Blog Archive | journalist | Accuracy.Org

News Conference: Edward Snowden’s Passport, Political Asylum and Related Issues

March 25, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley and Norman Solomon spoke at this news conference, sponsored by RootsAction.org and hosted by the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was one of four American whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, who met with Snowden in Russia on October 9 to present him with an award for integrity in intelligence.

Coleen Rowley — a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq.

Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, a U.S. organization sponsoring a pair of petitions about Snowden. The petitions, with a combined total of 100,000 signers, were scheduled for presentation at the State Department and the Justice Department the morning after the news conference.

The petitions in support of Edward Snowden can be signed at RootsAction.org.

See: “Snowden Speaks on Obama Reforms As Supporters Call for End of His Persecution

What We Should be Talking About: Romney’s Foreign Policy Advisers

John Kennedy used to say, “Domestic policy can hurt us; foreign policy can kill us.”

But despite the fact that lives (American, allied, and civilian) continue to be lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel is blustering about attacking Iran before the US election (in order to drag in a reluctant Obama administration), much more time will be given to domestic policy rantings then foreign policy. In the 2000 election, there was very little debate about foreign policy, though anyone who looked closely might have guessed that Bush’s foreign policy advisors (who called themselves “the vulcans,” and had complex and long-standing links to groups and think tanks pressing for war on Iraq, would undertake that project at the slightest provocation.

This year, with less excuse (given the large deficit and two ongoing military operations), we have had very little discussion in the media about Romney’s foreign policy advisors. Yet, they are a far more coherent group of militarists than the Bush team.

[Read more...]

Dying to Live in Mexico

Cuernavaca, Mexico — In 2011, some 12,000 people were murdered in situations presumably related to the drug trafficking industry in Mexico. In 2010, the number was more than 15,000 killed. Between December 2006, when Felipe Calderón of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) took office and declared a “war on drug traffickers” and January 2012, depending on the source, some 47,000 to 60,000 people have been slain, and some 5,000 disappeared. This grim fact has become the centerpiece of Mexican politics and an inescapable force in daily life throughout much of the country.

But neither the number of people killed nor the cruelty of the killings can be understood without simultaneously taking account of another pair of figures. First, Calderón has repeatedly said that more than 90 percent of those killed were involved in “the struggle of some cartels against others.” Calderón does not cite a source for this estimate. The underlying logic, however, is clear: if you’re dead, you’re guilty. The perennial official refrain is “en algo andaba,” or, they were up to something; they were in the game. [Read more...]

THE PAYROLL TAX CUT: Talk about a Ponzi Scheme!

By Gwendolyn Mink

Is President Obama trying to kill Social Security without explicitly saying so? He put Social Security “on the table” for consideration by his Deficit Commission — even though Social Security has not contributed to creating or sustaining the deficit/debt in the first place. He kept Social Security on the table when he made a deal to delegate deficit reduction authority over entitlements to an undemocratic Super Committee. Now, in a speech reportedly about jobs, he proposed to extend and increase the ill-considered FICA tax cut he embraced last December — a tax cut that directly undermines the financial integrity of Social Security.

According to the White House Fact Sheet on “The American Jobs Act” the FICA tax holiday for workers will be increased to a 50% reduction, lowering it to 3.1%. Under the 2010 tax deal, the payroll tax for workers was reduced from 6.2% to 4.2%. In addition to expanding the tax cut for workers, the President proposes to extend the FICA tax holiday to employers by cutting in half the employer’s share of the payroll tax through the first $5 million in payroll. [Read more...]

Stop the Cuts to the Social Safety Net!

Medicaid cuts will injure communities of color disproportionately. 11 percent of Asian Americans, 14 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, 27 percent of Latinos, and 27 percent of African Americans gain access to health care through Medicaid.

Medicaid cuts will injure women disproportionately. Women account for 70 percent of Medicaid participants.

Social Security is survival income for many older women, especially older single women. Fifty percent of women over age 65 rely on Social Security for 80 percent or more of their income. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: Unmarried women living alone aged 65 and older are three times more likely to be living in poverty than married women aged 65 and older (16.6 percent compared with 4.8 percent). Without Social Security benefits, more than two-thirds of these unmarried women would live in poverty. [Read more...]

Fires Near Los Alamos Nuclear Facility

The forests surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory have burned and are certain to burn again with some regularity, whether from lightning or human causes.  If too many trees are allowed to remain near laboratory facilities, those too will sooner or later burn, despite everyone’s best efforts.

We are not as yet very concerned about radioactive or toxic materials being caught up in the present fire because we do not see, at present, much possibility of uncontrollable fire reaching any of those hazards.  There are not many trees near some of the most conspicuous hazards, such as the main nuclear waste storage site, and these wastes are not highly combustible in their present form.  The same considerations apply to buildings that contain nuclear materials — they are not very combustible.  We assume a reasonable degree of competence on the part of highly-trained firefighters involved, and sufficiency of equipment.

The reappearance of very high winds could complicate matters, however, as could the potential presence of unadmitted hazards in unknown locations.  A few laboratory areas do contain volatile soil contamination.

Much about Los Alamos is a de facto secret even whether or not the subject is classified.  This information deficit — the trust deficit that goes with it — create problems for firefighters as well as for the rest of us. [Read more...]

Case Against Cutting Social Security

The case against cutting Social Security is strong.

· Social Security benefits are modest by any measure and are already being cut – by raising the age of eligibility for full benefits and by deducting ever-rising Medicare premiums from benefit checks.

· The cuts already in law add up to a19 percent reduction for people born in 1960 and later, see the National Academy of Social Insurance report, “Social Security Beneficiaries Face 19 Percent Cut; New Revenue Can Restore Balance.”

· Cutting benefits further could undermine much of what Social Security has achieved and expose millions of vulnerable people – elderly and disabled – to unnecessary hardship.

· Benefits are vital to nearly all recipients: about a third of elderly recipients reply on benefits for 90 percent  or more of their income; two-thirds count on it to supply at least half their income. The program lifts nearly 20 million Americans out of poverty, including 1 million children. [Read more...]

Samantha Power, Libya, and Selective Memory of Genocide

Edward HermanIt might seem a bit surprising to see Samantha Power on the National Security Council and working with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who Power famously called a “monster” during the 2008 presidential campaign. But this was a heat-of-battle bit of name-calling, not a designation based on any difference in outlook. Both women are hardliners, along with their colleague Susan Rice, and the three together have constituted a regrettable women’s caucus in favor of a military solution to the conflict in Libya.

In her 2002 book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Power called for greater U.S. intervention to prevent major human rights violations and genocide. She never suggests that this might require LESS intervention (e.g., Vietnam; the “sanctions of mass destruction” in Iraq) or reduced support for killers (e.g., Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Israel). She also finds that we inappropriately “just stood by” and failed to intervene in cases where we actually gave positive support to the mass murderers (e.g., Indonesia in East Timor; Kagame and Musaveni in Rwanda and the Congo)

But while ignoring U.S. and client state bloodbaths Power did focus with great passion on genocides or alleged genocides carried out by U.S. targets. This huge bias carried her to the Carr Center for Human Rights and a professorship at Harvard, a Pulitzer Prize, generous media access, and now to a high level position in the administration of the Nobel Peace Prize president. It all fits!

For more information see the following piece, an excerpt of an article which originally appeared  ZNET [Read more...]

Low-Income Women Pushed to the Sidelines

Low-income women have been invisible in budget deliberations thus far – yet they will be injured disproportionately by cuts to income programs like Social Security and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF], as well by cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Food Stamps.

Despite the prolonged recession, income assistance to low-income families has shriveled over the past decade, providing help to less than 40 percent of families who meet TANF criteria and to an even smaller fraction (27 percent) of all families in actual need. For those who do receive benefits, the cash value has eroded so badly that TANF cash assistance does not bring a family up to the poverty line in any state. [Read more...]

Trumka Questioned on Wisconsin, Two-Party System, Journalism and Obama

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, stopped by the National Press Club this afternoon. Trumka underlined the need for economic equality in a 30 minute address before fielding questions submitted by the audience and selected by NPC President Mark Hamrick.

Hamrick asked variations of three questions submitted by IPA. Here’s a transcript of those exchanges:

Building on Wisconsin:
Hamrick: So back to your speech, someone asked, “What is your game plan to spread the spirit of the Wisconsin protest to other parts of the country?’”
Trumka: We’re out there every day, educating and mobilizing. And it’s not just in Wisconsin. We have cross-pollinated Wisconsin people with Ohio people, with Missouri, with Tennessee, with Indiana. We’ve gone all over the country. And people are mobilized. And it’s not just union people, it’s working people in general. Small business people are out there supporting us. Non-union workers are out there supporting us because they think these people have gone too far in trying to pay back their rich donors by destroying the rights of workers out there. So we’re taking that message everywhere. We’re seeing it take effect. And apparently, we’re doing something right, because guys like Scott Walker, his ratings in his own state have fallen like a big rock in a small pond. They think he’s going too far. [Read more...]