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Friday, March 27, 2015

Iran's cyber army - Business Insider

Iran's cyber army - Business Insider

The Marine Corps wanting to put flawed new fighter jets into service is the biggest F-35 story right now


The Marine Corps wanting to put flawed new fighter jets into service is the biggest F-35 story right now


http://www.businessinsider.com/sandra-i-erwin-the-f-35-story-that-nobodys-talking-about-2015-3?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=BI%20Select%20%28Wednesday%20Friday%29%202015-03-27&utm_content=BISelect

The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss

The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss



http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-battle-for-the-middle-easts-future-begins-in-yemen-as-saudi-arabia-jumps-into-the-abyss-10140145.html

Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?

http://billmoyers.com/2015/03/25/new-american-orde

Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?

March 25, 2015
by Tom Engelhardt

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.
And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.
Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”
Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.
1. One Percent Electionshttp://billmoyers.com/2015/03/25/new-american-order/

WPR Articles March 23, 2015 - March 27, 2015

 

 

WPR Articles March 23, 2015 - March 27, 2015

Despite Falling Energy Prices, Arctic Oil Exploration Likely to Continue

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
The U.S. Department of the Interior is due to decide this week if Royal Dutch Shell can restart drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska after it was forced to shut down operations in 2012. In an interview, Robert Huebert, an associate professor at the University of Calgary, discussed Arctic drilling amid the slump in global oil prices.

The Italian Plan: EU Mulls Overseas Asylum Centers in Migrant Policy

By: Maria Savel | Trend Lines
The EU intends its recently launched European Agenda on Migration to be a comprehensive new policy approach to trafficking, labor migration and asylum issues. But the potential inclusion of overseas asylum centers, proposed by Italy, has many concerned about the human rights and legal ramifications.

International Pressure Could Still Turn the Tide on Mekong Dams

By: Richard P. Cronin | Briefing
Last year, Laos announced it would go ahead with the second of two massive dams on the Lower Mekong River over the objections of its neighbors. Despite these contentious decisions, however, the widespread fear that up to 11 ecologically devastating dams are inevitable is looking less and less certain.

Venezuela Sanctions Undo Gains of U.S. Policy of Restraint

By: Frida Ghitis | Column
Venezuela is one country where U.S. foreign policy under President Barack Obama had struck the right tone—until a few weeks ago. The Obama administration has issued an executive order targeting top Venezuelan officials for sanctions, playing directly into President Nicolas Maduro’s hands.

Nile Deal Signals Regional Reset Among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia

By: Alex de Waal | Briefing
A preliminary agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on sharing the Nile is about a lot more than water. It may signal a seismic shift in the politics of northeastern Africa and could lead to a new axis of cooperation to manage, it not resolve, conflicts in one of the world’s most turbulent regions.

More

Can the U.N. Deliver for Obama on Iran, Israel-Palestine Deals?

By: Richard Gowan | Column
Barack Obama’s influence on the future of U.S. foreign policy is shrinking as he nears the end of his presidency. But he might use his leverage over U.N. diplomacy to push through deals on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear program. If he does, the U.N. could struggle to deliver.

Term-Limit Tensions Raise Stakes for Togo’s Presidential Ballot

By: Kamissa Camara | Briefing
On April 15, Faure Gnassingbe will be seeking a third term as Togo’s president. Though permitted by Togo’s constitution, his candidacy is contested by the opposition, concerned by what it calls the “confiscation of power” by a man whose family has ruled the country for over 40 years.

Hidden Cruelties: Prison Conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa

By: Martin Schönteich | Feature
As in other parts of the world, most prison systems in sub-Saharan Africa are abusive. This article looks at examples from Uganda, Sierra Leone, Namibia and South Africa in order to better understand the challenges facing the continent’s prison systems and the possible paths to reform.

Spoilers Emerge as Iran Nuclear Talks Reach Delicate Endgame

By: Richard Weitz | Column
With the deadline for a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program fast approaching, critical players have been expressing opposition to a deal they perceive as too lenient. In this context, the role played by Russia and China in the negotiations could prove critical for the success of any deal.

To Secure FARC Deal, Colombia’s Santos Must Face Down Uribe

By: Michael Shifter | Briefing
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos appears to be in the final stretch toward reaching a peace agreement with the FARC. The main concern now is that Santos’ immediate predecessor, former President Alvaro Uribe, has been relentless in his opposition to an eventual accord.

For Iran Nuclear Deal, All Scenarios Amount to Leap of Faith

By: Nikolas Gvosdev | Column
Will there be a draft of a final agreement to end the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program by the self-imposed deadline at the end of this month? Moreover, is such an agreement a good idea? How one answers these questions depends on one’s perception and tolerance of risk.
 

Labor, Human Rights Concerns Make Satellite Campuses a Risky Choice

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
A professor from New York University was recently barred from entering the United Arab Emirates, where the school has a new campus, after he criticized the country’s labor practices. In an interview, Stephen Wilkins of Plymouth University discussed the challenges facing Western satellite campuses.

CAR Still Haunted by Ethnic Divisions as It Tries to Build Peace

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
In the wake of recent violence in the Central African Republic, the United Nations announced today that it is sending an additional 1,000 peacekeepers to the war-torn country. In an interview, the Brookings Institution's Amadou Sy discussed the political and security situation in CAR.

Like It or Not, U.S. Needs Iran to Stabilize the Middle East

By: Judah Grunstein | Briefing
Differences between the U.S. and Israel over a deal on Iran’s nuclear program reflect how recent changes in the Middle East have created a fundamental divergence of U.S. and Israeli strategic interests. Far from being transient, the resulting disconnect is destined to be enduring.

Staffing the Future U.S. Military Will Require Thinking Outside the Box

By: Steven Metz | Column
Since the creation of the all-volunteer force in 1973, finding enough recruits has been a constant challenge for the U.S. military. While the problem has been unfolding for several years, the military now faces an impending crisis as the services find it harder and harder to fill their ranks.
 

The Wahhabis’ War On Yemen Moon of Alabama.

The Wahhabis’ War On Yemen Moon of Alabama.http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/03/the-wahhabis-war-on-yemen.html
World Health Organization: GM-Crop Herbicide a Probable Carcinogen Triple Crisis.
http://triplecrisis.com/world-health-organization-gm-crop-herbicide-a-probable-carcinogen/

The Week with IPS 3/27

   2015/3/27 Click here for the online version of this IPS newsletter   

Pollution a Key but Underrated Factor in New Development Goals
Stephen Leahy
Pollution is likely to be the most pressing global health issue in the coming years without effective prevention and clean-up efforts, experts say. Air, water and soil pollution already kills nearly nine million people a year and cripples the health of more than 200 million people worldwide. Far ... MORE > >

Indonesian President Unyielding on Death Penalty
Sandra Siagian
When Indonesia’s law and human rights minister visited one of the country’s prisons in December last year, he met a Nigerian convict on death row for drug trafficking, who performed songs for him before leaving him with a parting gift. “He sang beautifully,” Yasonna Laoly, the human rights ... MORE > >

Acting Tough to Earn Respect as Policewomen in Argentina
Fabiana Frayssinet
When they joined the police, Marina Faustino and Silvia Miers were part of a small minority, and to make their way in a world of men they had to “act tough.” Now, thanks to a gender equality policy, there are more and more policewomen in Argentina, fighting sexism and prejudice as well as ... MORE > >

Hold the Rich Accountable in New U.N. Development Goals, Say NGOs
Thalif Deen
When the World Economic Forum (WEF) met last January in Switzerland, attended mostly by the rich and the super-rich, the London-based charity Oxfam unveiled a report with an alarming statistic: if current trends continue, the world’s richest one percent would own more than 50 percent of the world’s ... MORE > >

Salvadoran Maquila Plants Use Gang Members to Break Unions
Edgardo Ayala
Textile companies that make clothing for transnational brands in El Salvador are accused of forging alliances with gang members to make death threats against workers and break up their unions, according to employees who talked to IPS and to international organisations. Workers at maquila or ... MORE > >

High-Tech to the Rescue of Southern Africa’s Smallholder Farmers
Kwame Buist
Agriculture is the major employer and a backbone of the economies of Southern Africa. However, the rural areas that support an agriculture-based livelihood system for the majority of the nearly 270 million people living in the region are typically fragile and there is wide variability in the ... MORE > >

Opinion: What if Youth Now Fight for Social Change, But From the Right?
Roberto Savio
The “surprise” re-election of incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Mar. 17 elections has been met with a flood of media comment on the implications for the region and the rest of the world. However, one of the reasons for Netanyahu’s victory has dramatically slipped the ... MORE > >

Lip-Service But Little Action on U.N. Business and Human Rights Principles in Latin America
Emilio Godoy
“I would tell institutions and companies that are aware of the enormous damage they do to the soil, plants and the environment, to respect the decisions of the people. They are attacking life and health,” complained Taurino Rincón, an indigenous Mexican. Rincón belongs to the Nahua people and is ... MORE > >

Palestinian Women Victims on Many Fronts
Mel Frykberg
Israel’s siege of Gaza, aided and abetted by the Egyptians in the south, has aggravated the plight of Gazan women, and the Jewish state’s devastating military assault on the coastal territory over July and August 2014 exacerbated the situation. In a resolution approved by the U.N. Commission on ... MORE > >

China Is the New Power Broker in the Persian Gulf

China Is the New Power Broker in the Persian Gulf

Oil is transforming 
the country’s foreign policy. Can the 
United States handle 
the consequences?


http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/26/chinas-thirst-oil-foreign-policy-middle-east-persian-gulf/

Saudi Arabia’s Big Gamble​

Saudi Arabia’s Big Gamble​

With a new king and a young, untested defense minister, Riyadh has plunged headlong into war in Yemen. At stake is nothing less than the kingdom's position of leadership in the Arab world.


http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/26/saudi-arabias-big-gamble%E2%80%8B-yemen-airstrikes/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Flashpoints&utm_campaign=2014_FlashPoints%20[Manual]RS3%2F26

Neocons: the Echo of German Fascism

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/03/27/neocons-the-echo-of-german-fascism/

Neocons: the Echo of German Fascism

Exclusive: The “f-word” for “fascist” keeps cropping up in discussing aggressive U.S. and Israeli “exceptionalism,” but there’s a distinction from the “n-word” for “Nazi.” This new form of ignoring international law fits more with an older form of German authoritarianism favored by neocon icon Leo Strauss, says retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce.

By Todd E. Pierce

With the Likud Party electoral victory in Israel, the Republican Party is on a roll, having won two major elections in a row. The first was winning control of the U.S. Congress last fall. The second is the victory by the Republicans’ de facto party leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s recent election. As the Israeli Prime Minister puts together a coalition with other parties “in the national camp,” as he describes them, meaning the ultra-nationalist parties of Israel, it will be a coalition that today’s Republicans would feel right at home in.

The common thread linking Republicans and Netanyahu’s “national camp” is a belief of each in their own country’s “exceptionalism,” with a consequent right of military intervention wherever and whenever their “Commander in Chief” orders it, as well as the need for oppressive laws to suppress dissent.

William Kristol, neoconservative editor of the Weekly Standard, would agree. Celebrating Netanyahu’s victory, Kristol told the New York Times, “It will strengthen the hawkish types in the Republican Party.” Kristol added that Netanyahu would win the GOP’s nomination, if he could run, because “Republican primary voters are at least as hawkish as the Israeli public.”https://consortiumnews.com/2015/03/27/neocons-the-echo-of-german-fascism/

Racial Inequality After Racism


Racial Inequality After Racism

How Institutions Hold Back African Americans


http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143049/fredrick-c-harris-and-robert-c-lieberman/racial-inequality-after-racism?cid=nlc-foreign_affairs_this_week-032715-racial_inequality_after_racism_5-032715&sp_mid=48323711&sp_rid=bWljaGVsZXRrZWFybmV5QGdtYWlsLmNvbQS2

Richard A. Bitzinger | China's Double Digit Defense Growth And What it Means for a Peaceful Rise | Foreign Affairs

Richard A. Bitzinger | China's Double Digit Defense Growth And What it Means for a Peaceful Rise | Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia war in Yemen - Business Insider

Saudi Arabia war in Yemen - Business Insider

Facebook is building a fleet of giant solar-powered drones - Business Insider

Facebook is building a fleet of giant solar-powered drones - Business Insider

The US is isolated as its friends line up to join China-led bank - Business Insider

The US is isolated as its friends line up to join China-led bank - Business Insider

Facebook tests internet-delivering laser drones above Britain, Zuckerberg says - Business Insider

Facebook tests internet-delivering laser drones above Britain, Zuckerberg says - Business Insider

Republicans, in Shift, Demand Lockstep Support for Israel



Republicans, in Shift, Demand Lockstep Support for Israel

WASHINGTON — When former Secretary of State James A. Baker III accused Israel’s leader this week of undermining the chances of peace in the region, he said nothing more than the kinds of things he had said at times when he was in office a quarter-century ago.

But the instant backlash from fellow Republicans that prompted Jeb Bush, the son of Mr. Baker’s best friend, to distance himself underscored just how much their party has changed on the issue of Israel. Where past Republican leaders had their disagreements with Israel, today’s Republicans have made support for the Jewish state an inviolable litmus test for anyone aspiring to national office.

“If you’re a Republican and you hedge on your support on Israel, it’s viewed as having a flawed foreign policy,” said Ron Bonjean, a party strategist who has worked for Republican leaders in Congress. “It’s a requirement for Republicans these days to be very strong on Israel if they’re going to be taken seriously by primary voters.” Any deviation on that, he said, leads to inevitable questions: “If you’re not supporting Israel, then who are you supporting? Are you supporting Iran?”http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/us/politics/republicans-criticize-james-baker-for-speech-on-benjamin-netanyahu.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-2&action=click&contentCollection=Middle%20East&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article

Andrew Cockburn's "Kill Chain" The Folly of Machine Warfare by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY



Andrew Cockburn's "Kill Chain"
The Folly of Machine Warfare
by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
Caveat emptor: Andrew Cockburn, the author of Kill Chain: the Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, is a friend of thirty-five years, so I am biased, proudly so in this case.  While I know what Cockburn can do, I must admit I was literally blown away by this book. And I am no stranger to this subject, having worked as an engineer-analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon for 28 years.
What makes Cockburn’s book so powerful, in my opinion, is not only his sourcing and detail (which are amazing), but the fact that he has written a book that is at once overwhelming in terms of information, yet so well written, it is accessible to the general reader.  It is a page turner.  He dissects the rise of drone warfare and examines its conduct in excruciating detail from the point of view of the targeteers in the CIA and the White House, to the controllers in front of video screens, to the effects on the people at the receiving end of the attack.

Remember Crimea? A Year Later

In March 2014, Russia’s annexation of Crimea temporarily topped Western news. It epitomized the end of what many in the West had believed was the agreed international legal framework of the post–Cold War era.
One year later, the issue is all but forgotten. The invasion marked only one step in the dramatic escalation of the crisis in Ukraine that began with the Euromaidan antigovernment protests and led to Crimea’s annexation, war in the eastern Donbas region, and a standoff between the West and Russia. In a bizarre twist of events, the war, which to date has claimed over 6,000 casualties and internally displaced over 1 million people, quickly overshadowed the de facto redrawing of Ukraine’s borders.

US “War on Drugs” ruined Mexico even worse than it did Afghanistan

US “War on Drugs” ruined Mexico even worse than it did Afghanistan

By Rebecca Gordon | (Tomdispatch.com) –
They behead people by the hundreds. They heap headless, handless bodies along roadsides as warnings to those who would resist their power. They have penetrated the local, state, and national governments and control entire sections of the country. They provide employment and services to an impoverished public, which distrusts their actual government with its bitter record of corruption, repression, and torture. They seduce young people from several countries, including the United States, into their murderous activities.
Is this a description of the heinous practices of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria? It could be, but as a matter of fact it’s not. These particular thugs exist a lot closer to home. They are part of the multi-billion-dollar industry known as the drug cartels of Mexico. Like the Islamic State, the cartels’ power has increased as the result of disastrous policies born in the U.S.A.http://www.juancole.com/2015/03/ruined-mexico-afghanistan.html

Your Money at War Everywhere

Your Money at War Everywhere

by William D. Hartung
President Obama and Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama wants to raise the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the caps that exist under current law allow.  McCain wants to see Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17 billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped supplemental war budget.
What will this new avalanche of cash be used for? A major ground war in Iraq? Bombing the Assad regime in Syria? A permanent troop presence in Afghanistan?  More likely, the bulk of the funds will be wielded simply to take pressure off the Pentagon’s base budget so it can continue to pay for staggeringly expensive projects like the F-35 combat aircraft and a new generation of ballistic missile submarines.  Whether the enthusiastic budgeteers in the end succeed in this particular maneuver to create a massive Pentagon slush fund, the effort represents a troubling development for anyone who thinks that Pentagon spending is already out of hand.
Mind you, such funds would be added not just to a Pentagon budget already running at half-a-trillion dollars annually, but to the actual national security budget, which is undoubtedly close to twice that.  It includes items like work on nuclear weapons tucked away at the Department of Energy, that Pentagon supplementary war budget, the black budget of the Intelligence Community, and war-related expenditures in the budgets of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security.
Despite the jaw-dropping resources available to the national security state, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey recently claimed that, without significant additional infusions of cash, the U.S. military won’t be able to “execute the strategy” with which it has been tasked. As it happens, Dempsey’s remark unintentionally points the way to a dramatically different approach to what’s still called “defense spending.”  Instead of seeking yet more of it, perhaps it’s time for the Pentagon to abandon its costly and counterproductive military strategy of “covering the globe.”http://www.lobelog.com/your-money-at-war-everywhere/#more-28636

Saudi Arabia attacks Yemen

Web Arab News Digest

Saudi Arabia attacks Yemen

Summary: Saudi Arabia bombs Sanaa and other targets in Yemen, aiming to restore the government of President Hadi. Wide Arab support pledged. No early end likely, meanwhile al-Qa’ida and IS will feel some relief. Oil price rises.

The international context of the Saudi air strikes on Houthis in Yemen which began yesterday 26 March and the likely outcome are exceptionally confused. Saudi Arabia is said to be committing up to 150,000 troops and a hundred aircraft.

The war aims of the combatants, in so far as they have been defined, do not appear to be achievable. The Saudi attack has been denounced in Yemen, Syria and Iran as aggression, perhaps correctly since it is not self defence and has not been authorised by the Security Council, to which Yemen is appealing; Saudi Arabia and its allies can argue that they are acting at the request of the Yemeni president. Before the Saudi attack Washington had strongly condemned Houthi military action against "the elected government", and after the attack John Kerry spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister about Yemen before turning to the nuclear negotiations. President Putin has called for an immediate ceasefire in telephone conversation with President Rouhani. Both Washington and Moscow will be concerned about the effect on the nuclear negotiations with Iran which are at a delicate stage. They will both be equally concerned lest the conflict between Saudis and Houthis may leave the field clear for al-Qa’ida and IS which had been under attack from both the Yemeni government and the Houthis with active support from the US.

http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2820afb1fbae0c99e88fb6f52&id=9277566994&e=672f0b89c4

Thursday, March 26, 2015

TPP vs. Democracy: Leaked Draft of Secretive Trade Deal Spells Out Plan for Corporate Power Grab
by Sarah Lazare
The language included in this draft is even worse than previously thought, because it excludes a minor safeguard included in a version leaked in 2012. http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/03/26/tpp-vs-democracy-leaked-draft-secretive-trade-deal-spells-out-plan-corporate-power

As Saudi Arabia and Allies Continue Airstrikes, Sorrow and Rage in Yemen


As Saudi Arabia and Allies Continue Airstrikes, Sorrow and Rage in Yemen

Saudi Arabia discusses deploying as many as 150,000 troops and 100 warplanes in operation receiving coordination from the Pentagon and supported by Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/03/26/saudi-arabia-and-allies-continue-airstrikes-sorrow-and-rage-yemen

TPP Leak Reveals Extraordinary New Powers for Thousands of Foreign Firms to Challenge US Policies and Demand Taxpayer Compensation

TPP Leak Reveals Extraordinary New Powers for Thousands of Foreign Firms to Challenge US Policies and Demand Taxpayer Compensation



http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/03/26/tpp-leak-reveals-extraordinary-new-powers-thousands-foreign-firms-challenge-us

America, Israel and Iran The ire over Iran

 

America, Israel and Iran

The ire over Iran

Although Barack Obama is right to chastise Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister has a point on Iran


http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21647292-although-barack-obama-right-chastise-binyamin-netanyahu-israels-prime-minister-has-point?fsrc=nlw|hig|26-03-2015|NA

Universities Excellence v equity

Universities

Excellence v equity

The American model of higher education is spreading. It is good at producing excellence, but needs to get better at providing access to decent education at a reasonable cost, says Emma Duncan

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21646985-american-model-higher-education-spreading-it-good-producing-excellence?fsrc=nlw|hig|26-03-2015|NA 

Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline | FAIR


Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline | FAIR

http://fair.org/take-action/media-advisories/iraq-and-the-media/

Government secrecy in the Obama White House


The Obama administration is filled with secrecy even as he promises transparency. Hillary's emails are just one more rung on that ladder

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2015 — As a candidate for president, Barack Obama promised that his would be the most “transparent” administration in American history. It hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, it may be the most secretive, threatening the very fabric of representative democracy, which depends upon the American people and their elected representatives in Congress knowing  exactly what government is doingin our name and with our taxpayer dollars.
For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration censored government files or outright denied access to them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to an analysis of federal data by the Associated Press, released in mid-March.
The government took longer than other administrations to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law, but only when challenged. Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew by 55 per cent to more than 200,000.
These government figures covered all requests to 100 federal agencies during fiscal 2014 under the Freedom of Information law, which is heralded globally as a model for transparent government. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4 per cent decrease over the previous year.
The government more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 39 percent of all requests. According to the Associated Press, sometimes the government censored only a few words or an employee’s phone number, but other times it completely marked out nearly every paragraph. http://www.commdiginews.com/politics-2/government-secrecy-in-the-obama-white-house-38616/#I2PxdykEXGGoefV3.99

Military Strategy? Who Needs It? The Madness of Funding the Pentagon to “Cover the Globe”

Military Strategy? Who Needs It?
The Madness of Funding the Pentagon to “Cover the Globe”
By William D. Hartung
President Obama and Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama wants to raise the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the caps that exist under current law allow. McCain wants to see Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17 billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped supplemental war budget.
What will this new avalanche of cash be used for? A major ground war in Iraq? Bombing the Assad regime in Syria? A permanent troop presence in Afghanistan? More likely, the bulk of the funds will be wielded simply to take pressure off the Pentagon’s base budget so it can continue to pay for staggeringly expensive projects like the F-35 combat aircraft and a new generation of ballistic missile submarines. Whether the enthusiastic budgeteers in the end succeed in this particular maneuver to create a massive Pentagon slush fund, the effort represents a troubling development for anyone who thinks that Pentagon spending is already out of hand.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175973/tomgram%3A_william_hartung%2C_your_money_at_war_everywhere/#more

Saudi Arabia launches air strikes in Yemen

Saudi Arabia launches air strikes in Yemen


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32061632

Saudi Arabia: international priorities

  |  http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2820afb1fbae0c99e88fb6f52&id=47c03bec2f&e=672f0b89c4
Saudi Arabia: international priorities

Summary: Saudi hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood may be fading, easing some problems (with Turkey, Qatar, potentially the UK) but perhaps creating others (Egypt, UAE).

The Saudi military intervention, probably more correctly aggression, in Yemen today 26 March (which we expect to consider more closely very shortly) comes at a time when Saudi Arabia, like all Arab states which have maintained any kind of stability, faces multiple external problems resulting from the devastating wars and civil wars of the last decade.

A new and apparently thorough examination of the "war on terrorism" in the last twelve years in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan concludes that it "has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further zones such as Yemen." A senior UN official is reported to have told a conference in Doha yesterday 25 March that twenty million people originating in the Middle East were displaced (internal or external refugees) at the end of 2014, the largest number since the Second World War.

The only problem that appears to amount to a direct threat to the Kingdom is IS. However Saudi Arabia has increasingly, some would say obsessively, assessed Iran not merely as a rival but as an aggressive threat. Yemen, which Saudi Arabia traditionally views as within its sphere of influence, has slipped towards failed state status, and the military and political success of the Houthis is seen as a direct challenge because they are Shia (albeit of a quite different kind from the Shia of Iran and Iraq) and have therefore been linked with Iran. Finally Saudi Arabia has opted to stay close to President Sisi’s Egypt, and has lined up with him to demonise the Muslim Brotherhood, at some cost in its relations with Turkey and Qatar.

The article below was published (before the attack on Yemen) on the Al Monitor website. The author, Dr. H. A. Hellyer, of the Washington-based Brookings Institution, argues that the last priority, opposition to the Muslim brotherhood, is likely to be watered down.http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2820afb1fbae0c99e88fb6f52&id=47c03bec2f&e=672f0b89c4

International study raises questions about cause of global ice ages

International study raises questions about cause of global ice ages
Hanover NH (SPX) Mar 26, 2015 - A new international study casts doubt on the leading theory of what causes ice ages around the world - changes in the way the Earth orbits the sun. The researchers found that glacier movement in the Southern Hemisphere is influenced primarily by sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than changes in the Earth's orbit, which are thought to drive the advance and retreat of ... morehttp://www.spacedaily.com/reports/International_study_raises_questions_about_cause_of_global_ice_ages_999.html

The American century will survive the rise of China

The American century will survive the rise of China

Entropy is a greater challenge than Chinese growth, writes Joseph Nye


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/48c84460-d250-11e4-ae91-00144feab7de.html#axzz3VThSKQYY

CFR Update 3/26 Gulf-Led Coalition Strikes Against Houthis in Yemen

March 26, 2015
Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA
Gulf-Led Coalition Strikes Against Houthis in Yemen
A ten-country Gulf coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a robust air campaign (Al Jazeera) in Yemen against Iran-aligned Houthis late Wednesday. Houthi sources reported eighteen civilian casualties and twenty-four others injured in Yemen's capital of Sana'a. Iran's foreign ministry condemned (WSJ) the operation and urged the coalition to cease its military action. Meanwhile, the White House backed (Reuters) the Gulf coalition's air strikes, providing logistical and intelligence support. President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled (AP) his base in Aden by sea earlier on Wednesday as Houthi forces advanced on the southern city after capturing the airport and a nearby base, officials said. Meanwhile, oil prices surged (NYT) following reports of the Saudi-led campaign and ongoing fighting between Yemeni factions on Thursday.
ANALYSIS
"Riyadh now has to decide whether the strikes should be designed to prevent the Houthi forces that have conquered most of Yemen from attempting to mount attacks inside the kingdom or to be part of a more expansive military campaign designed to dislodge or significantly degrade the Houthis in the hopes that Yemen’s battered central government can gradually reclaim control of the country," write Yochi Dreazen and John Hudson in Foreign Policy.
"There is a real risk that the Saudis will keep doubling down in Yemen and in so doing will overstrain themselves—politically, militarily and even economically. The Kingdom cannot afford to get dragged deeper into a Yemeni quagmire it cannot stabilize on its own. This is especially true given the challenges the Kingdom is likely to face from historically low oil prices and exorbitant new financial commitments in an effort to stave off the Arab Spring," said Kenneth Pollack in his testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services.
"While the al-Houthi movement struggles to manage multiple regional challenges to its north, its rise to power in Yemen is a setback for Saudi Arabia on its southern flank. After the fall of the Yemeni government, Riyadh will have to capitalize on the al-Houthis' need for political and financial support to re-establish its influence in the country. But because Iran is trying to fill that support gap, too, Yemen has become another battleground where the two sectarian rivals will struggle against one another," writes Stratfor Global Intelligence. 

NSA Doesn’t Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets Wired

NSA Doesn’t Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets Wired
http://www.wired.com/2015/03/data-and-goliath-nsa-metadata-spying-your-secrets/

China Bank Blues Just Getting Started Wall Street Journal

China Bank Blues Just Getting Started Wall Street Journal
http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-bank-blues-just-getting-started-heard-on-the-street-1427283372

How Wall Street Used Swaps to Get Rich at the Expense of Cities

Posted: 25 Mar 2015 06:55 AM PDT
This post by Ed Walker provides a detailed description of how badly municipalities have been fleeced when they bought interest rate swaps from Wall Street as part of financings. It isn't simply that these borrowers were exploited, but that the degree of pilfering was so extreme that the financiers clearly knew they were dealing with rubes and took full advantage of the opportunity. But what is even more troubling than the fact set here is the failure of the overwhelming majority of abused borrowers to seek to recover their losses. Walker describes that multiple legal approaches lead you to the same general conclusion: the swaps provider, as opposed to the hapless city, should bear the brunt of the losses. So why haven't cities like Chicago, that have been hit hard by swaps losses, fought back? Walker does not speculate, but in the case of Rahm Emanuel, it's not hard to imagine that his deep ties to Big Finance are the reason.http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/getting-rich-expense-cities.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

The Retirement Crisis

Posted: 26 Mar 2015 03:00 AM PDT
This interview, with Teresa Ghilarducci, who the Wall Street Journal called "the most dangerous woman in America," discusses how and why pensions are under stress, and what can be done to fix them. While she agrees that the retirement crisis is real, she also argues that it is eminently fixable, particularly since there really is no free lunch. The alternative, of widespread poverty among the aged, also imposes costs on government and society.http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/retirement-crisis.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29