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House Republicans push energy, science cuts

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 20:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


Scientific research, high-speed rail, environmental protection and other priorities of the Obama administration would face steep cuts under a congressional Republican spending plan released on Wednesday.

More than 60 programs would be eliminated entirely, including birth control funding, the Americorps volunteer program, public broadcasting, the community-oriented policing program and a weatherization program for homes and office buildings.

Republicans in the House of Representatives aim to impose immediate cuts averaging 15 percent on domestic spending programs to narrow a budget deficit that is projected to hit a record $1.5 trillion this year, and show conservative voters that they are serious about scaling back the size of government.

The proposal has virtually no chance of becoming law because President Barack Obama and the Democrats who control the Senate are certain to oppose it.

But it will frame a debate over federal spending that is likely to dominate Washington this year.

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  1. I’m not so optimistic to assume the Senate will stop this. The Dems have been pretty spineless. The fact that the “debate” is already only about cutting these programs instead of raising taxes a few % on the uber wealthy or prosecuting corporate criminals says a lot.

CIA officers make grave mistakes, get promoted

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 20:05 by Paul Jay in category: News


Though Obama has sought to put the CIA’s interrogation program behind him, the result of a decade of haphazard accountability is that many officers who made significant missteps are now the senior managers fighting the president’s spy wars.

The AP investigation of the CIA’s actions revealed a disciplinary system that takes years to make decisions, hands down reprimands inconsistently and is viewed inside the agency as prone to favoritism and manipulation. When people are disciplined, the punishment seems to roll downhill, sparing senior managers even when they were directly involved in operations that go awry.

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Revealed: 50% of Tory funds come from City

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 17:18 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


Financiers in the City of London provided more than 50% of the funding for the Tories last year, new research has revealed, prompting claims that the party is in thrall to the banks.

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Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 17:15 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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ACS:Law told file-sharing case must continue by court

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 17:12 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


A controversial law firm that sent letters to alleged illegal file sharers has been told it cannot drop its cases to "avoid public scrutiny".

ACS:Law contacted thousands of people accusing them of illegally downloading movies and songs and demanding payments of £500 to avoid court action.

Cases against 26 of them proceeded, before the company attempted to pull out of prosecution at the last minute.

Now a judge had criticised the firm for its methods.

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Layoffs become rarer even with unemployment high

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 15:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


The U.S. labor force has been split into two groups: the relieved and the desperate.

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‘Germany Finds Itself in a Very Delicate Situation’

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 15:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


The European Union is still struggling to find a long-term strategy to deal with the crisis that has befallen its common currency. SPIEGEL spoke to Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian about how Greece can get back on its feet, the fine line Germany is treading and why the US, despite high debt, is in better shape.


SPIEGEL: As one of the lessons to the crisis, Germany is calling for a European insolvency act, which would make orderly bankruptcy proceedings possible for countries that default. Does that make sense?

El-Erian: Yes. The burden of debt reduction has to be equally shared. It cannot go just to taxpayers.

SPIEGEL: We agree with that.

El-Erian: I think that what Germany has proposed starting in 2013 is a very important step in this regard. There is no reason why creditors should be immune from losses. After all, they do get paid a “risk premium” in terms of higher interest rates. They should also be exposed to the credit risk that comes with this higher compensation.

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Secret texts ‘key to Julian Assange case’

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 12:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


A hoard of secret text messages could hold the key to finally clearing the name of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a court was told tonight.

The whistleblower’s Swedish lawyer said investigators have collected around 100 messages to and from his two alleged victims that undermine the case against him.

Bjorn Hurtig, 45, said the texts indicate the women expected to be paid, intended to get “revenge” and wanted to contact newspapers to “blast” his client’s reputation.

But he told Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court that prosecutors in Stockholm have not let him have copies, making it impossible for Assange to receive a fair trial.

He claimed Marianne Ny, who is behind the case against the former computer hacker, warned him not to disclose the contents of the texts as it may violate rules governing the conduct of lawyers.

Mr Hurtig said: “I have been briefly allowed to see other exculpatory evidence but I have not been permitted to make copies to show my client.

“I consider this to be contrary to the rules of a fair trial.”

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  1. Honestly: It sounds to me like Marianne Ny was deliberately assigned to the case.

    Does anybody wonder why the Assange ‘rape’ case was reactivated at the time when Assange announced that he will disclose compromising information about the big banks? The ruling circles in the background never do the dirty work personally, but always let some minion do it. Always. All of this sounds to me like the “old boys network” was activated, and the swedish “old boys” came up with an elegant solution.

    Perhaps Marianne Ny seriously thinks she is persecuting a rapist. Perhaps she seriously thinks she is doing something good for the two females. And perhaps she doesn’t have a clue that in reality, she is only the pawn in this game, doing the dirty work of destroying Julian Assange.

  2. Even if this is being pursued for unusual motivations, Assange may still legitimately be a rapist under Swedish law. Wanting to get revenge is not incompatible with feeling violated. (Expecting to get paid, on the other hand, raises my eyebrows.)

  3. Only that, Desiato?

    The disappearance, the timing of the accusations, the involvement of USA… no eyebrows there?

  4. Oh sure, the timing and the dropped-then-reinstated aspects raise my eyebrows–but they do nothing to exonerate Assange, right? The fact that the case is being pushed for political reasons does not mean that he’s therefore definitely innocent.

    It balances with Assange wanting to keep the case documents private. Some will say that that makes him a hypocrite and if he has something to hide, he must be guilty. I don’t buy that either. Same thing, opposite conclusion.

    It’s important to distinguish between “if he hadn’t been in the spotlight this case would not have been prosecuted” and “he’s in the spotlight and there are political motivations so he must be innocent”. He’s presumed innocent until proven guilty, but it’s not obvious to me that a trial would be inappropriate. (Note the cautious phrasing. 🙂

  5. There is plenty of international press describing the alleged “rape” (or better, “sex by surprise”). It’s is hardly a crime in any western nation, and by the description given by Assange *and* by the women, its illegal aspects are at least very debatable even under swedish law.

  6. Oh, so we can just decide from the international press that a trial isn’t necessary?

    The women have filed a complaint for something that’s punishable in the place where the acts took place, and the “debate” should thus take place in a court of law. Sweden is not so corrupt that we have to worry that the judges are going to convict him without cause.

    This blog wants high-placed bankers and politicians to be held accountable for their actions. Hopefully high-visibility activists get to be accountable too.

  7. Of course – but I continue to wonder if this particular crime was so heinous that an Interpol arrest warrant was justified – how many other “sex by surprise” cases had that happen? None, as far as I can tell, and that make the “Sweden not so corrupt” statement a difficult one.

Banks close in on deal to keep multimillion-pound payouts secret

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 12:32 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


Britain’s banks were locked in talks with the government tonight as they fought to ensure that the multimillion-pound pay deals of the City’s top speculators will not be made public.

As the chancellor, George Osborne, said months of talks between the banks and the government over lending and bonuses were all but complete, it emerged that any information revealed about highly paid bankers could be strictly limited.

Under the terms of the deal being thrashed out, the banks would need to provide pay details about only about five to 10 executive managers. This is likely to exclude the highest paid traders and deal makers inside the banks, who are often not senior managers.

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After a bloated Super Bowl in Dallas, it’s time to rein in big game

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 12:18 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


For absurdity, how about those four Navy F-18s flying over the stadium – with its retractable roof closed? Everybody inside could only see the planes on the stadium’s video screens. It was strictly a two-second beauty shot. Know what it cost taxpayers? I’ll tell you: $450,000. The Navy justifies the expense by saying it’s good for recruiting.

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  1. There were lots of people outside (Also taxpayers) who did see the flyover and I’d be very, very surprised if the NFL didn’t pick up the tab for that expense. The customers and fans will rein the Super Bowl in when they stop going to the games and stop watching it on TV. Until then, stop being a party-pooper. 🙂

  2. As much as I have been a football fan since childhood, I found the blatant militaristic slant to all of the pregame stuff – Reading the Deceleration of Independence in front of jet bombers and from the deck of a gunship patrolling San Francisco Bay – disturbing. It was a bit too much like Starship Troopers to me.

    And then mixing NFL players with the servicemen as if there is some connection to the controlled violence of athletic contests to the barbaric butchery that real warriors but suffer. It was clear they were trying to hoodwink young boys into picturing them being similar.

  3. I looked at all that with amazement – think of how all that appears to somebody living in, say, the Middle East…

  4. It’s almost like a whole other country, isn’t it, John? 🙂

    Think you went a little overboard there, TS. 🙂 The young men who watch the Super Bowl want to be quarterbacks, linebackers, and safeties, not jet pilots. It’s OK for the NFL to recognize and honor our men and women in uniform.

Rumsfeld: Guantanamo one of world’s ‘finest’ prison

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 11:08 by Paul Jay in category: News


WASHINGTON (AFP) – The “war on terror” prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is “one of the finest prison systems in the world,” former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

Rumsfeld, who is promoting his autobiography titled “Known and Unknown,” praised US military personnel that worked at the site in the interview on FOX News Channel?s Hannity show.

“The heart-breaking thing with respect to Guantanamo is not that there is anything wrong with it, it is one of the finest prison systems in the world,” said Rumsfeld.

“What?s awkward is the fact that, for whatever reason, the administration was incapable of persuading people that that was a first-class operation, that they were not torturing people, that they were not hurting people,” he said.

Rumsfeld described it as “a fine operation,” and said US military personnel working there have “taken a lot of the heat unfairly” and “deserve a lot of credit” for their work.

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  1. Donald Rumsfeld is _so_ American.

  2. I think my definition of a fine prison would include its ability to rehabilitate those sent there into law-abiding, productive members of society. Even ignoring all the other problems with Guantanamo, it fails really badly on that basic count.

  3. Kinda curious what that image is supposed to represent. Man on stretcher being taken somewhere?

  4. It shows quality prisoner ‘support’ in one of the finest prisons out there.

  5. I guess this is like one of those ink blot tests, Paul. Where you see support, I only see a guy on a stretcher. I can’t tell where they’re taking him or what his ailment is.

France Prime Minister Francois Fillon had holiday in Egypt

Posted on February 9th, 2011 at 7:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


France’s prime minister acknowledged Tuesday that he took a family vacation in Egypt partly paid for by Egyptian authorities shortly before the uprising erupted last month against President Hosni Mubarak.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon is the second French Cabinet minister in recent weeks to draw fire over a possible conflict of interest generated by contacts with a beleaguered Arab government.

Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has faced calls to resign over a vacation in Tunisia during that North African nation’s uprising and for using a private jet belonging to a businessman believed to have links to Tunisia’s president, who was later ousted from power.

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Fillon’s office issued the statement "in the interests of transparency" shortly before the satirical investigative paper Le Canard Enchaine, which broke the Alliot-Marie story, was to reveal potentially embarrassing details of his post-Christmas trip.

Funny how those “interests of transparency” only work when somebody leaks it to the press.

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  1. …and we have an italian president who used repeatedly state-owned jets to take prostitutes to his villa in Sardinia, who stated that Mubarak is “a wise man” and “a good friend”, who gave enourmous gift to the lybian dictator Gheddafi. And there his no way to have him resign. I hate my countrymen.