Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.
Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
This Day in History
The U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.
Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.
The relationship has, on at least one occasion, entailed the covert payment of a large amount of cash to Israeli operatives. Beyond their own surveillance programs, the American and British surveillance agencies rely on U.S.-supported Arab regimes, including the Jordanian monarchy and even the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, to provide vital spying services regarding Palestinian targets.
The new documents underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors. That covert support is squarely at odds with the posture of helpless detachment typically adopted by Obama officials and their supporters.
It began as a war of choice: A different Israeli policy in the last few months might have prevented it. It evolved into a pointless war. It’s already pretty obvious that it will not result in any long-term achievements. It could still deteriorate into a disaster, and in the end will turn out to have been a war of deception – Israel lied itself to ruination.
The first deceit was that there was no alternative. True, when the rocket barrages landed on Israel, that was the case. But what about the steps that led up to them? They were steps to which there were other options. It isn’t difficult to imagine what would have happened had Israel not halted the peace talks; had not launched an all-out war on Hamas in the West Bank, in the wake of the murder of the three Israeli teenagers; had not held up the transfer of funds earmarked for the payment of government salaries in the Gaza Strip; had not opposed the Palestinian unity government; and had eased up on its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories-required under the rules of American journalism-although we know they are untrue.
I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire. I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children. This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory. I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble. The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. I have stood in the remains of schools-Israel struck two United Nations schools in the last six days, causing at least 10 fatalities at one in Rafah on Sunday and at least 19 at one in the Jebaliya refugee camp Wednesday-as well as medical clinics and mosques. I have heard Israel claim that errant rockets or mortar fire from the Palestinians caused these and other deaths, or that the attacked spots were being used as arms depots or launching sites. I, along with every other reporter I know who has worked in Gaza, have never seen any evidence that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields.”
In early 2011, after years of study, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration moved to reduce the permissible levels of silica dust wafted into the air by industrial processes like fracking, mining or cement manufacturing. The move came after years of public comment and hearings, and reflected emerging science about the dangers posed by even low levels of dust. OSHA predicted the rule would save 700 lives annually and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis, an incurable, life-threatening disease. There are many who have already been affected by this with some individuals looking at pursuing lawsuits related to silica dust within the industry.
The proposal stirred fierce opposition from an array of industries, which argued that the costs of reducing silica levels far outweighed the potential benefits. When OSHA pushed ahead, the lobbyists took their arguments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a division of the Office of Management and Budget. Few people have ever heard of OIRA even though it is part of the White House and has broad authority to delay or suggest changes in any draft regulation.
OIRA’s deliberations on the silica rule began in February 2011, and lasted two and a half years. During that time, records show, its officials held nine meetings with lobbyists and lawyers for the affected industries, but sat down only once with unions and once with health advocates.
Last August, the office sent a revised version of the rule back to OSHA; the worker protection agency has yet to act.
Radical right-wing groups who refuse to recognize the authority of the federal government, like those who flocked to Bundy Ranch and now parade around the U.S.-Mexico border, represent the clearest threat to their communities, even more so than Islamic terrorists or white supremacist groups.
That’s the takeaway from a new landmark study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START). The group surveyed hundreds of law enforcement officials and over 170 agencies across the United States in an effort to understand how the people tasked with stopping terrorism view the threats on the ground.
Must Read Blog Posts
Dear President Obama, Eat My Sanctimonious Shorts
by joe shikspack
Real Times in Baltimore
The Daily Wiki
Yeah, not a wiki, cuz the one I wanted to use didn’t have a wiki page. Then I found this and well, it’s more fun…
Something to Think about over
Hubris is one of the great renewable resources. ~P. J. O’Rourke
Stupid Shit by LaEscapee