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Fri, 31 Mar 2023
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Obama Releases 'Long-Form' Birth Certificate

© Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Obama discussed the release of his "long form" birth certificate on Wednesday.
The decision by President Obama to release his "long-form" birth certificate on Wednesday injected the president directly into the simmering ""birther"controversy in the hope of finally ending it, as aides said, or perhaps even turning it to his advantage.

The gamble produced dramatic television, as Mr. Obama strode in to the White House briefing room to address, head on, a subject that had been deemed irrelevant by everyone in his orbit for years but had nonetheless figured in conservative efforts to undermine his legitimacy.

Mr. Obama's comments risked elevating the discredited questions about his birth. But they also allowed him to cast his political opponents as focused on the trivial at a time when the nation is facing more important issues.

The fact that much of the recent focus on where Mr. Obama was born has come from Donald Trump, who says he is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination and who spent the day campaigning in New Hampshire, allowed the White House to use Mr. Trump as a foil, and present the president as a more serious leader than his potential rivals in the 2012 campaign.

"We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," Mr. Obama said, a clear reference - though not by name - to Mr. Trump.

Bizarro Earth

BP expects to resume drilling in Gulf of Mexico within months

Deepwater Horizon fire
© Reuters
BP hopes that drilling could begin soon despite legal rows over pollution from Deepwater Horizon disaster.
BP has predicted it will be back drilling in the Gulf of Mexico within a matter of months despite continuing legal threats and rows over pollution from last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster. "We expect to be back and actively drilling during the second half of the year," Byron Grote, the company's chief financial officer, told financial analysts from the City of London on Wednesday.

The comments are likely to infuriate environmentalists who believe BP should be kept away from the Gulf and could upset a US offshore regulator still considering whether to grant permits to BP.


Syria: EU considers sanctions as regime's violent crackdown continues

Opposition activists report attacks in Deraa and mass arrests in Douma as Sarkozy and Berlusconi call for end to the violence
Syrian pro-democracy protesters
© AP
The Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah has claimed that at least 400 civilians have been killed during a month of pro-democracy protests.
EU countries are discussing imposing sanctions on Syria if the regime continues its violent suppression of pro-democracy protests.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, said Damascus faced "a fork in the road" as opposition activists reported continuing government attacks in the southern town of Deraa and mass arrests and tanks in areas including Douma near the capital and Baniyas on the coast.

In Rome, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi issued a joint call for an end to violence against the demonstrators. The French president described the situation as "unacceptable" but also made it clear that he was not contemplating direct intervention of the sort he championed against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

"We are not going to intervene everywhere in the world and not all situations are necessarily the same," Sarkozy said.

Possible EU sanctions would probably include travel bans and asset freezes targeting members of President Bashar al-Assad's family and other senior regime figures, and would be co-ordinated with US punitive measures being prepared by the Obama administration.


Secret police detain more than 500 as Syria defies Western threats

Brutal security forces move in as government refuses to be cowed by warning of international sanctions
Bashar al-Assad
© AP
Bashar al-Assad is deeply entangled in the acts of the military and bears responsibility for the crackdown
Syria's feared secret police raided hundreds of homes yesterday as authorities stepped up attempts to crush the pro-reform movement amid tentative signs of coordinated action by world leaders against the regime.

Forces were reportedly massing outside the north-western city of Baniyas last night amid fears that the government was planning an assault on a second rebellious city, where two weeks ago soldiers tried to quell protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

Thousands of army troops and tanks stormed the southern city of Deraa on Monday, killing at least 20 people in what appeared to be pre-emptive action against opposition to Assad rather than a response to demonstrations.

Bad Guys

Libya: It's Not About Oil, It's About Currency and Loans

bomb explosion, Libya
© n/a
World Bank President Robert Zoellick Thursday said he hopes the institution will have a role rebuilding Libya as it emerges from current unrest.

Zoellick at a panel discussion noted the bank's early role in the reconstruction of France, Japan and other nations after World War II.

"Reconstruction now means (Ivory Coast), it means southern Sudan, it means Liberia, it means Sri Lanka, I hope it will mean Libya," Zoellick said.

On Ivory Coast, Zoellick said he hoped that within "a couple weeks" the bank would move forward with "some hundred millions of dollars of emergency support." full article here

We listen to U.S. spokespeople try to explain why we're suddenly now entangled in another Middle East war. Many of us find ourselves questioning the official justifications. We are aware that the true causes of our engagement are rarely discussed in the media or by our government.

Bad Guys

The lizard people's war on children continues

I once wangled my way into one of the Houston Republican Party get-togethers back during the early 90′s and figured out just what they were the moment one of the prominent members started talking about how he was tired of paying his tax money to educate other people's children (this was a short while after complaining about how he could not find good employees for his business), how public schools were socialism and how people who could not afford to send their children to private schools, as he did, simply shouldn't have children. I interjected, "but the children didn't choose to be born, why should they be punished for what their parents did?" He simply sneered "they should have chosen richer parents then." There was nothing I could say to that, since the man was obviously deranged. You would not know this man, who prefers to stay behind the scenes, but you would know the man he got elected as a Congressman from Houston, a man by the name of Tom DeLay...

They are not only sociopathic scum, but they are utterly deranged, living in an alternate universe where there is no cause and effect relationship between cutting education and not being able to find good employees for your business, an alternate universe where children choose what parents they are born to and thus foster children clearly chose to be born as what they are. The fact that these utter psychopaths are running our nation, more or less, is chilling. Yet: Every single one of these lizard people, these sociopathic scum, got elected by the majority of voters in his or her district. Every... single... one. Does that say that the majority of American voters are evil? Are idiots? Are brainwashed fools? I don't know, I just don't see any hope for America. I mean, who would vote for people who propose that we send foster children to school in rags (presumably so that *our* children will know not to associate with them)?

Comment: Evil people, idiots, or brainwashed fools? Probably a combination of all three. For a detailed, scientific description of how this could happen, especially in a country that has had it so good for so long, see Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology.


US knew Guantanamo detainees were innocent: WikiLeaks

© AFP/File Virginie Montet

Washington - The United States held hundreds of inmates who were either totally innocent or low-risk for years and released dozens of high-risk Guantanamo inmates, according to leaked classified files.

The new leaks reveal that inmates were held without trial on the basis of often seriously flawed information, such as from mentally ill or otherwise unreliable co-detainees or statements from suspects who had been abused or tortured, The New York Times reported.

In another revelation, a top detainee reportedly claimed that a nuclear bomb has been hidden somewhere in Europe to be detonated if Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is ever caught or killed.


Libya: Western leaders call for Nato to target Gaddafi

© Reuters

The calls came as Col Gaddafi was reported to have strengthened his grip on power by repatriating billions of dollars in overseas assets that should have been frozen by UN sanctions.

On Sunday, there was growing pressure on Coalition forces to directly target Col Gaddafi with military strikes.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services committee, said that the quickest way to end the emerging stalemate was to "cut the head of the snake off". He said: "The people around Gaddafi need to wake up every day wondering, 'Will this be my last?'

Senator John McCain, who visited Libya at the weekend, also said that the Libyan dictator should be targeted but argued that it was more important to increase American firepower over Libya. He said: "It's pretty obvious to me that the US has got to play a greater role on the air power side. Our Nato allies neither have the assets, nor frankly the will - there's only six countries of the 28 in Nato that are actively engaged in this situation."

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, also on Sunday refused to rule out using remote-controlled American drones to assassinate Col Gaddafi. Mr Hague said "who and what is a legitimate target depends on their behaviour." However, he denied that there was a stalemate in Libya and ruled out proposals to partition the country.


The Corporate State Wins Again

© Common Dreams
When did our democracy die? When did it irrevocably transform itself into a lifeless farce and absurd political theater? When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party - which once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible - wither and atrophy? When did reform through electoral politics become a form of magical thinking? When did the dead hand of the corporate state become unassailable?

The body politic was mortally wounded during the long, slow strangulation of ideas and priorities during the Red Scare and the Cold War. Its bastard child, the war on terror, inherited the iconography and language of permanent war and fear. The battle against internal and external enemies became the excuse to funnel trillions in taxpayer funds and government resources to the war industry, curtail civil liberties and abandon social welfare. Skeptics, critics and dissenters were ridiculed and ignored. The FBI, Homeland Security and the CIA enforced ideological conformity. Debate over the expansion of empire became taboo. Secrecy, the anointing of specialized elites to run our affairs and the steady intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens conditioned us to totalitarian practices. Sheldon Wolin points out in Democracy Incorporated that this configuration of corporate power, which he calls "inverted totalitarianism," is not like Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto,"the result of a premeditated plot. It grew, Wolin writes, from "a set of effects produced by actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences."


Guantánamo Bay files: Al-Qaida assassin 'worked for MI6 and Canada's Secret Intelligence'

  • Leaked Guantánamo papers link UK to Algerian militant
  • At least 123 prisoners incriminated by one informer

  • al Jazairi
    © Unknown
    CIA believed Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili ‘withheld important information’ from British intelligence, the files reveal.
    An al-Qaida operative accused of bombing two Christian churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan in 2002 was at the same time working for British intelligence, according to secret files on detainees who were shipped to the US military's Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

    Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, an Algerian citizen described as a "facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for al-Qaida", was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and later sent to Guantánamo Bay.

    But according to Hamlili's Guantánamo "assessment" file, one of 759 individual dossiers obtained by the Guardian, US interrogators were convinced that he was simultaneously acting as an informer for British and Canadian intelligence.

    Comment: Are we supposed to believe that British and Canadian intelligence innocently received information from Hamlili without any awareness of his activities?

    The fact is that a man involved with terrorist groups - labeled 'al-Qaida' by western intelligence for purposes of propaganda and psy-ops - was also working for western intelligence. How more obvious can it get?

    Interestingly, according to the New York Times, the Guantánamo files were not obtained from WikiLeaks - which actually makes them more credible. WikiLeaks has a tendency to leak only items which happen to be convenient for Israeli interests, and to a lesser degree, US interests.