Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Ralph Nader and the W.H. Public Library announcement
Mood:  amorous
Now Playing: Great News regarding my favorite "real politician"
Topic: NADER
Nader visits W.H. Public Library

WEST HARTFORD - At approximately 4 p.m. on Black Friday, Ralph Nader, the 75-year-old consumer activist from Winsted, took his seat inside a room at the West Hartford Public Library and began scribbling his autograph on copies of his new book, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!"


A line of about 50 people spilled out into the library's main room, eager to meet Nader, who gave a speech downstairs after the signing. Upon seeing Nader enter the room, a cluster of six reporters spiked to the front of the line and set their recorders down at his table, forming their own shield around him as fans approached one by one. Some local television news techies erected a wall of cameras directly in front of Nader's face as he tried to make small talk with fans.

When the line ended, Nader stood up and acknowledged the press, who in unison zoned in for the close-up with their cameras, tape recorders and microphones in hand.

"Big question is, Ralph, are you going to run for the US Senate?" blurts out a local TV reporter with the first question.

The local media was not there to talk about Nader's new book. They wanted to get down to brass tax and see if the three-time presidential candidate would declare to them that he would challenge Chris Dodd for his Senate seat next year.

"It's premature," said Nader, who acknowledged that there is growing resentment with the two senators who represent the state (Joe Lieberman being the other). People don't agree with how they "represent them on a number of issues, including their pensions, financial crimes and health care," he said

Nader expressed concern with the Senate and the passing of legislature.

"The crisis in the Senate is really the big issue. The Senate is the graveyard of the legislative hopes of the country," he said.

Nader said his declaration to run isn't dependent on just him, but whether people from around the state are going to be willing to work and put together a grassroots campaign. He said it is hard for him at this point to truly gauge the political field for a run. He isn't sure if people want him to run just because they're upset with the two incumbent senators or whether there is an actual force out there that will work in 169 towns in Connecticut.

The one force that could serve as his main vehicle to run a campaign is the Green Party. Two members of the Green Party showed up with signs urging Nader to run here at the library on Friday.

Vic Lancia, a weathered former state worker out of the Department of Labor, walked up to greet the man he has admired since 1967.

"I'm retired, Ralph. I've got good legs to go to work for you," said Lancia. "Give me something to do next year Ralph."

Lancia attended to get Nader to start seriously thinking about a run for the Senate. Asked what difference Nader offers from someone like Dodd, he said Nader wouldn't be penetrated by lobbyist money. Lancia feels the current healthcare bill moving through the House and Senate will still leave millions of uninsured. He favors single-payer healthcare, a system that cuts down costs and extends universal coverage through a single government source, like Medicare.

"The blogosphere is going crazy. This is the most important senate race in the country," said Tim McKee, a national committee person from the Green Party who held a sign saying "Run Ralph, Run."

"He's definitely intriguing," said Danielle Barry of West Hartford, who waited in line at the library.

Although the reporters were hoping to get Nader to admit a run for the Senate (Nader concluded the session with reporters by saying "Must be a slow news day"), the questions they were asking him seemed to suggest otherwise.

"Do you really want to be a US Senator? You say the whole system is broken, so do you want to be a part of that?" asked an Associated Press reporter. Another reporter from Channel 8 asked "What would Ralph Nader lose by running for U.S. Senate?" Nader shrugged it off by simply saying "time."

The conversation then focused on Dodd, the longest serving senator in Connecticut history. Nader says Dodd is very resilient despite facing challengers from his own party in 2010.

"Chris Dodd is very personable and I wouldn't write him off," said Nader. "He has been very concessionary to the banks and relied heavily and successfully on Wall Street contributions."

Nader said the real test for Dodd is seeing how far he'll push for real consumer organization in the Financial Consumer Regulatory bill. Nader proposed the creation of a Financial Consumer Association to Dodd as a non-profit for consumers, investors and savors of financial services to keep a check on banks. If it isn't done Wall Street will control the regulatory agency, he said.

"The test for Sen. Dodd is, as chair of the Banking Committee, (to) sponsor this Financial Consumer Association which does not cost the tax payer anything," said Nader.

Down a floor below, there are no reporters present as Nader talks to a packed room about his new book. He speaks about his crusades to perform real change in Washington by trying to route out corporate lobbyists who began their vice-like grip on both Democrats and Republicans in the 1970s. The Democrats, the party that had high hopes as being a real alternative to the Republicans, ended up being "depreciated" by lobbyist money as well, according to Nader.

"Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!" is a fictional book using real characters. It talks about the wealthiest citizens in our country, like Warren Buffett, assembling a cast of 16 plutocrats who use their power to save America's troubles. To get to the heart of the story, Nader uses fiction to point out certain truths about our modern culture.

"A society that has a lot of justice doesn't need charity," he said.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:24 PM PST
Updated: Thursday, 3 December 2009 7:26 PM PST
CIA: Our Drones are Killing Terrorists. Promise.
Mood:  chatty
Now Playing: Drones
Topic: WAR

CIA: Our Drones are Killing Terrorists. Promise.


Al Qaeda is so spooked by CIA drone attacks that Osama’s crew is staging spectacular bombings in Pakistan, in an attempt to get America to call off its unmanned attack fleet, former U.S. officials and counterterrror advisers say. And the CIA is apparently so spooked about the possibility of a withdrawal that they’re spilling details about their supposedly-secret drone strikes to the New York Times.

On April 19th, agency sources tell the paper, a CIA drone hit a truck parked inside an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan’s tribal province of South Waziristan. Packed with “high explosives, apparently to be used as a bomb,” the truck “erupted in a fireball” when it was struck. “A second, empty truck destroyed in the same attack may also have been there to be outfitted with explosives,” intelligence officials say. “In another significant attack, on April 29, missiles fired from a C.I.A. Predator killed Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi, an Algerian Qaeda planner who American intelligence officials say they believe helped train operatives for attacks in Europe and the United States.”

In other other words: Pay no attention to those reports of civilian casualties, like those reports of “25 bodies” in the latest unmanned attack. These drones are killing terrorists.

The Times goes on to report that “in meetings this past week in Washington, American and Pakistani officials discussed the possibility of limited joint operations with American Predator and Reaper drones. Under one proposal, the United States would retain control over the firing of missiles, but it would share with the Pakistani security forces some sophisticated imagery and communications intercepts that could be relayed to Pakistani combat forces on the ground.”

But according to Gen. David McKiernan, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, the U.S. military already shares its drone footage with the Pakistanis. “We exchange frequencies, we exchange intelligence, we have a Predator feed going down to the one [Afghanistan/Pakistan] border coordination center at Torkham Gate that’s looked at by the Pak military,” he said in November.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, the CIA is already sharing footage from its unmanned air force, too.


On Jan. 22, Pakistani paramilitary forces arrested Zabu ul Taifi, a Saudi national and alleged al Qaeda operative… [He] was located at a safe house in the Khyber Agency… through a combination of human intelligence from Pakistani agents, informants on the ground and aerial surveillance by U.S. drones.

Once authorities were confident Mr. Taifi was in the walled, mud compound, Pakistani paramilitary forces backed by helicopters grabbed him, the officer said. Throughout, Predator drones hovered overhead and would have attacked if Mr. Taifi or other suspects had tried to escape, the officer said. In all, Mr. Taifi and six other men — Afghans and Pakistanis — were nabbed in the raid.

That seems to be in direct contradiction to the Times report. Something’s not adding up here.

Meanwhile, Pakistani president Asif Ali Zadari keeps saying that he wants killer drones of his own. On Meet the Press yesterday, Zadari was asked if he considered the “drones that fire missiles and target Taliban” to be effective. The Pakistani’s answer: “I would consider them to be very effective if they were part of my arsenal.  I’ve been asking for them, but I haven’t got a positive answer as yet.  But I’m not giving up.”

Apparently not. According to Air Force Times, “Pakistan is working on its own Predator-like unmanned aerial vehicle,” or UAV.

The country’s air force and government-owned defense conglomerate, the National Engineering and Scientific Commission, are flight-testing a new-design aircraft to be equipped with a… laser designator and laser-guided missiles. The Burraq UAV is named for a winged horse creature in Islamic tradition, similar to Pegasus.

According to local news reports, Pakistan is focusing its unmanned aircraft efforts on upgrading various older UAVs with Chinese help.

But the sources note that no domestically produced UAV is large enough to heft both a missile and a targeting system. The military’s most capable UAV is the air force’s Selex Galileo Falco, which can laser-designate targets for other platforms but cannot deliver munitions.

UPDATE: IF you’re new to the killer drone world, this 60 Minutes segment, which aired last night, is a good primer.

[Photo: Noah Shachtman]


Posted by Joe Anybody at 4:11 PM PST
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Homeland Security Incarcerating Refugees in USA
Mood:  blue
Now Playing: Human Rights are in the USA made toilet

Why Is the Department of Homeland Security Incarcerating Refugees Across the U.S.?



By Emily Creighton, Immigration Impact.

Posted December 1, 2009.

Last month, President Obama authorized the admission of 80,000 refugees into the U.S. in fiscal year 2010, something every President has done annually since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. The United States has long recognized the importance of providing a safe haven for refugees. Beginning with laws granting refugee status to displaced persons after World War II and culminating with the comprehensive Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. has sought to safeguard those who are unwilling or unable to return to their homeland based on a "well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."

Despite this commitment to helping refugees resettle in the U.S. permanently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its sub-agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have adopted a policy of incarcerating refugees who have not adjusted to permanent resident status after one year of residency in the U.S. (“unadjusted refugees”). Often ICE comes in contact with unadjusted refugees who have had some contact with local law enforcement; however ICE also has detained refugees who have no criminal charges pending against them. In recent months, advocates have alerted DHS and ICE about such detained refugees in regions including Minneapolis, MN; Florence, AZ; Eloy, AZ; York, PA; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA.

ICE defends this detention policy by citing section 209(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which states that refugees who have not acquired permanent resident status after one year “shall return or be returned to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security for inspection and examination for admission.” ICE says “return to custody” means that refugees who have not applied for permanent resident status after one year may be detained and held while they complete their adjustment application and while ICE’s sister organization, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), adjudicates it. This interpretation is particularly unfair since the law prohibits refugees from applying for permanent residence until one year after they have been admitted to the U.S. as refugees. In essence, ICE detains refugees for not doing what the law bars them from doing.

ICE’s interpretation of the law has particularly harsh consequences for refugees. First, the refugee is not in removal proceedings, so he or she cannot request bond before an Immigration Judge. Without an opportunity to be released, the refugee must complete the adjustment application process in detention -- for example, he or she must appear for the required USCIS interview and obtain vaccinations while detained. In some cases, the process can take over a year.

Second, even if USCIS denies the refugee’s application for adjustment and he or she is placed in removal proceedings, ICE has charged the refugee as an "arriving alien." Under the relevant law, "arriving aliens" may not ask an Immigration Judge for a bond hearing and are entirely dependant on ICE -- the prosecutor in the case—for release from detention. The interpretation of refugees as “arriving aliens” is incorrect because refugees have already been admitted to the U.S. as a refugee. Despite this, when the agency charges them as "arriving aliens," refugees are unable to seek release from detention from a neutral decision-maker -- neither during the pendency of the adjustment application, nor during removal proceedings.

In Arizona—where representatives of detained refugees recently filed a number of habeas lawsuits challenging the detention of unadjusted refugees—ICE stated that it will release unadjusted refugees or put them in removal proceedings within 48 hours. It also promised to stop charging refugees in removal proceedings as "arriving aliens," which therefore enables refugees to seek bond from a neutral immigration judge. Yet in light of these changes, advocates in Arizona report that unadjusted refugees continue to spend time in detention and cannot proceed with their immigration cases until DHS adjudicates their adjustment applications. In addition, DHS has not officially committed to these changes or to any widespread changes in policies related to detention of unadjusted refugees.

DHS’ policy of detaining unadjusted refugees is extremely problematic -- it is not required by the language of the statute and is unsupported by the policies that drove lawmakers to pass laws protecting refugees. The word “custody” in the statute does not require ICE to take physical custody of unadjusted refugees, something ICE’s predecessor organization recognized. The former Immigration and Nationality Service reasoned that "custody" in INA § 209(a) could be satisfied by simply requiring refugees to apply for adjustment of status and compelling them to appear at the agency.

Organizations that work with detained refugees continue to urge DHS to reconsider its policy of detaining unadjusted refugees and to this end, recently submitted a letter to DHS with policy suggestions. DHS acknowledged receipt of the letter. Hopefully, in any new policy, DHS will cease using "custody" in INA 209(a) as another means to detain refugees. This is not the purpose or intent of this statutory provision. Instead, the statute was designed to encourage refugees to apply for adjustment and to lawfully remain in the United States. Let’s hope the agency acts quickly to issue fair and humane new policy, so that future refugees will not have to suffer the unnecessary detention that current refugees face.


Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:16 PM PST
Factors outside Obama's control to shape Afghanistan campaign
Mood:  d'oh
Now Playing: More War is not Hope and Change
Topic: WAR

Factors outside Obama's control to shape Afghanistan campaign

Whether U.S. President Barack Obama's pledge to redouble the U.S. commitment to the war in Afghanistan finds eventual success will depend on a number of external factors -- including cooperation from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, support from NATO allies and competence among Afghan's security forces. In outlining a timetable for withdrawal, Obama has established criteria for success that will largely hinge on the Afghan government's ability to root out endemic corruption and train security forces to fight a Taliban weakened by U.S. soldiers. Though NATO has pledged to support the mission with at least 5,000 more troops, most European leaders are wary to pledge any further blood and treasure to the unpopular war. The New York Times (12/1) , The Washington Post (12/2) , The Independent (London) (12/2)

Posted by Joe Anybody at 1:17 PM PST
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Elections in Honduras link to letterI wrote
Mood:  crushed out
Now Playing: Honduras Election Crime and the USA is endorsing it

Z3 Readers here is a letter I sent to congress and to the President regarding illegal elections in Honduras




Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:20 PM PST
Friday, 27 November 2009
WalMart Bullshit
Mood:  mischievious
Now Playing: Website full of information on Walmart





Wal-Mart provides an up-front savings for shoppers, but the cost is carried by increasingly brutal labor conditions, especially in China, but also in the U.S. Because Wal-Mart is now the largest corporation in the world, its practice of disregarding human rights for the sake of a good sale on the other side of the world is setting an ominous trend in an industry that is now trying to keep up with Wal-Mart by wringing more labor for less and less compensation.

Consider, also, that foreign cheap labor comes in part because of their socialist government that covers daily living expenses of the workers, so the true cost of labor is actually through subsidies by a Communist system.  By supporting Wal-Mart, we endanger American Free Enterprise and prop up totalitarianism.

Now Wal-Mart is leading the way in implementing RFID product tracking, leading the way to more of an Orwellian big brother world of tyranny here in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

This is creating a very serious breach of conscience for millions of otherwise upright Americans, who can sense that these low prices come at a price. It is time to stop patronizing increasingly slave-like labor conditions at home and abroad.

Sterling D. Allan
April 30, 2002, with update Jan. 29, 2004

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:38 PM PST
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: its all in the song....




We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals when they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the foe, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they'd all flown in the last war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!

I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?


There's nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are out-phased, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And their beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!


Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:25 PM PST
AIG screws over small town by jacking up water bills
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: Profits over People - AIG greed ruins lives in Middlesboro and Clinton



Bailed-Out AIG Forcing Poor to Choose

Between Running Water and Food

By Yasha Levine, AlterNet
Posted on November 26, 2009,



What are we getting in return for the bailout? So far, predatory credit card rates, exorbitant bank fees and obscene Wall Street bonuses. But we're being robbed in other, sneakier ways, too. It seems that taxpayers in the poorest, most vulnerable parts of the county are getting plundered by the same institutions they bailed out. One example is AIG's underhanded fleecing of residents of rural Kentucky.

Middlesboro and Clinton are two tiny, impoverished towns in southern Kentucky with a combined population of 12,000. In 2008, Middlesboro's per capita income was $13,189 a year, only a few hundred dollars more than the average worker earned in third-world Mexico. That is if they were lucky to even get a job. Real unemployment hovers somewhere around 30%, and the state is so broke that half the people eligible for unemployment benefits can't receive them. Life may be tough and most people live in poverty, but that doesn't mean they can't be made a little poorer. That's the lesson locals learned after bailed-out insurance villain AIG took over their water utility and instantly raised rates to squeeze an extra $1 million in profits out of its new customers, forcing some to consider choosing between running water and food.

The towns are so rural, their residents have yet to be touched by the Internet revolution. Forget comment sections or forum threads. In Clinton, you have to track down actual hand-written notes that residents filed with city hall to read their complaints about the rate increase. Luckily, city officials were nice enough to scan some of them.

Here's one, dated August 8, 2009:

My husband and I are on a fixed income and with everything going up in price this would be very a very large burden on us as well as most of the citizens of Clinton. Our town is mostly of people like us and this would be such a hardship for us. A 50.8% raise is outrageous on anything. Please do not let this happen. It would mean the difference in bringing buying food and medicine or paying a high water bill to make someone else's life easier.

Here is how the AIG takeover went down: In 2005, flush with cash from its shady dealings in the mortgage derivatives market, AIG announced that it was in the process of acquiring Utilities Inc., a holding company that controlled scores of small water utilities across 17 different states. With just 300,000 customers, the company wasn't huge, but it boasted of being the largest privately held water utility in the country.

"We have long considered water infrastructure as an attractive investment opportunity and an excellent complement to [our] existing energy infrastructure portfolio. Utilities Inc. is a leader in this industry and we are pleased that [we have] the opportunity to acquire this business,” AIG Chairman and CEO Win J. Neuger gloated in a press release.

AIG had reason to be pleased with its purchase. Water utilities are one hell of a profitable business, with international corporations easily making a 20 to 30% profit margin, according to a 2007 report by Food and Water Watch. In the US, federal regulations limit profits to 10%, a pesky rule that companies easily subvert by shuffling their income around and “investing” it in side businesses. These kinds of returns would be the envy of the pharmaceutical and oil industries. How do water companies do it? According to Food and Water Watch, they charge 50% more for services than public utilities and pocket the difference, thereby unleashing the potential of the free market.

People who have been ripped off by bailed-out banks' schemes to trick late fees out of their customers will recognize what Utilities Inc. did to the people of Middlesboro and Clinton. In the summer of 2008, as AIG was teetering and desperate for funds, it "upgraded" its billing system, and suddenly a slew of late fee charges hit the struggling locals.

Residents had been getting their water bills like clockwork for as long as anyone could remember, but confusion and disorder set in as soon as Utilities rolled out its new and improved billing system. Monthly statements started coming late or didn't come in for months at a time. People were double-billed and double-penalized for bills that never arrived. One month, a bill would include sewer fees, the next month it wouldn't—and you'd be charged if didn't catch the omission. It's obvious the new invoice system was designed for pure harassment, creating chaos and reaping the rewards of the late fees it generated.

Internally, Utilities referred to their revamp of the billing system as "Project Phoenix." It sounded eerily similar to the CIA's "Phoenix Program," which was designed to terrorize, kill and torture uppity Vietnamese villagers into submission during the Vietnam War. One month after Project Phoenix started wreaking havoc on locals, AIG collapsed and took the first of over $150 billion in taxpayer bailout funds. That meant Project Phoenix could still go on terrorizing locals—which it did.

Here is how a local newspaper described the new billing program in Clinton in March, 2008:

It wasn’t until the summer of 2008 that the new bills began to arrive and from Day One, they were messed up. Few customers here in Clinton [called] the water company because they got multiple bills. One business thought it got a break when its bill went down somewhat, only to discover that the bill hadn’t included sewer costs. This went on for several months. Finally, the [sewer bill] showed up – due in full – on one bill. Requests to spread out the payment fell on deaf ears. . . . Some of us were so confused by the bills, we paid them every time they came in. . . . Fears of bad credit reports and shut offs kept most customers paying whenever a bill arrived.

To make it harder for Clinton residents to file complaints, AIG closed the utility's local office as soon as it took over the company. Pleas made by phone were rejected.

Local citizens are angry, upset and fearful. Many senior citizens on fixed incomes are already stretched past the breaking point. Others living below the poverty line without hope of getting a job are worried about how to pay another rising utility bill.

Customers we’ve talked to “want to do something,” but say they cannot afford to file to intervene in the case. The trip to Frankfort is daunting and expensive. Some dare not leave the jobs or businesses they have for the time it would take to travel and attend a hearing in Frankfort.

In November 2008, right as AIG was recieving the second installment of its bailout and the economy was in a free-fall, AIG's water utility notified Middlesbro and Clinton residents that it would be raising rates by 51%. It would mean more than $750,000 in additional revenue a year, just from 8,000 customers. The money wouldn't be used to fund infrastructure improvements—none had been made and none were planned. No, according to a company spokesman, the utility was trying to recoup money it had invested in its "improved" billing system, in effect forcing the victims of the billing system to pay for their own fleecing. 

It seems Utilities was quite honest about explaining that a good chunk of the $750,000 would be transferred straight into the pockets of its investors, according to the West Kentucky Journal of Politics and Issues.

[Another] reason came from [the] company's financial expert, Pauline M. Ahern, who opined that a rate increase will allow [the utility] to “earn a range of common equity cost ratio of 11.60% to 12.10%.” In the present market, that is an attractive return on investment.

One million dollars may not seem like much these days, but it sure meant a lot to the poverty-stricken residents of Middlesbro and Clinton. There were quite a few bleak handwritten statements filed with Clinton's city hall during a public hearing on the water rates increase. It makes sense to quote them to get a feel for the level of despair that exists in rural communities like this all over the United States.

Here's one from August 8, 2009:

I get $675.00 a month, if they raise the water, or utilities, I can't pay them. I would have to go without water, etc. or gas. I'm disabled and I can't walk. Raising the utilities hurt a lot of people here in Clinton. Not just me but everyone. As it is I can't pay the water bills because its high. But I pay what I can.

And here is another from August 12, 2009:

I feel that a rate increase of 50.8% will add a heavy burden on our small rural community. Our citizin [sic] that lives in our city are on Social Security, have full time jobs that pay barely minimum wage or are working as many as 3 part time jobs to make their monthly budget.

And another from May, 2009:

“I always have a high bills [sic] to pay. I pay what I can. I am on disable. [sic] I try not to use too much water. But yet I have a high water bill. If the bill goes up, I will be lucky to pay them $10.00 instead of $80.00.

In the end, Kentucky's regulatory commission reduced the water rate increase from 50.1% to 30%. How long before they try raise the rate again? Or until the energy company decides to follow suit? It's hard to say. But one thing is for certain: AIG's takeover shows again that the American people were screwed by the bailed-out billionaires, who, instead of showing gratitude or willingness to reciprocate, have been preying upon the most vulnerable Americans like they are 15th century barons soaking the peasants.

And as our cities and states start leasing out and selling public infrastructure to pay off their municipal debts, we can expect banks to gain more control of public wealth. Middlesbro and Clinton are a glimpse into the future of post-privatized America.





Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:07 PM PST
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Off Grid in Montana
Mood:  cool
Now Playing: interesting blog on Off Grid Living
Topic: Survivalist

Z3 Readers the link below is interesting in the relevant survivalist information ...the political views are not what I support....Sealed

More about Off Grid Montana



I don’t live in the teepee, but in a trailer down the hill. I come up to the teepee to get online because there’s good reception without a cell satellite. We are building a cabin starting Spring of 2010. Our plan is cement wall against the hillside, another two walls of cement, and the front wall standing 12′ X  3′ logs side by side and energy efficient windows. We just got an 80 watt solar panel and Xantrex xPower 1500. We plan to get more deep cycle batteries and a few more solar panels. So what do we do when the sun doesn’t shine? Honda 5500watt gas generator. I like organic foods and eat and shop, sometimes, at Real Foods in Helena. Just remember, ‘green’ is the new ‘red’.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:52 PM PST
Updated: Thursday, 26 November 2009 3:01 PM PST
Saturday, 21 November 2009
ByBee Torture Defense fund
Mood:  cheeky
Now Playing: Torture Memo Author Sets Up Defense Fund to Fight Possible Impeachment
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 7:32 AM

Torture Memo Author

Sets Up Defense Fund to

Fight Possible Impeachment

Michael Isikoff
The federal judge who helped draft Justice Department memos on torture has set up a legal defense fund to pay the costs of defending against possible disciplinary or impeachment proceedings. Jay Bybee, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Las Vegas, quietly set up the fund last July following widespread news reports that he and a former deputy, John Yoo, were the focus of a long-running investigation by the Justice Department's internal ethics unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), over their role in crafting the memos.

But there were no public references to the fund until this, week when Declassified noticed that a link to the fund had popped up on the Web site of Keep America Safe, an advocacy group set up last month by Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, that is highly critical of President Obama's national-security policies. The fund is listed as one of Keep America Safe's "causes we support."

The defense fund may be about to become extremely useful for Bybee, who anticipates legal expenses "well in excess of $500,000" as a result of the Justice investigation, according to  a letter from the U.S. Judicial Conference ethics committee posted on the fund's Web site. Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that, after a nearly year-long delay and numerous internal reviews, the OPR report into the torture memos was finally slated to be released at the end of this month.

As NEWSWEEK reported last February, the initial draft of the report, completed during the waning days of the Bush administration, concluded that Bybee (at the time assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel) and Yoo may have violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they drafted a controversial Aug. 1, 2002, memo on torture.

But then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey rejected the draft report and directed that copies of its findings be sent for comment to the targets (including Bybee, Yoo, and Steve Bradbury, who had by then become assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel). Since then, the report has been redrafted and, after a further round of comments, is now being reviewed for final release by David Margolis, a veteran career prosecutor at the Justice Department.

The initial 2002 memo, signed by Bybee but believed to have been principally drafted by Yoo, concluded that during wartime, President Bush as commander in chief could unilaterally disregard a federal law banning torture in the prosecution of the war on terror. It also concluded that harsh interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA did not constitute torture unless they resulted in the "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." That conclusion opened the door for the CIA to use a wide array of "enhanced" interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that were approved in a separate memo by Bybee and Yoo on the same day.

Since then, there have been calls for Bybee's impeachment from some liberal advocacy groups and law professors. "He's the only person holding an office that could be the target" of impeachment, said Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group that has campaigned for "accountability" over the use of torture techniques during the Bush era.

But legal sources familiar with the OPR report (who asked not to be identified discussing it because the process is ongoing) say it is believed to have undergone numerous revisions since the original draft and that it is far from clear what its final conclusions will be. Maureen Mahoney, Bybee's lawyer, declined to comment on the specifics of the report but said, "If DOJ follows settled rules of law, it cannot possibly conclude that Judge Bybee's conduct was unethical."

Bybee, who served in the Justice Department under both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, was President George W. Bush's first nominee to be assistant attorney general in charge of OLC, the office that effectively serves as legal adviser for the entire federal government. He was then nominated by Bush to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and confirmed in March 2003—well before the existence of the torture memos or the CIA's use of waterboarding had become publicly known.
 The letter sent to Bybee in May by the chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference's Committee on Codes of Conduct gave approval for the judge to set up the fund based on a set of facts he had presented. Those include the OPR inquiry, and the possibility that the Justice Department might launch investigations into torture and that "some members of Congress have indicated impeachment may be considered."

The letter, from Judge M. Margaret McKeown, approves the creation of a defense fund in which "others may solicit contributions," provided it adheres to rules that the committee has laid down for other judicial funds in the past, namely that the list of contributors be "blind" so that Bybee never learns their identities, and it not include lawyers who have cases before the judge.

James Spears, a Washington lawyer who is one of three trustees of the fund, declined to comment on how much the fund has raised. But the former Justice Department colleague of Bybee's did say, "We're confident that he'll be vindicated."

Posted by Joe Anybody at 8:03 PM PST

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