Bill Moyers: Why I am Returning to the Air!

You already may have heard that I'd be coming back in January with a new series on the public television station nearest you, but you may not have heard exactly why. It's not just that I lack retirement skills, as my wife and co-editor, Judith, keeps reminding me. Or that the squeaky rocking chair on the front porch got on my nerves. I'm coming back because in tumultuous times like these, I relish the company of people who try to make sense of the tumult. These are the people I'll bring to our new broadcast, Moyers & Company. Journalism has long been for me a continuing course in adult education. Given what's happening in this country, it's time to sign up for more classes. The lack of civility and common sense that has paralyzed our democracy, the vast economic and social inequality that sends both left and right raging in the streets, the corrosive influence of money in politics, we're in a tailspin with little hope for a course correction from our elected leadership or corporate-dominated media. The need for voices of reason, simple and eloquent, has rarely been stronger. Those voices, whether they be from artist or social critic, philosopher or poet, historian or physicist, can bring us truth, inspiration, even hope.

Dr. Mercola: Why is the US Doubling Its Pharmaceutical Protection?Protection?

The US government has awarded a $433-million contract to pharmaceutical company Siga Technologies for 1.7 million doses of an experimental smallpox drug called ST-246 (Tecovirimat). In this time of limited resources and heavy budget deficits, the decision to spend nearly half a billion dollars to stockpile a drug of questionable safety and effectiveness, for a strictly theoretical danger, is puzzling, and that is an extreme understatement. Siga's ST-246, which reportedly works by blocking the ability of the smallpox virus to spread to other cells, has been granted "fast-track" status by the US Food and Drug Administration. Under this accelerated approval process, experimental drugs are brought to the market sooner, even though they've only been tested on a small number of people, and their effects and safety risks are nit clearly understood. Unfortunately, there are serious, and sometimes fatal consequences of bringing drugs to market without adequate safety testing, and its unclear why there is an urgent need for this drug that would warrant "fast-track" approval. Even Siga's Web site notes smallpox is "no longer found in the natural environment." 

President Obama Seeks Grater Power To Shrink The Fed

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for the power to shrink the federal government and merge federal agencies in an effort to make government more efficient and consumer friendly. The president is calling it "a big idea". Obama is trying to rally Republicans in Congress to get behind the plan, which would save $3 billion over 10 years. Under the proposal, six major trade and commerce agencies with overlapping programs would be merged. The Commerce Department would be among those that would cease to exist. President Ronald Reagan is the last president who had the type of reorganizational power that Obama is seeking from Congress. President Barack Obama will ask Congress on Friday for greater power to shrink the federal government, and he would start by trying to merge six major trade and commerce agencies whose overlapping programs can be baffling to business, the White House said Friday. The Commerce Department would be among those that would cease to exist. Obama will call on Congress to give him a type of reorganizational power last held by a president when Ronald Reagan was in office.

Marjorie Cohn: Pressure Israel, Not Iran

Neocons in Israel and the United States are escalating their rhetoric to prepare us for war with Iran. Even the infamous John Yoo, architect of George W Bush's illegal torture and spying programs, is calling on the Republican presidential candidates to "begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear program." Under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the legal right to produce nuclear power for peaceful purposes. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said on CBS that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear weapon. Nevertheless, the United States and Israel are mounting a campaign of aggression against Iran. The United States has imposed punishing sanctions against Iran that are crippling Iran's economy, and pressuring other countries and strong-arming financial institutions to stop buying oil from Iran, the world's third largest exporter. The Obama administration is also preparing new punitive measures that target the Central Bank of Iran. 


Steven Erlanger and Alissa J. Rubin: France Weighs Pulout after 4 of its Soldiers are Killed!

President  Nicolas Sarkozy of France suspended military training and assistance for Afghan forces on Friday and said he would consider an early withdrawal from Afghanistan after  an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French soldiers on a base in eastern Afghanistan. The killings are designed to sap Western  moral and hasten the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan sooner than agreed NATO  deadline of 20 of the end of 2014, when Afghan forces are supposed to be ready to defend the country on their own. A rising number of the attacks  have also been borne  of simmering animosity between coalition forces and the Afghan they fight alongside and train. With many European countries facing  unprecedented economic pressures at home,  such attacks by Afghan soldiers on foreign troops have added to public questioning of the value of continued  involvement involvement in Afghanistan. If France were to reduce its troops early or precipitously, it could spur other countries to follow suit, Western and Afghan officials warned. France has been a firm ally of the United States in Afghanistan, with the fourth-largest contingent of troops, according to NATO figures, and 82 French soldiers have died, many of them killed in fighting in Kapisa Province in eastern Afghanistan, where Friday's shooting occurred. Facing a fierce battle for his reelection, Mr. Sarkozy said that security had better improve in Afghanistan if France were going to stay.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Privatization and Empire-Building!

The following is a 2011 article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya for the Italian journal Eurasia about the manipulation of national constitutions as a neo-colonial means of empire-building. The article presents an important overview of the US empire building process: The USA has re-written the constitution of vanquished nations since the Second World War. In the last two decades, however, Washington has managed to totally restructure vanquished states economically and politically by de-centralizing them and legalizing foreign tutelage over their political structure and their national economies. From the former Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Iraq, this process has gone hand-in-hand with war and both an immediate and extended foreign military presence. The new national constitutions of these countries have been central to the process and opened the door for the integration of these states into Washington's empire-building project. The geography of a nation is also fixed in its national constitution, such as the state's definitions of its own national and internal borders. Taking this observation one step further, it has to be said that constitutions can also be utilized and redefined to meet specific geo-political objectives. This is where an important and very relevant modern geo-political issue comes into the forefront of analysis when looking at countries that have been at war with the United States of America and its allies. Looking back at the Second World War, the constitutions of Japan and Germany were re-written after their defeats either directly by Washington or under Allied supervision. The Pentagon also erected military bases in both Germany and Japan that began to alarm Soviet leaders. The reconfiguring of both Germany and Japan served Washington's geo-political interests. This is evident when studying the Japanese Constitution, which was written by the US military: Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces Japan's sovereign right to declare war or to maintain a standing navy, air force, and army. Japan was effectively neutralized by its new national constitution as a potential military rival or threat in East Asia and the Pacific.

Tom Burghardt: Terror Attacks, US Israeli War Games!

Amid rising tensions over bogus Western claims that Iran plans to build nuclear weapons, upcoming American war games with Israel have the potential of escalating into a deadly confrontation. A miscalculation, or deliberate provocation by the West, designed to maneuver the Iranians into "firing the first shot," could have disastrous consequences far beyond the confines of the Persian Gulf. That provocation wasn't long in coming! Despite an agreement reached by Iran with the P 5+1 group of nations (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany), to restart talks in Turkey over the nuclear issue, the CIA-Mossad-Mek terror campaign took a dark turn this week; a sign that the imperialist powers, spearheaded by the United States, aim to scupper negotiations even before they start. On Tuesday, an Iranian university professor, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 32, a chemistry expert and director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was murdered after two assailants on a motorcycle attached magnetic bombs to his car. Analyst Richard Silverstein wrote on the Tikun Olam web site Wednesday that "my own confidential Israeli source confirms today's murder was the work of the Mossad and MEK, as have been a number of previous operations I've reported here." Silverstein averred that "the method recalls another series of assassinations that occurred of Fereidoun Abbassi Davani (who was seriously wounded) and his colleague Majid Shahriari (who was killed). Today's killing occurred two years to the day after the assassination of another scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi." According to Fars News Agency, the blast which killed Roshan "also wounded two other Iranian nationals in Seyed Khandan neighborhood in Northern Tehran."  

Matthew Rosenberg: Afghan Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces!

American and other coalition forces are being killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers and a classified coalition report obtained by The New York Times. A decade into the war in Afghanistan, the report makes clear that these killings have become the most visible symptom of a far deeper ailment plaguing the war effort: the contempt each side holds for the other, never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust runs deep among civilians and militaries on both sides, raising questions about what future role the United States and its allies can expect to play in Afghanistan. Underscoring the danger, four NATO service members were killed, and a number were wounded on Friday, when a gunman wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon on them, according to an Afghan police official in Kapisa Province in eastern Afghanistan where the incident occurred and a Western official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The Afghan police official, Asdullah Hamidi, said the shooting happened in Tagab District, an area that is viewed as dangerous and dominated by insurgent forces. French soldiers make up the majority of the forces operating in the area. The gunman is in custody, a NATO official said.  


Dr. Ismail Salami: Nuclear Assassinations are the Tip of the Iceberg!

"I saw a motorcycle. They were wearing ski masks, black ski masks. They were two people. I saw the motorcycle speed by. I saw them. It seems as if they had something in their hands," this is how a female witness described the scene of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. As the blade of blame is being directed against the CIA and Mossad for orchestrating the brutal assassination of the 32-year-old Iranian scientist in broad daylight in Tehran on Wednesday morning. "I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran," US Defense Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters on Thursday. Also, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the US had nothing to do with the assassination. "We were not involved in any way, in any way, with regards to the assassination that took place in Iran," he said. "I'm not sure who was involved, but I can tell you one thing: the United States was not involved in that kind of effort. That's not what the United States does." Yeah, Right! The US is not the only party party which has chosen to be in denial: Israeli President Shimon Peres also denied on Thursday that Israel was involved in the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist. In an interview with CNN, Peres was asked if Israel was involved in the nuclear assassination, to which he answered: "Not to the best of my knowledge." 

Rev. John W. Whitehead: Privatizing the War on Terror!

America's troops may be returning home from Iraq, but contrary to President Obama's assertion that "the tide of war is receding," we're far from paying the costs of war. In fact, at the same time that Obama is reducing the number of troops in Iraq, he's replacing them with "military contractors" at far greater expense to the taxpayer, and redeploying American troops to other parts of the globe, including Africa, Australia and Israel. In this way, the "war on terror" is privatized, the American economy is bled dry, and the military-security industrial complex makes a killing - literally and figuratively speaking. The war effort in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan has already cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion and could go as high as $4.4 trillion before it's all over. At least $31 billion of that $2 trillion was lost to waste and fraud by military contractors, who do everything from janitorial and food service work to construction, security and intelligence, jobs that used to be handled by the military. That translates to a loss of $12 million a day since the US first invaded Afghanistan. To put it another way, over the past two decades, America has become increasingly dependent on military contractors in order to carry out military operations abroad. According to the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States can no longer conduct large or sustained military operations or respond to major disasters without heavy support from contractors, As a result, the US employs at a minimum one contractor to support every soldier deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. For those signing on for contractor work, many of whom are hired by private contracting firms after serving stints in the military, it is a lucrative, albeit dangerous career path. While base pay for an American soldier hovers somewhere around $19,000 per year, contractors are reportedly pulling in between $150,000 to $250,000 per year.

Global Gulag: America, Welcome to the Fourth Reich!

We, the heirs of the Third Reich, have been an integral part of the American Government since Patton crossed the Rhine! American Fascism did not start with World War II. Before Operation Paperclip, the codename under which the US intelligence and military services extricated scientists from Germany, during and after the final stages of the conflict, the annals of internal despotism were well established. With the open door policy for German engineering, the political ideology of state worship was bound to travel across the Atlantic. The Pampas of Argentina or the backwaters of Paraguay were the preferred location for those who openly professed their reprehensible loyalty to the Fuehrer principle. However, do not blame all those ex-Nazis for selecting the shores of the Americas for their new domicile. Their seeds were planted long ago in the offices of Wall and Broad Streets. Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will saga shares more than one wants to admit about the dark side of American History. Do not be confused. National Socialism is an abhorrent notion to most Americans. Nevertheless, the political foundation of that false ideology is based on pure Fascism, forged in a marriage of the Corporate/State that produces this demented offspring. The systematic destruction of the essential purpose and motivation for the American Revolution is undeniably with any objective examination of the regretful legacy of domestic tyranny. This record of monocracy is one of a criminal class, as opposed to the iron fist of a single man. If you believe this an erroneous assessment, consider the following chronicle: From the beginning of the Republic, the Federalists conspired for the illegal passage of their central government constitution in order to form a competing world empire with their British cousins. Their leader was Alexander Hamilton, who championed making individual states subservient to the original crony capitalists. When the Father of our Country, George Washington admonished about the dangers of entangling alliances, the world was warned that the drive towards independent liberty was compromised under this new Federal system.


The Economist: Levenson's inquiry - The Desmond Defence

Most of the newspaper folk who have testified to the Leveson inquiry into the British press, set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, have been rather supportive of the inquiry's aims. Although they have strongly defended free speech, they have tended to concede that some form of stricter newspaper regulation is in order. A few have the zeal of converts to the regulatory cause, and then there's Richard Desmond. Mr. Desmond, who owns the Daily Express and the Daily Star newspapers, testified last  afternoon. The effect was akin to to one of those strings of small explosives that, when your correspondent was a child, friends would occasionally smuggle into the country from France. His competitors are "idiots", he explained. He attacked the Daily Mail, calling it the "Daily Malicious". He called the inquiry "the worst thing that's ever happened to newspapers" and suggested he would very much like to be rid of it. He complained bitterly about the former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, whose name nonetheless slipped his mind. There was a particularly splendid moment when Mr Desmond was reminded that Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in 2007, had objected to fully 38 stories published in one of his newspapers over a four-month period.

Chris Hedges: Why I am Suing Barack Obama!

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern US District Court in New York City on Chris Hedges' behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31. The act authorizes the military, in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled "Counter-Terrorism," for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any US citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. Suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until "the end of hostilities." This is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties. Chris spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge, and he has been in some of these jails. He has friends and colleagues who have "diappeared" into military gulags. He knows the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. While his battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.

Lisa Karpova: US Pushing World to the Brink of World War

While local US police use excessive force and violence against OWS protesters, the US government continues to attempt to spread "freedom and democracy" of this same kind around the world. Reports come daily about beatings, clubbings, tasering, a female having her bicycle thrown at her, and disabled veterans being abused. Meanwhile, Libya attempts to free itself from this "freedom and democracy" scourge brought to Libya by thousands of terrorists: murderers, psychopaths, head chopping nut cases that enjoy bodily mutilation even when the body is already dead, raping women, looting, burning. Oh, the joy of freedom and demon-crazy compliments of NATO Nazis. NATO literally dumped this murderous trash into Libya, to fight along local criminals and traitors in order to plunder the country's resources. So NATO did more than drop illegal weaponry, including chemical and biological agents - white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and sarin, There have even been outbreaks of white phosphorous, depleted uranium and sarin, as well as tuberculosis. The country's water supply has been bombed and poisoned, and tuberculosis outbreaks are now common. 


Attorney Orly Taitz: Georgia Judge Subpoenas Obama!

Attorney Orly Taitz has reported that a Georgia Judge has issued a subpoena demanding Barack Obama appear in court January 26 and produce his original long form birth certificate, passport records, college registration records and more. Dr. Orly Taitz, attorney for one of the plaintiffs in the Georgia eligibility cases working their way rapidly through the courts, posted a copy of what is reportedly asubpoena, issued by Judge Michael Malihi of Georgia. The subpoena demands that Barack Obama himself appear in court on January 26, and bring with him a laundry list of official documents that will prove or disprove his eligibility for office. The list is frankly a "birther's" dream. Unlike previous cases, where only certain documents were requested or discussed, this subpoena issued by Judge Malihi includes every document that serious eligibility experts have been discussing from the beginning. The list requires Obama to produce each of the following: Any and all birth records, including a long form birth certificate. While we take a moment to rejoice in a court finally willing to examine the Constitutional status of Obama, who, evidence supports  as being not a lawful president but a Usurper-in-Chief, we cannot rest on our laurels. While we may hope that Georgia will be the beginning of the end of the line for the Obama campaign, motions to quash and vicious legal push back by Team Obama are a given. We must work MUCH harder now to open battle on many more fronts, and compel the rest of the States to do their "due diligence" and demand Obama provide PROOF POSITIVE evidence of eligibility to appear on our ballots! 

Robert Parry: Herding Americans to War with Iran!

For many Americans the progression toward war with Iran has the feel of cattle being herded from the stockyard into the slaughterhouse, pressed steadily forward with no turning back, until some guy shoots a bolt into your head. Any suggestion of give-and-take negotiations with Iran is mocked, while alarmist propaganda, a ratcheting up of sanctions, and provocative actions, like Wednesday's assassination of yet another Iranian scientist, push Americans closer to what seems like an inevitable bloodletting. Even the New York Times now acknowledges that Israel, with some help from the United States, appears to be conducting a covert war of sabotage and assassination inside Iran. "The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on Wednesday, when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran's morning rush hour," Times reporter Scott Shane wrote in Thursday's editions. Though US officials emphatically denied any role in the murder, Israeli officials did little to discourage rumors of an Israeli hand in the bombing. Some even expressed approval. Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said he didn't know who killed the scientist, but added: "I am definitely not shedding a tear."The latest victim, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was the fifth scientist associated with Iran's nuclear program to be killed in the past four years. 

Bill Moyers: Is This Land Made for You and Me?

The traveling medicine show known as the race for the Republican presidential nomination has moved on from Iowa and New Hampshire, and all eyes are now on South Carolina. Well, not exactly all. At the moment, our eyes are fixed are fixed on some big news from the great state of Oklahoma, home of the legendary American folk singer Woody Guthrie, whose 100th birthday will be celebrated later this year. Woody saw the ravages of the Dust Bowl and the Depression firsthand. His own family came unraveled in the worst hard times, and he wrote tough, yet lyrical stories about the men and women who struggled to survive, enduring the indignity of living life at the bone, with nothing to eat and no place to sleep. He traveled from town to town, hitchhiking and stealing rides in railroad boxcars, singing his songs for spare change or a ham sandwich. What professional success he had during his own lifetime, singing in concerts and on the radio, was often undone by politics and the restless urge to keep moving on. "So long, it's been good to know you," he sang, and off he would go. What he wrote and sang about caused the oil potentates and preachers who ran Oklahoma to consider him radical and disreputable. For many years he was the state's prodigal son, but times change, and that's the big news. Woody Guthrie has been rediscovered, even though Oklahoma's more conservative than ever, one of the reddest of our red states, with a governor who's a favorite of the Tea Party.

Dennis Rahkonen: Pretty Boy Mitt, Contemporary Capitalism!

Piracy, pillage and plunder were how ruthless individuals historically first came to acquire great wealth. Later, slavery and feudalism allowed emerging aristocrats to luxuriate while masses suffered. Then came the Gilded Age of robber barons and callous tycoons, who would still be merciless exploiting us except for reforms won by trust busters and labor unions. No one could credibly laud such predatory behavior, but Mitt Romney is an enthusiastic practitioner of even what other Republican presidential aspirants are condemning as downsizing, outsourcing, deeply immoral "vulture capitalism."Romney exemplifies the worst of the greed-driven social irresponsibility that tanked our economy in 2008. His tone-deaf remark "I like being able to fire people" was followed by an interview answer in which he said that worsening American income disparity should be addressed in "quiet rooms." Forget painfully impacted workers at street rallies or other venues of public protest! At Bain Capital, Romney stripped countless wage-earners of their livelihoods, all for cruelly maximized private profit. Folk legend Woody Guthrie's words from his song Pretty Boy Floyd forcefully spring to mind: As through this world I've  wandered, I've seen lots of funny men; Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.


Robert C. Koehler: On the Momentum of Cynicism and War

"No matter how futile, repulsive or dysfunctional war may be, it persists" Barbara Ehrenreich wrote in her book Blood Rites. A fascinating story in the New York Times just after Christmas showed this "persistence" unfolding before our very eyes. Remember Iraq? The sale of arms to Iraq, $11 billion worth of almost everything: Fighter jets, battle tanks, cannons, armored personnel carriers, armor and helmets, even sport utility vehicles, is going to move forward even though it makes little sense from multiple points of view, including US geopolitical interests. As far as I can tell, the sale is going through because "war persists", or something persists, a force invisible to reporters and beyond the control of diplomats, at least those who speak on the record. "The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale," the Times informs us, "despite concerns that that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government." Well, so much for "democracy". So much for talking about anything noble. Excuse me if I seem to be speaking as though I'm surprised. The only thing that surprises me is how quickly and thoroughly our pretenses disintegrate once we're done with them, and how badly we get on with business as usual. Or rather, business as usual gets on with us.        

Tom Engelhardt: A Military First Policy on a Destabilizing Planet! r

Here's the way it actually wend down in Washington last week: A triumphant performance by a commander-in chief, who wants you to know that he's at the top of his game. When it came to rolling out a new 10-year future of the US military, the leaks to the media began early and the message was clear. One man in charge of your future safety and security. His name is Barack Obama. Don't worry, he has things in hand. Unlike the typical president, so the reports went, he held sic meetings with top Pentagon officials, the Joint Chiefs, the service heads, and his military commanders to plan the next decade of American war making, and he was no civilian bystander at those meetings. On a planet where no other power has more than two aircraft carriers in service, he personally nixed a Pentagon suggestion that the country's aircraft battle groups be reduced from 11 to 10, lest China think our power-projection capabilities were weakening in Asia. His secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, spared no words when it came to the president's role, praising his "vision and guidance and leadership". Panetta described Obama's involvement thus: "This has been an unprecedented process, to have the president of the United States participate in discussions involving the development of a defense strategy.  

Nat Parry: The Enduring Shame of Guantanamo!

When the Guantanamo prison camp, originally dubbed by the US military Camp X-Ray, opened in January 2002, the United States came under international criticism that was nearly unprecedented in its intensity in modern US history. Some of the loudest complaints came from the staunchest US ally, the United Kingdom, where three cabinet ministers, Robin Cook, Patricia Hewitt and Jack Straw, expressed concern that international agreements about the treatment of prisoners war were being breached. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, also objected to the camp and called on President George W. Bush's administration to follow the Geneva Conventions. In a January 19, 2002 column in the British Independent, Robinson argued that because the Afghanistan conflict was of an international nature, "the law of international armed conflict applies." She took issue with the administration's assertion that the prisoners were "unlawful combatants" and thus outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said that despite the Sept. 11 atrocities, "changing our values and our way of life would be terrorism's first victory." Amnesty International expressed concern about the tactics being used surrounding the camp. Keeping prisoners incommunicado, sensory deprivation, the use of unnecessary restraint and the humiliation of people through tactics such as shaving them, are all classic techniques employed to 'break' the spirit of individuals ahead of interrogation," the human rights group said.


John Hooper: Italian Cruise Ship Disaster!

If you have seen Titanic. That's what it was like: As icy seawater began to swamp the Costa Concordia, passengers desperately scrambled down ropes to safety. They fought over lifeboats, a mother crawled up almost vertical corridors in pitch blackness with her daughter, and elderly couples sobbed as icy decks slipped under water. A harrowing picture is emerging of the chaotic evacuation of more than 4,000 people from the luxury cruise ship that sank in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tuscany, killing at least three, and leaving several others critically hurt. As divers continued to search for possible missing or trapped passengers and crew of the Costa Concordia, survivors described scenes of total panic and confusion aboard, as crew were at first unwilling, then unable to launch lifeboats, while the ship listed into the freezing sea. Survivors described climbing down ladders and ropes to escape. Kirsty Cook, one of eight British dancers working on the cruise, said that she was "lucky to be alive" after using a rope ladder to climb down to a rescue boat. Another dancer, Rosie Metcalf, 22, from Dorset, had to cling to a fire hose before being winched to safety by a helicopter crew.

Tom Engelhardt: Obama Shows His War-Mongering Side

Here's the ad for this moment in Washington: Militarized superpower adrift and anxious in alien world. Needs advise. Will pay. Please respond respond quickly. PO Box 1776-2012, Washington, DC. Here's the way it actually went down in Washington last week: a triumphant performance by a commander-in-chief who wants you to know that he's at the top of his game. When it came to rolling out a new 10-year plan for the future of the US military, the leaks to the media began early, and the message was clear. One man is in charge of your future safety and security. His name is Barack Obama. And - not to worry -he has things in hand. Unlike the typical president, so the report went, he held six, count'em: six! meetings with top Pentagon officials, the Joint Chiefs, the service heads, and hid military commanders to plan out the next decade of American war making, and he was no civilian bystander at those meetings either! On a planet where no other power has more than two aircraft carriers in service, he personally nixed a Pentagon suggestion that the country's aircraft carrier battle groups be reduced from 11 to 10, lest China think our power-projection capabilities were weakening in Asia. His secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, spared no words when it came to the president's role, praising his "vision and guidance and leadership".???  

The Economist: Free Will and Politics!

My colleague has a beautifully written post at Big Think on recent challenges to the idea of free will. He argues that the claim that free will is an illusion is itself illusory, as it misunderstands the idea of the term "illusion". To claim that something is an illusion is to say that it is a deceptive representation of some other actually existing thing which one has experienced. For example, a desert mirage looks like the sea, but there is no water out there. But internal experiences, such as the sense of having free will don't have any external referent. The sense of having is only an internal experience, and there is no way someone could have an illusory experience of the sensation of freedom, as opposed to a real experience of the sensation of freedom. It'd be like having an illusion of being angry, or, as he more elegantly put it: "That free will you thought you felt, that was an illusion." I think this misses the most important point about contemporary challenges to the idea of free will. The notion that free will is an illusion because reality is mechanistically determined is the old 19th century challenge to free will, Dostoevsky's "Underground Man" piano-key universe of predictable physical collisions. 

Ron Paul: The large-sale Government Intervention in The Eonomy? yh

The large-scale government intervention in the economy is going to end badly! Any number of pundits claim that we have passed the worst of the recession. Green shoots of recovery are supposedly popping up all around the country, and the economy is expected to resume growing soon at an annual rate of 3% to 5%. Many of these same people who insisted that the economy would continue growing last year, even while it was clear that we were already in the beginning stages of a recession. A false recovery is under way. I am reminded of the outlook in 1930, when the experts were certain that the worst of the Depression was over and that recovery was just around the corner. The economy and stock market seemed to be recovering, and there was optimism that the recession, like many of those before it, would be over in a year or less.  Instead, the interventionist policies of Hoover and President Roosevelt caused the Depression to worsen, and the Dow Jones industrial average did not recover to 1929 levels until 1954. I fear that our stimulus and bailout programs have already done too much to prevent the economy from recovering in a natural manner and will result in yet another asset bubble. The Fed has already overseen a 95% loss in the dollar's purchasing power since 1913. If we do not stop this profligate spending soon, we  risk hyperinflation and seeing a 95% devaluation every year!