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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Sexual Assaults and Nuclear Missiles: What's the Matter With the Military?


Sexual Assaults and Nuclear Missiles: What's the Matter With the Military?
By Robert Reich
OpEdNews Op Eds 5/9/2013 at 10:33:18

After years of repeated reports of sexual assaults -- and years of promises to prevent them, and then years of studies and commissions to find the best way of doing so -- a Defense Department study released Tuesday estimates that some 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the last fiscal year, up from about 19,000 the year before.

Moreover, it turns out the Air Force lieutenant colonel in charge of preventing sexual assault has been arrested for ... sexual assault. According to the police report, a drunken Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski allegedly approached a woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Va. Sunday night, and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.

Why has it been so difficult for the Air Force or the Defense Department to remedy this problem?

Speaking of which, the Air Force has just removed from duty 17 launch officers at the Minot nuclear missile base in North Dakota -- one of three bases responsible for controlling, and, if necessary, launching, strategic nuclear missiles -- for violating weapons safety rules. The base commander characterized their negligence as "rot."
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri May 10, 2013, 08:14 AM (0 replies)

Karzai Says U.S. Bases Can Stay, Raising Some Eyebrows in West


President Hamid Karzai’s comments on Thursday may reflect a desire for a larger force than the United States is likely to commit.

Karzai Says U.S. Bases Can Stay, Raising Some Eyebrows in West
Published: May 9, 2013

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan is ready to let the United States and its allies keep military bases here after the end of the NATO combat mission next year, President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday, offering a concrete public signal that foreign troops would remain welcome in the coming years.

The United States and Afghanistan are negotiating a security agreement that would allow American forces to stay here beyond the end of 2014, and Mr. Karzai said the Obama administration had asked for nine bases spread across the country.

“We agree to give them these bases,” Mr. Karzai told students during a speech at Kabul University. “We consider our relations with the United States beyond 2014 to be positive for Afghanistan.”

The American reaction, though, was far less positive than one would expect. Officials characterized Mr. Karzai’s comments as premature at best, and said they appeared to reflect the Afghan government’s desire for a larger force than the United States is likely to be willing to commit.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri May 10, 2013, 08:05 AM (3 replies)

127 Reasons Why Reversing Citizens United is NOT Enough


127 Reasons Why Reversing Citizens United is NOT Enough
By Greg Coleridge
OpEdNews Op Eds 5/9/2013 at 21:22:50


That's the number of years corporations, artificial legal creations of government, have possessed inalienable rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The idea that corporations are "persons" with constitutional rights is a radical concept concocted by the Supreme Court based on a fraud 127 years ago -- 124 years before the Citizens United vs FEC Supreme Court decision in 2010. On May 10, 1886, the Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad decision established that a railroad corporation possessed equal protection "rights" identical to living human beings under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The 14th Amendment was a post-Civil War decision specifically intended to apply to freed slaves.

Santa Clara is often attributed as the pillar of all corporate rights cases, including Citizens United . Yet the Supreme Court never actually concluded that corporations were legal persons. Chief Justice Morrison Waite (from Ohio) said the case settled no constitutional issues. Nevertheless, that exact conclusion was placed by the Court Reporter in the "headnotes," or brief summary, at the beginning of the case. Many members of the Court at the time agreed with the sentiment that corporations were persons but the text itself did not actually address corporate personhood. The case only dealt with taxes on railroad fences.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri May 10, 2013, 07:57 AM (1 replies)

Drone Strikes Affecting Thousands in Pakistan, Fueling Hatred of U.S.


Drone Strikes Affecting Thousands in Pakistan, Fueling Hatred of U.S.
By Sherwood Ross
General News 5/8/2013 at 22:24:07

Far from drone attacks being "on a very tight leash," as President Obama claims, they have generated widespread terror as they disrupt civilian lives and activities, literally driving people mad, reliable authorities report.

According to an article in the UK Guardian, the Pakistani ambassador to the UN Zamir Akram charged that more than 1,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes. The use of drones, he said, "leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them." Other estimates put the Pakistan death toll from drone attacks as much higher---between 2,000 and 3,500 killed. Some "tight leash"!

Author Gregory Johnsen told McClatchy News Service the drones attacks in Yemen are "exacerbating and expanding" resistance. "We have seen AQAP (al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula) expanding from 200-300 fighters in 2009, when the U.S. bombing campaign began, to more than 1,000 fighters today." Johnsen is author of The Last Refuge, a new book on Yemen and al-Qaida.

And retired Marine General James Cartwright told The Nation magazine the drones cause anger, bitterness, and resentment among Muslim populations and predicted their use will cause "blowback" attacks against America.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri May 10, 2013, 07:44 AM (1 replies)

Sen. McCain Slams $2.5B Carrier Cost Increase; Navy Struggles To Fund SSBN-X, Destroyers


The $13 billion (this camper guesses this bad boy will cost around $40 billion) supercarrier USS Ford under construction in Newport News, Va.

Sen. McCain Slams $2.5B Carrier Cost Increase; Navy Struggles To Fund SSBN-X, Destroyers
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on May 08, 2013 at 1:22 PM

CAPITOL HILL: It’s been a rough 48 hours for the US Navy. Yesterday, the Littoral Combat Ship was battered by House appropriators and questioned by a leaked report. Today it was the Senate Armed Service seapower subcommittee’s turn to grill the Navy about its aircraft carrier and submarine programs. While the automatic 10-year budget cuts known as sequestration played a major role in the budget hearing — as always these days — what was particularly striking was how much long-term trouble the Navy’s shipbuilding plan is in even if the sequester does go away.

“We have a $2.5 billion cost overrun on an aircraft carrier,” fumed the inimitable Sen. John McCain. The Navy’s next-generation nuclear carrier, the CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford under construction at Huntingon-Ingalls’ Newport News shipyard in Virginia, is now estimated to cost almost $13 billion. “Newport News is the only game in town, nobody else builds aircraft carriers,” a visibly irate McCain continued, so how do you force them to cut costs when there’s no competition? “What can we do, what can we do, to prevent this kind of cost overrun which… is unacceptable when we have a terribly damaged economy?” he said.

“The cost growth on the CVN-78 is unacceptable,” agreed the Navy’s Assistant Secretary for procurement, Sean Stackley. “Far too much risk was carried over into the design of the Ford class,” he said, and the Navy’s working to make construction more efficient on both the Ford and the follow-on carrier, CVN-79 John F. Kennedy.

“I don’t think some of us would have voted for it if we had known” how high the costs would rise, McCain grumbled.

unhappycamper comment: “What can we do, what can we do, to prevent this kind of cost overrun which… is unacceptable when we have a terribly damaged economy?”

You really want to know what to do John? Really?

Answer #1: Tell us what the taxpayer's costs are for this brand new Ford-class aircraft carrier.
Answer #2: Don't buy them for $40 billion dollars.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 9, 2013, 10:18 AM (0 replies)

Air Force Crisis: Sex, Nukes And Leadership


Air Force Crisis: Sex, Nukes And Leadership
By Colin Clark on May 08, 2013 at 3:39 PM

WASHINGTON: The Air Force faces a crisis of leadership, a crisis of confidence, a crisis that must be addressed by whomever is nominated as the next secretary. The service is being battered by news story after news story.

Today we learned of the suspension of 17 nuclear launch officers.

The Associated Press broke the story. And they got their hands on an email from the Minot missile commander. “We are, in fact, in a crisis right now,” the commander, Lt. Col. Jay Folds, wrote in an internal email obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by the Air Force.

Add to that the Sunday arrest for sexual misconduct of the Air Force officer charged with preventing sexual assault and the service’s widely perceived institutional weakness when it comes to defining its mission and the service clearly faces a major crisis.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 9, 2013, 10:09 AM (0 replies)

LCS: Navy Pushes Back Against Criticisms


The $584 million dollar USS Freedom.

LCS: Navy Pushes Back Against Criticisms
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on May 08, 2013 at 5:30 PM

In a hastily convened conference call with journalists, the Navy pushed back today against recent congressional criticisms of its Littoral Combat Ship.

Yesterday, the LCS program took a 1-2 blow from BreakingDefense, which got a draft of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report questioning the Navy’s cost estimates to operate it. There was also one from Bloomberg, which had obtained an internal Navy study critiquing the new ship. The two articles drove awkward questions in the House and Senate. (We don’t know whether the two timely leaks were coincidence or a campaign to arm LCS critics for the hearings).


The report by Rear Adm. Samuel Perez that Bloomberg cited, for instance, dates to March 2012, as the Bloomberg article acknowledged, and parts of it have been reported before, although Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio appears to be the first reporter to get the entire document. Many — though not all — of that report’s concerns have been addressed, Hunt said. “[Those concerns] go back frankly a year ago,” he said. “It goes back, frankly to the reason the CNO created the Council… We’ve looked at that stuff, we’ve made adjustments.”

The draft GAO report obtained by BreakingDefense, likewise, criticizes a 2011 estimate of LCS “operations and support costs,” which according to GAO was 90 percent likely to be wrong. “I’m not sure where people come up with the specific percentages of reliability,” Hunt said, but “the program office continues to refine and update those things.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 9, 2013, 10:07 AM (1 replies)

Max Baucus, the Senator from K Street -- A Poster Boy for Campaign Finance Reform


Max Baucus, the Senator from K Street -- A Poster Boy for Campaign Finance Reform
Pearl Korn
Posted: 05/08/2013 12:52 pm

Soon-to-be retired Senator Max Baucus from Montana will long be remembered for his numerous sellouts to special interests at the expense of his own constituents and the nation, exemplified most recently by his being one of four "Democratic" Senators to vote against the Manchin-Toomey bill to expand background checks for gun purchases. He has served his paymasters year in and year out in his long Senate career, leaving little doubt in anyone's mind as to whom he really represents -- his nickname is the "Senator from K Street," and he alone carries that distinction.

We often forget the power of those we elect, especially to the Senate. If they hang around long enough -- Baucus has been reelected to six terms -- they often can become Chairs of Senate committees, as Baucus did when he became the Chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, despite representing a state with just over 1 million people -- less than 1/3 of 1 percent of the U.S. population. In Congress, elevation in the party bureaucracy is achieved primarily by tenure, allowing individuals like Max Baucus to rise to positions of incredible influence simply by hanging around long enough. Can you imagine any corporation functioning with a system of promotions from within based on length of tenure and not ability?

Two weeks ago, Baucus voted against those sensible background checks in the Manchin-Toomey bill that would have identified the mentally ill and criminals to prevent them from purchasing guns. Seventy-Nine percent of Baucus' own constituents who vote in Montana -- a gun carrying state -- support background checks. Yet Max and three other "Dems" voted against the legislation, along with Majority Senate Leader Harry Reid, who carries a B rating from the NRA. Reid did not cast a vote due to procedural issues, and said he will bring up the bill again later this year, but the pressure is growing to act sooner. The NRA achieved its victory in defeating this bill mainly through its legal bribery of 45 Senators who failed to do the right thing and vote for expanding background checks. The price tag was at least $8,165,490.00 paid into their campaigns, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Does this gross act alone not scream out as an example of the need for major campaign finance reform?

A few days after the vote, the flak came fast and furious from the public, directed mainly at Baucus and the three other Dems who helped scuttle this legislation. Baucus arrogantly announced he wasn't worried about ads against him, as they would not be aired in Montana. Then, just days later, he suddenly announced his retirement from the Senate at the end of his current term. He knew he was in for the fight of his political career, and so he decided to retire with a generous pension that we pay for. I say good riddance.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 9, 2013, 09:50 AM (0 replies)

Norman Solomon: Obama in Plunderland: Down the Corporate Rabbit Hole


Penny Pritzker, billionaire heiress to Hyatt Hotels, was nominated by President Obama for Commerce secretary in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden Thursday morning.

Obama in Plunderland: Down the Corporate Rabbit Hole
by Norman Solomon
Published on Thursday, May 9, 2013 by Common Dreams

The president’s new choices for Commerce secretary and FCC chair underscore how far down the rabbit hole his populist conceits have tumbled. Yet the Obama rhetoric about standing up for working people against “special interests” is as profuse as ever. Would you care for a spot of Kool-Aid at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?

Of course the Republican economic program is worse, and President Romney’s policies would have been even more corporate-driven. That doesn't in the slightest make acceptable what Obama is doing. His latest high-level appointments -- boosting corporate power and shafting the public -- are despicable.

To nominate Penny Pritzker for secretary of Commerce is to throw in the towel for any pretense of integrity that could pass a laugh test. Pritzker is “a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser,” the Chicago Tribune reported with notable understatement last week, adding: “She is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family. With a personal fortune estimated at $1.85 billion, Pritzker is listed by Forbes magazine among the 300 wealthiest Americans.”

A more blunt assessment came from journalist Dennis Bernstein: “Her pioneering sub-prime operations, out of Superior Bank in Chicago, specifically targeted poor and working class people of color across the country. She ended up crashing Superior for a billion-dollar cost to taxpayers, and creating a personal tragedy for the 1,400 people who lost their savings when the bank failed.” Pritzker, whose family controls Hyatt Regency Hotels, has a vile anti-union record.

Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 9, 2013, 08:54 AM (39 replies)

Addressing the Epidemic of Military Sexual Assault


Addressing the Epidemic of Military Sexual Assault
by Amy Goodman
Published on Thursday, May 9, 2013 by TruthDig.com

Rape is center stage this week after the dramatic rescue of three women from close to a decade of imprisonment in a house on a quiet street in Cleveland. The suspect, Ariel Castro, has been charged with kidnap and rape. These horrific allegations have shocked the nation, and demand a full investigation and a vigorous prosecution.

Also this week, the Pentagon released a shocking new report on rape and sexual assault in the U.S. military. According to the latest available figures, an estimated average of 70 sexual assaults are committed daily within the U.S. military, or 26,000 per year. The number of actually reported sexual assaults for the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2012 was 3,374. Of that number, only 190 were sent to a court-martial proceeding.

There is a growing epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the U.S. military, perpetrated against both women and men with almost complete impunity.

The situation blew up this week when the head of the U.S. Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was himself arrested for sexual assault. Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, 41, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a parking lot outside an Arlington, Va., strip club. This comes after a recent case where a senior military officer overturned the sexual assault court-martial conviction of an officer under his command. Air Force Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was accused of sexually assaulting Kimberly Hanks at the Aviano Air Base in Italy. He was found guilty by a military jury, and sentenced to one year in jail and dismissal from military service. His conviction was overturned by Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin. Adding insult to the reversal, Wilkerson was transferred to an Air Force base in Tucson, Ariz., where many of Hanks’ family members live. They were joined by close to 50 people outside the base, protesting the overturning of his conviction and his transfer to their town. They are asking for his sentence and dismissal to be reinstated, and for Franklin to be fired.

unhappycamper comment: I am ashamed by what the Army I served in 40 years ago is doing (or not doing) about rape.

It's time the military (in)justice system is reformed to insure military people who rape get jail time. Period. I cannot think of one reason why rape should not be prosecuted. None.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 9, 2013, 08:50 AM (2 replies)
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