July 21, 2013 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Capitalism causes cancer by bigjacbigjacbigjac

Capitalism causes cancer,

both the kind you’re thinking of,

and another kind:


Cities are tumors on the Earth,

our precious home planet.

Say it ain’t so Joe

Republicans, White House in Talks Toward Big Fiscal Deal

By Chris Frates, National Journal

July 17, 2013 6:42 p.m.

This fall, the country will hit its debt limit and be unable to pay its bills unless Congress authorizes additional borrowing. Republicans plan to use the debate over raising the debt limit to force Democrats to cut spending-a negotiation Obama has said he won’t engage in. But these meetings demonstrate that the president is in fact engaging Republicans in a broader discussion about debt and spending.

An administration official said White House aides have made clear to Republicans that the president’s offer from December-including $600 billion in new tax revenue for $400 billion in Medicare and other health care cuts-still stands.

Republicans are open to $600 billion in revenue, Burr said, but want to see it come from a mix of entitlement and tax reform. And the GOP opposes Obama’s $400 billion in Medicare cuts, arguing they want more structural reforms.

Repeat after me-

There is no budget deficit.  Austerity does.  not.  work.  You can’t cut your way to growth.

(h/t Susie Madrak @ Crooks & Liars)


Panama arrests ex-CIA station chief sought by Italy in rendition case

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Robert Seldon Lady was the CIA station chief in Milan when Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was pulled from the streets of that city as part of an operation that Italian prosecutors later said involved 22 American agents, all of whom fled Italy shortly afterward.

Italy’s main news agency, ANSA, reported that Lady was detained in Panama and that Italian Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri would have two months to formally request his extradition.

Italy’s top court of appeals in September confirmed a nine-year jail term for Lady in the extraordinary case, the first attempt by a foreign judiciary to prosecute U.S. officials for the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition – the practice of sending a person detained in one country to another country for questioning without requesting the approval of a court.

Nasr was snatched from Milan’s Via Guerzoni before noon Feb. 17, 2003, by two men who sprayed chemicals in his face and forced him into a white van. He turned up in an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years before his release. U.S. officials suspected him of recruiting radical Muslims in Italy for jihad in the Middle East, but he was never charged with a crime in Italy or Egypt.

Italian prosecutors said they proved that the van was part of a CIA scheme to round up Nasr, move him to an air base north of Venice and on to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, before delivering him to Egyptian interrogators.

If Lady now faces the threat of being returned to Italy, Nasr has fared little better. During his four years in an Egyptian jail, Nasr tried to commit suicide three times, his attorney told Knight-Ridder newspapers, which was later bought by The McClatchy Co., in 2006.

“He’s been exposed to torture ever since he was kidnapped in Italy,” attorney Montasser Zayat said then. “He said he was beaten even on the plane that took him to Germany before he was handed to Egypt.”

Lady has since been released and has flown back to the United States.  An INTERPOL Warrant for his arrest remains in force.

Germany backs away from claims NSA program thwarted five attacks

By Matthew Schofield, McClatchy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

(German Interior Minister Hans-Peter) Friedrich had made the assertion about the number of attacks that the NSA programs – which scoop up records from cellphone and Internet accounts – had helped to avert after a brief visit to the United States last week. But on Tuesday, he told a German parliamentary panel, “It is relatively difficult to count the number of terror attacks that didn’t occur.” And on Wednesday, he was publically referring to just two foiled attacks, at least one and possibly both of which appeared to have little to do with the NSA’s surveillance programs.

(O)pposition politicians and commentators now are talking about the arrogance of the U.S. application of “winner’s power” (a reference to the political authority the United States had here during the Cold War, when Germany was divided between east and west, and West Germany leaned heavily on America for support), and how traditionally strong relations between the two countries have been harmed by the scandal.

Perhaps most troubling was how quickly the government backed down on the claims that the surveillance helped foil terror plots. Gisela Piltz, a Liberal Party member of the Bundestag intelligence committee, said she could not give exact details of what took place in the secret hearing but noted: “There was a clear discrepancy between the previously reported number of foiled terror attacks and the number we talked about.”

Piltz said that while terrorism is a real threat, the U.S. monitoring programs have done little to prevent it.

“Germans are not safer because of U.S. espionage,” Piltz said. “It is true Germany has been lucky not to have suffered a terror attack, but there has to be a balance. We cannot sacrifice freedom for security, and when in doubt I would always opt for freedom.”


On This Day In History July 21

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

July 21 is the 202nd day of the year (203rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 163 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1861, the first battle of Bull Run.. In the first major land battle of the Civil War, a large Union force under General Irvin McDowell is routed by a Confederate army under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. . . .

On the morning of July 21, hearing of the proximity of the two opposing forces, hundreds of civilians–men, women, and children–turned out to watch the first major battle of the Civil War. The fighting commenced with three Union divisions crossing the Bull Run stream, and the Confederate flank was driven back to Henry House Hill. However, at this strategic location, Beauregard had fashioned a strong defensive line anchored by a brigade of Virginia infantry under General Thomas J. Jackson. Firing from a concealed slope, Jackson’s men repulsed a series of Federal charges, winning Jackson his famous nickname “Stonewall.”

Meanwhile, Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart captured the Union artillery, and Beauregard ordered a counterattack on the exposed Union right flank. The rebels came charging down the hill, yelling furiously, and McDowell’s line was broken, forcing his troops in a hasty retreat across Bull Run. The retreat soon became an unorganized flight, and supplies littered the road back to Washington. Union forces endured a loss of 3,000 men killed, wounded, or missing in action while the Confederates suffered 2,000 casualties. The scale of this bloodshed horrified not only the frightened spectators at Bull Run but also the U.S. government in Washington, which was faced with an uncertain military strategy in quelling the “Southern insurrection.”

Bull Run was the largest and bloodiest battle in American history up to that point. Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, and 1,312 missing or captured; Confederate casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing. Among the latter was Col. Francis S. Bartow, who was the first Confederate brigade commander to be killed in the Civil War. General Bee was mortally wounded and died the following day.

Union forces and civilians alike feared that Confederate forces would advance on Washington, D.C., with very little standing in their way. On July 24, Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe ascended in the balloon Enterprise to observe the Confederates moving in and about Manassas Junction and Fairfax. He saw no evidence of massing Rebel forces, but was forced to land in Confederate territory. It was overnight before he was rescued and could report to headquarters. He reported that his observations “restored confidence” to the Union commanders.

The Northern public was shocked at the unexpected defeat of their army when an easy victory had been widely anticipated. Both sides quickly came to realize the war would be longer and more brutal than they had imagined. On July 22 President Lincoln signed a bill that provided for the enlistment of another 500,000 men for up to three years of service.

The reaction in the Confederacy was more muted. There was little public celebration as the Southerners realized that despite their victory, the greater battles that would inevitably come would mean greater losses for their side as well.

Beauregard was considered the hero of the battle and was promoted that day by President Davis to full general in the Confederate Army. Stonewall Jackson, arguably the most important tactical contributor to the victory, received no special recognition, but would later achieve glory for his 1862 Valley Campaign. Irvin McDowell bore the brunt of the blame for the Union defeat and was soon replaced by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who was named general-in-chief of all the Union armies. McDowell was also present to bear significant blame for the defeat of Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia thirteen months later, at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Patterson was also removed from command.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Japan election: Abe set to win key upper house vote

21 July 2013 Last updated at 06:47 GMT


Voters in Japan are casting ballots in upper house elections expected to deliver a win for PM Shinzo Abe.

Half of the 242 seats in the chamber are being contested.

Polls show Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its allies could secure a majority, meaning a ruling party would control both houses of parliament for the first time in six years.

The deadlock in parliament has been seen as a key factor in Japan’s recent “revolving door” of prime ministers.

Polling stations opened at 07:00 (22:00 GMT Saturday) and will close at 20:00 (11:00 GMT).

Sunday’s Headlines:

Bombs dropped on Great Barrier Reef marine park

Farc rebel group in peace talks: Is Colombia’s 50-year war about to end?

Magazine reveals German government using NSA spying data

Zimbabwe’s first independent TV station now on air

What We Now Know

On this week’s segment of “What We Know Now,” Steve, along woth his panel guests Molly Ball, The Atlantic; Bob Herbert, Demos.org; Perry Bacon, Jr., TheGrio.com; and Carries Sheffield, The Daily Caller, discus what they have learned this week.

David Young Says Chuck Schumer Should Convert To Christianity, The Iowa Republican Reports

by Chris Gentilviso, The Huffington Post

Amid a crowded field of candidates to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), one Republican appears to have separated himself from the pack with a wacky proposal involving Jesus and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

David Young, the longtime chief of staff for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), appeared at Monday’s Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Iowa Republican reports that when asked about the Christian “brotherhood,” Young vowed that if elected to the U.S. Senate, he’d invite Schumer to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton’s Mother-In-Law, Fundraises Without Help From The Clintons

by Paul Blumental, The Huffington Post

Marjorie Margolies reported on Monday that she had raised $185,345 in her bid to reclaim the Pennsylvania congressional seat she lost in 1994, but she did so without contributions from her in-laws: Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.

Chelsea Clinton married Margolies’ son, Marc Mezvinsky, in 2010. Mezvinsky, who works for a hedge fund, did not donate to his mother’s campaign either.

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