Starbucks to cut as many as 12,000 positions

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) said on Tuesday it plans to close another 500 underperforming stores and eliminate as many as 12,000 fill- and part-time positions.

The company, which now plans to close a total of 600 underperforming stores, will take related charges totaling more than $325 million.

The majority of the stores will be closed by the end of the first half of its fiscal year ended September 2009, the company said.

Read moreStarbucks to cut as many as 12,000 positions

US called Waterboarding a War Crime in 1947

Mukasey Won’t Say Waterboarding Is Torture. But in 1947 the U.S. Called It a War Crime, Sentenced Enemy Officer to 15 Years Hard Labor

Immoral Relativism: George Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey for U.S. attorney general – once thought to be smooth sailing – is experiencing a bit of turbulence. The problem is, Mukasey can’t bring himself to say whether or not waterboarding is torture:

During his confirmation hearings earlier this month, Mukasey said he believes torture violates the Constitution, but he refused to be pinned down on whether he believes specific interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, are constitutional.

“I don’t know what’s involved in the techniques. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional,” he said.

But after World War II, the United States government was quite clear about the fact that waterboarding was torture, at least when it was done to U.S. citizens:

[In] 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

“Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II,” he said.

Mukasey’s non-answer has raised doubts among Democrats, and even some Republicans, on the Senate Judiciary Committee:

[The] Democrats on the committee signed a joint letter to Mukasey, making sure that he knew what’s involved, and demanded an answer to the question as to whether waterboarding is torture.

Then two days later, the doubts grew louder. Two key Democrats, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT ) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) both said publicly that their votes depended on Mukasey’s answer to the waterboarding question.

Then it was Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who saw an opening after Rudy Giuliani refused to call waterboarding torture (“It depends on who does it.”). Most certainly it’s torture, McCain said. When pressed, he stopped short of saying that he would oppose Mukasey’s nomination if he didn’t say the same, but he added to the chorus of those who professed to be interested in what Mukasey’s answer to follow-up questions will be.

Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said that if Mukasey “does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind.”

[Sen.] Arlen Specter (R-PA) has also thrown in his lot of doubts and concerns.

Of course, if the past is a guide, Mukasey will easily win nomination, and nearly all these senators who have expressed concern will vote for him.

Waterboarding has become an isssue because the Bush White House signed off on it as an interrogation technique – and thus moved the United States into the company of pariah states that permit torture – after the 9/11 attacks.

Source: Pensito Review

Israel May Attack Iran, Pentagon Official Tells ABC

July 1 (Bloomberg) — Israel is increasingly likely to attack Iranian nuclear facilities this year, a U.S. Defense Department official told ABC News.

Iran’s government dismissed as propaganda the ABC report on the unidentified Pentagon official’s comments. Israeli government officials declined to comment on the report.

In the U.S., Pentagon spokesmen Bryan Whitman declined to address the report. “I don’t comment for Israel,” he said. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said he had “no information that would substantiate” the ABC report and criticized the official for not speaking publicly.

An Israeli strike might be triggered by the production of enough enriched uranium at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant to make a bomb, ABC cited the official as saying. A second possible trigger would be the delivery of a Russian SA-20 air-defense system, the installation of which would make an Israeli attack more difficult, the U.S. official told ABC.

Oil rose on concern any conflict would cut supplies from OPEC’s second-largest producer. Crude oil for August delivery increased as much as $2.95, or 2.1 percent, to $142.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Former Israeli Air Force General Isaac Ben-Israel, now a lawmaker in Israel’s ruling Kadima party, told Germany’s Spiegel that his nation is “prepared” for an attack if diplomacy and United Nations sanctions fail to stop Iran from making a nuclear weapon. Ben-Israel helped plan Israel’s 1981 strike on an Iraqi nuclear reactor, the magazine said.

Before Bush Leaves

A strike on Natanz would only temporarily damage Iran’s nuclear program and could spark a wave of attacks on U.S. interests, ABC said in yesterday’s report, citing unidentified Pentagon officials. The U.S. and many of its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its production of enriched uranium is intended to produce electricity and is legal under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ron Paul also says what Iran does is “perfectly legal”!

This is a very important Video!

Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008


Source: You Tube

The Israeli government may want an attack to take place before President George W. Bush leaves office, Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said today in a telephone interview.

“There is no doubt that such an operation is being considered, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow,” Kam said. “We still have some time. The Bush administration may be more sympathetic to an Israeli operation against Iran than whoever the next president may be, so it could happen before the end of the year.”

Israeli Maneuvers

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter planes took part in maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece during the first week of June, the New York Times reported on June 20. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Israel last weekend for meetings with Israeli military leaders, ABC said.

Read moreIsrael May Attack Iran, Pentagon Official Tells ABC

America’s Shrinking Groceries

American supermarkets are epics of excess: it often seems like every item in the store comes in a “Jumbo” size or has “Bonus!” splashed across the label. But is it possible that the amount of food Americans are buying is, in fact… shrinking? Well, yes. Soaring commodity and fuel prices are driving up costs for manufacturers; faced with a choice between raising prices (which consumers would surely notice) or quietly putting fewer ounces in the bag, carton or cup (which they generally don’t) manufacturers are choosing the latter. This month, Kellogg’s started shipping Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks containing an average of 2.4 fewer ounces per box.

Similar reductions have recently happened or are on the horizon for many other products: Tropicana orange juice containers are shrinking from 96 ounces to 89; Wrigley’s is dropping its the 17-stick PlenTPak in favor of the 15-stick Slim Pack; Dial soap bars now weigh half an ounce less, and that’s even before they melt in the shower. Containers of Country Crock spread, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Edy’s and Breyer’s ice cream have all slimmed down as well (although that may not necessarily be a bad thing).

“People are just more sensitive to changes in price than changes in quantity,” says Harvard Business School Professor John Gourville, who studies consumer decision-making. “Most people can tell you how much a box of cereal costs, but they have no clue how much is actually in it.” Other segments of the economy have made similar moves to pass on their higher costs to the consumer without raising prices directly. American Airlines announced in May that it would charge $15 each way for a single checked bag, part of what airlines have dubbed “a la carte” pricing, which – along with the industrywide drive to put price tags on former freebies like soft drinks, meals and headphones – some airline observers say is really an effort to avoid increasing base ticket prices.

Read moreAmerica’s Shrinking Groceries

The US is not a republic anymore

Related article:US needs 100 years to recover from Bush


Gore Vidal

An interview with Gore Vidal by Afshin Rattansi, Press TV, Tehran:

Press TV:We hear that Michael Mukasey is going to become the latest of the President’s Attorney-Generals to be subpoenaed, this time over his conversations with Bush and Cheney – does this show that Congress is serious about calling the executive to account?

Gore Vidal: No, Congress has never been more cowardly, nor more corrupt. All Bush has do is to make sure certain amounts of money go in the direction of certain important congressmen and that’s end of any serious investigation. After all, one of the bravest members of Congress is Dennis Kucinich who brought the article of impeachment in to the well of the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives must then try the president, and then after that it goes to the Senate for judgment. However, none of these things will happen because there’s nobody there except for Mr. Kucinich who has the courage to take on a sitting president who is kind of a Mafioso.

Press TV: How can it just be one person among so many hundreds of Congressmen who wants the impeachment of George W. Bush in these circumstances?

Gore Vidal: Well it’s because we no longer have a country. We don’t have a republic any more. During the last 7 or 8 years of the Bush regime, they’ve got rid of the Bill of Rights, they’ve got rid of habeas corpus. They have got rid of one of the nicest gifts that England ever left us when they went away and we ceased to be colonies – the Magna Carta – from the 12th century. All of our law and due process of law is based on that. And the Bush people got rid of it. The president and little Mr. Gonzales who for a few minutes was his Attorney General. They managed to get rid of all of the constitutional links that made us literally a republic.

Press TV: You have often written about the US’s superpower status in terms of the history of previous superpowers. Do you think we’re witnessing the end of US power as some suggest. Will the White House be seen like Persepolis?

Gore Vidal: Well it won’t make such good ruins, no. It’ll be more like the tomb of Cyrus nearby. They managed to destroy the United States – why? Because they’re oil and gas people and they’re essentially criminals. I repeat that this is a criminal group that’s seized control of the country through what looked like an ordinary election. But there’s some very nice films and documentaries about what happened in the year 2000 when Albert Gore won the election for president and they saw to it that he couldn’t serve. They got the Supreme Court – which is the Holy of Holies ordinarily in our system – to investigate and then accuse the thieves of being absolutely correct and the winners – Mr. Gore and the Democrats – of being the cheaters. It’s the first law of Machiavelli, whatever your opponent’s faults are, you pick his virtues and you deny he has them. That’s what they did when Senator Kerry ran a few years ago for president. He’s a famous hero from the Vietnam War. They said he was a coward and not a hero. That’s how it’s done. When you have a bunch of liars in charge of your government you can’t expect to get much history out of that. But later on we’ll dig and dig… and we will dig up Persepolis.

Press TV: Senator Obama talks about change but of course he has courting Wall Street as well as the Israeli lobby – do you see any prospect of change with him as president?

Gore Vidal: Not really. I don’t doubt his good faith, just as I do not doubt the bad faith of Cheney and Bush. They are such dreadful people that we’ve never had in government before. They would never have risen unless they were buying elections as they did in Florida in 2000, as they did in the State of Ohio in 2004. These are two open thefts of the Presidency. When I discovered that this did not interest the New York Times or the Washington Post or any of the press of the country I realized our day was done. We are no longer a country we are a framework for crooks to go in and steal money. Knowing that they’ll never be caught and they’ll be admired for it. Americans always take everybody on his own evaluation. You say I’m a state and they say “oh, yeah yeah yeah, he’s a state, isn’t that great.” And you accuse the other people of your crimes before you commit them. It’s an old trick which was known to Machiavelli who wrote about it in his handbook, the Prince.

Press TV:Finally that issue which is exercising so many minds in the Middle East and beyond. You, yourself have written about so many Imperial wars of the United States. Do you think Bush and Cheney would risk another war in what Mohammad ElBaradei of the IAEA calls a fireball?

Gore Vidal: They are longing to but they have spent all of the money. They have got it in their own private companies like the Vice-President and a company called Halliburton which is stealing more money and should be on trial sooner or later before Congress. But perhaps not, who knows? But it’s well known in Washington, these people are leaking away the money of the country. Well there’s no more money. They are longing for a war with Iran. Iran is no more a harm to us than was Iraq or Afghanistan. They invented an enemy, they tell lies, lies, lies.
The New York Times goes along with their lies, lies, lies. And they don’t stop. When the public that’s lied to 30 times a day it’s apt to believe the lies, is not it?

Read moreThe US is not a republic anymore

US: Oil blockade constitutes an act of war


Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff

The commander of US naval forces in the Persian Gulf says any attempt by Iran to shut down the Strait of Hormuz will be an ‘act of war’.

Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of the Fifth Fleet – responsible for naval operations in the Persian Gulf -, said Monday that the White House will not allow the strategic Persian Gulf oil passage to be sealed off.

Cosgriff made the remarks after Iran warned that it would not hesitate in taking all necessary measures to safeguard its national interests in case of an enemy offensive.

“When a country comes under attack, it naturally uses all its capacities to confront the enemy,” said Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari on Saturday in reference to the country’s ability to cut oil supplies by closing the Strait of Hormuz.

The commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, however, warned that such comments by high-ranking Iranian officials are ‘not helpful’.

Cosgriff suggested that a blockade ‘will not be an action against the United States but against the international community’.

While the Bush administration continues to beat the drums of war against Tehran, Tel Aviv has fueled speculation about the possibility of an attack on Iran. Recent reports indicate that the Israeli regime may have staged military maneuvers to prepare for air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.

The Islamic Republic, however, affirms that it is fully prepared to counter any act of aggression on its soil.

Mon, 30 Jun 2008
Source: Press TV

Related article: America Is the Rogue Nation:
(“More to the point, Iran has been equipped by Russia with the fastest anti-ship missile on the planet. The SS-N-22 Sunburn can travel at Mach 3 at high altitude and at Mach 2.2 at low altitude. That is faster than anything in our arsenal.

Iran’s conventional forces include an army of 540,000 men and 300,000 reserves, including 120,000 Iranian Guards especially trained in unconventional warfare. It has more than 1,600 main battle tanks and 21,000 other armored combat vehicles. It has 3,200 artillery pieces, three submarines, 59 surface warships and 10 amphibious ships.”)

Iran ‘digging 320,000 graves for invaders’


Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh

A senior Iranian commander says the country is digging some ‘320,000 graves’ in its bordering provinces for future slain invaders.

Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, the Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense, said Sunday that the decision had been approved by Iran’s Armed Forces Headquarters.

“We will dig 15,000 to 20,000 graves in each of the border provinces,” he said.

“We do not wish the families of enemy soldiers to experience what Americans had to go through in the aftermath of the Vietnam War,” added Brig. Gen. Baqerzadeh, who is also the head of the search committee for missing soldiers.

The commander said the preemptive measures would decrease the time slain soldiers would be ‘missing in action’.

“The burial of slain soldiers will be carried out decently and in little time,” he continued.

Baqerzadeh added that the decision is in line with the Islamic Republic’s commitment to comply with the Geneva Convention and the additional protocol regarding wartime cooperation between Iran and the Red Cross.

Read moreIran ‘digging 320,000 graves for invaders’

A Declaration of U.S. Independence from Israel

This is a talk given at the Nassau Club in Princeton by Chris Hedges, former New York Times Middle East bureau chief:

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez Canal and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue.

They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war as over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid. The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state.

Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. Recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since.Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel’s withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. Flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. Sailors and wounded 171.

The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington’s enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. Direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. Foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money.

Read moreA Declaration of U.S. Independence from Israel