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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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08 December 2010

What the Hell Century is This?! Stop the Carnage!!!

by: Anna Van Z

Goddamn, this is just so wrong on every level! There is NO EXCUSE - NONE - for this heinous butchery! And don't you wonder, as you do with horrific crimes against humanity, who are the "people" that are capable of committing these atrocities? Who are the defectives that can club to death defenseless baby seals, for example? (Undoubtedly Sarah Palin, for one). These are the kind of mutants I don't want to even be on the same planet with, let alone patronize or have any sort of dealings with.

Greenpeace says that "the Japanese whaling fleet is steaming towards the Southern Ocean to begin their annual whale slaughter. Their planned death "quota" this season: nearly 1,000 minke whales, 50 humpback whales, and 50 endangered fin whales." I'll spare you the video segments I have.

During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama said, "As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including the international moratorium on commercial whaling." Three more whaling seasons have come and gone since Obama spoke those words, and no change has been made. (Gee, now that's a surprise!)

Anyway, it goes without saying that we need to raise our voices in a loud howl of outrage, NOW. Boycott all goods and foods from Japan, and let their embassy know it (and Iceland and Norway while you're at it). And please consider making a donation, whatever you can afford, to Greenpeace, or the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

These are intelligent, highly developed mammals, with families, social groups, and language. This is absolutely monstrous and must be ENDED NOW!! There is no humane way to kill a whale.

Whether or not you can swing a donation, you can take action now, today. Please visit the IFAW page here for simple actions you can take, including calling the White House Comment line, and urging your representative to co-sponsor the Whale Conservation and Protection Act.

The whales need you, need us, to speak for them. Don't wait, do something today!

Our so-called advanced species, most of which fancy themselves the very pinnacle of creation, continue to butcher, maim, destroy every other species on the planet, and are destroying the very planet itself. Consumed by greed, ignorance, and self-centered delusions of entitlement, humans seem too stupid to grasp what many indigenous peoples knew long ago: What we do to the earth and her beings, we do to ourselves. We are destroying the world, and every day more species are doomed to extinction. The butchery of whales is just another example of the greed of a few destroying what's precious and irreplaceable for everyone on the planet.
29 August 2010

Information Entitlement Doctrine of Barack Obama

by: Dark Wraith

President Obama, Secret Agent Man

The Justice Department has just secured indictment against yet another federal employee for leaking secret information to the press. This makes at least four individuals in short order that federal prosecutors have sought to imprison for disclosing what the government thinks the American people have no right to know. The latest target in this aggressive campaign by the Obama Administration is Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who allegedly told a reporter that the CIA had determined that another round of sanctions against North Korea might trigger the regime in Pyongyang to conduct a third nuclear weapons test.

According to the Associated Press, the 43-year-old Mr. Kim was a State Department contractor in the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation from the middle of 2008 until September of last year. Mr. Kim penned the introduction to Korea and the United States through War and Peace, 1945-1960, by Henry Chung (Seoul: Yonsei University Press, ©2000), and authored Master of Manipulation (Seoul: Yonsei University Press, ©2001), among other activities establishing at least some credentials of knowledge about intelligence activities on the Korean Peninsula.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General David S. Kris blustered that the indictment against Kim would "...serve as a warning" to would-be leakers of government secrets.

Perhaps the indictment will also serve as a warning to those still thinking that Barack Obama is something other than the latest fist of authoritarianism. The list of formally accused includes at least one soldier, PFC Bradley Manning, who delivered devastating combat video and documentation to Wikileaks, a Swedish organization founded by Julian Assange, who is beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. In their frustration at not being able to use American law to wreck Mr. Assange, a Swedish tabloid seems to have been the tool by which elements in the American government attempted to humiliate and discredit him with a claim in June that he was being investigated for two separate sex crimes. Unfortunately for the disinformation specialists, a day after the sleazy story was plastered across the headlines, Sweden's chief prosecutor summarily and publicly declared that Mr. Assange was no longer wanted on any such charges.

That failed operation aside, the U.S. has still obtained indictments against Americans who are alleged to have leaked classified information, including one against Bush-era National Security Agency executive Thomas A. Drake, who disclosed to a reporter at the Baltimore Sun embarrassing information about staggering cost overruns, mismanagement, and other problems at the NSA, particularly in a massive construction overhaul of the nation's signal intelligence infrastructure.

While the Obama Administration's law enforcement instrumentalities have adamantly refused to indict even one principal of the Bush Administration programs that crafted, implemented, oversaw, concealed, and cynically justified under color of legal counsel the systematic torture of detainees in violation of both American statutory law and international treaty obligations, the current top officials at DoJ are militating to imprison a resolutely up-standing, long-time member of the national security community who disclosed outrageous failures that cost the American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and delayed the implementation of modernization of the nation's antiquated intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Returning to the latest individual caught up in the government's ramped-up efforts to cork the flow of information the Obama Administration deems secret, U.S. Attorney Kris went on in his press conference about the indictment of Steve Kim to assert, "The willful disclosure of classified information to those not entitled to it is a serious crime."

The timeline of circumstances surrounding the document Mr. Kim leaked to the press is interesting, if not downright telling, about how President Barack Obama and his inner circle of advisers conduct foreign policy and manage information in multilateral negotiations.

After North Korea carried out its second test of a nuclear device in late May 2009 (a test considerably more successful than its first several years earlier), the Obama Administration swiftly and publicly took a lead in spearheading work on a new set of multi-nation sanctions against Pyongyang, ruled by the reclusive and rather odd Kim Jong-il, son of the equally reclusive and rather odd former strong man Kim Il-sun.

Like his father, Kim Jong-il is so resilient to outside pressures that he has let his own people go through one mass starvation after another rather than capitulate to demands from the international community on matters of nuclear non-proliferation. The best hope of getting any traction with sanctions against North Korea would not be through the toughness of the punishment so much as with the endorsement of the punishment by China, the only nation to which Kim Jong-il will even marginally listen, given China's cross-border trade with and stream of welfare to North Korea.

Apparently, at the same time Obama was conducting this very public, multi-nation campaign to further economically isolate Pyongyang, his own intelligence community had produced an information product that assessed a good likelihood that those very sanctions Obama and his foreign policy advisers wanted would have the highly undesirable effect of spurring the Pyongyang regime to test yet another nuclear device. Each such test is costly to North Korea in terms of weapons-grade nuclear fuel spent but also extraordinarily valuable in terms of wide-ranging technical know-how in nuclear bomb construction.

Obama's negotiators were whipping up international support for new sanctions against North Korea at the same time the Central Intelligence Agency was reporting its judgment that those sanctions would probably induce the Pyongyang regime to test another nuke: presidential diplomacy on the public stage to construct a concert of nations imposing sanctions on a rogue state, while that president's own, presumably trusted, analysts were back stage advising in a written document that success of the public diplomacy could backfire at 180 degrees to intended effect.

Then, throwing a monkey wrench into this interesting situation, federal contractor Steve Kim, on assignment to the State Department from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, leaked the classified report to a journalist, unnamed in the indictment against Kim but probably a reporter at Fox News. According to an updated Reuters release, somewhat unclear in its connection to the pending criminal case, Mr. Kim had also "...briefed former Vice President Dick Cheney and other top U.S. officials." Whether this was during the Bush Administration or after is not stated in the Reuters update.

On June 12, 2009, the United Nations passed Resolution 1874, which imposed sanctions against North Korea cumulative to those in Resolution 1718 of 2006, the latter resolution punishing the Pyongyang regime for its nuclear bomb test in May 2009, the former for its first bomb test.

North Korea has not tested a nuclear device since the one in the late Spring of last year. At the close of 2009, the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a South Korean government think tank, issued its 2010 outlook, in which defense analysts found "a high possibility" that North Korea would conduct its third nuclear bomb test during 2010, in part to strengthen the Pyongyang regime during the anticipated transition of power to the son of Kim Jong-il, and in part to bolster its case that the nations of the world should accept North Korea as a legitimate nuclear state.

The U.S. issued no criticism of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses for its December 2009 public report, which directly discussed North Korea and which essentially paralleled in its findings the prior, secret CIA document leaked to the press without directly naming North Korea.

Notwithstanding claims by the State and Justice Departments that Stephen Kim compromised sources and endangered national security, it would at least appear that the difference between the U.S. government's outrage over the leak by Kim and the later, open report published by South Korea was that the Obama Administration had, in the second instance, already achieved its objective of securing the desired United Nations resolution in the context of a written American intelligence community conclusion that success at the UN against North Korea would be short lived and counterproductive.

It is quite likely that during the run-up to the UN vote on Resolution 1874, most nations with even marginally capable intelligence analysis capabilities had come to the same conclusion about the risk of new sanctions against Pyongyang, which means the Obama Administration seems to share the view of the previous regime in Washington that, given a choice, secrecy is preferable to transparency, regardless of its value to national security. Assistant Attorney General Kris put it succinctly: "...disclosure of classified information to those not entitled to it."

Label it "classified," and thereby make it an entitlement.

As the Central Intelligence Agency puts it, "Information is the most dangerous weapon of all."

In the view of a succession of diverse American rulers, including the current President, information is not a right of a free people, but is, instead, an entitlement, one reserved for those who must ensure that freedom is not taken literally by the governed.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

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20 August 2009

Tax Scam, Loophole Gramm and Uncle Sam

by: Foiled Goil

In U. S. negotiations regarding UBS, Switzerland has now agreed to release the names of several thousand U. S. tax evaders:
In February 2009, UBS and the US entered into a settlement agreement wherein UBS paid $780 million in fines and turned over 255 names of Americans who had committed tax fraud. Since then, the IRS has been battling UBS for the additional 52,000 names of evading taxpayers, but Switzerland told UBS that it would violate Swiss privacy rules if it turned the names over. Switzerland apparently felt that this demand so threatened its bank industry that it took over the negotiations with the US from UBS. At least 10 other Swiss and European banks have been identified as having held some of US tax evader funds and whether they too were engaged in wrongdoing will likely be pursued by the IRS.

Last week, the US and Switzerland reached an agreement under which Switzerland has agreed that UBS will disclose an estimated 4,450 names of Americans who evaded tax with its help and about 10,000 accounts.

Former congressional advocate of deregulation and later a top executive at UBS, Phil Gramm, who blocked legislative attempts on cracking down on offshore tax havens, could also find himself caught up in this investigation:
Given the widespread involvement of UBS in what the Justice Department alleges were systematic efforts to violate U.S. tax laws, it must be asked: Did Gramm as a top executive have no inkling about what was going on? [snip]

He joined UBS soon after the bank acquired Enron, a company that had gone bankrupt after jumping through the "Enron loophole" in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which Gramm had pushed though Congress. Gramm's wife, Wendy, had been an Enron board member and head of its audit committee but failed to sound the alarm before the Houston-based company collapsed. Then UBS itself ran into big trouble because of $37 billion in bad mortgage debt made possible by derivatives market deregulation engineered by then-Sen. Gramm. U.S. taxpayers have had to pony up money to heal UBS' self-inflicted wound. But the bank's involvement with tens of thousands of secret accounts tied to allegations of tax evasion raises starker issues--of possible criminal fraud through practices that Gramm as a senator helped keep opaque. [snip]

Was Gramm truly unaware of the widespread efforts at UBS to defraud the U.S. Treasury? Did extreme ideologically driven naiveté lead him to believe that the bank would never engage in such chicanery? In the past he was the first to deny any hint of business naiveté and indeed defended his being hired by a bank that benefited from his legislation. Deflecting any suggestion of a conflict of interests, Gramm told a reporter: "You know, there is something to be said for not hiring people who just came in off a turnip truck. I have always believed that when I left the Senate that I would go into financial services as something that I know something about."

As of Wednesday, it appears that both countries can declare a sort of victory in the settlement:
The basics of the deal are as follows. The U.S. will drop its “John Doe” summons that looked for the names of as many as 52,000 Americans with accounts at UBS. This had prompted the Swiss to threaten that they would seize UBS’s data rather than accede to what they saw as a fishing expedition that they said would break Swiss law.

The Americans now say they were never looking for so many accounts, which would include many law-abiding citizens.

Instead, the Swiss will hand over details of 4,450 (the Americans say it could be more than 5,000) accounts of Americans at UBS. The bank, which is the world’s second-largest wealth manager, will write to affected account-holders urging them to take part in an American tax amnesty, if appropriate.

The Americans gain twice over. First, the affected account-holders will, unless they are stupid, cough up any outstanding tax before the amnesty expires on Sept 23. Anyone with accounts at other foreign banks is also likely to put their affairs in order before Uncle Sam forces them to. [snip]

For the Swiss, the chief attraction of this deal is that it allows them to claim that bank secrecy is upheld. After all, they already had agreements in place allowing an exchange of information in the case of suspected tax fraud.

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08 July 2009

G8 Countries Secretly Trying to Kick Out Italy, For Sucking

by: Anna Van Z

Italy was a pretty important country or whatever about 2,000 years ago, but since then it's gradually deflated to its current status as a wacky do-nothing ice-cream colony of back hair and male capri pants and trash and rats. Pompey was lucky to die when he did! Now the person running this ancient land-phallus is a naked orange clown who spends all of his time ringleading orgies with young non-wife girls or fiddling around with the roster of the soccer team he randomly owns. Which is great for him! But unfortunately for this Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, he signed Italy up as the host of tomorrow's latest G8 conference a while back without realizing that he and his minions would have to "do preparation stuff" in advance, so they just did nothing, and now "Washington" is trying to kick this embarrassing pizza-bagel of a country out of its Rich Nations Club once and for all.

Ha ha look at these nerds with their terms, terms like "sherpa calls," which are basically "catty conference calls behind lazy Italy's back."

Preparations for Wednesday's G8 summit in the Italian mountain town of L'Aquila have been so chaotic there is growing pressure from other member states to have Italy expelled from the group, according to senior western officials.

In the last few weeks before the summit, and in the absence of any substantive initiatives on the agenda, the US has taken control. Washington has organised "sherpa calls" (conference calls among senior officials) in a last-ditch bid to inject purpose into the meeting.

"For another country to organise the sherpa calls is just unprecedented. It's a nuclear option," said one senior G8 member state official. "The Italians have been just awful. There have been no processes and no planning."

"The G8 is a club, and clubs have membership dues. Italy has not been paying them," said a European official involved in the summit preparations.

And isn’t Italy allied with the Nazis, too?
Original here.
22 June 2009

The Curtain Drawn, the Revolution Begun

by: Dark Wraith

V for Victory

cthalupa: RT from Iran - all foreign satellite tv news has been stopped in Iran - they think a blinded man cannot see in the darkness - #Iranelection - 06/21/09-4:37:pm:Tehran

· · ·
13 March 2009

CALLING THE DARK WRAITH......From Online Asia Times: Wen puts US honor on the debt line

by: Jersey Cynic


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, faced with growing concern that United States efforts to stem the financial crisis will hit the value of China's vast holdings of US debt, used the world's press on Friday to demand that the US honor its promises.

Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of a two-week meeting of the country's legislators that he was "a little bit worried" about the safety of Chinese assets in the US, and called on the US "to maintain its good credit, to honor its promises and to guarantee the safety of China's assets." He also reiterated that other countries had no right to push China into appreciating its currency, the yuan.

.....Pauline Loong, senior vice president in charge of China policy and risk research at CIMB-GK Securities (HK) Ltd, said she did not think China would dump its dollar holdings .

"The fact that Premier Wen talks about being worried about the value of the country's dollar holdings is a good sign. If he is going to dump the dollar, he is not going to talk about it," she said.

So....just ask and ye shall receive?

Where do you think this is leading?

Is this just a "play nice before the shit storm hits" request from China?
24 January 2009

war crimes

by: astraea

The media fast reduced all talk of the on-going invasion to diversion, asking "What would you do if you were Israel?" and the fatuous "What would California do if Mexico lobbed rockets at it from over its borders?" Now we're all left to actually deal with real actions and facts, the long history that hinges on one truth:
there is no peace or closure without justice.

11 August 2008

For Sak'art'velo

by: Dark Wraith

Republic of Georgia Freedom Victory

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