Edward Snowden in Hong Kong — I’m glad we have this information; I am sorry we are getting it from Hong Kong. — Three points: — 1) I believe what I wrote two days ago: that the United States and the world have gained much more, in democratic accountability, than they have lost …
Booz Allen Grew Rich on Government Contracts — WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden’s employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, has become one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States almost exclusively by serving a single client: the government of the United States.
Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America — Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an ‘executive coup’ against the US constitution — In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release …
President Obama’s Dragnet — Within hours of the disclosure that the federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every …
Argentina’s Congress passed legislation giving the president and political parties greater control over the judicial system, just days after hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets to protest the measures.
President Cristina Kirchner’s populist, left-wing ruling coalition approved the changes that limit injunctions against government policies and create three new appellate courts.
Within a week or two, Congress is also set to change the Magistrates Council that appoints and impeaches judges, subjecting its members to popular elections. That likely will give Mrs. Kirchner’s party control over the council, which will be able to impeach judges by a simple majority, instead of the two-thirds vote required now.
Mrs. Kirchner says the new laws will make the legal system less beholden to special-interest groups. The sweeping changes come less than a month after Mrs. Kirchner submitted the legislation to Congress.
No more separation of powers,
Legal experts say the revisions will make it hard for individuals and companies to challenge laws and presidential decrees, especially those expropriating private property. Rights groups Human Rights Watch and Transparency International have warned the legislation would give the executive branch unprecedented control over the courts.
This gives free hand to the government to act or seize assets before a case is solved.
The real targets of the “haircut” are businesses, entrepreneurs and the middle class
News that the Cypriot President’s family moved 21 million euros to London days before the bank accounts of his people were looted as part of the bailout deal serves as another reminder that while the media portrays the victims of the Cyprus “haircut” as the mega rich and wealthy Russian oligarchs, the real victims are middle class families and small business owners.
In addition, as Reuters reports, “While ordinary Cypriots queued at ATM machines to withdraw a few hundred euros as credit card transactions stopped, other depositors used an array of techniques to access their money.”
Branches and subsidiaries of Cypriot banks in London and Russia remained open while banks in Cyprus were closed, allowing Russian oligarchs and other wealthy depositors to move their money.
When asked about the amount of money that had exited Cyprus before the bailout deal, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble refused to provide figures.
This blog’s mission, if you want to call it that, is to highlight the intersection of American and Latin American news and events.
The expansion of the Panama Canal is a crucial event that, for the most part, has been ignored by the American news media. It’s going on right now, and expected to be completed in April 2015. It will enable super-large ships, called “Post-Panamax,” to cross, but it necessitates that ports around the world, and especially in the Gulf states are deepend to accomodate them.
“It is a critical issue for Georgia and for Savannah,” Roy said in an interview outside the governor’s office. “The reason is that the shipping fleet is totally changing. It is not only a matter of the ships being bigger. The key is that the most important variable is the fuel costs.”
Roy said the new ships can carry more containers, which makes them more energy efficient with significantly lower fuel costs per container.
“That is the game changer,” Roy said.
Georgia already has received the necessary federal approvals for the project, but it will need hundreds of millions of dollars in order to complete the deepening of the port. Reed has been working with state leaders to build support within President Barack Obama’s administration and other Democratic leaders for the project.
“Georgia needs to do a hard lobbying in Washington to get approval for this dredging,” Roy said. “The message is the fleet is changing, and we are already late.”
Let’s hope the bureaucrats in Washington are listening. An infrastructure project of this magnitude should have already started in the US ports, instead of those so-called “shovel ready jobs” that wasted the stimulus money.
My fear is that governments in the US, Britain, and Europe will display similar reflexes. Indeed, they have already done so. The forced-feeding of banks with fresh capital – whether they want it or not – and the seizure of the Fannie/Freddie mortgage giants before they were in fact in trouble (in order to prevent a Chinese buying strike of US bonds and prevent a spike in US mortgage rates), shows that private property can be co-opted – or eliminated – with little due process if that is required to serve the collective welfare. This is a slippery slope.
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) did an immense amount of danger, disclosing that Hagel would still oppose unilateral sanctions. (How then could he possibly be the defense secretary in this administration?). Moreover, in reading his own words from the Global Zero report, she forced him to squirm, insisting the words she read didn’t mean what they said.
Even more damaging was the brilliant — there is no other word for it — interrogation from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who challenged him to name one senator “intimidated” by the “Jewish lobby” and to name “one dumb thing” the United States did as a result of that intimidation. He couldn’t. Why did he say those things, then? The result of this exchange was to cast Hagel as a gadfly who speaks rashly.
First, Cruz played excerpts from a tape of Hagel’s 2009 appearance on al Jazeera, in which a caller suggested that Israel had committed war crimes. In responding to the question, Hagel did not dispute the caller’s statement. Cruz also pointed to statement by Hagel that Israel had engaged in “the sickening slaughter” of Hezbollah, which sounds a bit like war crimes.
Taken together, these pieces of information show that Hagel regards Israel as a criminal state, or at least is comfortable with that characterization. Hagel tried, with the same lameness he displayed most of the day, to talk away around this conclusion. He stated that both sides — Israelis and Hezbollah — had slaughtered each other. Perhaps Hagel will produce a tape in which he accused the Palestinians of engaging in a “sickening slaughter” of Israelis. Perhaps he will produce a tape (from the period before he was in the running for a cabinet job under President Obama) in which he took exception to the claim that Israel has committed war crimes. Perhaps, but don’t hold your breath.
Next, Cruz played an excerpt from the same interview in which the al Jazeera host read a reader e-mail claiming that the United States has served as the world’s bully. This time Hagel not only failed to take exception and stick up for his country, he said on al Jazeera he found some merit in the claim, calling it “a good observation” (the Washington Post report linked to above fails to report this fact).
Pressed by Cruz, Hagel tried to squirm his way out of this bit of anti-Americanism by misrepresenting both the email and his response. But Cruz brought him back to the text, which makes it quite clear that Hagel endorsed the view that America is the world’s bully.
Hagel’s testimony is an insult to the intelligence of the Senate and the American people. When he is confirmed, as I assume he will be (probably on a laregly party line vote), the Pentagon will be under the control of less than mediocre thinker and a less than honest man.