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President Barack Obama's administration asked all federal agencies and departments to stop any pending regulatory changes until a review can be conducted, Reuters reported Tuesday. A memorandum, signed by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, was sent to agencies and departments to stop all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the new administration, the news agency said.
Washington, DC – On the morning of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States , members of Military Families Speak Out are expressing hope that a new President might finally take the actions needed to bring the war in Iraq to an end. But families also have deep concerns about the incoming administration's stated intention of continuing that occupation by leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely.
Larry and Judy Syverson, members of Military Families Speak Out from Richmond, VA will be attending the inauguration. Judy Syverson said:
By Dave Lindorff
Maybe symbolism is just symbolism, but the optimist in me says that Barack Obama's invitation to former Communist and life-long political activist Pete Seeger (along with Bruce Springstein and 89-year-old Pete's full-throated grandson Tao) to sing Woody Guthrie's anthem This Land is Your Land, and the fact that the once blacklisted folk legend chose to do not just the feel-good, approved-for-public-school-music-class-use verses, but all the verses, including Woody's long-censored "commie" verses, and that Obama was right there singing those verses along with the rest of the million people on the Mall, has to mean something.
Rev. Gene Robinson Prayer Kicks off Inaugural Events
“Rick Warren is a bigot! No ‘common ground’ with bigot Rick Warren!” shouted Sunsara Taylor as Rick Warren began his keynote address at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. She unfurled a banner that read “NO ‘Common Ground’ with Bigot Rick Warren!” and then was dragged out by the ushers. The banner included the website, www.revcom.us, the revolutionary communist newspaper Sunsara writes for.
Following Sunsara, several other people turned their backs on Warren and were also forced to leave the church. Outside the church, protesters continued chanting, "Rick Warren is a bigot! No 'common ground' with bigot Rick Warren and a crowd gathered.
By Jodie Evans, CODEPINK Women for Peace: Action Blog, via Alternet
As Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States of America, we are more mindful than ever of the Promises for Peace he made to the American people during his campaign, especially his promises to:
1. End the war in Iraq
2. Shut Down Guantánamo
3. Reject the Military Commissions Act
4. Stop Torture
5. Work to eliminate nuclear weapons
6. Hold direct, unconditional talks with Iran.
7. Abide by Senate approved international treaties.
Please join us in REMINDING OBAMA! On January 20th, 2009, tens of thousands will be donning pink ribbons reading "Obama, keep your Promises for Peace." Tie the ribbon around your finger to remind Obama of his Promises. Send us your photos with your Promises for Peace ribbons to email@example.com.
Jodie Evans is a co-founder of CODEPINK.
The New York Times has posted photos of all of Obama's people.
The St. Petersburg Times has posted a list of all of Obama's campaign promises. These make an ideal tool at this moment when the president elect appears to be going back on much of what he promised but most of the country is just thrilled he got elected. If you want to be positive but useful: hold Obama to his own promises.
By Norman Solomon
The mosaic of Barack Obama’s cabinet picks and top White House staff gives us an overview of what the new president sees as political symmetry for his administration. While it’s too early to gauge specific policies of the Obama presidency, it’s not too soon to understand that “triangulation” is back.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton was adept at placing himself midway between the base of his own party and Republican leaders. As he triangulated from the Oval Office -- often polarizing with liberal Democrats on such issues as “free trade,” deregulation, “welfare reform” and military spending -- Clinton did well for himself. But not for his party.
In stark contrast to everything he said BEFORE we voted for him, Obama just said of Bush:
"I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country. And I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances."
By Dave Lindorff
The calls for a reckoning for the criminals of the Bush/Cheney administration are growing by the day, as the final few days of the Bush presidency tick down, and as new evidence of their crimes keep pouring out of the deflating gas bag that was the Bush White House.
For years, the Democrats in Congress, with a few notable exceptions, have sat on their hands, allowing the ongoing destruction of the Constitution, of the US military, of the nation’s reputation, and of the rule of law, as well as of the institution of Congress itself, by a cabal of Republicans in the White House, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who have sought to establish an executive-led government that answered only to itself.
By Ray McGovern
Outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden is going around town telling folks he has warned President-elect Barack Obama "personally and forcefully" that if Obama authorizes an investigation into controversial activities like water boarding, "no one in Langley will ever take a risk again."
Upon learning this from what we former intelligence officers used to call an "A-1 source" (completely reliable with excellent access to the information), the thought that came to me in the face of such chutzpah was from Cicero's livid oration against the Roman usurper Cataline: "Quousque, tandem, abutere, Catalina, patientia nostra!" — or "How long, at last, O Cataline, will you abuse our patience!"
Memo to Obama: Moving Forward Doesn't Mean You Can't Also Look Back
By Arianna Huffington | Huffington Post
In one week, the U.S. Constitution will be front and center as Barack Obama solemnly swears to "preserve, protect, and defend" it. Given all that has happened over the last eight years, that oath is not nearly as pro-forma as it used to be.
During his final press conference yesterday, President Bush said that when it came time "to protect the homeland" he "wouldn't worry about popularity." He would "worry about the Constitution of the United States." It wasn't clear, as it hasn't been for most of his time in office, whether his concern was directed at upholding the document or circumventing it.
Two months ago we denied the presidency to a man who, for a few votes, forsook a long opposition to torture and pledged his America would continue the barbarity. This month we evict from the White House its resident torturer. These are victories worth celebrating, but they are tempered by having elevated to the White House, as we learn weekly that we have, another torturer.
The Apology: How to Turn Over a New Inaugural Leaf
By Tom Engelhardt | www.TomDispatch.com
We consider ours a singular age of individual psychology and self-awareness. Isn't it strange then that our recent presidents have had nothing either modest or insightful to say about themselves in their first inaugural addresses, while our earliest presidents in their earliest moments spoke openly of their failings, limitations, and deficiencies.
By Dave Lindorff
Congress should do now what it should have done back in the fall: kill the Wall Street bailout program.
After wasting $350 billion on a program that was misrepresented from the outset, and investing hundreds of billions of dollars in failing financial institutions that it could have bought outright for less than it was investing in them (AIG was worth only a few billion dollars in total at the time that the government bailed the company out with an initial investment of $85 billion and Citicorp today is worth less than the $45 billion the government has invested in that failing firm), the Treasury Department, now acting at the direction not of the Bush administration and outgoing Treasurer Hank Paulson, but the Obama administration, is asking for the other half of the Troubled Assets Relief Fund (TARP).
Atheists United of Los Angeles has become the first Southern California organization to join the lawsuit, Newdow v. Roberts, asking to prohibit prayers at President-elect Obama’s inauguration. “If ever there was a person who demonstrated the wisdom of our founders in keeping the divisiveness of religion out of our united government, it is the Reverend Rick Warren,” AU President Bobbie Kirkhart said. The suit also asks that Chief Justice John Roberts administer the oath as written in the Constitution, and not add “So help me God,” as recent Chief Justices have done.
By Rita Beamish and Anne Gearn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama appointed a Raytheon Co. lobbyist Thursday to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, acknowledging that his choice appeared to break with his self-imposed rules to keep lobbyists at arm's length.
William J. Lynn III, Obama's choice for deputy defense secretary, is a former Pentagon official who now is senior vice president for government operations at Raytheon Co. Lynn hasn't been a registered lobbyist since July, meaning he can't personally lobby Congress or the White House. In the first three months of 2008, his lobbying team reported spending $1.15 million to influence issues, including missiles, sensors and radar, advanced-technology programs and intelligence funding.
By: Ben Smith and Lisa Lerer, Politico
President-elect Barack Obama is expected to move swiftly to reverse executive orders regarding torture of terror suspects, the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and other controversial security policies, sources close to his transition said, in dramatic gestures aimed at reversing President Bush’s accumulation of executive power.
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said he’s been informed that President Obama will support his proposed legislation to make public some opinions from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which issued some of the Bush Administration's most sweeping claims of executive power. Obama also has promised to limit President Bush's practice of using "signing statements" to amend legislation.
The threat that the United States would launch a military attack on Iran has never been "taken off the table," but you'd be hard pressed to find many people who think that a U.S. attack on Iran in the near term is a realistic possibility.
Even the Bush Administration nixed an Israel attack on Iran, as the New York Times reported Sunday. (Haaretz reported this months ago.) President-elect Obama pledged as a candidate to abandon the "strategy" of isolation and engage Iran diplomatically. And the U.S. already has two wars going (three, if you count the war on Gaza, which is being waged with U.S. weapons and approval, and which is doing as much political damage to the U.S. in the Muslim world as any war waged by the U.S. directly.)
Barack Obama suggested he's not likely to actively pursue criminal charges against national security officials who were directly involved in unlawful interrogations or wire-tapping, and said it would be difficult to quickly close down Guantanamo Bay.
On Guantanamo — which he repeatedly promised to shutter during the campaign — Obama, in an interview on Sunday with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week," reiterated his intent to do just that but also sounded a pragmatic note.
Obama said that he is not ruling out prosecution for crimes committed by the Bush administration and left open the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor or commission to independently investigate abuses of power and illegal activity.
Obama's comments came in response to the most popular question on his own website, www.change.gov, which has received 23,000 votes on the "Open for Questions" portion of the site. Bob Fertik of New York who runs the Democrats.com website asks Obama, "Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor -- ideally Patrick Fitzgerald -- to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?"
Obama Fails Citizen Power Test
US president-elect Barack Obama on Friday nominated two Washington heavyweights to key intelligence positions, vowing to break with controversial "war on terror" practices.
Obama picked retired admiral Dennis Blair as his director of national intelligence and former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Good intelligence is not a luxury. It is a necessity," Obama said as he unveiled his choices for the key posts, vowing to abide by the Geneva Convention pledging the United States would not use torture.
Ari Melber has a great new blog on this at the Nation.
At long last. Change we can believe in.
By Ray McGovern, http://www.consortiumnews.com
In choosing Leon Panetta to take charge of the CIA, President-elect Barak Obama has shown he is determined to put an abrupt end to the lawlessness and deceit with which the administration of George W. Bush has corrupted intelligence operations and analysis.
First and foremost, the appointment gives hope that torture and “rendition” (a euphemism for kidnapping people for delivery to foreign torture chambers) is over — or will be in less than two weeks.
Character counts. And so does integrity.
With those qualities, and the backing of a new President, Panetta is equipped to lead the CIA out of the wilderness into which it was taken by sycophantic directors with very flexible attitudes toward truth, honesty and the law — directors who deemed it their duty to do the President’s bidding — legal or illegal; honest or dishonest.
By Dave Lindorff
The real cost of the Bush Administration’s trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street is becoming painfully apparent as the incoming Obama administration attempts desperately to make a case for its own $800-billion economic stimulus package, while warning about “trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.”
On its own merits, all other considerations aside, with the economy slipping into a sinkhole, President-elect Barack Obama’s call for $800 million in stimulus spending should be a slam dunk for Congress. The problem is, Congress already caved in a hurry and approved nearly that same amount--$700 billion—in a matter of days when Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and his Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke said they needed the money to prevent a collapse of the financial industry, as the nation’s biggest banks, investment banks and insurance companies teetered on the brink of insolvency last fall.
By Steven Hill
The inauguration of the 44th president of the United States is starting to look like the most spectacularly dramatic debut since the Beatles arrived in New York. Before too long, though, the buildup and the hype will be over, and it will be time for Team Obama to produce. Particularly when it comes to three of the president-elect’s top priorities – energy and climate change, health care, and jumpstarting the economy -- President Obama would do well to look toward Europe for guidance.
Europe recently displayed its global leadership by enacting its 20-20-20 Plan: agreeing to cut human-produced carbon emissions that contribute to global warming by at least 20 percent by 2020. They will do this by ramping up renewable energy technologies to 20 percent of its energy usage, and by enacting the world’s most ambitious carbon trading program.
Obama picks Ross as Mideast envoy
By Daniel Dombey in Washington
Dennis Ross, a former top diplomat for the George H W Bush and Clinton administrations, will become the Obama administration’s top envoy on the Middle East, an internal email from Mr Ross’s current employer has revealed.
Mr Ross, who previously served as the US envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is set to take a wider role as Hillary Clinton’s top adviser for the Middle East as a whole. Ms Clinton herself is due to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State next Tuesday.READ REST.
President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that reforming massive government entitlement programs — such as Social Security and Medicare — would be "a central part" of his effort to control federal spending.
Obama made the pledge but provided few details as he named Nancy Killefer as his administration's chief performance officer, creating a new White House position aimed at eliminating government waste and improving efficiency.
Noting that the Congressional Budget Office had just estimated he would inherit a $1.2 trillion federal deficit for fiscal 2009, Obama promised to cut unnecessary spending.