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Coffee

US: Taibbi - Montana decision 'just the start' of fight against 'Citizens United'

Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi.
© via Current TV.Current TV host Keith Olbermann talks to Rolling Stone editor Matt Taibbi.
Appearing on Current TV's Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Thursday night, Rolling Stone political contributor Matt Taibbi suggested that a recent decision by the Montana Supreme Court will be seen as the start of a long fight against corporate money in American elections.

The highest court in Montana recently struck down a lower court's ruling which said the state's ban on corporate spending to influence elections was illegal due to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the controversial "Citizens United" decision.

Critics say that "Citizens United" will allow unlimited corporate money to pour into U.S. elections thanks to the Supreme Court finding that money in politics is the same as speech and should not be restricted.

Chess

Election Time Again: Obama to let some undocumented immigrants remain in U.S.: report

protest immigration
© Flickr user JacobRuff.A protester demonstrates against Arizona's controversial immigration laws, July 2010.
President Barack Obama will propose a new immigration rule aimed at letting the undocumented children or spouses of U.S. citizens remain in the country while their residency application is considered, an unnamed administration source told The Associated Press on Friday.

The rule would not require action by Congress, and would provide waivers to some undocumented immigrants who travel outside of the country to apply for residency, letting them return to their families in the U.S. within days instead of years.

Current rules ban undocumented immigrants from returning to the U.S. for three to 10 years, depending on how long they were living in the U.S. illegally. Hardship waivers can presently be requested, but they typically take more than six months before being approved.

Eagle

Can the 'Indefinite Detention' Bill Send Americans to Military Prison Without Trial?

Guantanamo Bay
© unknown
U.S. Citizens suspected of terrorism and caught on U.S. soil forfeit their rights to due process and the presumption of innocence underlying the Constitution.

That appears to be the current position of the Senate, according to many legal analysts and some in Congress, unless President Obama vetoes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed on Tuesday.

Two provisions that have survived heated debate in the massive NDAA, also called Senate Bill 1867, are causing these concerns. Once the House and Senate bills are reconciled, they will head to the President's desk to be signed into law, or struck down with the veto pen.


Comment: For readers who don't know, Obama did not veto the NDAA and signed it on New Years Eve.

The NDAA bill, which passed 97-3 in the Senate, would fund a huge swathe of military operations for 2012. But tucked into the bill are provisions dealing with detention of terrorism suspects that cut deeply into the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of U.S. citizens in the post-9/11 era. Now referred to by some as the "indefinite detention bill," it has caused a firestorm of controversy from disparate corners of government and American society.

Rocket

Iran Plans New Maneuvers in Hormuz Strait in February

Iran announced plans on Friday to hold new naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz next month, the latest in a series of forceful gestures in the world's most important oil shipping lane at a time when new sanctions threaten Tehran's exports.
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© Reuters/Hamed Jafarnejad/Fars NewsIran's Navy Commander Habibulah Sayari points at a map during a news conference in Tehran December 22, 2011.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, naval commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, said the exercises in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in February would be different from previous exercises, but gave no further details, according to remarks reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.

"Today the Islamic Republic of Iran has full domination over the region and controls all movements within it," he said.

Iran held a 10-day drill which ended on Monday in the strait, which leads out of the Gulf and provides the main export route for the Middle East's oil.

Iranian officials have threatened in recent weeks to block the strait if new sanctions harm Tehran's oil exports, and this week threatened to take action if the United States sails an aircraft carrier through it.

Chart Pie

Iran's Currency Crash a Blow to Ahmadinejad

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© The Associated Press/Vahid SalemiA currency exchange bureau worker counts US dollars, as Iranian bank notes are seen at right in Tehran.
The Iranian currency - the rial - has been essential in shoring up a view of Iran as strong and independent in recent years. Now it's collapsing on President Ahmadinejad's watch.

As Iran experiences new, harsh US and international economic sanctions over its nuclear program - a program considered by much of the country as a matter of national pride - a stable currency has become a national security priority.

"Even though it's not necessarily good for the economy, amidst sanctions a stable currency creates an illusion of strength," says a veteran analyst in Tehran. "It reflects how nonvulnerable the Iranian economy is to sanctions."

But in the past week Iran's currency - the rial - dropped almost 30 percent after President Obama approved new sanctions targeting Iran's Central Bank. The rial has since rebounded significantly from a low of 17,800 rials to the dollar on Monday. However the Central Bank has tried to introduce a cap on the market rate of 14,000 rials to the dollar, and the government announced that anyone caught selling rials at a higher rate would be arrested.

War Whore

Thousands of US troops deploying to Israel

Without much media attention, thousands of American troops are being deployed to Israel, and Iranian officials believe that this is the latest and most blatant warning that the US will soon be attacking Tehran.

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© Reuters / Nir Elias
Tensions between nations have been high in recent months and have only worsened in the weeks since early December when Iran hijacked and recovered an American drone aircraft. Many have speculated that a back-and-forth between the two countries will soon escalate Iran and the US into an all-out war, and that event might occur sooner than thought.

Under the Austere Challenge 12 drill scheduled for an undisclosed time during the next few weeks, the Israeli military will together with America host the largest-ever joint missile drill by the two countries. Following the installation of American troops near Iran's neighboring Strait of Hormuz and the reinforcing of nearby nations with US weapons, Tehran authorities are considering this not a test but the start of something much bigger.

MIB

CNN drops news feed on anti-war Soldier

Oops! Back to you Wolf...

Here's an interesting view from a uniformed soldier that you generally wouldn't hear on the lame stream news.

"Well, I think it would be even more dangerous to start nit-picking wars with other countries. Someone like Iran... Israel is more than capable... "


Blackbox

Wife's dollar trade puts pressure on Swiss bank head

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© REUTERS/Christian HartmannSwiss National Bank (SNB) Chairman Philipp Hildebrand in Zurich, December 16, 2010.
Swiss central bank head Philipp Hildebrand came under pressure on Wednesday following revelations of sensitively timed currency trades by his wife and the sacking of a whistleblower who passed details to the lawyer of a political adversary.

The employee of Bank Sarasin was fired for leaking data showing that Hildebrand's wife Kashya, a former trader who owns a Zurich art gallery, bought dollars three weeks before the central bank capped the Swiss franc. The case goes to the heart of Switzerland's bank secrecy.

Kashya told Swiss television she "felt good" about the deal last August that local tabloid Blick reported had yielded a 60,000 Swiss franc ($64,400) profit on a 500,000 franc trade.

"What motivated me to buy dollars was the fact that it was at a record low and was almost ridiculously cheap," she was quoted as saying on Swiss television. "As I have worked in the financial and banking industry for over 15 year and always observe the markets, I felt at ease with this transaction."

Compass

Flashback Why Did Japan Attack Us?

Of all the days that will "live in infamy" in American history, two stand out: Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 7, 1941.
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© Unknown

But why did Japan, with a 10th of our industrial power, launch a sneak attack on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, an act of state terror that must ignite a war to the death it could not win? Were they insane? No, the Japanese were desperate.

To understand why Japan lashed out, we must go back to World War I. Japan had been our ally. But when she tried to collect her share of the booty at Versailles, she ran into an obdurate Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson rejected Japan's claim to German concessions in Shantung, home of Confucius, which Japan had captured at a price in blood. Tokyo threatened a walkout if denied what she had been promised by the British. "They are not bluffing," warned Wilson, as he capitulated. "We gave them what they should not have."

In 1921, at the Washington Naval Conference, the United States pressured the British to end their 20-year alliance with Japan. By appeasing the Americans, the British enraged and alienated a proud nation that had been a loyal friend.

Japan was now isolated, with Stalin's brooding empire to the north, a rising China to the east and, to the south, Western imperial powers that detested and distrusted her.

Mr. Potato

Sarko Outrage At Being Called 'A Nasty Piece Of Work'

Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande
© The TelegraphNicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's party allies demanded a public apology from his main electoral opponent after he reportedly branded him a "nasty piece of work".

Francois Hollande, the opposition Socialist candidate currently on course to beat Mr Sarkozy in April's election, allegedly called the president a "sale mec", which roughly translates as a "nasty piece of work".

He made the remark in a supposedly off-the-record briefing for reporters on Tuesday, but a truncated version of his jibe was revealed in the daily Le Parisien.

Although dismissed as being taken out of context by the Socialist camp, a cohort of outraged Sarkozy allies seized on the "insult".

Dominique Dord, treasurer of Sarkozy's UMP party, described the reported comment as "revolting" and said that Mr Hollande should pull out of the presidential race, little more than 100 days before the election.

"We are all deeply shocked," said the head of Sarkozy's UMP party, Jean-Francois Cope.