No to a Smoking Ban in Cars! Reply

From the Libertarian Alliance.

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The British Medical Association has called for a smoking ban in cars. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance denounces this call for the following reasons:

  1. It is not the business of the State to protect individuals from the alleged effects of their own actions. The argument that smokers may impose costs on others via treatment on the NHS is really a comment on the totalitarian implications of the coerced pooling of risk at the heart of state health care. Even if valid, this argument would also justify recriminalising gay sex to reduce the cost of treating aids, or banning all dangerous sports.
  2. The argument from “passive smoking” is based on falsehoods. There is no way of gathering meaningful data, nor even sound epidemiological evidence that passive smoking exists. The alleged figure of 300,000 children harmed every year in the UK by passive smoking is what is called a “junk statistic.” It is in the same league as the claims made in the 1980s about the number of people who would die of aids by 1990, or the claims made in the 1990s about the numbers who would soon be dead from mad cow disease. It is almost as gross a falsehood as the fraudulent global warming claims made by British scientists.
  3. These statistics produced by pressure groups and politicians are plainly dubious on their own account. Every single statistical claim reported by the media and accepted by the politicians seems to justify higher taxes or tighter controls on adult actions, or both. There was a time when it was necessary to bribe priests into saying that God wanted if before the authorities could oppress ordinary people. Nowadays, a set of junk statistics is produced.
  4. The demand for a smoking ban in cars is also an instance of the “saving the kiddies” argument. This proceeds by hiding the agenda of control behind a cloud of hot air about the need to protect children.

Therefore, the Libertarian Alliance is against any smoking ban in cars.

Busted! Two New Fed GPS Trackers Found on SUV Reply

Article by Kim Zetter.

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The second of two GPS trackers found recently on the vehicle of a young man in California.
Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear oral arguments in a case Tuesday that could determine if authorities can track U.S. citizens with GPS vehicle trackers without a warrant, a young man in California has come forward to Wired to reveal that he found not one but two different devices on his vehicle recently.

The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath the vehicle of the young man’s girlfriend while her car was parked at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved from her car.

Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired interview with the man.

The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.

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Is the US Getting Domestic Indefinite Military Detention for Thanksgiving? Reply

Article by Adam Serwer.

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A bipartisan group of senators is poised to force through dramatic changes to how the US government handles suspected terrorists—over the objections of the White House and Senate Democratic leadership.

Legislative language that emerged from the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday afternoon would mandate the automatic, indefinite military detention of noncitizens apprehended in the United States who are suspected members of Al Qaeda or associated groups. The wording, which is part of a must-pass bill to fund the military, also appears to allow the indefinite military detention of citizens and legal permanent residents. The bill would also extend restrictions on transfers of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, though only for one year.
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This Is What Revolution Looks Like Reply

Article by Chris Hedges.

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Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.

Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise. They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security—by making us disappear. They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation, a nation where crime and government policy have become indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving, where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth, human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and the voice of the people is a cruel joke.

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God and Man (and Secession) at Yale Reply

Article by Thomas Naylor.

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When I team taught a course on corporate strategy back in 1980 at the Yale School of Management with economist Martin Shubik and former New York Timeschief financial officer Leonard Forman, I never dreamed I would be invited back to Yale thirty years later to be the keynote speaker for a debate on, of all things, secession.  Yet on the evening of November 9th, the Yale Political Union, the largest student organization on campus, held such a debate to consider the resolution, “Be it resolved that the United States of America be peacefully dissolved.”  One can’t even imagine how long it must have been since a politically correct Ivy League college organized a major debate on secession?

Founded in 1934 as a debate society, members of the Yale Political Union include Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and others.  Each member belongs to one of seven political parties: either the Liberal Party, the Party of the Left, the Independent Party, the Federalist Party, the Conservative Party, the Tory Party, or the Party of the Right.  Past presidents have included Senator John Kerry, New York Governor George Pataki, and writers William F. Buckley and Fareed Zakaria.  The YPU’s list of past speakers reads like a veritable Who’s Who in American Politics.  Right wing writer and darling of Fox News, Ann Coulter, was there a couple of weeks earlier.

My charge that the U.S. Government is an immoral, undemocratic, over sized, materialistic, unsustainable, ungovernable, unfixable military machine run by and for the benefit of the superrich precipitated a lively and very intense response from the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Yalies.

The liberal Democrats and the neoconservatives, both apologists for big government, didn’t like what I had to say one bit.  The rebuttal speaker, a young Filipino, made the case for America’s role as the global policeman.  The fate of America’s nuclear arsenal was the primary concern of another participant.  A conservative woman worried about the possible impact on copyright protection.  My favorite response came from a student from Rochester, N.Y., who feared that dissolution of the American Empire might threaten the future of the Super Bowl, which he considered to be an integral part of American exceptionalistm.

A lot more students came to my defense than I had expected.  They included several libertarians, some hard core leftists, and a Mexican socialist.  One student even claimed to be a fan of the Second Vermont Republic.

What was particularly gratifying about the debate was the extent of the engagement of these very bright, articulate Yale undergraduates in a conversation about a politically incorrect topic which had been summarily rejected by most Americans for over 150 years.  There seemed to be a willingness to think outside of the box and openly discuss heretofore unimaginable political options such as radical decentralization, Internet based direct democracy, secession, and even peaceful dissolution.

Many of the Yale debaters appeared to have been influenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Although not everyone was in agreement with the goals and tactics of OWS, the movement has produced a tailwind of support for political change which was clearly evident in the debate hall.

After two hours of intense discussion, there was a motion to end debate and vote on the resolution.  Much to my surprise 45 percent of the participants voted to dissolve the United States.  Maybe there is hope after all, if that many Yalies opt for secession rather than empire.

Thomas H. Naylor

November 14, 2011

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author ofAffluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.  www.vermontrepublic.org

The 1994 Christian Children’s Fund Scandal: Precursor to the Penn State Debacle Reply

Article by Thomas Naylor.

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Former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s connection to the university’s football related sex scandal was not his first brush with scandal involving a major organization under his watch.  In 1994, while he was Chancellor of the University of Nebraska, Spanier was also Chairman of the Board of the Christian Children’s Fund, the largest child sponsorship organization in the world, located in Richmond, Virginia.  After serving on the CCF board myself for two years, in March, 1994, I was kicked off the board for whistle blowing.  Subsequently, I went public with my charges of corruption against the $112 million organization, which claimed to support 400,000 children in 40 countries, whose board Spanier chaired.

Not unlike hundreds of thousands of other Americans, I too had been seduced by emotionally charged television advertisements extolling the virtues of sending a monthly check to a private child sponsorship organization such as Childreach or World Vision.  Long before I joined the board of CCF, I had been a sponsor of a child in Bangladesh through Save the Children.  The possibility of sponsoring one’s own child in an impoverished third-world country has enormous appeal.  It is neat, clean, tax-deductible, and hassle-free.  You do not have to travel anywhere; you need not see or touch any smelly, filthy children; and you avoid the risk of disease and sickness.  Even though you are completely detached from your child, writing a check makes you feel good.

During my first year on the CCF board I sat on the audit committee, where I was exposed to a series of quarterly horror stories describing incidents of fraud, theft, and mismanagement in CCF projects in places such as Brazil, Haiti, India, Thailand, Ethiopia, Oklahoma, and North Dakota.  After awhile I realized that none of these problems were ever reported to have been resolved.  Then one day a new board member, upon hearing the stories of the internal auditor, proclaimed, “This is scary stuff.”  And he was right.  I decided to dig deeper into the matter.

The bedrock on which child sponsorship organizations based their fund raising appeals was the so-called 80-20 rule.  CCF was no exception to the rule.  For every dollar received from sponsors, CCF claimed that 80 cents went to support children and that the remaining 20 cents was used for management and fund raising.  There was only one catch.  It was not true.

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The Bloody Red Flag 2

Jim Goad on the Antifa’s ancestors.

 

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Trending online news topics often cough up amusingly odd juxtapositions, such as when “Auschwitz” was #2 behind “LeAnn Rimes” and right ahead of “Holiday Bread Recipes” on Yahoo!’s home page. Although I didn’t get a screen capture, I swear to whatever God will listen to me that a few days ago, Kristallnacht was trending on Yahoo! amid a pack of similarly weighty topics such as Justin Bieber and Snooki.

What the hell was Kristallnacht doing in the news?

I won’t deny that it was horrible—I mean, especially if you were Jewish. But apparently it was trending because November 9th was the 73rd anniversary of the “Night of Broken Glass.” Only two more years, and they’ll be celebrating the Diamond Anniversary. Or the Platinum. I’m not sure. I always get those two confused.

Either way—long time ago, no? Why are we still “celebrating” it? Godwin’s Law dictates that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” Godwin’s Law should be extended to include online news sites—check enough headlines, and you’ll inevitably see something about the Holocaust. It’s inescapable. When they—and by “they,” I of course mean “the Jews”—said “Never forget,” they weren’t kidding!

Godwin’s Lawmen invoke their law as a sort of reductio ad absurdum argument to discredit anything perceived as even slightly to the political “right” of center. If you believe that some people in your mid-sized Midwestern city exploit their welfare checks, well, you obviously want to roast Jews alive and naked in open-pit barbecues while force-feeding them pork.

“Goadwin’s Law: Any time someone mentions Nazi atrocities, remind them that the communists killed more people.”

To counteract its lamentably pervasive effects, I propose Goadwin’s Law: Any time someone mentions Nazi atrocities, remind them that the communists killed more people.

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Return of the War Party? Reply

Article by Pat Buchanan.

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Is a vote for the Republican Party in 2012 a vote for war?

Is a vote for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich a vote for yet another unfunded war of choice, this time with a nation, Iran, three times as large and populous as Iraq?

Mitt says that if elected he will move carriers into the Persian Gulf and “prepare for war.” Newt is even more hawkish. America should continue “taking out” Iran’s nuclear scientists—i.e., assassinating them—but military action will probably be needed.

Newt is talking up uber-hawk John Bolton for secretary of state.

Rick Santorum has already called for U.S.-Israeli strikes: “Either we’re going to stop them … or take the long term consequences of having a nuclear Iran trying to wipe out the state of Israel.”

But if Iran represents, as Bibi Netanyahu is forever reminding us, an “existential threat,” why does not Israel itself, with hundreds of nuclear weapons, deal with it?

Bibi’s inaction speaks louder than Bibi’s words.

He wants the Americans to do it.

“Bibi’s inaction speaks louder than Bibi’s words.”

For the retired head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, calls attacking Iran “the stupidest thing I have ever heard of.” He means stupid for Israel.

Why? Because an Israeli attack would be costly in planes and pilots, and only set back Iran’s nuclear program. And such a pre-emptive strike would unify Iranians behind the regime.

Moreover, Israel would be inviting Tehran’s ally Hezbollah to rain down rockets on Israel, igniting another of the bloody Lebanon wars that Israel was desperate to end the last time.

As for the United States, the only way we could eliminate Iran’s nuclear program would be days of air and missile strikes.

Iran could retaliate by cutting off oil exports and mining the Strait of Hormuz, tripling the world price of oil, and hurling the European Union and United States into recession.

Iran could also turn Hezbollah loose on Americans in Lebanon and urge Shias to attack U.S. troops, diplomats and civilians in Bahrain, Iraq and Afghanistan, and here in the United States.

No one knows how this would end. A U.S.-Iran war could force us to march to Tehran to remove the Islamic regime and scour that huge country to ensure that it was shorn of weapons of mass destruction—for an Islamic regime that survived a U.S. war would be hellbent on acquiring the bomb to pay us back. Yet, we lack a large enough army to occupy Iran.

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Western imperialism and its neocolonial puppets out of Somali Reply

From UhuruNews.Com

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On Sunday October 16, troops from Kenya entered Somalia, not to help end the famine by planting food (as it is planting season), or to help with irrigation, but to kill more Africans.

It has been reported that the French army is also assisting them by transporting weapons and other logistical equipment to attack the horn of Africa.

The neocolonial government of Mwai Kibaki agreed to send in troops to attack al-Shabaab citing the usual imperialist propaganda: “Al-Shabaab presents a clear and present danger to the security of the world and especially of the East Africa region.”

This was what the government spokesman Mutua stated in a press conference reported by the Associated Press.

The Kenyan army is not alone. It will be amongst other African Union soldiers and Ethiopian security personnel, already occupying Somalia.

To add to the suffering of millions of Africans in Somalia facing drought and starvation, the U.S. has stepped up its bombing of the country which began in 2006 under U.S. president George Bush.

Today the military attack on Africa’s impoverished people is led by the first U.S. African president, whose father was also from East Africa.
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NYPD Gestapo Shutting Down OWS. Shut Down NYPD! Reply

From Kevin Carson.

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NYPD Whiteshirt Gestapo are raiding Zuccotti Park on orders from Bloomberg, evicting protestors, conducting mass arrests.

Let’s shut down the NYC government. Swarm the phone lines, emails and faxes of the Mayor’s office and NYPD.

For starters:

Bloomberg’s email:http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html
Bloomberg’s Fax: (212) 312-0700
NYPD 1st precinct: (212) 334-0611
NYPD Central Booking: (718) 875-6303
NYPD Internal Affairs: (212) 487-7350
City Hall: (212) 788-3058

Circulate this far and wide, jam the city government’s phone lines, and demand Bloomberg’s thugs STAND DOWN NOW!

Addicted to Incarceration Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

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A new American Civil Liberties Union report documents an area of public policy you’ll never hear much debate about within the political class: “How private prison companies have capitalized on the nation’s addiction to incarceration.” The report sheds light on a societal cancer that generates billions for plutocrats.

The Drug War is among the ruling class’s expedient multitools, used to justify every totalitarian extension of the state from domestic repression to global meddling. As it does with everything else, the use of authority to constrain the drug trade creates in illegal drugs a new and artificial importance, a pot of gold materializing from “restrictionist price.”

Since drug prices are determined not by free exchange between consenting adults, but by arbitrary legal controls, drugs become far more profitable than they would otherwise be. The result is a state-created point of intersection with society that not coincidentally serves the ruling class’s interests.

Whatever its outward objectives, the War on Drugs is in fact primarily an economic distortion, formulated — deliberately or not — to accomplish specific goals. Among these goals is to provide life support for an unparalleled and well-documented mass incarceration society.

Per Damon Barrett’s exhaustive study of drug policy Children of the Drug War, America’s War on Drugs “giv[es] ‘the land of the free’ the contradictory distinction of having the highest incarceration rate of any country on the planet,” by no insignificant margin. US political administrations from Reagan’s through George W. Bush’s, Barrett points out, increased imprisonment of drug offenders by more than 1,000 percent.

This has naturally redounded to the benefit of America’s overgrown, welfare-hounding prison companies, firms like Corrections Corporation of America, which consume hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Even as states throughout the country go functionally bankrupt, prison companies are doing better than ever, cashing in on their relationships with policymakers and regulators.

Given that the Drug War hasn’t corresponded with anything like a reduction in drug use or drug-related crime (indeed, most data indicate that drugs are more readily available than ever), we can only conclude that monopoly capitalism is the true engine behind that war.

But we should take care to note that using the coercive mechanisms of the state to profit by caging human beings is not characteristic of a free market. Genuine free markets stand in stark contrast to the dishonest system of profiteering that binds the state and capital together today, colluding to produce prisoners faster than the prisons can swallow them up.

Market anarchists believe, in the words of Benjamin Tucker, that “attempts to arbitrarily suppress vice [are] in themselves crimes.” However one regards participation in drug use, alcohol consumption, or any other popular vice, a free society treats only invasion against others as a criminal act.

And it is invasion against peaceful society that the Drug War prescribes, allowing elites to capitalize on a market that would not exist but for that invasion. Like alcohol prohibition before it, drug prohibition has been a blessing only for organized crime — the “legitimate” sort sitting in Washington, and the gangs that wish to protect the high prices rendered by illegality.

Genuine free markets would vastly decrease the destructive power of drugs within society, a power that is today guarded greedily by powerful interests.

US weapons 'full of fake Chinese parts' Reply

Article by Malcolm Moore.

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US weapons 'full of fake Chinese parts'

A Lockheed Martin C-130J “Super Hercules” Photo: AP
Malcolm Moore

By , Shanghai

The US Senate Armed Services Committee said its researchers had uncovered 1,800 cases in which the Pentagon had been sold electronics that may be counterfeit.

In total, the committee said it had found more than a million fake parts had made their way into warplanes such as the Boeing C-17 transport jet and the Lockheed Martin C-130J “Super Hercules”.

It also found fake components in Boeing’s CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter and the Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system.

“A million parts is surely a huge number. But I want to repeat this: we have only looked at a portion of the defence supply chain. So those 1,800 cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Senator Carl Levin.

In around seven in 10 cases, the fake parts originated in China, while investigators traced another 20 per cent of cases to the United Kingdom and Canada, known resale points for Chinese counterfeits.

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Washington’s enemy ‘doesn’t exist’ Reply

From Russia Today.

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Americans are in the crosshairs of terrorists worldwide purely due to Washington’s policy in the Muslim world, not because there is an Islamic enemy whose only aim is to kill Americans for their freedoms and lifestyle, insists a former CIA officer.

Historian Michael Scheuer, an author of “Through our enemies’ eyes”, who worked for the agency for over 20 years till 2004 and at one time was the chief of the CIA’s ‘Bin Laden unit’, says America’s greatest enemy – radical Islam – never existed: neither when Bin Laden was alive, nor now.

Israeli lobby drag America into wars

Actually, “it is America’s relationship with Israel that is causing this war [on Islam]”, and until Americans accept this, “we are not going to defeat this enemy,” the author says.

Michael Scheuer believes it is the Israeli lobby in America that is dragging the US into wars.

“In Israel itself as a country, it is not a problem. The real problem is the leaders of the Jewish American community in the US, who influence and corrupt our Congress to support Israel when we have no interest there,” he states.

“The American political establishment is caught between two things. They are extremely pro-Israel and they are almost Marxist in their belief that the spread of democracy is inevitable in all places, in all peoples, in all time,”evaluates the former CIA officer, adding that in their desire to protect Israel, the US establishment cannot tell what’s real.

Radical islamists will benefit

Michael Scheuer predicts that in countries caught up in the Arab Spring like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, “there is not going to be a democracy that in any way resembles democracy in the west.”

At the same time, the anarchy being created in the Muslim world will make radical Islamists the only beneficiaries of the chaos engulfing the Arab countries.

According to Michael Scheuer, further radicalization of Islamist groups, particularly in Africa, is inevitable – thanks to guns becoming more affordable.

The endless flow of uncounted weapons and the opened prisons in the above countries have reinforced Islamist groups around the world, believes Scheuer.

“Their [American political establishment’s] mindless pursuit of secular democracy at the end of the day endangers the stability of the region and probably the whole world,” he says.

If Syria falls to Islamists – Israel will go down

As for the situation in Syria – it has been interfered in by the US unconscionably.

“Until they [the Syrians] removed the US ambassador, he was running around their country trying to encourage groups to overthrow the Syrian government. That is not the role of any diplomat, US, Russian, Chinese or British,” the author points out, saying that “Syrians were urged onto the streets cold-bloodedly,” without mention of the possibility of being shot dead by the government.

The author recalls that Syria, with its traditional support of Hezbollah, is naturally an Israeli zone of interest, not an American one.

“Syria is a country with no US interest. Since I was a little boy, we’ve been afraid of the Syrians,” the author says, laughing at the fact that “if you look at the map – it’s hard to imagine that this little blat of country called Syria could be a threat to the US.”

Clarifying a possible result of any American success in Syria, Scheuer says that “this is another good example of dichotomy in the thinking of the American leaders. Because as we call for democracy in Syria, if Assad goes – Israel’s security goes straight down.”

Israel sets US plans on Iran

Michael Scheuer reveals that America’s ‘plan on Iran’ depends on that of Israel.

“Both Republicans and Democrats are deathly afraid that Israelis will attack Iran off their own work. If Israel attacks Iran, the Americans will get blamed for condoning it, whether we did or not,” he explains.

“What we are seeing is a slow, almost non-accelerable advance toward some kind of a conflict with Tehran.”

He labels the alleged plot of eliminating a Saudi Arabian ambassador in the US with the help of a Mexican drug cartel“a comic uproar”, saying he can hardly believe Iran would risk a war with the US, Israel and much of NATO, just to kill somebody who is not even a member of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia.

“They’ve come down under belief that democracy is better for everybody. The truth is, American and western foreign policy interests in the Middle East have depended for 50 years on the maintenance of tyranny that gave us access to oil, that protected Israel and persecuted Islamists to protect us. All of that going by the wayside,” acknowledges the author, recalling the Israelis, who were first to realize that democracy might not be good for their security.

‘Libya will be anti-American’

Answering a question about war-torn Libya, the author pointed out that this country is notorious for having its Islamists fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then the same men encountering the Americans in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. Michael Scheuer is uncertain whether Libya will become a hotbed for terrorists, but “it will decidedly be anti-American and anti-NATO”.

‘We are fighting a religious war’

Despite being largely well-educated and technologically advanced,

“America lacks common sense”

, claims the former CIA officer, maintaining that for the last 20 years, the US has been very efficient in creating enemies and endangering security. The last four American presidents have been telling the population that the wars the US wages abroad are against a bunch of madmen, and in no way religious wars.

“We are definitely fighting a religious war. And until we come to realize that – we are never going to be able to defeat it,” Scheuer concludes.

“Let the Chinese deal with these [Islamist] people for the next 50 years, we’ve had enough of it, but the point is – the Americans cannot get out.”

Gadhafi’s Gold-money Plan Would Have Devastated Dollar Reply

Article by Alex Newman.

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courtesy The New American

(Editor’s note: Ever wonder why, all of a sudden, Gadhafi became a pariah who needed killing? Here’s the answer. And if Libya had 150 tons of gold, where is it now? If you think that the present banking system will voluntarily re-adopt the gold standard, you’re nuts. This is yet another reason why secession is the ONLY solution for liberty.)

It remains unclear exactly why or how the Gadhafi regime went from “a model” and an “important ally” to the next target for regime change in a period of just a few years. But after claims of “genocide” as the justification for NATO intervention were disputed by experts, several other theories have been floated.

Oil, of course, has been mentioned frequently — Libya is Africa‘s largest oil producer. But one possible reason in particular for Gadhafi’s fall from grace has gained significant traction among analysts and segments of the non-Western media: central banking and the global monetary system.

According to more than a few observers, Gadhafi’s plan to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. dollars — demanding payment instead in gold-backed “dinars” (a single African currency made from gold) — was the real cause. The regime, sitting on massive amounts of gold, estimated at close to 150 tons, was also pushing other African and Middle Eastern governments to follow suit.

US to build Military Base in Australia to ward off growing China threat Reply

From the European Union Times.

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Australia is set to become home to hundreds of U.S. Marines – as America moves its servicemen to a military base on the northern tip of the country.

In a bid to combat China’s increase in global military and financial power, between 500 to 1,000 officers are to form a permanent U.S. military presence at a barracks outside Darwin.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to formally reveal the plans – which will further anchor American influence in Asia but have prompted fears the area could become a target for terrorists – during a visit to the city next week.

The U.S. currently only has a limited deployment in its long-standing ally, including the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility spy station near Alice Springs, which has coordinated air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The move represents a potentially significant geo-strategic shift, which is said to have been under consideration for some years as Washington looks to boost its Pacific Command.

A new base will not be built in the city, instead the marines will use the existing Robertson Barracks nearby.

It is currently home to 4,500 Australian soldiers and will need to be expanded to cater for the US Marines, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

In a speech to a national security workshop today, Australian defence minister Stephen Smith said: ‘This would potentially see more ship visits, more visiting aircraft and more training and exercising through northern Australia. It would also include the pre-positioning of United States equipment in Australia.’

U.S. Marines are already based at Okinawa in Japan, and on Guam, a U.S. territory 1,500 miles north of Papua New Guinea, as America’s chief combat force in the Pacific theatre. The new plan would intensify the 60 year military alliance between the two countries.

Analysts said the move was largely a response to the rise of China, which is boosting its military spending and capabilities.

China is also becoming increasingly assertive on the high seas, where it claims sovereignty over essentially all of the South China Sea, a key global trading route.

Professor Geoffrey Garrett, chief executive of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said the U.S. strategy had two elements. He said: ‘China looms very large for both Australia and the US.

‘The first concerns strengthening America’s alliances and friendships in the region as an insurance policy that China’s until now very peaceful rise changes course.

‘The second is trying to build a regional economic architecture for the Asia-Pacific.

‘That will be based on the market principles of America and Australia that China over time will have powerful incentives to join.

‘Even if this entails domestic reforms it has been unwilling to undertake up until now.’

Asked about the U.S. potentially stationing troops in Australia, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing had noted the reports.

He said: ‘We hope that bilateral co-operation between relevant countries will be conducive to peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.’

But despite the fears, Andrew Shearer, director of studies at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, said the move was ‘not all about China’.

He added: ‘Everyone draws the China connection but it’s as much to do with the rise of India as well. It’s not all about defence, but to be able to conduct disaster relief, counter piracy and keep shipping lanes free.’

Protesters arrested, challenged as police confront Occupy activists Reply

From CNN.

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Police attempt to disperse a crowd at Occupy Portland on Sunday.

Police attempt to disperse a crowd at Occupy Portland on Sunday.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 2 Denver police injured, 2 activists arrested Sunday
  • Portland riot police trying to clear street face off with Occupy protesters
  • Sexual assault reported at Occupy Philly camp, mayor says
  • Salt Lake City police clear camp, arrest 19 protesters

(CNN) — Occupy activists and law enforcement authorities found themselves at odds in several U.S. cities over the weekend, including yet another tense showdown late Sunday afternoon in Portland, Oregon.

Police in riot gear and holding batons lined up for hours along a city street, face-to-face with activists who refused to clear the road and go onto the sidewalk. This confrontation came hours after Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson said more than a dozen people were arrested as authorities cleared Chapman Square, the last city park where protesters had gathered.

Simpson said the officers were in riot gear as a precaution, and were joined by other assisting agencies. “We needed the manpower because we used up a lot of resources yesterday (Saturday),” he said.

Mayor Sam Adams said late Sunday afternoon that “a series of increased drug overdoses… an arsonist that used the camp as camouflage and almost a 20% increase in crime surrounding the encampment” prompted the move.

“All of us are working really hard at keeping the peace and protecting freedom of expression,” Adams told CNN. “I support a lot of what the encampment stands for … (But) it shouldn’t be focused on port-a-potties and tents and encampments attracting criminal elements. I think this movement needs to evolve.”

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Regime Change in Europe: Do Greece and Italy Amount to a Bankers' Coup? Reply

From TIME Magazine.

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The voice of the people isn’t something the markets seem to want to hear these days. First there was Greece, the cradle of democracy itself, where early this month, the merest mention of a referendum offering its citizens a say in a series of severe austerity measures was enough to send the markets into a tailspin. The ultimate result: the collapse of Prime Minister George Papandreou’s ruling coalition, the rejection of any notion of bringing the proposal before the people, and the installation of a caretaker government under the leadership of Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank and, until earlier this week, a visiting professor at Harvard.

Then came Italy. As Athens threatened to go under, Rome found itself under pressure not so much for its level of debt — which though high is generally considered within the limits of sustainability — as much as for the erratic behavior of its flamboyant prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. On Monday, investors seemed to make the collective decision that he could no longer be trusted at the helm of the euro zone’s third largest economy and sent Italy’s cost of borrowing up towards crisis levels. By the end of the week, not only was Berlusconi finished, so was the very idea of holding a vote to replace him. The markets had spoken, and they didn’t like the idea of going to the electorate. “The country needs reforms, not elections,” said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council on a visit to Rome Friday.(See the top 10 worst Berlusconi gaffes.)

 

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Soldier found guilty of murdering Afghans, sentenced to life Reply

From CNN.

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This photo from the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Calvin Gibbs' tattoos that are suspected to represent his

This photo from the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Calvin Gibbs’ tattoos that are suspected to represent his “kills.”

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs is sentenced to life in prison, with parole possible
  • NEW: He remains under investigation for the 2004 shooting death of a family in Iraq
  • Prosecutors: Gibbs’ platoon staged killings of civilians as firefights with Taliban
  • Defense says Gibbs’ accusers were high on hashish at the time

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington (CNN) — Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs has been sentenced to life in military prison with eligibility for parole in 10 years.

A military court-martial Thursday found Gibbs guilty of murdering three Afghan civilians, illegally cutting off pieces of their corpses to keep as “souvenirs” and planting weapons to make the men appear as if they were Taliban fighters killed in legitimate firefights.

He was reduced in rank to private and ordered to forfeit all pay and benefits. Whatever sentence Gibbs serves will be reduced by the 547 days he has already spent in prison.

“He said they were all dirty savages,” prosecutor Maj. Andre Leblanc said at Gibbs’ sentencing hearing.

“He is the savage, not the innocent Afghans he murdered. It is monstrous. What kind of savagery does it take to do this? To cut a finger off a victim and show it to people? This is a savage being”

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New Mexico Law and Local Sheriff Trump the Feds Reply

From the PPJ Gazette.

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New Mexico just proved that State law trumps unconstitutional federal regulations and that the power of the sheriff is superior over federal agencies.  This is the power of the Tenth Amendment!

Ten years ago, when Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson was Governor of New Mexico, he signed into law a bill authorizing New Mexico to cut trees and thin overgrown forests that can prevent uncontrollable wildfires.  This law applies to federal lands when federal agencies neglect or mismanage forests and put lives at risk.

The US Forest Service, under the USDA, allowed the Lincoln National Forest in Otero County to become dense and  overgrown and it was a life-threatening hazard.  The agency refused to remediate the problem.

Federal agencies are party to a sinister plot for total control and depopulation through the United Nations, called Agenda 21 Sustainable Development.  Many federal employees who enforce bad environmental policies may not realize they are really enforcing UN Agenda 21.  Part of this plot is the Wildlands Project designed to remove humans from rural lands and allowing forests to grow out of control, even when forest fires threaten human life.

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Moscow Warns Against Attack on Iran Reply

From Russia Today.

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The Russian President has warned militarist rhetoric in the Middle East, and an attack on Iran could lead to a catastrophic war in the region. Dmirtry Medvedev’s statements came during the joint press conference with his German counterpart. Russia has been voicing strong words against an attack on Iran, following statements by Israel that a strike is more likely than diplomacy. The UN atomic watchdog is about to report on Iran’s nuclear activities and provide evidence that Tehran has built a testing facility and computer models of warheads. Iran has dismissed all allegations calling them fabricated. Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi says Iranian bomb only exists in US policymakers’ heads.

Don’t Worry, The Federal Reserve Just Wants To Be Your “Online Friend” Reply

From The American Dream.

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According to CNBC, the Federal Reserve “is planning on monitoring what you say about it on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook”.  Apparently we are not supposed to be alarmed though, because as the CNBC headline states, the Federal Reserve just “wants to be your Facebook friend“.  In fact, the CNBC article says that anyone that feels threatened by the fact that the Federal Reserve will be monitoring what we say on Facebook and Twitter is just “paranoid“.  Well, if it came out that Barack Obama was setting up a system that would identify “key bloggers” and monitor “billions of conversations” on the Internet to see what was being said about him, wouldn’t there be thousands of articles expressing outrage?  Sure there would be.  The Federal Reserve is supposed to be an independent central bank that is above politics.  So why in the world would they need to perform “sentiment analysis” on what is being said about them on “Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube“?  The Federal Reserve obviously intends to identify the negative things that are being said about it and the specific people that are saying those things.  So is it really being “paranoid” to point out that all of this is more than a little bit creepy?

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Scrooge Comes Early This Year With "Christmas Tree Tax" Reply

Article by Kelly Phillips.

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I like a fresh-cut tree at Christmastime. Yes, I know all the arguments against buying fresh-cut Christmas trees and we do it anyway. It happens to be one of my favorite things about the holidays and now that I live in the snowy northeast, there’s something ridiculously gratifying about heading out in mittens and hats with my kids to choose a Christmas tree. If you’ve done it before, you know the drill: finding one that’s not too tall, not too short, not too fat, not too skinny. It’s all part of the fun.

(For the record, before you shoot off a nasty email, you should know that when we take our tree down in January, we cut it up and re-use the branches in the backyard which makes the birds and my garden happy – apparently 93% of all folks with live trees recycle or reuse them in a similar manner.)

 

We’re not the only family that makes the National Lampoon-like trip to get a tree. There areapproximately 25-30 million live Christmas trees sold in the U.S. each year.

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