Pliable Security Letters and the FBI

FBI's Use of National Security Letters Soar in 2008
by Tom Burghardt
The FBI's employment of Constitution-killing National Security Letters (NSLs) to nab the personal details of Americans without benefit of a court order soared in 2008. NSLs are written demands by the Bureau (call them self-authorized subpoenas) that compel internet service providers, credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions to turn over records about their customers.

In a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees May 14, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said that the FBI issued 24,744 NSLs in 2008 compared to 16,804 the previous year. While less than the 49,000 letters issued by the Bureau in 2006, it still represents a dramatic rise in the use of these onerous warrants.

Under cover of counterterrorism or espionage investigations, the FBI can demand that communications records such as subscriber information, phone numbers, email addresses, web sites browsed or personal financial records can be seized and catalogued by Bureau snoops.
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Identity Theft: In Search of Obama's Misplaced Soul

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney
by Paul Craig Roberts
A despairing country elected a president who promised change. Americans arrived from every state to witness in bitter cold Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The mall was packed in a way that it has never been for any other president.

The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.

The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.
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The Pontiff and Gaza's Invisible Catholics

Gaza Disowned: The Pope, Israel and ‘Reconciliation’
by Ramzy Baroud
Gaza is not on the Pope’s itinerary, nor will it be. There will be no change in these plans. But I’ll say it very clearly, the Pope is absolutely not going to Gaza.”

Father Manuel Musallam, head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Gaza Strip

Such were the astounding comments made by the Pope’s spokesman in Israel, Wadie Abunasser, prior to Pope Benedict XVI visiting Palestine and Israel.  As if there was no massacre in Gaza, no families entirely slaughtered, no human rights violated to match the record of the most grisly of crimes in modern history. As if Gaza were a mere irritant in the annals of human suffering. More, as if there were no Catholic flock in Gaza.
To clarify, there are actually nearly 2,000 Catholics in Gaza, apparently not important enough for the ‘cut’.

Now, there are a lot of important religious sites to see around the Holy Land, lots of old churches, stones, ruins and the like…sites of much more significance, such as the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulcher and so on… far more important than visiting the site of a fresh massacre, where the stench of rotting bodies - laid to rest beneath a tomb consisting of the rubble of their own homes - has just faded. Such sites are apparently of little import to the Holy See. Rather, there are memorials to victims of greater standing, in shrines of superior grandeur, such as Yad Vashem…now, that’s something to see.

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Ecuador for Canadian Transnationals

Ecuador's Future for Canadian Transnationals: An Exchange of Indigenous Perspectives
by Jennifer Moore   
Welcome to the future,” says the sign behind the gated area where Vancouver-based Corriente Resources is developing an open-pit copper mine in Ecuador's Southern Amazon. Bumping along in the back of a pick-up truck on her way to visit one of several communities slated to be displaced by the project, the idea that the future is fenced off with restricted entry for local communities that have lived on the land for years, even generations, hit home for Anne Marie Sam.

From the Nak'azdli First Nation in central British Colombia, Sam is one of two indigenous representatives who visited communities affected by Canadian-financed mining activities in Ecuador earlier this month.
“We don't even want Canadian companies in our territory, so we don't blame Ecuadorians for not wanting them here either.”
The Nak'azdli Nation opposes a proposed gold and copper mine on their territory that they have determined “would not strengthen them as a community” which includes about 1,700 members.

The trip was a critical response to President Rafael Correa's recent invitation to the Canadian Embassy to help delegitimate the position of various indigenous leaders who are critical of his mining policy. The Embassy is still responding and will soon host a second delegation of indigenous leaders. This most recent visit was coordinated by the Quito-based Pachamama Foundation in cooperation with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE).
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Ecogeek Answers: Cap and Trade?

Cap and Trade: What Is It?
by Ecogeek
Apparently most Americans don't know what Cap and Trade is (or they forgot somewhere along the way.) So this is EcoGeek's intro to cap and trade, what it means for the country, for global warming, for the environment and for green technology.

Yes, It's Complicated, the EDAF offered $10,000 to the person who could best briefly illustrate and explain cap and trade

And Maybe We Can Start Selling CO2 EBay!
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Haida Stand: A Letter to Enbridge

To John Carruthers, President of Enbridge "Northern Gateway Pipeline"
by Guujaaw
In response to your letter dated April 29th.

You have invited us to attend a meeting in Kitimat on June 18 and 19, "to guide the design, construction, and operations of the proposed project".

This project that you are proposing would necessitate the movement of tankers through these waters on a daily basis, which of course, is of concern to us.

We are a people who depend on the health and well-being of the seas around us.

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From 8-Mile to the Amazon

From 8-Mile to the Amazon — Palast Investigates — The Story Without The Censors
by Greg Palast
Last week, you may have caught the story on "60 Minutes" about Chevron crapping all over the Amazon in Ecuador, poisoning the Indians who live there.

The Palast team is thrilled that a big commercial US Network is picking up our reports from BBC Television and Democracy Now!But if you watched the CBS report, you haven't seen the WHOLE story.

If you want the real thing, the original reports — uncut, uncensored — pick up our new film, Palast Investigates: From 8-Mile to the Amazon — On the Trail of the Financial Marauders.

Check out the trailer here.
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Dr. Climate and Prize Exploitations

 Andrew Weaver's blatant stumping for Campbell
by Ingmar Lee
Hi all, if anyone has any doubts about Dr. Andrew Weaver's Neocon political persuasion, here's a recording of Weaver's mass-phone-out in Victoria-Beacon Hill on the day before the election:

It is truly embarrassing and bizarre to see an acclaimed Nobel climatologist exploit his prize by stumping for the Campbell regime. With Weaver's help, the Campbell regime was so confident in its corporate-media and ENGO-sycophant victory that it brazenly featured its grotesque "Energy Corridor" scheme among the major planks in its platform.
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by Ecological Internet (EI)
We are on the vanguard of biocentric thought and action sufficient to achieve global ecological sustainability. For over 10 years we have run the world's largest, most used and effective Earth Action Network and environmental portals, entirely funded from the generosity of our network members.
It is time for our yearly mid-year fund raiser where we must raise $50,000 over the next six weeks to continue advocating for the Earth.
Fresh off victories in the Ivory Coast and U.S Pacific Northwest, EI is currently engaged in campaigns to end industrial agrofuel's rainforest damage and expose FSC greenwash of primary forest logging, and is poised to confront REDD carbon/forest proposals which claim first time industrial logging benefits the climate.
No environmental group knows and takes ecological science more seriously, and works more diligently and consistently for the suite of ecological policies -- including ending old forest logging, coal and tar sands -- required to avert global ecosystem collapse.
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Oh Say, Can't You See? American Torture and Amnesia

Why We Can't See the Trees or the Forest: The Torture Memos and Historical Amnesia
by Noam Chomsky
The torture memos released by the White House elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable. The surprise, less so.
For one thing, even without inquiry, it was reasonable to suppose that Guantanamo was a torture chamber. Why else send prisoners where they would be beyond the reach of the law -- a place, incidentally, that Washington is using in violation of a treaty forced on Cuba at the point of a gun? Security reasons were, of course, alleged, but they remain hard to take seriously. The same expectations held for the Bush administration's "black sites," or secret prisons, and for extraordinary rendition, and they were fulfilled.

More importantly, torture has been routinely practiced from the early days of the conquest of the national territory, and continued to be used as the imperial ventures of the "infant empire" -- as George Washington called the new republic -- extended to the Philippines, Haiti, and elsewhere. Keep in mind as well that torture was the least of the many crimes of aggression, terror, subversion, and economic strangulation that have darkened U.S. history, much as in the case of other great powers.

Accordingly, what's surprising is to see the reactions to the release of those Justice Department memos, even by some of the most eloquent and forthright critics of Bush malfeasance: Paul Krugman, for example, writing that we used to be "a nation of moral ideals" and never before Bush "have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for." To say the least, that common view reflects a rather slanted version of American history.
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Bigger, Bloodier, Badder: Obama

Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice
by James Petras
"The Deltas are psychos. You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force", a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980's. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan.
McChrystal's rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

The point of the 'Special Operations' teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance. The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes.
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Terminal: A Disease Called 'War'

The Disease of Permanent War
by Chris Hedges
The embrace by any society of permanent war is a parasite that devours the heart and soul of a nation. Permanent war extinguishes liberal, democratic movements. It turns culture into nationalist cant. It degrades and corrupts education and the media, and wrecks the economy. The liberal, democratic forces, tasked with maintaining an open society, become impotent.
The collapse of liberalism, whether in imperial Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Weimar Germany, ushers in an age of moral nihilism. This moral nihilism comes is many colors and hues. It rants and thunders in a variety of slogans, languages and ideologies. It can manifest itself in fascist salutes, communist show trials or Christian crusades. It is, at its core, all the same. It is the crude, terrifying tirade of mediocrities who find their identities and power in the perpetuation of permanent war.

It was a decline into permanent war, not Islam, which killed the liberal, democratic movements in the Arab world, ones that held great promise in the early part of the 20th century in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. It is a state of permanent war that is finishing off the liberal traditions in Israel and the United States. The moral and intellectual trolls—the Dick Cheneys, the Avigdor Liebermans, the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads—personify the moral nihilism of perpetual war. They manipulate fear and paranoia. They abolish civil liberties in the name of national security. They crush legitimate dissent. They bilk state treasuries. They stoke racism.

“War,” Randolph Bourne commented acidly, “is the health of the state.”

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