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Fri, 30 Sep 2022
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TSA to implement body scanners that instantly know everything about your body

TSA Scanner
© NaturalSociety

If you thought the x-ray scanners at the airport were bad, wait until you find out that TSA employees will soon know what you had for breakfast and how pumped you are to sit on a plane for twelve hours.

Unfortunately, you won't know what they know, because Homeland Security's new toy is capable of detecting every molecule on your person from over 164 feet (50 meters) away - without your permission.

CIA-Backed Company Develops New Scanners
"Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body - agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you," reports Gizmodo.
The scanner was developed by Genia Photonics before being subcontracted by In-Q-Tel, a company founded in 1999 "by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and the support of the U.S. Congress." Although the technology is not new, In-Q-Tel made it exponentially faster and more convenient to use - which has its own implications.


Democrats, Republicans plot post-election assault on Medicare, Social Security

Discussions are underway in the US Senate to forge a plan for sweeping cuts to social programs in the aftermath of the November 6 election. The New York Times reported Tuesday on moves by a bipartisan group of senators to come to an agreement so as to avert automatic spending cuts mandated in last year's deal to raise the debt ceiling. That agreement was signed by President Obama on August 2, 2011.

Under the debt ceiling deal, Congress' failure in 2011 to produce a deficit reduction bill with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts triggered some $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts or "sequestrations" - including to social programs such as Medicare and to the Defense Department - to begin in January 2013 and extend over 10 years.

These automatic cuts would coincide with the expiration in the new year of the Bush-era tax cuts as well as payroll tax reductions and federally funded extended unemployment benefits. The Obama White House and congressional Republicans agreed in December 2010 to extend the Bush tax cuts, including for the richest Americans, until the end of this year, while reducing the payroll tax and extending jobless benefits for the same period.

The combination of these expirations and the mandated deficit reduction measures has been called a "fiscal cliff" that threatens to plunge the economy into a deeper slump.

Comment: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and lots of other stuff could be easily afforded by cutting the military budget in half. But for some reason, no one seriously proposes that, even though, if cut in half, the U.S. military would still be the strongest by far in the world. The U.S. can't afford its global empire, but it's those who benefit from the global empire and the military spending that are calling the shots. These pathocrats don't care if the U.S. becomes a Third World kleptocracy where the vast majority are impoverished.

Arrow Down

The euro crisis and the lessons of the Weimar Republic


Weimar inflation
In the final years of the German Weimar Republic, between 1930 and 1932, the austerity program implemented by the Brüning government in response to the flight of capital and the world economic crisis precipitated the catastrophe that followed: mass unemployment, Nazism and war. For years, this has been regarded as evident and was taught in schools. However, the present developments in Europe show that the ruling class is not capable of learning from history.

In recent days, the Greek and Spanish governments have agreed to austerity measures that far exceed the emergency measures implemented by the Brüning government.

Even though Greece has been in recession for six years, the Greek government has agreed a further round of austerity amounting to €11.5 billion. According to the government's own calculations, economic output will sink by 25 percent compared to 2008 - a staggering decline. Most of the cuts are being made in pensions, health and social expenditure, impacting the poorest layers of the population.

Last week, the Spanish cabinet cut the budget for 2013 by an additional €40 billion. The five austerity packages passed by the Rajoy government in the last year now add up to €127 billion. This equates to a quarter of the annual national budget.


The 1 Percent Court

Supreme Court
© The Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite
US Supreme Court Building in Washington
Why a special issue of The Nation devoted to the Supreme Court? Because with partisan gridlock paralyzing the president and Congress, the Court has more than ever become "the decider" - the most powerful branch of government, and one at the center of a controversy whose outcome may shape the course of democracy for generations to come.

By a paradox both historical and constitutional, the political appointees on the Roberts Court will never have to answer for their decisions to voters like you and me. Nor to the president or Congress: once they are confirmed, the Supreme Court's justices, like all federal judges, serve for life or "good Behaviour."

The Constitution's framers meant to secure the Court against political pressure from the electorate and arbitrary dismissal of its members from on high by presidents dissatisfied with their decisions. As the third branch of a new national government - one whose powers were to be divided to block overreach by any one of them - the Court would be equal to the executive and legislative arms, even though the president appointed its members with the concurrence of the Senate.

That changed dramatically when John Marshall became the fourth chief justice in 1801, shortly before Thomas Jefferson took office. The two brilliant men were bitter rivals, members of opposing parties. Marshall was a Federalist, Jefferson a Republican (no kin to the present GOP). So the supposedly neutral Court has been thrown since its infancy onto the partisan battleground, where it remains to this day.


Corrupt court upholds NDAA; stay extended on indefinite detention injunction

Guantanamo Bay
© Agence France-Presse
Protesters wearing orange prison jump suits and black hoods on their heads march during a protest against holding detainees at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay during a demonstration in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington
A federal appeals court has extended a stay on the injunction blocking the notorious indefinite detention provision in the 2012 defense bill that lets the US government jail any American without end over even suspected terrorist ties.

This comes as attorneys for the White House fight to lift the order imposed by a federal judge last month that made permanent an injunction on a statute of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. On Tuesday, an appeals panel weighed in to offer the latest installment in the Hedges v Obama saga and agreed to side with the White House.

President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law late last year, and the now infamous provision that allows for indefinite detention of US citizens without trial - Section 1021 - was challenged in court shortly thereafter by a team of plaintiffs led by former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges.

The Obama administration insists that the indefinite detention provisions of the legislation are necessary for the safety and security of the nation, a claim that Hedges and his colleagues have condemned whole-heartedly in the ten months since the NDA went on the books. Journalists and human rights activists insist that Section 1021 actually allows the government to label any American citizen as a suspected terrorist and then treat them accordingly.


Vatican orders probe of police for 'abuse' of Pope's butler after arrest

The Pope's butler accused the Vatican of mistreating him during his two month incarceration, alleging that he was kept in a tiny cell with the lights on 24 hours a day for up to 20 days.

Paolo Gabriele
© The Associated Press
Paolo Gabriele
Rome, Italy - In a surprise development, the judge in charge of the trial of Paolo Gabriele, accused of stealing confidential documents from the Pope's office, ordered an investigation into whether he had been held in inhumane conditions.

The investigation will only add to the Vatican's embarrassment over the scandal which has thrown the Holy See open to open to unprecedented scrutiny.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest in May, Mr Gabriele disclosed details of his incarceration in an isolation cell in the headquarters of the Vatican gendarmerie, the Pope's police force.

He said that the cell that he was initially held in after his arrest was so narrow that he could not stretch out his arms and that the bright lights had damaged his vision and left him depressed.

"For the first 15-20 days the light was on 24 hours a day and there was no switch. As a result my eyesight was damaged," Mr Gabriele told the Vatican court.

Arrow Down

Spain could indicate the direction America is taking

© Eleonore Weil
"The Economy"
Suddenly, Spain and Greece are being racked by strikes and huge demonstrations. The public in these countries is, in effect, saying that it has reached its limit: With unemployment at Great Depression levels and with erstwhile middle-class workers reduced to picking through garbage in search of food, austerity has already gone too far. Paul Krugman - New York Times

What began as an economic storm has blown into a full-scale political crisis. Amid popular discontent and separatist protests, Spain has stumbled towards a crossroads: without decisive action by the government, the post-Franco democratic settlement is at risk. Financial Times

It is said that every historical phase carries within it the embryo of the next phase to be born in the future. If this is so, then someday we may come to consider the mountain of debt that threatens to crush our present system as an explanatory, broken condom.

One of the paradoxes here is that the enormous robustness of the United States, its size, population, its natural resources, military power and perhaps most of all, its ability to create money out of thin air to pay its debts, probably means that it would not see the total systemic crisis arriving until it was too late to really do anything about it.


RIP Eric Hobsbawm

© Wikimedia
Historian Eric Hobsbawm
In the early hours of Monday morning, celebrated British historian, staunch Marxist and public intellectual Eric Hobsbawm died at age 95.

Hobsbawm's ideas will long survive him, especially through his major works, The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire, History of the 20th Century, The Age of Extremes, which has been translated into 40 languages since its 1994 publication. Despite shifting trends in the academy, Hobsbawm stuck by his Marxist guns throughout. Here are a few of his thoughts on war, capital and nationhood:

On war and capitalism:
War has been the most convenient pseudo-solution for the problems of twentieth-century capitalism. It provides the incentives to modernization and technological revolution which the market and the pursuit of profit do only fitfully and by accident, it makes the unthinkable (such as votes for women and the abolition of unemployment) not merely thinkable but practicable. What is equally important, it can re-create communities of men and give a temporary sense to their lives by uniting them against foreigners and outsiders. This is an achievement beyond the power of the private enterprise economy when left to itself. (The Observer Review, 1968.)


Cynthia McKinney on Leadership


Cynthia McKinney
Those who have followed the Republican campaign for the presidential nomination and current contest between Romney and Obama know that the United States has no political leadership in Washington.

Billions of dollars have been spent on political propaganda, but not a single important issue has been addressed. The closest the campaign has come to a political issue is which candidate can grovel the lowest at the feet of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. Romney won that contest. But for the rest, well, it is like two elementary school children sticking their tongues out at one another.

The question of US political leadership has been on my mind for some time. I can remember when political leadership still existed and when bipartisan cooperation could be mustered on enough issues to keep the country and the government functioning.

But no more. It might have been Newt Gingrich who, as Speaker of the House, destroyed bipartisan cooperation by making war on the Democratic Party, warfare that Karl Rove has taken to a new height.

Mr. Potato

Georgia's president Saakashvili concedes election defeat, signalling end of CIA's 'Rose Revolution'?

© Giorgy Kakulia/AFP/Getty Images
Bidzina Ivanishvili is likely to become Georgia's next prime minister after President Mikheil Saakashvili conceded UNM's defeat in parliamentary elections.
Mikheil Saakashvili says opposition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili will form new government after defeating UNM in parliamentary poll

Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has conceded defeat in parliamentary elections, saying the opposition led by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili will form the country's new government.

In a TV address, Saakashvili said his ruling United National Movement (UNM) had lost to Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition. He urged Georgians to respect the result. "We think their [the opposition's] views are wrong, but democracy works this way," he said.

Officials figures have yet to be confirmed but government sources said the coalition would have 84 parliamentary seats and the UNM 66. Ivanishvili's six-party coalition appears to have won about 51% of the popular vote, with 41% for UNM and 9% for other parties.

The results are a blow to Saakashvili, who led Georgia's rose revolution in 2003. They also amount to an extraordinary moment in its post-Soviet history, with power transferred for the first time democratically and thus-far peacefully between rival political forces.