Spying on Americans by the NSA

I’m watching Countdown and Keith Olbermann is interviewing former NSA analyst Russell Tice. Tice has been explaining how the NSA has been snooping on ordinary Americans, including phone calls, faxes, emails etc. He specifically stated that the NSA was tracking major American news organizations and their reporters.

This is outrageous and scary as hell. It will be interesting to see what the Obama administration does with this.

  

Feds say fires brought down World Trade Center 7

9/11 conspiracy buffs have long pointed to the collapse of 47-story building 7 of the World Trade Center as evidence that there was a conspiracy behind the attacks. Many have speculated that only a controlled explosion could have led to the collapse of the building.

The government has just released a study in an attempt to refute these theories.

Federal investigators issued a report Thursday concluding that fires brought down a skyscraper next to New York’s twin towers on Sept. 11, refuting conspiracy theorists who have long believed that explosives somehow caused the collapse.

Scientists with the National Institute of Standards and Technology say their three-year investigation of the collapse of the 47-story World Trade Center 7 was the first known instance of fire causing the total failure of a skyscraper.

The investigators also concluded that the collapse of the nearby towers broke the city water main, leaving the sprinkler system in the bottom half of the building without water.

The structure has been the subject of a wide range of conspiracy theories for the last seven years, partly because the collapse happened about seven hours after the twin towers were felled. That fueled theories that something else might have caused the collapse.

This explanation seems very plausible to me.

  

Rudy Giuliani will give keynote address at GOP convention

Rudy Giuliani is the genius who compared George W. Bush to Winston Churchill at the 2004.

If there’s one reason I’d like to see Joe Biden as Obama’s VP choice, it’s to watch him ridicule guys like Giuliani and of course John McCain for some of the ridiculous things these guys say about national security. After his performance in 2004, and in the primaries this year, Giuliani ought to be too embarassed to speak in public. Of course, none of the networks will call him on these comments. All of the news anchors are still in awe of Giuliani.

  

Obama’s approach to foreign policy

Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria takes a close look at Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy, noting Obama’s emphasis on realism, in sharp contrast to John McCain and George W. Bush, who have embraced the wide-eyed idealism of the neoconservatives.

The rap on Barack Obama, at least in the realm of foreign policy, has been that he is a softheaded idealist who thinks that he can charm America’s enemies. John McCain and his campaign, conservative columnists and right-wing bloggers all paint a picture of a liberal dreamer who wishes away the world’s dangers. Even President Bush stepped into the fray earlier this year to condemn the Illinois senator’s willingness to meet with tyrants as naive. Some commentators have acted as if Obama, touring the Middle East and Europe this week on his first trip abroad since effectively wrapping up the nomination, is in for a rude awakening.

These critiques, however, are off the mark. Over the course of the campaign against Hillary Clinton and now McCain, Obama has elaborated more and more the ideas that would undergird his foreign policy as president. What emerges is a world view that is far from that of a typical liberal, much closer to that of a traditional realist. It is interesting to note that, at least in terms of the historical schools of foreign policy, Obama seems to be the cool conservative and McCain the exuberant idealist.

Just as with his other policies, Obama takes a much more nuanced approach to the world, recognizing that the world is a complex place. In contrast, McCain seems to embrace W’s simplistic “good vs. evil” approach to most situation.

Obama rarely speaks in the moralistic tones of the current Bush administration. He doesn’t divide the world into good and evil even when speaking about terrorism. He sees countries and even extremist groups as complex, motivated by power, greed and fear as much as by pure ideology. His interest in diplomacy seems motivated by the sense that one can probe, learn and possibly divide and influence countries and movements precisely because they are not monoliths. When speaking to me about Islamic extremism, for example, he repeatedly emphasized the diversity within the Islamic world, speaking of Arabs, Persians, Africans, Southeast Asians, Shiites and Sunnis, all of whom have their own interests and agendas.

Obama never uses the soaring language of Bush’s freedom agenda, preferring instead to talk about enhancing people’s economic prospects, civil society and—his key word—”dignity.” He rejects Bush’s obsession with elections and political rights, and argues that people’s aspirations are broader and more basic—including food, shelter, jobs. “Once these aspirations are met,” he told The New York Times’s James Traub, “it opens up space for the kind of democratic regimes we want.” This is a view of democratic development that is slow, organic and incremental, usually held by conservatives.

  

Rudy Giuliani continues to embarass himself

After running one of the most pathetic presidential campaigns in modern history (he paid $50 for one delegate), Rudy Giuliani is being trotted out as John McCain’s latest attack dog on national security. Here’s an example of why Rudy is so bad. Like McCain, he can’t keep his story straight.

  

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