Fair Use Note

WARNING for European visitors: European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent. As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities.

Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Morning - some RSS picks

US Bases and Empire: Global Perspectives on the Asia Pacific
Much about our current world is unparalleled: holes in the ozone layer, the commercial patenting of life forms, degrading poverty on a massive scale, and, more hopefully, the rise of concepts of global citizenship and universal human rights. Less visible but equally unprecedented is the global omnipresence and unparalleled lethality of the U.S. military, and the ambition with which it is being deployed around the world. These bases bristle with an inventory of weapons whose worth is measured in the trillions and whose killing power could wipe out all life on earth several times over.

Officially, over 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in 909 military facilities in 46 countries and territories.[1] There, the US military owns or rents 795,000 acres of land, and 26,000 buildings and structures valued at $146 billion. These official numbers are quite misleading as to the scale of US overseas military basing, however, excluding as they do the massive buildup of new bases and troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as secret or unacknowledged facilities in Israel, Kuwait, the Philippines and many other places. $2 billion in military construction money has been expended in only three years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Just one facility in Iraq, Balad Air Base, houses 30,000 troops and 10,000 contractors, and extends across 16 square miles with an additional 12 square mile “security perimeter.”
Deployed from those battle zones in Afghanistan and Iraq to the quiet corners of Curacao, Korea, and England, the US military domain consists of sprawling Army bases, small listening posts, missile and artillery testing ranges, and berthed aircraft carriers.[2] While the bases are literally barracks and weapons depots and staging areas for war making and ship repair facilities and golf courses and basketball courts, they are also political claims, spoils of war, arms sales showrooms, toxic industrial sites, laboratories for cultural (mis)communication, and collections of customers for local bars, shops, and prostitution.
The environmental, political, and economic impact of these bases is enormous and, despite Pentagon claims that the bases simply provide security to the regions they are in, most of the world’s people feel anything but reassured by this global reach. Some communities pay the highest price: their farm land taken for bases, their children neurologically damaged by military jet fuel in their water supply, their neighbors imprisoned, tortured and disappeared by the autocratic regimes that survive on US military and political support given as a form of tacit rent for the bases.
US forces train 100,000 soldiers annually in 180 countries, the presumption being that beefed-up local militaries will help pursue U.S. interests in local conflicts and save the U.S. money, casualties, and bad publicity when human rights abuses occur.
These training programs strengthen the power of military forces in relation to other sectors within those countries, sometimes with fragile democracies, and they may include explicit training in assassination and torture techniques. Fully 38 percent of those countries with US basing were cited in 2002 for their poor human rights record.
Foreign military bases have been established throughout the history of expanding states and warfare. They proliferate where a state has imperial ambitions, either through direct control of territory or through indirect control over the political economy, laws, and foreign policy of other places.

States that invest their people’s wealth in overseas bases have paid direct as well as opportunity costs, whose consequences in the long run have usually been collapse of the empire.

Bases are implicating in the violence projected from them. There are noxious effects of the bases’ daily operations involving highly toxic, noisy, and violent operations that employ large numbers of young males. For years, the movements have criticized confiscation of land, the health effects from military jet noise and air and water pollution, soldiers’ crimes, especially rapes, other assaults, murders, and car crashes, and the impunity they have usually enjoyed, the inequality of the nation to nation relationship often undergirded by racism and other forms of disrespect. Above all, there is the culture of militarism that infiltrates local societies and its consequences, including death and injury to local youth, and the use of the bases for prisoner extradition and torture.[11] In a few cases, such as Japan and Korea, the bases entail costs to local treasuries in payments to the US for support of the bases or for cleanup of former base areas.
In South Korea, bloody battles between civilian protesters and the Korean military were waged in 2006 in response to US plans to relocate the troops there. In 2004, the Korean government agreed to US plans to expand Camp Humphries near Pyongtaek, currently 3,700 acres, by an additional 2,900 acres.

West must close Iran nuclear file: new atomic chief

Making Sense of Cheney's Madness
The seeming irrationality behind the George W. Bush administration’s “against the grain” (and the law) policies on torture, warrantless domestic surveillance, and now notification of Congress about CIA covert operations was not irrational at all.

Pundits galore, including this one, have railed against the Bush administration for cynically using the tragedy of 9/11 to invade Iraq. But fewer have noticed an even worse legacy of the Bush administration than the Iraqi quagmire.

What could be worse than killing U.S. service people and innocent Iraqis? The unitary theory of the executive, that’s what.

Dick Cheney came into office believing that executive power had been excessively eroded during the Vietnam and Watergate years. Few reputable scholars believe this nonsense.

Most presidential scholars have concluded that the executive branch has grown in power vis-à-vis the other governmental branches since the turn of the 20th century, but really got boosted to an “imperial presidency” during the Cold War from the Truman presidency onward. This development is a far cry from the legislative-dominated system that the nation’s founders and the Constitution envisioned. The slight rollback of executive power during Vietnam and Watergate was only a momentary pause as the executive juggernaut rolled forth up to the Bush administration.

Cheney’s advocacy of the unitary theory, and evidently convincing his self-interested boss to buy into it too, meant that the administration believed that it could use broadly construed commander-in-chief powers — another anathema to the founders — to ignore congressionally passed laws during “wartime.” In dictatorships, we call this “rule by decree.”

So the administration’s willful violation of laws had the more sinister purpose and effect of establishing a “hyper-imperial presidency.” This is the single most important thing that the Bush administration did in office and the worst.

Immune therapy Alzheimer's hope
A US team found cancer patients who had received antibody treatment had more than 40% less risk of Alzheimer's than people who had not.

Vitamin D Crisis Unfolds as Americans Live Indoors: 97 Percent of African Americans Deficient

Seventy percent of whites and 97 percent of blacks in the United States have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Colorado, and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers used data gathered by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics to examine the vitamin D blood levels of 18,863 U.S. residents between 2001 and 2004. They found that approximately 75 percent of teenagers and adults had levels below 30 nanograms per milliliter, on the low end of what is currently considered adequate for good health. Broken down by ethnicity, this translated into 70 percent of whites, 90 percent of Hispanics and 97 percent of blacks.

Deficiency is defined as any level below 20 nanograms per milliliter, based on guidelines adopted at the 13th Workshop Consensus for Vitamin D Nutritional Guidelines in 2007. Previously, deficiency was defined as less than 11 nanograms per milliliter, but the value was upgraded based on more recent research.

Scientists have known for a long time that insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to the bone-softening disease rickets in children and can increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in adults. More recent research has strongly suggested, however, that even levels that are adequate for bone health may still be too low to protect against heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Iran security forces crack down on armed gunmen

'Spy scandal' hits Deutsche Bank Germany's largest lender is accused of spying on two board members it suspected of leaking sensitive details, as well as one critical shareholder.

State prosecutors are now trying to establish whether to launch a formal criminal investigation.

The bank refused to comment on reports that it had dismissed two of its staff members in connection with the claims.

Global swine flu deaths top 700

This represents a jump of at least two-thirds from the last official death toll figure of 429, published by the WHO on July 6.

Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, has warned that swine flu will become the biggest flu pandemic ever seen.

However, most cases continue to produce only mild symptoms.

The overwhelming majority of patients usually recover, even without medical treatment, within a week of falling ill.

Stressed parents up asthma risk

They found the children of tense parents who lived in polluted areas were far more likely to have asthma than friends in the same neighbourhood.

The University of California team believe parental anxieties combine with other known risk factors to increase a child's asthma risk.

Taser-hit man burst into flames

Police say they used the Taser on Ronald Mitchell, 36, when he ran at them carrying a container of petrol and a cigarette lighter.

New Australian fuel 'cuts abuse'

A newly developed fuel has successfully reduced petrol-sniffing in Aboriginal communities in Australia's central desert region.

Continental makes 1,700 job cuts

The carrier had previously cut 500 jobs for reservation agents and given leave of absence to 700 flight attendants.

Q&A: The South Can Also Be Consumers of Fair Tra ...

CAPE TOWN, Jul 21 (IPS) - Fair trade is moving into a different era as developing countries become consumers and not just producers of fair trade products. South Africa is the first country from the South to initiate this shift.

Pentagon Reclassifying Documents Already in the Public Domain

Pentagon classification authorities are treating classified historical documents as if they contain today’s secrets, rather than decades-old information that has not been secret for years. On Friday, the National Security Archive posted multiple versions of the same documents—on issues ranging from the 1973 October War to anti-ballistic missiles, strategic arms control, and U.S. policy toward China—that are already declassified and in the public domain.

What earlier declassification reviewers released in full, sometimes years ago, Pentagon reviewers have more recently excised, sometimes massively. The overclassification highlighted by these examples poses a major problem that should be addressed by the ongoing review of national security information policy that President Obama ordered on May 27, 2009. New presumptions against classification that may be added to an executive order on national security information will not, in isolation, end overclassification.


Clinton Outlines Continuation of Bush Policies Under Obama at CFR

Setting aside the platitudes that comprised most of Clinton’s speech and looking closely at her remarks that actually spoke meaningfully towards U.S. policy under the Obama, a different picture emerges, one not of a change of course from Bush but rather of near perfect continuity between the two administrations.

Obama’s foreign policy parallels Bush’s. The train may have switched tracks, but it’s still headed in the same direction.

U.S. foreign policy doesn’t really contradict enlightened rhetoric and declarations of benevolent intent from policy makers. The U.S. isn’t really condescending or imperialistic. It doesn’t really seek only to expand its power at the expense of others. No, these are merely “perceptions”, and false ones. The obvious corollary is that we musn’t change our policies, only work to correct these warped perceptions that cause people to unjustly oppose U.S. actions.

It hardly needs to be said that there’s nothing new about that formula.

President Carter: Many Children Were Tortured Under Bush

The U.S. has been hunting and killing Al Qaeda leaders outside of official war zones since 2004, when the New York Times reported that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had signed an order authorizing Special Forces to kill Al Qaeda where they found them.

As recently as September 2008 CBS reported that Special Forces struck Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

A weight of evidence keeps building which indicates torture was employed on innocent men, that it didn't work, and that it didn't prevent any attacks. And it gets worse. Bush's own FBI Director Robert Mueller recently confirmed to the New York Times what he told Vanity Fair a year ago, that "to [his] knowledge" torture didn't prevent a single attack. Former Legendary CIA Director William Colby has said that torture is "ineffective."

"In the days after Obama’s speech at the CIA, both Axelrod and Emanuel insisted that the White House had made the decision that there would be no prosecutions. According to reliable sources, that incensed Holder, who felt that the remarks had compromised the integrity both of the White House and Justice Department by suggesting that political advisers made the call on who would or would not be criminally investigated."

" Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."

There can be redemption for a nation which faces its past. One that does not can only become more monstrous.

U.S. to increase army by 22,000

Britain is backing the Taleban
Despite the grim toll of British soldiers' bodies coming home in coffins, many Afghans believe British troops have been helping the Taleban.

Sen Gregg : Force the poor to buy health insurance
New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who was almost President Obama's commerce secretary, thinks he has a solution to America's healthcare crisis.

DHS chief accused of using the no-fly list for political payback

Arizona's state treasurer is not-so-subtly accusing President Obama's Homeland Security chief of abusing America's "no-fly" list to satisfy a personal vendetta against him.

State Treasurer Dean Martin told Arizona CBS affiliate KPHO that his name suddenly appeared on the government's list of those banned from US commercial flights after former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano became head of the DHS.

"My staff used to joke after my disagreements with the previous governor that I wouldn't be able to fly once she got back in D.C." he told KPHO. "I didn't believe them, but it's actually happening."

German mass swine flu vaccinations start in September

22.5 million people can be vaccinated in the first stage of a massive anti-swine flu scheme that starts in September. Health and public workers, as well as chronically ill people will get the flu shots first.

Britain is planning to quietly spend up to £100m on support for genetically modified crops for the world's poor despite not having allowed any of the controversial foods to be grown commercially at home. Support for an international network of GM crop research stations, in collaboration with GM companies, will be doubled.

Events have already forced Premier Brian Cowen to carry out the harshest assault yet seen on the public services of a modern Western state. He has passed two emergency budgets to stop the deficit soaring to 15pc of GDP.
As the International Monetary Fund made clear last week, Britain is lucky that markets have not yet imposed a "penalty interest" on British Gilts, given the trajectory of UK national debt – now vaulting towards 100pc of GDP – and the scandalous refusal of this Government to map out any path back to solvency.

Increasing numbers of urban Russians are responding to the country’s economic crisis by turning to vegetable growing for the first time.

Nissan is expected to announce today new investment in its UK facilities, but refused to comment on speculation that it would produce electric cars in Britain.

ACU showed right-wingers can apparently be purchased wholesale.
The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group's support in a bitter legislative dispute, then the group's chairman flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: "Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU's Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU's board of directors.

China 'releases quarantined pupils'

No comments:

Post a Comment