by Gareth Porter
In interviews in recent weeks, Gen. David Petraeus has been taking a line on what will happen in mid-2011 that challenges President Barack Obama’s intention to begin a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by that date. This new Petraeus line is the culmination of a brazen bait and switch maneuver on the war by the most powerful military commander in modern U.S. history.
It represents a new stage in the process by which Petraeus, abetted by his allies in the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, has appropriated much of the power over decisions on war policy that rightly belongs to the commander-in-chief. Continue reading
I read via the AP today that the two conservative groups founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, have raked in so much money from donors that this midterm election will likely be the most expensive yet. According to the AP, the two groups combined have raised about $32 million so far this year.
While we don’t know where the money for the supposedly “non-profit” Crossroads GPS comes from, American Crossroads is a registered 527 and so we have some information on its donors. Since its inceptions, American Crossroads has had eight donors of $50,000 or more each, with six of those donors hitting or surpassing the $1 million mark.
That wealthy donors are allowed to give massive amounts of money to political 527s is perhaps not a surprise. What’s new this year is the fact that corporations are allowed to give directly, and of those top eight donors, three are corporations, rather than people: TRT Holdings Inc. ($1 million), Southwest Louisiana Land LLC ($1 million), and Dixie Rice Agricultural Corporation ($1 million). Continue reading
The Pope, titular head of an organisation that spans the globe and claims over 1 billion followers, has just visited the UK. He has apologised profusely for the sexual abuse of children by priests, warned against the rise of secularism, and promised greater transparency and openness.
Plainly something is up. This is worlds away from the Catholic Church which the Fern’s Report of 2005 described as having: “A culture of secrecy and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children”.
The world has changed. The Catholic Church is now an unwilling participant in a competition of ideas which also includes the choice not to have any beliefs at all. Such competition can make even the most stodgy and autocratic of institutions liven up a little. Continue reading