home in the US.
And by the way, the approval rates for the Repugs are going down and the Dems are going up.Whoo hoo! Net neutrality from the stimulus bill! Go Bama! Beginning the effort to... more
He compares the current mistaken focus on bailouts � from Wall Street to the auto industry � to the early mistakes of another president faced with economic disaster: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose initial rejection of the revolutionary concepts of John Maynard Keynes helped prolong the worldwide economic misery of the late 1920s and 1930s.
It may take another heretic to pull America out of its current downhill slide this time around.
�Ravi is a phenomenon � the best predictive record of any economist, past or present � and he does it all by reference to recorded, empirical facts, not paradigm [or] ideology,� said Prof. Rajani Kannepalli Kanth, a visiting scholar at Harvard University who specializes in political economy and social anthropology.
His supporters think Batra should long ago have won a Nobel Prize and that President-elect Barack Obama ought to be calling him with offers of cabinet posts or at least asking for his advice.
But instead, despite his sterling record and best-selling books, Batra remains somewhat isolated in the economics field, the result of one bad call and, more to the point, an economic theory that flies in the face of today�s accepted wisdom � in the face, that is, of the theories and practices that got us in the horrendous spot we�re in today.
�We are on the verge of a social revolution � it�s already started [with Obama�s election]. The second part, where the theories are discarded and new ideas take over and new reforms take over � that part has yet to occur, and that will take a few years,� he predicted. �After that occurs, the age of acquisitors will be over, and there will be a new age with a totally different attitude toward taxation and the economic system.�
The revolution, which he believes could happen in a couple of years or sometime soon after that, should bring in a new chapter of greater economic equality and less poverty and suffering � first in the U.S., then rippling out to the rest of the world, he thinks.
�The U.S. has never been in any other age other than the age of acquisitors. So this will be a new experience for the U.S.,� he said.He compares the current mistaken focus on bailouts � from Wall Street to the auto... more
For a lot of people, it is already too late. People have moved back in with their parents, started living out of RVs, moved into trailer parks that are mushrooming around cities such as Las Vegas the way developments with real houses used to. Even pricey Santa Barbara, Calif., recently made several gated parking lots available to people living in their cars.
Last week, General Motors announced 10,000 job cuts, Wal-Mart 800, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told an interviewer that in some ways, the current crisis is worse than the Great Depression. But this time around, we appear to have a class of individuals who think that they should not have to suffer with the rest.
It is this type of behavior, rather than economics, that the working poor don't understand. I earned $3.35 an hour at my first job washing dishes in 1981, and today, 28 years later, the minimum wage has barely doubled. Congress voted not to raise it for nearly 10 years, while members awarded themselves pay raises on a nearly annual basis. And during the years that the minimum wage was stalled, the pay of a CEO swelled to hundreds of times the wage of an average worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
They have a right to be cynical. It turns out, the people who understand money the best are the ones who don't have it.
Iain Levison is the author of the memoir "A Working Stiff's Manifesto" and the forthcoming novel "How to Rob an Armored Car."For a lot of people, it is already too late. People have moved back in with their... more
Feinstein Tries To Slip One In
Though it had nothing do with creating jobs or stimulating the economy and had everything to do with sneaking in a pro-Entertainment industry initiative, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) almost single-handedly dealt a deadly blow to the Net Neutrality issue.Feinstein Tries To Slip One In Though it had nothing do with creating jobs or... more
Police opened fire on an unarmed couple during a routine traffic stop late Tuesday night because one officer "thought he was shot," a high-ranking Salinas Police Department official said Thursday.
"He saw what he perceived as a threat and thought he was shot, and based on that both officers discharged their firearms," said Dino Bardoni, commander of investigations.
No one was hurt in the 11:24 p.m. incident at North Sanborn Road and Freedom Parkway, but the couple's SUV was riddled with bullet holes and its rear window was shattered.
Police are releasing few details about the incident or case and have characterized it as a "priority investigation," Bardoni said.
It's the fourth officer-involved shooting in the city in the past seven months, two of which were fatal.
Interim Police Chief Daniel Ortega refused to discuss the most recent case, referring all questions to Bardoni.
Bardoni said the incident began when one officer stopped the vehicle because one of its license plate lights was not working. He was joined shortly thereafter by a second officer.
Bardoni said the primary officer was in the midst of contacting the vehicle's occupants, a driver and passenger, when the problem began.
"He was walking up to them, nothing out of the ordinary," Bardoni said, when there was the perception of a threat and the officer thought he'd been shot.
Police later determined that the couple was unarmed.
Neither of the vehicle's occupants was arrested or cited.
The couple, Adrianna Velasquez and Julio Fernandez, could not be reached for comment.
Bardoni declined to identify the officers or to confirm or deny that one of them is the same officer who was involved in the tragic shooting death last year of Maria Irma Del La Torre, 45, of Salinas.
She was shot and killed when officers mistook a knitting needle for an ice pick and said she lunged at them. De La Torre was taking medication for epileptic seizures at the time of her death.Police opened fire on an unarmed couple during a routine traffic stop late Tuesday... more
We, combat officers and soldiers who have served the State of Israel for long weeks every year, in spite of the dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty in the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people.We, combat officers and soldiers who have served the State of Israel for long weeks... more
Pepe Escobar: Where is the special prosecutor?
The most popular question on President-elect Obama's own Web site, change.gov, is whether he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bush administration practices such as torture and illegal wiretapping. Americans seem to be more concerned with this issue than with the state of the economy. Pepe Escobar examines how both Obama and Vice-President- elect Joe Biden have given evasive answers at best compared to how both outgoing President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have been on the record strongly defending their practices. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has proposed - an investigating committee. But in the end a prosecutor - special or otherwise - may not be that hard to find.
.Pepe Escobar: Where is the special prosecutor? The most popular question on... more
Documents Reveal: Cops Planted Pot on 92-Year Old Woman They Killed in Botched Drug Raid
By Rhonda Cook, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Posted April 30, 2007.
Atlanta resident Kathryn Johnston's death has finally been exposed to be a case of police coverup in clear example of the insanity of the war on drugs.Documents Reveal: Cops Planted Pot on 92-Year Old Woman They Killed in Botched Drug... more
With the economy in shambles and Americans losing their homes and jobs at record levels, Congress has moved to take drastic measures. For Themselves. The law makers have failed to vote down a $4,700 pay raise beginning in January, increasing their annual salaries to $174,000.
The increase for 535 House and Senate members would cost taxpayers more than $2.5 million. That salary alone, which excludes all other household incomes (spouses etc.), ranks each lawmaker in the TOP SIX PERCENT of ALL American households. Is this real? This disgusting move toward further wealth disparity shows Congress for what they really are - The King's Court.With the economy in shambles and Americans losing their homes and jobs at record... more
One government dept lying to another government dept. Imagine that when we do this it is perjury.
The Labor Department gave Congress inaccurate and unreliable numbers that understated the expense of contracting out its employees' work to private firms, according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday.
The department's decisions in allowing contractors to compete for bureaucrats' work -- known as "competitive sourcing" -- also demoralized workers, according to most of the 60 agency employees interviewed by the GAO.One government dept lying to another government dept. Imagine that when we do this it... more
ANP: An interview with David Cole. Part 1
President-elect Barack Obama says closing down the detainee camp in Guantanamo Bay will be a top priority of his new administration. David Cole, author of Justice at War: The Men and Ideas That Shaped America's War on Terror, legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, reviews some of the dilemmas ahead. Should the U.S. continue to hold prisoners without charge? Should we prosecute the top Bush Administration officials responsible for detainee abuse? And how do we regain the respect of the world community?ANP: An interview with David Cole. Part 1 President-elect Barack Obama says closing... more