"I just went along with it. I didn't protest."
Video posted by IBMeddling @ YouTube.
(Running time: 2m:44s)
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
[By Josephine Asher, ninemsn | Friday, 30 January, 2009.]
Michael G. Michael from the University of Wollongong's School of Information Systems and Technology, has coined the term "uberveillance" to describe the emerging trend of all-encompassing surveillance. "Uberveillance is not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out through a microchip that is embedded in our bodies," Dr. Michael told ninemsn.
Microchips are commonly implanted into animals to reveal identification details when scanned and similar devices have been used with Alzheimers patients. U.S. company VeriChip is already using implantable microchips, which store a 16-digit unique identification number, on humans for medical purposes. Another form of uberveillance is the use of bracelets worn by dangerous prisoners which use global positioning systems to pinpoint their movements.
But Dr. Michael said the technology behind uberveillance would eventually lead to a black box small enough to fit on a tiny microchip and implanted in our bodies. This could also allow someone to be located in an emergency or for the identification of corpses after a large scale disaster or terrorist attack. "This black box will then be a witness to our actual movements, words - perhaps even our thoughts - and play a similar role to the black box placed in an aircraft," he said.
He also predicted that microchip implants and their infrastructure could eliminate the need for e-passports, e-tags, and secure I.D. cards. "Microchipping I think will eventually become compulsory in the context of identification within the frame of national security," he said.
Although uberveillance was only in its early phases, Dr. Michael's wife, Katina Michael - a senior lecturer from U.O.W.'s School of Information Systems and Technology - said the ability to track and identify any individual was already possible. "Anyone with a mobile phone can be tracked to 15 meters now," she said, pointing out that most mobile phone handsets now contained G.P.S. receivers and radio frequency identification (R.F.I.D.) readers. "The worst scenario is the absolute loss of human rights," she said.
Wisconsin, North Dakota and four other states in the U.S. have already outlawed the use of enforced microchipping. "Australia hasn't got specific regulations addressing these applications," she said. "We need to address the potential for misuse by amending privacy laws to ensure personal data protection." (Full story here.)
Over the past five years, the Pentagon's public relations budget has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year.
[Associated Press | Thursday, 5 February, 2009.]
As it fights two wars, the Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law. An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.
This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations - almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department. "We have such a massive apparatus selling the military to us, it has become hard to ask questions about whether this is too much money or if it's bloated," says Sheldon Rampton, research director for the Committee on Media and Democracy, which tracks the military's media operations. "As the war has become less popular, they have felt they need to respond to that more." (Full story here.)
Funding will come from U.S. government rescue package.
[By Russ Dallen, Latin American Herald Tribune | Wednesday, 4 February, 2009.]
General Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market, said the beleaguered car maker. According to the president of G.M. Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government and will be used to "complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012." "It wouldn't be logical to withdraw the investment from where we're growing, and our goal is to protect investments in emerging markets," he said in a statement published by the business daily Gazeta Mercantil.
Meanwhile, he cut the company's revenue forecast for this year by 14% to $9.5 billion from $11 billion, as the economic crisis began to cause rapid slowdowns in sales. G.M. already announced three programs of paid leave, and Ardila added that G.M. Brazil "is going to wait and see how the market behaves in order to know what decision to take" with regard to possible layoffs.
For Ardila, the injection in Brazil's automobile sector of 8 billion reals ($3.51 billion) recently announced by the federal and state governments of Sao Paulo "has already begun to revive sales," which fell by 12% in October. The executive said that the company will operate a "conservative" scenario in 2009 with an estimated production of 2.6 million units, and another more "optimistic" that contemplates sales of 2.9 million. This year sales will reach 2.85 million vehicles, which represents a growth of 15% over last year. (Link.)
[Agence France-Presse | Monday, 9 February, 2009.]
The Dalai Lama on Monday became an honorary citizen of Rome as the city pledged its support for the Tibetan spiritual leader's non-violent struggle for the Chinese-ruled province's autonomy. "From now on you will be not just a prestigious guest but you will also be a Roman citizen," Mayor Gianni Alemanno told the Dalai Lama at a ceremony in the Italian capital. "Your presence here is a sign of our moral rejection of injustice, violence and repression ... aimed at defending a people's identity and the right of each of us to express our spirituality and culture," Alemanno said.
"We stand by you and strongly demand the full recognition of the autonomy of the Tibetan nation," the mayor said, presenting the Dalai Lama with a statue of the she-wolf that raised Rome's founders Romulus and Remus, according to legend. The honour "is for me additional encouragement to pursue my non-violent action and gives me the courage to continue to the death," the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate replied as he removed his white scarf and offered it to Alemanno. (Full story here.)
Monday, 9 February 2009
Obama's $1 Trillion Deficit-Spending Stimulus Plan Seen As Last Straw
[By Jerome R. Corsi, World Net Daily | Friday, 6 February, 2009.]
As the Obama administration attempts to push through Congress a nearly $1 trillion deficit spending plan that is weighted heavily toward advancing typically Democratic-supported social welfare programs, a rebellion against the growing dominance of federal control is beginning to spread at the state level. So far, eight states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington. Analysts expect that in addition, another 20 states may see similar measures introduced this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.
"What we are trying to do is to get the U.S. Congress out of the state's business," Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Randy Brogdon told W.N.D. "Congress is completely out of line spending trillions of dollars over the last 10 years putting the nation into a debt crisis like we've never seen before," Brogdon said, arguing that the Obama stimulus plan is the last straw taxing state patience in the brewing sovereignty dispute. This particular 111th Congress is the biggest bunch of over-reachers and underachievers we've ever had in Congress," he said. "A sixth-grader should realize you can't borrow money to pay off your debt, and that is the Obama administration's answer for a stimulus package," he added.
The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Tenth Amendment specifically provides, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The various sovereignty measures moving through state legislatures are designed to reassert state authority through a rollback of federal authority under the powers enumerated in the Constitution, with the states assuming the governance of the non-enumerated powers, as required by the Tenth Amendment.
The state sovereignty measures, aimed largely at the perceived fiscal irresponsibility of Congress in the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have gained momentum with the $1 trillion deficit-spending economic stimulus package the Obama administration is currently pushing through Congress. Particularly disturbing to many state legislators are the increasing number of "unfunded mandates" that have proliferated in social welfare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, in which bills passed by Congress dictate policy to the states without providing funding.
Anti-Real I.D. Movement 2008 (click to enlarge.)
In addition, the various state resolutions include discussion of a wide range of policy areas, including the regulation of firearms sales (Montana) and the demand to issue drivers licenses with technology to embed personal information under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Real I.D. Act (Michigan). Hawaii's measure calls for a new state constitutional convention to return self-governance, a complaint that traces back to the days it was a U.S. territory, prior to achieving statehood in 1959.
"We are trying to send a message to the federal government that the states are trying to reclaim their sovereignty," Republican Rep. Matt Shea, the lead sponsor of Washington's sovereignty resolution told W.N.D. "State sovereignty has been eroded in so many areas, it's hard to know where to start," he said. "There are a ton of federal mandates imposed on states, for instance, on education spending and welfare spending."
Shea said the Obama administration's economic stimulus package moving through Congress is a "perfect example." "In the state of Washington, we have increased state spending 33 percent in the last three years and hired 6,000 new state employees, often using federal mandates as an excuse to grow state government," he said. "We need to return government back down to the people, to keep government as close to the local people as possible." (Full story here.)
[By Kurt Nimmo, Infowars.com | Sunday, 8 February, 2009.]
On February 8, Karen DeYoung, writing for the C.I.A.’s favorite newspaper, the Washington Post, reported that “President Obama plans to order a sweeping overhaul of the National Security Council, expanding its membership and increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues.” According to national security adviser and former Marine commandant James L. Jones, the “world that we live in has changed so dramatically in this decade that organizations that were created to meet a certain set of criteria no longer are terribly useful.” Obama will issue a presidential directive that will “expand the N.S.C.’s reach far beyond the range of traditional foreign policy issues and turn it into a much more elastic body.”
So dangerous is the world now, according to the argument offered by Jones, the N.S.C .will apparently encompass “the Energy Department, Commerce Department and Treasury, all the law enforcement agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration, all of those things.” After Obama issues his directive, the N.S.C. will strive to “embrace a broader membership” and roll these government agencies into the National Security State, initially created in 1947 when Congress passed the National Security Act. In addition to the N.S.C., this legislation created the C.I.A. and institutionalized under the rubric of “national security” the justification for new weapons systems, huge military expenditures, and military interventions in the third world.
“National Security State institutions like the N.S.C. and C.I.A. are also dangerous because they greatly expand the power of the executive branch and thereby threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances,” writes Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer in his book, Brave New World Order. “The institutions that make up the National Security State apparatus are supposedly set up to defend national security and the integrity of the state. However, they often abuse power, violate national and international laws, and may actually erode the democracy they supposedly defend. Senate investigations led by Frank Church in 1975 detailed numerous illegal activities conducted by the C.I.A. against U.S. and foreign individuals and groups. The recent Iran-Contra scandal… offers frightening testimony to abuses of power by the National Security Council, including numerous violations of the U.S. Constitution.”
It appears the ruling elite will now expand these abuses of power and numerous violations of the U.S. Constitution far beyond the Defense Department and “a little bit of the State Department,” as Jones characterizes it. In one fell swoop, Obama may expand the reach of the Pentagon, the C.I.A., and the military-industrial complex president Eisenhower warned against in his 1961 farewell speech to the nation.
New N.S.C. directorates will deal with such department-spanning 21st-century issues as cybersecurity, energy, climate change, nation-building and infrastructure. Many of the functions of the Homeland Security Council, established as a separate White House entity by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, may be subsumed into the expanded N.S.C., although it is still undetermined whether elements of the H.S.C. will remain as a separate body within the White House.
In other words, with a stroke of Obama’s pen, the military and intelligence policy-making and control functions of the shadow government operating under cover of the N.S.C. — unanswerable to Congress or the American people — will dictate energy policy, computer network security, “climate change” mandates, national infrastructure, and the homeland security surveillance gird. (Full story here.)
[By Kurt Nimmo, Infowars.com | Sunday, 8 February, 2009.]
On February 6, the blog section of the White House website announced a recent executive order signed by Obama establishing the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “Instead of driving us apart, our very beliefs can bring us together,” Obama said on February 5 during the National Prayer Breakfast. “E pluribus unum, in other words,” the blog declared.
“Whether it’s connecting groups that are training people to do new jobs, or figuring out the role of faith-based organizations in combating global climate change, this office creates those partnerships in a way that’s responsible, constitutional, and - bottom line - helps those in need,” said Joshua DuBois, a Pentecostal pastor, social activist, and former campaign religious outreach director who was appointed to lead Obama’s faith-based initiative. Mr. DuBois is apparently unaware of what the father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, James Madison, had to say about such efforts.
On February 21, 1811, Madison argued against an effort by the House of Representatives to incorporate the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia. Madison objected to the bill because it exceeded “the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment…' Because the bill vests in the said incorporated church an authority to provide for the support of the poor and the education of poor children of the same, an authority which, being altogether superfluous if the provision is to be the result of pious charity, would be a precedent for giving to religious societies as such a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty.” (Emphasis added.)
In a more general sense, no matter how worthwhile an end may be, if there is no constitutional authority to pursue it, then the federal government must step aside and leave the matter to the states or to private parties, as Robert A. Levy notes. Obama’s executive order will extend by fiat to private religious organizations (see the list on the White House blog) the sort of “legal agency” Madison argued violates the spirit and letter of the Constitution. The job of “training people to do new jobs” or “combating global climate change” are not federal functions enumerated in the Constitution.
Obama’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has nothing to do with jobs or climate change. It is simply another heavy-handed effort to insert the federal government in the lives of the American people.
Ronald Reagan may have betrayed the ideals of liberty and small government he claimed to profess, but he did say something that is particularly relevant to Obama’s latest effort to have the feds meddle in our lives: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” (Link.)
Video posted by whitehouse @ YouTube.
(Running time: 4m:01s)
Palestinians have reacted with shock and disapprobation at Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal's proposal to create a new organization to replace the P.L.O. It seems that the citizens of Palestine are finally beginning to realize that Hamas, a creation of Israel, has long been conspiring with their Zionist occupiers to kill their dream of a Palestinian state and to hold the Palestinian people in bondage. Meshaal is a traitor to the Palestinian people and as the journalist in the video observed, "Hamas' policies are being paid for with oil money and the blood of the children of Gaza."
(Video running time: 5m:43s)
* Euthanasia * Partial-Birth Abortion * Hitler * Doublethink *(*...Keep On Rockin')
The Alex Jones Show: Infowars.com
Friday, 6 February 2009
In January, more soldiers committed suicide than died in combat.
[By Barbara Starr and Mike Mount, CNN | Thursday, 5 February, 2009.]
One week after the U.S. Army announced record suicide rates among its soldiers last year, the service is worried about a spike in possible suicides in the new year. The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone - six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday.
The Army said it already has confirmed seven suicides, with 17 additional cases pending that it believes investigators will confirm as suicides for January. If those prove true, more soldiers will have killed themselves than died in combat last month. According to Pentagon statistics, there were 16 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq in January. "This is terrifying," an Army official said. "We do not know what is going on."
Col. Kathy Platoni, chief clinical psychologist for the Army Reserve and National Guard, said that the long, cold months of winter could be a major contributor to the January spike. "There is more hopelessness and helplessness because everything is so dreary and cold," she said. But Platoni said she sees the multiple deployments, stigma associated with seeking treatment and the excessive use of anti-depressants as ongoing concerns for mental-health professionals who work with soldiers.
Those who are seeking mental-health care often have their treatment disrupted by deployments. Deployed soldiers also have to deal with the stress of separations from families. "When people are apart you have infidelity, financial problems, substance abuse and child behavioral problems," Platoni said. "The more deployments, the more it is exacerbated."
Platoni also said that while the military has made a lot of headway in training leaders on how to deal with soldiers who may be suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, "there is still a huge problem with leadership who shame them when they seek treatment." The anti-depressants prescribed to soldiers can have side effects that include suicidal thoughts. Those side effects reportedly are more common in people 18 to 24. (Full story here.)
"Hope is flickering," A.C.L.U. declares.
[By John Byrne, Raw Story | Wednesday, 4 February, 2009.]
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has generally been harshly critical of President George W. Bush and praiseworthy of President Barack Obama, has fired a torpedo across the Obama bow.
After the British High Court ruled that evidence of a British resident's rendition and harsh interrogation at the Pentagon's Guantanamo Bay prison must remain secret because of threats made by the Bush administration to halt intelligence sharing, the Obama Administration offered a terse statement seemingly expressing support to the B.H.C.
"The United States thanks the U.K. government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens," a spokesman said.
In response, the A.C.L.U.'s executive director, Anthony Romero, shot off a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking the Obama Administration to clarify their position. Romero also issued a sharply-worded three sentence statement to the press, saying Obama has now offered "more of the same."
"Hope is flickering," Romero said in a statement. "The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."
The A.C.L.U.called on Clinton to "reject the Bush administration's policy of using false claims of national security to avoid judicial review of controversial programs."
Binyam Mohamed, former British Guantánamo detaineee.
Romero's letter to Clinton follows:
February 4, 2009
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Re: Clarification Requested on Position of the United States on Blocking Disclosure by a British Court of Its Report on Allegations of Torture
Dear Secretary Clinton:
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly urges you to clarify the position of the United States on the publication of the full judgment in a lawsuit brought by a Guantanamo detainee, Binyam Mohamed, in a British court. Earlier today, the High Court in Great Britain published a judgment denying publication of its report detailing allegations of torture. The High Court stated that the United States had threatened that full publication of the court's judgment would jeopardize intelligence cooperation between the two countries. Remarkably, the court reported that the British government claimed the U.S. position had not changed, despite the inauguration of President Barack Obama. We urgently request that you clarify the position of the United States in this matter.
Two of the British justices severely criticized the position of the United States in working to block publication of the judgment in the torture case. Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones stated today that: Indeed, we did not consider that a democracy [the United States] governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be. We had no reason... to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would reconsider its intelligence-sharing relationship, when all the considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing a limited but important summary of the reports.
The court's opinion specifically stated that attorneys for British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the court that the United States' threat on the effect of publication on intelligence cooperation was continued by the United States, despite the inauguration of President Obama.
Specifically, the justices stated that, "it was submitted to us by Mr. David Rose that the situation had changed significantly following the election of President Obama who was avowedly determined to eschew torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and to close Guantanamo Bay. We have, however, been informed by counsel for the Foreign Secretary that the position has not changed."
The claims made by the British justices that the United States continues to oppose publication of the judgment in the Binyam Mohamed case - to the point of threatening the future of U.S.-British intelligence cooperation - seems completely at odds with both the anti-torture and transparency executive orders signed by the President. We strongly urge you to clarify the position of the United States and remove any threat related to the publication of the court's full judgment.
Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this matter.
Anthony D. Romero
Director, Washington Legislative Office
cc: Joan Donoghue, Acting Legal Adviser
[By Catherine Jacob, Sky News | Friday, 30 January, 2009.]
Homeowners may soon get a surprise as councils plan to send "energy police" into suburbs to test their heat insulation. At least 25 councils are planning to use heat detector vans to take thermal images of homes, in a bid to encourage residents to become more energy efficient.
The vans creep along at 10mph, unbeknown to those indoors, and survey a thousand homes an hour. The result is a thermo image of each house, pinpointing the heat escaping from leaky doors, windows, walls and lofts.
There are concerns that residents' privacy may be infringed by the scheme, which is operated by the company Heatseekers.
But their director Keith Hewitson has told Sky News Online these claims are unfounded. He said: "It is purely and simply a heat seeking camera. "It can't penetrate brick work and it can't penetrate glass."
The images work by highlighting cool areas of a house in blues and greens and the warmer temperatures in whites, reds, yellows and oranges. Once the houses are photographed, images are given to homeowners to show them where energy is being wasted. (Full story here.)
Thursday, 5 February 2009
[By John F. Harris, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, Politico | Wednesday, 4 February, 2009.]
Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed. In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects. And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the country at risk in ways more severe than most Americans - and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team - understand.
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said. Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.” Citing intelligence reports, Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration - “that’s about 11 or 12 percent” - have “gone back into the business of being terrorists.”
The 200 or so inmates still there, he claimed, are “the hard core” whose “recidivism rate would be much higher.” (Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have strongly disputed the recidivism figures, asserting that the Pentagon data have inconsistencies and omissions.) Cheney called Guantanamo a “first-class program,” and “a necessary facility” that is operated legally and with better food and treatment than the jails in inmates' native countries. But he said he worried that “instead of sitting down and carefully evaluating the policies,” Obama officials are unwisely following “campaign rhetoric” and preparing to release terrorism suspects or afford them legal protections granted to more conventional defendants in crime cases.
The choice, he alleged, reflects a naive mindset among the new team in Washington: “The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.” The dire portrait Cheney painted of the country’s security situation was made even grimmer by his comments agreeing with analysts who believe this recession may be a once-in-a-century disaster. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Cheney said. “The combination of the financial crisis that started last year, coupled now with, obviously, a major recession, I think we’re a long way from having solved these problems.” (Full story here.)
The C.I.A.'s controversial prisoner-transfer program is actually set to expand under the new administration. What is Cheney worried about? Obama is Bush on steroids.
[By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times | Sunday, 1 February, 2009.]
Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the C.I.A. 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. Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism - aside from Predator missile strikes - for taking suspected terrorists off the street.
The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the C.I.A., and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured. The European Parliament condemned renditions as "an illegal instrument used by the United States." Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the C.I.A. as well as a Boeing Co. subsidiary accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.
But the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration's war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard. "Obviously you need to preserve some tools - you still have to go after the bad guys," said an Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing the legal reasoning. "The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice." (Full story here.)
White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, has openly defied Barack Obama in a meeting with members of Congress and is looking more like the de facto President with each passing day.
[By Mark Leibovich, New York Times | Saturday, 24 January, 2009.]
Early this month, Barack Obama was meeting with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other lawmakers when Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, began nervously cracking a knuckle. Mr. Obama then turned to complain to Mr. Emanuel about his noisy habit. At which point, Mr. Emanuel held the offending knuckle up to Mr. Obama’s left ear and, like an annoying little brother, snapped off a few special cracks. The episode, confirmed by Mr. Emanuel’s office, underscores some essential truths about Mr. Emanuel: He is brash, has a deep comfort level with his new boss, and has been ever-present at Mr. Obama’s side of late, in meetings, on podiums and in photographs.
There he was, standing at President Obama’s desk in one of the first Oval Office pictures; and again, playfully thumbing his nose at his former House colleagues during the inauguration; there he was, accompanying the president to a meeting with Congressional leaders on Friday. Mr. Emanuel is arguably the second most powerful man in the country and, just a few days into his tenure, already one of the highest-profile chiefs of staff in recent memory. He starred in his own Mad magazine cartoon, won the “Your New Obama Hottie” contest on Gawker.com and has become something of a paparazzi icon around Washington.
In recent months, he has played a crucial role in the selection and courtship of nearly every cabinet member and key White House staff member. Renowned as a fierce partisan, he has been an ardent ambassador to Republicans, including Mr. Obama’s defeated rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona. He has exerted influence on countless decisions; in meetings, administration officials say, Mr. Obama often allows him to speak first and last. “You can see how he listens and reacts to Rahm,” said Ron Klain, the chief of staff to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “You can see that his opinion is being shaped.” (Full story here.)
[By Todd Harrison, Wall Street Journal | Wednesday, 28 January, 2009.]
Thomas Jefferson once said: "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." As the global financial system pushes on a string, investors are desperately trying to hold tight. The New World Order is upon us, full of hope, promise and a fair amount of fear. In our recent discussion regarding the direction of our country, we noted the risks of catering to conventional wisdom and the implications for the U.S. dollar.
In 2006, it seemed counterintuitive to forecast a "prolonged socioeconomic malaise entirely more depressing than a recession." For years, the notion of an "invisible hand" was conspiracy theory until we learned that the Working Group on Financial Markets was a central policy tool. And now, as we gaze across our historically significant horizon, we must open our minds to thoughts and ideas that may seem foreign to folks conditioned by the past and stunned by the present.
Years ago, the Federal Reserve wrote a "solution paper" regarding the need to combat zero-bound interest rates. The concern was the flight of capital from the U.S. and an option discussed was a two-tiered currency, one for U.S citizens and one for foreigners. Canadian economist Herbert Grubel first introduced a potential manifestation of this concept in 1999. The North American Currency - called the Amero in select circles - would effectively comingle the Canadian dollar, U.S. dollar and Mexican peso.
On its face, while difficult to imagine, it makes intuitive sense. The ability to combine Canadian natural resources, American ingenuity and cheap Mexican labor would allow North America to compete better on a global stage. Experience has taught us, however, that perceived solutions introduced by policy makers and politicians don't always have the desired effect. (Full editorial here.)
Now that is a change!
[By Philippe Naughton, Times Online | Thursday, 22 January, 2009.]
He's sorted out the legalities, but could Barack Obama have made the first political mistake of his presidency? After constitutional law experts questioned the validity of his swearing-in because of a fluffed line in the oath of office, Mr. Obama moved quickly to quash speculation that his presidency was in any way illegitimate. John Roberts, the Chief Justice charged who helped bungle the oath on Tuesday, was summoned to the White House and, in front of a small pool of reporters, Mr. Obama carefully and accurately repeated the 35-word oath prescribed by Article 2 of the Constitution. The problem was, no-one thought to bring a Bible and Mr Obama decided to go ahead without one.
Legally, that was fine – the Constitution makes no mention of the Bible. Politically, it may prove to be a problem. Mr. Obama's likely reaction in the event of a backlash will be that he did not consider last night's oath to be the one that counts. The White House counsel, Greg Craig, said last night that the Administration believed that Mr. Obama was "sworn in appropriately" on Tuesday. "Yet the oath appears in the Constitution itself and out of the abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath a second time," he added.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama was sworn in with his left hand on the Bible used by his great political hero, Abraham Lincoln, on his first inauguration in 1861. That book was returned to the Library of Congress straight afterwards. It is not clear whether Mr. Roberts, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, had been expected to bring a Bible with him but it might come as a shock to some of Mr. Obama's more devout supporters – he and his family are regular churchgoers – that no Bible was available last night and the ceremony went ahead without one. (Full story here.)