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Obama backs Bush on no rights for detainees Administration Shocks Human Rights Groups, Saying Prisoners At Bagram Air Force Base Cannot Challenge Their Detention - President Barack Obama's Justice Department sided with the former Bush administration on Friday, saying detainees in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights.
In a two-sentence court filing, department lawyers said the Obama administration agreed that detainees at Bagram Air Base cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. The filing shocked human rights attorneys.
"The hope we all had in President Obama to lead us on a different path has not turned out as we'd hoped," said Tina Monshipour Foster, a human rights attorney representing a detainee at the Bagram Air Base. "We all expected better." - It Is not the first time that the Obama administration has used a Bush administration legal argument after promising to review it. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a review of every court case in which the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege, a separate legal tool it used to have lawsuits thrown out rather than reveal secrets.
The same day, however, civil division attorney Douglas Letter cited that privilege in asking an appeals court to uphold dismissal of a lawsuit accusing a Boeing Co. subsidiary of illegally helping the CIA fly suspected terrorists to allied foreign nations that tortured them. (Associated Press)
EPA expected to act in regulating carbon dioxide The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to act for the first time to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet, according to top Obama administration officials.
The decision, which most likely would play out in stages over a period of months, would have a profound impact on transportation, manufacturing costs and how utilities generate power. It could accelerate the progress of energy and climate change legislation in Congress and form a basis for the United States' negotiating position at United Nations climate talks set for December in Copenhagen.
The environmental agency is under order from the Supreme Court to make a determination whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers public health and welfare, an order that the Bush administration essentially ignored despite near-unanimous belief among agency experts that research points inexorably to such a finding.
Lisa Jackson, the new EPA administrator, said in an interview that she had asked her staff to review the latest scientific evidence and prepare the documentation for a so-called endangerment finding. Jackson said she had not decided to issue such a finding but she pointedly noted that the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, is April 2, and there is the wide expectation that she will act by then.
"We here know how momentous that decision could be," Jackson said. "We have to lay out a road map." - Even some who favor an aggressive approach to climate change said they were wary of the agency's asserting exclusive authority over carbon emissions. They say that the Clean Air Act, now more than 40 years old, was not designed to regulate ubiquitous substances like carbon dioxide. Using the law, they say, would capture carbon emissions from new facilities, but not existing ones, blunting its impact. They also believe that a broader approach that addresses all sectors of the economy and that is fully debated in Congress would be better than a regulatory approach that could drag through the courts for years. (New York Times)
Soros sees no bottom for world financial 'collapse' Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.
Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.
He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system. (Reuters)
Viewing cable 09STATE15113, REQUEST FOR INFORMATION:CRITICAL FOREIGN DEPENDENCIES (CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND KEY RESOURCES LOCATED ABROAD) 15. (S//NF) Following is the 2008 Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative (CFDI) list (CI/KR organized by region): [BEGIN TEXT OF LIST]
AFRICA Congo (Kinshasa): Cobalt (Mine and Plant) Gabon: Manganese - Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Guinea: Bauxite (Mine) South Africa: BAE Land System OMC, Benoni, South Africa Brown David Gear Industries LTD, Benoni, South Africa Bushveld Complex (chromite mine) Ferrochromium Manganese - Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Palladium Mine and Plant Platinum Mines Rhodium EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Australia: Southern Cross undersea cable landing, Brookvale, Australia Southern Cross undersea cable landing, Sydney, Australia Manganese - Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Nickel Mines Maybe Faulding Mulgrave Victoria, Australia: Manufacturing facility for Midazolam injection. Mayne Pharma (fill/finish), Melbourne, Australia: Sole suppliers of Crotalid Polyvalent Antivenin (CroFab). China: C2C Cable Network undersea cable landing, Chom Hom Kok, Hong Kong C2C Cable Network undersea cable landing Shanghai, China China-US undersea cable landing, Chongming, China China-US undersea cable landing Shantou, China EAC undersea cable landing Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong FLAG/REACH North Asia Loop undersea cable landing Tong Fuk, Hong Kong Hydroelectric Dam Turbines and Generators Fluorspar (Mine) Germanium Mine Graphite Mine Rare Earth Minerals/Elements Tin Mine and Plant Tungsten - Mine and Plant Polypropylene Filter Material for N-95 Masks Shanghai Port Guangzhou Port Hong Kong Port Ningbo Port Tianjin Port .... (US Department of State)
Obama's War on Terror May Resemble Bush's in Some Areas During her confirmation hearing last week, Elena Kagan, the nominee for solicitor general, said that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law — indefinite detention without a trial — even if he were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than in a physical battle zone. (New York Times)
In All Fairness: Screening Obama One wouldn't know it from reading the Washington Post or New York Times, but some inside the White House don't think that President Barack Obama hit a home run with his first national press conference last week. - Senior FCC staff working for acting Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps held meetings last week with policy and legislative advisers to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to discuss ways the committee can create openings for the FCC to put in place a form of the "Fairness Doctrine" without actually calling it such.
Waxman is also interested, say sources, in looking at how the Internet is being used for content and free speech purposes. "It's all about diversity in media," says a House Energy staffer, familiar with the meetings. "Does one radio station or one station group control four of the five most powerful outlets in one community? Do four stations in one region carry Rush Limbaugh, and nothing else during the same time slot? Does one heavily trafficked Internet site present one side of an issue and not link to sites that present alternative views? These are some of the questions the chairman is thinking about right now, and we are going to have an FCC that will finally have the people in place to answer them." (American Spectator)
Retailers disgruntled about bag tax A central Maine lawmaker is reopening the debate about the use of plastic shopping bags with a proposed 10-cent-per-bag fee on the disposable sacks.
Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds, has introduced legislation that he says will encourage the switch to reusable bags and keep plastic out of the state's environment and landfills. If the bill passes, Maine shoppers will be charged a dime for each plastic bag they use. The money will go into a state fund to promote recycling.
"In a lot of foreign countries now, they charge you," Nutting said. "Even if these bags are corn-based and may eventually biodegrade, they're taking up valuable landfill space." (Kennebec Journal)
What's The Rush? 'Urgent' $timulus On Hold For Bam's Weekend Off After pushing Congress for weeks to hurry up and pass the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, President Obama promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway. - The push to get the bill through before the holiday weekend was so frantic, members of Congress didn't have a chance to read all 1,071 pages of the document before they could vote.
"In a perfect world it would have been nice to have had more time to process it," said Ilan Kayatsky, a spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). (New York Post)
Do We Need a New Internet? Two decades ago a 23-year-old Cornell University graduate student brought the Internet to its knees with a simple software program that skipped from computer to computer at blinding speed, thoroughly clogging the then-tiny network in the space of a few hours.
The program was intended to be a digital “Kilroy Was Here.” Just a bit of cybernetic fungus that would unobtrusively wander the net. However, a programming error turned it into a harbinger heralding the arrival of a darker cyberspace, more of a mirror for all of the chaos and conflict of the physical world than a utopian refuge from it.
Since then things have gotten much, much worse.
Bad enough that there is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over.
What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a “gated community” where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users. As a new and more secure network becomes widely adopted, the current Internet might end up as the bad neighborhood of cyberspace. You would enter at your own risk and keep an eye over your shoulder while you were there. (New York Times)
D.C. to impose bag tax In an effort to clean up the Anacostia River and enforce environmentalism in the District, Washington Council Member Tommy Wells has proposed a five cent tax on all paper and plastic bags.
The plan would impose a tax on all bags consumers receive from many types of stores, such as grocery, CVS, liquor, and others. Funds raised from the tax would go to resources in order to help clean up the river in the Southeast portion of the nation’s capital. (Examiner.com)
Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan: Betsy McCaughey Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.
Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.
Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Hudson Institute)
Talk radio: The return of 'fairness'? For five days, Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s face has greeted visitors of Hannity.com.
It may seem like an unlikely venue for a Michigan Democrat, but conservative television and radio host Sean Hannity has made Stabenow public enemy No. 1 in the conservative talk radio world. Hannity has plastered Stabenow’s face and office number on his site following comments she made last week about the Fairness Doctrine, telling liberal radio host Bill Press it may be “time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves.”
And then she mentioned the possibility of hearings, which sparked a make-my-day moment with Hannity, who said, “You want this microphone? Come and get it!”
Stabenow press secretary Brad Carroll has since backed off, telling Politico, “Sen. Stabenow is not calling for hearings.”
Indeed, no member of Congress has scheduled hearings, there is no Fairness Doctrine legislation being introduced, and the long-dormant broadcast law is likely to stay that way. (Politico)
U.S. Taxpayers Risk $9.7 Trillion on Bailout Programs, would've paid for 90% of all mortgages The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.
The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have lent or spent almost $3 trillion over the past two years and pledged up to $5.7 trillion more. The Senate is to vote this week on an economic-stimulus measure of at least $780 billion. It would need to be reconciled with an $819 billion plan the House approved last month.
Only the stimulus bill to be approved this week, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed four months ago and $168 billion in tax cuts and rebates enacted in 2008 have been voted on by lawmakers. The remaining $8 trillion is in lending programs and guarantees, almost all under the Fed and FDIC. Recipients’ names have not been disclosed.
“We’ve seen money go out the back door of this government unlike any time in the history of our country,” Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, said on the Senate floor Feb. 3. “Nobody knows what went out of the Federal Reserve Board, to whom and for what purpose. How much from the FDIC? How much from TARP? When? Why?” (Bloomberg)
IMF Says Advanced Economies Already in Depression (Update1) Ten days ago, the IMF cut its world-growth estimate for this year to 0.5 percent, the weakest pace since World War II. Stimulus packages alone won’t succeed in dragging the global economy out of recession unless confidence is restored in the banking system, Strauss-Kahn said today. (Bloomberg)
Iraq Withdrawal: Obama Weighs 23-Month Plan The White House is considering at least two troop withdrawal options as it weighs a new Iraq strategy _ one that would preserve President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to get all combat brigades out within 16 months and a second that would stretch it to 23 months - Obama must weigh a number of risks in deciding how fast to pull out the 14 combat brigades that are now in Iraq, including the political risk associated with abandoning his campaign pledge to get out within 16 months. (Huffington Post)
New World Order On the regulatory front, the path to a new global approach is pretty clear. Last spring the leaders of the G-7, a club of wealthy nations, agreed to create a "college of supervisors" to more closely coordinate regulation of multinational banks. - Yet regulators around the world were already jointly setting bank-capital standards before the current crisis hit. A lot of good that did us. So there is also much talk about the need for a new architecture--"a new Bretton Woods" was a phrase that echoed around Davos--to rein in global financial flows. (Time Magazine)
Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull Bailout Pay Cuts; Madoff Warnings Ignored? - QUESTION: That seems as if people that the president called shameless last week are being allowed to go on the honor system. I mean, what is the accountability? You said accountability. What is the teeth? I mean, what happens if these people violate it? Do we yank the money back? Do we bankrupt the firms? Do we fire the executives? ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I will get clarification from Treasury on that, but I don't -- I mean, first of all, the beginning and the end of these is not just putting something on a Web site. (CNN)
US threatens Britain over terrorism 'torture evidence' The US Government has threatened to halt intelligence co-operation with Britain in a row over the alleged torture of a 'terrorism' detainee at Guantanamo Bay being made public. - The judges reveal that the secret documents at the centre of the case “give rise to an arguable case of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. It is also disclosed that a British intelligence official may have been present when Mr Mohamed alleges he was tortured. The judgement raises the prospect of criminal charges being brought against British officials. (London Telegraph)
Aldous Huxley: The Ultimate Revolution Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, here discusses influence, controlling the public mind and government.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley - Our business is to be aware of what is happening, and then to use our imagination to see what might happen, how this might be abused, and then if possible to see that the enormous powers which we now possess thanks to these scientific and technological advances to be used for the benefit of human beings and not for their degradation. (Pulse Media)
Opinion: The Evidence for Limitless Oil and Gas Everybody seems to believe in Hubbert's Peak Oil Theory. Why do you believe in this theory? Within this article I present fairly convincing evidence that Peak Oil is a theory based on a false premise - that oil is a finite resource. "The suggestion that petroleum might have arisen from some transformation of squashed fish or biological detritus is surely the silliest notion to have been entertained by substantial numbers of persons over an extended period of time." Sir Fred Hoyle FRS - It is notable that the whole of Hubbert's Theory of Peak Oil rests completely on the assumption that oil is biogenic in origin. Therefore oil is a finite resource. Simply everyone believes this, because everyone believes that this is a proven fact. I have also read that this Biogenic Theory directly contradicts and offends the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I became suspicious, so I searched all over the internet for substantiative proof -- and particularly the research articles in Google Scholar. - In the end, I have to agree that the Russian Abiotic Theory of Oil Formation - backed up by all its evidence, is far more likely to be the true explanation. And there appears to be little or no conclusive evidence to prove the Western Biotic Theory of Oil. (Digital Journal)
Obama preserves rendition two days after taking office Despite frequent condemnation of the practice around the world, rendition -- the secret capture, transportation and detention of suspected terrorists to foreign prisons in countries that cooperate with the U.S. -- remains in the CIA's playbook, thanks to a Jan. 22 executive order issued by President Obama. (The Raw Story)
Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool The role of the CIA's controversial prisoner-transfer program may expand, intelligence experts say. - Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States. (Los Angeles Times)
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