2. US Drone Strikes Kill 15 in N. Waziristan
Juan Cole reports:
The Associated Press does an important story about an intensive drone strike campaign by the US military since September 2 in southern Afghanistan and in Pakistan's North Waziristan that has left 60 persons dead, among them innocent civilians.
On Tuesday alone, US drone attacks targeted suspected militants killed some 15 persons in the village of Dargah Mandi village on the outskirts of Miranshah, N. Waziristan's main city.The drone strikes have targeted fighters of the Haqqani network, one of five or so major insurgent groups fighting against the US & NATO presence in Afghanistan and against the Karzai government. Jalaluddin Haqqani is one of Ronald Reagan's "Freedom Fighters," who battled the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s with American aid. He could not accept the US invasion and occupation of his country, either, and organized an insurgency now mainly led by his son Siraj. The Haqqani group is not Taliban but rather Mujahidin and has only a vague tactical alliance with Mulla Omar's Taliban and similar groups.
Cole also notes that protests against these continuing deadly incursions
into Pakistan have been muted -- because the Pakistanis are still dying
in floodwaters, and in the water's pestiferous wake. Millions are
living in deadly deprivation. But look over there -- somebody's
masturbating, or not masturbating, or something! Who cares about the
drowned and drone-bombed dead?
3. Obama's Thatcherite Gift to the Banks
OK, the Terror War goes on -- but at least Obama's finally waking up to the need for more FDR-like stimulus for the economy -- and more FDR-style war on the fat cats who are strangling us, right? What about that big $50 billion infrastructure plan he announced on Labor Day?
Well, as Michael Hudson explains, the plan is yet another giveaway of billions of tax dollars to rapacious financial interests:
The Obama transport plan is like a Fannie Mae for bankers, based on the President's guiding mantra: "Let's help Wall Street put Americans back to work." The theory is that giving public guarantees and bailouts will enable financial managers to use some of the money to fund some projects that employ people with newly created, non-unionized companies, presumably.
Here's the problem. Transportation projects will make real estate speculators, the construction industry and their bankers very rich unless the government recovers its public spending through windfall site-value gains on property along the right-of-way ... But Obama's infrastructure plan is for Wall Street investors to get the windfall as property owners or as mortgage lenders making much larger loans against the enhanced site value.
The plan would not add to the government deficit, Obama promised. Unfortunately, in place of government taking more revenue, it will be the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector that does the taking. The banking system will now do what government was supposed to do back in the Progressive Era: finance infrastructure. The difference today is that instead of funding transportation out of tax proceeds (levied progressively on the wealthy) or by the central bank monetizing public debt, the Obama plan calls for borrowing $50 billion at interest from banks.
The problem is that this will build in high interest charges, high private management charges, underwriting fees and government guarantees. User fees will need to cover these financial and other privatization costs "freed" from the government budget. This will build about $2 billion a year into the cost of providing the transport services.
This threatens to be the kind of tollbooth program that the World Bank and IMF have been foisting on hapless Third World populations for the past half-century. ... It looks like President Obama sat down with Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and his other Rubinomics holdovers from the Clinton/Goldman-Sachs Administration and asked what policies can be funded without taxing the wealthy, but by borrowing via a separate entity with a government guarantee like the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gravy train for Wall Street.
Well, yeah, but at least you don't hear him talking trash about
masturbation, do you? That's why we must support him. If we don't, a
bunch of kooks who just want serve corporate interests will get into
power! Then what will happen?
4. State Secrecy and Official Criminality
Scott Horton at Harper's tells us how Barack Obama -- whom we have every reason to believe is a modern, rational man who has no problem with masturbation -- is diligently, doggedly working to protect not only the torturers of the Bush Administration (and his own) from the legal process, but also any and every kind of state criminality.
Obama has just won a great court victory for state torturers, state murderers, state terrorists -- and good old-fashioned grafters pigging out in the public trough -- when an appeals court voted narrowly to uphold Obama's contention that the government can shield any criminality from justice by crying "state secrets."
Horton quotes the LA Times' description of just what Obama wanted to cover up by killing a civil suit filed by an innocent victim of America's gulag. The victim was suing the CIA agent who had "rendered" him over to America's terror war allies, knowing he would be tortured:
The decision to short-circuit the trial process is more than a misreading of the law; it's an egregious miscarriage of justice. That's obvious from a perusal of the plaintiffs' complaint. One said that while he was imprisoned in Egypt, electrodes were attached to his earlobes, nipples and genitals. A second, held in Morocco, said he was beaten, denied food and threatened with sexual torture and castration. A third claimed that his Moroccan captors broke his bones and cut him with a scalpel all over his body, and poured hot, stinging liquid into his open wounds.
There were no "state secrets," real or otherwise, involved in the case.
The details were already known, around the world, from legal proceeding
in the UK and elsewhere. But for Obama -- imperial militarist to the
core -- there was a matter of principle at stake; i.e., the principle
that the imperial court can shield the minions who carry out its ordered
atrocities behind the unpassable gates of "state secrets."