Delayed until after the United States achieved a United Nations Security Council statement on July 9 condemning the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, Washington’s plans for naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea near Chinese territorial waters are forging ahead.
The joint exercises with South Korea, as news sources from the latter nation have recently disclosed, will be conducted on both sides of the Korean Peninsula, not only in the Yellow Sea as previously planned but also in the Sea of Japan. (Referred to in the Korean press as the West and East Seas, respectively.) Confirmation that the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington will participate has further exacerbated concerns in Northeast Asia and raised alarms over American intentions not only vis-a-vis North Korea but China as well.
An exact date for the war games has not yet been announced, but is expected to be formalized no later than when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrive in the South Korean capital of Seoul on July 21.
Hat tip: Tenth Amendment Center
by Rob Natelson
May 22, 2010
It is a document designed to protect our freedom by imposing law on those who wield political power. Without such law, Americans would be under the constant threat of tyranny.
The word “constitution” did not always refer to a particular document. The word is based on the Latin verb constituere, which means to arrange or decide. In its original English sense, a “constitution” was how a political system was set up. People spoke (and sometimes still speak) of the unwritten and evolving “constitutions” of Britain and of the ancient Roman republic.
As I explain in The Original Constitution, the American Founders acknowledged a huge debt to the British and Roman traditions, but they consciously rejected the British and Roman approach to constitutions. Specifically, they rejected the “evolutionary” and “unwritten” constitutional idea in favor of a written document that would lay out the rules in an clear and organized fashion.
There were only a few precedents for this approach: Sweden’s “Instrument of Government” was probably the first. Under Oliver Cromwell (1649-58), the English adopted a short-lived “Instrument of Government,” and then a short-lived “Humble Petition and Advice.” The name of the latter English constitution suggests how little those documents tempered Cromwell’s autocracy.
The Big Picture: Why Is It So Hard to Stop the Oil Gusher, and Why Was Such Extreme Deepwater Drilling Allowed in the First Place?
hat tip: Washington’s Blog
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The government failed to properly ensure that BP used adequate safety measures, BP and their contractors were criminally negligent for the oil spill, and BP has tried to cover up the problem. See this.
But why hasn’t BP stopped the leak?
Some people assume that BP hasn’t stopped the oil leak because it’s people are wholly incompetent.
But there is another possible explanation: the geology – as well the deepwater pressures – at the drilling site makes stopping the leak more difficult than we realize.
Does the Geology of the Spill Zone Make It Harder to Stop the Oil Spill?
We can’t understand the big picture behind the Gulf oil spill unless we know the underwater geology of the seabed and the underlying rocks.
For example, if there is solid rock beneath the leaking pipes, with channels leading to various underground chambers, then it might be possible to seal the leaking risers and blowout preventer, with the oil flowing somewhere harmless under the floor of the ocean.
by Ellen Brown
For over a decade, accountant Walter Burien has been trying to rouse the public over what he contends is a massive conspiracy and cover-up, involving trillions of dollars squirreled away in funds maintained at every level of government. His numbers may be disputed, but these funds definitely exist, as evidenced by the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) required of every government agency. If they don’t represent a concerted government conspiracy, what are they for? And how can they be harnessed more efficiently to help allay the financial crises of state and local governments?
The Elusive CAFR Money
Burien is a former commodity trading adviser who has spent many years peering into government books. He notes that the government is composed of 54,000 different state, county, and local government entities, including school districts, public authorities, and the like; and that these entities all keep their financial assets in liquid investment funds, bond financing accounts and corporate stock portfolios. The only income that must be reported in government budgets is that from taxes, fines and fees; but the investments of government entities can be found in official annual reports (CAFRs), which must be filed with the federal government by local, county and state governments. These annual reports show that virtually every U.S. city, county, and state has vast amounts of money stashed away in surplus funds. Burien maintains that these slush funds have been kept concealed from taxpayers, even as taxes are being raised and citizens are being told to expect fewer government services.
When Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen and 30-year-old son of a retired senior Pakistani Air Force officer was arrested in the failed plot to detonate a car-bomb in Times Square May 1, U.S. counterterrorism officials and their stenographers in the corporate media proclaimed a “connection” between Shahzad and the far-right jihadi outfit, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Never mind that such “evidence” relies on the thinnest of reeds: that Shahzad had recently traveled to Pakistan, was allegedly in “contact” with the TTP and had even received “training” from a sectarian, clan- and tribal-based organization wary of outsiders who nevertheless, allegedly “approved” of an ill-conceived plan to kill hundreds of New Yorkers.
Last week on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed, “We know that they [TTP] helped facilitate it. We know that they helped direct it. And I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence which shows that they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot.”
Holder’s “evidence”? Why statements by former CIA torture-enabler and current Obama counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, “confirming” the administration’s threadbare assertions.
The New York Times reported that Brennan “appeared to say even more definitively than Mr. Holder did that the Taliban in Pakistan had provided money as well as training and direction.”
By Chris Hedges
Posted on May 17, 2010
Cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die. They ruthlessly exploit the natural world and the members of their society in the name of progress until exhaustion or collapse, blind to the fury of their own self-destruction. The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, estimated to be perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels a day, is part of our foolish death march. It is one more blow delivered by the corporate state, the trade of life for gold. But this time collapse, when it comes, will not be confined to the geography of a decayed civilization. It will be global.
Those who carry out this global genocide—men like BP’s Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who assures us that “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume’’—are, to steal a line from Ward Churchill, “little Eichmanns.” They serve Thanatos, the forces of death, the dark instinct Sigmund Freud identified within human beings that propels us to annihilate all living things, including ourselves. These deformed individuals lack the capacity for empathy. They are at once banal and dangerous. They possess the peculiar ability to organize vast, destructive bureaucracies and yet remain blind to the ramifications. The death they dispense, whether in the pollutants and carcinogens that have made cancer an epidemic, the dead zone rapidly being created in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting polar ice caps or the deaths last year of 45,000 Americans who could not afford proper medical care, is part of the cold and rational exchange of life for money.
The corporations, and those who run them, consume, pollute, oppress and kill. The little Eichmanns who manage them reside in a parallel universe of staggering wealth, luxury and splendid isolation that rivals that of the closed court of Versailles. The elite, sheltered and enriched, continue to prosper even as the rest of us and the natural world start to die. They are numb. They will drain the last drop of profit from us until there is nothing left. And our business schools and elite universities churn out tens of thousands of these deaf, dumb and blind systems managers who are endowed with sophisticated skills of management and the incapacity for common sense, compassion or remorse. These technocrats mistake the art of manipulation with knowledge.
By CARLA K. JOHNSON – AP Medical Writer
CHICAGO— A new analysis of U.S. health data links children’s attention-deficit disorder with exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables.
While the study couldn’t prove that pesticides used in agriculture contribute to childhood learning problems, experts said the research is persuasive.
More research will be needed to confirm the tie, she said.
Children may be especially prone to the health risks of pesticides because they’re still growing and they may consume more pesticide residue than adults relative to their body weight.
In the body, pesticides break down into compounds that can be measured in urine. Almost universally, the study found detectable levels: The compounds turned up in the urine of 94 percent of the children.
The kids with higher levels had increased chances of having ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school. The findings were published Monday in Pediatrics.
The children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn’t determine how they were exposed. Experts said it’s likely children who don’t live near farms are exposed through what they eat.
“Exposure is practically ubiquitous. We’re all exposed,” said lead author Maryse Bouchard of the University of Montreal.
She said people can limit their exposure by eating organic produce. Frozen blueberries, strawberries and celery had more pesticide residue than other foods in one government report.
Read the rest of the report here.
AP / Emilio Morenatti
By David Sirota
Imagine, if you can, an alternate universe.
Imagine that in this alternate universe, a foreign military power begins flying remote-controlled warplanes over your town, using onboard missiles to kill hundreds of your innocent neighbors.
Now imagine that when you read the newspaper about this ongoing bloodbath, you learn that the foreign nation’s top general is nonchalantly telling reporters that his troops are also killing “an amazing number” of your cultural brethren in an adjacent country. Imagine further learning that this foreign power is expanding the drone attacks on your community despite the attacks’ well-known record of killing innocents. And finally, imagine that when you turn on your television, you see the perpetrator nation’s tuxedo-clad leader cracking stand-up comedy jokes about drone strikes—jokes that prompt guffaws from an audience of that nation’s elite.
Ask yourself: How would you and your fellow citizens respond? Would you call homegrown militias mounting a defense “patriots” or would you call them “terrorists”? Would you agree with your leaders when they angrily tell reporters that violent defiance should be expected?
Fortunately, most Americans don’t have to worry about these queries in their own lives. But how we answer them in a hypothetical thought experiment provides us insight into how Pakistanis are likely to be feeling right now. Why? Because thanks to our continued drone assaults on their country, Pakistanis now confront these issues every day. And if they answer these questions as many of us undoubtedly would in a similar situation—well, that should trouble every American in this age of asymmetrical warfare.