by Odd Man Out
By Odd Man Out
From The Telegraph:
A judge in Washington DC has allowed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency to use a loophole to keep information from MPs that might include information about the complicity of UK authorities in extraordinary rendition.
Under US freedom of information laws, the release of documents to anyone representing a foreign government can be blocked.
According to the Independent [newspaper], the CIA won the ruling after the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition made a number of requests for information while members investigated the UK’s knowledge of torture against terror suspects.
Tony Lloyd, vice-chairman of the cross-party group, told the newspaper the judgment was “disappointing” and had been sought to avoid embarrassment.
“It suggests this material is not really something that affects national security or intelligence, but is being withheld to prevent the embarrassment of officials,” he said.
Imagine the arrogance — Britain, the closest ally of the United States, requests information from the U.S. about the activities of British officials and is essentially told to piss off. Is the court guarding information that’s merely embarrassing, or is the information potentially incriminating? So much for the pursuit of justice.
The news story is reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, which is party about U.S.-British cooperation on extraordinary rendition and torture, with Pierce Brosnan as a thinly veiled version of Tony Blair. Except that in this case you can’t say, “It’s only a movie.”
By Odd Man Out
A reporter for Mother Jones worked on assignment for an online shipping company and heard this from a member of the local chamber of commerce:
“But look at it from their perspective. They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they’re gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they’re gonna increase the goals. But they’ll be yelling at you all the time. It’s like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they’re going to tell you, ‘You’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough,’ to make you work harder. Don’t say, ‘This is the best I can do.’ Say, ‘I’ll try,’ even if you know you can’t do it. Because if you say, ‘This is the best I can do,’ they’ll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You’ll see people dropping all around you. But don’t take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you.”
by Odd Man Out
Thanks to the Citizens United debacle created by the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s no exaggeration to say that people such as Charles and David Koch are in a position to severely damage what’s left of our electoral process. From Robert Greenwald of Alternet:
The truth is that the billionaire brothers bankrolling the conservative movement are using their wealth in a way that should be terrifying to anyone who thinks democracy is about more than pulling a lever every two years and letting rich folks take care of the rest.
Accordingly, here are 10 facts that every American should know about who the Kochs are and what they’re doing to our country.
1. Koch Industries, which the brothers own, is one of the top ten polluters in the United States – which perhaps explains why the Kochs have given $60 million to climate denial groups between 1997 and 2010.
2. The Kochs are the oil and gas industry’s biggest donors to the congressional committee with oversight of the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline. They and their employees gave more than $300,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010 alone.
3. From 1998-2008, Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $196 million to organizations that favor polices that would financially enrich the two brothers. In addition, Koch Industries spent $50 million on lobbying and some $8 million in PAC contributions.
4. The Koch fortune has its origins in engineering contracts with Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.
5. The Kochs are suing to take over the Cato Institute, which has accused the Kochs of attempting to destroy the group’s identity as an independent, libertarian think and align it more closely with a partisan agenda.
6. A Huffington Post source who was at a three-day retreat of conservative billionaires said the Koch brothers pledged to donate $60 million to defeat President Obama in 2012 and produce pledges of $40 million more from others at the retreat.
7. Since 2000, the Kochs have collected almost $100 million in government contracts, mostly from the Department of Defense.
8. Koch Industries has an annual production capacity of 2.2 billion pounds of the carcinogen formaldehyde. The company has worked to keep it from being classified as a carcinogen even though David Koch is a prostate cancer survivor.
9. The Koch brothers’ combined fortune of roughly $50 billion is exceeded only by that of Bill Gates in the United States.
10. The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs accused Koch Oil of scheming to steal $31 million of crude oil from Native Americans. Although the company claimed it was accidental, a former executive in this operation said Charles Koch had known about it and had responded to the overages by saying, “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it.”
By Odd Man Out
The “too-big-to-fail” bank Wells Fargo received a $37 billion bailout from the government after playing a major role in sparking the 2008 collapse of the housing market. Now the bank is bigger than ever and investing heavily in one of the country’s fasted-growing industries — for-profit prisons. More here.
By Odd Man Out
After months of dodging questions about the progress of an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting, the White House won’t issue the directive, but will instead study whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees require employment protections…
Study. Who is the White House flack who issued the statement trying to fool? The correct phrasing would that Obama “will instead shrink away from issuing an order that would have ensured legal protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.”
The delay represents a departure for the president who committed to supporting a “formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression…for all Federal contractors” as a candidate in 2008 and pledged to fight for the community in 2009 and 2011.
The question is why would Obama, already famous for breaking his word on controversial policy promises, reverse field on a seemingly popular initiative — according to a poll, 73 percent of the American public would have supported it — with an election coming up? Are his polling wonks telling him the executive order would hurt rather than help his chances in key states? Just asking.
By Odd Man Out
The rickety wheels of justice rolled forward yesterday in Florida. From Reuters:
George Zimmerman is under arrest, charged with second degree murder in the [Feb. 26] shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida special prosecutor announced Wednesday.
Zimmerman, 28, who’s been in hiding since news of Martin’s killing gained worldwide attention, turned himself in on an arrest warrant, called a capias, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey said at a news conference.
“I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly,” Corey said in remarks broadcast live on TV and online. “We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts in any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida.”
Blah blah. Corey was just setting the record straight for those cynics among us who figure the killing would have been completely ignored by the state if not for persistent public criticism. Perish the thought.