28 November 2010


" … If those professing religion shared the life of the poor and worked to better their lot, and risked their lives as revolutionists do, and trade union organizers have done in the past, then there is a ring of truth about the promises of the glory to come. The cross is followed by the resurrection."
- Dorothy Day

WikiLeaks Docs Released: US Urged Spying on UN, Arab Leaders Secretly Called for Strike Against Iran 28NOV10

MORE on the Wikileaks leaks, and just how pathetic governments and diplomats are, how junior high school they can be, and how dangerously evil they can be too......Again, I think this is a good thing......

U.S. embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis for the U.S.
The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.
At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables - many of which are designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN's leadership.
These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistlebowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.
These include a major shift in relations between China and North Korea, Pakistan's growing instability and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.
Among scores of other disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail:
• Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme
• Alleged links between the Russian government and organised crime.
• Devastating criticism of the UK's military operations in Afghanistan.
• Claims of inappropriate behaviour by a member of the British royal family.
The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from serious political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.
The cache of cables contains specific allegations of corruption and against foreign leaders, as well as harsh criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, from tiny islands in the Caribbean to China and Russia.
The material includes a reference to Vladimir Putin as an "alpha-dog", Hamid Karzai as being "driven by paranoia" and Angela Merkel allegedly "avoids risk and is rarely creative". There is also a comparison between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.
The cables name countries involved in financing terror groups, and describe a near "environmental disaster" last year over a rogue shipment of enriched uranium. They disclose technical details of secret US-Russian nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva, and include a profile of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who they say is accompanied everywhere by a "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse.
The cables cover secretary of state Hillary Clinton's activities under the Obama administration, as well as thousands of files from the George Bush presidency. Clinton personally led frantic damage limitation this weekend as Washington prepared foreign governments for the revelations. She contacted leaders in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, France and Afghanistan.
US ambassadors in other capitals were instructed to brief their hosts in advance of the release of unflattering pen-portraits or nakedly frank accounts of transactions with the US which they had thought would be kept quiet. Washington now faces a difficult task in convincing contacts around the world that any future conversations will remain confidential.
"We are all bracing for what may be coming and condemn WikiLeaks for the release of classified material," state department spokesman PJ Crowley said. "It will place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible."
The state department's legal adviser has written to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his London lawyer, warning that the cables were obtained illegally and that publication would place at risk "the lives of countless innocent individuals … ongoing military operations … and cooperation between countries".
The electronic archive of embassy dispatches from around the world was allegedly downloaded by a US soldier earlier this year and passed to WikiLeaks. Assange made them available to the Guardian and four other newspapers: the New York Times, Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and El País in Spain. All five plan to publish extracts from the most significant cables, but have decided neither to "dump" the entire dataset into the public domain, nor to publish names that would endanger innocent individuals. WikiLeaks says that, contrary to the state department's fears, it also initially intends to post only limited cable extracts, and to redact identities.
The cables published today reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.
Classified "human intelligence directives" issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA.
The most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top UN officials and their staff and details of "private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys".
When the Guardian put this allegation to Crowley, the state department spokesman said: "Let me assure you: our diplomats are just that, diplomats. They do not engage in intelligence activities. They represent our country around the world, maintain open and transparent contact with other governments as well as public and private figures, and report home. That's what diplomats have done for hundreds of years."
The dispatches also shed light on older diplomatic issues. One cable, for example, reveals, that Nelson Mandela was "furious" when a top adviser stopped him meeting Margaret Thatcher shortly after his release from prison to explain why the ANC objected to her policy of "constructive engagement" with the apartheid regime. "We understand Mandela was keen for a Thatcher meeting but that [appointments secretary Zwelakhe] Sisulu argued successfully against it," according to the cable. It continues: "Mandela has on several occasions expressed his eagerness for an early meeting with Thatcher to express the ANC's objections to her policy. We were consequently surprised when the meeting didn't materialise on his mid-April visit to London and suspected that ANC hardliners had nixed Mandela's plans."
The US embassy cables are marked "Sipdis" – secret internet protocol distribution. They were compiled as part of a programme under which selected dispatches, considered moderately secret but suitable for sharing with other agencies, would be automatically loaded on to secure embassy websites, and linked with the military's Siprnet internet system.
They are classified at various levels up to "SECRET NOFORN" [no foreigners]. More than 11,000 are marked secret, while around 9,000 of the cables are marked noforn. The embassies which sent most cables were Ankara, Baghdad, Amman, Kuwait and Tokyo.
More than 3 million US government personnel and soldiers, many extremely junior, are cleared to have potential access to this material, even though the cables contain the identities of foreign informants, often sensitive contacts in dictatorial regimes. Some are marked "protect" or "strictly protect".
Last spring, 22-year-old intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was charged with leaking many of these cables, along with a gun-camera video of an Apache helicopter crew mistakenly killing two Reuters news agency employees in Baghdad in 2007, which was subsequently posted by WikiLeaks. Manning is facing a court martial.
In July and October WikiLeaks also published thousands of leaked military reports from Afghanistan and Iraq. These were made available for analysis beforehand to the Guardian, along with Der Spiegel and the New York Times.
A former hacker, Adrian Lamo, who reported Manning to the US authorities, said the soldier had told him in chat messages that the cables revealed "how the first world exploits the third, in detail".
He also said, according to Lamo, that Clinton "and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available in searchable format to the public … everywhere there's a US post … there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed".
Asked why such sensitive material was posted on a network accessible to thousands of government employees, the state department spokesman told the Guardian: "The 9/11 attacks and their aftermath revealed gaps in intra-governmental information sharing. Since the attacks of 9/11, the US government has taken significant steps to facilitate information sharing. These efforts were focused on giving diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence specialists quicker and easier access to more data to more effectively do their jobs."
He added: "We have been taking aggressive action in recent weeks and months to enhance the security of our systems and to prevent the leak of information."

WikiLeaks Release Reveals Ugly Side Of Diplomacy & WikiLeaks Releases Cache Of U.S. Diplomatic Cables 28NOV10

MAYBE if the government was honest in their dealings with our allies and our enemies there would be less tension. AND maybe if people in the diplomatic corps weren't so juvenile Sec Clinton and others at the State Dept wouldn't be scrambling doing damage control. All in all I think this is a good thing, after all, the secrecy of the past decade hasn't created a safer world, especially in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf regions, and it hasn't protected us or our allies from terrorism attacks. We are tangled up in failed policies and bad alliances mostly to protect the profit margins of the U.S. military industrial complex. Let's see what a bit of transparency will do.....maybe it will level the playing field a bit, maybe bring a bit of much needed attention to world players who are not doing their share for the benefit of mankind and maybe expose those who are doing more harm than good but have been protected by the secrecy of ill-advised alliances....I think Wikileaks is doing us all a favor.....
WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents, has made good on its promise to release a huge cache of confidential American diplomatic cables. The documents dump, which includes a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the U.S. State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates, pulls back the curtain on the sometimes messy business of diplomacy.
"By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement Sunday. "It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions. Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions ... and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world."
WikiLeaks, in addition to making the cables available online, used an intermediary to provide them early to The New York Times, the German magazine Der Spigel and Britain's Guardian newspaper weeks ago for release Sunday. The WikiLeaks website appears to have been intermittently shut down Sunday.
A Generation Of American Diplomacy
Taken together, the quarter-million documents released Sunday span more than a generation of American diplomacy. Dating as far back as 1966 to the latest cable written as recently as this past February, the documents outline, among other things, a standoff over nuclear fuel transfers between the U.S. and Pakistan in 2007; a scenario for a reunited Korea should the North Korean government fall; and round-the-clock efforts on the part of the Obama administration to rein in Iran's nuclear program and Iran's effort to dominate the Middle East — all issues on the front burner of U.S. foreign policy today.
On the subject of Iran, the cables track Washington's view of Iran's three-pronged strategy to emerge as the most powerful force in the Middle East. Diplomats assume that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons capability and missile systems; that it wants regional hegemony across the Middle East; and that the leadership there represented a growing danger to Israel.
The cables also make clear that without an embassy in Tehran and very limited American presence inside the country, the U.S. has a dearth of first-hand intelligence of what is going on there, the news organizations who saw the cables reported.
According to one cable, William Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state, finds a sympathetic hearing about Iran in a less expected quarter when he visits Baku, the capital of one of Iran's closest neighbors, Azerbaijan, in February 2010.
According to a confidential account of a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijan president tells Burns "that although the visible side of Azerbaijan's relations with Iran appears normal", the substance was very different. "I do not exclude that relations will be become more difficult," he added. Aliyev tells Burns that Tehran was "financing radical Islamic groups and Hezbollah terrorists." Aliyev also said, according to the cable, that the situation was "very tense within Iran and believed it could erupt at any time."
Recent Cables
The cables also detail recent meetings with the Yemeni president after U.S. strikes in his country against alleged terrorists. President Ali Abdullah Saleh says that he will tell the Yemeni parliament that the bombs that fell were Yemeni, not American ones. He jokes about smuggling in his country and says that he's concerned about drugs and weapons, but doesn't object to "good whiskey" being smuggled in. He's the ruler of a conservative Muslim country.
The released cables also talk about Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. American officials met with him in late 2009 and early 2010. U.S. diplomats made clear in their cables that they don't trust him. In the middle of a cable back to Washington, they put in the following: "Note: While we must deal with AWK as the head of the Provincial Council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker."
Another cable reads: Mr. Karzai "demonstrated that he will dissemble when it suits his needs." It says he clearly did not appear to "understand the level of our knowledge of his activities. We will need to monitor his activity closely, and deliver a recurring, transparent message to him about the limits of American tolerance."
The concern is if he didn't know the level of American surveillance before, he knows it now — thanks to the release of these dispatches.
Unflattering Comments
Even the less sensitive areas outlined in the cables will have the State Department scrambling to make amends to leaders who were never supposed to hear the unvarnished comments passed between American diplomats.
The German chancellor is referred to as Angela "Teflon" Merkel. Karzai is said to be "driven by paranoia." North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is said to suffer from epilepsy. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's full-time nurse is called a "hot blond." That's part of the reason why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top State Department officials around the world have been on the phones calling foreign leaders to prepare them for the disclosures.
On Sunday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman condemned the "reckless disclosure" of the documents. In a statement, he outlined steps the Defense Department has taken to prevent further leaks, including changing the way classified material is moved to unclassified systems.
Just how WikiLeaks got these cables and two other caches of secret U.S. documents is still a matter of debate. The belief is that an Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning may have been behind the leak. He allegedly told a computer hacker named Adrian Lamo that he had downloaded the documents and delivered them to WikiLeaks. Lamo reported Manning to federal authorities, and Manning has been charged with illegally leaking classified information. He faces a possible court-martial and, if convicted, a lengthy prison term.

WikiLeaks Documents Sent Via Siprnet

WikiLeaks Releases Cache Of U.S. Diplomatic Cables


It's Chapter 3 of the WikiLeaks saga: The whistle-blower website released a quarter-million confidential U.S. diplomatic cables on Sunday. The dispatches cover a range of topics, from the serious — Arab leaders urging the U.S. to bomb Iran; to the silly — Libyan leader Muammar Gaddhafi's penchant for horse racing. NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen has been reading the cables, and she fills in guest host Audie Cornish about the highlights.

27 November 2010

Former Republican Sen. Warns GOP May ‘Have Gone So Far Overboard That We Are Beyond Redemption’ from THINKPROGRESS 27NOV10

REALIZATION of the monster they have created is finally sinking in with some in the gop.....and their fear of not being able to control the tea-baggers and their corporate masters will be the gop's undoing unless they completely renounce and reject their irrational "platform" for the nation....from ThinkProgress..
In an age when far-right tea party activists have taken over the Republican Party and demanded lockstep allegiance, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) has been one of the few GOP lawmakers to step out of line. In particular, Lugar, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has blasted his own party for relentlessly blocking ratification of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, calling on his fellow GOP senators to “do your duty for your country” and complete the pact.
Not surprisingly, this insubordination has earned Lugar significant scorn within the Republican base, which now seems to value blind obedience over principled independent decision-making. In a New York Times profile of Lugar published today, former GOP Sen. John Danforth feared that the backlash against Lugar from his own party signals that the GOP has gone “far overboard” with no hope of turning back:
“If Dick Lugar,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
Mr. Danforth, who was first elected the same year as Mr. Lugar, added, “I’m glad Lugar’s there and I’m not.”
Danforth’s fears are not unfounded. Lugar, who is up for reelection in 2012, has already been targeted by tea party groups. “If I was Dick Lugar, I would certainly expect a challenge,” noted veteran political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. As Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party, told the Times, removing Lugar “will be a difficult challenge. But we do believe it’s doable, and we think the climate is right for it and we believe it is a must.”
Indeed, asked about a potential tea party challenge motivated by his breaks with the GOP on START and other issues, Lugar suggested the party has drifted to the right while he has stayed steady, saying, “These are just areas where I’ve had stances for a long time.”

25 November 2010


UPDATE on the campaign against mountaintop removal mining and the keystone tar sands pipeline and the battle to protect polar bears, and a link to the timeline of NRDC environmental victories.....

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Across the Cumberland Plateau, mountaintop removal mining is laying waste to some of the richest forest lands of the southern Appalachians. In this extreme form of strip mining, entire mountaintops are blown off to reach the coal beneath, and the resulting mining waste is typically dumped into valley streams -- either burying them or contaminating them with toxic materials. The situation has become so dire that the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office for West Virginia recently recommended the rare step of "vetoing" the permit for one such mine: the Spruce 1 mine, which would bury more than seven miles of streams and demolish more than 2,000 acres of forest. The veto would halt the mine, located near Logan, WV, and prevent further water contamination in local communities. Now more than ever, the EPA is facing big pressure from Big Coal to ignore the science on mountaintop mining. Please let the agency know that you support its efforts to stop this horrendous practice.

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CraneA few months ago, we called on you to write to President Obama and oppose plans for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The proposed 2,000-mile pipeline would bring polluting tar sands oil from downstream of Canada's Peace-Athabasca Delta across eight states and to the Gulf Coast, paving the way for additional mining and drilling in Canada's boreal forest. The dirty business of tar sands oil development has already contaminated rivers and lakes in northeastern Alberta, where millions of birds nest every year. More than 32,000 of you responded to our call to action. Now, the State Department -- the agency responsible for reviewing and approving the pipeline -- is giving serious consideration to the project, even though the draft analysis fails to address a host of environmental and public health problems.

» Urge Secretary of State Clinton to say NO to the tar sands pipeline.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the Interior Department to reconsider one of its rationales for not providing polar bears the highest level of protection under the Endangered Species Act when it listed polar bears as "threatened" in 2008. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit from NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace. Polar bears are increasingly threatened by global warming, which is rapidly shrinking their sea ice habitat. The Interior Department must respond to the judge's ruling by December 23rd, after which the case will continue. We'll be sure to keep you updated on the next phase of our fight to save polar bears from extinction.

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saplingAs part of our Revive a Rainforest campaign, our local partner has made great progress restoring a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Read the latest progress report here. Thanks to all our BioGems Defenders who supported the campaign and helped make it possible!
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A sobering reminder of the sacrifice made by those who choose to protect us, and for whom we should give thanks...Check out the link
Just before he was murdered, police officer Timothy Brenton was doing what he did best: teaching a rookie how to serve and protect the Seattle community.

The two officers were sitting in their patrol car and discussing a routine traffic stop when, according to the police, Christopher Monfort pulled alongside and opened fire.  Rookie officer Britt Sweeney was wounded, and Timothy Brenton died instantly.

Monfort bought the rifle that killed Officer Brenton from an illegal gun trafficker who repeatedly sold guns to violent criminals at gun shows – no background check, no questions asked.1 

All across the country, states with lax gun laws are seeing their police officers pay the price.  It’s time to protect the men and women who put their lives on the line for us.

Visit to find out how tough your state is on illegal guns and spread the word about the urgent need to close these deadly loopholes.
How tough is your state on illegal guns?  Find out now at
As part of their groundbreaking investigation The Hidden Life of Guns, the Washington Post has tried to track down the firearms used in the 511 fatal shootings of U.S. law enforcement officials since January of 2000.2

Only two-thirds of the guns could be traced, and the findings on them were bleak.

More than 200 of the shooters owned their guns illegally. In fact, 45 were on probation or parole and at least four had been previously convicted of murder or manslaughter.  And 16 times, the killer used a “straw purchaser” to get their gun for them -- yet fewer than half of these straw buyers have ever faced prosecution.

The facts are clear: too many police officers die each year because state laws aren’t tough enough to keep criminals from getting guns.  These brave men and women deserve better.

See if your state has laws in place to protect your community from illegal guns:

There’s no excuse for more police officers to lose their lives to illegal guns.  Let’s make sure our state lawmakers get serious about gun crime.

Thanks for keeping our communities safe,

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

1 Feds arrest gun dealer..., Seattle Times, November 19, 2010. Article available here.
2 Guns used to kill police officers, The Washington Post, November 21, 2010.  Article available here.


SEA SHEPHERD is finalizing preparations for OPERATION NO COMPROMISE, their whale protection campaign in the Southern Ocean. Read about their plans as well as updates on other campaigns and issues.

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There's still so much to do! December 3rd - our updated planned departure date for Operation No Compromise - is just around the corner and your support is extremely vital in these moments leading up to the start of this year's Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign.

We have three vessels and courageous crewmembers who have skills, experience, and the conviction to take on this daring and pivotal expedition. Now we just need you to help get us there and keep our ships at sea!
Because Neptune's Navy Never Compromises
Operation No Compromise logoLast season, we saved more whales than the Japanese whalers were able to kill. This season, we will once again be able to track and intervene against the poachers for the entire season. Our goal is to shut down whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary permanently.

You can be a part of our efforts! Please check out all the happenings on our new Operation No Compromise website and send your support today.
Japan Censors Tourists from Tuna Auctions
From December 1 to January 22, if you are a tourist in Japan you will not be allowed to attend or view the Tsukiji fish market's tuna auctions!

The bluefin tuna is heading towards extinction and this translates into increasing demand in Japan. Tourists are being barred from the tuna auctions to ensure that all auction activities can be conducted smoothly. Sound fishy? Read more...

dead tuna at Tsukiji fish market

Cove Guardians - Keeping Watch Over the Dolphins of Taiji
Updates from the Cove are posted daily! Recent postings include details about the hypocrisy of the dolphin training association (IMATA), the merciless killing methods of the Japanese, and how the weather and dolphin intelligence can be accredited for many kill-free days.

You can stay up-to-date with all the latest news from the Cove by reading daily updates, complete with photos and videos, from our Sea Shepherd representatives, the Cove Guardians, who are on the ground right now keeping watch over the dolphins.
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We have no qualms about how tough this next campaign will be. We are going up against ruthless killers who have no respect for the gentle giants of the sea - the whales - or the place that is internationally recognized as their sanctuary - the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

No matter the challenges we face or the setbacks we endure, one thing is certain - we will not rest until whaling ends. No compromises. Please support our actions to defend and conserve ocean wildlife worldwide. Thank-you!

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