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We all know that President Obama has a lot on his plate. On the other hand, as candidate Obama reminded us, "words matter," especially the words spoken by the President of the United States, and with El Salvador facing a watershed Presidential election on March 15, President Obama could do a lot for the people of El Salvador and the future of U.S. relations with Latin America simply by saying something along the following lines between now and March 15:
"The United States government will remain neutral in El Salvador's March 15 presidential race, will respect the election results, and will work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected."
If you haven't been following the recent history of U.S. relations with Central America in general and El Salvador in particular, that might seem like a pretty banal statement. But in the context of the actual history of massive U.S. interference in the region's political processes, such a statement would be revolutionary.
“The Last Picture Show”: President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2009 Budget
by Richard C. Cook
Greenbacks and programs like the Alaska Permanent Fund are part of what I call Dividend Economics. It’s why I’ve proposed the “Cook Plan,” which would be a system of vouchers for the necessities of life in the amount of $1,000 a month for any adult citizen who applied. A smaller amount would be provided as an allowance for children.
The vouchers would be taxed like any other income and would supplement other entitlements such as unemployment compensation, Social Security, etc. But taxes would be low for those who would use the vouchers as a main source of income. Under the plan, the vouchers would then be accepted as deposits at a new network of community savings banks that would lend at one percent interest to consumers, students, small businesses, local manufacturing establishments, and family farms.
Iran has enough nuclear material to build a bomb, the United States' most senior military commander has said.
"We think they do, quite frankly," Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN.
"And Iran having a nuclear weapon, I've believed for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world," he said.
Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, but the West suspects it is seeking nuclear weapons.
Thanks to a defense contractor's errant use of a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, President Obama's helicopter may not be as safe as it looks.
A Pittsburgh-area company that monitors peer-to-peer networks accessed with file-sharing software like LimeWire and Napster says it has identified a potentially serious security breach involving Marine One and an IP address in Tehran, Iran.
The company found a file detailing the helicopter's blueprints and avionics package, which it then traced to its original source, Tiversa CEO Bob Boback told NBC affiliate WPXI, which reported the story Saturday.
Karl Rove spars with Katrina vanden Heuvel on ABCNews' "This Week with George Stephanopoulous." Watch the complete roundtable here.
This is Rove's first time on ABCNews. Should Rove get a paycheck from ABCNews while ignoring Congressional subpeonas?
Why wasn't Rove arrested?
Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.
As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the "U.S.S.A" (as the bumper sticker says, under the words "Comrade Obama").
President Barack Obama this week is laying out the road home from the war in Iraq during the next 19 months. More or less.
The President has indicated that he'll order the withdrawal of upward of 100,000 American troops from a war that began six years ago and has cost us more than 4,200 American dead, well over 70,000 wounded or injured and nearly a trillion dollars in national treasure.
This withdrawal, however, will leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi security forces, safeguard American facilities and personnel and continue tracking down and eliminating the worst al Qaida in Iraq terrorists.
The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Justice Department's request for an emergency stay in a case involving a defunct Islamic charity.
Yet government lawyers signaled they would continue fighting to keep the information secret, setting up a new showdown between the courts and the White House over national security.
A United Nations special investigator has concluded in a report scheduled for release Friday that foreign intelligence agents sent to question U.S.-held terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay had violated international human-rights laws.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who led the effort in the House of Representatives against the war in Iraq as far back as 2002, today made the following statement after President Obama announced that the combat mission in Iraq will end by August 31, 2010. The President also indicated that between 35-50,000 troops will remain in Iraq to advise and train Iraqi security forces and protect American civilian and military personal.
“I support President Obama for taking a step in the right direction in Iraq, but I do not think that his plan goes far enough. You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can’t be in and out at the same time.
By Dave Lindorff
When President Barack Obama made his quick dash up to Ottawa last week, it's too bad he didn't suffer a gastrointestinal attack, or slip on some ice and twist an ankle or something. If he had, he might have had a chance to do what he should have done anyhow: visit a Canadian health clinic.
Maybe then he would have had his eyes opened to a better idea: government-run health care.
A key fact about the recent history of Iraq is absolutely critical to the nascent debate about Afghanistan: there was more to the Iraq "surge" than sending additional troops, so if folks are going to justify sending more troops to Afghanistan on the grounds that sending more troops "worked" in Iraq, we should be talking about the other elements of US policy in Iraq that changed after November 2006, not just about more troops.
Senate Democratic Leaders Concerned About Obama’s Iraq Plan
By Kate Phillips | NY Times
Even before they are briefed at the White House late this afternoon, Senate Democratic leaders expressed concerns over reports that President Obama’s proposal to withdraw troops from Iraq over a 19-month timeline would leave a residual force there of as many as 50,000 troops.
At a news briefing a few minutes ago, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader from Nevada, indicated that he would be conveying his concerns to the president about the reported troop levels that would remain once the withdrawal deadline is met in August 2010. Mr. Reid said:
US congressman Ron Paul says US military interventions around the world show that American politicians are in pursuit of a "world empire".
US statesmen from both sides of the aisle "are all interventionists, they all believe in the world empire," said the outspoken Republican congressman in an interview with Russia Today.
Paul made the remarks when asked about President Barack Obama's decision to assign 17,000 American troops to Afghanistan contingents.
The Texas congressman called Obama's decision an "outrage", saying the US has suffered "the most because we're paying for our foreign intervention overseas."
"But foreign policies don't change; it doesn't change with Democrats or Republicans," Paul said.
In recent days, four key developments have clicked in to edge Iran and Israel much closer to a military denouement with profound consequences for American oil that the nation is not prepared to meet.
What has happened?
President Barack Obama is taking the first step toward blocking a proposed repository for U.S. nuclear waste, by slashing money for the program in his first budget, according to congressional sources.
Obama's budget to be announced Thursday (Friday in Jakarta) will eliminate virtually all funding for the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada with the exception of money needed for license applications submitted last year to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the document had not been made public.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has fought the Yucca Mountain dump for years, said Obama's decision to cut funding "represents our most significant victory to date in our battle to protect Nevada from becoming the country's toxic wasteland."
President Obama is about to order the beginning of the end of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. Or is he?
President Barack Obama said directly that he would be announcing “a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.” As far as it goes, that sounds good. This is an indication that President Obama is largely keeping to his campaign promises, and that's a hopeful sign, reflecting the power of the anti-war consensus in this country.
If this plan were actually a first step towards the unequivocal goal of a complete end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, it would be better than good, it would be fabulous. But that would mean this withdrawal would be the first step towards a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops, pulling out of all the 150,000+ U.S.-paid foreign mercenaries and contractors, closing all the U.S. military bases, and ending all U.S. efforts to control Iraqi oil.
So far that is not on Obama's agenda.
Prosecutors Prepare Charges Against Final 'Enemy Combatant' in U.S.
By Carrie Johnson and Julie Tate | Washington Post
Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri with providing material support to al-Qaeda terrorists in a groundbreaking move that would put the alleged sleeper agent under the jurisdiction of the U.S. court system, according to sources familiar with the issue.
Indicting Marri in a federal court marks a significant change from the policies of the Bush administration, which had argued that al-Marri should be tried in a military tribunal proceeding and that he could not use American courts to contest his legal status.
Afghanistan's Complex Nature of Fighting
By Tom Santoni | Central Florida Veterans For Peace
Note: Mr. Santoni’s views expressed in this article do not represent an official statement of position on behalf Veterans For Peace in regards to the Impeachment of President Barack H. Obama …yet.
How many Obama-ordered civilian deaths in foreign lands will you tolerate before speaking out and taking action? Three Pakistani children are three too many for me.
In a blatant and unmistakable act of war against a sovereign nation, Barack Obama, four days into his administration on Friday, January 23, 2009, as commander in chief of US armed forces, ordered the US military to launch Hellfire missile strikes on homes in northwest Pakistan, killing dozens of civilians including at least three children. The military was aiming to bomb al Qaeda and Taliban “suspects,” but there was some unfortunate “collateral damage”. Oops.
In the Wall Street Journal of January 24, the loathsome McCarthyite neocon David Horowitz gazed approvingly on the inauguration of Barack Obama. To Horowitz it meant the removal of an obstacle to war. Thus he wrote:
The Bush administration shut off a source of information last fall about abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities that people suing nursing homes consider crucial to their cases.
The change that affects the $144 billion nursing-home industry occurred with no public notice or attention, perhaps because of the array of last-minute rules that President George W. Bush’s appointees rushed out before leaving Washington last month.
“This is pretty stunning,” said Mark Kosieradzki, a plaintiff attorney in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Nobody was told. It was just done.”
By Dave Lindorff
Barack Obama’s first address to Congress provided Americans with yet another example of competent speechmaking, and I suppose, given that we’ve just endured eight painful years of oratorical farce, being able to listen to your president without wincing is something.
The problem is that the way forward proposed by the president as laid out in this address was almost always half-hearted, wrong-headed or doomed.
Obama declared at the outset of his address that the economic crisis was the major issue confronting the country, and while one could argue that this crisis is merely a symptom of much bigger issues, like the nearly completed deindustrialization of the nation, the death grip of militarism, and the growing political power of corporations, one could also concede that there is an urgent need to deal with the deepening recession.
The Seven Intellectual Underpinnings of the Obama Code: George Lakoff
By George Lakoff | Buzzflash
As President Obama prepares to address a joint session of Congress, what can we expect to hear?
The pundits will stress the nuts-and-bolts policy issues: the banking system, education, energy, health care. But beyond policy, there will be a vision of America—a moral vision and a view of unity that the pundits often miss.
What they miss is the Obama Code. For the sake of unity, the President tends to express his moral vision indirectly. Like other self-aware and highly articulate speakers, he connects with his audience using what cognitive scientists call the "cognitive unconscious." Speaking naturally, he lets his deepest ideas simply structure what he is saying. If you follow him, the deep ideas are communicated unconsciously and automatically. The Code is his most effective way to bring the country together around fundamental American values.
For supporters of the President, it is crucial to understand the Code in order to talk overtly about the old values our new president is communicating. It is necessary because tens of millions of Americans—both conservatives and progressives—don’t yet perceive the vital sea change that Obama is bringing about. The word "code" can refer to a system of either communication or morality. President Obama has integrated the two. The Obama Code is both moral and linguistic at once. The President is using his enormous skills as a communicator to express a moral system. As he has said, budgets are moral documents. His economic program is tied to his moral system and is discussed in the Code, as are just about all of his other policies.
Behind the Obama Code are seven crucial intellectual moves that I believe are historically, practically, and cognitively appropriate, as well as politically astute. They are not all obvious, and jointly they may seem mysterious. That is why it is worth sorting them out one-by-one.
Former British resident Binyam Mohamed arrives back in Britain tomorrow after his release from Guantanamo Bay. British and US lawyers claim that sustained beatings - which have only recently stopped - have left him with severe psychological and physical problems....Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: "He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this."
Binyam Mohamed will return to Britain suffering from a huge range of injuries after being beaten by US guards right up to the point of his departure from Guantánamo Bay, according to the first detailed accounts of his treatment inside the camp.
John Bresnahan reports:
Former Bush adviser Karl Rove was a no-show today at his scheduled deposition deadline for the House Judiciary Committee's ongoing probe into the U.S. attorney firings -- setting up a major decision for President Obama on how to respond to congressional subpoenas.
A new report released just hours ago reveals that U.S.-made white phosphorus artillery shells among other U.S. weapons were found throughout Gaza. When white phosphorus munitions are used in densely-populated civilian areas as Israel has, it violates international humanitarian law’s prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and amounts to a war crime.
In light of this new finding, we are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately call for:
* an investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. arms in Gaza
* a suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel and
* to urge the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict
Samia Salman Al-Manay'a, 16 years old, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house on January10th. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she spoke to our delegation.
"The pain is piercing. It's as though a fire is burning in my body. It's too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong."
U.S. soldiers forced to return to active duty haven't received the pay bonuses they were promised five months ago, advocates say.
The 13,000 soldiers, who were made to remain on active duty beyond their enlistment period by so-called stop-loss orders, are entitled to monthly bonuses of up to $500 under a plan approved last year by Congress and was set to take effect Oct. 1. But the soldiers are still waiting to see the bonuses, USA Today reported Monday.
Gitmo detainee who claimed torture is freed | MSNBC
Former British resident is first to be released since Obama took office
A Guantanamo prisoner who claims he was tortured at a covert CIA site in Morocco returned to Britain a free man Monday after nearly seven years in U.S. captivity — the first inmate from the U.S. prison camp freed since President Barack Obama took office.
Binyam Mohamed, once accused by U.S. officials of being part of a conspiracy to detonate a "dirty bomb" on American soil, flew to a British military base.
He was released after being interviewed for four hours by police and immigration officials. He had to fill out new paperwork for residency since his permit expired in 2004.
Mohamed's claims of torture, abuse and extraordinary rendition are at the heart of several lawsuits. Lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic are suing for secret documents they say prove the United States sent Mohamed to Morocco and that Britain knew of the mistreatment — a violation under the 1994 U.N. Convention Against Torture.
By Dave Lindorff
If Democrats want to come out of this economic crisis with a powerful mandate to continue running the country, they need to bag the nonsensical talk of “bi-partisanship” and tackle two big lies that have been stymieing progressives for decades.
The first lie is that the only solution to the nation’s deepening health care crisis, which now has over 42 million people—roughly one in seven Americans—living without any health insurance or ready access to medical care, is a combination of limitations on treatment and continued reliance on the private health insurance industry.
The second lie is that Social Security, the single most important economic “safety net” under the lives of America’s elderly, its disabled, and children who lose a wage-earning parent, is headed for “bankruptcy” and needs to have its already skimpy benefits cut back.