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Field Notes on American-Style Democracy

Field Notes on American-Style Democracy - by Stephen Lendman

Perhaps George Bernard Shaw was thinking of Obama's administration when he said, "Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few."

Obama upholds the tradition and then some, doing more harm globally in two years than most of history's tinpot despots in decades, yet most of it gets little attention. Imagine what's planned ahead. Already, his legacy includes:

-- breaking every key promise he made across the board;

-- looting the nation's wealth, wrecking the economy, and consigning growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;

-- enacting greater Wall Street empowerment, disguised as financial reform;

Haiti Update: Electoral Runoff and Aristide's Status

Haiti Update: Electoral Runoff and Aristide's Status - by Stephen Lendman

With world attention focused on Middle East events, mainly Egypt's, Haiti's gotten little attention despite its compelling need for real change. So far, it's nowhere in sight, nor openly discussed, or demanded like visible millions are doing abroad.

Stay tuned. It may happen if visceral anger spreads globally by enough people knowing that democratic freedoms depend on them - through massive, sustained grassroots pressure, accepting nothing less than ouster of corrupt, repressive regimes for equitable, just ones they choose.

Imperial Washington Suffocates Long Suffering Haitians

Despite sham November presidential and parliamentary elections and growing calls for new ones, a runoff March 20 second round is scheduled, led by two Washington-approved presidential candidates:

-- former first lady Mirlande Manigat of the right-wing Rally of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP); and

We're All Egyptians Now!

We're All Egyptians Now! - by Stephen Lendman

And Tunisians, and Yemenis, and Algerians, and Jordanians, and Lebanese, and, of course, Palestinians, suffering for over six decades after Israel stole their historic homeland, over 43 years under brutal, suffocating occupation. Their struggle is ours, and it's high time we reacted, showing spirit as courageous as theirs.

In her latest January 31 article, Phyllis Bennis headlined, "Tunisia's Spark and Egypt's Flame: the Middle East is Rising," asking:

"Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, (but the) legacy of US-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The US empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core....The years of Washington calling the shots (based on its) version of 'stability' are definitively over."

El Salvador's Sweatshop Economy

El Salvador's Sweatshop Economy - by Stephen Lendman

A previous article addressed global sweatshop wage slavery, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/global-sweatshop-wage-slavery.html

Definition of a Sweatshop

The term has been around since the 19th century.
Definitions vary but essentially refer to workplaces where employees work for poor pay, few or no benefits, in unsafe, unfavorable, harsh, and/or hazardous environments, are treated inhumanely by employers, and are prevented from organizing for redress.

The term itself refers to the technique of "sweating" the maximum profit from each worker, a practice that thrived in the late 19th century.

Webster calls them "A shop or factory in which workers are employed for long hours at low wages under unhealthy conditions."

According to the group Sweatshop Watch:

"A sweatshop is a workplace that violates the law and where workers are subject to:

End Game in Egypt

End Game in Egypt - by Stephen Lendman

On February 3, New York Times writers Helene Cooper and Mark Landler headlined, "White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak's Exit," saying:

His administration is "discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for (Mubarak) to resign immediately and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military," including Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, armed forces chief, and Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, defense minister.

The alleged plan includes constitutional reform, a transitional government with opposition groups like the Muslim brotherhood, and "free and fair elections in September."

Testifying during a February 3 Senate hearing, senior CIA official Stephanie O'Sullivan said earlier tracking of Cairo instability showed conditions were "untenable," but "we didn't know what the triggering mechanism would be."

Lawless FBI Intelligence Gathering Practices

Lawless FBI Intelligence Gathering Practices - by Stephen Lendman

A new Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report titled, "Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001 - 2008" based its findings on nearly 2,500 FOIA-obtained document pages, revealing "alarming (lawless) trends...."

They suggest far more frequent civil liberty violations than previously known, including:

(1) grossly understated numbers;

(2) long delays between violations and reporting them;

(3) types of violations involved, including:

(a) investigative oversight;

(b) "abuse, misuse, or careless use of....National Security Letter (NSL) authority;" FBI, CIA and other government agencies use them (administrative subpoenas), demanding recipients turn over requested information and remain silent; no probable cause or judicial oversight is necessary;

(c) sidestepping constitutional, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other legal principles; and

After Mubarak: What's Next?

After Mubarak: What's Next? - by Stephen Lendman

The line from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore relates well to what's going on in Egypt, perhaps elsewhere in the region as well, saying: "Things are seldom as they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream."

Visceral street anger is real. What's orchestrating it, however, is suspect, especially its likely Washington impresario, implementing long-planned regime change for new faces continuing old policies, leaving deep-rooted hardships unaddressed. The script is familiar.

In his book "Freedom Next Time," John Pilger discussed Nelson Mandela's betrayal in post-apartheid South Africa, embracing what he called "Thatcherism," telling Pilger:

"You can put any label on it you like; you can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy."

In 1990, two weeks before freed from prison, he was quoted saying:

Genocide in US and Canadian Residential Schools

Genocide in US and Canadian Residential Schools - by Stephen Lendman

Part of a previous article is repeated below, followed by a summary of evidence Kevin Annett presented in his book titled, "Hidden No Longer: Genocide in Canada, Past and Present." His entire book is available free online, accessed through the following link:

http://hiddennolonger.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/No-Longer-Hidden-1.pdf

He calls it "the book that blew the cover off Canada's genocide," providing "the most thorough, documented body of evidence ever published concerning the planned genocide in Canadian residential schools." It includes:

-- eyewitness testimonies;

-- specific documentation; and

-- genocidal roots in "European philosophy and culture of religious-based conquests known as Christendom," causing "the extermination of millions of indigenous people."

Alan Dershowitz Supporting Tyranny?

Alan Dershowitz Supporting Tyranny? - by Stephen Lendman

Perhaps so in his January 31 Huffington Post.com article titled, "The Egyptian Revolution May Produce a Lebanon-Type Islamic Regime," saying:

"No one can confidently predict the outcome, both short and long term...." He then quoted Zhou Enlai once saying "It's too soon to say," when asked to assess the 1789 French Revolution.

Regime changes produce good, bad and in-between results, he said, ranging from his notion of post-Soviet societies to Hitler and other less ambitious despots. As for "liberated" Eastern European states, neoliberal tyranny proved much worse than harsh communist rule, but don't expect Dershowitz to explain or discuss decades of Washington/Israeli state terror and lawlessness. More on his article below.

Reagan Revisionism: Planned Centennial Commemoration Hoopla

Reagan Revisionism: Planned Centennial Commemoration Hoopla - by Stephen Lendman

A weeklong infomercial followed his death on June 5, 2004, mythology airbrushing truth, including Marilyn Berger in the New York Times, saying:

"To a nation hungry for a hero, a nation battered by Vietnam, damaged by Watergate and humiliated by the taking of hostages in Iran, Ronald Reagan held out the promise of a return to greatness, the promise that American would 'stand tall' again."

Quoting admirers and critics, she called him a "great communicator," a "made-for-television president (who) never lost his boyish charm or his ability to look Americans in the eye and make many feel good about themselves. (He) was a combination of ideologue and pragmatist who could compromise and still appear to be a man of unbending principle."

Abusing Palestinian Children

Abusing Palestinian Children - by Stephen Lendman

Israel is an equal opportunity abuser, treating women, old men, invalids, and children like young adults because they're Palestinians, not Jews, so they're fair game, vilified as national security threats or terrorists for wanting freedom, equality, justice and peace.

Numerous previous articles discussed it, several specifically on children, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/03/brutalizing-palestinian-children.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/04/imprisoning-palestinian-children.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/palestinian-children-under-occupat...

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/israeli-soldiers-sexually-abuse.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/10/israel-shooting-and-electric-shock...

Egypt's Revolution: Obama Backing Regime Change?

Egypt's Revolution: Obama Backing Regime Change? - by Stephen Lendman

In July 2003, a USAF Institute for National Security Studies report titled, "Egypt as a Failing State: Implications for US National Security" suggested "Mubarak's traditionally autocratic and oppressive short-term fixes" weren't working. As a result, "the possibility of unrest is real; with the correct confluence of domestic, regional, and international events, Egypt can quickly be added to the list of failed states....This paper (thus) contends that (the appearance of) democracy is a security imperative for the post-9/11 world."

In its July/August 2010 Failed States Index 2010, ForeignPolicy (FP) ranked nations under five categories: critical, in danger, borderline, stable and most stable. Ranked 49th among 177 countries evaluated, FP called Egypt a failed state "in danger." It scored lowest in three "delegitimization" categories because of:

-- endemic corruption, including ruling elite profiteering;

Political Prisoner Ameer Makhoul Update

Political Prisoner Ameer Makhoul Update - by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed him in detail, accessed through the following site:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/10/israels-persecution-of-ameer-makho...

Following former prime minister Ariel Sharon's dictum that, "This is our land, and we'll settle it and build on it in order to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state," Palestinians have been ruthlessly persecuted, imprisoned, or slaughtered in gross violation of international laws.

Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA?

Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA? - by Stephen Lendman

US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran's Shah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next - aging, damaged and expendable.

George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:

On January 29, "Egypt's internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent" after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them.

Revolutionary Middle East Change

Revolutionary Middle East Change - by Stephen Lendman

Democratic Middle East birth pangs may have legs enough to spread regionally, including in Occupied Palestine.

Officially launched in Cairo in 1959, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) offers hope, driven by a commitment for Palestinian liberation. With more than 100 chapters and over 100,000 members, it's organized rallies, political debates, cultural programs, and other initiatives to spread truths about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Perhaps inspired by events across the region, on January 27, its press release headlined, "Palestinian students claim right to participate in shaping our destiny," saying:

Salah Hamouri: One of Thousands of Israeli Political Prisoners

Salah Hamouri: One of Thousands of Israeli Political Prisoners - by Stephen Lendman

In March 2005, French/Palestinian Hamouri was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for allegedly co-conspiring with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) members to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ultra-Orthodox Shas party's spiritual leader and former Israeli Chief Rabbi. At age 91, he's very much alive as of January 25, 2011, Israel National News saying he recently visited President Shimon Peres "in a 'shiva' call," offering condolences for his wife's recent passing.

Middle East Intifadas

Middle East Intifadas - by Stephen Lendman

Initially in Tunisia, popular revolt spread regionally across North Africa and the Middle East, erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen. On January 27, Al Jazeera reported revolutionary fervor in Egypt, saying:

"On Thursday, protesters hurled petrol bombs at a fire station in Suez, setting it ablaze. They tried but failed to (torch) a local" Mubarak-controlled National Party office. Near Giza, on Cairo's outskirts, police attacked hundreds of protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. In Ismailia, the scene repeated, police using similar tactics to disperse crowds. Ahead of expected massive Friday protests, Cairo was uncharacteristically quiet.

On January 28, Al Jazeerah headlined, "Fresh protests erupt in Egypt, saying:

Following Friday prayers, "angry demonstrators demand(ed) an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency....(d)etermined protesters," vowing to "carry on until their demands are met."

Political Prisoner Ahmad Sa'adat Update

Political Prisoner Ahmad Sa'adat Update - by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed his background, activism and status in detail, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/ahmad-saadat-palestinian-prisoner-...

Extensive information on him can be found on:

http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/

As General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), he was sentenced in 2002 to 30 years in prison "for a range of 'security related' political offenses," including his prominence in a prohibited organization.

For over 40 years, Israel targeted him relentlessly, subjecting him to numerous arrests, torture, false imprisonments, and isolation for opposing occupation and wanting Palestine liberated.

Chicago's Mayoral Election: Rahm Emanuel's Eligibility At Issue

Chicago's Mayoral Race: Rahm Emanuel's Eligibility At Issue - by Stephen Lendman

On February 22, Chicago's mayoral primary will be held. If no candidate gets over 50% of the vote, an April 5 runoff will be held, the winner's term running from May 16, 2011 - May 18, 2015. Democrats dominate city politics. The last Republican mayor ("Big Bill" Thompson) left office in 1931. The Great Depression ended their rule when Anton Cermak took over, built a strong constituency among African Americans, and consigned Republicans to small pockets on the city's far northwest side and suburban areas post-war.

Richard J. Daley and his son Richard M. (current incumbent leaving office after six terms) ran Chicago like Republicans for over 43 of the last 55 years. If elected, so will Emanuel as a previous article explained, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/from-hizzhonor-to-dishonor.html

His Background

America's Dire State of the Union

America's Dire State of the Union - by Stephen Lendman

Like last year, Obama's address was empty rhetoric, signaling business as usual with a twist - more than ever embracing reactionary extremism, promising harder than ever hard times on Main Street.

Last year, an earlier article discussed his first State of the Union address, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/01/obamas-outreach-to-americans-empty...

Results again this time were predicable. Democrats loved it. Time magazine called the Republican response "frosty," saying "Stand-up comics call it a tough crowd."

Released prior to the address, Rep. Paul Ryan's response stressed "work(ing) with the President to restrain federal spending," saying "(o)ur debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis."

Mass Street Protests in Egypt

Mass Street Protests in Egypt - by Stephen Lendman

An August 2009 Council on Foreign Relations Steven Cook report headlined, "Political Instability in Egypt," saying:

Facing possible instability, (m)ost analysts believe that the current Egyptian regime will muddle through its myriad challenges and endure indefinitely (with) enough coercive power to ensure" it.

It's also "entering a period of political transition. President Hosni Mubarak is (81) and reportedly" ill. His (46 year old) son Gamal "is evidently being groomed to succeed him." However, the "process could prove difficult."

"Thus, while Egypt on the surface appears stable, the potential for growing political volatility and abrupt discontinuities (ahead) should not be summarily dismissed."

Cook suggested two possible scenarios:

-- contested succession resulting in military intervention; or

-- "an Islamist push for political power."

Lebanon's Hezbollah-Led Government

Lebanon's Hezbollah-Led Government - by Stephen Lendman

It's official, or nearly so, Haaretz, on January 25 headlining, "Hezbollah's PM pick wins majority backing as Hariri supporters hold 'day of wrath,' " saying:

Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati, a Sunni billionaire, became new prime minister after getting 68 votes, a majority in Lebanon's 128-member parliament. Caretaker PM Saad Hariri got 60. As a result, Hezbollah "is now in position to control Lebanon's next government. The move has set off angry protests and drew warnings from the US that its support could be in jeopardy."

"Sunni blood is boiling," chanted protestors. Burning Mikati pictures, they said they won't serve in a coalition government, adding that anyone allying with Hezbollah is a traitor. After being appointed, he said:

"I extend my hand to everyone....This is a democratic process. I want to rescue my country....My actions (as PM) will speak for themselves."

Olbermann's Sacking Shifts US Media Further Right

Olbermann's Sacking Shifts US Media Further Right - by Stephen Lendman

Make no mistake. He didn't quit. He was pushed, the final straw perhaps being the January 18 FCC-approved Comcast-NBC Merger. Its chairman/CEO Brian Roberts co-chaired the 2000 Republican Convention host committee, and COO Stephen Burke/now NBC Universal CEO tilts heavily to Republicans. According to Public Citizen and Think Progress, he raised at least $200,000 for Bush's 2004 campaign, served on his Council on Science and Technology, and may wish to make MSNBC another Fox, despite pledging no "interference with NBC Universal's news operations."

Think Progress asked: "Why would Comcast be interested in silencing progressive voices?" Because it opposes issues they support, including Net Neutrality, stiffer media regulation, and restraints on being able to buy telecommunications and media companies freely.

The "Palestine Papers" Revealed

The "Palestine Papers" Revealed - by Stephen Lendman

On January 23, Al Jazeera released breaking news on its extensive "Palestine Papers" coverage, introducing them, saying:

It "obtained more than 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," writer Gregg Carlstrom explaining that:

"Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." They include "nearly 1,700 files, (and) thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of" peace process negotiations.

Included (from 1999 - 2010) were "emails, maps, minutes of private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations...."

Releasing them from January 23 - 26, they reveal information about:

-- the PA's willingness to concede all East Jerusalem settlements except one;

Obama Embraces Military Commissions Injustice

Obama Embraces Military Commissions Injustice - by Stephen Lendman

The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture and sweeping unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), hold them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.

Section 1031 of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA), listing changes that include discarding the phrase "unlawful enemy combatant" for "unprivileged enemy belligerent." Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama embraces the same Bush agenda, including keeping Guantanamo open after promising to close it, and allowing torture there and abroad.

Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Whitewash Absolves Israel

Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Whitewash Absolves Israel - by Stephen Lendman

Last May 31, Israeli commandos attacked and murdered nine or more activists, injuring dozens in international waters on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship, one of five bringing humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans. An earlier article explained, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/05/brave-israeli-commandos-slaughter-...

The UK-based Stop the War Coalition called the attack "Yet another act of Israeli barbarism." Global protests erupted. Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy cited Israel's "propaganda machine....reach(ing) new highs (in distributing) false information....embarrass(ing) itself by entering a futile public relations battle," filled with malicious fiction and deceit.

Economic Trouble in 2011

Economic Turmoil in 2011 - by Stephen Lendman

Wall Street predicts blue skies. Economic recovery will continue. Stocks will deliver double-digit gains. On January 14, the Wall Street Journal's Economic Forecast Survey headlined, "Economists Optimistic on Growth," expecting in 2011:

-- 3.3% GDP growth;

-- unemployment declining to 8.8%;

-- inflation contained at 1.9%;

-- crude oil at around $90 a barrel;

-- improved housing starts in a depressed market;

-- on average, 180,000 monthly jobs created;

-- no Fed interest rate hike until 2012 at the earliest;

-- continued QE II buying of $600 - $900 billion in government bonds; and

-- an overall upbeat sentiment for economic recovery and growth.

Druze Leader Jumblatt Backs Hezbollah

Druze Leader Jumblatt Backs Hezbollah - by Stephen Lendman

Two recent articles discussed Lebanon's present turmoil in detail, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/01/turmoil-in-lebanon.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/01/heightened-tensions-after-hariri.html

Conditions there remain fluid. Key was a Washington/French pressured UN-backed Special Tribunal's sealed January 17 indictment of those allegedly responsible for former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's February 14, 2005 killing, preceded by Hezbollah's January 12 pulling out of Lebanon's coalition government causing it to collapse. The above linked articles explain both events in detail, including who, in fact, likely killed Hariri, and implications going forward.

Two blocks comprised Lebanon's misnamed "national unity" government:

Heightened Tensions after Harari Indictment Announced

Heightened Tensions after Hariri Indictment Announced - by Stephen Lendman

A previous article addressed Lebanon's turmoil, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/01/turmoil-in-lebanon.html

It discussed Israel's history of terrorizing Lebanon through decades of belligerent interventions as early as 1954, as well as thousands of terrorist acts against a nonviolent state whose misfortune is being Israel's neighbor. It also discussed false accusations against Hezbollah, a legitimate part of Lebanon's government, not a terrorist organization as Israel and America claim.

Targeted Killings, An Israeli Speciality

Bizarre Developments in Haiti

Bizarre Developments in Haiti - by Stephen Lendman

Three previous articles relate to this one, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/01/baby-doc-in-haiti.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/01/duvalier-in-dock.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/01/let-aristide-return.html

On January 20, Al Jazeera headlined, "Baby Doc wants Haiti presidency," saying:

Despite his 15-year reign of terror and current corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, and perhaps assassination charges, he "retains ambitions of returning to the presidency," according to one of his lawyers, Reynold George saying:

"He is a political man. Every political man has political ambitions." Asked if he wishes to return to power, George replied, "That is right. Because under this new constitution, and let me tell you I am one of the persons who wrote that constitution, he has the right to do so (under) two mandates. Two!"

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