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Wed, 14 Apr 2021
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ACLU: National Defense Authorization Act permits worldwide war without end

A little noticed provision in the House Armed Services Committee's National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the United States to use military force anywhere there are terrorism suspects, including within the U.S. itself, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Section 1034 was added to the bill [PDF] by the committee's chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA).

"Congress may soon vote on a new declaration of worldwide war without end, and without clear enemies," the ACLU warned in a statement. "A 'sleeper provision' deep inside defense bills pending before Congress could become the single biggest hand-over of unchecked war authority from Congress to the executive branch in modern American history."

The only opposition to the provision has come from Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), who offered an amendment to strike Section 1034 while the House Armed Services Committee was reviewing the bill. The committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a 60 to 1 vote -- without the proposed amendment -- with Garamendi as the sole dissenter.

Heart - Black

Supreme Court refuses 'extraordinary rendition' torture case

© Unknown
Sensory Deprivation, practiced by the United States and 'Allies'.
The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would not hear the case of five men who said they had fallen victim to a Central Intelligence Agency practice called "extraordinary rendition," in which suspects are sent illegally to other countries to be tortured for information.

The men, some of whom are still imprisoned, brought the case against Jeppeson Dataplan, a unit of Boeing Inc., which they claim colluded with the U.S. government to illegally transport them to foreign countries for torture.

A San Francisco federal appeals court dismissed the case on a 6-5 vote, which was upheld by the Supreme Court today.

The nation's highest court said that trying the case would inevitably lead to state secrets being aired.

The Associated Press reported that this is not the only case to have been dismissed for fear of disclosing dangerous or top-secret information.


Taxpayers on the Hook for BP's Gulf Spill


The oil hearings last week revealed that BP (BP: 42.81, +0.35, +0.82%) is moving to cut its tax bill by about $11.8 billion by writing off the costs of its devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an ordinary business expense, a spill which wreaked havoc on the Gulf, killed wild life and damaged the local economy.

BP booked $11.8 billion in tax savings in its fourth quarter as it partly wrote off the costs for the clean-up, the $20 billion victim compensation fund, and legal expenses.

Without the move, BP's bottom line would have been deep in the red. BP says it has already taken a $40.9 billion total pre-tax charge to its income in 2010.

Evil Rays

Scientists Cast Doubt on TSA Tests of Full-Body Scanners

© Scott Olson/Getty Images
A sign at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint instructs passengers about the use of the full-body scanner at O'Hare International Airport on March 15, 2010 in Chicago, Ill.
The Transportation Security Administration says its full-body X-ray scanners are safe and that radiation from a scan is equivalent to what's received in about two minutes of flying. The company that makes them says it's safer than eating a banana.

But some scientists with expertise in imaging and cancer say the evidence made public to support those claims is unreliable. And in a new letter sent to White House science adviser John Holdren, they question why the TSA won't make the scanners available for independent testing by outside scientists.

The machines, which are designed to reveal objects hidden under clothing, have the potential to close a significant security gap for the TSA because metal detectors can't find explosives or ceramic knives, which can be just as sharp as the box cutters that hijackers used on 9/11.

They are also important for TSA's public relations battle over the alternative, the "enhanced pat-down," which has bred an epidemic of viral videos: A 6-year-old girl is touched from head to toe. A former Miss USA says she was violated. A software programmer warns a screener, "If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested."

After the underwear bomber tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day 2009, the TSA ramped up deployment of full-body scanners and plans to have them at nearly every security line by 2014.

Mr. Potato

Iran President Takes Over Oil Ministry Temporarily

© Agence France-Presse / Mustafa Ozer
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has temporarily assumed the duties of the oil ministry, as the oil cartel OPEC prepares for a biannual meeting in Vienna.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has temporarily assumed the duties of the oil ministry, as the oil cartel OPEC prepares for a biannual meeting in Vienna.

"For now, I myself am the caretaker of the oil ministry," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech late Sunday, without elaborating.

On Saturday, Ahmadinejad dismissed oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi, alongside two other ministers, whose portfolios are expected to be merged with other departments as part of a cabinet streamlining.

Then on Sunday, he appointed caretakers for the industry and social affairs ministries, but did not name anyone for the oil ministry which is to be integrated with the energy portfolio.

His decision to take charge of Iran's most-strategic sector came shortly before the 159th OPEC meeting scheduled for June 8 in Vienna, where the oil producers are represented by their ministers.


NATO Choppers Injure Pakistani Soldiers

© unknown
NATO choppers have crossed into Pakistan, bombarding a police check post.
At least two Pakistani soldiers have been wounded when NATO helicopters targeted a security checkpoint in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.

The Western alliance choppers violated Pakistani air space early Tuesday and shelled a military post in Datta Khel district of North Waziristan Agency, local authorities told Press TV.

The motive behind the attack remains unknown.

On Monday, unauthorized US drone strikes killed at least 12 people in the same region in Pakistan.

The United States has carried out numerous attacks on Pakistan's tribal areas.

The aerial raids, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have been escalated under President Barack Obama.

Bad Guys

US: 'Pentagon Ignores Military Sex Crimes'

© unknown
Victims of sexual assault in the US military say the Pentagon has turned a blind eye on reports of sex crimes and failed to bring sex offenders to justice.

Military veterans who say they have been sexually abused by their comrades criticize the US Department of Defense (DOD) for promoting a culture of secrecy that fails to prosecute sex offenders in the military service, according to a Tuesday report filed by a Press TV correspondent.

"According to the Department of Defense, nearly 3,200 men and women serving in all branches of the armed forces filed complaints of sexual assault in 2010. Some of them say they were abused in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. DOD estimates that the formal complaints represent less than 14 % of all assaults.

"It's women and men. A lot of time it's men. It might be a hazing incident," said Patrick McCann, director of Men Can Stop Rape.

Although some progress has been made, some men do not accept women in the military and that attitude can lead to sexual violence.

"It's not sex. It's an act of power. It's about dominating and showing control over someone," McCann added.

Some 16 men and women have filed lawsuits, charging that the Pentagon neglected their complaints of being sexually harassed, assaulted and raped by fellow service members while on active duty.


Talks Turn to Strauss-Kahn Successor

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
© unknown
Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Finance ministers sought to bolster confidence in the International Monetary Fund as they began discussing a successor to Managing Director Dominique Strauss- Kahn, who was jailed on charges including attempted rape.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he is "absolutely confident" the IMF will "carry on with its business" under Acting Managing Director John Lipsky. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said the 187-member lender to governments is "solid." Kaoru Yosano, Japan's economy minister, said the flap won't compromise the fund's mission.

Germany and Belgium said they prefer another European as head of the agency, responding to a push by developing countries to throw open its leadership. There are "good reasons" for Europe to keep the post amid the euro area's debt crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin. A European has always run the lender, which has helped bail out Portugal, Greece and Ireland, while an American heads the World Bank.

The IMF's executive board, meeting in Washington, agreed to seek contact with Strauss-Kahn about his intentions, according to an official briefed on the deliberations. Strauss-Kahn, a 62-year-old former French finance minister accused of sexually sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper, was sent to New York's Riker's Island prison yesterday after being denied bail.

Eye 2

Professor Koch's Psychopathy 101 Class

american psycho
© Unknown
Just a couple of days ago I was mentioning to someone how Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho inadvertently turned out to be the single best chronicle of the entire ethos of the 1980s. What was initially repudiated as relentlessly ugly, hyper-violent nihilism has, in hindsight, taken on a strange air of both sly subversiveness and surprising prescience. What makes American Psycho so subversive is that it imagined soulless consumption and craven materialism taken to its seemingly inevitable conclusion. Patrick Bateman was what you would get if you removed all societal and moral restraint and left only the gooey center buried deep within our rapidly dissolving culture. What makes it prescient, however, is that it imagined a Wall Street populated by indifferent monsters willing to literally kill to get what they want.

True, the barons and minions of today's Wall Street don't connect car batteries to people's genitals or scoop out their eyes with pen knives (as far as we know). But if you've ever seen the documentary The Smartest Guys in the Room, about the rise and fall of Enron, and listened to recordings of commodities traders laughing to each other at the prospect of the elderly going broke and California burning up as they strangle the state's power supply in the name of huge profits, you know that there are more subtle forms of sadism.

I bring this up because another conversation I had this past weekend was with a friend of mine who represents Howard Dean's group "Democracy for America" and she was rightfully complaining about the need for our nation's MBA programs to begin putting more emphasis on business ethics. And two days ago the St. Petersburg Times highlighted how one business school, Florida State University's, is coming under fire for a move that could very well be in exactly the opposite direction.


Trump for President? You're Out, He Tells Himself

Donald Trump
© The Associated Press / Jim Cole
In this May 11, 2011 file photo, possible 2012 presidential hopeful, Republican Donald Trump speaks during a luncheon with the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce in Nashua, N.H. Trump announced, Monday, May 16, 2011 that he won't seek the Republican nomination.
Donald Trump to self: You're fired.

Out of the presidential race before he was officially in it, the celebrity real estate mogul announced Monday he would not seek the 2012 Republican nomination. He could have won the White House, he said, but instead will continue to steer his business empire and remain host of his reality show Celebrity Apprentice.

The announcement, ending a colorful and attention-grabbing chapter in the unfolding GOP nominating race, surprised some strategists who said Trump had been assembling a campaign team and had been expected to announce his candidacy soon. This spring, Trump had gained considerable attention by stirring renewed controversy over President Barack Obama's Hawaii birth, leading the White House to persuade the state to release a copy of Obama's long-form birth certificate after two years of dismissing the issue.

Trump revealed his decision Monday at a meeting of advertising executives who had come to learn about NBC's fall television lineup. The network had been pressing him for a decision, fearing the loss of millions of dollars in ad revenue if Celebrity Apprentice didn't return next year.

"I will not be running for president as much as I'd like to," Trump said to cheers from the audience.