April 6, 2009 archive

Obama’s First Test: Terrorist Blackmail

A group of religious extremists, whom the International Red Cross has accused of torture and the United Nations have accused of waging an illegal war, have admitted spying on Americans, are seeking to severely curtail women’s rights, have stated openly that they want American government to fail and are urging armed insurrection… are threatening and blackmailing President Obama in an attempt to force him to change his stated policies.

Will Obama negotiate with these terrorists and bow to their demands? Or will he stand up for his principles, policies and campaign promises and refuse to accede to their blackmail?

Will Obama prove himself a coward by knuckling under to their threats and intimidation, when they have already proven that they have no interest in cooperation or negotiation? Or will he expose and condemn their terrorist tactics of threatening and intimidating his new Government?

This is Obama’s first real test against forces that have been proven to be hostile  to truth, justice, the American way….and the Rule of Law.  How will he respond?

Simulposted at Daily Kos

Four at Four

  1. Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post writes Millions of reasons to doubt Larry Summers.

    The latest White House Friday-night document dump had its desired effect, as it’s Monday morning and there’s little to no attention being paid to how stupendously beholden it turns out President Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers, is to the financial industry that he is ostensibly trying to rein in.

    Summers, it turns out — according to financial disclosure statements released by the White House late on Friday — was paid $5.2 million for his part-time work for a massive hedge fund last year. He also raked in more than $2.7 million in fees for speaking engagements at such places as Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. For one speech alone last April, Goldman Sachs paid him a cool $135,000.

    All of a sudden, Obama’s expressions of outrage over the culture of excessive pay on Wall Street are a bit harder to take at face value. And the advice Obama is getting from Summers, his economic guru, is looking very suspect.

    And Michael Tomasky of The Guardian adds:

    This is legal corruption. And $5 million is a helluva lot of money. Should having accepted that much money from a firm that does work that’s controversial in Democratic circles a priori bar one from serving in a Democratic administration? I wouldn’t quite say yes. But by cracky it comes awfully close. It’s pretty appalling news. Summers would be an unusual human indeed not to have been influenced by this.

    The NY Times, yesterday, has the low down in A rich education for Summers (after Harvard). “Little attention” has been given to Summers’ “two years in New York, from late 2006 to late 2008, advising an elite corps of math wizards and scientists devising investment strategies for D. E. Shaw & Company.”

    Mr. Summers and Shaw executives say his role there was to be a sounding board for Shaw’s traders. But interviews with friends and former colleagues suggest that Mr. Summers’s role at D. E. Shaw was wider and more complex…

    Mr. Summers, who taught economics and public policy at Harvard while advising Shaw, also met with investors in the United States, as well as in the cash-rich Middle East and Asia. He spoke at industry conferences, mixing with officials from public pension funds, endowments and other large institutions with many billions of dollars to invest…

    Mr. Summers joined the hedge fund world after his tempestuous, five-year term as the president of Harvard came to an unhappy end in February 2006, after a statement he made that women might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science…

    Some people in the financial world say they have more confidence in the White House’s plans because of Mr. Summers’ time at D. E. Shaw…

    Asked about that, Mr. Shaw laughed. “Oh, boy, I have no idea,” he said. “Thankfully he’s doing what he’s doing. I’m really glad he’s running this. It’s a scary time, and I can’t think of anybody I’d rather see there.

    No doubt. At $5.2 million, D. E. Shaw is getting their money’s worth. As for American taxpayers (present and future) — bailout promises “works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.” already. In other words, small change Wall Street can believe in.

Four at Four continues military spending and missile defense, suicide bombings in Baghdad and Obama in Turkey, ice is melting at both poles, and good news from Beijing.

An HSR Station Grows at Transbay (SF), Grand Finale (pt 3)

Crosspost links collected at: Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

In Part 1, the testimony representing the Transbay Joint Power Authority, managing the Transbay project, resulted in such a pile of red herring left behind that it seemed that there was something fishy going on.

What that something fishy seemed to be was whether the Transbay Terminal “train box” was suited for serving as the main northern terminus for both California High Speed Rail (HSR) services and for Caltrain services.

But … what if the Transbay Terminal is not the terminus of the HSR services?

In that case, the problem turns from physical limits … to legal requirements that the design has to meet. A garbled version of that is showing up in the newspapers … join me beyond the fold as I try to ungarble the story.

Republicans vs. torture memos release!

Ralph Orlowski / Getty Images

Scott Horton, says

If the president releases the Bush torture memos, Republicans are promising to “go nuclear” and filibuster his legal appointments. Scott Horton reports on a serious threat to Obama’s transparency.

As we all know, the appointment of Dawn Johnsen, as chief of the office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, has been held up for quite some time now.  

Until recently, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, often considered the “brains” of the department, has been known mostly to legal experts. But for the past eight years, it was the epicenter of allegations of political manipulation and, worse, the source of infamous memoranda on torture. In tapping Eric Holder as attorney general, President Obama has promised to restore standards of professionalism to the department. For Republicans, this is tantamount to a declaration of partisan war

The real reason for their vehement opposition is that Johnsen is committed to overturning the Bush administration’s policies on torture and warrantless surveillance that would clip the wings of the imperial presidency.

The more you dig . . . .

Obama = Bush, when it comes to Warrantless Wiretapping

From Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

Obama Administration Embraces Bush Position on Warrantless Wiretapping and Secrecy

Says Court Must Dismiss Jewel v. NSA to Protect ‘State Secrets’

San Francisco – The Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration’s position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA late Friday.

n Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging the agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. The Obama Justice Department claims in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged “state secrets.” These are essentially the same arguments made by the Bush administration three years ago in Hepting v. AT&T, EFF’s lawsuit against one of the telecom giants complicit in the NSA spying.

Weekly Torture Action Letter 5: Investigate, It Might Prove Them Innocent

Welcome to the fifth of the Dog’s letter writing campaign series. The basic premise here is to, on a weekly basis; write a letter to the President, the Attorney General, the nine Justices of the Supreme Court, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, urging them to investigate the apparent State Sponsored Torture program of the Bush Administration. In order to get their attention, every week the Dog writes from a different perspective about the issue, so that on the off chance that they read more than one of these letters it is clear that it is not the same thing over and over. This series also offers the reader the chance to write their own letter or cut and paste the Dog’s letter and send it in. The more people that we have sending weekly letters the higher chance that we will be heard on this issue, so if you could take the time to send this along it would be greatly appreciated.  

HONORING THE FALLEN: US Military KIA, Iraq & Afghanistan/Pakistan – March 2009

First Photos of Fallen Soldier Ends 18-Year Ban – 4.05.09

An airman stands next to the coffin containing the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers as it is lowered from a plane upon its return to the U.S. at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware April 5, 2009. Myers, of Hopewell, Virginia, died April 4 near Helmand province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. For the first time since the Obama administration reversed an 18-year-old ban on news coverage of returning fallen soldiers, the military allowed media to cover to cover the arrival tonight of an airman killed in Afghanistan. Collapse

(Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

I wish to thank the families who allowed the press photo’s showing the respect the fallen receive and the real cost of war!!

Thermite Explosive Cutting Agent Found In 9/11 WTC Catastrophe Dust Samples

Crossposted from Antemedius

From RawStory, Saturday April 4, 2009:

A team of scientists claim to have unearthed startling data from dust and debris gathered in the days and weeks after the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Note: Abstract here… full .pdf here – 9.88mb

In a study published by the Open Chemical Physics Journal – a peer-reviewed, scientific publication – Steven E. Jones and Niels Harrit [Affiliation: Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen] level a stark allegation: that within the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center towers lays evidence of “a highly engineered explosive,” contrary to all federal studies of the collapses.

“We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center,” reads the paper’s abstract. “One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).”

They claim their analysis has uncovered “active thermitic material”: a combination of elemental aluminum and iron oxide in form of thermite known as “nanostructured super-thermite.”

Summers story stinks while DKos crickets chirp

Today’s New York Times front pages a bizarre story about Larry Summers and his very strange “job” at powerhouse hedge fund D.E. Shaw. It seems that Larry was paid a few million over two years for working one day a week at Shaw. What did he do to earn this money? Well, that’s never made clear in the article, but the writers are at pains to point out that it was all perfectly legal. Larry and his sidekick Tim Geithner are now cooking up deals that will let Larry’s hedge fund buddies make big profits using taxpayer money. And, yes, this is all perfectly legal. Larry Summers knows how to sell political influence to the highest bidder, and his hands always stay perfectly clean. He gets paid $135,000 for a ONE DAY appearance at Goldman Sachs, and a few months later he is making decisions in the Obama administration that favor Goldman Sachs. It is all perfectly legal.

Meanwhile, at DKos, the Presidential Guard looks for more neat pictures of Barak and Michelle wowing Europe as the crickets chirp. Summers? Who is Larry Summers?  

Angst and Pouting in Las Vegas


Jordan Valley stands next to me at the crap game. She looks like a hooker but she’s really a porn star. Big difference. Sex for money, sure, but still a big difference. Hookers have no screen presence, Spitzer’s is a perfect example, and when you see Jordan for the first time, well all you can say is – “I get it.”

Jordan could have been a big star. She’s got the looks; the camera loves her; her voice is smoky valley girl, but Jordan Valley can’t act her way out of a paper bag. Or plastic.

So, I’ve got Jordan standing next to me blowing on my dice for luck, the pit crew is looking at me like I’m crazy and I’m sure the eyes in the sky are gathering for the next play. I’ve bet it all on one roll of the dice; a $50,000 prop bet on a crap three. It pays fifteen to one. One roll for $750,000. Just enough for what I need.

And just as I throw down the table, Jordan whispers in my ear “Are you a madman or a fool?”

Docudharma Times Monday April 6

That Missile Went

For A Swim


Monday’s Headlines:

The dirty truth: They’re smuggling soap in Spokane

Belarus squirms as son follows in dictator’s steps

Knights Templar hid the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican

Iraqi babies for sale: people trafficking crisis grows as gangs exploit poor families and corrupt system

The Muslim guardian of Israel’s daily bread

Presidency in sight for Zuma after multiple corruption charges dropped

Reburial for Rwanda genocide dead

North Korea’s rocket didn’t reach orbit, but Kim’s in another world

Flogging probe begins in Pakistan

In sunny Turks and Caicos, ‘political amorality’ forces Britain to retake control

At Least 27 Are Dead as Buildings Fall After Quake in Italy


Published: April 6, 2009

ROME – At least 27 people died and thousands were left homeless when an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 shook central Italy early Monday morning, seriously damaging buildings in the mountainous Abruzzo Region east of Rome, officials told Italian news media.

The epicenter was in L’Aquila, a picturesque Medieval fortress hill town, where eight people died and more were trapped under rubble, officials said.

The situation is “extremely critical, as many buildings have collapsed,” Luca Spoletini, a spokesman for Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, told the ANSA news agency. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency in the region.

UN divided on North Korea rocket launch

By Jon Herskovitz and Louis Charbonneau, Reuters

Monday, 6 April 2009

The United Nations failed to agree on a response to North Korea’s long-range rocket launch despite pressure from Washington and its allies for action, while regional powers weighed the extent of the new security threat.

Analysts said Sunday’s launch of the rocket – which flew over Japan during its 3,200 km (2,000 mile) flight – was effectively a test of a ballistic missile designed to carry a warhead as far as the US state of Alaska.

They said an emboldened North Korea would use the first successful launch of its Taepodong-2 missile to extract concessions for showing up at any future round of six-party talks on ending its nuclear programme. It could also seek to water down obligations it signed onto under previous negotiations.

“With this capability, North Korea is equipped with the infrastructure to play the nuclear game and raise the stakes in the six-way talks,” said Kim Tae-woo, a nuclear and weapons expert at the Korea Institute for Defence Analysis.

“As a result, more will have to be given to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programme.”


Blacks at Odds Over Scrutiny of President

By Krissah Thompson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, April 6, 2009; Page A01

Jeff Johnson knows how to make his audiences squirm. The young, black radio and TV political commentator waits for the discussion to turn to the topic being talked about ceaselessly, incessantly, ad nauseam: the meaning of the barrier-breaking election of Barack Obama.

Then, in his laid-back style, he says, “The real issue for me is that history is not enough.” That’s when the mood becomes tense.

“Black folks, in particular, get irritated,” says Johnson, who travels the lecture circuit, hosts a half-hour show on Black Entertainment Television and has a weekly spot for social criticism on a radio program popular with black listeners.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind IX

Art Link

Star Dance

The Flow of Life

upon a time
stars burnt
creating elements
this and that
chemicals organized
on this planet
we are star stuff
organized chemicals
it has
not ended
from the stars
we come
into them
we will

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–December 29, 2005

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