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President Obama's State of the Union Speech: WTF?

By Dave Lindorff

I never expected to find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin, but I’ve got to admit that the woman nailed it regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Asked to comment on it, she said it had a lot of “WTF moments.”

That’s exactly what I found myself thinking as I read through it!

We’ve “broken the back” of the recession? WTF? The official unemployment rate is still 9.4%, and even that is down slightly from a 9.8% high only because so many people have given up trying to find a job and have left the workforce, taking early retirement or just staying home. And the real unemployment rate--the one that counts those who have given up but would work if there were actually jobs to be had, and those who have grasped at part time work just to survive--is still at between 19% and 22%, depending on how you’re counting. Who’s Obama kidding: us or himself?

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."

Chas Freeman: US No Longer Qualified to Mediate Mideast Peace

By Just World Books

In his remarks today at the DC's New America Foundation, Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. presented a scathing critique of a  US foreign policy in the Middle East.  He explained that the current trajectory of US foreign policy is bound to unfold more and more disasters around the world, noting that US missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and the stalled Israel/Palestinian peace process are exhausting America's political and economic capital.  Rather than pursue national interests, he argues, the US has become subject to a series of self-defeating policies and unsustainable civilian-military relations.  He made the case to revisit the original US objectives in Afghanistan, to reconsider the cost of US aggression and military supremacy in the world and to "outsource" the fumbled US role in the Mideast peace process to more credible nations. A video of his complete remarks is below. 

Amb. Freeman's latest book, "America's Misadventures in the Middle East" presents a series of essays on  US policy in the Middle East, covering the first Gulf War, the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, America's failure to engage in diplomacy and the relationship of Saudi Arabia with Western and world powers.  The book delves in depth into many of the arguments presented by Ambassador Freeman at Wednesday's NAF talk. 


Video streaming by Ustream

 

 

Mixed-Media: Assange and Posada in the Propaganda System

By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

By an historical coincidence, both Julian Assange and Luis Posada Carriles were brought before Western courts around the same time in late 2010 and early 2011—Assange in Britain and Posada in the United States. The contrast in their treatment by the U.S.-Anglo system of justice and in their handling by the Western establishment media is enlightening.

Posada, now 82, is a self-confessed terrorist, Bay of Pigs veteran, School of the Americas graduate, and CIA operative who has been credibly placed at two meetings where the plan was hatched for the October 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 civilians aboard. He also has been implicated in numerous other terrorist acts in which people were killed or injured and property destroyed, and he played a role in the United States' arms-smuggling network in Central America that eventually came to light in the Iran-Contra investigations.

Historical Amnesia: The Nation's Number One Disease

By John Grant

Recent indicators suggest the US military mission in the Middle East and Southwest Asia is waning in influence, leaving us mired down with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars of equipment and bases. And a lot of face to save.

According to a New York Times analysis, Turkey and Iran are rising in regional influence as the United States is falling. And let's not forget, arguably the single-most important historical act that boosted Iran to this level of regional influence was the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“The jockeying might be a glimpse of a post-American Middle East,” writes Anthony Shadid in the Times analysis.

Still, you have to admire US leaders for their talent and tenacity in never publicly recognizing the obvious. George Bush, of course, was an underestimated master at this.

Bradley Manning Walking in the Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Kevin Zeese

“The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong. . . that we have been detrimental to . . .life . . . . The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when speaking of the Vietnam War.

Bradley Manning and the Rule of Law

By Kevin Zeese

The case of Private Bradley Manning raises legal issues about his pre-trial detention, freedom of speech and the press, as well as proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting aside Manning’s guilt or innocence, if Bradley Manning saw the Afghan and Iraq war diaries as well as the diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks what should he have done? And, what should be the proper response of government to their publication?

The Chemistry of Empire

In the beginning, chemicals collided and catalyzed, evolving a system of development from non-living to living things, proteins and nucleic acids interacting--greeting and meeting, dating and mating—in a metaphorical dance of romance. The recipe to make more was born. Now, chemicals portend the end. So much tells us so. An eye for an eye doesn’t just blind the world; it annihilates. The blueprint for reproduction becomes one of destruction.

I’m not relaxed.

Sen. Lindsay Graham advocates permanent military presence in Afghanistan, despite an objection from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.

And despite the deaths of thousands of military men and women during Bush’s war—the War OF Terror that passed seamlessly to Commander Obama. Last week, two US troops died in Iraq where combat ENDED months ago. Because the president told us so, even announcing the improved name of the non-war: Operation New Dawn.

Islamophobia Explained:

A Conversation With Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Alejandro Beutel

Dec 27th, 2010 - Not since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has the fear and loathing of Muslims been as virulent, as widespread among Americans, and as close to morphing from hateful rhetoric into life-threatening violence.

A Better Time? When?

It’s been so cold I’ve powered on the elliptical trainer. I prefer running through my neighborhood, in sunshine, observing people, reading bumper-sticker messages, and breathing fresh air.

I was on the exerciser, though, and consumed enough by the monotony (groan) to glance OFTEN at the mounting minutes. I was thinking about cutting the workout short but, instead, decided to reverse and go backwards. Backwards, backwards, my legs worked, and, suddenly, I was struck by a thought--the possibility that I could continue this redirection and undo time. I could accelerate the pace until the mile display indicated a negative as I ellipti-seized the past. Faster and faster, I would retreat to a place in my life that carried the promise of fullness, satisfaction, those days when the children were young and more was right in my world.

The Irony

US trauma treatment center assists Iraqi refugees

Dec 23, 2010 - Ekhlas Gorgees kept her composure as she recounted the horrific traumas she and her family endured in Iraq.

She calmly recalled how her husband was severely wounded after a bomb exploded outside of his Baghdad plumbing shop, how she was threatened at gunpoint while walking home from church and how her family tried to escape north to the city of Mosul just before a bloody attack on civilians sent them fleeing back to the capital. It wasn't until later when she talked about the difficulty of leaving her homeland that the tears came.

"We are the native people of Iraq - it's hard for us to leave our native country," she said through an interpreter. "The hope - even now - is to go back to my country."

‘Muslim terrorist’ ????

‘Muslim terrorist’ on Air Malta plane turns out to be Caribbean Christian

24 December 2010 - The story that made the rounds of the world that a Muslim man was apprehended on an Air Malta plane when he persisted in praying out aloud in the aisle just as the plane was taxying to take off at London’s Heathrow Airport, now has to be revised.

It was a Caribbean Christian man, Maria Busuttil who was on the plane with him, told The Times. And the prayer he was chanting was the ‘Our Father’.

Yet even yesterday on In-Nazzjon, Brian Grech who had a hand in restraining the man, still insisted the man was an Arab Muslim.

Writing on The Times comment pages yesterday, Ahmed Sain wrote: “For all of you who made a comment yesterday on this subject, I think you got it all wrong regarding this man’s religion. Now you guys ask for forgiveness.”

The Bankster Merry-Go-Round

Obama apologists are on a low rung of the ladder to hope, hoping that the president will, suddenly, fulfill some of his promises of, yes, hope.

Articles and letters have been composed, direct pleas to the president, by historians, economists, former politicians, retired veterans, physicians, educators, the underemployed, unemployed, and others, all people who just want the man they supported to do something, anything, indicating that he is real, that he works for americaville, for them, for the woe-man on the street.

This week we saw a fired-up Obama, defending negotiations with Republicans. The president explained his position on tax breaks for the wealthy, saying he compromised to insure tax cuts for the middle class. A majority of Americans oppose extending Bush-era tax cuts to the rich.

Friend or Foe?

In the muddy of my mind, the Minutemen are singing “Warfare” lyrics:

Falling down the road
Steeper as it goes
Friend or foe
Nobody knows

In the muddy of my mind the Minutemen are singing “The Big Stick” lyrics: “We learn and believe there is justice for us all and we lie to ourselves with a big stick up our ass.”

On Monday, six US troops, serving in Afghanistan, died after receiving friend-foe fire from an Afghan police officer during a training exercise. Friend or foe (?) must be among the many complexities servicemen, women, and their families ponder.

This wasn’t unique, isn’t an aberration. Similar incidents have occurred. Last December, five British soldiers were killed by an Afghan police officer.

Wikileaks: The Faucet Has Opened!

I'll say this again: Sadly it looks like these don't go back far enough, I for one want to know how much it cost this country for the so called 'coalition of the willing' for the invasion of Iraq, and there's still plenty that needs to be added to what has already come out as to the previous admin!!

US embassy cables: browse the database

Sunday 28 November 2010 - Use our interactive guide to discover what has been revealed in the leak of 250,000 US diplomatic cables. Find stories and original documents by country, subject or people Visit to Use Their Interactive Globe and More

So Many Messages

All week, I intended to write about Nancy Grace and her Veterans Day tribute to our “fallen,” that euphemism for the war-torn dead. I would begin and, suddenly, see her surname with fallen and be Galatians 5: 4’d to “ye are fallen from grace.” I blame it on childhood years of Baptist brainwashing.

It’s just that my mind has been a smorgasbord of images and messages, lately. There’s Bush’s self-masturbatory, ghostwritten diary, along with email pleas for efforts in futility, war and more war, income disparity, and all the people who lead lives of either quiet or screaming desperation.

Soon after W began pushing his memoir, a flurry of requests for petition signing, demanding an investigation of Bush Administration

The Manchurian Candidate Gives Out a Medal of Honor

John Grant

Sergeant Salvatore Giunta will receive a Congressional Medal of Honor this week for bravery under fire in October 2007. At great risk, he assaulted a hill and rescued a gravely wounded comrade being dragged away by an insurgent. He will be the first living soldier to receive the medal since the war in Vietnam.

The man Giunta rescued did not survive, and the US forces eventually abandoned the Korengal Valley where the fighting took place.

Giunta, 25, saw his actions this way:
“I ran to the front because that is where he (the wounded comrade) was. I didn’t try to be a hero and save anyone.”

As for the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan, he said, “I have sweat more, cried more, bled more in this country than in my own. These people won’t leave this valley. They have been here far before I could fathom an Afghanistan.”

Behind Drone Issue in Yemen, a Struggle to Control Covert Ops

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Nov 10, 2010 (IPS) - The drone war that has been anticipated in Yemen for the last few months has been delayed by the failure of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda there.

That failure has given the CIA a new argument for wresting control of the drone war in Yemen from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which now controls the drone assets in the country. But some key administration officials are resisting a CIA takeover of the war in Yemen, as reported by the Washington Post Nov. 7.

The struggle between the CIA's operations directorate and SOF officials over management of a drone war in Yemen has been a driving force in pushing the war against al Qaeda and affiliated organisations into many more countries – along with President Barack Obama's eagerness to show that he is doing more than his predecessor on terrorism.

The Big Universe

I received three robocalls from Barack Obama in the days before the election. I listened to the first and cut short the second and third. The President implored me to vote because so much was at stake.

I had a brief conversation with the man who phoned on behalf of Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. John Sarbanes. He wanted to know if the two could count on me. I explained that I've called their offices many times to ask that they stop funding war. And that I’ve always received the obligatory acknowledgment, thanking me for my input. Then, I told the caller, “But they continue to vote for war, so, no, since I can’t count on them, they cannot count on me.”

American Midterm Candidates Pandered For Pro-Israel Money and Votes

By Linda Milazzo

At a time when Israel faces near universal condemnation for the May 30th killings of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish American aboard the Gaza bound Mavi Marmara, and worldwide rebuke for its continued blockade of Gaza and ongoing expansion into Jerusalem and the West Bank, American midterm candidates still pandered for pro-Israel money and votes during this 2010 midterm election.

Cognizant of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) financial support for American politicians who legislate on Israel's behalf, allegiance to Israel played a role in several of this year's races.

WAR! (don't look!)

The face of war (don't look!)

Nov 2, 2010 - A new isolationism is metastasizing in the American body politic. At its heart lies not an urge to avoid war, but an urge to avoid contemplating the costs and realities of war. It sees war as having analgesic qualities - as lessening a collective feeling of impotence, a collective sense of fear and terror. Making war in the name of reducing terror serves this state of mind and helps to preserve it. Marked by a calculated estrangement from war's horrific realities and mercenary purposes, the new isolationism magically turns an historic term on its head, for it keeps us in wars, rather than out of them.

Caterpillar Withholding Sale of D9

Caterpillar Withholding Sale of D9 Death Bulldozers to Human Rights Violator

October 30, 2010 - American Corporation Caterpillar has Taken a Stand for Humans in Stopping the Sales of Bulldozers that Destroy Homes of Indigenious Peoples Jewish Groups for Peace Rejoice with Millions Around the World

I have remarkable news. The Israeli press is reporting that Caterpillar is withholding the delivery of tens of D9 bulldozers—valued at $50 million—to the Israeli military.(1)

These are weaponized bulldozers that are used to illegally destroy homes and orchards of Palestinian families. And they are the very same bulldozers as the one that killed a 23-year-old American peace activist named Rachel Corrie seven years ago when she tried to protect the home of the Nasrallah family in Gaza.

War-hit countries 'most corrupt'

War-torn states are still seen as being the most corrupt in the world, according to a new report from Transparency International.

 

26 October 2010 - The Berlin-based watchdog monitors perceived corruption and has published its annual report, based on a poll of businesses and people in 178 nations.

The worst country is Somalia, followed by Burma, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for top place as the world's least corrupt countries, with the UK 20th.

'Good governance needed' {read rest}

 

Seeking Justice for Rachel

Rachels parents were living and working in Charlotte NC at the time of her killing and working with Pro-Peace Activist as the drums of the war of choice, Iraq, were beating louder and louder!

Parents Seek Justice From Israel In Activist's Death

Sebastian Scheiner/AP: Cindy and Craig Corrie, seen earlier this month in Jerusalem, are suing the Israeli Defense Forces to get a full accounting of their daughter's death. Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer as she tried to stop it from demolishing a Palestinian home in 2003.

October 21, 2010 - Cindy Corrie says she'd given little thought to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict until her daughter Rachel became immersed in it.

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The U.S. Military as Quagmire Specialists

This story originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Consider this: the number three book at Amazon.com at the moment is entitled Obama’s Wars, and yet the war that may most truly turn out to be the president’s seems only now to be gaining steam.  Is it a case of premature titling?

50%

How Revenge Perpetuates Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

ScienceDaily (Oct. 4, 2010) — Revenge cuts both ways in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Scientists of the University of Zurich, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tel Aviv and Quinnipiaq Universities show that attacks by either side lead to violent retaliation from the other. Both Israelis and Palestinians may underestimate their own role in perpetuating the conflict.

A team of scientists from the University of Zurich, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tel Aviv and Quinnipiaq Universities have found that attacks by both Israel and Palestinians lead to violent retaliation from the other side. This finding challenges claims by both Israelis and Palestinians that they confronted with a fundamentally hostile and implacable foe, suggesting instead that part of the violence of each side is a direct reaction to previous attacks by the other party.

The team analyzed a large dataset of killings and rocket attacks in the Second Intifada between Israel and Palestine, spanning the years 2000-2008, using a statistical method called Vector Autoregression. "This technique allows us to study the effect of a single additional attack from one side on future attacks by the other side," says lead author Johannes Haushofer, a neurobiologist and economist at the University of Zurich. "We find that when one side attacks the other, they directly inflict a certain additional number of fatalities or rocket attacks on their own people, because they can be nearly certain that the other side will retaliate. For example, when Israeli forces kill 5 Palestinians, they automatically increase the probability that Israelis will die from Palestinian attacks on the following day by 50%."

Audit finds flaws in US arms sales to Gulf

By Daniel Dombey, FT

The US administration has concluded multibillion-dollar arms deals with Gulf states without establishing whether they were in the national interest, according to a congressional investigators’ report seen by the Financial Times.

The report by the Government Accountability Office ex presses concern that “US priorities are not consistently considered before such sales are authorised”.

It comes as the government is stepping up arms sales to Arab states in an effort to contain Iran.

In its audit of authorisations of weapons exports to six Gulf countries, the non-partisan report suggests the administration has failed to ensure the deals are in the national interest.

Harah!: Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians and Other Americans

By Dave Lindorff

The surprise disclosure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its state Homeland Security Agency, along with a number of local police departments in the state, have been employing a private Israeli security company with strong links to Mossad and the Israeli Defense Force grows increasingly disturbing when the website of the company, called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, is examined.

ITRR’s slick site at www.terrorresponse.org features a homepage image of an armor-clad soldier or riot policeman preparing to fire an automatic pistol, while the company boasts of being “the preeminent Isreal/American security firm, providing training, intelligence and education for clients across the globe.”

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