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War games

by Susie
I’ve thought all along there were too many things about this story that don’t add up. This seems a lot more likely:

The incongruous stories surrounding the March 11 massacre on Afghan civilians in two villages took another turn today, with reports from witnesses in Mokhoyan, one of the two villages targeted, that they were threatened by US troops just days before the massacre.

The witnesses say that troops rounded up all the men from the villages after a roadside bombing, lined them up against a wall, and told them they would “pay a price” for the attack.

The witnesses put the date of the bombing at either March 7 or 8. Previous stories had massacre suspect Robert Bales supposedly “upset” about a bombing in which one of his friends lost a leg.

The military would neither confirm or deny any bombings in the area, only insisting that they would investigate anything that might be related to the shootings. They likewise gave no comments about the threats in Mokhoyan.

If confirmed, the threats would also appear to support the Afghan probe’s version of the massacre, which had an organized group of over a dozen US troops carrying out the massacre, as opposed to a lone man, as the US maintains.

Well, hell has frozen over in Georgia.

Tea Party activists, Unions and Occupy Atlanta are in agreement to oppose Georgia Senate Bill 469 proposing to make protesting on private property an aggravated misdemeanor, carrying steep fines and prison time.

This law would criminalize and impose $1,000 fines on people who picket outside the homes of CEO’s or outside some businesses, a common practice used by Occupy groups, environmental protestors and labor unions.

Some people in the Occupy Atlanta group feel this bill targets participants camping out at the ATT Headquarters in Midtown Atlanta. Unions believe they are the targets of this protest bill, as well. The bill also contains a mandate requiring union members to put into writing every year that they want to pay union dues or organizational fees through paycheck deductions. A change in the bill has exempted teachers and firefighters should the bill become law.

Julianne Thompson, Georgia director of the Tea Party Patriots believes that this bill is a direct shot at First Amendments Rights and could be interpreted too broadly.

The four State Senators that sponsored the bill are members of ALEC. (American Legislative Exchange Council.)

Keep your eye on the State legislators. It’s where the action is!


From the New Yorker:

…The shooting death of Trayvon Martin (black, male, seventeen, unarmed save for a packet of candy and a bottle of iced tea) did not so much raise questions as it confirmed suspicions: that we remain stratified or at best striated by race, that “innocent” is a relative term, that black male lives can end under capricious circumstances, and that justice is in the eye of the beholder—ideas that are as cynical as they are applicable. At this juncture, events in Sanford, Florida, suggest the benefit of the doubt in the shooting of a black teen-ager extends even to unauthorized, untrained, weapon-toting private citizens who pursue unarmed pedestrians.

That the Justice Department announced a probe and a grand jury has been convened is likely a result of the outrage seething across multiple social-media platforms, television, and traditional corporeal protesting. Yet the failure of the Sanford police department to make an arrest nearly a month after Martin’s death, and the fact that if it weren’t for half a million petition signatures and national outrage this shooting would have gone uninvestigated, has already confirmed yet another assumption: our worst problem is not cynicism, it’s the frequency with which that cynicism proves accurate.

One can only hope many voters have finally figured out that the reactionaries they voted into office in 2010 used a “balance the budget” mantra to hide their real agenda — to further enrich the super-wealthy by stealing from the poor and middle class. And let’s hope some who still don’t understand the con game will check out Robert Reich’s piece on the new budget and tax plan introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan:

…It reduces the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent. This would give the wealthiest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year.

The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.

Seniors would get subsidies to buy private health insurance or Medicare – but the subsidies would be capped. So as medical costs increased, seniors would fall further and further behind.

Other cuts would come out of food stamps, Pell grants to offset the college tuition of kids from poor families, and scores of other programs that now help middle-income and the poor…

Ryan says too many Americans rely on government benefits. “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency.”

Well, I have news for Paul Ryan. Almost 23 million able-bodied people still can’t find work. They’re not being lulled into dependency. They and their families could use some help. Even if the economy continues to generate new jobs at the rate it’s been going the last three months, we wouldn’t see normal rates of unemployment until 2017.

And most Americans who do have jobs continue to lose ground. New research by professors Emmanual Saez and Thomas Pikkety show that the average adjusted gross income of the bottom 90 percent was $29,840 in 2010 – down $127 from 2009 and down $4,842 from 2000 – and just slightly higher than it was forty-six years ago in 1966 (all figures adjusted for inflation).

Ezra Klein on Ryan:

So if you take Ryan at his word, and you assume his policies will work exactly as he hopes, what you get is a plan that lowers taxes and lowers the deficits mostly by cutting health-care subsidies and income supports for the poor, and only then by cutting Medicare.

Only then?

A. We are Devo!

Q. Are we not men?

And you probably thought this issue was settled soon after Clarence Darrow faced off against William Jennings Bryan in that court battle dramatized as Inherit the Wind:

The state legislature of Tennessee has given legal cover to public school teachers to challenge the science of evolution and climate change, in a move that looks set to deepen a debate about politicisation of the classroom.

The bill passed in the Tennessee Senate this week provides legal protection to teachers who personally do not believe in evolution or the human causes of climate change, and instead want to teach the “scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories”.

It comes at a time when science associations are increasingly concerned by moves to inject religious or ideological beliefs into science teaching ahead of the release next month of a new set of education standards which give a central place to climate change…

The Tennessee measure, which passed by 24-8 votes, was strongly criticised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Centre for Science Education, who called it a step backward. The house approved a similar version of the measure last year.

Bloggers called the move a throwback to the Scopes monkey trial of the 1920s, when a Tennessee public school teacher was convicted and fined for teaching evolution…

Of course they did

by Susie
The Partnership for Civil Justice has just released the results of their Freedom of Information Act request about the Department of Homeland Security coordinating activities against the Occupy movement. Nothing that will actually surprise anyone with a brain, but I seem to remember a lot of progressives insisting that the feds weren’t coordinating the crackdowns. No actual smoking gun about the odd coincidences that marked the police operations, but it’s not too hard to figure out from the documents they released:

A trove of documents released today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a FOIA request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee reveal that federal law enforcement agencies began their coordinated intelligence gathering and operations on the Occupy movement even before the first tent went up in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011.

The PCJF is making the entirety of the documents immediately available to the public, and we have rendered them in a searchable format for ease of use at: www.JusticeOnline.org/dhs

On September 17, 2011, a Secret Service intelligence entry in its Prism Demonstrations Abstract file records the opening of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The demonstration location that the Secret Service was protecting? The “Wall Street Bull.” The name of the Protectee? The “U.S. Government.”

American taxpayers might find it odd to learn that the Secret Service was on duty to protect the Wall Street Bull in the name of protecting the U.S. Government. But there it is.

The DHS’s Game of Three Card Monte to Deflect Disclosure of Law Enforement Operations

These documents, many of which are redacted, show that the highest officials in the Department of Homeland Security were preoccupied with the Occupy movement and have gone out of their way to project the appearance of an absence of federal involvement in the monitoring of and crackdown on Occupy.

On the street it would be called “Three Card Monte,” a swindler’s game to hide the ball — a game of misdirection. The House always wins.

The DHS, as revealed in the newly released documents, has engaged in what appears to be a effort to avoid looking for Occupy related materials where it is likely to be found, including in Fusion Centers and DHS sub-divisions such as the Operations Coordination & Planning sub-division which is responsible for DHS coordination with local and federal law enforcement partners.

On November 16, DHS Press Secretary Matthew Chandler transmitted an e-mail to top ranking DHS officials, including the Chief of Staff to Janet Napolitano, the Chief of Staff to the DHS General Counsel, among others, in which he reports:

“We’re getting inquiries from CBS, AP, Daily Caller and others on an un-sourced Examiner.com piece that says that DHS and FBI are collaborating with cities by providing tactics and information on removing Occupy protestors. A check of I & A [Intelligence and Analysis] and FPS [Federal Protective Services] shows that this type of outreach is not occurring in any wholesale manner.”

The Press Secretary is careful to couch the official statement, that such is not occurring in any “wholesale” manner, leaving the door open to possible future revelations of such conduct.

But this official statement was based solely on a mid-November inquiry to two DHS sub-sections: Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and Federal Protective Services (FPS). And by the date of that statement, Federal Protective Services and apparently also the I&A Directorate had already purged, “restricted and/or rescinded,” any Occupy related intelligence products, as discussed further here.

In other words, having looked into only two drawers – – which had already “restricted and/or rescinded” all Occupy related intelligence products – – it is not surprising that Press Secretary Chandler’s statement that no “wholesale’ coordination of Occupy related actions is based on incomplete information.

The Press Secretary, following the script, conveniently avoided other likely DHS repositories and departmental components, including the personnel deployed to Fusion Centers or to the DHS Operations Coordination; Planning sub-division, which according to the DHS web site is “responsible for monitoring the security of the United States on a daily basis and coordinating activities within the Department and with governors, Homeland Security Advisors, law enforcement partners, and critical infrastructure operators in all 50 states and more than 50 major urban areas nationwide.”
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Since I fell for you

I used to sing this in a dinky little bar in Delaware County, and my best friend would sit in the audience and weep. Bonnie Raitt:

See you sometime

Breaking up is hard to do. Joni Mitchell:

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