American “vulture” investors, including a top funder of the Republican Party, have demanded that African nations pay over half a billion dollars for old debts — for which the investors paid only a few million. [Read more…]
Professor Black provides this observation about #OWS – “If you look [at the Occupy protests], not just nationwide, but worldwide, you will see some pretty consistent themes developing,” Black says. “Those themes include: we have to deal with the systemically dangerous institutions, the 20 biggest banks that the administration is saying are ticking time bombs, that as soon as one of them fails, we go back into a global crisis. We should fix that. There’s no reason to have institutions that large. That’s a theme. That accountability is a theme, that we should put these felons in prison… That we should get jobs now, and that we should deal with the foreclosure crisis. So those are four very common themes that you can see in virtually any of these protest sites… I think, over time, you won’t necessarily have some grand written agenda, but you’ll have, as I say, increasing consensus. And it’s a very broad consensus.”
Democracy Now! – “…Under the once-secret program known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” federal agents encouraged U.S. gun shops to sell thousands of weapons to middlemen for Mexican drug cartels. The program was meant to gain access to senior-level figures within Mexico’s criminal organizations, but agents lost track of as many as 2,500 guns. Last week, the Department of Justice acknowledged to Congress that firearms connected with the ATF’s controversial sting operation were used in at least 11 violent crimes in the United States, including the slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Meanwhile, the program has never led to any arrests, and three key ATF supervisors were promoted earlier this month. We’re joined by Vincent Cefalu, an ATF special agent who helped blow the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious and has since faced retaliation. “We allowed these guns to go, continue on, in the hopes of establishing some sort of chain, or this iron pipeline, which was so far from the truth,” Cefalu says…’
DemocracyNow! – “…The deal includes no new tax revenue from wealthy Americans, provides no additional stimulus for the lagging economy, and will cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years, while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. The debt deal was a victory of sorts for the Pentagon. Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, it trims just $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade. We speak with William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, and Michael Hudson, professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.”
New report by scholars with the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies –
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Nearly 10 years after the declaration of the War on Terror, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have killed at least 225,000 people, including men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians. The wars will cost Americans between $3.2 and $4 trillion, including medical care and disability for current and future war veterans, according to a new report by the Eisenhower Research Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. If the wars continue, they are on track to require at least another $450 billion in Pentagon spending by 2020.
Read the entire report by clicking HERE
Drawing on almost 2,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks, a partnership between The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly, Haïti Liberté, exposes new details on how Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked with the United States to block an increase in the minimum wage in the hemisphere’s poorest nation, how business owners and members of the country’s elite used Haiti’s police force as their own private army after the 2004 U.S.-backed coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and how the United States, the European Union and the United Nations supported Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections, despite concerns over the exclusion of Haiti’s largest opposition party, Lavalas, the party of Aristide. We speak with the reports’ authors, longtime Haiti correspondent Dan Coughlin and Haïti Liberté editor, Kim Ives.
Democracy Now! hosted a roundtable discussion on Friday, May 20, 2011, with author Norman Finkelstein, Palestinian human rights lawyer Noura Erakat, and Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of the lobby group J Street to discuss President Obama’s speech on the Middle East and what he really said regarding the Israel and Palestinian conflict.
As well, Press TV posted a short clip of the United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, who provides a candid assessment of the President’s speech, where he emphatically states the meeting b/w Obama and Netanyahu was an “attempt by the Israeli premier to “divert attention” from the fact that most of Obama’s speech on the Middle East was ‘favorable to Israel and damaging to the Palestinians.'” Click HERE to listen to Falk’s assessment.
UPDATE: Sunday, May 22, 2011, talk about in your face – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the construction of 294 new illegal Jewish settler units in the occupied Palestinian land.
The T-Room is appalled by this kind of “GOTCHA” reporting that not only Brietbart is guilty, but so many others in the communications industry. Whatever happened to just reporting the facts? Oh, that’s right, silly me, I almost forgot – today’s political paradigm is designed to polarize and make people distrust and hate each other. To hell with people’s reputations and their livelihoods in the meantime!
From Democracy Now! “The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing thousands of secret documents from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay that reveal the Bush and Obama administrations knowingly imprisoned more than 150 innocent men for years without charge. In dozens of cases, senior U.S. commanders were said to have concluded that there was no reason for the men to have been transferred to Guantánamo. Among the innocent prisoners were an 89-year-old Afghan villager and a 14-year-old boy who had been kidnapped. Some men were imprisoned at Guantánamo simply because they wore a popular model of Casio watches, which had been used as timers by al-Qaeda. The documents also reveal that the journalist Sami al-Hajj was held at Guantánamo for six years partly in order to be interrogated about his employer, the Al Jazeera network. Al-Hajj’s file said he was sent to Guantánamo in order to “provide information on … the Al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan.” For more, we speak with journalist Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. [includes rush transcript]”
Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales conducted this interview w/author Nicholas Shaxson, Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens, prior to tax day here in Uncle Sam’s US of A. Shaxson talks in detail about this hidden financial system stashing away trillions of trillions of corporate and personal wealth purposely evading their share of taxes. Great interview and very enlightening while explaining why the people of the world are carrying the load for basic services while that “rich” guy, well, just laughs all the way to the bank.
“An absolute gem that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the way contemporary globalization is undermining social justice. Give it to your sons, daughters, families, favorite legislators and anyone else needing stimulation of their thought buds. This masterpiece illuminates the dark places and shows the visible hand of governments, corporations, banks, accountants, lawyers and other pirates in creating fictitious offshore transactions and structures and picking our pockets. This financial engineering has enabled companies and the wealthy elites to dodge taxes. The result is poverty, erosion of social infrastructure and hard won welfare rights and higher taxes for ordinary people. Tax will be the decisive battleground of the twenty-first century as no democracy can function without it, or provide people with adequate educations, healthcare, security, housing, transport or pensions. Nicholas Shaxson has done a wonderful job in lifting the lid off the inbuilt corruption that has become so naturalized in the western world.”–Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting, University of Essex, UK
The Japanese government is trying to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, even as it has raised the severity rating of the crisis to the highest possible level. “Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all,” says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and the City College of New York. “The slightest disturbance could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl.”
by Yoichi Shimatsu
Confused and often conflicting reports out of Fukushima 1 nuclear plant cannot be solely the result of tsunami-caused breakdowns, bungling or miscommunication. Inexplicable delays and half-baked explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) seem to be driven by some unspoken factor.
The smoke and mirrors at Fukushima 1 seem to obscure a steady purpose, an iron will and a grim task unknown to outsiders. The most logical explanation: The nuclear industry and government agencies are scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan’s civilian nuclear power plants.
A secret nuclear weapons program is a ghost in the machine, detectable only when the system of information control momentarily lapses or breaks down. A close look must be taken at the gap between the official account and unexpected events.
TEPCO, Japan’s nuclear power operator, initially reported three reactors were operating at the time of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Then a hydrogen explosion ripped Unit 3, run on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (or MOX). Unit 6 immediately disappeared from the list of operational reactors, as highly lethal particles of plutonium billowed out of Unit 3. Plutonium is the stuff of smaller, more easily delivered warheads.A fire ignited inside the damaged housing of the Unit 4 reactor, reportedly due to overheating of spent uranium fuel rods in a dry cooling pool. But the size of the fire indicates that this reactor was running hot for some purpose other than electricity generation. Its omission from the list of electricity-generating operations raises the question of whether Unit 4 was being used to enrich uranium, the first step of the process leading to extraction of weapons-grade fissionable material.
The bloom of irradiated seawater across the Pacific comprises another piece of the puzzle, because its underground source is untraceable (or, perhaps, unmentionable). The flooded labyrinth of pipes, where the bodies of two missing nuclear workers—never before disclosed to the press— were found, could well contain the answer to the mystery: a lab that none dare name.
Read the rest of the story by clicking HERE
Rolling Stone – “Why isn’t Wall Street in Jail?”
by Matt Taibbi
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.
“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”
I put down my notebook. “Just that?”
“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”
Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.
This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.
Read the full story HERE