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Home

Old Politics Undercuts the New

THE FARTS OF COMPROMISE:  HACKING THE STIMULUS
by Danny Schechter (author of Plunder)
It became clear Friday night that our economy may not recover until our politics do. To President Obama, the delays and endless Congressional carping about his recovery plan was  “inexcusable.”  He was reduced to reading the latest unemployment numbers aloud as if to say, what world are you guys in?

 “Last month, another 600,000 Americans lost their jobs,” Mr. Obama said. “That is the single worst month of job loss in 35 years. The Department of Labor also adjusted their job loss numbers for 2008 upwards, and now report that we have lost 3.6 million jobs since this recession began.”

The President didn’t mention the Center for Responsible Lending’s new counter ticking off a new foreclosure every 13 seconds. Credit card defaults are at an all time high. There are fears that the bond market could be next to go with the dollar playing demolition derby.
 

Canadian Law Enforcement: Not Just a Job, an Occupation

Not Just a Job, An Occupation: Canadian Police Policy for the New Century
by C. L. Cook
Robert Dziekanski's final words were replayed and translated last week for the Braidwood Inquiry into the Polish emigre's death at Vancouver International Airport in October of 2007.
 
Two Vancouver City Police officers face charges of assault and robbery against cabbie Firoz Khan
 
Facing four Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a distraught and confused Dziekanski, recorded on video earlier by another passenger throwing furniture about and ranting in Polish, reportedly said; "Leave me alone. Are you out of your minds?"
 
As the first of the taser charges surged through his body, Dziekanski could be heard calling out for assistance, begging for help from the "Polizia! Polizia!"

Dziekanski's confusion as to the identity of his assailants was replicated by cab driver, Firoz Khan who was beaten and robbed in front of a downtown Vancouver hotel in early February.
 
Khan was beset in front of the Vancouver Hyatt by an apparently drunken man seeking directions. When he was not forthcoming quickly enough, the irate drunk began pounding the elderly Khan. The assailant was joined by another man, the pair gleefully putting the boots to the now prostrate cabbie, yelling at him between blows; "We don't like brown people."  
 
As Dziekanski did in his final moments, Khan too cried out for the interdiction of the "Polizia," unaware the two men beating him were in fact off-duty Vancouver city police officers.
 

U.S. Attorney Probes Closing in on Gonzales?

Gonzales May Face Obstruction Charges in U.S. Attorney Probe
by Jason Leopold
A special prosecutor appointed to investigate the firings of nine federal prosecutors in 2006 has built a strong case against Alberto Gonzales that may result in obstruction of justice charges against the former Attorney General related to the role he played in the U.S. Attorney firings, according to attorneys directly involved in the probe and lawyers defending former Bush administration officials whose clients have met with the special counsel.
 
According to legal sources, over the past several weeks Gonzales’s former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has provided damaging information to Special Prosecutor Nora Dannehy, an Assistant U.S. Attorney from Connecticut, about Gonzales. Sampson is said to have told the special prosecutor that Gonzales was far more engaged in the attorney firings than he had previously disclosed to Dannehy, in Congressional testimony and in interviews with Justice Department watchdogs.
 
 

Sea Shepherds and the Whaling Pirates of the Ross Sea

Sea Shepherd Crew Remain On Guard Behind the Nisshin Maru: Update from the Ross Sea
by Sea Shepherd Society
Despite repeated assaults by frustrated and increasingly violent Japanese whalers, the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin continues to stand guard behind the Japanese floating abattoir called the Nisshin Maru.
 
The three Japanese harpoon boats are not in the area but the Sea Shepherd crew is prepared to obstruct them should they return.
 

The Japanese have been accusing Sea Shepherd of trying to obstruct their props with ropes yet the whalers have been trying to do the same thing to the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin. They are accusing the Sea Shepherd crew of throwing rotten butter (which the Japanese refer to as "acid") at them yet the whalers are throwing golf balls and chunks of metal at the Steve Irwin crew.  In addition, the Japanese are blasting the Sea Shepherd crew with water cannons and Long Range Acoustical weapons - a sonic gun that causes disorientation, nausea and deafness.
 

Putting American Warmaking out to Pasture

Putting War Waste on the Chopping Block
by David Swanson
In the ordinary course of things in Washington, D.C., and on television, there are two separate conversations. In one conversation, everything that the government spends money on (schools, transportation, police, etc.) must be trimmed back to save money. In the other conversation, the expenses of wars and the military must be unquestioned. After what he said this week on ABC, it will be interesting to see whether Congressman Barney Frank is permitted on television anymore. He combined the two conversations.

After a right-winger proposed more tax cuts to "stimulate" the economy and denounced any spending programs as not being "stimulus," Frank pointed out that the largest spending program we've seen is the war on Iraq. Host George Stephanopoulos clearly felt the force of some galactic wind about to suck him into a different dimension in which the two conversations are permitted to overlap. He jumped in and said "That is a whole 'nother show." But Frank faced the taboo head-on, saying:

    "No it isn’t. That's the problem. The problem is that we look at spending and say oh don't spend on highways, don't spend on healthcare, but let's build cold war weapons to defeat the Soviet Union when we don't need them, let's have hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars going to the military without a check. Unless everything is on the table then you're going to have a disproportionate hit in some places."
 

Curse of the Ruling Class

CURSE OF THE RULING CLASS: PARALYSIS AT A TIME OF ACTION
by Jack Random
House Republicans said we would stand up for American taxpayers at this time of economic hardship for our nation. And last night, standing together, that’s exactly what we did.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH)

At a time of economic meltdown – the word “crisis” is no longer adequate to describe it – posturing Republicans claim victory in toeing the party line, former Senate minority leader Tom Daschle – the man who would lead health care reform – believes his colleagues will overlook his indiscretions, and Blue Dog Democrats read from the same script they held eight years ago as if nothing had changed.  
 
 

Revolt Builds Against Rip-off Rescue Plans

Public Revolt Builds Against Rip-off Rescue Plans for the Economy
by Naomi Klein
Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles in 2002: "You are Enron. We are Argentina."
 
Icelanders force government out

Its message was simple enough. You--politicians and CEOs huddled at some trade summit--are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course, we didn't know the half of it). We--the rabble outside--are like the people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They shouted, "¡Que se vayan todos!" ("All of them must go!") and forced out a procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The target was the dominant economic model--this was the first national revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism.
 

Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard

Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard: Where Empires Go to Die
by Tom Engelhardt
It is now a commonplace -- as a lead article in the New York Times's Week in Review pointed out recently -- that Afghanistan is "the graveyard of empires." Given Barack Obama's call for a greater focus on the Afghan War ("we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq..."), and given indications that a "surge" of U.S. troops is about to get underway there, Afghanistan's dangers have been much in the news lately.
 
Some of the writing on this subject, including recent essays by Juan Cole at Salon.com, Robert Dreyfuss at the Nation, and John Robertson at the War in Context website, has been incisive on just how the new administration's policy initiatives might transform Afghanistan and the increasingly unhinged Pakistani tribal borderlands into "Obama's War."

In other words, "the graveyard" has been getting its due. Far less attention has been paid to the "empire" part of the equation. And there's a good reason for that -- at least in Washington. Despite escalating worries about the deteriorating situation, no one in our nation's capital is ready to believe that Afghanistan could actually be the "graveyard" for the American role as the dominant hegemon on this planet.

In truth, to give "empire" its due you would have to start with a reassessment of how the Cold War ended.
 

Graveyard of Empires: America's New Asian Quagmire

The Graveyard of Empires: America's New Asian Quagmire
by Tom Burghardt
With the situation on the ground rapidly deteriorating, U.S. imperialism's South Asian adventure is going off the rails. The New York Times reported February 4 that supplies "intended for NATO forces in Afghanistan were suspended Tuesday after Taliban militants blew up a highway bridge in the Khyber Pass region, a lawless northwestern tribal area straddling the border with Afghanistan."

The 30-yard-long iron bridge, located 15 miles northwest of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) provincial capital, Peshawar, a thriving metropolis of several million people, was a major supply route ferrying some 80 percent of NATO supplies into Afghanistan.
 
Tuesday's attacks were followed-up Wednesday when insurgents torched 10 supply trucks returning from Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported. Supplies destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan--primarily food and fuel--are trucked through Pakistan by local contractors. Many are now refusing to drive the circuitous route through the Khyber Pass because of the dangerous conditions.


  

War on Terror: Hoax

The War on Terror is a Hoax
by Paul Craig Roberts
According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections.  Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists. 

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us.  We would know it from events.  As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.
 

The More Change the More the Same

Change the Lobby
by Ramzy Baroud
One cannot emphasize enough the stranglehold Israel’s lobbying infrastructure has on US foreign policy. The events of recent weeks undoubtedly attest to this. “The special relationship” that has been historically fostered between the US and Israel in fact is often a relationship of leverage, manipulation and intimidation, and often leads to the US supporting actions or resolutions that stand at complete odds with the interests of the American people.

The promise of change echoed the world over as people from all corners anticipated the magic moment Obama could actually change the devastating reality in which we live today. But just weeks before his inauguration, Israel unleashed the most barbaric attacks on defenseless Palestinian civilians since 1948. Civil societies expressed outrage and called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes and genocide. Other nations cut diplomatic ties completely with the Jewish state. But the man of change did absolutely nothing. For weeks he was completely silent. Even in his first days in office, Obama made no mention of the Israeli genocide in Gaza. So, what of this change that he promised? What kind of hold does Israel have to silence the President of the United States?
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