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Showing posts from March, 2010

The Obscenity of War

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - President Barack Obama has just returned from his first trip as commander in chief to Afghanistan. The U.S.-led invasion and occupation of that country are now in their ninth year, amid increasing comparisons to Vietnam.
Daniel Ellsberg, whom Henry Kissinger once called “the most dangerous man in America,” leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg, who was a top Pentagon analyst, photocopied this secret, 7,000-page history of the U.S. role in Vietnam and released it to the press, helping to end the Vietnam War.
“President Obama is taking every symbolic step he can to nominate this as Obama’s war,” Ellsberg told me recently. He cites the “Eikenberry memos,” written by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, which were leaked, then printed last January by The New York Times.
Ellsberg said: “Eikenberry’s cables read like a summary of the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan. ... Just change the place names from ‘Saigon’ to ‘Kabul’ ... and they read almost exact…

HAITI: Looking More and More Like a War Zone

Inter Press Service - On an empty road in Cite Militaire, an industrial zone across from the slums of Cite Soleil, a group of women are gathered around a single white sack of U.S. rice. The rice was handed out Monday morning at a food distribution by the Christian relief group World Vision.
According to witnesses, during the distribution U.N. peacekeeping troops sprayed tear gas on the crowd.
"Haitians know that's the way they act with us. They treat us like animals," said Lourette Elris, as she divided the rice amongst the women. "They gave us the food, we were on our way home, then the troops threw tear gas at us. We finished receiving the food, we weren't disorderly. "
"Red zones are no-go zones, you're not supposed to be there whatsoever," said Regine Zamor, a Haitian-American who arrived days after the earthquake to find her family. She's been coordinating among NGOs to distribute aid in Carrefour Feille, one of the hardest-hit areas of …

Pesticide Lobbyist Gets Posted as Chief Agricultural Negotiator

Civil Eats @ Common Dreams - Confident after his success with health insurance reform, President Obama exerted his executive power on Saturday by making fifteen appointments during the Senate's recess. Among the appointments was Islam Siddiqui, who will now be serving as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (I've written here about what that job entails).
Siddiqui had been working since 2001 as a lobbyist and then later as vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, a lobbying organization for the pesticide and biotech industries. CropLife famously sent Michelle Obama a letter trying to convince her to use pesticides on her organic garden on the White House lawn. But while that move pushed the group into the media spotlight, behind the scenes the group in which Siddiqui has had a strong hand in leading has been lobbying to weaken regulations on biotechnology, pesticides and other agriculture chemicals both in…

President Obama: Drill, Baby, Drill

ABC News - On Wednesday morning at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility in Washington, DC, President Obama will announce that his administration will allow the lease sale to go forward for oil and gas exploration 50 miles off of the Virginia coast -- the first new sales of offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic in more than two decades.
The Department of Interior will also allow seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Outer Continental Shelf from Delaware all the way South to the tip of Florida, to assess the quantity and location of potential oil and gas resources. A White House official says that the president will also approve a lease sale in Alaska's Cook Inlet, while canceling another lease sale in Alaska's Bristol Bay because of environmental concerns. (Lease sales in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are essentially being suspended pending further scientific review.) Read more.
In 2008 Obama spoke AGAINST offshore oil drilling

Cyberbullies Charged With Harassing Phoebe Prince, Teen Who Killed Herself After Rape

The Huffington Post - Nine teens have been charged in the "unrelenting" bullying of a teenage girl from Ireland who killed herself after being raped and enduring months of torment by classmates in person and online, a prosecutor said Monday.
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of South Hadley was stalked and harassed nearly constantly from September until she killed herself Jan. 14. The freshman had recently moved to western Massachusetts from Ireland.
"The investigation revealed relentless activities directed toward Phoebe to make it impossible for her to stay at school. The bullying for her was intolerable," Scheibel said. Read more.

FLASHBACK: Danny Glover: I See No Difference Between Bush And Obama Policies

- Danny Glover -
“I think the Obama administration has followed the same playbook, to a large extent, almost verbatim, as the Bush administration. I don’t see anything different,” the activist movie actor said of Obama’s policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. “On the domestic side, look here: What’s so clear is that this country from the outset is projecting the interests of wealth and property. Look at the bailout of Wall Street. Why not the bailout of Main Street?” Read more.

Russia Suspects Northern Caucasus in Moscow Subway Bombing

Voice of America - Senior Russian officials say terrorists from the troubled Northern Caucasus could be behind two deadly explosions that ripped through Moscow's subway during morning rush hour on Monday. Female suicide bombers are suspected of carrying out the bomb attacks that killed at least 38 people and injured dozens more.
The blasts occurred during the morning rush hour in central Moscow. The first was at the Lubyanka metro station near the headquarters of the Russian State Security Service, known as the FSB, the successor to the Soviet KGB. The second came 40 minutes later at the Park Kultury station near the city's well-known Gorky Amusement Park.
In a televised Kremlin meeting, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said preliminary information indicates the first device contained the equivalent of four kilograms of TNT, the second up to two kilograms. Bortnikov also shared a possible motive. Read more.
The security official says the FSB's preliminary version of t…

Have a Nice World War, Folks

John Pilger @ Common Dreams - Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and "bunker-buster" bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of "defence" Robert Gates complains that "the general [European] public and the political class" are so opposed to war they are an &…

A Bomber Jacket Doesn't Cover the Blood

Normon Solomon - On Sunday, during his first presidential trip to Afghanistan, Obama stood before thousands of American troops to proclaim the sanctity of the war effort. He played the role deftly -- a commander in chief, rallying the troops -- while wearing a bomber jacket.
There was something candidly macabre about the decision to wear that leather jacket, adorned with an American Eagle and the words "Air Force One." The man in the bomber jacket doesn't press the buttons that fire the missiles and drop the warheads, but he gives the orders that make it all possible.
One way or another, we're used to seeing presidents display such tacit accouterments of carnage. Read more.

Is America "Yearning for Fascism?"

Chris Hedges - The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.
“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the co…

CIA paper reveals plans to manipulate European opinion on Afghanistan

The Raw Story - 'Out-of-the-box' CIA think tank proposes concerns over women's rights, fear of terrorism as ways to boost support for Afghan war
Evidently spooked by the collapse of the Dutch government over the country's involvement in Afghanistan, the CIA has put together a strategy proposal to prevent what it fears could be a "precipitous" collapse of support for the war in Afghanistan among European allies.
A document marked "confidential / not for foreign eyes," posted to the Wikileaks Web site, suggests strategies to manipulate European public opinion on the war, particularly in France and Germany. Read more.

Washington Mutual Files For Chapter 11

The Huffington Post - Washington Mutual Inc. filed a Chapter 11 reorganization plan, two weeks after resolving a $4 billion dispute with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The FDIC seized Washington Mutual's flagship bank in 2008 and sold its assets to JPMorgan for $1.9 billion. The sale resulted in the two banking companies and the government agency trading lawsuits over roughly $4 billion in disputed deposit accounts following the largest bank failure in U.S. history.
The bank holding company filed its 521-page plan late Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Read more.

For Years, Deaf Boys Tried to Tell of Priest’s Abuse

The New York Times - They were deaf, but they were not silent. For decades, a group of men who were sexually abused as children by the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin reported to every type of official they could think of that he was a danger, according to the victims and church documents.
They told other priests. They told three archbishops of Milwaukee. They told two police departments and the district attorney. They used sign language, written affidavits and graphic gestures to show what exactly Father Murphy had done to them. But their reports fell on the deaf ears of hearing people.
This week, they learned that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, received letters about Father Murphy in 1996 from Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, who said that the deaf community needed “a healing response from the Church.” The Vatican sat on the case, then equivocated, and when Father Murphy died in 1998, he died a priest.
“That man should have b…

Crane COLLAPSE: Strikes 25-Story Building Near Wall Street

The Huffington Post - A listing crane has struck a 25-story building near Wall Street, crumbling its facade and leading to evacuations at five buildings. The Fire Department of New York says there were no injuries Saturday after the crane hit a 23rd-story ledge of a building on Maiden Lane, three blocks from Wall Street. Police say part of the lower Manhattan building's facade fell.
Firefighters say the base of the crane is on the other side of the street from the building and the crane is leaning on the building. Mechanics are trying to reposition it.
Traffic has been diverted. Streets have been closed.
The struck building and three others have been evacuated. Another is partially evacuated. The buildings are in the Financial District and have residential units and commercial space.
Police don't know why the crane tilted. Read more.

WikiLeaks Demands the US "Stops Spying" on its Operations

Raw Story - In an extraordinary editorial, the whistleblower site WikiLeaks has demanded that the United States "stop spying" on its operations.
"Over the last few years, WikiLeaks has been the subject of hostile acts by security organizations," founder Julian Assange writes. "We've become used to the level of security service interest in us and have established procedures to ignore that interest. But the increase in surveillance activities this last month, in a time when we are barely publishing due to fundraising, are excessive."
On Tuesday evening, followers of the WikiLeaks Twitter feed were startled to read, "WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation." This was followed a few minutes later by "If anything happens to us, you know why: it is our Apr 5 film. And you know who is responsible." A succeeding message warned, "We have airline records of the State Dep/CIA tails. Don't thin…

Dutch government falls over Afghanistan mission

Radio Netherlands Worldwide - The Dutch government has collapsed over a rift between coalition parties about extending Dutch military participation in Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told journalists that the prime minister has offered his government's resignation to Queen Beatrix, the constitutional head-of-state.
News of the collapse came in the early hours of Saturday morning following 16 hours of crisis meetings and days of speculation that the differences between the coalition parties had simply become too great to bridge. Read more.

Springtime in France Begins With a Broad Street Mobilization for Employment, Retirement, and Other Social Rights

Truthout - Only two days after the end of French regional elections, in which candidates associated with conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy took a drubbing, civil servants and other workers took to the streets to protest a broad range of neoliberal reforms that are contributing to growing social and economic insecurity. On Tuesday, March 23, an "inter-professional day of action," called for by all major trade unions, mobilized over half a million in the streets of French cities, including about 60,000 in Paris. Public elementary and secondary schoolteachers, who are fighting not just cutbacks, but an authoritarian reorganization of the whole teacher education program, were among the most mobilized in the one-day event. Read more.

A Robust Public Option...for Colleges

Jeff Cohen @ Common Dreams - When President Obama signs the healthcare reconciliation bill on Tuesday, we can crow about a robust public option - en route perhaps to a more inclusive, cost-effective single-payer system. Soon, private profiteers (and subsidies to them) will be sidelined, and the government will save taxpayers billions by providing service directly to Americans in need.
We won!
I'm not hallucinating. We should savor this victory.
Unfortunately, it's not a healthcare victory.
Attached to the healthcare reconciliation bill is an unrelated college loan measure that goes in the opposite direction of healthcare reform. The loan measure sidelines private profiteers - the banks - and saves taxpayers money by making the government something of a "single-payer" which will soon be directly issuing most college loans in our country.
Direct lending by the government will cut out the middleman and save taxpayers, according to the Congressional Budget Office, $61 billion…

Comcast and NBC's Real Diversity Issues

The Huffington Post - At last month's house hearing on the proposed Comcast-NBC takeover, execs from both companies shamefully acknowledged their diversity problems. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts sheepishly divulged that his company's board of directors includes only one woman and one person of color, and NBC's Jeff Zucker confessed that the network has no Black programming. Read more.

A Controversial Drilling Practice Hits Roadblock in NYC

Photo credit: penywise from morguefile.com
Environment 360 - The highly productive method of natural gas extraction known as "hydro fracturing" has spread rapidly across the United States in recent years, opening up vast new reserves in Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and other states.
Last fall, however, the process - also known as "fracking" - ran headlong into opposition from New York City. And for now at least, stiff resistance from the city, which fears the contamination of its pristine water supply in upstate New York, seems to have slowed the momentum behind this highly touted - and highly controversial - drilling technique.
The city's 90-page inventory of the possibly dire impacts of hydraulic fracturing has now become primary source material for a growing environmental backlash to the gas industry's rapid assault on the huge gas-rich geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which underlies large portions of rural Pennsylvania, West Virginia, a…

US OKs Massive Arms Shipment to Israel

Antiwar - As reports continue to fly about the ever-worsening relationship between the Obama Administration and Israel’s Netanyahu government, it is business as usual for the nations’ defense establishments, which today reached an agreement on a $210 million arms deal.
The deal will involve the delivery of three C-130J “Super Hercules” airplanes, which were manufactured specifically for Israel. Read more.

Renewed Push for Iran Sanctions Targets China, Turkey

Antiwar - The US and Western allies appear to be renewing their push for “crippling” sanctions against Iran, though they have already conceded that such moves are unlikely in the next several months and opposition seems to remain in place.
Officials in Turkey once again reiterated their opposition to sanctions against Iran, despite threats from the US State Department that they could face “consequences” for refusing to back the US measure in the UN Security Council. Read more.

Iran-Contra operative linked to questionable spy program

CNN - A former high-ranking CIA official who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal has worked on an alleged ad hoc spy program that the Pentagon is investigating, CNN has learned.
Duane "Dewey" Clarridge -- who was pardoned for his alleged role in the Reagan-era scandal by President George H. W. Bush in the waning hours of his presidency in 1992 -- is using contacts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to obtain information for the Pentagon, according to former government officials familiar with the current program.
They declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The Pentagon has launched an assessment of the roles of at least three contractor companies with more than $20 million in contracts, according to Pentagon officials. Read more.

Dreaming Bigger Dreams

Common Dreams - How do you end a column after 16 years? With regrets and unfulfilled dreams? Perhaps, but truthfully, Column of the Americas as a deadline-based column ends with even bigger dreams.
There indeed is disappointment with the ease in which the U.S. populace has accepted and normalized 1) the notion of permanent war as a God-given U.S. birthright; 2) the further militarization of the nation & world; 3) the politics of fear, hate and blame; and 4) Big Brother Government. All with nary a whimper.
Under George W. Bush, this was not surprising. The disappointment has come in seeing the Obama administration generally embrace the reactionary policies of Bush’s 9-11 Nation. Despite the 2006 & 2008 electoral sweeps – in which the electorate thoroughly repudiated the Republican program of war, xenophobia and corporate welfare – [angry] conservatives act as though they won. The irony is that president Obama actually has governed as though he agrees, and owes them. For example, …

My Children, Ralph Nader and the South China Sea

Common Dreams - I basked in the warm Borneo sun, following a long run somewhere at the edge of a rainforest. The beach was only partly clean, but the water was most inviting. My children ran excitedly, collecting what I assumed to be shells and whatever other treasures the South China Sea had decided to divulge that afternoon. Their movement, from afar, signaled frenzy and perhaps even a slight panic. I hesitated at first, then ran to investigate.
At the ages of six and four, my girls Zarefah and Iman were already the most kindhearted kids. They were actually going through complete and unmitigated panic, as they had just noticed the starfish which had been cast off by the waves and which were now dotting the shoreline as far as the eye could see. The children became determined to place every single one of them back in the water before they died.
But most all of them were already dead.
My kids didn't know this. And I didn't have the courage to break the dreadful news. I stood in s…

Trivializing War

Common Dreams - Captain Ferguson (not his real name) gets up early in the morning, and has breakfast with his wife and children. At the office, Captain Ferguson sits in front of the computer on and off for almost eight hours every day. At the end of the day he heads back home. Captain Ferguson's wife is glad to see him back to discuss the events of her day. He does the same, with one omission. By most measures, it has been a beautiful day. Beautiful, that is, if you don't consider Captain Ferguson's omission. While sitting in front of his computer, he was directing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, carrying powerful bombs to land in distant countries. He presumes, but he is not totally sure, that he has hit the right target. After the bombs exploded four suspected terrorists were killed. Four fewer criminals the U.S. will have to deal with.
A later investigation will later reveal that they were not terrorists but rather they were parents and children on…

Velvet Imperialists

Foreign Policy In Focus - I'm not a big fan of Dana Rohrabacher, the grandstanding Republican congressman from California. But last week at a congressional hearing on U.S.-Japan relations, he ably cut through the Pentagon's doublespeak.
The hearing's topic was the current conflict between Washington and Tokyo over the military bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The United States wants to close the aging Futenma air base, send half the Marines over to Guam, and build a replacement facility in a less populated part of the island. Most Okinawans don't want a new base or an old base expanded to accommodate the remaining Marines from Futenma. The Japanese government hasn't decided whether to listen to Washington or to its own constituents.
Rohrabacher had a simple question for the Pentagon official at the hearing. "How many U.S. military personnel do we have in Japan?" he asked. Looking very uncomfortable, the official said that he would have to get back t…

Better School Food = More Local Farms

Civil Eats - Currently, the National School Lunch Program feeds nearly 31 million students every day for $9.3 billion per year. At the end of February, President Barack Obama proposed a $1 billion a year increase ($10 billion over ten years) in funding for U.S. child nutrition programs including school lunches. Sounds like a lot. But $1 billion, it turns out, really only boils down to an extra twenty cents per school meal. Right now, the reimbursement rate per meal is $2.68, and less than a dollar of that goes towards actual food. The rest is spent on infrastructure. Many school food advocates believe that serving wholesome, nutritious meals for under $3 is just not possible and there has been a rallying cry for more – up to a $1 more per child’s meal.
Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, once told me if the USDA did nothing else than change the food served in schools, the…

Britain to expel Israel diplomat over Dubai assassination

Christian Science Monitor - Britain is reportedly expelling an Israeli diplomat on today over suspected involvement in the Dubai assassination of a top Hamas operative. Britain accused its ally Israel of forging up to a dozen British passports that Dubai police say were used by Mossad agents to kill Mahmoud Mabhouh in January.
Though Britain stopped short of saying it had concrete proof Israeli involvement in the killing of Mabhouh, the diplomatic punishment is a rare allegation by a Western ally of involvement in a covert assassination. A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that Ambassador Ron Prosor was summoned to London's Foreign Ministry on Monday, but would not comment the reported expulsion. Read more.

Rent - A - Rambos

Eric Margolis @ Lew Rockwell - A fascinating scandal has erupted in Washington that is exposing the sordid underbelly of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
According to a New York Times investigation and other Washington sources, the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies have fielded covert mercenary networks in Afghanistan, Pakistan (AKA "Afpak"), and Iraq whose mission is to murder tribal militants and nationalists opposing Western occupation.
US law forbids murder or using mercenaries. But, as Cicero said, "laws are silent in times of war."
A former senior Pentagon official specializing in murky foreign operations, Mike Furlong, set up a company, International Media Ventures (IMV), to supposedly provide the US military with "cultural information" about Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes. Codename: Operation Capstone.
Two obscure, Orwellian-named Pentagon outfits, "the Cultural Engineering Group" of Florida, and "Counter-Narcoterrorism Tec…

Google Leaves China

Hindustian Times - In New York, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the “story’s not over yet”. In Beijing, an official spokesman said Google was “totally wrong”. And in the Chinese capital’s Silicon Valley, youngsters left flowers at the Google building.
Late on Monday night, the Internet giant shut its Chinese website and shifted its search engine services to uncensored Hong Kong after two months of confrontation with Beijing over censorship and alleged hacking attacks. But those rerouted to Hong Kong still couldn’t access sensitive websites as these were blocked by Chinese filters.
“The Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond wrote on a blog post — inaccessible in Beijing on Tuesday. “We are well aware it could at any time block access to our services,” he said.
Google’s bold censure of the business environment in the world’s number three economy — and …

In Indonesia, Obama's "Bully Boys" Murder Civilians by the Thousands

The Nation - According to senior Indonesian officials and police and details from government files, the US-backed Indonesian armed forces (TNI), now due for fresh American aid, assassinated a series of civilian activists during 2009. The killings were part of a secret government program, authorized from Jakarta, and were coordinated in part by an active-duty, US-trained general in the special forces unit called Kopassus who has just acknowledged on the record that his TNI men had a role in the killings.
The news comes as President Barack Obama is reportedly due to announce that he is reversing longstanding US policy--imposed by Congress in response to grassroots pressure--of restricting categories of US assistance to TNI, a force that, during its years of US training, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. The revelation could prove problematic for Obama, since his rationale for restoring the aid has been the claim that TNI no longer murders civilians. Secretary of State Hillary…

Unclean Water Claims More Lives Than War

Environment News Service - Unsafe water kills more people than war plus all other forms of violence combined, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message to the world today, designated as World Water Day.
The 2010 World Water Day theme is Clean Water for a Healthy World, but every day two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural wastes enter the Earth's waters, while every 20 seconds a child under the age of five dies from water-related diseases.
The World Health Organization reports that unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene claim the lives of an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five each year.
"Human activity over the past 50 years is responsible for unprecedented pollution, and the quality of the world's water resources is increasingly challenged," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. Read more.

Sibel Edmonds was right...again

Antiwar -Luke Ryland, proprietor of the blog Let Sibel Edmonds Speak, discusses the disclosure of pre-9/11 FBI investigations [audio interview found here] that corroborate some of Sibel Edmonds’ previously unsupported claims, Turkish lobbies involved in Congressional bribery and drug trafficking, US foreign military aid (funded by taxpayers) that keeps the world awash in F-16s and lines the pockets of defense contractors.

Bombs Drop Around the World, as the Obama Lovefest Continues at Home

Antiwar - It’s springtime for Obama, and, ironically, the autumn of the authentic left, which is fast approaching extinction. A few of the old-fashioned liberals still persist – Glenn Greenwald comes to mind – but the sheer paucity of prominent examples underscores the shift that has taken place. As Ralph Nader – another survivor from the good old days – said at the Washington rally, the Obama administration has faithfully continued the Bushian foreign policy and the frontal assault on our civil liberties – and all, I might add, without any real rebellion in the “progressive” ranks. It’s like the Communist party after the signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact – brain dead hand-raisers without an ounce of life or intelligence among the lot of them.
If the antiwar movement is to grow, it must reach out to the real America: the great American middle class, or what’s left of it. Battered by a “recession” that is in fact the first stages of a depression, angry about their loss of status and th…

The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Obama and the congressional leadership have consciously shut out advocates of single payer from the debate. The press, including papers such as The New York Times, treats single payer as a fringe movement. The television networks rarely mention it. And yet between 45 and 60 percent of doctors favor single payer. Between 40 and 62 percent of the American people, including 80 percent of registered Democrats, want universal, single-payer not-for-profit health care for all Americans. The ability of the corporations to discredit and silence voices that represent at least half of the population is another sad testament to the power of our corporate state to frame all discussions.
Change will come only by building movements that stand in fierce and uncompromising opposition to the Democrats and the Republicans. If they can herd Kucinich and John Conyers, the sponsors of House Resolution 676, a bill that would create a publicly funded National Health Program by elimin…

Judge in 9/11 health trial orders settlement renegotiation for sick Ground Zero heroes

NY Daily News - A judge Friday tore up a $575 million deal for Ground Zero workers - and ordered lawyers to come up with a settlement that matches the sacrifice of the sick.
Stunned 9/11 heroes applauded and city officials grimaced after Judge Alvin Hellerstein scuttled the agreement struck by lawyers just last week.
"In my judgment, this settlement is not enough," Hellerstein said after hearing tearful rescue and cleanup workers vent frustration in Manhattan Federal Court.
"From the beginning I felt ... that the people who responded on 9/11 were our heroes," he said, speaking from "the heart" without any notes for 25 minutes.
"They cushioned the blow. ... They brought us back from that blow."
But now, he said, they were being shortchanged and pushed into signing on to an incomprehensible deal before they even knew how much they would get. Read more.

In France, President Sarkozy Braces for Electoral Wipeout

The Huffington Post - President Nicolas Sarkozy's party braced for a potential electoral wipeout in Sunday's final round of regional elections, which an alliance of the rival left hopes will give it a national sweep and a staging ground for 2012 presidential voting.
Even damage control was difficult for the conservatives.
Sarkozy's UMP party, or Union for a Popular Majority, has ended up pleading with voters to go to the polls, hoping supporters simply failed to cast ballots in the first round – the case for more than one in two French.
The participation rate was at a historic low in last Sunday's voting – some 46 percent. The Socialist-led left won 53.5 percent of the votes while the UMP-led conservatives had 39.9 percent.
Even with Sarkozy's party, some said voters were being alienated by the president and his high-speed reforms.
Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe said this week that Sarkozy must start "facing reality." Read more.

To Obama: Anti-war Activist Cindy Sheehan says "Arrest that war criminal"

The Huffington Post - Thousands of protesters – many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama – marched through the nation's capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Liz Proefriedt, a retired Roman Catholic nun, held up a banner that read, "Bread not bombs."
"It's sad that a lot of people did not come out for this protest," said Kathy Hoang, of Manchester, Conn. "People are getting used to the war, and don't bother even to think about it anymore."
"Arrest that war criminal!" Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama. Read more.

A Ruinous Meltdown

Bob Herbert @ The New York Times - A story that is not getting nearly enough attention is the ruinous fiscal meltdown occurring in state after state, all across the country.
Taxes are being raised. Draconian cuts in services are being made. Public employees are being fired. The tissue-thin national economic recovery is being undermined. And in many cases, the most vulnerable populations - the sick, the elderly, the young and the poor - are getting badly hurt. Read more.

Has Rahm's Assumption about Progressives been Vindicated?

Glenn Greenwald - For almost a full year, scores of progressive House members vowed -- publicly and unequivocally -- that they would never support a health care bill without a robust public option. They collectively accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars based on this pledge. Up until a few weeks ago, many progressive opinion leaders -- such as Moulitsas, Howard Dean, Keith Olbermann and many others -- were insisting that the Senate bill was worse than the status quo and should be defeated. But now? All of those progressives House members are doing exactly what they swore they would never do -- vote for a health care bill with no public option -- and virtually every progressive opinion leader is not only now supportive of the bill, but vehemently so. In other words, exactly what Rahm said would happen -- ignore the progressives, we don't need to give them anything because they'll get into line -- is exactly what happened. How is that not vindication? Just consider what…

Mountaintop Removal Activists Protest Lisa Jackson

Rainforest Action Network - In an attempt to further pressure EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to enforce the Clean Water Act and halt mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR), activists early this morning erected two 20-foot-tall, purple tripod structures in front of the agency’s headquarters. A pair of activists perched at the top of the tripods have strung a 25-foot sign in front of the EPA’s door that reads, “EPA: pledge to end mountaintop removal in 2010.” Six people are locked to the tripods and say they won’t leave unless Administrator Jackson commits to a flyover visit of the Appalachian Mountains and MTR sites, which she has never done before.
This is the latest in a series of actions and activities aimed at pressuring the EPA to take more decisive action on mountaintop removal coal mining. Today’s tactic is modeled on the multi-day tree-sits that have been happening in West Virginia to protect mountains from coal companies’ imminent blasting. Called the worst of the worst strip mi…

Obama the Wife Beater?

Obama the Wife Beater? by Max Eternity
Is President Obama beating his wife, Michelle? No, absolutely not. But metaphorically speaking, and in many ways by default, he is literally beating children, men and women around the world--just like his predecessor George W. Bush--using various weapons of mass destruction in all the ongoing, mindless bombing campaigns throughout Africa and the Middle East, known to disproportionately kill and maim pregnant women, teenage girls and young children, who are almost always people of color.
Bombs falling from the skies, that's not happening in America. No, Obama could never get away with literally dropping bombs here in the US. But what he is getting away with wholesale, is the de facto, continued installation of a digital-age, indentured servant caste system arisen as a direct result of neglecting essential, domestic priorities that would benefit the majority in favor of massive giveaways that benefit an elite minority--simultaneously turning …

Nation's Largest Hispanic Advocacy Group Opposes Reform As Is

The Huffington Post - The nation's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization has announced it will oppose the health care bill being considered by Congress unless major changes are made during reconciliation, presenting a potentially damaging late-stage obstacle to the bill's passage
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) released a statement to the Huffington Post on Thursday morning that recognizes the need to tackle reform but argued that the Senate's version of legislation -- which is the basis for the entire bill -- is a non-starter. Read more.

Monkeys in Lab Boiled Alive

The Huffington Post - Workers at a Nevada research lab were checking on a primate room when they came across a ghastly sight: Thirty dead monkeys were essentially cooked alive after someone left the heater on. Two others were near death and had to be euthanized.
At a lab run by the same company, a monkey died last year after it was sent through a washer while still in its cage. The temperatures were so scalding the monkey never had a chance.
The two cases have led to calls for greater oversight and enforcement of the animal research industry after an alarmingly high number of deaths in recent years.
Critics say fines for violations at animal research labs are so puny that they do nothing to deter violations. The lab where the monkeys died in Nevada was fined a mere $14,000 for the two incidents, according to records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"The penalties have given them virtually no motivation whatsoever to cease violating the law," said Michael Budkie, the exec…

EU Selling Torture Equipment

Inter Press Service - Equipment designed for torturing prisoners is still being exported from European Union (EU) countries despite a four-year-old ban on such trade, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
The human rights group has found that companies active in several of the EU's 27 states have exploited loopholes in controls aimed at putting an end to the selling of instruments of torture. Read more.

Charles Moore, Civil Rights Photographer Dies at 79

Powerful Images: A Kodak Presentation
"I Fight With My Camera"
- Charles Moore

The Green They Steal, The Greed They Wear ...a St. Patrick's Day Lament

Michael Moore - Friends,
It was amazing. Every story on the front page of Monday's New York Times told the story of the Age of Greed during which a system known as capitalism is slowly, but surely, killing us:
Insurance company greed: "Millions Spent to Sway Democrats on Health Care"
War profiteers: "Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants"
There's no profit in repairing our infrastructure: "Repair Costs Daunting as Water Lines Crumble"
China, the bank: "China Uses Rules on Global Trade to Its Advantage"
You mean NAFTA didn't improve life in Mexico: "Two Drug Slayings in Mexico Rock US Consulate"
What happens when Big Food profits from hurting kids: "Forget Goofing Around: Recess Has New Boss"
There's now a daily parade of news like this -- well, not really "news," more like the media division of large corporations shoving your face into the dirt that is your life. You already know the schools…

Michael Jackson Estate Lands Largest Record Deal in History

Michael Jackson's "Bad" Jacket ad Belt (Image: Wikipedia)

Yahoo News - Sony Corp has reached a deal with Michael Jackson's estate that could be worth as much as $250 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the situation.
The report said the deal, coming months after Jackson's death, is the most lucrative recording contract ever signed. It guarantees the estate at least $200 million, according to the newspaper's web site, and involves 10 albums over seven years. Read more.