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An 'Oh Please!' Moment; Is S&P Running Interference for the Right to Help Crush Social Security and Medicare?
By Dave Lindorff
Today’sbreathless anxiety-inducing headline was that Standard & Poors, the rating agency, has issued a “negative outlook” warning on US sovereign debt, claiming that the US, in comparison with other countries with a top AAA credit rating, has "very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness and the path to addressing these is not clear to us". S&P warned that there was a “a one in three chance that the US could lose its AAA rating in two years because of its mounting debt.”
The ratings firm--one of three global companies that Wall Street relies upon to establish the credit ratings of companies and nations around the world--said its analysts had “little confidence” that the Obama administration and the divided Congress would reach any agreement on a deficit-reduction plan before the next national election in the fall of 2012, and that they doubted that any such plan would be adopted until after 2014, two whole Congressional elections away.
Please sign this petition.
Target: To WI citizens & all citizens in USA concerned with justice
Sponsored by: Buzz Davis, Stoughton, WI - Progressive activist & advocate for candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg
WI Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg has until close of business on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, to request a statewide, full recount of all ballots cast in the April 5th Supreme Court election.
The race was close. With a total of approximately 1.5 million votes cast, Mr. Prosser, the conservative, pro-business incumbent, is in the lead by less than half of one percent of the vote (0.5%).
The suspicious handling of votes in conservative Waukesha county is one matter of concern to all who fight for fair elections. But the other issue is this: people do make mistakes in filling out their ballots. When a race is this close the only way to determine who absolutely won is to review all ballots cast with human eyes and resolve any disputes over ballots that are questionable.
Review of "Honor For Us: A Philosophical Analysis, Interpretation, and Defense" By William Lad Sessions, Continuum.
William Lad Sessions is a philosophy professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I was once a philosophy student at the University of Virginia. Both schools have honor codes for their students. I experienced UVA's honor code as one of the most thrilling discoveries of my life. W&L's has inspired Sessions to write a book.
Before Tahrir Square happened almost nobody predicted that President Hosni Mubarak would be forced out of office by a movement that didn't pick up a gun. Had President Barack Obama expected that outcome, he might have publicly backed Mubarak's departure before, rather than after, Mubarak stepped down.
Obama can be seen as overcompensating for that performance in Libya, but there he is placing faith in weapons. Anybody can do that. Egypt still has a long way to go on its path to a just society. But the question of whether Tunisian-Egyptian movements will find success elsewhere is the question of whether people can take the far more challenging step of placing trust in nonviolence.
Striking miners and their families being evicted from company houses
April 18 1912 - Members of the United Mine Workers of America on Paint Creek in Kanawha County, West Virginia, demanded wages equal to those of other area mines. The operators rejected the wage increase and miners walked off the job. Miners along nearby Cabin Creek, having previously lost their union, joined the Paint Creek strikers and demanded:
• the right to organize
• recognition of their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly
• an end to blacklisting union organizers
• alternatives to company stores
• an end to the practice of using mine guards
• prohibition of cribbing
• installation of scales at all mines for accurately weighing coal
• unions be allowed to hire their own checkweighmen to make sure the companies' checkweighmen were not cheating the miners.
Remembering Vittorio Arrigoni - by Stephen Lendman
On April 15, International Solidarity Movement (ISM) members grieved for one of their own, their press release headlining, "Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank unite in mourning of slain activist Vittorio Arrigoni," saying:
"People will gather in Al Manara square in Ramallah and at Al Jundi al Majhull, (Gaza's) unknown soldier park," honoring the death of their comrade, slain and abandoned in a house north of Gaza. More on his death below.
Other events took place throughout Palestine, including protests following Friday's prayers across from the UN's Gaza headquarters. Bil'in and Al Masara also dedicated their weekly demonstrations to Vittorio, Vic to his friends.
On Saturday, the Popular Committee in Nablus held a commemoration with political parties in Nablus center, celebrating his work and condemning his killing.
Alarming New Fukushima Reports - by Stephen Lendman
Five weeks after Japan's disaster, reports suggest worse, not improved conditions. It portends serious regional and global trouble ahead, besides what's already happened.
On April 16, AP headlined, "Radioactivity Rises in Sea Off Japan Nuclear Plant," saying:
"Levels of radioactivity have risen sharply in seawater near (Fukushima), signaling the possibility of new leaks at the facility, the government said Saturday."
The announcement followed a 5.9 level aftershock rocking the country early Saturday. So far, no additional damage reports were issued. However, seawater radioactive Iodine-131 spiked to 6,500 times above normal, up from 1,100 times Friday, and Cesium-134 and 137 rose nearly fourfold.
(This article is the first of seven pieces dedicated to the Cuban revolution and its defeat of the US imperialist invasion 50 years ago, April 17-19, 1961, and embraces my half-century struggle.)
I. Sharing Che’s Activism
Che’s penetrating eyes stare at me seriously as I write about him. It is strange that I have never written about him before, other than to quote him. Perhaps it is because Che has been too large a figure for me to tackle? I don’t know. This writing, though, is a commemoration of Che and of my 50 years in our common struggle.
Ernesto Guevara was my greatest personal inspiration and Cuba’s revolution was my greatest collective inspiration—along with the Vietnamese resistance fighters. Nicknamed Che, an Argentine expression, he lived and died as he preached. Che’s internationalist ideals, his consequent actions, his integrity and charm, have influenced my life all these decades.
SURPRISE!! THERE IS, TOO, AN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT! IT'S JUST THAT THE TEA PARTY GETS ALL THE MEDIA COVERAGE
You'd think there is a huge Tea Party group in the U.S. and virtually no opposition. But, that is strictly a myth created and perpetuated by the media. To the contrary, there is an alive and well anti-war movement composed of people from all over the country. One wonders why the media seems so intent on promoting the Tea Party and ignoring the probably larger but less visible peace movement.
A Review of the case of Private Bradley Manning one year after his arrest.
It is the right of all Americans, and a bedrock principle of our law, that we are to be presumed innocent unless found guilty of a crime. So why, before he has even been tried, has Pfc. Bradley Manning been held in a 6 ft. by 12 ft. cell for nearly a year now, for 23 out of 24 hours each day, in mind-breaking isolation? Pfc. Manning is not allowed to exercise in his cell. He cannot tell if it is night or day outside. He is allowed no radio, clock, or personal items. He takes his meals in his cell alone.
A new generation of war poets is providing powerful insight into ongoing conflicts by putting their vivid impressions into words. Sean Rayment and Michael Howie report.
17 April 2011 - For centuries, soldiers have used poetry to describe the horrors of war. The celebrated First World War poets – Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke – memorably used cathartic verse to illustrate the futility of a conflict that saw a generation of young men perish.
Yet war poetry offers much to the reader, too.
Prospects for a Palestinian Spring - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article headlined, "Arab Spring Yet to Bloom," explaining that despite months of heroic Middle East/North African uprisings in over a dozen countries from Morocco to Syria to Oman, none so far achieved change. It suggested that months, perhaps years, of sustained struggles lie ahead.
Access it in full through the following link:
Liberating struggles, in fact, never come easily, quickly, or without pain against entrenched power determined to keep it. However, social movements at times succeed when ordinary people sustain heroic determined efforts. In America, abolitionists, suffragettes, unionists, and civil rights champions proved it against imposing power forced to yield.
In her book, "Challenging Authority," Professor Frances Fox Piven said:
On Friday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, congress members spoke in defense of Medicare, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other programs that by almost anyone's definition are socialist, programs that were denounced as socialist by opponents of their passage in decades past, programs that would not have been created without the efforts of socialists and the Socialist Party.
Rather than escalate involvement in unnecessary wars of choice and perpetuate violations of international law, President Obama should unite the U.S. with the global community in recognizing the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was established under United Nations authority in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands, for the prosecution of the most serious war crimes (i.e., crimes against humanity) in the world.
By Dave Lindorff
America’s wars came home today in the mail, with a letter from the Selective Service. Enclosed was my son Jed’s draft card, just a week ahead of his 18th birthday.
The card, which unlike the ones in my day, comes in technicolor, arrived along with a glossy brochure advertising the US military as: “The career you were born to pursue.”
The card featured a color photograph of a bunch of Army recruits jogging towards the reader wearing gray T’s and camo pants. Over the head of each of these runners was a career: scuba diver, computer software engineer, occupational therapist, firefighter, public relations, accountant, human services assistant, interpreter, musician, journalist...etc.
The journalist, appropriately, was buried behind the pack, so all you could see was about two thirds of her face. You might say she was “embedded” in the group.
by Walter Brasch
Bullied, harassed, and lied to, District 1 of the Amalgamated Association of Easter Bunnies, AFB-CIO (American Federation of Bunnies–Cottontails International Organization) went on strike, forcing a halt to this year’s Easter egg hunts in Wisconsin.
At Bunny Headquarters, Solomon P. Bunny, union executive secretary, and a militant corps of Easter bunnies were preparing picket signs. I walked in, notepad in hand.
“Excuse me, Mr. Bunny, why aren’t your members delivering eggs this week?”
Bunny looked up from the papers on his desk, chomped harder on his cigar, looked at me, scowled, and answered harshly, “Don’t you know!?”
“No, sir,” I replied apologetically. “I always thought you were happy and content delivering Easter eggs.”
“We love it,” growled Bunny, “but the Wisconsin Legislature doesn’t love us.”
Palestinian Statehood and Other Political Issues - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article addressed an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders, accessed through the following link:
It explained a likely September UN vote on recognition, establishing de jure General Assembly membership despite strong Washington and Israeli opposition. The implications are stunning.
Haaretz reported that Netanyahu privately said he doesn't take the possibility "lightly, but we should also not exaggerate its" importance....Perhaps the Palestinians will have a majority in the UN, but what matters is not only the quantity but also the quality," adding "no one can impose a solution on Israel," suggesting non-compliance or hostile action will follow.
Arab Spring Yet to Bloom - by Stephen Lendman
Despite months of heroic Middle East/North African uprisings in over a dozen countries from Morocco to Syria to Oman, none so far achieved changed, suggesting months, perhaps years, of sustained struggles lie ahead.
Media commentators first used term Arab Spring in March 2005 to suggest a beneficial Iraq war spinoff, what, of course, never happened nor could it, given Washington's intent to prevent any emerging democracies.
However, it partly succeeded in Lebanon after Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's February 14, 2005 assassination. Afterwards, "Cedar Revolution" anger erupted, ending Syria's occupation, reducing, but not eliminating the Bashar al-Assad regime's influence in the country.
In late 2010, the term resurfaced to reflect regional uprisings still ongoing, on and off, across the Middle East/North Africa. In recent days, notably they've occurred in Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt.
April 15th, 2011 - This week on War News Radio, we investigate media coverage of the protests in Afghanistan,
Next, we learn about communications in the Libyan conflict.
Finally, we hear from a journalist who was kidnapped in Afghanistan.
All this, and the week's news.
Thank you Rep. Grijalva and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) for submitting the People's Budget. Now, what is it?
It's a lot to go through, but it's important to summarize the main points. Slogging through the slightly wonkish language of CPC's summary the question can be answered in short by answering the question: Who takes the hits?
Both Obama's and Ryan's budgets are most notable for what is NOT on the table. CPC corrects this. The thumbnail version of the CPC budget is:
- Medicare/Medicaide, Social Security, and education do not take the hits
I like this article at the Examiner, except for all the military advertisements on the page.
Libya's Great Man-Made River - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article explained that America's led NATO war on Libya was long-planned. All military interventions require months of preparation, including:
-- strategy and conflict objectives;
-- enlisting coalition partners;
-- selecting targets;
-- promoting political and public support;
-- deploying troops;
-- in Libya, recruiting, funding, and arming so-called rebels; and
-- post-conflict imperial plans.
Washington wants one despot replaced with another, a useful puppet to salute and obey orders, not independent-minded ones like Gaddafi who went along most often but not always on all issues, some major enough to want him ousted. An important overlooked one is discussed below.
Obamanomics: Waging War on American Workers - by Stephen Lendman
Since taking office, Obama shamelessly betrayed his constituents by:
-- ignoring popular needs during America's greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression;
-- giving Wall Street crooks trillions of taxpayer dollars;
-- spending another $1.5 trillion annually on militarism, imperial wars, and related policies at a time America has no enemies;
-- waging war on organized labor and public education, as well as civil and human rights; and
-- claiming "tough choices" demand class warfare through neoliberal austerity for working Americans, mainly middle and lower income ones least able to afford it.
On April 13, he announced his latest plan through $4 trillion in largely social spending budget cuts over the next 12 years. More on them below.
The same day, New York Times writers Mark Landler and Michael Shear headlined, "Obama's Debt Plan Sets Stage for Long Battle Over Spending," saying:
President Obama has escalated the war in Afghanistan, killed at least 800 civilians in a major expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan, joined a new war in Libya with the U.K. and France, and expanded US Special Forces operations from 60 countries to 75 since he took office. As well as 9,000 JSOC forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, another 4,000 are deployed in other countries, but only Yemen, the Philippines, Colombia, Somalia and Pakistan have been named, leaving us to scratch our heads over the other 68 'secret' deployments.
Tomorrow morning at 10am in Al Manara Square in Ramallah and at 12 in Bethlehem, Nablus and Gaza Palestinian and international associations and NGOs will demonstrate for the immediate liberation of Vittorio Arrigoni, Italian Iinternational Solidarity Movement volunteer kidnapped today in Gaza. Demonstration will also take place in Rome and Milan, Italy. Below is the press release from Luisa Morgantini, former vice president of European Parliament.
FREE VITTORIO ARRIGONI NOW!
We have learnt with anguish and dismay about the kidnapping of the Italian
volunteer Vittorio Arrigoni.
We call on the government of Gaza, on Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and on
all the authorities in the Gaza Strip to intervene immediately and to
negotiate with the groups who are responsible for the abduction of Vittorio.
We also call on the Italian Government in order to engage any possible
action and to be in connection with the Palestinian Authority in Gaza,
Mistreatment of Manning Criticized by UN Torture Investigator, Hundreds of Legal Academics and Hundreds of Thousands
Retired Colonel: “Obama could end torture with one phone call."
Mistreatment of Manning Criticized by Leading Law Professors & UN Torture Investigator
Hundreds of Thousands Write Obama Urging End to Manning Abuse
Retired Colonel: “Obama Could End Torture of Manning
With One Phone Call”
Goldstone Commission Members Affirm Study Findings - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article addressed chairman Richard Goldstone's fall from grace, accessed through the following link:
It discussed his shameless retraction of irrefutable evidence he and other commission members found - namely, that Israel willfully committed crimes of war and against humanity by attacking Gazan civilians and non-military targets in clear violation of international law. Moreover, it was done disproportionately to cause mass deaths, injuries and destruction.
Shockingly, however, Goldstone accepted Israel's internal investigation findings, knowing facts were suppressed and distorted to justify policies. For whatever reasons, he capitulated, selling his soul at the expense of his honor, character, dignity, and high-mindedness, erased in his April 1 Washington Post op-ed too late to retract.
By John Grant
The battle over the meaning of a traumatic experience is fought in the arena of political discourse, popular culture and scholarly debate. The outcome of this battle shapes the rhetoric of the dominant culture and influences future political action.
--Kali Tal, Worlds Of Hurt: Reading the Literature of Trauma
There’s a major struggle for meaning going on in America now that centers on war trauma among returning soldiers and veterans of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Libya.
On Wednesday, President Obama gave a speech about the greatest danger facing us. Wars? Environmental collapse? Joblessness? Homelessness? No, the federal deficit. With two years left on the job, Obama proposed a 12-year plan to fix the deficit that won't fix the deficit. And how did he propose to fail at this misbegotten task? The President proposed to end no wars, make no serious cuts to the military, tax no estates or investments, raise no taxes on any billionaires, REDUCE corporate taxes, and give an unelected commission the power to slash Medicare.
This catastrophic class-war on behalf of the war profiteers has "progressives" cheering and collapsing with adoration, because Obama spent half the speech denouncing the Republicans' budget plan. But if you set aside the rhetoric and look at Obama's plan, a different reaction is likely. Step one, he said, is to slash away at domestic spending.
Step two, is to keep increasing military spending until it destroys us all. Obama claimed to have already cut $400 billion from the Pentagon and to want to do so again. But he has increased the Pentagon budget every year, and the $400 billion cut from one place has been more than wasted in another. His plan is not to reduce the Pentagon's budget by a dime.
Step three in Obama's plan is to give an independent commission the power to start killing off ("improving") Medicare. For step four, Obama promised not to renew the Bush tax cuts for billionaires again. But he made that promise before and broke it. Shouldn't the cheering wait until he keeps it this time? Obama added this delicate touch to his vague and almost vacuous plan:
"And as I called for in the State of the Union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive."
Here's what Obama said in that State of the Union:
"So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years."
At least until this speech informed them of their children's hopeless future on the unchanging path of militarism, people were beginning to talk, just in recent weeks, about the need to challenge Obama. The only real solution will be turning DC's Freedom Plaza into Tahrir Square and shutting this machine down. But a first step is publicly committing to not support Obama as long as he works for the war machine.