Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Check out "WINDOWS AND MIRRORS". Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan is an exhibit traveling the US that makes a powerful statement on a nearly invisible reality.


Many of my good friends are fundamentalist Christians, but too many haven’t learned politics and economics properly

Many of my good friends are fundamentalist Christians, but too many haven’t learned politics and economics properly. They also need to be more grateful to governments that the Lord has provided. (I know I need to be more grateful at times.)–KAS

Capitalist/Lib Economics Pt 1

By Dr Albert Ellis with help from Jimmy Walter

Chapter 3

The Capitalists-Libertarian-Objectivist View of Economics*

One of the corner stones of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is its deification of capitalism. In the main, her attitudes are unrealistic, dogmatic, and essentially religious, as are other objectivist views. Let me review some of the more blatant irrationalities of objectivist, capitalist, and libertarian economics.

Utopianism . To understand the evangelical upholding of capitalism, we’d better, right from the start, see that Rand and her associates are not defending any capitalist economy that is, or ever has been, in operation. On the contrary, they continually damn the American variety of capitalism, though extolling some of its virtues.

To quote Rand, “A system of pure, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism has never yet existed anywhere.” (1966b). What existed were mixed economies, capitalism and statism–that is freedom and control, a combination of voluntary choice and government coercion. America is the freest country on earth, but it always has had elements of statism in its economy, developed by intellectuals who were horribly committed to the philosophy of statism–yes, horribly!

In fact, all economies, past and present, were and are a mixture of capitalism and collectivism. Moreover, it seems that a mixed economy is the only possible economic state. The more extreme a state is, either capitalist or collective, the less likely it is to last. The final economic form of the state will vary with culture, technology, the current environment and its resources. Since democracy, almost by definition, is based on compromise, it is logical that the economy of a democracy would be a mixture of collectivism and capitalism.

Rand ‘s idealistic notion of laissez-faire capitalism, if it did exist, is utopian and impractical for many reasons:

1. It is based on the supposition that people can live successfully on a purely selfish basis, without considering members of the social group. It does not consider the dualistic possibility that, as I noted in chapter one, people may be better off when they consider themselves first and the members of their community as a close second. I accept Rand’s observation that every act is selfish since altruistic acts bring pleasant mental feelings or assuage mental pain. However, she abandons that logic when she exalts capitalism, implying that money and production themselves are a higher pleasure, and that they bring pleasant feelings innately. In reality, one can only buy things that might cause good feelings. After necessities are met, it is a personal preference as to where one finds pleasant feelings. Money’s “value” will always be diminished by inflation and material things decay over time. While one can run out of money and possessions or have them taken away, one will always have the ability to sing, create art, tell jokes, hug a friend, kiss a lover, play a sport, etc., — if one invests in developing such. True friendships and skills grow with time and practice without the drudgery and fear of competition. Money and physical assets demand constant care and the pleasure of possession is dualistic with the fear of loss.

Since people depend on their community for support and the enhanced wealth and health that living in that community brings, it seems that people will be better off if they do think of the community as a close second. Rand assumes that if people only go after what they want and think this is best, they will never harm others and or interfere with others’ basic interests. In fact, Rand keeps claiming that the pure and entirely uncontrolled capitalist –if it ever existed–would invariably help all people by its productive drives and would rarely harm anyone. There is no evidence that this would be true. There is considerable historical evidence and reason for believing it would not.

For example, until the 1920′s the utilities in the United States operated under little constraint. Their rates corresponded to the maximum amount that could be extorted from the community, and their service was usually poor. Many communities had to take over, or at least regulate, these utilities in order to provide a decent level of service to consumers. The recent Enron utility scandal has confirmed that capitalists have not changed, and still need regulation.

Governments that have existed under capitalism have seen fit to regulate industrial production, and usually in rigorous ways, because the majority of citizens who backed these governments believed that capitalism is to some degree inimical to the public welfare. This is not to say that capitalism is an unmitigated social evil, for it clearly is not. It has had great advantages and is possibly the most efficient kind of economy that humans have yet invented. But in its pure laissez-faire form, it appears to have great limitations–as most economists admit. In fact, capitalism is inherently inefficient. If there is to be competition, there must be choice. Choice requires that there be more product available than in demand. That means there will be products and services that either are not consumed or sold at a loss. That is, there will be lost effort, unused real estate, and wasted materials in the production of the products not sold or sold at a loss. Moreover there are many non-productive tasks that capitalism requires, which I will detail later in this chapter.

Rand ‘s vehement espousal of unadulterated capitalism is highly utopian–although it would be an interesting experiment to try pure laissez-fair e ism, just to see how successfully it can work. But because this kind of experiment most likely will not be attempted, Rand and her cohorts are safe in dogmatically insisting that ultra-pure capitalism would work; and, with this rigid assertion, they excoriate both semi-capitalistic and non-capitalistic economies.

It is interesting to note, in this connection, that Rand’s view of pure capitalism resembles the views of many fanatical religions. Modified Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, say purists, do not work, and are even abominable; only an unalloyed, completely orthodox version of these religions would really work. When asked where one might find such an unqualified religious setup, they often reply: “In the Kingdom of Heaven.” This statement is then taken as “proof” of the fact that pure religion is good, and all alloyed forms are bad. Q.E.D.!

The objectivist argument that mixed capitalism is horrendous because it cannot provide the heavenly advantages of pure capitalism is similar to this fanatically religious view. Essentially, in fact, it is a utopian religious view [1] .

[1] Actually redundant since “Utopia” is Greek for “not on earth,” and religions dwell on an afterlife, which is not on earth.

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Norway's Agony, and Responsible Reporting

Norway's Agony, and Responsible Reporting

By Adnan Al-Daini

Last night (22-July-2011) Frank Gardner, the BBC's security correspondent reporting on the terrorist outrage in Norway, speculated that the horrific attack might be "Islamist" inspired with the "al-Qaida" word mentioned. Further speculation then followed as to the likely reasons. Norway's 400 troops in Afghanistan were advanced as a possible cause why al-Qaida might be responsible. This morning (23-July-2011) the BBC is reporting a diametrically opposite scenario describing the arrest of a blue-eyed Norwegian as belonging to an extreme rightwing militant group who hate Muslims and multi-culturalism in Norway. Meanwhile, the Sun's headline this morning (23-July-2011) screams "NORWAY'S 9/11", and above the headline in red capitals "AL-QAEDA' MASSACRE. It seems Murdoch's Sun has already made up its mind. Terrorism linked to extremism of any hue is deadly, and reporting it responsibly is paramount. Churchill's remark, in another context, of "careless talk costs lives" comes to mind. Extremist groups of any kind are driven by hate. Sensational, inaccurate reporting stokes up this hatred to the point where innocents may suffer, simply because they belong to a certain ethnic or religious group. The humanity of the individual becomes irrelevant, and the hater may only see ethnicity or religion as a justification for violence or even murder.

In today's Guardian (23-July-2011) the extensive coverage is accompanied by their "Analysis" piece entitled "Who did it is unclear; jihadists suspected". It continues with its speculation for the possible causes for jihadists targeting Norway. It mentions, as the BBC did, Norwegian troops in Afghanistan, the printing of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Norwegian newspapers etc., as possible reasons. Credit to the Guardian for including the last paragraph, that mentions the possibility of right-wing extremism, which was "largely discounted by state security spokeswoman Janne Kirstiansen". The reader is thus left to conclude that "al-Qaeda' is more or less the only possibility, particularly since the title of the piece only mentions jihadists. It seems that the maxim "innocent until proven guilty" has been replaced when it comes to Muslims by "guilty until proven innocent".

These first impressions become so ingrained in many peoples' minds that they become difficult to dislodge by the facts as they subsequently emerge. Subsequent facts and changes to the story do not register in the minds of the xenophobic and bigoted. There are still millions in America who believe that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, as a result of distortion and lies by governments, and irresponsible reporting prior to the war. The total falsehood of that, as we now know, seems to concern them not a jot.

The way international terrorism is portrayed in the media leaves a lot to be desired. For example, why do the media refer to a group as Islamic or Islamist even when that group is operating in a Muslim country and targeting fellow Muslims, thus leaving the impression that the victims are non-Muslim? Why not simply use the name they give to themselves? A few months ago I gave a talk to sixth formers in a school in which I mentioned that more Muslims have been victims of al-Qaeda inspired terrorism than non-Muslims; there was astonishment at this fact.

For the sake of fairness and justice, responsible media outlets must endeavour to do better. Innocent lives may depend on it.

Author's Bio: Adnan Al-Daini took early retirement in 2005 as a principal lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at a British University. He has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Birmingham University in the UK. He has published numerous applied scientific research papers covering heat transfer, fluid flow and energy utilisation in many industrial applications. He is a British citizen born in Iraq, which he left in 1962, age 17, on a scholarship to study in Britain. Since retirement he has devoted his time and energy to building bridges and understanding between minority communities, particularly the Muslim community and the wider community in the South West of England. He worked with Devon Racial Equality Council from 2005 and was Chair between 2007/8. He is on the board of Directors of a charity helping those who are disadvantaged and socially excluded, particularly the homeless and the poor.

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Tsunami Hero by R. Hutchcraft

If you're a parent, or even a grandparent, when your kid gets a great teacher, they become a hero to them and to you. But every once in a while, a teacher does something so unforgettable that we nominate them for the Heroes Hall of Fame. Robert Bailey is one of those. He's a 27-year-old British teacher who was serving in a school in Japan. A school that suddenly was right in the path of that monster tsunami that swamped northern Japan. The students there had eight minutes to find a safe place after the tsunami sirens went off. He described the moment the earthquake hit this way: "We first heard a weird cracking noise, and then came the violent shaking."

Bailey said he immediately ushered the students outside onto the baseball field so they wouldn't be hit by falling debris. They found ground that was slightly elevated and then they just watched the water just keep coming toward them. Thankfully, they were able to avoid the killer wave as it passed through the valley below them, but their school was obliterated. Every other student, 137 of them, was unaccounted for. But the 42 in Robert Bailey's class? They survived because of one man who led them to safety, a hero.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tsunami Heroes."

See, when you lead people out of the path of destruction and to the safe place, you really are a hero. It's the kind of hero God is summoning you to be. Here's what He says in Daniel 12:2-3, our word for today from the Word of God. "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." Okay, every person on this planet, every person you know, is on one of two lists. Those headed for an awesome eternity with God and those headed for an awful eternity without God.

The next verse suggests what will make the difference. "...Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, will shine like the stars for ever and ever."

God's talking about those who point people to where the life is, where a saving relationship with Him is - in His Son, Jesus. It's the one thing you can do in this life that will still mean something a hundred million years from now. Those who rescue the dying on earth are going to be heaven's forever heroes.

And that's why He's put you where you are. You have been divinely positioned to be God's tsunami warning system. And the warning is the difference between life and death. God said through the prophet Ezekiel, "I have made you a watchman...hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me...I will hold you accountable..." (Ezekiel 3:16-18). The tsunami of God's judgment is headed our way.

The Bible says, "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). But the tsunami of God's judgment was already taken by Jesus when He died for the sins of the people you know. The high ground--the only safe place--is that cross where Jesus paid for our sins, and you know that. Some of the people you know - don't.

Someone has to lead them to safety, and God is counting on you. You don't have to know hundreds of Bible verses. You don't have to have your life totally together. You don't have to have all the answers. You just have to be able to point them to the safe place. Your mission is to walk with them up that hill called Skull Hill; the one with the cross on top. Take them there. Tell them that the Man who died there died for them. That it was their sins He was paying for. That He loves them that much. That it's all about Jesus.

Maybe you're holding back because you're afraid. That's a normal feeling. Robert Bailey, who led those teenagers to safety in the face of that looming tsunami, was afraid. He actually said he was "terrified." But he said he had a duty to keep those kids safe. Heroism and courage are not the absence of fear; they're the disregard of fear, because you don't want the people you're responsible for to die.

Join the ConversationThe tsunami of death and judgment is coming. The warning has been sounded. The lives of the people around you depend on someone leading them to the high ground of Jesus' cross. You are their chance, and you're a candidate to be one of Heaven's heroes.


Planning your next summer vacation? Well, the Grand Canyon might be out. Soon, its waters might even be glowing in the dark.

Dear Kevin,

Don't let Big Oil and its allies in Congress ruin your next summer vacation.

Planning your next summer vacation?

Well, the Grand Canyon might be out. Soon, its waters might even be glowing in the dark.

If the House of Representatives has its way, the canyon could be the country's newest uranium mine.

Today, the House plans to vote on a bill chock full of special interest provisions that would prolong pollution of your favorite vacation destinations.

Help us fight back with a $10 donation today.

Along with uranium mining around the canyon, if this bill passes, we'd be looking at continuing:

Pollution contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay
Haze over the Great Smoky Mountains
Bulldozers outside Grand Teton and other national parks
Alien species attacks in the Great Lakes
Mercury pollution in Minnesota's fishing spots and fish
Sewage contamination at California beaches
Slower clean up of Puget Sound in Washington
More scorching heat waves in Texas
Children at risk from asthma attacks and unsafe drinking water nationwide

That's not how I want to spend my next summer vacation. How about you?

Your $10 donation will help us fight back against the polluters and their allies in Congress.

And hopefully we won't have to worry about an eerie glow flowing through the Grand Canyon anytime soon.
Daniel J. Weiss

Take care,

Daniel J. Weiss
Center for American Progress

P.S. For more details on the bill and what it could do to your future vacation spots, check out our article: Wet, Hot, Dirty American Summer.

The Trouble with Californian Communities and Corporate Housing–Hyprocracy and Hybrids”

Last week, my friend in the Bay area, Tim Lohrentz wrote on Facebook, “The apartment complex I was going to move in to told me that I can’t due to my electric car – they don’t want a cord dangling out my window and 30 feet to where the car would be parked. So I am looking again.”

The town that this occurred in was Petaluma. Lohrentz wrote,”It’s a great town. Petaluma is a Maya-Miwok name that means ‘bounty of the earth pouring out’.”

One friend appropriately inquired, “[I]sn’t that some sort of housing discrimination? anti-eco-carism or something? you are out there in California where all new environmental law starts…sounds like the beginning of a case to me…?”

Lohrentz responded, “Technically I could have the car there, they just wouldn’t let me ever plug it in. I think the marketing/image approach has more potential than the discrimination approach. LOL”

Most comments have been as follows:



“Hope you find a place soon that will let you plug in!”

“Not like[ly].”


God, help the Norwegians and Europeans to recover from this barbarism and respond appropriately.–KAS

Officials: Death toll up to at least 80 in Norway youth camp shooting

By NILS MYKLEBOST–Associated Press The Post-Star | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 10:25 pm

OSLO, Norway — A homegrown terrorist set off a deadly explosion in downtown Oslo before heading to a summer camp dressed as a police officer to commit one of the deadliest shooting sprees in history, killing at least 80 people as terrified youths ran and even swam for their lives, police said Friday.

Police initially said about 10 were killed at the forested camp on the island of Utoya, but some survivors said they thought the toll was much higher. Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday they had discovered many more victims.

“It’s taken time to search the area. What we know now is that we can say that there are at least 80 killed at Utoya,” Maeland said. “It goes without saying that this gives dimensions to this incident that are exceptional.”

A suspect in the shootings, and the Oslo explosion that killed seven people, was arrested. Though police did not release his name, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK identified him as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik and said police searched his Oslo apartment overnight. NRK and other Norwegian media posted pictures of the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian.

A police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that “it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway’s police.

“It seems it’s not Islamic-terror related,” the official said. “This seems like a madman’s work.”

The official said the attack “is probably more Norway’s Oklahoma City than it is Norway’s World Trade Center.” Domestic terrorists carried out the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City, while foreign terrorists were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The official added, however, “it’s still just hours since the incident happened. And the investigation is going on with all available resources.”

The attacks formed the deadliest day of terror in Western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings, when shrapnel-filled bombs exploded, killing 191 people and wounding about 1,800.

The motive was unknown, but both attacks were in areas connected to the ruling Labor Party government. The youth camp, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of Oslo, is organized by the party’s youth wing, and the prime minister had been scheduled to speak there Saturday.

A 15-year-old camper named Elise said she heard gunshots, but then saw a police officer and thought she was safe. Then he started shooting people right before her eyes.

“I saw many dead people,” said Elise, whose father, Vidar Myhre, didn’t want her to disclose her last name. “He first shot people on the island. Afterward he started shooting people in the water.”

Elise said she hid behind the same rock that the killer was standing on. “I could hear his breathing from the top of the rock,” she said.

She said it was impossible to say how many minutes passed while she was waiting for him to stop.

At a hotel in the village of Sundvollen, where survivors of the shooting were taken, 21-year-old Dana Berzingi wore pants stained with blood. He said the fake police officer ordered people to come closer, then pulled weapons and ammunition from a bag and started shooting.

Several victims “had pretended as if they were dead to survive,” Berzingi said. But after shooting the victims with one gun, the gunman shot them again in the head with a shotgun, he said.

“I lost several friends,” said Berzingi, who used the cell phone of one of those friends to call police.

The blast in Oslo, Norway’s capital and the city where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, left a square covered in twisted metal, shattered glass and documents expelled from surrounding buildings. Most of the windows in the 20-floor high-rise where Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his administration work were shattered. Other buildings damaged house government offices and the headquarters of some of Norway’s leading newspapers.

The dust-fogged scene after the blast reminded one visitor from New York of Sept. 11.

Ian Dutton, who was in a nearby hotel, said people “just covered in rubble” were walking through “a fog of debris.”

“It wasn’t any sort of a panic,” he said, “It was really just people in disbelief and shock, especially in a such as safe and open country as Norway. You don’t even think something like that is possible.”

Police said the Oslo explosion was caused by “one or more” bombs.

The police official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Oslo bombing occurred at 3:26 p.m. local time (1:26 p.m. GMT), and the camp shootings began one to two hours later. The official said the gunman used both automatic weapons and handguns, and that there was at least one unexploded device at the youth camp that a police bomb disposal team and military experts were working on disarming.

The suspect had only a minor criminal record, the official said.

National police chief Sveinung Sponheim said seven people were killed by the blast in downtown Oslo, four of whom have been identified, and that nine or 10 people were seriously injured.

Sponheim said a man was arrested in the shooting, and the suspect had been observed in Oslo before the explosion there.

Sponheim said the camp shooter “wore a sweater with a police sign on it. I can confirm that he wasn’t a police employee and never has been.”

Aerial images broadcast by Norway’s TV2 showed members of a SWAT team dressed in black arriving at the island in boats and running up the dock. Behind them, people who stripped down to their underwear swam away from the island toward shore, some using flotation devices.

Sponheim said police were still trying to get an overview of the camp shooting and could not say whether there was more than one shooter. He would not give any details about the identity or nationality of the suspect, who was being interrogated by police.

Oslo University Hospital said 12 people were admitted for treatment following the Utoya shooting, and 11 people were taken there from the explosion in Oslo. The hospital asked people to donate blood.

Stoltenberg, who was home when the blast occurred and was not harmed, visited injured people at the hospital late Friday. Earlier he decried what he called “a cowardly attack on young innocent civilians.”

“I have message to those who attacked us,” he said. “It’s a message from all of Norway: You will not destroy our democracy and our commitment to a better world.”

NRK showed video in Oslo of a blackened car lying on its side amid the debris. An AP reporter who was in the office of Norwegian news agency NTB said the building shook from the blast and all employees were evacuated. Down in the street, he saw one person with a bleeding leg being led away from the area.

An AP reporter headed to Utoya was turned away by police before reaching the lake that surrounds the island, as eight ambulances with sirens blaring entered the area. Police blocked off roads leading to the lake.

The United States, European Union, NATO and the U.K., all quickly condemned the bombing, which Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague called “horrific” and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen deemed a “heinous act.”

“It’s a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring,” President Barack Obama said.

Obama extended his condolences to Norway’s people and offered U.S. assistance with the investigation. He said he remembered how warmly Norwegians treated him in Oslo when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Nobel Peace Prize Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said it appeared the camp attack “was intended to hurt young citizens who actively engage in our democratic and political society. But we must not be intimidated. We need to work for freedom and democracy every day.”

A U.S. counterterrorism official said the United States knew of no links to terrorist groups and early indications were the attack was domestic. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was being handled by Norway.

At least two Islamic extremist groups had tried to take credit for the attacks. Many intelligence analysts said they had never heard of Helpers of Global Jihad, which took initial credit. The Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam also took credit on some jihadist web sites.

Norway has been grappling with a homegrown terror plot linked to al-Qaida. Two suspects are in jail awaiting charges.

Last week, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terror charges against an Iraqi-born cleric for threatening Norwegian politicians with death if he is deported from the Scandinavian country. The indictment centered on statements that Mullah Krekar – the founder of Ansar al-Islam – made to various news media, including American network NBC.

Terrorism has also been a concern in neighboring Denmark since an uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad six years ago.

Associated Press reporters Bjoern H. Amland in Hoenefoss, Norway, Karl Ritter and Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm, Matthew Lee and Rita Foley in Washington, Paisley Dodds in London, and Paul Schemm in Tripoli, Libya, contributed to this report.

Read more:




Here are the numbers from ThinkProgress War Room. 9Read about Citibank and clan further below–it’s important to keep our eyes on Citicorp as to many Federal Reserve Board Chairman’s are biased towards it.)–KAS

The Latest on the News Corp Scandal

Last week, we discussed the state of play in the News Corp phone hacking scandal and why the U.S. government needs to launch an investigation. Since then, a lot — far too much to cover in this space — has happened. Here’s a rundown of some key details, by the numbers:


The number of times Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, or Rebekah Brooks accepted any responsibility for the growing scandal.


The number of law firms fighting to weaken a key anti-corruption law shared by News Corp and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which launched a campaign to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act shortly after receiving a $1 million gift from News Corp.


The number of pies thrown in Rupert Murdoch’s face during his testimony before Parliament


The number of investigations of News Corp opened in the U.S. so far (Department of Justice and FBI).


The number of senior police officials who resigned this week over allegations of improper relationships with News International.


The number of current or former News Corp executives who testified before Parliament on Tuesday: Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, and Rebekah Brooks.


The number of hours former News International chief Rebekah Brooks spent in questioning this past Sunday after she was arrested.


The percentage of American voters who view Rupert Murdoch favorably.


The percentage of “very conservative” American voters who view Murdoch favorably.


The number of meetings or social gatherings Prime Minister David Cameron had with News Corp executives since becoming prime minister, approximately one-third of all meetings Cameron has had with media organizations.


The percentage of Americans who want the Department of Justice to investigate News Corp, including 69 percent of Republicans


The number of words in a shocking Wall Street Journal editorial that defended News Corp and attacked the Guardian and others.


The estimated number of victims of phone hacking in the U.K. alone.


The number of people who have signed petitions calling for investigations of News Corp in the U.S.


The amount News Corp paid to buy a rival company, just as a trial about News Corp’s alleged hacking of the company was getting underway.


The total amount News Corp has paid out “to make embarrassing charges of corporate espionage and anticompetitive behavior go away.”
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

In light of uncompromising Republican obstructionism, Faiz Shakir, editor-in-chief of Think Progress, has a solution to President Obama’s low rate of confirmation for his nominees. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Shakir argues the White House should take the muzzle off its nominees and allow them to make their own case for confirmation and defend themselves in the media.

Congressman Allen West (R-FL) has had a week full of public relations disasters and offensive statements. That doesn’t mean he’s ready for it to end though. Now, West is claiming liberals see him as “a threat because I’m the guy that got off of their 21st Century plantation.”

The Gang of Six plan to reduce the national debt is even worse than you think.

The News Corp-owned Times of London shows its sympathy for the victims of the serious criminal allegations leveled against it and its parent company by printing a cartoon depicting starving children bemoaning the phone hacking covering.

The House GOP shows its disdain for women worldwide by voting to reinstate the global gag rule.

Why does the Gang of Six want to repeal the CLASS Act?: “This combination of cuts and repeal of CLASS threatens to put millions of families in financial and physical jeopardy.”

Archie comics are officially all-in on gay rights.

Big banks get bigger: “The assets held by the five largest American banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs — grew 3 percent last year compared to the year prior, according to their most recent quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They held $8.7 trillion in assets as of June 30, compared to $8.4 trillion the same time last year.”

After learning his state’s credit rating could be jeopardized if the federal government defaulted on its debt, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) flip-flopped, and called for Congress to come to a compromise “immediately.”

Why does the FBI omit “hundreds of thousands of rapes from its Uniform Crime Report (UCR)”? It’s “because it’s using an 80-year-old definition

Why does the FBI omit “hundreds of thousands of rapes from its Uniform Crime Report (UCR)”? It’s “because it’s using an 80-year-old definition

I have both a wife and a daughter and I find it outrageous that the FBI is not using an up-to-date definition of rape. OUTRAGEOUS! OUR facts and statistics need to be more accurate or we will just repeat bad and neglectful histories. Save women from these crimes by shining the light on them and their reality!!!—KAS

Dear Kevin,

In a recent speech at the University of New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden recounted the story of a college freshman he called Jenny.

Jenny was raped after a party on campus. She tried to pursue a case against her rapist only to be asked if she had been drinking, what she was wearing, and whether she was dancing. The university never took action against her assailant.

As Biden said, “Rape is rape is rape.”

Yet each year the FBI omits hundreds of thousands of rapes from its Uniform Crime Report (UCR) because it’s using an 80-year-old definition of rape.

The FBI’s outdated definition of rape is limited to “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

Sign the petition to tell the FBI to update their definition to include all forms of rape.

The FBI’s flawed definition of rape excludes any form of sexual assault that falls outside of the narrowest understanding of heterosexual sex, including the rape of men and boys as well as transgender people.

The emphasis on “forcible” rape also means that the rape or assault of women with physical or mental disabilities and those who were unconscious or under the influence of drugs and alcohol – like Jenny — are often excluded.

The FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report listed 91,874 “forcible rapes,” but some estimates suggest the actual number may be 24 times higher.

The FBI’s underreporting of rapes translates to less federal funding for police departments nationwide to test rape kits — and fewer investigators bringing rapists to justice.

Sign here to tell the FBI to update its definition of rape to address and end sexual assault:

Thanks for taking action,

- Shelby and the team




To date, the UN Security Council has remained silent on the situation in Syria. Three critical members of the UN Security Council need to join other members to call on the Syrian government to stop the use of tanks, snipers and torture to suppress peaceful dissent. Members of the UN Security Council have an increased responsibility to work on an end to the violent crackdown in Syria. By supporting the current draft resolution, Brazil, South Africa and India can help to end in the bloodshed and ensure accountability for the crimes committed.

Report reveals crimes against humanity in Syrian town

The brutal methods used in a devastating Syrian security operation in the western town of Tell Kalakh may constitute crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

Crackdown in Syria: Terror in Tell Kalakh documents deaths in custody, torture and arbitrary detention that took place in May when Syrian army and security forces mounted a broad security sweep, lasting less than a week, against residents of the town near the Lebanese border.

“The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in Tell Kalakh paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

“Most of the crimes described in this report would fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But the UN Security Council must first refer the situation in Syria to the Court’s Prosecutor.”

The paper’s findings are based on interviews carried out in Lebanon and by phone with more than 50 people in May and June. Amnesty International has not been allowed to enter Syria.

The operation began on 14 May when the army and security forces entered Tell Kalakh following a demonstration calling for the downfall of the regime.

At least one person, 24-year-old Ali al-Basha was killed on that first day, apparently by snipers, and even the ambulance carrying his body came under fire. As many tried to leave, Syrian forces fired on fleeing families.

The following days saw scores of male residents, including some aged over 60 and boys aged less than 18 years, rounded up and detained. Every family from Tell Kalakh that Amnesty International met in Lebanon said they had at least one relative in detention.

Most of those detained were tortured, some even as they were being arrested, according to accounts. In one incident, soldiers transporting detainees counted how many they had arrested by stabbing lit cigarettes on the backs of their necks.

Detainees told Amnesty International that Military Security, one of the security forces which detrained people, used the shabah (ghost) method, where the detainee is forced into a stress position for long periods and beaten, in these cases by being tied by the wrists to a bar high enough off the ground to force the detainee to stand on the tip of their toes.

Twenty year-old “Mahmoud”, who was arrested on 16 May and released after nearly a month in detention, was held for around five days at the Military Security detention facility in Homs:
“Each day [was] the same story. They tied me up in the shabah position and applied electricity to my body and testicles. Sometimes I screamed very loudly and begged the interrogator to stop. He didn’t care.”

At least nine people died in custody after being arrested during the security operation in Tell Kalakh, according to witnesses. Eight of these men – some of whom had been active in demonstrations – were shot at and wounded as they were ordered out of a house, and were then taken away by soldiers.

It was only around two weeks later that relatives were told to go to a military hospital to identify the bodies of the eight men. Witnesses said the bodies had marks on them which suggested torture, including cuts to the chest, long vertical slashes on the thighs and what seemed to be gunshot wounds on the back of the legs.

A forensic pathologist analysed a photograph of one of the men, Abd al-Rahman Abu Libdeh, for Amnesty International and concluded that he seemed to have sustained violent injuries to the face, shoulders and neck while still alive.

Some of the family members who went to identify the bodies of their sons said they were forced to sign a document stating that their sons were killed by armed gangs.

Amnesty International knows that a number of people arrested during the security operation in Tell Kalakh still remain in detention, including a 17-year-old boy.

The organization called on the Syrian authorities to release all those arbitrarily arrested and those detained for taking part in peaceful demonstrations or expressing views of dissent, including children.

Report reveals crimes against humanity in Syrian town

* International Justice
* Syria
* Individuals at Risk

Amnesty International considers that crimes committed in Tell Kalakh amount to crimes against humanity as they appear to be part of a widespread, as well as systematic, attack against the civilian population.

Amnesty International reiterated its call on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It also urged the Syrian authorities to provide unimpeded access to UN investigators currently looking into the human rights situation in Syria.

”The willingness of the international community to take action on Libya in the name of human rights has highlighted its double standards on Syria,” said Philip Luther.

“Despite President Bashar al-Assad’s talk of reform, there is little evidence so far that the Syrian authorities will respond to anything but concrete international measures.”


Is Senator Moran from Kansas a Moron or Does he work for a Fascist 5th Column trying to topple the USA

The Senator from Kansas supports the Fascist approach of the Koch Brothers.--KAS

Due to State and Federal Budget Cuts in last year, America has lost an extra 3/4 million jobs:Now the Post Office near you is On The Block

The U.S. federal government and U.S. state governments are making the unemployment level higher and higher by cutting programs & services right and left. Meanwhile failing to raise taxes to boost the economy and increase jobs is one of AMERICA’S TOP 2 OR 3 CONCERNS. However, the Congress Republicans and a few Democrats are making Americans worse off by ruining the dollar and threatening the economy further by playing CHICKEN with our debt ceiling.

Many Americans, like traffic controllers, are already keeping the country operating on a volunteer basis till Congress gets its act together. (We need to impeach many Congressmen–especially those who are advocating cuts but not refilling the federal and state coffers!!!!)–KAS

Now, the Post Office is closing more and more jobs.

(Wall Street Journal) – Some 3,653 post offices, mostly in small communities, are targeted for possible closure this year under a plan expected to be released by the US Postal Service on Tuesday.

The post offices, on a list that will be made public Tuesday by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, were chosen because they get the “least amount of foot traffic and retail sales” and because there may be local businesses that could provide some postal services to the community, said agency spokeswoman Sue Brennan.

“Most of them are in smaller communities, but not all of them,” she said, adding that the post offices, about 11 percent of the total, are spread across the nation.

Moves to close post offices are often unpopular, since many people see them as connecting rural areas and small towns to the rest of the nation. Doctors on the South Dakota plains deliver medicine through post offices, while towns in rural Kentucky and Iowa and elsewhere rely on their post offices as local gathering spots. The postal agency already has closed 100 post offices since January, prompting uproar in many of the affected communities.

The financially struggling Postal Service has been talking about paring its network of 32,000 brick-and-mortar post offices for months but has not released a formal list of targeted post offices. The agency, which is supported by postal fees, has faced record losses because of retiree health costs and declining mail volume as more people communicate digitally. Donahoe has recently talked about closing 16,000 post offices over the next 10 years, Brennan said.

In a step toward possibly closing the 3,653 post offices, the agency plans to file a request with postal regulators on Wednesday for a “national change of service,” Brennan said. The Postal Regulatory Commission would have to approve widespread closings.

Donahoe also will announce “a replacement strategy,” or a plan to have third-party retailers provide services in places that lose a post office. “If you’re a community and there is a local convenience store, for example, we might be reaching out to these organizations to see if they would be interested in providing limited postal service for the community that might be affected,” Brennan said.

OEN & CBPP Analysis: Boehner’s Plan = “Greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history”

“House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans. The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of ‘class warfare.’ If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history. This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. The mathematics are inexorable. Photo: All Rights Reserved by Collection Agency”–OpEd News

CBPP Statement: Updated July 26, 2011
For Immediate Release
Statement: Robert Greenstein, President, on House Speaker Boehner’s New Budget Proposal
Author: Robert Greenstein

House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would essentially require, as the price of raising the debt ceiling again early next year, a choice between deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.

The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of “class warfare.” If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. Both the mathematics and the politics are clear.

The Boehner plan calls for large cuts in discretionary programs of $1.2 trillion over the next ten years, and it then requires additional cuts that are large enough to produce another $1.8 trillion in savings to be enacted by the end of the year as a condition for raising the debt ceiling again at that time.
The Boehner plan envisions no tax increases, with its entire $1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction coming from budget cuts. Speaker Boehner gave documents to House Republican caucus members stating that the $1.8 trillion would come from “entitlement reforms and savings” and that the plan “includes no tax hikes.” In addition, Speaker Boehner told radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh that Republicans appointed to the special committee that will craft the $1.8 trillion in savings won’t support tax increases and, in the unlikely event that that committee proposed a plan with tax increases, House Republicans would vote it down anyway.[1] A House GOP aide toldNational Review more bluntly: “We appoint members to the committee, and we’re not appointing any Republicans who will vote for tax hikes.” [2]
The first round of cuts under the Boehner plan would hit discretionary programs hard through austere discretionary caps that Congress will struggle to meet; discretionary cuts thus will largely or entirely be off the table when it comes to achieving the further $1.8 trillion in budget reductions. As Speaker Boehner’s documents make clear, virtually all of the $1.8 trillion would need to come from cuts in entitlement programs. (Cuts in entitlement spending totaling more than $1.5 trillion would produce sufficient interest savings to achieve $1.8 trillion in total savings.)
To secure $1.5 trillion in entitlement savings over the next ten years would require draconian policy changes. Policymakers would essentially have three choices: 1) cut Social Security and Medicare benefits heavily for current retirees, something that all budget plans from both parties (including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan) have ruled out; 2) repeal the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions while retaining its measures that cut Medicare payments and raise tax revenues, even though Republicans seek to repeal many of those measures as well; or 3) eviscerate the safety net for low-income children, parents, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. There is no other plausible way to get $1.5 trillion in entitlement cuts in the next ten years.
The evidence for this conclusion is abundant:
The “Gang of Six” plan, with its very tough and controversial entitlement cuts, contains total entitlement reductions of $640 to $760 billion over the next ten years not counting Social Security, and $755 billion to $875 billion including Social Security. (That’s before netting out $300 billion in entitlement costs that the plan includes for a permanent fix to the scheduled cuts in Medicare physician payments that Congress regularly cancels; with these costs netted out, the Gang of Six entitlement savings come to $455 to $575 billion.)
The budget deal between President Obama and Speaker Boehner that fell apart last Friday, which included cuts in Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and Medicare benefits as well as an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, contained total entitlement cuts of $650 billion (under the last Obama offer) to $700 billion (under the last Boehner offer).
The Ryan budget that the House passed in April contained no savings in Social Security over the next ten years and $279 billion in Medicare cuts.

To be sure, the House-passed Ryan budget included much larger overall entitlement cuts over the next 10 years. But that was largely because it eviscerated the safety net and repealed health reform’s coverage expansions. The Ryan plan included cuts in Medicaid and health reform of a remarkable $2.2 trillion, from severely slashing Medicaid and killing health reform’s coverage expansions. The Ryan plan also included stunning cuts of $127 billion in the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps) and $126 billion in Pell Grants and other student financial assistance.

That House Republicans would likely seek to reach the Boehner budget’s $1.8 trillion target in substantial part by cutting programs for the poorest and most vulnerable Americans is given strong credence by the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill that the House recently approved. That bill would establish global spending caps and enforce them with across-the-board budget cuts —exempting Medicare and Social Security from the across-the-board cuts while subjecting programs for the poor to the across-the-board axe. This would turn a quarter century of bipartisan budget legislation on its head; starting with the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, all federal laws of the last 26 years that have set budget targets enforced by across-the-board cuts have exempted the core assistance programs for the poor from those cuts while including Medicare among programs subject to the cuts. This component of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill strongly suggests that, especially in the face of an approaching election, House Republicans looking for entitlement cuts would heavily target means-tested programs for people of lesser means (and less political power).

In short, the Boehner plan would essentially force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor — or letting the nation default early next year. The plan would do so even as tax breaks, including the many lucrative tax breaks that go to the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations, are protected by Boehner’s pledge that, in the highly unlikely event that the special committee proposes tax increases, House Republicans would vote down its budget package.

President Obama has said that, while we must reduce looming deficits, we must take a balanced approach. The Boehner proposal fails this test of basic decency. The President should veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Congress should find a better way to avoid a default.

End Notes:

[1] “Speaker Boehner Calls America’s Anchorman to Explain His Proposal,” available at

[2] See Andrew Stiles, “A New Deficit Plan,” National Review Online, July 26, 2011.

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The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs. It is supported primarily by foundation grants.