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WIKILEAKS AND THE SECRETS THAT DECEIVE US

Danny Schechter - In the days of Stalin's Russia, not only would dissidents "disappear" but also even in the pre-digital era, photographs of officials at May Day reviewing stands would be erased from photographs when their political stars fell. Our own "Kremlinologists" would know who was in, and who was out by comparing last year's pictures with this years.

That's one way of concealing information.

Just last week, Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission pushed to have certain words removed from the report they were writing because they posed a conflict to their view that only the government was to blame for the financial collapse

Explained economist Paul Krugman, "Last week, reports Shahien Nasiripour of The Huffington Post, all four Republicans on the commission voted to exclude the following terms from the report: "deregulation," "shadow banking," "interconnection," and, yes, "Wall Street."

When…

Mr. President, You're Wrong on Michael Vick

Morris W. O'Kelly @ The Huffington Post - Mo'Kelly supports his president and is a diehard Democrat...but let's be clear; Mr. President, you're wrong on Michael Vick.

"NBC's Peter King reports that Barack Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie earlier this week to congratulate him for giving Vick a second chance after his release from prison. According to King, the president said that released prisoners rarely receive a level playing field and that Vick's story could begin to change that."Mr. President...no it didn't and no it won't.

If President Obama wanted to praise the Eagles for giving Vick a second chance, the phone call would have been more appropriate when they originally signed him, not many months later amid great success. It begs the question whether the phone call would have ever come if Vick weren't balling and had failed miserably. Read more.

‘The Comeback Kid’ and the Kids Who Won’t

Amy Goodman @ Common Dreams - President Barack Obama signed a slew of bills into law during the lame-duck session of Congress and was dubbed the "Comeback Kid" amid a flurry of fawning press reports. In the hail of this surprise bipartisanship, though, the one issue over which Democrats and Republicans always agree, war, was completely ignored. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history, and 2010 has seen the highest number of U.S. and NATO soldiers killed.

As of this writing, 497 of the reported 709 coalition fatalities in 2010 were U.S. soldiers. The website iCasualties.org has carefully tracked the names of these dead. There is no comprehensive list of the Afghans killed. But one thing that's clear: Those 497 U.S. soldiers, under the command of the "Comeback Kid," won't be coming back. Read more.

Bittersweet Revitalization: Oakland's Reincarnation

Max Eternity @ Truthout - In spite of an ongoing, grim economic downturn felt nationally, the city of Oakland continues to enjoy a beatification, resurrection and transformation which has turned a rather neglected, desolate place into a spectacularly cleaved jewel in the Pacific Northwest.

Architecture and public art are definitely playing a significant role in the emerging identity of Oakland. Take, for instance, a modernist-revival building and plaza a stone's throw from Lake Merritt and just a few blocks from Oakland's downtown Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The sublimely designed Cathedral Christ of the Light, built by world-renowned firm SOM Architects, is but one of many fine examples in the city's newly refined, designer-built architectural environment. There's also a number of noteworthy restoration projects that have taken place, including the preservation of two historic theatres, the Fox and the Paramount, both of which were erected during the heyday of gr…

Eight Homeless Youth Die in New Orleans Fire – What Does It Say About Us?

Bill Quigley @ Common Dreams - Eight young people, who the Fire Department said were “trying to stay warm,” perished in a raging fire during the night in New Orleans. The young people were squatting in an abandoned wood framed tin walled warehouse in a Ninth Ward neighborhood bordering a large train yard. The young people apparently had a barrel with wood burning in it for heat. Officials said this was the city’s most deadly fire in twenty five years.

The eight young people, estimated to be in their late teens and early twenties, remain unidentified. “We don’t know their IDs,” said the Fire Department, “they were so burned we cannot even tell their genders.” Read more.

Museums 2.0: What Happens When Great Art Meets New Media?

Arianna Huffington - The holidays are here and people are using their free time to flock to the Fockers, gorge on bowl games, and figure out how to enjoy HuffPost on their new iPads (she said suggestively). And more than a few are heading to museums (museum attendance traditionally spikes this time of year).

Last month, I spoke at a conference of museum presidents and directors at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Museums are increasingly using technology to reach an audience outside their walls. And I, of course, am a complete evangelist for new media and for institutions adapting as fast as possible to changes new technologies are bringing to our world. Read more.

Remembering A Legend: Teena Marie passes at age 54

Rolling Stone - R&B singer Teena Marie, best known for her 1980s hits "Lovergirl," "Ooo La La La" and "Lead Me On," died in her sleep last night of unknown causes in her Los Angeles home. She was 54.

Marie's debut LP, 1979's Wild and Peaceful, was written with her mentor Rick James, who dueted with Marie on her breakthrough single "I'm A Sucker For Your Love." Motown, who rarely signed white artists, didn't put her photo on the cover — leading to a longstanding belief that Marie was actually black. Read more.

Jimmy Carter's Fight Against Guinea Worm Approaches Victory

Huffington Post - Lily pads and purple flowers dot one corner of the watering hole. Bright green algae covers another. Two women collect water in plastic jugs while a cattle herder bathes nearby.

Samuel Makoy is not interested in the bucolic scenery, though. He has an epidemic to quash.

Makoy points out to the women the fingernail-length worm-like creatures whose tails flick back and forth. Then a pond-side health lesson begins on a spaghetti-like worm that has haunted humans for centuries.

This fight against the guinea worm is a battle former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has waged for more than two decades in some of the poorest countries on earth. It is a battle he's almost won. Read more.

Ivory Coast's Gbagbo faces threat from neighbors

Yahoo News - West African leaders are giving the man who refuses to leave Ivory Coast's presidency a final chance to hand over power and are threatening to remove Laurent Gbagbo by force if needed, though doubts exist about whether the operation could be carried out.

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said at least 14,000 people have fled the violence and political chaos in Ivory Coast, some walking for up to four days with little food to reach neighboring Liberia. At least one child drowned while trying to cross a river.

The U.N. has said at least 173 people have been killed in violence over the disputed presidential runoff election held nearly one month ago, heightening fears the country could return to civil war. The toll is believed to be much higher, though, as the U.N. mission has been blocked from investigating other reports including an allegation of a mass grave.

On Sunday, the interior minister appointed by Gbagbo accused the U.N. of only telling half the story. Read more.

Ecuador recognizes a Palestinian state

CNN - Ecuador is the latest country to recognize an independent Palestinian state.
The government said on Friday that President Rafael Correa recognized "the Palestine State as free and independent within its borders since 1967."
Others countries -- such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay -- recently made the same move. Read more.

African Huts Far From the Grid Glow With Renewable Power

NY Times - For Sara Ruto, the desperate yearning for electricity began last year with the purchase of her first cellphone, a lifeline for receiving small money transfers, contacting relatives in the city or checking chicken prices at the nearest market. Beyond Fossil Fuels
Charging the phone was no simple matter in this farming village far from Kenya’s electric grid.
Every week, Ms. Ruto walked two miles to hire a motorcycle taxi for the three-hour ride to Mogotio, the nearest town with electricity. There, she dropped off her cellphone at a store that recharges phones for 30 cents. Yet the service was in such demand that she had to leave it behind for three full days before returning.
That wearying routine ended in February when the family sold some animals to buy a small Chinese-made solar power system for about $80. Now balanced precariously atop their tin roof, a lone solar panel provides enough electricity to charge the phone and run four bright overhead lights with switches.
“My main …

Is Navy plan a threat to world's oldest killer whales?

McClatchy Newspapers - Could Ruffles and Granny be in trouble?

At 59, Ruffles is the oldest known male orca in the world, one of an estimated 150 orcas known to inhabit the Puget Sound and the coast of Washington state. Granny is his 99-year-old mother.

Environmentalists fear for the safety of the whales as the U.S. Navy prepares to expand its operations in its Northwest Training Range Complex, which stretches from the coastline of Washington state to northern California.

"They're all very susceptible," said Howard Garrett, the president of Orca Network, a nonprofit group based in Washington state. "The Navy is single-minded and they're focused, and the whales are very much a secondary concern to them."

The group is among the many opponents in Washington state and California lining up against the Navy's plan. Read more.

Obama’s Liberty Problem: Why Indefinite Detention by Executive Order Should Scare the Hell Out of People

Bill Quigley @ Common Dreams - The right to liberty is one of the foundation rights of a free people. The idea that any US President can bypass Congress and bypass the Courts by issuing an Executive Order setting up a new legal system for indefinite detention of people should rightfully scare the hell out of the American people.

Advisors in the Obama administration have floated the idea of creating a special new legal system to indefinitely detain people by Executive Order. Why? To do something with the people wrongfully imprisoned in Guantanamo. Why not follow the law and try them? The government knows it will not be able to win prosecutions against them because they were tortured by the US. Read more.

What WikiLeaks revealed to the world in 2010

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - Throughout this year I've devoted substantial attention to WikiLeaks, particularly in the last four weeks as calls for its destruction intensified. To understand why I've done so, and to see what motivates the increasing devotion of the U.S. Government and those influenced by it to destroying that organization, it's well worth reviewing exactly what WikiLeaks exposed to the world just in the last year: the breadth of the corruption, deceit, brutality and criminality on the part of the world's most powerful factions.

As revealing as the disclosures themselves are, the reactions to them have been equally revealing. The vast bulk of the outrage has been devoted not to the crimes that have been exposed but rather to those who exposed them: Read more.

Not Neutrality

Save The Internet - On Tuesday FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave AT&T a decision that was gift-wrapped for the holiday season. By a 3-to-2 vote, the FCC passed a rule that, in the chairman’s words, “protects Internet freedom.”
If only that were true.
After a year of promises to deliver on President Obama's pledge to protect Net Neutrality, this chairman has pushed through a rule that favors the very industry his FCC is supposed to regulate, leaving Internet users with few protections and putting the future of the open Internet in peril.
The chairman chose to ignore the voices of more than 2 million people who have urged Washington to support real and lasting Net Neutrality protections. His rule, for the first time in history, allows discrimination over the mobile Internet, paving the way for widespread industry abuses. Read more.

Ivory Coast: Hopes for peace dwindle

Global Post - Room for a peaceful resolution dwindled here as both men who claim to be president hardened their positions amid increasing accounts of political killings and abductions.
Nearly 200 people have been killed in Ivory Coast political violence that must be halted and fully investigated, the United States told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday.
U.N. experts and many others agree that the Ivory Coast is edging closer to a return to the civil war that split the country in 2002. Many Abidjan residents are fearful that Ivory Coast is moving closer to armed conflict.
"War is inevitable. We have to go through a serious confrontation to liberate Ivorians once and for all," said Pierre Noel, an Abidjan-based television producer. Read more.

Whitney Museum Unveils Plans For New Museum Downtown (PHOTOS)

WikiLeaks: US Ambassador Planned "Retaliation" Against France Over Ban on Monsanto Corn

Truthout - The former United States ambassador to France suggested "moving to retaliation" against France and the European Union (EU) in late 2007 to fight a French ban on Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) corn and changes in European policy toward biotech crops, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks on Sunday.
President George W. Bush appointed Stapleton as ambassador to France in 2005, and in 2009, Stapleton left the office and became an owner of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Bush and Stapleton co-owned the Texas Rangers during the 1990s.
Monsanto is based in St. Louis. Read more.

"War is Necrophelia"

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - The speeches were over. There was a mournful harmonica rendition of taps. The 500 protesters in Lafayette Park in front of the White House fell silent. One hundred and thirty-one men and women, many of them military veterans wearing old fatigues, formed a single, silent line. Under a heavy snowfall and to the slow beat of a drum, they walked to the White House fence. They stood there until they were arrested.

The solemnity of that funerary march, the hush, was the hardest and most moving part of Thursday’s protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It unwound the bitter memories and images of war I keep wrapped in the thick cotton wool of forgetfulness. I was transported in that short walk to places I do not like to go. Strange and vivid flashes swept over me—the young soldier in El Salvador who had been shot through the back of the head and was, as I crouched next to him, slowly curling up in a fetal position to die; the mutilated corpses of Kosovar Al…

$2tn Debt Crisis Threatens to Bring Down 100 US Cities

Guardian UK - More than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown, a leading analyst has warned.

Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery.

"Next to housing this is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest threat to the US economy," Whitney told the CBS 60 Minutes programme on Sunday night.

"There's not a doubt on my mind that you will see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred sizeable defaults – more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of defaults." Read more.

Obama FCC Caves on Net Neutrality -- Tuesday Betrayal Assured

Tim Karr @ The Huffington Post - For the first time in history of telecommunications law the FCC has given its stamp of approval to online discrimination.

Late Monday, a majority of the FCC's commissioners indicated that they're going to vote with Chairman Julius Genachowski for a toothless Net Neutrality rule.

According to all reports, the rule, which will be voted on during tomorrow's FCC meeting, falls drastically short of earlier pledges by President Obama and the FCC Chairman to protect the free and open Internet.

The rule is so riddled with loopholes that it's become clear that this FCC chairman crafted it with the sole purpose of winning the endorsement of AT&T and cable lobbyists, and not defending the interests of the tens of millions of Internet users. Read more.

The Media Gets It Wrong on WikiLeaks: It's About Broken Trust, Not Broken Condoms

Arianna Huffington - I attend a lot of conferences on media and technology -- indeed, they might actually be the biggest growth sector of the media -- but the one I attended this past weekend was one of the most fascinating I've been to in quite a while. Entitled "A Symposium on WikiLeaks and Internet Freedom," the one-day event was sponsored by the Personal Democracy Forum and was moderated by the group's Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej.

The WikiLeaks story is an ever-shifting one -- witness the latest twists of the Air Force blocking its personnel from accessing more than 25 news sites that have posted material released by WikiLeaks, and the shocking treatment of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of being the source of the leaks.

One of the problems with the WikiLeaks story is that there has been way too much conflating going on, as Katrin Verclas pointed out at the symposium. So some serious unconflating (disconflating?) is in order. Read more.

After Bucking Holbrooke's Advice On Afghanistan, Obama Invokes His Name

Dan Froomkin @ The Huffington Post - President Barack Obama asserted on Thursday that the White House's questionable assessment of progress in Afghanistan "reflect[s] the dedication of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, whose memory we honor and whose work we'll continue."

There's little doubt that the president's chief envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died Monday of complications from an aortic dissection, tried his damnedest to make Obama's strategy work.

But the reality is that a year ago, when Obama was choosing between escalation and deescalation in the region, Holbrooke was one of several top advisors who cautioned him that the path he ultimately chose -- sending in 30,000 more American troops -- simply could not succeed.

Behind closed doors, Holbrooke was widely known to be one of the most voluble members of a high-level faction that Obama chose to spurn.

In Obama's War, Bob Woodward writes that Holbrooke considered it a "central truth" …

World rabbis denounce edict forbidding Jews from renting homes to Arabs

Guardian UK - More than 900 rabbis from around the world have signed a letter expressing "great shock and pain" at a ruling backed by scores of Israeli rabbis forbidding Jews from renting or selling property to non-Jews.

The letter describes the ruling as a "painful distortion of our tradition" and a "desecration of God's name" and appeals to Israeli rabbis to "take a public stand and oppose those who misrepresent our tradition". Read more.

WikiLeaks vs Facebook? No Match

Medea Benjamin @ Common Dreams - TIME Magazine readers chose Julian Assange as Person of the Year. Hands down. But Time's editors preferred to go with the safer choice: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The loser in this contest is Time Magazine. Hands down.
Just think about it. Facebook has been around for years now. It's a fabulous social networking tool, but there is nothing it accomplished in 2010 that wasn't accomplished in 2009. In the swirling pace of the tech world, Facebook is old news. Read more.

Julian Assange Bail GRANTED; WikiLeaks Founder Back In Court (LIVE UPDATES)

The Huffington Post (LIVE UPDATES) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back in court today, and has been granted bail by a British judge. He has been in a British prison for a week after being denied bail last week. Assange is wanted for questioning for alleged sex crimes involving two women in Sweden. It is thought that one of the women, Anna Ardin, may no longer be cooperating with prosecutors.
Assange released a statement from prison via his mother saying that Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are "instruments of U.S. foreign policy." He also said: Read more.

Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange

Michael Moore @ The Huffington Post - Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.
Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.
We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.…

Georgia Inmates Use Cell Phones to Stage Nonviolent Prison Protest

Switched - A group of inmates serving time at a Georgia corrections facility recently orchestrated a major, nonviolent strike in protest of state prison policy. And they did it with their contraband cell phones.
The strike officially got underway on Thursday, and involved inmates from at least seven Georgia prison facilities. Prisoners abruptly refused to perform their daily chores, until authorities met a list of their demands. According to the New York Times, the strikers were looking to get paid for their work, and wanted better food and more educational opportunities within their prisons. Compensation and better education, they argued, would prepare them better for release, and, in the long run, could help mitigate violence and recidivism. Yesterday, officials at the Georgia Department of Corrections confirmed that four prisons remained in lockdown mode, but insisted that no serious incidents had been reported.
According to one inmate named Mike, conditions had been worsening at t…

Holbrooke's Last Words On Afghanistan Downplayed As Joking Exchange By Obama Administration

The Huffington Post - The Obama administration is trying to dismiss the reported last words of veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, its point person on Afghanistan and Pakistan who passed away this week, as a joke.
Administration officials said Tuesday that Holbrooke's final words, "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan," were part of a jovial back-and-forth with the medical staff.
"At one point, the medical team said, 'You've got to relax,'" State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Tuesday, relaying what he said he had heard from people who were in the room with Holbrooke at George Washington University Hospital. "And Richard said, 'I can't relax, I'm worrying about Afghanistan and Pakistan.' After some additional exchanges ... finally [Holbrooke's surgeon] said, 'Tell you what, we'll try to fix this challenge while you're in surgery.' And [Holbrooke] said, 'Yeah, see if you can ta…

Nigeria Mulls $250 Million Deal to Drop Cheney Charges

Agence France-Press @ Common Dreams: Nigeria has negotiated a 250 million dollar settlement deal that would see it drop charges against US ex-vice president Dick Cheney and others over a bribery scandal, an official said Tuesday.
The deal reached by officials from Nigeria and energy firm Halliburton, Cheney's former company, must still be approved by the West African country's government, said Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the anti-graft agency.
"The attorney general of the federation will have to ratify that on behalf of the federal government," he said, adding that a decision would come before the end of the week. The money would be paid "in lieu of prosecution."
Officials told AFP on Monday that the Nigerian government would consider a settlement deal in the case following weekend negotiations in London. Read more.

Anonymous Words: An Interview With Operation Payback Hackers

Truthout - PayPal was a tough target. The latest web firm to face Operation Payback DDoS attacks for withholding donations to WikiLeaks was prepared for the well-publicized flood on its server. After hours of blasting PayPal on Friday, the "hacktivists" associated with a loose network called Anonymous, slowed payment processing, but they could not shut down PayPal.
A new chat room was opened to discuss news reports. A teenage boy in the Netherlands had been arrested after confessing to participating in Operation Payback. PayPal announced plans to unfreeze funds withheld from WikiLeaks. Momentum seemed to be fading, and the chances of a successful attack against the mammoth Amazon site were looking slim. Was it time to call it a day and declare a victory? What happens next?
Small details came out from behind the Anonymous screen names. Quagmire_x86 lives in Russia. Stupidmonkey claimed to be an "IT goon" in the Unites States. Obvioustroll is a "eurofaggot." …

VIDEO: "Why Are The Wars Not Being Reported Honestly"

John Pilger @ Guardian UK - In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a "war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media". What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where "the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences". Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. "We had a secret weapon," he boasted. "We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media."
Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual". In echoing the west's more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war",…

Where is the Press? Amy Goodman Reports From the Empty Media Center at UN Climate Summit (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post - Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was startled to find the press room the U.N. Climate Change Conference eerily quiet this week. Rows and rows of computers sat unused. At last year's climate meeting in Copenhagen, the room was buzzing with hundreds of reporters.

However today, climate change seems to be a forgotten story. Thus, it was not surprising to find that the major TV broadcast networks in the United States seemed to be ignoring the conference. Democracy Now! producers reviewed the transcripts of last week's evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS and NBC in the United States, and found that the Cancún climate talks were not mentioned a single time. Read more.

Ralph Nader Predicts Obama Will Face Democratic Primary Challenger in 2012

Politics Daily - Calling the White House tax deal with Republicans the "last straw," Ralph Nader predicted that President Obama will face a primary challenger in 2012.

Nader, a third-party presidential candidate in the four most recent elections, told The Hill a Democrat will step up in two years to represent the progressive wing of the party. It's "just a question of how prominent a person."

"He's a con man. I have no use for him," Nader said. Read more.

Why Bill Clinton's Favorable View of Obama's Tax Deal Should Be Disregarded

Robert Reich @ The Huffington Post - Bill Clinton seems the perfect validator for Barack Obama -- which is why the president is utilizing the former president for selling his tax deal. After all, the economy boomed when Clinton was president and 22 million net new jobs were created. From a more narrow political perspective -- and this is important to Democrats in Washington -- Bill Clinton was reelected, even though he lost both houses of Congress in the 1994 midterms.

But the analogy falls apart as soon as you realize Clinton's economy was vastly different from Obama's. The recession Clinton inherited was relatively small, and caused by the Fed raising interest rates too high to ward off inflation. So it could be reversed by the Fed lowering interest rates -- as the Fed did in 1994. By 1995, the so-called "jobless recovery" had morphed into a full-blown jobs recovery. By 1996, at pollster Dick Morris's urging, Clinton could proclaim to the American people "y…

From Clinton to Obama: President NAFTA Backs President SHAFTA

The Huffington Post - It was a stunning spectacle yesterday afternoon when former President Clinton took the podium from President Obama in the White House briefing room to help shove the Obama-GOP tax deal down the throats of Democratic activists and Congress members.

It was a fitting spectacle too (carried live on CNN) -- since Bill Clinton paved the way in teaching how a Democratic president can win battles through the votes not of his own party but the Republicans.

Remember NAFTA, the trade deal loved by big business and Republicans -- and opposed by Democratic constituencies like unions, environmentalists and consumer advocates? Clinton passed NAFTA with the votes of nearly 80 percent of GOP senators and almost 70 percent of House Republicans. Meanwhile, House Democrats opposed NAFTA by more than 3 to 2.

More than a year ago, I warned ("Get Ready for the Obama/GOP Alliance") that Obama would follow Clinton's lead in winning some of his biggest fights by allying with th…

Justice Department Prepares for Ominous Expansion of "Anti-Terrorism" Law Targeting Activists

Truthout - In late September, the FBI carried out a series of raids of homes and antiwar offices of public activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Following the raids, the Obama Justice Department subpoenaed 14 activists to a grand jury in Chicago and also subpoenaed the files of several antiwar and community organizations. In carrying out these repressive actions, the Justice Department was taking its lead from the Supreme Court's 6-3 opinion last June in Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project, which decided that nonviolent First Amendment speech and advocacy "coordinated with" or "under the direction of" a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as "terrorist" was a crime. Read more.

Noam Chomsky, Cornell West, Chris Hedges et all: An Open Letter to the Establishment Left

Truthout Op-Ed: A Call for Active Support of Protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign.

With the Obama administration beginning its third year, it is by now painfully obvious that the predictions of even the most sober Obama supporters were overly optimistic. Rather than an ally, the administration has shown itself to be an implacable enemy of reform. Read more.

Obama's tax-cut deal upsets many major donors

LA Times - Some say they will withhold funds for the next election. Even if they come around before the campaign kicks into gear, the initial backlash could hurt early Democratic efforts to counter GOP-allied groups.

"I do not plan to support Obama and his reelection effort," said Utah-based hedge fund manager Art Lipson, who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party and its allies in recent elections. He views the tax-cut compromise as a giveaway to Republicans that will increase the deficit.

"He's got many great qualities, but he is not a fighter," Lipson said of the president. "I've met with many donors and the level of disappointment is extreme."

This month, many Democratic donors joined a campaign dubbed Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength that called on the president to allow the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. They are now expressing frustration — and some even fury — at the compromise he struck with GOP congress…

From Jefferson to Assange

Robert Sheer @ The Huffington Post - All you need to know about Julian Assange's value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world's other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange "to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage."

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Feinstein, who strongly supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, has the audacity to call for the imprisonment of the man who, more than any other individual, has allowed the public to learn the truth about those disastrous imperial adventures -- facts long known to Feinstein as head of the Intelligence Committee but never shared with the public she claims to represent.

Feinstein represents preci…

Exclusive: An Inside Look at the "Hactivist" Takedown of Visa After WikiLeaks Cut Off

Truthout - Web pirates are waging cyberwarfare in defense of WikiLeaks, and I had a rare glimpse into the hacktivists' hidden world of Internet sabotage in a secret chat room as the faceless hackers orchestrated the attack that temporarily shut down www.Visa.com on Wednesday evening.

Hidden behind screen names like Power2All and Bizzaro, hacktivists involved in the Operation Payback campaign logged into a temporary and remote Internet relay chat (IRC) room to share information on the ongoing Visa attack, swap web addresses, tell jokes and give updates on the international media coverage of their cyberwar against the enemies of WikiLeaks and free information. Read more.

PayPal Admits State Department Pressure Caused It To Block WikiLeaks

The Huffington Post - Several days ago, PayPal, an online payment company, blocked the account WikiLeaks had been using to collect donations.

Speaking at the Le Web conference in Paris, PayPal's Osama Bedier, VP of platform, mobile and new ventures, shed light on PayPal's decision to freeze the WikiLeaks account and admitted that the U.S. State Department played a role in the company's blocking of the account. Read more.

Visa DOWN: WikiLeaks Supporters Take Down Site As 'Payback'

The Huffington Post - Just hours after MasterCard's website was disabled by WikiLeaks supporters, Visa.com is now down as well.

Via its Twitter account (@Anon_Operation), Anonymous, an activist hacker group, claimed responsibility for the denial of service attack--part of "Operation Payback"--that brought down Visa.com. Read more.

"TheTruth Will Always Win"

Julian Assange @ The Australian - In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public. Read more.

While Whacking Critics, Obama Gets Facts Wrong

Dan Froomkin @ The Huffington Post - While arguing at Tuesday's press conference that his progressive critics are being sanctimonious and overly pure, President Obama flatly misstated the history of the Social Security program and disregarded the central intent of the public health insurance option.

There were also a few problems with the rhetorical structure of Obama's comments. If he truly believes that good things start small, like Social Security did, then criticizing the public option for starting small isn't logically consistent. And the tax cut he agreed to is hardly a half measure in the right direction; it's a colossal collapse in the wrong direction. Read more.

Court Dismisses Targeted Killing Case, Does Not Comment on Merits

Common Dreams - A federal court today acknowledged the serious issues raised by a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's targeted killing policy, but dismissed the case on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have legal standing to challenge the targeting of his son, and that the case raised "political questions" not subject to court review. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in August, charging that the administration's asserted authority to execute U.S. citizens outside combat zones who do not pose an imminent threat violates the U.S. Constitution and international law. The judge did not rule on the merits of the case.

Despite granting the government's motion to dismiss the case, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called the case "unique and extraordinary," said it presented "[s]tark, and perplexing, questions" and found that the m…

Julian Assange Captured by World's Dating Police: Dear Interpol

Naomi Wolf @ The Huffington Post - As a longtime feminist activist, I have been overjoyed to discover your new commitment to engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating.

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims' complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women's apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, 'reading stories about himself online' in the cab. Read more.

British Judge Denies Bail to Julian Assange: WikiLeaks Founder Taken Into Custody In London On Swedish Warrant

The Huffington Post - A British judge sent Julian Assange to jail on Tuesday, denying bail to the WikiLeaks founder who vowed to fight efforts to extradite him to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation.

A WikiLeaks spokesman said the flow of secret U.S. diplomatic cables would not be affected by Assange's legal troubles, nor by the group's increasingly rocky finances as both Visa and MasterCard cut off key funding methods.

"This will not change our operation," Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Associated Press. As if to underline the point, WikiLeaks released a dozen new diplomatic cables, its first publication in more than 24 hours, including the details of a NATO defense plan for Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that prompted an indignant response from the Russian envoy to the alliance.

Assange turned himself in to Scotland Yard on Tuesday morning, and was sent to the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in the early afternoon. He showed no reaction as Judge Howard…

The Charade of Israeli-Palestinian Talks

Noam Choamsky @ Truthout - Washington’s pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month freeze on settlement expansion – excluding Arab East Jerusalem – should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.

In September the last settlement freeze ended, leading the Palestinians to cease direct talks with Israel. Now the Obama administration, desperate to lure Israel into a new freeze and thus revive the talks, is grasping at invisible straws – and lavishing gifts on a far-right Israeli government.

The gifts include $3 billion for fighter jets. The largesse also happens to be another taxpayer grant to the U.S. arms industry, which gains doubly from programs to expand the militarization of the Middle East. Read more.

The Storm Isn't Over: An Interview with "Floodlines" Author Jordan Flaherty

Truthout - Like many of the journalists who cover stories about injustices that disproportionately affect people of color, Jordan Flaherty is white. And while Flaherty's diligence in acknowledging his racial privilege is not unique among these writers, the graceful yet matter-of-fact tone he uses to discuss his privilege sets a new standard for anyone seeking to address race while working for social justice - an effort without which, said Flaherty, quoting a colleague in a recent speech, "you simply become a more skillful racist."

In his book "Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six," Flaherty is too busy chronicling the inequalities that rose to the surface when the levies broke to pontificate about the privilege that complicates his role as a journalist and advocate. Instead, he chooses a few powerful moments to show how his privilege becomes part of the stories he writes. Read more.

The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange

David Samuels @ The Atlantic - Published reports suggest that a joint Justice Department-Pentagon team of investigators is exploring the possibility of charging Assange under the Espionage Act, which could lead to decades in jail. "This is not saber-rattling," said Attorney General Eric Holder, commenting on the possibility that Assange will be prosecuted by the government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Wikileaks disclosures "an attack on the international community" that endangered innocent people. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested in somewhat Orwellian fashion that "such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government."

It is dispiriting and upsetting for anyone who cares about the American tradition of a free press to see Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gibbs turn into H.R. Haldem…

WikiLeaks Cables Reveal How US Manipulated Climate Accord

Guardian UK - Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.

The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009. Read more.

On the Subject of Quitting

William Rivers Pitt - My head is swimming. My hands are shaking. My teeth are grinding together so hard that my jaw muscles look like I'm storing walnuts in there for the winter.

For once, these symptoms are not being caused by politics. I have not had a cigarette in four days. I have been gobbling nicotine lozenges like M&M's, and am breathing freely for the first time in twenty years. I think I've got this thing licked.

As it turns out, I picked exactly, precisely the right week to undertake this daunting exercise. I might as well have; with everything that has been going on, the physical symptoms I have been suffering - wooziness, tremors, grinding teeth, anxiousness, sleeplessness, and the occasional bout of extreme rage - would have been present anyway. Might as well have something good come out of it.

It was the right time to quit, because if I had still been smoking this week, I would have been sorely tempted to stab a butt out in my eyes, to spare me from having t…

State Department To Columbia University Students: DO NOT Discuss WikiLeaks On Facebook, Twitter

The Huffington Post - Talking about WikiLeaks on Facebook or Twitter could endanger your job prospects, a State Department official warned students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs this week.

An email from SIPA's Office of Career Services went out Tuesday afternoon with a caution from the official, an alumnus of the school. Students who will be applying for jobs in the federal government could jeopardize their prospects by posting links to WikiLeaks online, or even by discussing the leaked documents on social networking sites, the official was quoted as saying. Read more.

Winning the Class War

Bob Herbert @ NY Times: The class war that no one wants to talk about continues unabated.

Even as millions of out-of-work and otherwise struggling Americans are tightening their belts for the holidays, the nation’s elite are lacing up their dancing shoes and partying like royalty as the millions and billions keep rolling in.

Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy. They have waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time. Read more.

Update on Mortgage Lending Discrimination

Dollars & Sense: In the 1980s and early 1990s, racial discrimination in mortgage lending resulted in less access to home loans for predominantly black and Latino borrowers and neighborhoods. Home mortgages were a fairly standardized product, and the problem was that banks avoided lending in minority neighborhoods (redlining) and denied applications from blacks and Latinos at disproportionately high rates compared to equally creditworthy white applicants (lending discrimination).

Soon afterwards, however, a different form of lending discrimination rose to prominence as high-cost subprime loans became increasingly common. Precisely because borrowers and neighborhoods of color had limited access to the traditional prime loans, they were vulnerable for exploitation by predatory lenders pushing the new product.

Redlining was soon over-shadowed by “reverse redlining.” Instead of being ignored, borrowers and neighborhoods of color were now aggressively targeted for high-cost subprime loans…

Bienvenido Señor Ahmadinejad: Tehran’s Expanding Latin American Grid

Council on Hemispheric Affairs:

• Iran’s influence in Latin America, serious threat or paper tiger?

• Rumors of Iran’s involvement have been greatly overstated

• Despite concerns, U.S. must avoid “meddling”

As concern grows in Washington over the potential threat that Iran poses to the United States and its allies, scant attention has been given to the Islamic Republic’s expanding influence in Latin America. In the past year, a number of events revealed Iran’s increasing links to the region, most of which have been economic in nature, although political gambits have also proved important. While Iran’s increased involvement in Latin America may have the potential to present a threat to U.S. security, such threats may be overstated and not a justified concern. Despite what those seeking to demonize the Latin American left would have the U.S. public believe, the security implications of an Iranian presence in the region may well be minimal. Rather, the relationship is more likely to challeng…

Military Heads Fierce in Slamming "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal

McClatchy Newspapers - The top uniformed leaders of the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps warned Congress on Friday that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" now would hurt the military's ability to fight the war in Afghanistan. Read more.




New York Times Still Stalking Bete Noire Iran

Ray McGovern @ Truthout - From the scary photo dominating page nine of The New York Times of November 29, you can just tell from the look on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's face, not to mention the endless ranks of military officers standing in rows behind him, that Iran is determined to build a nuclear weapon. That defiant look should be proof enough that the Iranian president is a menace to us all. Right?

Never mind the doubting-Thomas wimps in those 16 US intelligence agencies who - so far, at least - have been holding out for what they call real evidence before reversing their "high confidence" judgments of three years ago that Iran had stopped work on a nuclear warhead in the fall of 2003 and had not resumed it. Read more.

What You Need to Know About the FCC’s Open Web Plan

Color of Change - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski let the world hear about his long-awaited net neutrality plan on Wednesday. The proposal is an attempt to formalize net neutrality, a long-held informal principle that anyone should be able to access anything on the Internet without prohibitive costs or outside interference. While the actual proposal still hadn’t been made public as of Friday morning, Genachowski laid his plans out in a speech on Capitol Hill late Wednesday. The chairman said the effort builds on a controversial attempt by Rep. Henry Waxman to deal with the issue earlier this fall that was later abandoned. But while big telecom companies applaud Genachowski’s plan, longtime advocates of net neutrality aren’t nearly as satisfied.

What are they so upset about? They charge that Genachowski has sold Internet users short on promises both he and President Obama made when they took office.

Josh Silver, who’s president of advocacy group Free Press, …

CIA and the Culture of Corruption

Truthout - Last month, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a blistering report that documented a secret drug interdiction program in Peru that was responsible for the death of an American missionary and her infant daughter in 2001. The report provided a detailed study of the efforts of senior CIA leaders, including Deputy Director John McLaughlin and Deputy Executive Director John Brennan, to cover up the crime by stonewalling the White House, the Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the flaws of the interdiction program. Brennan, who was President Obama's original choice to be CIA director until the report complicated the confirmation process, is currently the deputy director of the National Security Council (NSC).

McLaughlin was the "villain" in the politicization of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, according to the chief of the Iraq Survey Group, David Kay. Few people remember that it was McLaughlin who actually delivered the &qu…

The Ambassador Has No Clothes: WikiLeaks Cable Lays Bare Washington’s Stance Toward Bolivia

Toward Freedom - A classified cable from the US embassy in La Paz, Bolivia released by WikiLeaks lays bare an embassy that is biased against the Evo Morales government, underestimates the sophistication of the governing party’s grassroots base, and out of touch with the political reality of the country.

The recently released January 23, 2009 cable, entitled “Bolivia’s Referendum: Margin of Victory Matters,” analyzes the political landscape of the country in the lead up to the January 2009 referendum on the country’s new constitution, and was sent to all US embassies in South America and various offices in Washington. Read more.

Tableau Software Drops Wikileaks Data Visualizations

Read Write - Facing indirect pressure from the U.S. Government, Tableau Software has dropped Wikileaks' data from its site for people to use for data visualization. According to an announcement posted on Tableau's blog, the company decided to drop Wikileaks' content after reading Sen. Joe Lieberman's public request that companies hosting Wikileaks' data remove it. According to the announcement: "Our terms of service require that people using Tableau Public do not upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any content that they do not have the right to make available." It does not appear that Tableau was contacted by the senator directly, nor that it received a cease-and-desist order or any other official request to remove the visualizations.

The reasons Tableau cites are strikingly similar to the ones cited by Amazon.com, which just announced its own reasons for dropping Wikileaks' main site from its servers. Read more.

Hillary Gets Wiki-Served

Robert Sheer @ Truthout - Hillary Clinton should cut out the whining about what the Obama administration derides as “stolen cables” and confront the unpleasant truths they reveal about the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy and her own troubling performance. Read more.

EXCLUSIVE: Controversial Drug Given to All Guantanamo Detainees Akin to "Pharmacologic Waterboarding"

Truthout - The Defense Department forced all "war on terror" detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison to take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called "pharmacologic waterboarding."

The US military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. Read more.

Nigeria: Dick Cheney To Be Charged Over Alleged Bribery Case

The Huffington Post - Nigerian authorities will charge former Vice President Dick Cheney over a bribery scandal that is alleged to involve Halliburton, BusinessWeek reports. An arrest warrant "will be issued and transmitted through Interpol," said Godwin Obla, the prosecuting counsel at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria. Read more.

Real Hope Is About Doing Something

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.

The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the rich and the poor. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress.…