The Italian Senate has voted to expel ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament with immediate effect over his conviction for tax fraud. ● Berlusconi, who has dominated politics for 20 years, could now face arrest over other criminal cases as he has lost his immunity from prosecution. He told supporters in Rome it was a "day of mourning" for democracy. Ahead of the vote, he vowed to remain in politics to lead his Forza Italia in a "fight for the good of Italy". A defiant Berlusconi told supporters gathered outside his Rome residence that "no political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through". He said: "It is a bitter day, a day of mourning."
Senator's tough stance against Wall Street is attracting voters on the left who are disenchanted with the party establishment. ● Not many political "rock stars" inspire audience members to knit, but, even by Washington's sedate standards, the darling of America's new left is a quiet revolutionary. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard professor turned Wall Street scourge, is one of a clutch of unlikely radicals giving hope to those disenchanted with mainstream Democrats. Hours before a rare public appearance last week, one of the largest rooms in Congress begins slowly filling up with an odd mix of groupies: policy wonks, finance geeks, Occupy activists, and, yes, the type of political conference attendee who brings their knitting in. Warren proceeds to calmly recite numbers that could inspire even librarians to storm a few barricades. The Wall Street crash has cost the US economy $14tn, she says, but its top institutions are 30% larger than before, own half the country's bank assets and are in receipt of an implicit taxpayer subsidy of $83bn a year because they are deemed too big to fail.
US President Barack Obama's popularity has hit an all-time low, with a majority of Americans now saying he is dishonest, untrustworthy and not competent to govern, according to a new national poll. ● Overall, only 39 percent of Americans now approve of the job President Obama is doing, his lowest approval rating ever registered by the respected Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Fifty-four percent, meanwhile, disapprove of his performance. Voters in every age and income bracket view his performance negatively, with senior citizens giving him a particularly low 36 percent approval mark. The biggest group to abandon the presidential ship was women voters, with his overall approval rating dropping to 40 percent. Fifty-one percent, on the other hand, disapprove of his performance. Also for the first time, only 44 percent of Americans now view Obama as trustworthy and honest, while 52 percent say he’s not; the first time a majority of Americans have doubted his credibility. He also slumped on efficacy marks, with 53 percent of Americans now saying his administration is not competently running the government, while 43 percent retain faith in his ability to govern. President Obama's lowest score before the polling results were released on Tuesday was a 55 - 41 percent disapproval in an October 2011 survey. "Any Democrat with an 11-point approval deficit among women is in trouble. And any elected official with an 8-point trust deficit is in serious trouble," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
A new survey has indicated that an overwhelming majority of Americans are not happy with the way things are going in Washington amid the US government shutdown. ● The poll conducted by CBS News said that nearly nine in 10 Americans are unhappy, including 43 percent who are angry. Seventy-two percent of respondents disapprove of how congressional Republicans are handling the budget talks, while 61 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress. According to the poll, about 70 percent of Americans said they think the priority for Congress should be to get the government running again, rather than trying to block Obama’s healthcare law from taking effect. There are no signs of compromise between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the issue as the first government shutdown in 17 years drags on.
On backdrop of reports of progress made in negotiations with Palestinians, prominent religious Zionist rabbis call on public to say special prayer 'for wholeness of the land.' ● Prominent religious Zionist rabbis are calling on the public to say a special prayer "for the wholeness of the land," on the backdrop of reports of progress made in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and "the growing pressure on the prime minister to agree to additional withdrawals, Heaven forbid." In a "manifesto" issued by right-wing rabbis and national-religious yeshiva heads, they order worshippers to add to the Amidah prayer, which is said three times a day on weekdays, a segment written by the late former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu against the plan to "tear our ancestral land."
Redress: Israel’s “men of God” pray for failure of peace talks ■ Israel’s rabbis, the advocates and guardians of Judaism, are asking God to prevent peace from descending on the Holy Land. The Israeli news website Ynet reports that, upon hearing rumours that Israel might relinquish tiny bits of the land it has stolen from the indigenous Palestinians, Israeli rabbis and heads of religious schools known as yeshiva issued a manifesto ordering worshippers to add to the amidah prayer, which is said three times a day on weekdays, a special prayer calling on God to kill the prospects of peace with the Palestinians. According to Ynet, “The collective call to add a segment on the most important part of the morning, afternoon and evening prayer is not a conventional thing. It is usually done only at real times of crisis, like during drought.” However, the “drought” on this occasion is the prospect of peace, slim as it is. So, rather than worry about Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons, the world had better turn its attention to the time bomb of bigotry that is ticking inside the Middle East’s only nuclear power, the apartheid state of Israel. And with the rabbis urging their flock to pray not for love but for the death of peace, the international community had better move fast.
Jerusalem Post: Overwhelming Israeli support of Gaza op
A tiny wealthy male elite is behind most of the biggest contributions to the 2012 election cycle in the US, a new study shows. The report comes as US Supreme Court considers whether it should strip a ceiling on political donations. In a case the Supreme Court will begin hearing next Thursday, Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy donor backed by the Republican National Committee, is challenging this aggregate limit on how much an individual may donate overall to candidates, parties and political action committees (PACs) over an election cycle.
Experts 95 per cent certain 'humans are responsible for global warming'. Well, of course they are. If there is one overriding prerequisite of every new IPCC Assessment report, it's to sound even more scary and urgent and certain than its predecessor. Professor Bob Carter noted this progression in his excellent book Climate: the Counter Consensus:
● First Assessment Report (1990) – "The observed [twentieth century] temperature increase could be largely due…to natural variability."
● Second Assessment Report (1996) – "The balance of the evidence suggests a discernible human influence on climate."
● Third Assessment Report (2001) – "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last fifty years is attributable to human activities."
● Fourth Assessment Report (2007) – "Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid-twentieth century is very likely [= 90 per cent probable] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
The irony is, of course, that the third, fourth and fifth assessment reports were all produced in a period of rising CO2 levels in which there has been no "global warming" whatsoever. You'd imagine that, had the scientific method been more highly valued by the IPCC, this rather glaring flaw in AGW theory might have been afforded more prominence. But this is not the IPCC Assessment Reports' job. As Christopher Booker and others have often noted, the IPCC's reports are essentially political artefacts rather than scientific ones. This is why some governments – including Germany's and Belgium's – have been manoeuvring behind the scenes to have the new IPCC report "sexed up".
Jason Liosatos speaks to Dr Paul Craig Roberts, former head of policy at the Department of Treasury under Ronald Reagan, and editor of the Wall Street Journal. They talk about the casino like financial system and the destructive addiction of profit and control by those running it. Paul outlines the consequences we could be facing if it continues its disastrous trajectory without vision or wisdom, and helps us understand where it all went wrong and why. They discuss Syria, as the Iraq deja vu, as it becomes obvious our governments are openly lying and will do virtually anything to push forward their hegemonic intentions worldwide, regardless of the damage to the population or the planet. Paul Craig Roberts on AWIP
World's top climate scientists told to 'cover up' the fact that the Earth's temperature hasn't risen for the last 15 years
Leaked United Nations report reveals the world's temperature hasn't risen for the last 15 years. Politicians fear the findings will encourage deniers of man-made climate change.
● Scientists working on the most authoritative study on climate change were urged to cover up the fact that the world’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years, it is claimed.
● A leaked copy of a United Nations report, compiled by hundreds of scientists, shows politicians in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the United States raised concerns about the final draft. Published next week, it is expected to address the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures have not yet exceeded it, which scientists have so far struggled to explain. The report is the result of six years’ work by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is seen as the world authority on the extent of climate change and what is causing it – on which governments including Britain’s base their green policies.
● But leaked documents seen by the Associated Press, yesterday revealed deep concerns among politicians about a lack of global warming over the past few years. Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries. Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change. Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat - and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upward-pointing curve. The United States delegation even weighed in, urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more heat being absorbed by the Ocean...
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has conceded defeat in the federal elections, paving the way for conservative leader, Tony Abbott, to become the next Australian premier. ● Speaking to his supporters at a party function in Brisbane, Rudd conceded defeat and announced that he would not recontest the leadership of the Labor Party. "I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed," Rudd told his supporters in the capital of Queensland State and the third populous city of Australia. However, Rudd added that he was proud he had helped preserve Labor as a "viable fighting force" for the future. The remarks come after voters punished the Labor government by giving conservative opposition candidate Tony Abbot’s Liberal-National coalition a sweeping victory in the parliamentary vote.
Leading members of the US Congress have moved quickly to declare their support for President Barack Obama’s proposed resolution enabling the use of force against Syria. ● The move to get a congressional authorization is aimed at providing a fig-leaf of legitimacy to a unpopular war that is based on lies. In this way it is similar to the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force, which became the rationale for sweeping military attacks and domestic repression. In fact, the administration is seeking the resolution in part because it is planning a major military operation to reverse the course of the Syrian civil war and unseat or kill Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. This is merely a prelude to action against Syria’s main ally, Iran, and behind it, Russia.
Computers at both lower and upper Houses of Parliament in Britain have been used to log on to ‘adult’ websites on over 300,000 occasions during the past year, official records have revealed. ● The shocking figures, released by Palace of Westminster IT bosses, show Members of Parliament (MPs), peers and parliamentary staff have been visiting pornographic websites more than 800 times per day in the last year. The data was logged through the parliamentary network from May last year through to July 2013. It was recently accessed after a freedom of information request was posted. Since the new findings, parliamentary officials have refused to say exactly what their IT systems classify as pornographic.
In 2008, President Obama, when he was a candidate for President, had this question-and-answer exchange with the Boston Globe:
"Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
"OBAMA: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. "As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent." Given that not even the most ardent interventionists for Syria contend that the bombing is necessary for US national security, how can a military attack on Syria without Congressional approval possibly be reconciled with that position?
Russia Today: As we can see, Britain, as well as some other countries, is ready to go ahead. But where does the rest of Europe stand on this?
Nigel Farage: Split I think is the honest truth. But overall, I sense that the feeling of moral outrage will win and therefore a majority in Europe will decide that a military action is acceptable. I would just say this. Number one: can we please actually find out for certain that it was Assad that used those weapons. It’s probable, but please can we find out for certain. Moral outrage on its own is not a good enough reason to get involved in a war, but could have unforeseen consequences.
RT: At this point there is no proof or any identification that the Assad government carried out the chemical attack, right?
NF: What I’m saying that I do myself believe that it’s probable that they did but it’s not absolutely certain. This whole situation is very very complicated. And the so-called opposition are very split amongst themselves. And, probably, there are stronger hatreds between some of the opposition groups than there are against the Assad regime. We ought to be slightly cautious and we ought to absolutely make sure that it was Assad that used those weapons.
Jeff Jarvis ●
What are you thinking, Mr President? Is this really the legacy you want for yourself: the chief executive who trampled rights, destroyed privacy, heightened secrecy, ruined trust, and worst of all, did not defend but instead detoured around so many of the fundamental principles on which this country is founded? And I voted for you. I'll confess you were a second choice. I supported Hillary Clinton first. I said at the time that your rhetoric about change was empty and that I feared you would be another Jimmy Carter: aggressively ineffectual. Never did I imagine that you would instead become another Richard Nixon: imperial, secretive, vindictive, untrustworthy, inexplicable.
Nick Clegg and Theresa May are heading for a confrontation over the future of Britain's anti-terror laws in the aftermath of the controversy over the detention of the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. ● As Europe's human rights watchdog warned that the treatment of David Miranda could have a "chilling effect" on press freedom, senior Liberal Democrat sources indicated they were prepared to press for major revisions to the Terrorism Act 2000. ● The Lib Dem move was flatly rejected by the home secretary, who ruled out any further changes to the act beyond proposals announced before the detention of Miranda. ● But the home secretary received a blow when the 47-strong Council of Europe, which polices human rights on the continent, wrote a strongly worded letter to May about the detention of Miranda.
● I knew that Obama wasn't going to reduce the NSA spying in any way shape or form - it is now too bound up with the entire American political and economic system, not to mention the wealth and position of the 1% - but what surprises me is the sheer artlessness in his attempt to disguise the fact he is not doing anything. The 1% can usually count on a certain quality of bullshit from Barry, but on this file it appears to be all he can do from screaming at anyone who even slightly questions what is going on (and Snowden obviously drives him completely out of his mind). The condescension, always near the surface when he deigns to speak on any subject, fairly bubbles over. What happened to that silver-tongued devil? ● If you wade through the crap, you will see that his big solution to the problem is to add, 'in appropriate cases', some sort of 'civil liberties advocate' to present the opposing case to the rubber stamp to the FISA court, just before the rubber stamp comes down (and remember this is a 'court' which the NSA doesn't even feel compelled to visit for a rubber stamp most of the time). It is ludicrous, and insulting to the American people. Even more insulting is his assertion that he was working on this before anyone had heard of Snowden (in secret, naturally, and his statement that he was working on it is obviously a bare-faced lie), and Snowden's revelations just buggered up what would have been his most excellent solution. ● Obama's inability to deal with this - and I must ask if he is being blackmailed by the NSA - is going to define his failed Presidency.
Six activists from the anti-surveillance group Restore the Fourth paid an unexpected visit to the office of a New York Congressman in protest of the vote which allowed the National Security Agency to continue collecting Americans' phone records without a warrant. - The action is intended to call out Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and the more than 200 other members of Congress that voted down an amendment last week aimed at curtailing the NSA's collection of domestic calling records. The group said they wouldn't leave until Meeks apologizes for his "no" vote and commits to fighting against surveillance programs which collect data on Americans without a warrant or suspicion of wrongdoing.
Brokered by US Secretary of State, Israeli and Palestinian officials hold “productive” talks over “peace” on Monday. - War criminal Tzipi Livni and traitor Saib Erakat sat down side-by-side opposite US Crook John Kerry to share a meal just after sunset. "It was a constructive and productive meeting between the parties. They engaged in good faith [sic] and with seriousness of purpose [sic]," a senior State Department official said in a statement, after the dinner lasting about 90 minutes. "We are looking forward to continuing the talks tomorrow morning." In Thomas Jefferson room at the State Department, Kerry had welcomed the two teams to the flower-bedecked table for a dinner of grilled Atlantic grouper and apricot upside down cake, hailing the moment as "very, very special."
Stuart Littlewood: Letter to John Kerry – dishonest “peace” broker - Remember what Miko Peled, the Israeli general’s son, said: “The name of the game [is] erasing Palestine, getting rid of the people and de-Arabizing the country…” - Nice game, huh?
Jean Shaoul: Israeli-Palestinian talks a cover for US aggression in Middle East
Stephen Lendman: The Illusion of Israeli/Palestinian Peace for Our Time
:: Next >>