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MENA Mashup: The I/P, Egypt, ISIL, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey

By: CTuttle Friday November 21, 2014 6:46 pm

Columbia Prof. Rashid Khalidi is dead-on with his assertion that we’re the biggest enablers to Israel’s illegal occupation…!

BDS is on the rise… Solidarity with Palestine Soaring on US Campuses

Jerusalem on edge after deadly attacks and a summer of war

Today, from Ma’an News…

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian protests across West Bank

Israeli forces opened fire and injured dozens of Palestinians across the West Bank on Friday, as hundreds marched in a number of cities and villages in protest against the Israeli occupation and recent Israeli violence in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers opened fire on rallies in Nabi Saleh, central Hebron, at Qalandia checkpoint and in al-Bireh near Ramallah, in Kafr Qaddum, al-Masara, Jalazun refugee camp, Aida refugee camp, and in other villages across the West Bank, injuring dozens.

Two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in clashes that erupted following the protests.

The protests came after a night of violence in Jerusalem, where two different hate attacks were reported against Palestinians on the basis of their ethnicity, in addition to two other such incidents inside Israel.

On Friday afternoon, meanwhile, a Palestinian woman was run over by a Jewish settler near Shufat in East Jerusalem, and later in the evening a brawl erupted as a group of Jewish settlers passed through the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Tur, resulting in the stabbing and light injuring of two Jews.

The violence follows escalating tensions in the holy city, where the long-term dispossession and discrimination by Israeli authorities who have occupied the city since 1967 has combined in recent months with a series of heavy-handed security operations and right-wing politicians’ religious provocations to form a combustible mix.

Nightly protests in Jerusalem by Palestinians have been met by heavy police force, while a series of attacks with cars or by stabbing undertaken by individual Palestinians against random Israelis has been countered by right-wing Jewish mob violence across the city.

Despite this, protesters across the West Bank held more than a dozen marches condemning the violence of Israeli authorities and calling for end to the occupation.

Now, here’s a textbook example of the US Neo/Ziocon Thinktank response to Obama and our failed I/P relations, from FP… White House Diplomacy With Israel Isn’t Just Short-Sighted – It’s Self-Defeating

Meanwhile, more fuel is poured on the fires…

From the Times of Israel… Jerusalem mayor likens Ashkelon’s anti-Arab move to 1930s Germany

Sadly… Majority of Jews in Israel support Ashkelon mayor’s decision to ban Arab workers

Now, I’m sure this is a brilliant idea… Israel to probe allowing Israelis greater access to firearms

Moving along to Egypt and Al-Sisi’s actions in the Sinai…

 

Chances Are the FBI Has Files on Your Favorite Human Rights Activist

By: Ben Norton Friday November 21, 2014 11:55 am

“There is only one thing left for you to do…”

Yale University American historian Beverly Gage was sifting through the US National Archives in the summer of 2014, doing research for a book on J. Edgar Hoover, when she came across a letter historians had been searching for for many a decade. Written from the perspective of an imaginary yet disappointed admirer of Martin Luther King, Jr., the missive encouraged the leading civil rights, anti-war, and socialist activist to kill himself.

“There is only one thing left for you to do,” the anonymous author warned, “before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” “You know what it is.”

For years, the existence of the letter had been known, yet it had only been released in drastically redacted form. When Dr. Gage stumbled across the letter, she only confirmed what everyone knew all along: This thinly disguised threat was penned by none other than the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dr. King knew this the moment he opened the envelope, 50 years ago. Gage writes, “Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the F.B.I. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited.”

Hoover was appointed head of the Bureau of Investigation, the FBI’s predecessor, in 1924. In 1935, he helped found the FBI, which he directed until his death, in 1972. In his half a century of rule, Hoover “waged war on homosexuals, black people and communists,” turning the bureau into what President Truman (no progressive himself, to say the least) warned was becoming the American “Gestapo or secret police.”

MLK is by no means the only American hero whose life the FBI tried to destroy. One need only browse through the digital vault of FBI records that have been declassified and released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), hosted electronically at vault.fbi.gov, to find a slew of US history’s most renowned purveyors of justice. In just this limited archive alone—constituting a mere microscopic percentage of extant FBI files—the bureau has files on:

– the ACLU, Albert Einstein, the American Anti Imperialist League,
– Bertolt Brecht, the Bonus March, the Black Panther Party,
– Carl Sagan, Cesar Chavez, Claudia Jones, Coretta Scott King, Carlos Fuentes,
– Erich Fromm, Edward Abbey,
– Fred Hampton, Fidel Castro, the Freedom Riders,
– Greenpeace, the Gay Activist Alliance,
– Henry Wallace, Hanns Eisler, Helen Keller,
– the League of Women Voters, Lenny Bruce, Luis Buñuel, Langston Hughes, Leonard Bernstein,
– Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X,
– the NAACP, the National Organization for Women (NOW), Nelson Mandela,
– People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Paul Robeson,
– Stokely Carmichael,
– The Grateful Dead, Tupac Shakur, The Beatles,

among many, many, many more human rights activists, freedom fighters, intellectuals, and artists.

Notice a trend among these figures?

Those who have taken the US up on its claims that it provides “freedom,” “equality,” and “democracy” for all citizens—supposedly regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, religion, etc.—have always been a thorn in the side of the US ruling class.

If you have ever openly challenged and mobilized against the structural racism of white supremacy, you probably have an FBI record. If you have ever openly challenged and mobilized against the structural sexism of patriarchy, you probably have an FBI record. If you have ever openly challenged and mobilized against the structural cisheterosexism of cisheteronormativity, you probably have an FBI record. And if you have ever openly challenged and mobilized against the structural inequality of capitalism and concomitant imperialism, you definitely have an FBI record.

In fact, “Anti-War” and “Civil Rights” activists have been blessed with their own special categories in this vault of FBI “criminal” records:

Should Si Se Puede, Jackasses! apply…

By: jaango Friday November 21, 2014 9:09 am

Should Si Se Puede, Jackasses! Apply to America’s conservatives?

With all the angst and anguish being expressed by the Conservatives, albeit, Republicans and Democrats alike, going to establish a message that encompasses a “reach out” for attracting Latino votes in the 2016 elections, especially when Latinos know full well that the Republicans in the House, and Speaker Boehner in particular, sat on the Senate-approved immigration bill for these past 17 months?

The reality for attracting Latino votes by the Republicans and a tad of Democrats, is not going to have much if any impact in the forthcoming elections of 2016, given that gerrymandering is still having a powerful effect all across America and followed by the subtext for the obvious and ongoing voter disenfranchisement efforts that continues to occur all across the Southern States.

Thus, the “push back” by the Progressive Movement is still coalescing and will begin to make its impact felt in the ‘primaries’ of the 2016 elections and where the well-camouflaged conservative Democrats will have to undergo their respective and localized purity tests for political viability. And perhaps, a progressive Democrat will be elected to the United States Senate and lead to the formal establishment of a Progressive Caucus in the United States Senate and thusly, a progressive political platform is established for this nationalized Progressive Movement.

Regardless, Hope is being born among Progressives and which will provide the requisite fig leaf that deflects America’s constant urge to express itself when it comes to today’s exposed and arterial bleeding that is bigotry and racism. Or perhaps, we, the Latinos, fail to recognize that “holding the reins on the Taxpayer’s Purse” is our current blind spot?  If so, our “unmet” Need can  be effectively addressed by requiring all eligible adults voting in the next election cycle and with very few exceptions permitted.

 

Jaango

Wisconsin Faces Budget Gap of More than $2.4 Billion between Now and June 2017

By: WI Budget Project Friday November 21, 2014 6:43 am

From www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org.

State officials confirmed today what we have feared for many months – that Wisconsin’s spending needs in the next biennium far exceed the projected revenue, and the state must also close a very substantial budget hole in the current fiscal year. As a result, lawmakers are likely to make cuts that have harmful consequences for Wisconsin children and families and for the investments needed to keep Wisconsin economically competitive.

Despite the assurances of Walker administration officials over the last couple of months that the state is in strong fiscal shape, the figures contained in a report released by the Department of Administration (DOA) today confirm that balancing the state budget in 2015-17 will require very deep spending cuts or significant tax increases. Specifically, the DOA document reveals the following:

  • Tax revenue for the current fiscal year is now expected to be $82 million below the amount estimated in May (on top of a $282 million tax shortfall in the first half of the biennium), and net appropriations are estimated to be $43 million less.
  • The state is on track to have a “net balance” of -$197 million at the end of this biennium, which means that significant cuts or transfers will have to be made to get the budget back into balance by June 2015 (and to preserve a required $65 million budget balance).
  • The agency budget requests, which generally followed the Governor’s instructions for just maintaining existing programs, exceed the anticipated General Purpose Revenue (GPR) by $2.2 billion during the 2015-15 biennium (assuming the state does carry over a $65 million balance).
  • The total gap between requested GPR spending and anticipated revenue is about $2.4 billion between now and June 2017, and that doesn’t account for various spending needs that are calculated later in the process (e.g., increases for debt service, state employee compensation and benefits, UW faculty pay adjustments, and a potential gap in funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit).

The large shortfall between projected revenue and spending can be attributed to a number of factors, including the following:

  • Overly optimistic revenue estimates early this year, which were used to justify the most recent round of tax cuts.
  • The decision by the Governor and state legislators to use all of this year’s projected revenue increase (associated with the overly optimistic estimates) for cutting taxes, which necessitated suspending the statute that requires half of such increases to be put into the rainy day fund.
  • Substantially increasing state spending for BadgerCare to cover childless adults, rather than financing that coverage expansion by taking the federal funding that would pay the full costs for the next couple of years (and could save more than $300 million in the next biennium).
  • The proposal to transfer roughly $548 million in the next biennium from the General Fund to the Transportation Fund (which would be an increase of almost $275 million).

The bottom line is that state lawmakers rushed through a package of state tax cuts this year – despite early warning signs that tax revenue was starting to fall short of the projections, and that their actions were creating a severe imbalance between revenue and spending. If they are unwilling to roll back any of those tax cuts, they will have to cut more than $2.4 billion from current commitments and agency spending proposals to balance the budget this year and in the next biennium.

If lawmakers insist on making additional tax cuts, that will require even deeper cutting in the public investments that are critical to Wisconsin’s economic vitality, such as our public schools and universities.

The numbers released today illustrate that the next budget will be a pivotal one for our state. All of us will need to get actively involved in helping legislators and the public understand the potential consequences of some of the deep budget cuts that are likely to be proposed.

You can read more about the new budget figures and reactions to them in this WI State Journal article by Matthew DeFour.

Jon Peacock

All-Out War in Ukraine: NATO’s ‘Final Offensive’

By: GREYDOG Friday November 21, 2014 6:01 am

By James Petras99GetSmart

Introduction

There are clear signs that a major war is about to break out in Ukraine: A war actively promoted by the NATO regimes and supported by their allies and clients in Asia (Japan) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). The war over Ukraine will essentially run along the lines of a full-scale military offensive against the southeast Donbas region, targeting the breakaway ethnic Ukraine-Russian Peoples Republic of Donetsk and Lugansk, with the intention of deposing the democratically elected government, disarming the popular militias, killing the guerrilla resistance partisans and their mass base, dismantling the popular representative organizations and engaging in ethnic cleansing of millions of bilingual Ukraino-Russian citizens. NATO’s forthcoming military seizure of the Donbas region is a continuation and extension of its original violent putsch in Kiev, which overthrew an elected Ukrainian government in February 2014.

The Kiev junta and its newly ‘elected’ client rulers, and its NATO sponsors are intent on a major purge to consolidate the puppet Poroshenko’s dictatorial rule. The recent NATO-sponsored elections excluded several major political parties that had traditionally supported the country’s large ethnic minority populations, and was boycotted in the Donbas region. This sham election in Kiev set the tone for NATO’s next move toward converting Ukraine into one gigantic US multi-purpose military base aimed at the Russian heartland and into a neo-colony for German capital, supplying Berlin with grain and raw materials while serving as a captive market for German manufactured goods.

An intensifying war fever is sweeping the West; the consequences of this madness appear graver by the hour.

War Signs: The Propaganda and Sanctions Campaign, the G20 Summit and the Military Build Up

The official drum- beat for a widening conflict in Ukraine, spearheaded by the Kiev junta and its fascist militias, echoes in every Western mass media outlet, every day. Major mass media propaganda mills and government ‘spokesmen and women’ publish or announce new trumped-up accounts of growing Russian military threats to its neighbors and cross-border invasions into Ukraine. New Russian incursions are ‘reported’ from the Nordic borders and Baltic states to the Caucuses. The Swedish regime creates a new level of hysteria over a mysterious “Russian” submarine off the coast of Stockholm, which it never identifies or locates – let alone confirms the ‘sighting’. Estonia and Latvia claim Russian warplanes violated their air space without confirmation. Poland expels Russian “spies” without proof or witnesses. Provocative full-scale joint NATO-client state military exercises are taking place along Russia’s frontiers in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.

NATO is sending vast arms shipments to the Kiev junta, along with “Special Forces” advisers and counter-insurgency experts in anticipation of a full-scale attack against the rebels in the Donbas.

The Kiev regime has never abided by the Minsk cease fire. According to the UN Human Rights office 13 people on average – mostly civilians – have been killed each day since the September cease fire. In eight weeks, the UN reports that 957 people have killed – overwhelmingly by Kiev’s armed forces.

The Kiev regime, in turn, has cut all basic social and public services to the Peoples’ Republics’, including electricity, fuel, civil service salaries, pensions, medical supplies, salaries for teachers and medical workers, municipal workers wages; banking and transport have been blockaded.

Obama to Oregon Voters: Not! – You Will Give Illegal Immigrants Licenses, Incur all Costs

By: jbade Friday November 21, 2014 5:05 am

The Federal Government is forcing State and local governments to incur the costs of supplying corporations with cheap labor and to make sure wages never rise.

The voters of Oregon just voted to deny illegal immigrants licenses. They will be forced to give them licenses now. If the Democracts keep working at it they will put Rand Paul in the White House. There is little to no difference between the two parties, this is a big difference of the parties.

Even for legal immigrants this action will adversely  affect them.  They have awaken the sleeping giant.

The economy will remain poor. The illegals, and to some degree, all immigrants will be branded as the cause of that bad economy. That has some merit as Obama has just legalized more people than jobs he created under his administration. In defense of Obama they are low wage jobs that replaced the disappearing middle class jobs and he has tried with every bit of his  might and stealth to pass trade agreements that would solidify those low wages and give complete power to the multi-national corporations.

There was a growing trend in the State legislatures to take care of the excessive burdens communities are laboring under due to the immense costs of illegal immigration.  The Feds made the re-importation of  once legal prescription drugs illegal. costing the taxpayers/ consumers hundreds of billions of dollars. In a reversal, they have now legalized illegal immigration forcing the states to incur billions in costs.

thats ok, shut down a couple hospitals, cut music class, field trips, sorry no higher education for you, meals on wheels, dont build that, we cant do that anymore ect- there are real costs- this isnt la la land.

Over Easy: Can You Hear Me Now?

By: msmolly Friday November 21, 2014 4:45 am

Can you hear me now?

Big technology companies like Amazon, Apple and Google are introducing  new products that offer consumers the opportunity to exchange personal information for access to convenient services — and we’re increasingly choosing the services, somewhat oblivious to the effects on our privacy. Tiny computers, controlled by our voices, have become a reality, but many of us are unaware of how we open ourselves up to the world when we use them.

Our devices are listening to us all the time — but do we care?

Go to the website for Amazon’s newest product, a virtual assistant, and you’ll read about many features: built-in speakers, seven microphones for capturing your voice, and a brain in the cloud that will get smarter over time as it listens to you.

But one thing is missing: privacy.

Amazon’s new Echo is advertised as “designed around your voice.” It’s always on, just waiting for you to speak a “wake word” (either “Alexa” or “Amazon”) to provide news, weather, broadcast radio, answer questions (using Wikipedia), set reminders and make shopping and to-do lists, and more.

All of this convenience means that Amazon will receive information on you, know what questions you asked and what your daily life is like, and probably use that information to better sell you things.

Echo’s “brain” runs on Amazon’s Web Services in the cloud, and it constantly is learning and adding functionality as it is used. Echo listens for the wake word using a voice recognition process that keeps data stored only on the device, according to the company, and when it does send information to the cloud, a ring at the top of the Echo is illuminated. You can turn the microphone off manually, and can delete audio Amazon has stored.

My Apple smartphone has a GPS chip that helps me find the route from South Bend to my grandson’s dorm at Purdue, but it also leaves a record of the restaurant where we ate dinner. My laptop has a camera that lets me Skype with my grandkids, and my iPhone’s camera lets me “Facetime” with my sister in California — all the while possibly spying on me. New technologies like Echo and hands-free versions of iPhone’s Siri assistant or Google are turning on microphones anytime, so they can respond to my every wish. If I want to use Siri, I can call it up by just saying, “Hey, Siri!” in the direction of my iPhone.

When Siri is idle and waiting for me to ask  something, it isn’t sending anything to the Internet. But when I issue a request, such as “What is the phone number of Tony Sacco’s Pizza?” the request is sent to the Internet, but with safeguards that protect my identity. For example, when Siri is turned on, my iPhone creates random identifiers, so the servers don’t know it’s me making the request. I understand that Google’s voice assistant service is similar.

Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thinks consumers should be concerned even if their devices aren’t recording them all the time. He says that with enough data, Amazon can put together a lot of pieces of information that we may not realize that we’re giving them.

For example, if Amazon’s Echo recognizes different voice patterns, it could assess how many different people talk to it, therefore how many people probably live in your house. If you ask for a weather forecast or car rentals or airfare for a specific city, that would likely tell Amazon that you are planning to go there. This is quite the same as the tracking that happens when we browse the web, but it’s happening when we  use our mobile devices, and I suspect many people are unaware of it.

Amazon says that Echo eventually will do more than answer questions and update your to-do lists. If Echo can eventually understand why you’re asking for something, it is likely to be able to guess what products you need before you say it. In other words, deliver ads!

Can you live with the tradeoffs of convenience for some amount of your privacy? This is the world we are rapidly going to live in. We can opt out, up to a point, but I personally am unwilling to be a “Luddite” and miss out on the richness technology can offer me. We can try to protect our privacy, but I don’t think we’ll be able to avoid using these devices indefinitely and continue to function as contributing members of a society that is increasingly interacting with the world online.

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World: 20 Nov 2014

By: KateCA Thursday November 20, 2014 3:28 pm

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World:

*USA.  “A two-year Senate investigation of the financial sector has found that banks can meddle with the economy in new and frightening ways”.  Deregulation resulted in banks buying commodities, owning mines, a “fleet of 100 oil tankers”, “31 power plants” and more.

*USA.  The Alberta Clipper pipeline, larger than Keystone XL, is also supposed to cross US-Canadian borders, filled with Alberta tar-sands oil.  The US State Department’s intention to issue Enbridge a permit for the Alberta Clipper “prior to completion of an Environmental Impact Statement” has resulted in a lawsuit by Honor the Earth, the White Earth Nation, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and Indigenous Environmental Network.

*USA. More Americans now oppose fracking (47%) than support it (41%), according to Pew Research Center’s Nov 2014 survey.  Americans’ support for the Keystone XL pipelne has slipped, too, from 66% in 2013 to 59% now.

*USA.  What a deal! Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline might create 50 or so US jobs (post-construction), the Canadian tarsands oil (owned in part by China) will be refined mainly at a TX facility “half-owned by the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia” and shipped from there to other countries.  Part of the pipeline is planned to run atop the Ogallala Aquifer, which is located at relatively shallow depths under the Great Plains (map).

*US.  FWIW, Halliburton, “the world’s second-biggest oilfield services company” is buying Baker Hughes, the world’s third-biggest oilfield services company.”  $34.6 billion involved.

*CA.  Almost 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater was pumped into aquifiers that were “supposed to be off-limits to that kind of activity”.

*CA.  Whistleblower at work:  BP had a $250-million annual contract with CA for natural gas, though BP may have overcharged CA “as much as $300 million over eight years” by billing the state 10 times what others were billed.  CA’s Attorney General has joined Los Angeles County, University of California and California State University in a suit over this.

*CA.  In February, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draft rules banning fracking.  City planners raised questions about the ban, citing legal and other uncertainties.  Two City Councilmen responded by urging the planners to draft regulations as soon as possible.

*CA.  About 5 million people “who live within a mile of an oil or gas well have a poverty rate 32.5 percent higher than that of the general population” and 69% are “people of color.” There are also health and other issues.

*CO.  Animated maps from the Center for Western Priorities lets you see the proliferation of oil and gas wells in the state from 1990 to 2013.

*Gulf of Mexico.  New documentary of the Deepwater Horizon oil explosion, how it happened and the longer-term aftermath:  “The Great Invisible” or what happened after the cameras went away.

*IA.  Energy Transfer Partners wants to build a pipeline through IA, from northwest to southeast (map).  Energy Transfer Partners funded a study to assess the impact of the pipeline, with positive results.  However, an Iowa State University economist is “‘very skeptical’”, saying, “these types of estimates are typically much higher than careful analysis or reality can confirm”. He then offers his analysis.