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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

The U.S: A Country Without a President!

Posted by terres on January 3, 2009

by Ralph Nader [sent: Thu 1/1/2009 9:04 AM]

Dear George W. Bush—

Cong. Barney Frank said recently that Barack Obama’s declaration that “there is only one president at a time” over-estimated the number. He was referring to the economic crisis. But where are you on the Gaza crisis where the civilian population of Gaza, its civil servants and public facilities are being massacred and destroyed respectively by U.S built F-16s and U.S. built helicopter gunships.

The deliberate suspension of your power to stop this terrorizing of 1.5 million people, mostly refugees, blockaded for months by air, sea and land in their tiny slice of land, is in cowardly contrast to the position taken by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. That year he single handedly stopped the British, French and Israeli aircraft attack against Egypt during the Suez Canal dispute.

Fatalities in Gaza are already over 400 and injuries close to 2000 so far as is known. Total Palestinian civilian casualties are 400 times greater then the casualties incurred by Israelis. But why should anyone be surprised at your blanket support for Israel’s attack given what you have done to a far greater number of civilians in Iraq and now in Afghanistan?

Confirmed visual reports show that Israeli warplanes and warships have destroyed or severely damaged police stations, homes, hospitals, pharmacies, mosques, fishing boats, and a range of public facilities providing electricity and other necessities.

Why should this trouble you at all? It violates international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. You too have repeatedly violated international law and committed serious constitutional transgressions.

Then there is the matter of the Israeli government blocking imports of critical medicines, equipment such as dialysis machines, fuel, food, water, spare parts and electricity at varying intensities for almost two years. The depleted UN aid mission there has called this illegal blockade a humanitarian crisis especially devastating to children, the aged and the infirm. Chronic malnutrition among children is rising rapidly. UN rations support eighty percent of this impoverished population.

How do these incontrovertible facts affect you? Do you have any empathy or what you have called Christian charity?

What would a vastly shrunken Texas turned in an encircled Gulag do up against the 4th most powerful military in the world? Would these embattled Texans be spending their time chopping wood?

Gideon Levy, the veteran Israeli columnist for Ha’aretz, called the Israeli attack a “brutal and violent operation” far beyond what was needed for protecting the people in its south. He added: “The diplomatic efforts were just in the beginning, and I believe we could have got to a new truce without this bloodshed…..to send dozens of jets to bomb a total helpless civilian society with hundreds of bombs—just today, they were burying five sisters. I mean, this is unheard of. This cannot go on like this. And this has nothing to do with self-defense or with retaliation even. It went out of proportion, exactly like two-and-a-half years ago in Lebanon.”

Apparently, thousands of Israelis, including some army reservists, who have demonstrated against this destruction of Gaza agree with Mr. Levy. However, their courageous stands have not reached the mass media in the U.S. whose own reporters cannot even get into Gaza due to Israeli prohibitions on the international press.

Your spokespeople are making much ado about the breaking of the six month truce. Who is the occupier? Who is the most powerful military force? Who controls and blocks the necessities of life? Who has sent raiding missions across the border most often? Who has sent artillery shells and missiles at close range into populated areas? Who has refused the repeated comprehensive peace offerings of the Arab countries issued in 2002 if Israel would agree to return to the 1967 borders and agree to the creation of a small independent Palestinian state possessing just twenty two percent of the original Palestine?

The “wildly inaccurate rockets”, as reporters describe them, coming from Hamas and other groups cannot compare with the modern precision armaments and human damage generated from the Israeli side.

There are no rockets coming from the West Bank into Israel. Yet the Israeli government is still sending raiders into that essentially occupied territory, still further entrenching its colonial outposts, still taking water and land and increasing the checkpoints This is going on despite a most amenable West Bank leader, Mahmoud Abbas, whom you have met with at the White House and praised repeatedly. Is it all vague words and no real initiatives with you and your emissary Condoleezza Rice?

Peace was possible, but you provided no leadership, preferring instead to comply with all wishes and demands by the Israeli government—even resupplying it with the still active cluster bombs in south Lebanon during the invasion of that country in 2006.

The arguments about who started the latest hostilities go on and on with Israel always blaming the Palestinians to justify all kinds of violence and harsh treatment against innocent civilians.

From the Palestinian standpoint, you would do well to remember the origins of this conflict which was the dispossession of their lands. To afford you some empathy, recall the oft-quoted comment by the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, who told the Zionist leader, Nahum Goldmann:

“There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis Hitler Auschwitz but was that their [the Palestinians] fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”

Alfred North Whitehead once said: “Duty arises out of the power to alter the course of events.” By that standard, you have shirked mightily your duty over the past eight years to bring peace to both Palestinians and Israelis and more security to a good part of the world.

The least you can do in your remaining days at the White House is adopt a modest profile in courage, and vigorously demand and secure a ceasefire and a solidly based truce. Then your successor, President-elect Obama can inherit something more than the usual self-censoring Washington puppet show that eschews a proper focus on the national interests of the United States.

END.

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Posted in Afghanistan, International Law, Iraq, UN Charter, US president | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Six of one, half a dozen of the other!

Posted by terres on November 21, 2008

In the Public Interest

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

by Ralph Nader

While the liberal intelligentsia was swooning over Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, I counseled “prepare to be disappointed.” His record as a Illinois state and U.S. Senator, together with the many progressive and long overdue courses of action he opposed during his campaign, rendered such a prediction unfortunate but obvious.

Now this same intelligentsia is beginning to howl over Obama’s transition team and early choices to run his Administration. Having defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries, he now is busily installing Bill Clinton’s old guard. Thirty one out of forty seven people that he has named so far for transition or appointments have ties to the Clinton Administration, according to Politico. One Clintonite is quoted in the Washington Post as saying – “This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time.”

Obama’s “foreign policy team is now dominated by the Hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990,” writes Jeremy Scahill. Obama’s transition team reviewing intelligence agencies and recommending appointments is headed by John Brennan and Jami Miscik, who worked under George Tenet when the CIA was involved in politicizing intelligence for, among other officials, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s erroneous address before the United Nations calling for war against Iraq.


John Brennan, director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, talks about the changes and goals of the center, Sept. 21, 2004 at an undislosed locating in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington. If information is power, few in the U.S. government have more than Brennan. He sits at the nerve center of the country’s revolutionary 18-month-old terrorism analysis center, called the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which can peer into 26 government computer networks to analyze information on international terror threats. (AP Photo Lawrence Jackson). Image may be subject to copyright. Caption: eyeball-series.org

WIKIPEDIA ENTRY: John O. Brennan is an American businessman and a member of the U.S. intelligence community. He was interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center immediately after its creation, and since 2005 has served as CEO of The Analysis Corporation.[1] He advised Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on foreign policy and intelligence issues.[2] Since 2007, Brennan has served as Chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Mr. Brennan, as a government official, supported warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition to torturing countries. National Public Radio reported that Obama’s reversal when he voted for the revised FISA this year relied on John Brennan’s advise.

For more detail on these two advisers and others recruited by Obama from the dark old days, see Democracy Now, November 17, 2008 (http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/17/headlines#7) and Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet, Nov. 20, 2008 “This is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House.”

The top choice as White House chief of staff is Rahm Emanuel—the ultimate hard-nosed corporate Democrat, military-foreign policy hawk and Clinton White House promoter of corporate globalization, as in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.

Now, recall Obama’s words during the bucolic “hope and change” campaign months: “The American people…understand the real gamble is having the same old folks doing things over and over and over again and somehow expecting a different result.” Thunderous applause followed these remarks.

“This is more ‘Groundhog Day’ then a fresh start,” asserted Peter Wehner, a former Bush adviser who is now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The signs are amassing that Barack Obama put a political con job over on the American people. He is now daily buying into the entrenched military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his farewell address.

With Robert Rubin on his side during his first photo opportunity after the election, he signaled to Wall Street that his vote for the $750 billion bailout of those speculators and crooks was no fluke (Rubin was Clinton’s financial deregulation architect in 1999 as Secretary of the Treasury before he became one of the hugely paid co-directors tanking  Citigroup.)

Obama’s apologists say that his picks show he wants to get things done, so he wants people who know their way around Washington. Moreover, they say, the change comes only from the president who sets the priorities and the courses of action, not from his subordinates. This explanation assumes that a president’s appointments are not mirror images of the boss’s expected directions but only functionaries to carry out the Obama changes.

If you are inclined to believe this improbable scenario, perhaps you may wish to review Obama’s record compiled by Matt Gonzalez at Counterpunch (http://counterpunch.org/gonzalez10292008.html). End.

Related Links:

Interviews with Brennan

References cited by Wikipedia

1. New at the Top: John O. Brennan, Washington Post Monday, December 12, 2005; Page D08
2. Chief of firm involved in breach is Obama adviser
3. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/45279.htm

Posted in John Brennan, military-industrial complex, Neocons, Rahm Israel Emanuel, Wall Street | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Protecting the Crown’s Extrafinancial Investments in Afghanistan?

Posted by terres on September 12, 2008

submitted by a NZ reader:

Heaven knows what the New Zealand SAS are doing in Afghanistan

The British journalist Robert Fisk visiting New Zealand this week to promote his new book spoke to a local journalist in Wellington about western military presence in Middle East:

Concerning New Zealand’s special forces, who are based in Afghanistan, he said:

“Heaven knows what they (the SAS) are doing and Afghanistan is a disaster anyway.”

He said New Zealand was under no threat from any country in the Middle East.

“There are no Syrian soldiers on the streets of Wellington.

“(Western nations) have no business to be there, historically it is a disaster. We never have any business there, we’re always going to the Middle East with huge armies.

The morally castrated New Zealand “Defence Minister”, Phil Goff, immediately declared: “I’d say Mr Fisk should talk to the Hazara people whose civic leaders were executed in the market place, whose 2000-year-old cultural heritage, the Bamyan statutes of Buddha, were destroyed.”

Ah, so the New Zealand SAS are not there to protect the poppy fields and the thriving opium business and the drug warlords, they are there playing Bamyan Buddha dolls with the local kids!

The following is an excerpt from The SAS (SPECIAL AIR SERVICE): Prince Philip’s manager of terrorism,  by Joseph Brewda.

SAS methods and procedures

According to the British Army handbook, the SAS is “particularly suited, trained, and equipped for counter-revolutionary operations,” with a specialization in “infiltration,” “sabotage,” “assassination,” as well as “liaison with, organization, training, and control of friendly guerrilla forces operating against the common enemy.” From its inception in World War II, Special Air Services was detailed to run sabotage behind enemy lines and to organize popular revolt, at first in North Africa, and then in the Balkans, where another Stirling cousin, Fitzroy Maclean, ran British operations.

At the end of the war, SAS was disbanded, but it was soon revived to crush the Malay insurgency in Malaysia, and the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya. The principle employed was to take over the insurgency from within, and use it to destroy the native population. In his 1960 book Gangs and Countergangs, Col. Frank Kitson boasted that the British were covertly leading several large-scale Mau Mau units, and that many, if not all Mau Mau units had been synthetically created by the colonial authorities. As a result of this practice, 22 whites were killed during the insurgency, as compared to 20,000 natives.

Based on this principle, SAS emphasized recruitment of natives, as it received increasing responsibilities for overseeing counterinsurgency within the postwar empire, as well as organizing insurgencies elsewhere. In New Zealand, 30% of SAS was drawn from the indigenous Maori tribes, later supplemented by Sarawak tribesmen from Indonesia. By the 1960s, New Zealand SAS was active throughout Southeast Asia, organizing tribal revolts against the Burmese government, and stirring similar movements in Northeast India. Similarly, SAS squadrons based in Rhodesia ran the 1960s tribal separatist insurgency in Zaire. They later recruited and deployed natives in terrorist raids in Mozambique and Zambia.

Today, there are three known SAS regiments, comprising 4,500 highly trained commandos in total. Training exercises for 15-man teams simulate terrorist assaults, in order, it is said, to “know the mind of the terrorist.” Such teams are often sent abroad, to train British Commonwealth and other military units in the techniques of terrorist assault, as well as the use of tribal auxiliaries in covert warfare. Through such means, SAS has built an extensive terrorist control capability, especially in its former colonies. Its soldiers currently serve officially in some 30 countries.  Full article is available here.

Afghanistan, Opium and the Taliban

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (February 15, 2001 8:19 p.m. EST)
(Source)
U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan — once the world’s largest producer — since banning poppy cultivation last summer.

A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two weeks searching most of the nation’s largest opium-producing areas and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to come out of Afghanistan this year.

“We are not just guessing. We have seen the proof in the fields,” said Bernard Frahi, regional director for the U.N. program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He laid out photographs of vast tracts of land cultivated with wheat alongside pictures of the same fields taken a year earlier — a sea of blood-red poppies. (Full report)

End of Taliban will bring rise in heroin

By Richard Lloyd Parry in Islamabad
The Independent (Source)
Date: 19 October 2001

The defeat of the Taliban would result in a surge in opium production, which has beenvirtually halted in Afghanistan by the Kabul regime over the last year, United Nations officials have warned.

A new UN survey reveals that the Taliban have completed one of the quickest and most successful drug elimination programmes in history.


Vice creeps back to Kandahar. Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press – (Source) Image may be subject to copyright.

The area of land given over to growing opium poppies in 2001 fell by 91 per cent compared with the year before, according to the UN Drug Control Programme’s (UNDCP) annual survey of Afghanistan. Production of fresh opium, the raw material for heroin, went down by an unprecedented 94 per cent, from 3,276 tonnes to 185 tonnes.

Almost all Afghan opium this year came out of territories controlled by America’s ally in the assault on Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance. Because of a ban on poppy farming, only one in 25 of Afghanistan’s opium poppies was being grown in Taliban areas. (Full story)

Fisk on Israel-led US Foreign policy:

Having studied for 30 years the United States’ Middle East policies, I can tell you that regardless of whether Barack Obama or John McCain won the upcoming American presidential election, the new president would not bring peace to the area, Fisk said.

“Every time there’s an American presidential election the Arabs say `Ah, maybe there’ll be change in the Middle East. Maybe America will be fairer, maybe it will concern itself with the security of the Arabs as well as the Israelis’.

“And then afterwards there’ll be a war in the Middle East and the President will call upon both sides to exercise restraint and there’ll be billions of dollars of weapons sent to Israel to bomb Lebanon, or whoever they are bombing.

“My experience over 32 years is whoever’s in the White House, the bombs go on falling. And they will.”

Related Links:

Posted in bush, environment, GENOCIDE, human rights, Israel, new zealand, politics, racism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Cost of Midwest Flooding Rises

Posted by terres on July 2, 2008

Midwest Floodwaters Falling, Costs Rising

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Levees on the cresting Mississippi River held Sunday as the worst US Midwest flooding in 15 years began to ebb, but multibillion-dollar crop losses may boost world food prices for years.


Grain from a silo floats in floodwaters after the Meyer levee broke near Canton, Missouri, June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Frank Polich. Image may be subject to copyright. See RTSF Fair Use Notice!

Water levels on the river receded for the second straight day as mostly clear weather gave saturated areas a chance to start draining. Forecasts for similar dry weather in coming days gave further encouragement.

The swollen river was expected to crest Monday in St. Louis at 38.9 feet, 11 feet below the record set in 1993 and a level considered “manageable,” said US Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District spokesman Alan Dooley.

“The crest in the areas up the Mississippi River in the district has passed,” Dooley said. “The water is still up very high and it is up against levees.”

There were no fresh levee breaks reported Sunday. At least three dozen levees, berms and other flood barriers have been overtopped along the Mississippi in the last two weeks as the runoff from torrential rains this month pushed south along the main US inland waterway.

Several flood warnings remained in effect for communities in Missouri and Illinois, but officials said they expected the worst was over, with the focus now shifting to clean-up.

“We’re just mentally and physically exhausted,” said Winfield, Missouri, resident Carol Broseman, who fled her home for a shelter Saturday after flood waters engulfed her neighborhood. “I’ve cried all I can cry.”

The National Weather Service on Sunday forecast windy but mostly dry weather in the western and central Midwest states for the next several days, which will help waters recede further. Many Iowa rivers, which saw record flooding two weeks ago, were back near or below flood stage Sunday.

The Corps of Engineers at Rock Island, Illinois, reopened two locks on the Mississippi River but said four in the district remained closed with water still 3-5 feet above lock walls.

At one point 388 miles of the Mississippi River were closed to commercial traffic, from Clinton, Iowa, to the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, just south of St. Louis. The blockages have cost barge companies and other shippers millions of dollars.

COSTS, RELIEF REQUESTS RISING

The Midwest storms and torrential rains have killed at least 24 people since late May. More than 38,000 people have been driven from their homes, mostly in Iowa where 83 of 99 counties have been declared disaster areas.

Fears that as many as 5 million acres of corn and soybeans have been lost to flooding in the world’s largest grain and food exporter pushed corn and livestock prices to record highs in the last week.

The ripple inflation effect on global food prices as US prices soar has alarmed everyone from central bankers to food aid groups. Fears that livestock herds will be culled because of soaring corn feed prices may push meat prices up for years.

Flood aid and relief issues also poured into the political arena.

Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama said Saturday that Midwest levee breaks and flood damage were reasons to back his US$60 billion spending proposal to modernize US roads, bridges and waterways. Much of that would be financed by downsizing US commitments in Iraq, he said.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has estimated 45,000 square miles of his state had been hit by tornadoes or flooding, including 340 towns, with extensive damage to road and rail lines at a cost of “tens of billions of dollars.”

Chemicals from farm fields and other toxic substances left behind as waters recede have created a potential health threat. Damaged municipal sewage systems in places like Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were releasing raw sewage into rivers. But drinking water supplies remain unpolluted in most areas, officials said.

In Cedar Rapids, where officials have said 4,000 homes were damaged by this month’s flooding, government buyout plans estimated at US$80 million or more were under discussion.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has 43 disaster recovery centers open across the flooded areas of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin, 56,096 registrations for assistance have been received from disaster victims and more than US$115 million approved for housing assistance and other disaster-related needs. More than 5,600 households have filed flood insurance claims. (Writing by Peter Bohan; editing by Vicki Allen)

Story by Carey Gillam – REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

Posted in bush, climate change, Corporatocracy, corruption, ecosystems, environment, farmers, food, food prices, food riots, GHG Pollution, Global Warming, health, human rights, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »