Category Archives: USA

Galt’s Gulch Chile: Ayn Rand’s Capitalist Paradise Is Now a Greedy Land-Grabbing Shitstorm

Adam Weinstein reports for Gawker:

Illustration: Pete Ryan‘Plenty of Rand-y acolytes have dreamed of fleeing Obama’s (and Clinton’s and Carter’s and Johnson’s and Kennedy’s) America and entering the warm, dopamine confines of their own Galt’s Gulch. Last year, one group appeared to have succeeded with a settlement in Chile—”a fully self-sustaining community” that would enable individualistic immigrants (with sufficient funds) to fully renounce “the oppression of the over-regulated, over-taxed, war-riddled and welfare-riddled society consuming the world.” They take Bitcoin and everything.

But all is not so sweet. Wendy McElroy, a “Canadian individualist anarchist” of some note, bought a 1.25-acre plot in Galt’s Gulch Chile last year, or so she thought. She wrote a blistering post Monday suggesting that the Real Men of Genius behind the settlement are grifters, or incompetents, or both.’

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UK’s Nuclear Missiles Could Be Headed for the US if Scotland Wins Independence

Colleen Curry reports for VICE News:

‘The UK’s nuclear weapons are housed in the southwest corner of Scotland, at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the Ministry of Defense confirmed Tuesday. The missiles, 58 of them in all, are leased from King’s Bay Naval Base in southeastern Georgia, near the Atlantic Ocean just north of the Florida border. The British have been leasing the missiles and periodically having them serviced at King’s Bay since the mid-1990s, according to the British government.

If Scotland were to vote yes on independence and no on nukes Thursday, the British would be hard-pressed to quickly find or build another place in the UK with the infrastructure to store them, according to experts. That could force the UK to ship the missiles back to the US, at least temporarily.’

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Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

James Bamford reports for The New York Times:

‘In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.’

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John Pilger: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger recently delivered a speech at the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Australia:

C2t.jpg‘”There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.’

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Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’

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Boots on the Ground? Obama Declares War on Ebola

Decades of corruption led Liberians to think Ebola was a government scam to attract Western aid

Sara Jerving reports for The Nation:

‘The distrust in the government is deeply rooted in anger at years of corruption and a lack of accountability within the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said Rodney Sieh, editor-in-chief of FrontPage Africa, a Liberian daily newspaper. Sirleaf, who became president in 2006, after the end of Liberia’s brutal civil war, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

 But the ghosts of the nation’s past soon began to haunt her administration. In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia recommended Sirleaf be forbidden from holding public office for thirty years because she previously backed Charles Taylor, the guerilla leader responsible for many of the atrocities committed during the war. Sirleaf remained in power. Her fellow Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee, resigned from her role in the commission and publicly distanced herself from the president in 2012.’

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Justice Department Memo Provides the CIA’s Legal Justification to Kill a US Citizen in Yemen

Jason Leopold reports for VICE News:

‘”This white paper sets forth the legal basis upon which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could use lethal force in Yemen against a United States citizen who senior officials reasonably determined was a senior leader of al-Qaida or an associated force of al-Qaida.”

So begins a 22-page, heavily redacted, previously top-secret document titled “Legality of a Lethal Operation by the Central Intelligence Agency Against a US Citizen,” which provides the first detailed look at the legal rationale behind lethal operations conducted by the agency. The white paper [pdf below] was turned over to VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department.

It’s one of two white papers the Justice Department prepared in 2011 after lawmakers demanded to know what the administration’s legal rationale was for targeting for death the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen.’

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The Pentagon’s $800-Billion Real Estate Problem

Matthew Gault reports for Medium:

‘The U.S. Department of Defense owns more than half a million properties worth in excess of $800 billion dollars. The military’s real estate holdings span the globe and, all together, sprawl across 30 million acres.

Pentagon auditors can’t explain what half the properties are for—and doesn’t have a plan for finding out. All this according to a Sept. 8 report from the Government Accountability Office. The nearly trillion-dollar real estate glut is merely another example of egregious military waste.’

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US weapons makers sense rising demand for air defense systems, tanks

Andrea Shalal reports for Reuters:

‘Military crises around the world are boosting foreign demand for U.S. weapons, especially air and missile defense systems, spy equipment and armored vehicles, according to the U.S. government and industry officials. Weapons makers like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Raytheon anticipate new markets for their goods, which could help offset lower U.S. military spending.

The Ukraine crisis is reviving long-dormant European demand, while the emerging threat from militant groups like Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has underpinned already strong Middle Eastern demand. And in Asia, China’s military buildup and tensions with its neighbors are prompting the United States to deepen relations with traditional allies such as Japan, and forge deeper bonds with other countries, including former foes such as Vietnam.’

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Snowden Leaks Didn’t Make Al Qaeda Change Tactics, Says Report

Mike Brunker reports for NBC News:

‘There is no evidence that Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA spying inspired Islamic terror groups to hide their electronic communications behind more sophisticated encryption software, according to a new analysis that challenges other recent research and assertions by U.S. officials about the impact of the leaks.

The analysis by Flashpoint Global Partners, a private security firm, examined the frequency of releases and updates of encryption software by jihadi groups and mentions of encryption in jihadi social media forums to assess the impact of Snowden’s information. It found no correlation in either measure to Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s surveillance techniques, which became public beginning June 5, 2013.’

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Senate Republicans gave a big fat “no” to taking money out of politics

America’s Billionaires Political Power Index

Darrell M. West has produced a list of  America’s top billionaires with the most political power  for a upcoming book called Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust. According to the author he “examines the political use of great wealth, including campaign expenditures, activism through nonprofit organizations and foundations, holding public office, media ownership, policy thought leadership, and behind the scenes influence.” You can learn more about it by clicking on the image below:

Obama’s Mobilization Could Have Sights on Failed State Libya

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘President Obama’s announcement of a major new expansion of the ISIS war into Syria came along with talk of an increased US commitment nationwide, and he explicitly mentioned the need for “vigilance” in Northern Africa.

That suggests that the administration has its sights set squarely on the increasingly failed state of Libya, which grows more failed by the day, and where Gen. Khalifa Hifter, long funded by the CIA, is aiming to secure territory from various Islamist factions.’

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State Republican Party Official Resigns After Suggesting Women On Welfare Should Be Sterilized

Bryce Covert reports for Think Progress:

Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce‘Former state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) resigned his position as first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party late on Sunday evening amid criticism of comments he made on his radio show about women on welfare.

[...] His ideas are far from being on the fringe. They in fact help inform our policies. The Nixon administration pushed through funding for serializations in the 1970s aimed mostly a low-income people, usually women of color, and many were done involuntarily. And while it may sound like long-ago history, the practice of sterilizing low-income women hasn’t been entirely done away with. Between 2005 and 2013, 39 tubal ligations were given to women in California’s prison system without full consent. The majority of those were performed by Dr. James Heinrich, who has said of the practice, “Over a ten-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children — as they procreated more.” The state is now considering banning inmate sterilization.’

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The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies

Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Michael Sontheimer and Christian Grothoff report for The Intercept:

‘Treasure Map is a vast NSA campaign to map the global internet. The program doesn’t just seek to chart data flows in large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. Rather, it seeks to identify and locate every single device that is connected to the internet somewhere in the world—every smartphone, tablet, and computer—”anywhere, all the time,” according to NSA documents. Its internal logo depicts a skull superimposed onto a compass, the eyeholes glowing demonic red.

The breathtaking mission is described in a document from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided to The Intercept and Der Spiegel. Treasure Map’s goal is to create an “interactive map of the global internet” in “almost real time.” Employees of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—can install and use the program on their own computers. It evokes a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries.’

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Despite Obama’s Pledge to Curb It, NSA Mass Surveillance Wins Rubber Stamp

Dustin Voltz reports for The National Journal:

Took them long enough.‘In the face of congressional inaction, a federal court on Friday renewed an order allowing the government to collect phone records on virtually all calls within the United States.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the Justice Department’s request for another 90-day extension of the National Security Agency’s controversial mass surveillance program, exposed publicly last summer by Edward Snowden and authorized under Section 215 of the post-9/11 Patriot Act. The spying authority is next set to expire on Dec. 5.

[...] The extension marks the third of its kind since President Obama pledged in January to reform how the NSA spies on Americans during a major policy speech delivered amid withering scrutiny of the nation’s intelligence-gathering practices. Obama outlined a series of immediate steps to reform government surveillance and boost transparency, but noted he would wait for Congress to deliver him a bill before ending the bulk collection of U.S. call data.’

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Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?

Lee Fang writes for The Nation:

‘If you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as ISIS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle ISIS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane’s case, they will make more vague demands, such as for “offensive” air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.

But what you won’t learn from media coverage of ISIS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.’

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Dick Cheney Portrait

Dick Cheney Should be in Jail

iRAQ WAR 3.0

Global Warming President Presides Over Drill-Baby-Drill America

Michael Klare writes for TomDispatch:

‘Considering all the talk about global warming, peak oil, carbon divestment, and renewable energy, you’d think oil consumption in the United States would be on a downward path. By now, we should certainly be witnessing real progress toward a post-petroleum economy. As it happens, the opposite is occurring. U.S. oil consumption is on an upward trajectory,  climbing by 400,000 barrels per day in 2013 alone, and if current trends persist, it should  rise again both this year and next.

In other words, oil is back. Big time.’

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What?! Another Massive BP Oil Spill Cover-Up? Interview with Greg Palast

Abby Martin speaks with investigative journalist, Greg Palast discussing the most recent penalties against BP, and aspects of the company’s criminality that have been largely overlooked by the rest of the media including a massive oil spill cover-up in the Caspian Sea.’ (Breaking the Set)

The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis

Robert Parry writes for Consortium News:

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, speaking to Ukrainian and other business leaders at the National Press Club in Washington on Dec. 13, 2013, at a meeting sponsored by Chevron.‘A senior U.S. diplomat told me recently that if Russia were to occupy all of Ukraine and even neighboring Belarus that there would be zero impact on U.S. national interests. The diplomat wasn’t advocating that, of course, but was noting the curious reality that Official Washington’s current war hysteria over Ukraine doesn’t connect to genuine security concerns.

So why has so much of the Washington Establishment – from prominent government officials to all the major media pundits – devoted so much time this past year to pounding their chests over the need to confront Russia regarding Ukraine? Who is benefiting from this eminently avoidable – yet extremely dangerous – crisis? What’s driving the madness?’

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Russian FM: US wants to cut economic ties between EU and Russia to aid TTIP negotiations

Editor’s Note: For more on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as its counterpart the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are plenty of links here. But if you only read one article on these trade deals and what they mean geopolitically, I would highly recommend this one.

The Peninsula reports:

‘”The US is trying to use the crisis in Ukraine to break economic ties between the EU and Russia and force Europe to buy US gas at much higher prices,” Lavrov said in a ministry statement of his interview with Russia’s Centre TV.

Washington wanted to use the five-month conflict in Ukraine “to economically tear Europe from Russia and bargain for itself the most favourable conditions in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the creation of a transatlantic trade and investment partnership”.

Lavrov accused Washington of trying to “impose on Europe deliveries of US liquefied natural gas at prices that can not be competitive compared with Russian gas prices”. Russia supplies about a third of the EU’s gas.’

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Time to End the Bloody Ukraine Conflict: Interview Katrina Vanden Heuvel

Editor’s Note: Katrina Vanden Heuvel has been editor of The Nation since 1995, she also partly owns the magazine. Her latest article for the Washington Post is linked below the interview. She is also married to Professor Stephen Cohen, whose articles and interviews have been regularly posted here during the Ukraine crisis as it has unfolded.

The Geopolitics of World War III

Will America Always Be at War?

Trevor Trimm writes for The Guardian:

‘In a speech that would make Dick Cheney proud, the president told us (and the Pentagon repeated) this week that we are  at war with Islamic State (Isis) “in same way we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates” – a war that will go on indefinitely, is based on a strategy that’s been failing for over a decade and will never legally be called a war.

What Obama really did, however, was confirm for everyone what the late Hunter S Thompson recognized, shortly after 9/11, when  he wrote, “We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.”‘

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9/11: 100s of Warnings Ignored, US Ally Funding, Bush Admin Lies & Redacted Truths

How NASA Plans to Open ‘Air Highways’ for Drones

Jason Koebler writes for Motherboard:

If Amazon and Google are going to take their drone delivery operations public, what’s going to ensure they do it safely? Air highways and specialized drone corridors designed by NASA scientists, apparently.

Even if the Federal Administration Administration isn’t sold on the idea of commercial drones flying throughout the country, NASA is.’

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