Obama Channels Bush on Afghanistan

The Slow Pullout Method
by Norman Solomon
Hours after President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress, the New York Times printed the news that he plans to gradually withdraw “American combat forces” from Iraq during the next 18 months. The newspaper reported that the advantages of the pullout will include “relieving the strain on the armed forces and freeing up resources for Afghanistan.”

The president’s speech had little to say about the plans for escalation, but the few words will come back to haunt:
“With our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al Qaida and combat extremism, because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it.”
Obama didn’t mention the additional number of U.S. troops -- 17,000 -- that he has just ordered to Afghanistan. But his pledge that he “will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people” and his ringing declaration, “We will not allow it,” came just before this statement: “As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy.”
Read more ...

Mexican Indigenous Leaders Disappeared

Indigenous Leaders Disappeared
by Jane Jones
Dear friends and allies; on behalf of the team that constitutes Tlachinollan, I am writing to ask for your help with an Urgent Action for RAUL LUCAS LUCIA and MANUEL PONCE ROSAS, two Indigenous human rights defenders and leaders of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People

(OFPM) - which works in coordination with the Organization of the Me Phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) - who have been disappeared since February 13th.
Read more ...

America's Torture Legacy

Propelling Prisoners' Heads into Concrete Walls
by David Swanson
Propelling prisoners' heads into concrete walls by means of towels wrapped around their necks, savage beatings with fists and rifles that left prisoners crippled, hanging prisoners by the arms with their arms strung up behind them, depriving prisoners of sleep for weeks on end, which has been thought the worst torture possible for 500 years, causing prisoners to freeze -- sometimes to death, and waterboarding are but a partial list of the torture methods ordered by America's highest officials.
In the "Preliminary Memorandum of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference on Federal Prosecutions of War Criminals," law school Dean Lawrence Velvel, the founder of the Jackson Conference, details the full spectrum of tortures performed in wholesale combinations -- not one torture by itself -- on detainees around the world.
His Preliminary Memorandum is a precursor to a formal legal complaint to be filed with the Justice Department this spring.

Read more ...

Land to the Tiller, Forests to the Communities

Land to the Tiller, Forests to the Communities
by Peter Ewart & Dawn Hemingway
In this first of a three-part series of articles, we will be discussing some ideas about how to renew rural and northern communities in British Columbia that are caught in the midst of an unprecedented economic downturn in forestry and other industrial sectors.

It has been like watching the slow motion destruction of an office tower. First one floor gives away; then another and another, each section inexorably pulling down the rest, until there is only a giant cloud of dust and heaps of tangled concrete and steel girders remaining.  So have gone many banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies in the U.S. and other countries in the world during the current financial crisis. And so have many big corporations in industrial sectors such as auto, forestry, steel, and retail.
Read more ...

The New Civil War: Obama Promises Benefits to Unemployed - Louisiana Declares Secession

Damn that Lincoln: Abe's to blame for Jindal
by Greg Palast
Damn that Abe Lincoln. When Louisiana and Mississippi seceded from the Union, a sensible president would have sent them a box of chocolates with a note, "Goodbye and good riddance."

Tonight, following Barack Obama's budget presentation to Congress, effectively the president's first State of the Union Address, the Republicans chose to give their party's response, the governor of the state that wanted to leave the Union, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal.

Jindal told us that Barack Obama is a terrible President who passed a stimulus bill "larded with wasteful spending."   Where's the lard?  All week, Jindal has been screeching that Obama wants to require states like Louisiana to extend unemployment insurance to - get this - the unemployed!  (Technically, the federal government would pay 100% of the cost of reforming Louisiana's and Mississippi's Scrooge-sized benefit requirements.)
Read more ...

Between Peace and Peril

A Choice Between Peace and Peril
by Chris Hedges
Bibi Netanyahu’s assumption of power in Israel sets the stage for a huge campaign by the Israeli government, and its well-oiled lobby groups in Washington, to push us into a war with Iran.

Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. But reality rarely impedes on politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, along with Netanyahu, all talk as if Iran is on the brink of dropping the big one on the Jewish state.
Read more ...

An Economical Memory: How the Economy was Lost

How the Economy was Lost
by Paul Craig Roberts
The American economy has gone away. It is not coming back until free trade myths are buried six feet under. America’s 20th century economic success was based on two things. Free trade was not one of them.
America’s economic success was based on protectionism, which was ensured by the union victory in the Civil War, and on British indebtedness, which destroyed the British pound as world reserve currency.
Following World War II, the US dollar took the role as reserve currency, a privilege that allows the US to pay its international bills in its own currency.

Read more ...

Israel Critic Canned: On Cowardice and the Duty of Academe

by Joel Kovel
Bard has effectively crafted for itself an image as a bastion of progressive thought. Its efforts were crowned with being anointed in 2005 by the 'Princeton Review' as the second-most progressive college in the United States, the journal adding that Bard "puts the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts.'" But “liberal” thought evidently has its limits; and my work against Zionism has encountered these.

A fundamental principle of mine is that the educator must criticize the injustices of the world, whether or not this involves him or her in conflict with the powers that be. The systematic failure of the academy to do so plays no small role in the perpetuation of injustice and state violence.
In no sphere of political action does this principle apply more vigorously than with the question of Zionism; and in no country is this issue more  strategically important than in the United States, given the fact that United States support is necessary for Israel’s behavior.
Read more ...

Still Targets: Baghdad's Doctors Living in Hiding

Iraqi Doctors in Hiding Treat as They Can
by Dahr Jamail
BAGHDAD — Seventy percent of Iraq’s doctors are reported to have fled the war-torn country in the face of death threats and kidnappings. Those who remain live in fear, often in conditions close to house arrest.

Dr. Thana Hekmaytar. Photo: Dahr Jamail
“I was threatened I would be killed because I was working for the Iraqi government at the Medical City,” Dr. Thana Hekmaytar told IPS. Baghdad Medical City is the largest medical complex in the country.

Dr. Hekmaytar, a head and neck surgeon, has now been practising at the Saint Raphael Hospital in Baghdad for the last five years. It is difficult now both as woman and as doctor, she says. Most women are now living in repressive conditions because the government is less secular. And that is besides the chaotic conditions around Iraq.

“It is particularly difficult for female doctors,” Dr. Hekmaytar says. “Large groups in Iraq only want us to stay at home, and certainly not be professionals.”
Read more ...

The Abyss Staring Back

The Abyss Stares Back
by Jim Kunstler
The public perception of the ongoing fiasco in governance has moved from sheer, mute incomprehension to goggle-eyed panic as the scrims of unreality peel away revealing something like a national death-watch scene in history's intensive care unit. Is the USA in recession, depression, or collapse? People are at least beginning to ask. Nature's way of hinting that something truly creepy may be up is when both Paul Volcker and George Soros both declare on the same day that the economic landscape is looking darker than the Great Depression.
Those tuned into the media-waves were enchanted, in a related instance, by Rick Santelli's grand moment of theater in the Chicago trader's pit last week when he seemed to ignite the first spark of revolution by demonstrating that bail-out fatigue had morphed into high emotion -- and that the emotion could be marshaled against public policy. The traders in the pit on-screen seemed to color up and buzz loudly, like ordinary grasshoppers turning into angry locusts preparing to ravage a waiting valley. "Are you listening, President Obama?" Mr. Santelli asked portentously.
Read more ...

Logging in the Englishman River: Legislature Hears Allegations Against Nanaimo-Parksville Member

Point of Privilege
by WCWC (mid-island)
Draft Transcript from the Hansard record of the B.C. Legislature.
S. Fraser: I rise today to raise a point of privilege. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Mr. Speaker: Proceed.  [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

S. Fraser: I served notice yesterday on my intention to raise a question of privilege, and I rise now to that matter of which written notice has been given to the Chair under Standing Order 26. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I believe that I can establish a prima facie case on the face of the record that the member for Nanaimo-Parksville breached the privileges of this House by misleading this assembly. I have attempted to keep my presentation brief and non-argumentative, in accordance with the rules. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The member for Nanaimo-Parksville has made statements in this House on the subject of logging in the Englishman River. On Thursday last week in question period, the member told the House: "This was logged under a plan, a watershed management plan, that involved consultation with the Arrowsmith Watershed Society and other groups." [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Read more ...

Torture, Progressive Style

Updates: Child Sacrifice and Gitmo Torture, Progressive Style
by Chris Floyd   
I. We reported here last week about another in the barrage of stories detailing civilian deaths at the hands of American-led forces in the "good war" in Afghanistan, now being escalated by Barack Obama. (And not only in Afghanistan; Obama is also rapidly expanding American attacks inside Pakistan to include forces there with little or no involvement with the war in Afghanistan -- along with the usual blood-fruit harvest of civilians, of course.)

In last week's post, we took note of Washington's claim that U.S. missiles had killed "15 militants" in a raid that Afghan officials said actually killed 13 civilians, including six women and two children. Today, the New York Times reports that Pentagon has now admitted that they did indeed kill 13 civilians in the raid, and only 3 militants -- precisely as the Afghan authorities had claimed.

Not that this will give our cool, adorable, Buddha-like president a moment's pause, but the incident and its reportage gives us yet another timely reminder that the claims by Afghan authorities about civilian casualties are almost always highly accurate, while the first instinct of the Pentagon is to lie, deceive and spin -- with the sure knowledge that its initial claims will always be greeted as authoritative by the Homeland press, while the inevitable climbdowns and qualifications that come later will pass largely unnoticed.
Read more ...

Page 938 of 1232