Iceland tops list of peaceful nations, U.S. 97th
Tue May 20, 2008 5:08pm EDT
By Sue Pleming
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation while the United States is ranked among the bottom third, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The “Global Peace Index,” compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked the United States 97th out of 140 countries according to how peaceful they were domestically and how they interacted with the outside world.
The United States slipped from 96th last year, but was still ahead of foe Iran which ranked 105th. It, however, lagged Belarus, Cuba, South Korea, Chile, Libya and others which were listed as more peaceful.
Iraq, which the United States invaded in 2003, leading to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, ranked lowest on the index. Afghanistan, another country invaded by the United States this decade, was also in the bottom five, along with Sudan, Somalia and Israel.
Commenting on the U.S. ranking, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said to realize a more peaceful and prosperous world, “Often times, you have to do difficult things and a lot of times, people don’t agree with them. They don’t like them.”
“A lot of times you fall down in these lists but at the end of the day it is in defense of democracy and the way of life we have enjoyed over the past several decades,” he added.
The United States has come under strong international criticism for the invasion of Iraq and… Continue reading
Under a new plan, the government could take your DNA and keep it on file permanently
if you are arrested at a demonstration on federal property. Take action today
to stop the government from giving itself sweeping new powers to create DNA databases.
Please read this alert for background on the plan and immediately go here and
click on the yellow "Add Comments" balloon to file public comments
with the government to oppose the plan. The government is only accepting comments
until this Monday, May 19, so take action today!
At the end of 2005, a little-noticed provision was slipped into the Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill that provided the federal government
with the power to collect and permanently keep DNA samples from anyone arrested
for any crime whether or not they are convicted, any non-U.S. citizen merely
detained by federal authorities for any reason, and everyone in federal prison.
Now the government is trying to put the DNA Fingerprint Act into practice.
Federal agencies would be required to take DNA samples from:
* Individuals arrested for the most minor of crimes, such as peaceful protestors
who are demonstrating on federal property.
* Countless numbers of visitors from other countries who are pulled aside in
airports by the Transportation Security Administration.
* Lawful immigrants seeking admission to this country, whether at the land border
or in passport control at the airport.
Go here for more information on the law.
This is a dangerous invasion of privacy. Our DNA is not a fingerprint – it
contains vast amounts of sensitive medical information about us.…
By Jordan Lite
Daily News Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8th 2008
More than 360 workers who dealt with the aftermath of the World Trade Center
disaster have died, state health officials said Wednesday.
Officials have determined the cause of death of 154 of the responders and volunteers
who toiled at Ground Zero, the blocks nearby and at the Fresh Kills landfill,
where debris from the site was taken.
Of those, 80 died of cancer.
"It’s the tip of the iceberg," said David Worby, who is representing
10,000 workers – 600 with cancer – who say they got sick after working on rescue
and recovery efforts.
"These statistics bear out how toxic that site was," Worby said.
Most of the deadly tumors were in the lungs and digestive system, according
to the tally from the state’s World Trade Center Responder Fatality Investigation
Other deaths were traced to blood cancers and heart and circulatory diseases.
Five ex-workers committed suicide, said Kitty Gelberg, who is tracking the deaths
for the program.
Gelberg said she had not yet determined whether the number of cancer deaths
was more or less than those typically occurring in men in their 20s to 50s who
work as cops, firefighters or laborers – the majority of 9/11 workers.
"We are not saying all of these deaths are World Trade Center-related,"
Gelberg said. "Without the statistics, we are not making judgment."
She added that relatives of people who died of cancer may be likely to link
their loved one’s… Continue reading
April 30, 2008
A variety of current and former high-level officials have recently warned that the Bush administration is attempting to instill a dictatorship in America, and will itself carry out a fake terrorist attack in order to obtain one.
FBI agents, Time Magazine, Keith Olbermann and The Washington Post and Rolling Stone have all stated that the administration has issued terror alerts based on scant intelligence in order to rally people around the flag when the administration was suffering in the polls. This implies — as an initial matter only — that the administration will play fast and loose with the facts in order to instill fear for political purposes
More to the point, a former prominent republican congressman stated that the U.S. is close to becoming a totalitarian society and that the Bush administration is using fear to try to ensure that this happens.
Current U.S. Congressman Ron Paul stated, the government “is determined to have martial law”, and that the government is hoping to get the people “fearful enough that they will accept the man on the white horse”
And Daniel Ellsberg, the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower, said “if there is another terror attack, “I believe the president will get what he wants”, which will include a dictatorship.
Terror on U.S. Citizens by American… Continue reading
Thursday, May 1, 2008
“It’s Not About Revenge, This Is About Justice” Lorie van Auken, one of the September 11 Advocates, speaks in this video about why it’s important that true justice is served to the detainees at Guantánamo. Watch the video here: ACLU Blog.
Van Auken is supporting the ACLU’s John Adams Project, the ACLU’s effort to assist in the legal representation of Guantánamo detainees. You can learn more about the project, and read the September 11 Advocates’ statement in support of it, at www.aclu.org/johnadams.
For decades the federal government has been developing a highly classified plan that would override the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it also compiling a secret enemies list of citizens who could face detention under martial law?
By Christopher Ketcham
In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president’s henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.
The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft’s second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush’s first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration’s various… Continue reading
25 Apr 2008
Edited by Carly Zander
HACKENSACK, N.J., April 25 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Over 2,000 motorcycles
are expected to roll past New York’s “Ground Zero” on Saturday, May
10, as they participate in the “Freedom Run” motorcycle rally and
festival. Riding side-by-side, the motorcycles are anticipated to stretch for
five miles and will pay tribute to the 9/11 first responders of the FealGood
Foundation who are now gravely ill as a result of their service at the site
of the World Trade Center collapse.
Caption: FealGood Foundation”I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love
from the motorcycle community. We are grateful for the support of Bergen Harley-Davidson,
and pledge that every dollar raised will help give dignity to a 9/11 responder
who has been forgotten by their government,” says John Feal, president
and founder of the FealGood Foundation. The nonprofit organization advocates
and raises money for the 40,000 who came from all over America and the world
to do search, recovery and clean up at Ground Zero, 70 percent of whom are now
sick or have died.
Leading the motorcycles will be NYFD Engine #343, named in honor of the 343
NYC firefighters who perished in the attacks, which will be ridden my numerous
rescue workers and first responders. The run will depart from the Hackensack
Court House, 10 Main Street, at 11:00 a.m., and travel across the George Washington
Bridge before passing the Ground Zero.
At the site, motorcyclists will pay homage to a police and fire department… Continue reading
By George Washington
April 15, 2008
One of the top investigative journalists in the country, Larisa Alexandrovna (the lead journalist at Raw Story), says the following concerning her attempts to determine whether or not the U.S. is still officially in a state of emergency, such as would justify the continuation of Continuity of Government (COG) Plans implemented on 9/11:
“Well, I have called around… believe it or not, no one seems to have an answer as to this simple question: ‘are we in a state of emergency?’ “
(see comments following essay).
Keep in mind that Alexandrovna has broken many top stories, later picked up by the New York Times and other mainstream publications, and has developed a broad network of contacts. And yet she couldn’t find an answer.
“Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, and the powers and… Continue reading
Post-9/11 Memo Indicates View Around Constitution
Thursday, April 3, 2008
For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush administration
argued that the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches and
seizures on U.S. soil did not apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism.
That view was expressed in a secret Justice Department legal memo dated Oct.
23, 2001. The administration stressed yesterday that it now disavows that view.
The October 2001 memo was written at the White House’s request by John Yoo,
then the deputy assistant attorney general, and addressed to Alberto R. Gonzales,
then the White House counsel. The37-page memo has not been released.
Its existence was disclosed Tuesday in a footnote of a separate secret Justice
Department memo, dated March 14, 2003, that discussed the legality of various
interrogation techniques. It was released by the Pentagon in response to an
ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application
to domestic military operations,” the footnote in that memo states, referring
to a document titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist
Activities Within the United States.”
Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear.
Source URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040300067.html
2003 Justice Department memo justifies torture, presidential dictatorship
By Joe Kay
4 April 2008
On Tuesday, the Defense Department released a 2003 memo asserting the right
of the US president to order the military to torture prisoners.
The memo is signed by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and is
dated March 14, 2003, one week before the launch of the Iraq war.…
April 1, 2008
By William J. Broad
Watch the Slideshow here.
Skulls. Black cats. A naked woman riding a killer whale. Grim reapers. Snakes. Swords. Occult symbols. A wizard with a staff that shoots lightning bolts. Moons. Stars. A dragon holding the Earth in its claws.
No, this is not the fantasy world of a 12-year-old boy.
It is, according to a new book, part of the hidden reality behind the Pentagon’s classified, or “black,” budget that delivers billions of dollars to stealthy armies of high-tech warriors. The book offers a glimpse of this dark world through a revealing lens — patches — the kind worn on military uniforms.
“It’s a fresh approach to secret government,” Steven Aftergood, a security expert at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said in an interview. “It shows that these secret programs have their own culture, vocabulary and even sense of humor.”
One patch shows a space alien with huge eyes holding a stealth bomber near its mouth. “To Serve Man” reads the text above, a reference to a classic “Twilight Zone” episode in which man is the entree, not the customer. “Gustatus Similis Pullus” reads the caption below, dog Latin for “Tastes Like Chicken.”
Military officials and experts said the patches are real if often unofficial efforts at building team spirit.
The classified budget of the Defense Department, concealed from the public in all but outline, has nearly doubled in the Bush years, to $32 billion. That is more than the… Continue reading
By Robert O’Harrow Jr.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver’s license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.
One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it’s not clear what information those systems contain.
Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues.
Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers’ importance to national security, they have generally declined to elaborate on the centers’ activities. But a document that lists resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the organizations in the northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial and government databases than had previously been disclosed.
Those details have come to light at a time of debate about domestic intelligence efforts, including eavesdropping and data-aggregation programs at the National Security Agency, and whether the government has enough protections in… Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
In August 2007, Congressman Peter DeFazio, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the House that he and the rest of his Committee had been barred from reviewing parts of National Security Presidential Directive 51, the White House supersecret plans to implement so-called “Continuity of Government” in the event of a mass terror attack or natural disaster. ( 1 )
Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, commented, “I cannot think of one good reason” for denial. Ornstein added, “I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House.” ( 2 )
The story, ignored by the mainstream press, involved more than the usual tussle between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. What was at stake was a contest between Congress’s constitutional powers of oversight, and a set of policy plans that could be used to suspend or modify the constitution.
There is nothing wrong with disaster planning per se. Like all governments, the U.S. government must develop plans for the worst contingencies. But Congress has a right to be concerned about Continuity of Government (COG) plans refined by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld over the past quarter century, which journalists have described as involving suspension of the constitution. ( 3 )
In the 1980s, a secret group of planners inside and outside the government were assigned, by an Executive Order, to develop a response to a nuclear… Continue reading
March 28, 2008
By Audrey Hudson
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today stood
by its decision to require a Texas airline passenger to remove a nipple ring
with pliers before boarding a flight, but says more discreet screening procedures
may allow the sensitively placed piercings to be worn in the future.
"TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger
involved and regrets her discomfort with the situation," said TSA spokesman
"In the future, TSA’s procedures will meet the security need while giving
additional flexibility for this kind of screening situation," Mr. White
said. "This could include a visual inspection without removal."
Mandi Hamlin, 37-year-old graphics artists, says she was forced to remove the
nipple ring with pliers on Feb. 24 before boarding Southwest Flight 35 from
Lubbock to Dallas.
Gloria Allred, Ms. Hamlin’s lawyer, read from a letter to the TSA during a
video teleconference Thursday asking the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties
to investigate the incident.
"After nipple rings are inserted, the skin can often heal around the piercing,
and the rings can be extremely difficult and painful to remove," Allred
said in the letter.
"Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove
it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her," said
"This encounter was one that she will never forget," Ms. Allred said.
"The conduct of TSA was cruel and unnecessary. The last time that I checked
a nipple was… Continue reading
Tuesday March 25, 2008
Posted at AJFan’s
blog at 911blogger.com; reprinted here with gratitude.
Air America Radio’s Richard Greene chats with Matthew Rothschild, 9/11 truth
sceptic and editor of The Progressive Magazine, about Presidential
Directive 51 (seize control of the country) which is apparently modeled after
one of GW’s mentors in the early 1940’s. John Conyers (202.225.5126) reveals
that he doesn’t know what it is.
White House Directive 51
This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity
of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity
Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation
of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential
Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments
and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal
governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive
and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility
of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response
to and recovery from a national emergency.
Hitler Directive Number 51 (yes, we’re recycling Nazi directives)
In this directive, issued in late 1943, the German leader formally responded
to concerns caused by the ominous buildup of Allied forces in the British
Isles. Hitler displayed here his tendency to issue detailed orders far below
the strategic level, and he divided responsibility for military operations… Continue reading
From March 13-16th, U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will testify to what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground in these occupations. To provide a preview, we’ve created this short film. The film features three members who will be testifying at Winter Soldier and includes videos and photographs of Iraq from their deployments. This video contains graphic content. We need your support to help make Winter Soldier a success. Find out more about Winter Soldier.
All week, you can watch proceedings of the Winter Soldier hearings live at the IVAW site or on satellite television, or listen live on Internet radio (KPFA Rocks!!)–details here.
Please — support Operation Winter Soldier as generously as you can.
AP Chief: Press Freedoms Are Among Casualties of Terrorist Attacks
Mar 06, 2008
The shadow of the Sept. 11 terror attacks is eclipsing press freedom and other
constitutional safeguards in the United States, Associated Press President and
CEO Tom Curley said Thursday.
“What has become clear in the aftermath of 9/11 is how much expediency
trumps safeguards,” Curley said during the annual dinner of the Radio and
Television News Directors Foundation.
“Congress steps back from its constitutional role of executive oversight.
Civilian oversight of the military wanes. A Justice Department interprets laws
in ways that extend police powers. More drastically, prisons are established
in places where government or military operatives circumvent due process or
control trials,” Curley said in accepting the foundation’s First Amendment
“It’s at moments like these when a free press matters most,” he said.
Curley was selected for his role in pushing for more openness in government
and for emphasizing reporting on First Amendment issues. That includes efforts
by the AP to establish the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a news media coalition
that presses for strengthening Freedom of Information laws and for greater government
Also receiving First Amendment honors from the foundation Thursday were CBS
News correspondent Bob Schieffer and NBC Universal vice president Paula Madison.
A special award also recognized former Federal Communications Commission Chairman
March 6, 2008
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — U.S. postal authorities have approved more than 10,000 law enforcement requests to record names, addresses and other information from the outside of letters and packages of suspected criminals every year since 1998, according to U.S. Postal Inspection Service data.
In each of those years, officials approved more than 97% of requests to record the information during criminal inquiries. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the most recent year provided, officials granted at least 99.5% of requests, according to partial responses to inquiries filed by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.
Postal officials have closely guarded the warrantless surveillance mail program, used for decades to track fugitives and to interrupt the delivery of illegal drugs or other controlled substances such as explosives. In other government surveillance, such as most wiretap programs, a judge approves requests. In this one, the USPIS’ chief inspector has authority to grant or deny a request.
The Postal Service handles 214 billion pieces of mail each year. Correspondence and packages transported by private carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, are not subject to the surveillance.
When the government’s warrantless surveillance of electronic communication has come under fire, civil liberties advocates say, the USPIS’ limited disclosure raises serious questions. “The idea of the government tracking that amount of mail is quite alarming,” says Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project. “When you realize that (the figure) does not include national security matters,… Continue reading