Sunday, September 14, 2014

PNN - Secular, Petroleum & Peace

PNN - Secular, Petroleum & Peace

Ruddy Everglades EarthFirst
Karen Dwyer Clamshell Alliance
Joe Beck - Treasure Coast Humanists
Steve Horn-  DeSmog Blog Fellow
Dave Petrovich- Peace and Economic Justice Activist


1 U.S. Inspector: Billions in failed programs wasted in Afghanistan --
U.S. has spent $120 billion on 'reconstruction' in Afghanistan [Too bad Detroit isn't in Afghanistan.] 
12 Sept 2014 The top U.S. official for monitoring aid to Afghanistan painted a grim portrait of the country's future Friday, saying it is riddled with corruption and graft. 
With most Americans' attention riveted on [purposefully distracted] Iraq and Syria, John F. Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan, said the United States' unprecedented 120 billion reconstruction investment there is at risk. "The country remains under assault by insurgents and is short of domestic revenue, plagued by corruption, afflicted by criminal elements [CIA] involved in opi-m and smuggling, and struggling to execute the basic functions of government," Sopko said in a speech at Georgetown University. [Start reading.].

2. NON-SERVIAM
Israeli intelligence veterans refuse to serve in Palestinian territories 12 Sept 2014 Forty-three veterans of one of Israel’s most secretive military intelligence units -- many of them still active reservists -- have signed a public letter refusing to serve in operations involving the occupied Palestinian territories because of the widespread surveillance of innocent residents. The signatories include officers, former instructors and senior NCOs from the country's equivalent of America's NSA or Britain's GCHQ, known as Unit 8200 -- or in Hebrew as Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim. They allege that the "all-encompassing" intelligence the unit gathers on Palestinians -- much of it concerning innocent people -- is used for "political persecution" and to create divisions in Palestinian society. The largest intelligence unit in the Israeli military, Unit 8200 intercepts electronic communications including email, phone calls and social media in addition to targeting military and diplomatic traffic.

3. LET ME SPY-BOYS FREE
Spy court renews NSA metadata program 12 Sept 2014 With a surveillance reform bill stuck in the Senate, the federal court overseeing spy agencies on Friday reauthorized the National Security Agency's controversial bulk collection of Americans' phone records. Reauthorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) allows the NSA to continue to warrantlessly collect "metadata" in bulk about people's phone calls.

4. Harvard Business School's Role in Widening Inequality
By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
13 September 14

No institution is more responsible for educating the CEOs of American corporations than Harvard Business School – inculcating in them a set of ideas and principles that have resulted in a pay gap between CEOs and ordinary workers that’s gone from 20-to-1 fifty years ago to almost 300-to-1 today.

A survey, released on September 6, of 1,947 Harvard Business School alumni showed them far more hopeful about the future competitiveness of American firms than about the future of American workers.

As the authors of the survey conclude, such a divergence is unsustainable. Without a large and growing middle class, Americans won’t have the purchasing power to keep U.S. corporations profitable, and global demand won’t fill the gap. Moreover, the widening gap eventually will lead to political and social instability. As the authors put it, “any leader with a long view understands that business has a profound stake in the prosperity of the average American.”

Unfortunately, the authors neglected to include a discussion about how Harvard Business School should change what it teaches future CEOs with regard to this “profound stake.” HBS has made some changes over the years in response to earlier crises, but has not gone nearly far enough with courses that critically examine the goals of the modern corporation and the role that top executives play in achieving them.

A half-century ago, CEOs typically managed companies for the benefit of all their stakeholders – not just shareholders, but also their employees, communities, and the nation as a whole.

“The job of management,” proclaimed Frank Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, in a 1951 address, “is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups … stockholders, employees, customers, and the public at large. Business managers are gaining professional status partly because they see in their work the basic responsibilities [to the public] that other professional men have long recognized as theirs.”

This view was a common view among chief executives of the time. Fortune magazine urged CEOs to become “industrial statesmen.” And to a large extent, that’s what they became.

For thirty years after World War II, as American corporations prospered, so did the American middle class. Wages rose and benefits increased. American companies and American citizens achieved a virtuous cycle of higher profits accompanied by more and better jobs.

But starting in the late 1970s, a new vision of the corporation and the role of CEOs emerged – prodded by corporate “raiders,” hostile takeovers, junk bonds, and leveraged buyouts. Shareholders began to predominate over other stakeholders. And CEOs began to view their primary role as driving up share prices. To do this, they had to cut costs – especially payrolls, which constituted their largest expense.

Corporate statesmen were replaced by something more like corporate butchers, with their nearly exclusive focus being to “cut out the fat” and “cut to the bone.”

In consequence, the compensation packages of CEOs and other top executives soared, as did share prices. But ordinary workers lost jobs and wages, and many communities were abandoned. Almost all the gains from growth went to the top.

The results were touted as being “efficient,” because resources were theoretically shifted to “higher and better uses,” to use the dry language of economics.

But the human costs of this transformation have been substantial, and the efficiency benefits have not been widely shared. Most workers today are no better off than they were thirty years ago, adjusted for inflation. Most are less economically secure.

So it would seem worthwhile for the faculty and students of Harvard Business School, as well as those at every other major business school in America, to assess this transformation, and ask whether maximizing shareholder value – a convenient goal now that so many CEOs are paid with stock options – continues to be the proper goal for the modern corporation.

Can an enterprise be truly successful in a society becoming ever more divided between a few highly successful people at the top and a far larger number who are not thriving?

For years, some of the nation’s most talented young people have flocked to Harvard Business School and other elite graduate schools of business in order to take up positions at the top rungs of American corporations, or on Wall Street, or management consulting.

Their educations represent a substantial social investment; and their intellectual and creative capacities, a precious national and global resource.

But given that so few in our society – or even in other advanced nations – have shared in the benefits of what our largest corporations and Wall Street entities have achieved, it must be asked whether the social return on such an investment has been worth it, and whether these graduates are making the most of their capacities in terms of their potential for improving human well-being.

These questions also merit careful examination at Harvard and other elite universities. If the answer is not a resounding yes, perhaps we should ask whether these investments and talents should be directed toward “higher and better” uses.


5. Alaskans want'm all out

Alaskans Turn Against Both Parties as Local Democrats Embrace an Independent Candidate
Posted: 13 Sep 2014 12:00 PM PDT
The number of Alaskans who identify with either major party has reached a new low. From Gallup:
Alaska: Self-Reported Party Identification
This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that recently Democrats in the state abandoned their own bid for governor to instead back an independent Bill Walker. That move turned what should of been a easy victory for a relatively popular incumbent Republican governor in a red state into a serious competition.
I think it also speaks to a broad point about the current political climate. This election will likely be framed as a victory for Republicans but it should probably be more accurately described as a loss for Democrats. Both party’s brands are in very bad shape. It is only because our two party system creates a zero-sum game that simply doing less horribly can make one party look like winners.
In the few big races this year, like the Alaska Governor and Kansas Senate, where the Democrat dropped out the Republican candidates are under performing against their independent challengers. These independents aren’t being brought down by the national Democratic brand so the Republicans are in trouble.
Similarly, one of the thing really helping Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is that Libertarian Sean Haugh is on the ballot giving people who want to vote against Hagan but also dislike Republican Thom Tillis an alternative.
One of the best thing Republicans have going for them is that in most elections this year is they are basically the only choice for people who don’t want to vote for a Democrat. That is not really victory, just losing less badly.

5a. Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics – Book Salon Preview
Posted: 13 Sep 2014 10:40 AM PDT
A major, surprising new history of New York’s most famous political machine—Tammany Hall—revealing, beyond the vice and corruption, a birthplace of progressive urban politics.
Hosted by Phoenix Woman, join us this afternoon at 5PM EDT, 2PM PDT to talk with Terry Golway about his new book.
For decades, history has considered Tammany Hall, New York’s famous political machine, shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft, crime, and patronage personified by notoriously corrupt characters. Infamous crooks like William “Boss” Tweed dominate traditional histories of Tammany, distorting our understanding of a critical chapter of American political history. In Machine Made, historian and New York City journalist Terry Golway convincingly dismantles these stereotypes; Tammany’s corruption was real, but so was its heretofore forgotten role in protecting marginalized and maligned immigrants in desperate need of a political voice.
Irish immigrants arriving in New York during the nineteenth century faced an unrelenting onslaught of hyperbolic, nativist propaganda. They were voiceless in a city that proved, time and again, that real power remained in the hands of the mercantile elite, not with a crush of ragged newcomers flooding its streets. Haunted by fresh memories of the horrific Irish potato famine in the old country, Irish immigrants had already learned an indelible lesson about the dire consequences of political helplessness. Tammany Hall emerged as a distinct force to support the city’s Catholic newcomers, courting their votes while acting as a powerful intermediary between them and the Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class. In a city that had yet to develop the social services we now expect, Tammany often functioned as a rudimentary public welfare system and a champion of crucial social reforms benefiting its constituency, including workers’ compensation, prohibitions against child labor, and public pensions for widows with children. Tammany figures also fought against attempts to limit immigration and to strip the poor of the only power they had—the vote.
While rescuing Tammany from its maligned legacy, Golway hardly ignores Tammany’s ugly underbelly, from its constituents’ participation in the bloody Draft Riots of 1863 to its rampant cronyism. However, even under occasionally notorious leadership, Tammany played a profound and long-ignored role in laying the groundwork for social reform, and nurtured the careers of two of New York’s greatest political figures, Al Smith and Robert Wagner. Despite devastating electoral defeats and countless scandals, Tammany nonetheless created a formidable political coalition, one that eventually made its way into the echelons of FDR’s Democratic Party and progressive New Deal agenda.

Tracing the events of a tumultuous century, Golway shows how mainstream American government began to embrace both Tammany’s constituents and its ideals. Machine Made is a revelatory work of revisionist history, and a rich, multifaceted portrait of roiling New York City politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Terry Golway was a journalist for thirty years, writing for the New York Observer, the New York Times, and other venues. He holds a PhD in American history from Rutgers University and is currently the director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics, and Policy in New Jersey. (WW Norton)

5B. John Brennan, Dianne Feinstein, and the Soon-to-be-Released (?) Torture Report
Posted: 13 Sep 2014 09:20 AM PDT
CIA Director John “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Overseers” Brennan and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (i.e., the aforementioned “Stinkin’ Overseers”) have been having a nasty little spat, revolving around both the CIA’s use of torture as an interrogation technique, and also the CIA’s spying on SSCI staffers who are trying to investigate and report on the CIA’s use of torture as an interrogation technique. The roughly 6800 page report has been completed for quite a while, but the administration and SSCI have been arguing since April over what must be redacted before an unclassified executive summary can be released.
The latest meeting between Brennan and SSCI took place behind closed doors on Tuesday (more on this below), and two days later, on Thursday, SSCI chair Dianne Feinstein came out and said her committee is almost done and the torture report will be out soon:
The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is confident that her panel’s declassified review of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” will be out by the end of the month.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters on Thursday that the panel is working with the Obama administration to finalize which of a series of controversial redactions that officials made will stay and what information can be made public. . .

The so-called “torture report” is an unclassified summary of the committee’s 6,800-page analysis of the detention and interrogation methods used by the CIA under President George W. Bush. It is expected to detail harsh and brutal methods that were more widespread and less effective than the public has been led to believe.
Wow — a meeting on Tuesday between Brennan and SSCI, and on Thursday it sounds like everything’s peachy. That must have been quite a meeting, given how hard the two sides have been fighting over the past year.
It certainly was, but not in a good way:

Tensions between the CIA and its congressional overseers erupted anew this week when CIA Director John Brennan refused to tell lawmakers who authorized intrusions into computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a damning report on the spy agency’s interrogation program.
The confrontation, which took place during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, came as the sides continue to spar over the report’s public release, providing further proof of the unprecedented deterioration in relations between the CIA and Capitol Hill.

After the meeting, several senators were so incensed at Brennan that they confirmed the row and all but accused the nation’s top spy of defying Congress.

“I’m concerned there’s disrespect towards the Congress,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who also serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told McClatchy. “I think it’s arrogant, I think it’s unacceptable.”
I’m intrigued by the timeline on this. The meeting was on Tuesday, but McClatchy’s report on it didn’t come out until yesterday — the day after DiFi’s confident statement that the torture report would be out shortly. There are two possible ways that you can read this. . .

(A) Feinstein’s comments were a signal that SSCI is tired of waiting, tired of being lied to, tired of being spied on, and tired of being treated like dirt, so they are finally growing a spine and are ready to defy Brennan et al. and put out the report they want to put out, and all the anger at Brennan in yesterday’s report on the Tuesday meeting was put out in public to lay the groundwork for the release. In this scenario, Brennan’s intransigence on Tuesday was partly fueled by realizing that he wasn’t going to win the fight over the redacted version of the summary, and he had nothing more to gain by trying to be seen as cooperating. Feinstein’s Thursday comments then are a bookend to her public comments last April in response to Michael Hayden’s insults. “We’re done trying to negotiate — it’s coming out.”

(B) Feinstein’s comments were yet another edition of her usual “I’m sure we can work this out soon,” signalling that she was ready to cave to the CIA’s demands and redact more of what the SSCI wanted to release, in order to calm John Brennan down, keep the intelligence community happy, and get some watered-down, limited version of the report off her desk and out in public. In horror and disgust, other SSCI members began talking in great detail (and at least some of them on the record) to reporters about the Tuesday meeting, to try to stiffen Feinstein’s spine and get her to hold firm.

So which is it: Option A or Option B?
I’d like to believe this sequence of events points toward Option A, but I’ve watched Feinstein for too long to underestimate her willingness to cave to the people she is supposed to be overseeing. As Marcy Wheeler noted in a “Hate to Tell SSCI I Told Them So” piece on the McClatchy story, Brennan has been lying to SSCI for a long time, and even when his lies were known, they went ahead and confirmed him to head the CIA anyway.
But before we pick between Option A and Option B, there’s one more wrinkle to this discussion. It appeared as a little throwaway line in the account of Feinstein’s comments on Thursday:
“We might be able to get it done in a week or so,” Feinstein said. “It will take time to make all the changes, so it’ll probably take another week” until the document is publicly released.
It would certainly be out before the midterm elections on Nov. 4, she added.
That, my friends, is a threat. While it is the democratic Obama administration that has been fighting with SSCI over executive privilege, the underlying conduct being investigated is that of the republican administration of George W. Bush. Feinstein is bluntly saying “torture *will* be in the public discussion, right before the midterms.” It’s not clear from the story whether the reference to the midterms was in response to a question about the midterms from a reporter, or if Feinstein raised it herself without prompting, but either way, that’s not good news for John Brennan and those he’s trying to protect from public scrutiny.
There’s never a good time to have your agency’s very very dirty laundry brought out in public, but some times are much worse than others. Right before an election is one of those times, as those who are opposed to what your agency has done will be sure to give it the most publicity they can when they are out on the campaign trail, when all the cameras are on them and the microphones are live.
So where are we on this — Option A or Option B?
I feel like Charlie Brown running toward Lucy to kick a football here, but I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m going with Option A.
On the other hand, I’m not so blindly optimistic to think that this will come to pass any time soon.
________
h/t to Joe Loong for the image of the “Lucy Pulling the Football Away” mural at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, and used (lightly cropped) under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.o Generic license. The museum is a great place, and well worth visiting.

6. NRA Hosts "Killer Cop" Competition Amid National Outcry Over Police Violence
n previous years the National Rifle Association's (NRA) National Police Shooting Competition (NPSC) included events with names like "Head Shots Only," in which the event's course description contends that police officers need to practice shooting directly at people's heads.

Courses like this are only one of the many reasons why, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, activists and family members of police shootings victims call the annual NPSC the "killer cop contest."

The competition is set to begin September 15 at Shooting Range Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The contest brings together more than 500 officers from various law enforcement agencies across the country to judge who's best at using lethal weapons. A similar regional shooting competition has already begun.

The NRA's law enforcement division has organized the NPSC annually since its first competition in Iowa in 1962, actively reaching out to officers and inviting them to the contest. This year law enforcement officers from as far away as Germany and Venezuela are expected to attend, according to NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide.

Long-time organizers against police violence in Albuquerque who have attended previous tournaments describe the competition as a celebration of the heavily militarized policing tactics and practices that have been at the center of a national firestorm in the aftermath of the militant police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

"These are events that celebrate the efficiency in coordinated use of lethal force, using high-powered military weaponry," said David Correia, a University of New Mexico American studies professor and local organizer. "This is not some sort of municipal police conference ... if it were just about municipal policing it wouldn't just be about the use of high-powered weaponry; there would also be events about community policing or ways for officers to show their proficiency in community engagement."

Dalseide told Truthout the events have been held in Albuquerque since 2007. Dalseide said the competition will also include "armory schools" in which arms manufacturers send gunsmiths to teach officers how to maintain their weapons.

Dalseide said he was not authorized to answer Truthout's inquiries about the NRA's decision to continue to host the conference in spite of a national outcry over police violence, deferring to the NRA's policy and legislative public relations staffers, who have not responded to Truthout's request for comment.

The "Tactical Police Competition" begins this weekend, September 13 and 14, and includes events designed for both individuals and teams, in which officers compete on obstacle courses modeled after "a hypothetical law enforcement encounter," according to the NRA's description of the competition.

One shooting game called "Drunk Buddies" runs officers through a scenario where they attempt to arrest a drunken man for public intoxication when the man's friends approach yelling "police brutality." The officer just decides he will use pepper spray on the group when the drunken men charge while waiving knives and yelling, "kill the cops." Another course, "Accurate, Fast & Fun" challenges officers to kill as many "targets" as possible while firing from unusual positions in the shortest amount of time.

In another imaginary scenario, officers are at home when intruders suddenly break in. When a "start signal" is given, the officers retrieve their handguns, load them and "engage Threat Targets." This scenario is not unlike what many civilians undergo after local police department execute routine "no knock raids," many of which have resulted in police shooting civilians who believed they were being robbed.

Anti-police-violence activists and family members of police shootings victims in Albuquerque plan to protest the weekend's events by holding a rally in the parking lot of Shooting Range Park and dropping banners inside the upscale hotels where the officers attending the games will be staying.

The activists have created a banner depicting the mock image of the typical silhouetted target that officers shoot at during the contest - only the target is James Boyd, who was brutally shot by Albuquerque officers in the Sandia foothills, sparking a series of protests.

The NRA lists the New Mexico Police Pistol Combat Association and Albuquerque Police Department (APD) as hosts of the NPSC. Current and former Albuquerque officers and commanders will compete in this year's shooting games along with officers from around the country, according to a roster of registered entrants.
Albuquerque officers have shot 37 people since 2010, more people per capita than the New York Police Department. They will be joined by representatives from various law enforcement agencies across the United States, including from the FBI from US Customs and Border Patrol.

The roster includes names of officers and former officers, such as Sean Wallace, who have been named in a lawsuits alleging excessive use of force. Wallace pulled over and beat a man without probable cause in 2003, resulting in an excessive force suit. Wallace subsequently shot-and-killed Leo Lopez in 2004, shot-and-wounded Wayne Cordova in 2010, and shot-and-killed Alan Gomez in 2011. The roster includes names of other controversial figures, such as former Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz.
Gomez's father, Michael Gomez, plans to be at this weekend's protests at Shooting Range Park and has delivered a letter to Mayor Richard Berry demanding cancellation of the shooting games.
Family members of police shootings victims like Gomez are outraged that Albuquerque city leaders continue to embrace the annual competition even after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released a scathing report earlier this year which found the APD engages in a systematic pattern or practice of excessive use of force.
According to Correia, out of the 76 contenders who competed in the NPSC last year, more than a third represented law enforcement agencies under investigation by the DOJ's Civil Rights Division for systematic violations of citizen's civil and constitutional rights, often through institutionalized excessive use of force.
Janet Blair, a spokeswoman for the APD released the following statement from Mayor Berry to Truthout:
The City of Albuquerque hosts and welcomes numerous events per year, including the shooting championships. We welcome the opportunity to host law enforcement professionals from around the world here in our beautiful city and we thank them for their commitment and service at the local, state and federal levels to keeping our communities and nation safe.
However, Breanna Anderson, spokeswoman for Mayor Berry told Truthout, "we will not be able to accommodate your media requests" in a text message.
"[City leaders] are either one of two things: They are either completely tone-deaf to what their reaction or lack of reaction has been to the spate of killings in Albuquerque, or they don't care," Correia told Truthout. "I think the more likely answer is really that they don't care. They honestly don't see what's been happening in Albuquerque as a problem."

7. Behind Yahoo's Surveillance Battle With the Government
By Cora Currier, The Intercept
13 September 14
ore than 1,000 pages documenting a secret court battle between Yahoo and the government over warrantless surveillance will soon be released, the company said Thursday afternoon.

In 2007, Yahoo fought back against the government’s demand for information on certain overseas customers, saying that the request was over-broad and violated the constitution.

Yahoo’s challenge ultimately failed, knocked down by both the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, which oversees secret government spying) and its review court. The company then became one of the first to hand over information to the NSA’s PRISM program, which allowed the government access to records of internet users’ chats, emails, and search histories, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The targeted user was supposed to be foreign, but U.S. communications could still be swept up in the effort. Google, YouTube, AOL, and Skype were also among the companies that provided communications data to PRISM. According to the Washington Post, the government used the FISC court’s decision in the Yahoo case to pressure those others to comply.

In a statement on the company tumblr, Yahoo’s general counsel wrote that the government at one point threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day if it did not release the data. That revelation is among the 1,500 pages of documents that the company plans to post shortly, he said. Also included is the original FISC opinion from 2008 forcing Yahoo to acquiesce to the government’s  demands.

The legal fight has mostly been hidden from view, with the heavily redacted exception of the review court’s order upholding the FISC decision. Yahoo’s name was even blacked out in that order, and not revealed until 2013. Yahoo asked for declassification of the court materials, and in August, the government finished its redactions. The FISC review court ordered the declassified material be released today—but it’s still mostly documents from the review, not the original challenge. Yahoo said it is still pushing for the rest of the case to be made public.

8.The Global Frackdown is just under a month away, on Saturday, October 11

Actions are being planned in communities all across the world for this massive day of mobilization against fracking — and we want to make sure you're plugged in to your local movement.

To stay updated on events near you, text "FRACKDOWN" to 69866.

You can also check the map for actions in your area. Don't see one? We're still looking for volunteer event hosts — sign up here! 

Actions for the Global Frackdown can be anything from a march or rally, a film screening or simply meeting up to collect signatures against fracking in your community. The important thing is that you plug in and take action to let your local decision makers know that fracking should be banned. Sign up here to join in and host an action in your community! 

Whether you join an existing event or plan your own, we hope you'll stand with us against fracking on October 11. 

Please get in touch with any questions! 

Katy Kiefer 
Activist Network Coordinator
Food & Water Watch 

9.Crist on PALM BEACH TV TODAY - I never left the Republican Party 
It left me - THANKS for the TOP CHUCKLES


10. ELECTORATES RESPONSE TO TWEEDLE DUM, TWEEDLE DEEE CANDIDATES
WHATEVER - crowbar them to the polls or offer REAL DIFFERENCES


11. The Kochs' College Takeover Scheme
By Dave Levinthal, The Daily Beast
12 September 14

It seemed like a generous gift to a university that needed it. Then came the demands for ideological purity—and hand-picked staff.
n 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.

Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired.

And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman—even though he told his wife he’d step down in 2009 after a single three-year term.

The Charles Koch Foundation expressed a willingness to give Florida State an extra $105,000 to keep Benson—a self-described “libertarian anarchist” who asserts that every government function he’s studied “can be, has been, or is being produced better by the private sector”—in place.

“As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs,” Benson at the time wrote to economics department colleagues in an internal memorandum. “They want to expose students to what they believe are vital concepts about the benefits of the market and the dangers of government failure, and they want to support and mentor students who share their views. Therefore, they are trying to convince us to hire faculty who will provide that exposure and mentoring.”

Benson concluded, “If we are not willing to hire such faculty, they are not willing to fund us.”

Such details are contained in 16 pages of previously unpublished emails and memos obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

While the documents are seven years old—and don’t reflect the Charles Koch Foundation’s current relationship with Florida State University, university officials contend—they offer rare insight into how Koch’s philanthropic operation prods academics to preach a free-market gospel in exchange for cash.

In 2012 alone, private foundations controlled by Charles Koch and his brother, David Koch, combined to spread more than $12.7 million among 163 colleges and universities, with grants sometimes coming with strings attached, the Center for Public Integrity reported in March.

Florida State University ranked a distant second behind George Mason University of Virginia as a recipient of Charles Koch Foundation money. In a tax document filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the foundation described its Florida State University funding for 2012 as “general support.”

Some schools’ professors and students were aghast at the funding, arguing that such financial support wasn’t widely known on their campuses and could threaten schools’ academic freedoms and independence. Others argued that colleges and universities—long bastions of liberal academics—would be well served by more libertarian courses of study.

Separately, Charles Koch is the financial force behind a “curriculum hub” for high school teachers and college professors that criticizes government and promotes free-market economic principles. He’s also funded programs for public school students.

At Florida State University, Benson noted in a November 2007 memorandum that the Charles Koch Foundation would not just “give us money to hire anyone we want and fund any graduate student that we choose. There are constraints.”

Benson later added in the memo: “Koch cannot tell a university who to hire, but they are going to try to make sure, through contractual terms and monitoring, that people hired are [to] be consistent with ‘donor Intent.’”

A separate email from November 2007 indicates that Benson asked Charles Koch Foundation officials to review his correspondence with Florida State associates about potential Koch funding.

Trice Jacobson, a Charles Koch Foundation representative, did not respond to questions, although Benson and Florida State University spokesman Dennis Schnittker each confirmed that the emails and documents are authentic.

But Benson noted that the documents were meant for internal use and reflect the “early stages of discussion” well ahead of a 2008 funding agreement signed by the university and the foundation.

That agreement, initiated in 2009, has earned Florida State $1 million through April, according to the university. Until it was revised in 2013, an advisory board would consult with the Charles Koch Foundation to select faculty members funded by the foundation’s money.

Benson also said that while he continued serving as Florida State’s economics department chairman until 2012, Charles Koch Foundation money wasn’t a factor.

While the foundation initially discussed providing money to help fund Benson’s salary, “that idea was taken off the table very early in negotiations,” he said. “I continued as chair because I felt I could still make a valuable contribution to the department.”

The 2008 agreement between the school and the foundation nevertheless faced harsh criticism from some professors and students who argued it indeed gave the foundation too much power over university hiring decisions.

The school and foundation revised their agreement in 2013 “for clarity” and to emphasize the “fact that faculty hires would be consistent with departmental bylaws and university guidelines,” Schnittker said. “Our work with CKF [Charles Koch Foundation] has always upheld university standards.”

Those guidelines, spelled out in a Florida State University statement about the foundation from May, say the money will not compromise “academic integrity” or infringe on the “academic freedom of our faculty.”

Ralph Wilson, a mathematics doctoral student and member of FSU Progress Coalition, doesn’t buy it.

Florida State University “willfully and knowingly violated the integrity of FSU by accepting funding meant only to further Koch’s free-market agenda,” said Wilson, whose student group works to “combat the corporatization of higher education.”

The Charles Koch Foundation, meanwhile, “is using our universities solely to further their own agenda and plunder the very foundations of academic freedom,” Wilson said.

At the end of 2012, the foundation reported having almost $265.7 million in assets, according to its most recent tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

In his 2007 memo to colleagues, Benson acknowledged the school’s relationship with the foundation would invite blowback.

“I guess I am trying to say that this is not an effort to transform the whole department or our curriculum,” Benson wrote. “It is an effort to add to the department in order to offer some students some options that they may not feel they have now, and to create (or more accurately, expand) a cluster of faculty with overlapping interests.”

Benson also predicted entering into an agreement with the foundation carried some risk.

“There clearly is a danger in this, of course. For instance, we might be tempted to lower our standards in order to hire people they like,” Benson wrote, in advocating that the university not do so. “We cannot expect them to be willing to give us free reign to hire anyone we might want, however, so the question becomes, can we find faculty who meet our own standards but who are also acceptable to the funding sources?”

The Koch brothers are best known not for their educational efforts but for controlling a constellation of conservative, politically active nonprofit corporations.

For example, in this election cycle alone, six nonprofits connected to the Kochs have combined to air about 44,000 television ads in U.S. Senate races through late August, with the ads typically promoting Republicans or criticizing Democrats.


12. NPR & Brnding
The new CEO of NPR, Jarl Mohn, comes mostly from the world of commercial media. He made his name at  VH1 and MTV, and then went on run the E! channel (Current, 6/24/14). That's not his only experience; he's been involved with public radio too, as a board member at Southern California station KPCC.
But it's not hard to see that he still speaks the language of a corporate executive. Here's a part of his interview with On the Media's Bob Garfield (9/5/14):
GARFIELD: You've said you can generate a lot more underwriting revenue than NPR has been getting, that we've essentially been undervaluing our ad inventory, considering the size and affluence of our audience. Which makes perfect sense, but it also infuriates and terrifies some listeners who fear for NPR's independence, and for its very soul. What can you say to talk them down?
MOHN: They're not going to, as a listener, notice anything different. We're not talking about adding more units to each hour. The only thing that I think they might perceive differently is that we're going to be talking about brands that matter a little bit more to them, ones they're interested in. And we're going to ask for larger commitments from these underwriters…. The audience is growing. It's not just affluent, it's a smart audience and it's very engaged. What more could a brand want than this type of audience?
Anyone who listens to NPR has heard plenty of corporate sponsorship announcements, and some listeners have raised substantive questions about whether those financial ties compromise NPR's journalism (Extra!, 3/14). According to the new boss, nothing's going to change–you're just going to hear more about "brands that matter" because you'll be "interested" in them. That is, as long as you're part of the "not just affluent" audience that the supposedly noncommercial network is so proud of–for the "larger commitments" from sponsors they can command.

13. INTERNET SLOWDOWN - GETS THEIR ATTENTION
The slowdown was so big it was impossible to ignore. Several members of Congress tweeted about how their phones were ringing off the hook, and we dominated the mainstream news headlines. More than 40,000 websites took part, including many of the most popular sites in the world, and at the peak of the day, there were more than 1,000 phone calls to congress every minute!

This changes everything. Victory is more tangible now than ever before. But we still need to bring it home. Now that we’ve shown our strength, the giant Cable companies that are lobbying tooth and nail to destroy net neutrality will redouble their efforts, and work every connection they have to keep the public’s voice from being heard in Washington, DC.

There’s only one solution: we have to fight even harder, and grow our movement even larger, and we have to be ready to battle for the net for the long haul.

Organizing the Internet Slowdown day and hosting the website used up a huge amount of our resources. Will you chip in $5 (or more!) today to make sure we can keep the pressure on while we have so much momentum?

14. NO FEDERAL FRACKING RULES

It’s outrageous: there are no federal rules requiring fracking companies to reveal the litany of hazardous chemicals being pumped into the ground -- and communities across the country have been left defenseless against the fracking frenzy.

The EPA has been dragging its feet on closing this disclosure loophole, allowing our health and safety to take a backseat to the interests of corporate polluters.

But the agency is now inviting the public to comment on this critical issue before September 18.

Tell the EPA to move swiftly to require companies to report all the chemicals used during fracking.

The fracking onslaught is wreaking havoc on communities around the country:

A recent Colorado investigation found that the state has been suffering two oil and gas spills per day this year, including toxic chemicals like cancer-causing benzene -- usually without residents even being notified. Several spills contaminated groundwater, and one flowed into a river.

And in places as far flung as Dimock, PA, Pavillion, WY, and Parker County, TX, the EPA has apparently caved to industry pressure and dropped its investigations of fracking pollution, leaving residents to fend for themselves and suffer the consequences.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Post Primary Predicament 8/31/14

PNN 8/31/14
Post Primary Predicament 

RWS
Luis Cuevas - Executive Director Progressive Push
Larry Aguilar - District 79's State Representative
Susan Smith - President Democratic Progressive Coalition
Will Rankin - Candidate for Florida's CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
Athena Ford - Outreach Coordinator Florida Chain

=============================================
Here is the registration link for the Health Care Reform 101 webinar 
on Thursday, September 4th at 1:00 PM. http://bit.ly/HCR101Sept4

Here is a link to join the CHAIN ReActors 
and some more information about them:http://bit.ly/CHAINReActors
==============================================

News

1. Heavy equipment falls into Fukushima reactor pool
TOKYO, Japan – A 400-kilogram (880-pound) machine part fell into a nuclear fuel pool at Japan's crippled Fukushima plant Friday, August 29, the operator said.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it had not detected any significant changes in radiation readings or in the level of pool water at the No. 3 reactor.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 ravaged Japan's northeastern coast and wrecked the plant, sparking meltdowns at 3 of its 6 reactors.
Friday's incident occurred shortly after noon during a remotely controlled operation to remove debris from the fuel pool at the unit where the broken reactor still lies untouched. The pool contains 566 fuel rods, most of which are spent.

The operating console of the fuel handling machine slipped loose and fell into the pool as it was about to be lifted by a crane, TEPCO said in a statement.
The console weighed 400 kilograms and measured 160 centimeter (63 inches) by 90 cm by 100 cm, a TEPCO official said.

Radioactivity readings at the pool remained unchanged at 3.2 millisieverts per hour after the incident, the statement said.

"The operation was being remotely controlled and there were no injuries caused to workers," the official said.

The meltdowns at Fukushima were the world's worst nuclear mishap since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and forced hundreds of thousands of local residents to evacuate nearby areas.
In a vivid reminder of the fragility of the area, a magnitude-5.0 quake struck off the Fukushima coast hours after Friday's incident.


2. Surveillance on FACEBOOK
The U.S. Government Can Brand You a Terrorist Based on a Facebook Post
Innocent people’s lives are being ruined. Why isn’t anyone watching the watchlist?
(from The Guardian)

The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be.
As we were reminded again just this week, you can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly, and the consequences can be long and enduring. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information.
This kind of data sharing, however, isn’t limited to the latest from Edward Snowden’s NSA files.  It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors.
The watchlist tracks “known” and “suspected” terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.
Of the 680,000 individuals on that FBI master list, roughly 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”,  according to the Intercept. These individuals don’t even have a connection – as the government loosely defines it – to a designated terrorist group, but they are still branded as suspected terrorists.
The absurdities don’t end there. Take Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a population under 100,000 that is known for its large Arab American community – and  has more watchlisted residents than any other city in America except New York.
These eye-popping numbers are largely the result of the US government’s use of a loose standard – so-called “reasonable suspicion” – in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted.
Reasonable suspicion is such a low standard because it requires neither “concrete evidence” nor “irrefutable evidence”. Instead, an official is permitted to consider “reasonable inferences” and  “to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience”.
Consider a real world context – actual criminal justice – where an officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a person in the street and ask him or her a few questions. Courts have controversially held that avoiding eye contact with an officer, traveling alone, and traveling late at night, for example, all amount to reasonable suspicion.
This vague criteria is now being used to label innocent people as terrorism suspects.
Moreover, because the watchlist isn’t limited to known, actual terrorists, an official can watchlist a person if he has reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is a suspected terrorist. It’s a circular logic – individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists – that is ultimately backwards, and must be changed.
The government’s self-mandated surveillance guidance also includes loopholes that permit watchlisting without even showing reasonable suspicion. For example, non-citizens can be watchlisted for being associated with a watchlisted person – even if their relationship with that person is entirely innocuous. Another catch-all exception allows non-citizens to be watchlisted, so long as a source or tipster describes the person as an “extremist”, a “militant”, or in similar terms, and the “context suggests a nexus to terrorism”. The FBI’s definition of “nexus”, in turn, is far more nebulous than they’re letting on.
Because the watchlist designation process is secret, there’s no way of knowing just how many innocent people are added to the list due to these absurdities and loopholes. And yet, history shows that innocent people are inevitably added to the list and suffer life-altering consequences. Life on the master watchlist can trigger enhanced screening at borders and airports; being on the No Fly List, which is a subset of the larger terrorist watchlist, can prevent airline travel altogether. The watchlist  can separate family members for months or yearsisolate individuals from friends and associates, and ruin employment prospects.


3. Insurers Are Fleecing Us Out of Billions While Congress Looks the Other Way
A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity has revealed that health insurers may have fleeced taxpayers out of $70 billion in just five years.
You would think members of Congress in both parties would be so outraged they'd be launching their own investigation and railing against the "fraud and abuse" they decry on the campaign trail.
But I'm not holding out much hope. That's because I know just how powerful and influential the health insurance industry is and how its lobbyists almost always get what they want out of Congress and the White House, regardless of who is sitting in the Oval Office.
The Center's Medicare Advantage Money Grab investigation, led by veteran reporter Fred Schulte, found that:
  • Federal officials made nearly 70 billion in "improper" payments to Medicare Advantage plans from 2008 to 2013, mostly overbillings, by manipulating or misusing a Medicare payment tool called a "risk score."
  • Federal health officials have long kept key financial records of Medicare Advantage plans in a "black box," inaccessible to the public and press.

The findings did not come as a shock to me. During my two decades in the industry, at both Humana and Cigna, I came to understand just how much of a cash cow the Medicare Advantage program has become to insurers participating in the program. Wall Street financial analysts devote considerable attention to determining how much insurers' Medicare Advantage business contributes to their bottom lines and how much of the money they take in from the government is actually paid out in medical claims. The less they spend on medical care, the better, from Wall Street's perspective.

This is a huge business, and it's growing rapidly. This year alone, the government is expected to pay private insurers $150 billion to cover about 16 million Medicare beneficiaries. Almost one of every three Medicare enrollees now belongs to a privately operated Medicare Advantage plan.
Because the business is so profitable, insurers spend millions of dollars on lobbying, advertising, PR and "grassroots" political activities to keep the money flowing unimpeded.
It's not been a secret that the government has been overpaying the private insurers. The Congressional Budget Office has provided lawmakers with estimates of the overpayments a number of times in the past. One health policy expert testified that the extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans averaged 13 percent -- or $1,100 per enrollee -- in 2009 alone. In an effort to fix the problem, lawmakers included a provision in the Affordable Care Act to reduce the overpayments by several billion dollars over the next several years.
That prompted the industry to launch an intensive campaign to try to forestall those reductions. Having served on the strategic communications committee of America's Health Insurance Plans, I can imagine how sophisticated and multi-pronged the industry's campaign really is.
As I noted last January, AHIP formed a front group call the Coalition for Medicare Choices to intimidate lawmakers by posting ads on Washington buses and subway trains and on TV stations serving the area. The ads, which were part of a seven-figure campaign, warned that seniors would face higher costs, fewer benefits and a loss of provider choice if Congress and the Obama administration didn't act to keep plan rate cuts from going into effect.
In a POLITICO story at the time, an industry source was quoted as saying that, "If CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) doesn't keep Medicare Advantage payment rates flat next year, it is going to create a huge political problem for members of Congress this fall when they have to face millions of angry seniors who just found out they are losing benefits and choices they were promised they could keep."
The industry has played the intimidation card many times over the years, and members of Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans, know it. When I was an industry executive, we used to joke about the "granny fly-ins" -- all expenses-paid trips for hundreds of seniors to DC for a day of lobbying -- coordinated by AHIP.
Even Charles Schumer of New York, who chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2005-2009 and is the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, has become a champion of the Medicare Advantage program. Schumer was among 40 members of Congress who signed a letter to CMS supporting the insurers' cause earlier this year. Schumer and his colleagues wrote that seniors who join the plans "enjoy better health outcomes and receive higher quality care than their counterparts in the Medicare fee-for-service program."
The effort paid off. Health plan executives and financial analysts were happy that the relatively minor reductions were "not material to earnings," to use Wall Street jargon.


4. MOVING TO THE "RIGHT HILL"
Don't Do It, Hillary! Joining Forces With Neocons Could Doom Democrats
from Salon (Paul Rosenberg)
as Hillary Clinton forgotten why she’s not president?  In light of her headline-making Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, in which she seemingly echoed the neocons’ “who lost Syria/who lost Iraq” line, it would seem that she has. There are numerous folks around to remind her how foolish such saber-rattling is in terms of foreign policy effectiveness, but  given how smart Clinton is, she has to already know this herself — as the Atlantic’s own James Fallows noted in a typically savvy and well-crafted piece just a few days later:
Of course everyone including Clinton “knows” that you should only do something when it’s smart and not when it’s stupid. In her books and speeches, she is most impressive when showing commanding knowledge of the complexities and contradictions of negotiating with the Russians and Chinese, and why you can’t just “be tough” in dealings with them….
But in this interview — assuming it’s not “out of context” — she is often making the broad, lazy “do something” points and avoiding the harder ones. She appears to disdain the president for exactly the kind of slogan — “don’t do stupid shit” — that her husband would have been proud of for its apparent simplicity but potential breadth and depth. (Remember “It’s the economy, stupid”?)
But the problem isn’t  just that Clinton was acting deliberately stupid in foreign policy terms, for whatever reason. She was also acting deeply foolish in terms of domestic politics as well. Even if she can’t actually lose the Democratic nomination this time, such belligerent hawkishness could utterly wreck the Democratic Party, just as Lyndon Johnson wrecked it with his pursuit of the Vietnam War.
Of course it’s not popular to blame LBJ in that regard, but it’s impossible to ignore. Johnson won one of the most lopsided landslides in history in 1964, running as an anti-war candidate, and then, thanks to pursuing a war he didn’t even want, was driven out of office four years later, to be followed by 46 years now, in which Democrats have controlled the White House and both houses of Congress for a total of just eight years. Yes, it’s always been fashionable to blame anti-war forces for the wreckage Johnson wrought, but Johnson, as president, was the one who set it all in motion — by embracing a moral crusade that he didn’t even believe in.  The question is — why?  And what does this tell us about Hillary?
The most comprehensive answer I know to these questions comes from Robert Mann’s 2001 book, “A Grand Delusion: America’s Descent Into Vietnam.” Mann, a professor at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, is a former Senate staffer, and his book is the only account of the Vietnam War to focus substantially on the role of the Senate, beginning in the Truman administration, as the “loss of China” and the unexpected outbreak of the Korean War suddenly thrust the Democrats into the minority for the first time in 20 years. Not only were Kennedy and Johnson both shaped by their Senate experiences in the aftermath of this loss, so were many other key actors as well — but none as much as Johnson, who unexpectedly became Senate minority leader in 1952.
The quickest way I can summarize Mann’s main thrust is to quote from my own Denver Post review of the book:
[Mann’s] approach illuminates a fundamental axis of power, because the Senate long has been the primary counterweight to the presidency in foreign affairs. If it proved an especially weak counterweight in preventing the war’s often secretive and deceptive escalation, Mann’s treatment of the early Cold War era makes it clear just how strong Senate influence was in establishing the basic parameters that later led to presidential secrecy and duplicity.
…. A majority of Senate Republicans, still isolationist at least as far as Europe was concerned, voted against NATO and the Marshall Plan, but enthusiastically rallied around Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade against the Truman Administration, especially after the Korean War began.
The opportunistic hypocrisy of their posturing crippled Truman’s congressional support in 1950, and captured both houses of Congress when Eisenhower swept into office two years later. But it left Eisenhower boxed in with no practical alternative but to continue Truman’s containment policies he and other Republicans had so mercilessly attacked.
The Truman-Eisenhower prelude takes up almost a third of the book, but it is time extremely well spent. Lyndon Johnson’s Senate leadership was defined by the struggle to reverse Democratic losses stemming from alleged softness toward communism, particularly in Asia. Mike Mansfield’s Senate leadership was shaped in reaction to Johnson’s style, as well as in deference to his role as President and party leader. By following the story through this formative period we gain unique insight into later behavior, such as the obsessive blindness that repeatedly prevented John F. Kennedy and Johnson from heeding the growing chorus of warning voices from Vietnam itself, from inside their administrations and from Capitol Hill.
But that’s only a brief summary. The real story has different layers of moving parts. Mansfield, for example, was so knowledgeable, Mann notes, he had been teaching Asian history as early as 1933, and in 1954, he saw everything wrong with the direction in which America eventually headed:
In his most prescient of moments, Mansfield warned that sending the American military to enter China would involve the nation “in every sense” in a “nibbling war.” “The terrain of the Indochinese conflict – the flooded deltas, the thousands of scattered villages, the jungles – is made to order for the nibbling of mechanized forces,” he said. “The French have been nibbled and chewed for years.”
The heart of the problem, Mansfield believed, was that Eisenhower continued to apply military solutions to a political problem.… Mansfield faulted the administration for having placed too much emphasis on the military power of Western nations. “Asian freedom,” he insisted, “must be defended primarily by Asians. A people whether in Asia or in the Americas, can preserve their independence only if they have it in the first place and if they are willing to fight to keep it.”
This reveals what I’m really afraid of — not so much that Clinton will swagger into quicksand over her head, like Johnson did, but more likely that she, like Mansfield, could nonetheless end up trapped into doing something that she could once have foreseen as folly.
Having been so concerned with Clinton’s reckless talk, I decided to do the sensible thing, and see if Mann saw things similarly. Unfortunately, he did.
In an interview, Mann first reaffirmed some major themes of his book. “The Truman and Democratic Party, in general, and congressional Democrats, in particular, took huge beatings at the polls in 1950 and 1952 and most of their problems involved the advance of Communism — particularly in Asia — and national security,” he said. “The public was persuaded — first by Joseph McCarthy and then by Eisenhower and Nixon — that they were weak on both.” As a result, Republicans won control of both the White House and Congress for the first time in 20 years.
“Democrats paid dearly,” Mann said. “Their defeat was catastrophic and the painful memories of it were long lasting for some leaders, particularly Lyndon Johnson. Future presidents Johnson, Kennedy, and Nixon were all in Congress at the time and the lesson was abundantly clear — don’t be weak on national security and don’t allow an inch of Asian soil to fall to the Communists.”
Mann pointed to the tapes of LBJ’s phone conversations with Georgia Sen. Richard Russell in 1964 and 1965. “It’s clear that Johnson is persuaded that he might lose his presidency unless he takes the strongest stance possible on fighting Communism in Southeast Asia,” he said. But it was a deeply misguided form of “political realism.”
“What Johnson didn’t realize is that the public had much shorter memories than the politicians,” Mann observed. “For Johnson, the electoral punishment the Democrats took in 1952 was severe and personal” — which is rather the opposite of realism. “Among his many mistakes in Vietnam was assuming the public still cared deeply about fighting Communism in Asia,” Mann continued. “It’s always perplexed me that Johnson forgot that by 1952 the public was already tired of fighting in Korea. In fact, one of the reasons the Democrats lost the 1952 elections was that Eisenhower promised to go to Korea and end the war,” which, of course, he did.
Of course, there is one line of counter-argument which Mann’s own book would support — that the Republicans  were unsurpassed in opportunistically switching positions, while keeping their moral outrage intact. Eisenhower, after all, didn’t have Nixon accusing him of treason when he made peace — just as Nixon didn’t have Nixon calling himself a traitor when he went to China. Just to underscore how convoluted and opportunistic the Republicans were during this era, consider Mann’s account of how a leading Republican senator — and presidential hopeful — responded to the 1950 elections:
The 1950 elections only confirmed [Ohio Senator Robert] Taft’s  decision to strike an even more partisan, hard-line position against Truman and the new 82nd Congress…
Taft wasted no time. In January, he launched his renewed campaign against Truman by embracing the nationalistic “Fortress America” sentiments of former Pres. Herbert Hoover, who had only recently advocated a drastic reduction of America’s military commitments around the world, especially in Europe and Asia. “We Americans alone,” Hoover said, “with sea and air power, can so control the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that there can be no possible invasion of the Western Hemisphere by Communist  armies.”
Taft, of course, had long held that the Far East was “more important to our future peace than is Europe.” He demonstrated just how much he agreed with Hoover when he formally opposed Truman’s plans to implement the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. Taft voted against NATO and now he stood adamantly opposed to Truman’s plan to send four divisions to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union. In early January 1951, Taft told the Senate that the US should “commit no American troops to the European continent at this time.” When Illinois Democrat Paul Douglas reminded Taft that the fall of Western Europe would leave the Continent’s industrial potential in Soviet hands, Taft replied that, in that event, the United States could destroy those industrial facilities with bombs. Taft’s extraordinary logic was too much for J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who interrupted to say that it was “a very shocking thing for Europeans to realize that we are willing to contemplate their destruction.”
Those who may think that today’s neocons are unprecedentedly unhinged should take note. If Republicans could make such whack-job “policy” work for them even then, the argument might go, then perhaps Clinton isn’t so crazy after all?  But that sort of thinking ignores the Democrats’ real advantages — most notably the deep popularity of their domestic political agenda. Even in 1952, Democrats still won slightly more House votes than Republicans did, and they quickly retook Congress. Eisenhower embraced the New Deal programs that earlier GOP candidates had opposed, and even Richard Nixon, two decades later, signed so many Democratic domestic bills that he’s often held up as a secret liberal — not because he was, but because he had to go along, in order to survive and focus on what mattered to him most. In the long run, Nixon was able to start bending politics in a whole new direction — but only because Johnson, acting out of fear, had opened the door for him by fracturing his own party.
And that’s what Clinton could be doing once again — only she would be undermining an emerging majority that hasn’t even gelled yet, rather than one that’s been around for a generation.
“I think you could argue that Clinton is still operating from a mindset that once influenced many Democrats to support war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mann said. “They got beat up badly in the early 1990s for opposing GHW Bush in Iraq and they vowed never to be caught being weak on terrorism (and use of military force) again. After 9-11, there was nothing to be gained, and everything to be lost, by appearing weak on terrorism/Iraq.”
But isn’t ISIS really evil? Well, yes, they are. Maybe even evil enough to make it clear how over the top some earlier claims of absolute evil were. And certainly evil enough to be at war with half a dozen other Muslim outfits. Which bring us to another lesson Mann points out.
“Another key lesson from my book is the mistake of looking at communism as a monolithic worldwide force,” Mann said “There were Soviet Communists, Chinese Communists, Vietnamese Communists, Yugoslavian Communists, etc. Fulbright spent a lot of time talking about how we needed to take a more sophisticated, nuanced approach to the communists. Some of his colleagues and Johnson thought he was crazy.”
And now? “Fulbright’s lesson applies to terrorists and the Muslim world,” Mann pointed out. “Not every radical Muslim is an enemy of the U.S. Not every terrorist is out to attack the U.S. Not every Muslim is radical and violent, etc. We never seem to have the capacity for any kind of sophisticated, informed assessment of the world around us. Like George W. Bush, you’re either with us or with the people who want to destroy us.” That sort of mindset is what created most of the enemies we’re facing in the first place.
In his article, Fallows made a very similar point:
Yeah, we should have “done something” in Syria to prevent the rise of ISIS. But the U.S. did a hell of a lot of somethings in Iraq over the past decade, with a lot more leverage that it could possibly have had in Syria. And the result of the somethings in Iraq was … ? A long story in the NYT tells us that the current leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the caliph himself, drew his political formation from America’s own efforts to “do something” in Iraq….
Here’s the dirtiest of dirty little secrets — and it’s not really a secret, it’s just something no one ever talks about: The entire jihadi mess we’re facing now all descends from the brilliant idea of “giving the Soviets their own Vietnam” in Afghanistan. How’s that for learning a lesson from Vietnam? Well, that’s the lesson that Jimmy Carter’s crew learned — and Ronald Reagan’s gang was only too happy to double down on.
“Finally,” Mann told me, “is the unwillingness to learn much if anything about our foes. We failed to learn about Vietnam, its people, culture and history. We refused to understand that we were fighting a nationalist insurgency that cared more about independence (mostly from China hegemony) than it did about Communism.”  Tragically, Mann quotes Kennedy on several occasions clearly seeing this — at a time when we were still merely assisting the French.
“Ho took help from the Communists because they were willing to help him fight for independence,” Mann continued. “He eventually became a committed Communist, I believe, but I don’t think he started out as one. He tried to get us to help him, because he actually thought we were serious about self determination.”
Something very similar happened when we missed the opportunity to fully support the Arab Spring. If we don’t have the courage of our own convictions, it’s folly to expect others to believe in them for us. That goes for voters here in America, too.



5. Hilary (LOVES GM FOODS)
In her June 25 keynote address to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, Calif., Hillary Clinton voiced strong support for genetic engineering and genetically engineered crops. She earned a standing ovation that day by statingthat the biotech industry suffers from a public perception problem and that it just needs “a better vocabulary” in order to persuade GMO skeptics who don’t understand “the facts” about genetic engineering.
And then Hillary proceeded to get the facts wrong.

Why does it matter what Hillary, who holds no public office and has not (yet) declared her candidacy for president, says or believes about genetic engineering and genetically modified crops and foods?
It doesn’t. Unless she throws her hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination. And then it matters not just what her position on GMOs is, not just how deep her financial ties with the biotech industry run, not just how much she distorts the facts about the “promise” of biotech crops.
It matters, deeply, to more than 90 percent of Americans, what her position is on GMO labeling laws.

If elected, will Hillary support consumers’ right to know? Or will she support the DARK Act, a billintroduced in Congress earlier this year, that would preempt state GMO labeling laws?
Hillary has been coy about announcing her candidacy. On clarifying her position on GMO labeling laws, she’s been dead silent.

As she soon heads to Iowa—the testing ground for presidential candidates—Hillary’s presidential aspirations will no doubt become more clear. If she runs, as the pundits predict, it will be up to the GMO labeling movement to demand that she take a stand on GMO labeling laws.
Meanwhile, here’s why Hillary’s speech to the BIO convention was just plain wrong.

6. 50,000 US BACKED TROOPS IN UKRAINE 
The U.S. Government installed in February 2014 the current Ukrainian Government, which started Ukraine's civil war against the residents in Ukraine's southeast, who reject this Government. The U.S., and the Ukrainian Government that the U.S. installed, call the residents there "terrorists," for refusing to be ruled by the people that the U.S. imposed in February to lead Ukraine.
According to the man whom we installed to lead Ukraine, "by now about 50 thousand soldiers and officers appear participants in the antiterrorist operation: 'Thousands are wounded. Many families were left without a breadwinner'." That quotation is from an article that was published on August 11th by the Press Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian Government. Their press release was quoting Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom Obama's agent Victoria Nuland had selected on February 4th (18 days before the overthrow) to become the Prime Minister of Ukraine. (The transcript of the complete phone call in which the EU came to know that the U.S. had engineered this regime-change is in italics here.)
And here is the result of the bombs that our people have been dropping on those 'terrorists.'
And here is what these 'terrorists' themselves have to say about that.
Western 'news' media don't report this news, which is why all of it might come as a shock to 99% of Americans, and of the residents of other NATO countries. (That's why I provide those links: so that you can easily verify these things for yourself.)
We call this a "free press" and a "democracy." This is what America is trying to impose worldwide. But there is lots of resistance to it, not only in Ukraine, but worldwide.
People throughout the world believe overwhelmingly that the United States is the greatest threat to world peace; and if our invasion and corrupt and disastrous occupation of Iraq don't suffice to make the point, then our coup and installation of nazis into controlover Ukraine certainly should.
Why Are We Doing This?
It's not by happenstance; it's by careful design. A reader-comment at the site of a specialist on Ukraine described in the following words the February coup:
7. European Nuclear News
Spurred into action by an EU directive, and after decades of apparent inactivity, EU members are finally tackling the vexed issue of how to deal with nuclear waste.

The favoured solutions involve stocking the ultra-toxic material deep underground and it is those that we turn the spotlight on in this edition of Reporter, produced by Hans Von der Brelie.

We visit two sites where work is already underway and at which billions of euros have literally been poured into holes in the ground.

At the ANDRA facility in eastern France work has begun on entombing the country’s 80,000 cubic metres of waste in a layer of clay half a kilometre below the ground where, it is argued, it will be safe for all time. Back on the surface local villagers are very concerned, their own research having fuelled their fears.

We look at both sides of the argument.

In Finland they take a slightly different approach; drilling deep into the bedrock to bury the waste.

We also get privileged access to the site on a remote Finnish peninsula where this work is taking place.

Our reporter sees the silos where the material will be stored after being encased in copper. What he saw gives rise to some troubling questions.

Take a look at the video.

Esa Härmälä, Director General of the Energy Department in the Finnish Ministry of Economy, explains the pro-nuclear energy decision of Finland and the Finnish concept of the nuclear waste repository to be built. Euronews met him in Helsinki, to listen to the full interview (English language), please use this link.
Bonus interview: Esa Härmälä

Interview with the French anti-nuclear activist Corinne Francois (Bure Stop 55), fighting against the planned nuclear waste repository in Bure (Meuse/Haute-Marne). Euronews met her in Bar-le-Duc, to listen to the full interview (French language), you can use this link.
Interview bonus : Corinne François, militante anti-nucléaire

Interview with the French anti-nuclear activist Francois Mativet (Bure Zone Libre), fighting against the planned nuclear waste repository in Bure (Meuse/Haute-Marne). To listen to the full interview (French language), please use this link.
Interview bonus : François Mativet, militant anti-nucléaire

Here is a link you can use to listen to the interview with Alain Rolland, Technical Director of ANDRA/Bure, explaining to euronews the reasons why France wants to put its nuclear waste into a deep underground repository. Use this link (Interview in French language).
Interview bonus : Alain Rolland, directeur technique de l’ANDRA