Dennis Kucinich: Prayer for America (2002; video; transcript)

https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/

STILL PRAYING FOR AMERICA

by US Rep Dennis Kucinich

Today is the sixth anniversary of my “Prayer for America” speech.

In light of the events that have taken place since I wrote and delivered it on February 17, 2002, you will see that long before anyone else in Congress saw the danger our country was headed toward, I spoke out — truthfully and forcefully. Continue reading

The fall of the Dollar Empire by Hamid Varzi

Dandelion Salad

by Hamid Varzi
Global Research, February 17, 2008
Press TV, Tehran

An interview with Hamid Varzi by Monavar Khalaj

The following is an interview with Hamid Varzi an economist and banker based in Tehran about the US economic crisis.

Q.Please tell us more about the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis and why, how and when it began?

A.The crisis began in 2000 with Bush Jr.’s election that re-established the irresponsible “Supply Side” and “trickle-down” economic policies of the Reagan years. We are wrong to focus only on the subprime crisis, which has been conveniently blown out of all proportion in order to create the convenient and comforting impression that this is a manageable problem solvable through a simple reduction in interest rates and a 90-day government mandated delay on foreclosures (Hillary’s recommendation).

The subprime crisis presages far greater problems down the road. It is already spreading to other forms of commercial paper, and even if the damage can be contained the relief will be only temporary because a much larger danger is looming on the horizon: The US economy has grown largely on the back of speculative credit derivatives that have risen exponentially to $35 trillion, which is more than double the size of the entire US economy! This is an approaching iceberg, and all you’ve seen (in the sub-prime scandal) is the tip. To return to your question, the first chart below proves that speculative commercial lending received a major boost with Bush’s election, and soared with his re-election.

Credit derivative volumes continue to soar. The notional principal outstanding of credit default swaps (CDSs) grew 33% in the second half of 2006, rising from $26 trillion to $34.5 trillion, following 52% growth during the first half of 2006, according to industry body International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). (Global Finance, June 2007). The ECB confirms the HI 2006 figure of $ 26 trillion. As you will observe, actual growth has far exceeded even the rapid growth foreseen by the British Bankers’ Association Credit Derivatives Report 2006 in which ambitious growth targets for 2008, forecasted below, have already been met. The bulk has been ‘created’ in and by the United States, and only a small portion of this speculative debt relates to subprime mortgage lending:


The Myth of Reaganomics and the Gratuitous Demonization of Clintonomics

The real root cause of the subprime crisis began with Ronald Reagan. Wall Street ‘wisdom’ hails Ronald Reagan as the last great saviour of US Capitalism. However, supporters of Ronald Reagan seem unable to explain the unprecedented exponential growth of stocks, during Clinton’s presidency, on the back of equally unprecedented (= exploding) budget surpluses, a major decline in the Federal Debt and a major strengthening of the Dollar.Bush raised fiscal irresponsibility to new highs. The charts below explain why the subprime crisis did NOT occur on Clinton’s watch:

During Clinton’s 8 years he turned a $ 135 billion Bush Sr. deficit into a $ 526 billion budget surplus, he significantly reduced the National Debt and simultaneously presided over a mind-boggling 240 % rise in the stock market. The perspective of strong fiscal discipline encouraged foreigners to invest in the US and the Dollar rose over 20 % as a result of a combination of the above 3 factors.

The US economy projected strength. Now the Dollar is tanking as a natural reaction to policies that totally reversed Clinton’s fiscal and monetary discipline.America’s fate is at the mercy of foreign investors (China, India, Russia and many others with around 10 % annual GDP growth) which are getting stronger by the day and represent the economies of the future.

Q.What was the role of investment banks and mortgage lenders in creating the crisis? Do you think any fraud had happened?

A. No, as far as the investment banks were concerned there was no fraud, just plain greed, ignorance, irresponsibility and stupidity. Even, the SocGen $ 7.2 billion scandal was simply due to the ambitions of one young man trying to make a name for himself by speculating with his Bank’s money. Investment bankers tend to be ‘cowboys’ and ‘gamblers’ salivating at the prospect of gigantic bonuses when they succeed, and many of whom simply move on to the next bank when they fail (Nick Leeson of Barings Bank was an exception, but only because he actually bankrupted the bank! But I don’t believe M. Kerviel has even been charged; he was arrested and then released!).

As for the US mortgage lenders, their ‘irresponsibility’ bordered on ‘fraud’, because they lent money to people who obviously couldn’t pay, simply in order to earn higher commissions/fees. If you place a knife in the hand of a 2-year old child and it cuts itself it is you, and not the child, who has been criminally negligent, particularly if you have benefited from the child’s discomfort as did the mortgage lenders.

Q. Have the world weathered the crisis? If not what are your predictions and prescriptions?A.Yes, the world has indeed weathered the crisis, because the US sold only about 20 % of its economic toxic waste to the rest of the world. Most importantly, the nations which bought America’s toxic waste have suffered financial losses only among their financial institutions, not among the general population which, in most industrialized countries, has to make a 30 % mortgage cash down-payment and provide solid evidence of regular financial income before being granted a mortgage. Not one home-owner in Germany or France or England faced foreclosure because of what happened in the US.

This actually demonstrates how quickly global economies are decoupling from the US economy. The US has a $ 9 trillion National Debt and a net $ 3 trillion foreign debt, so obviously any crisis is going to hit indebted countries far harder than nations flush with cash (Russia, China, India, Japan, the ‘Tigers’ and Western Europe). The US is in deep fundamental, historical trouble.

Q.What is its impact on the world economy?

A.Greater controls will be imposed by governments across the globe to discourage financial speculation, which is a ‘good thing’. Banks will refocus on trade and export finance rather than on gambling. The world economy will cool off (which will reduce some of the speculative excesses such as the current oil and gold prices).

Q.How will it influence the life of ordinary people across the globe, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder in the US and Europe?

A.Those at the bottom of the economic ladder in Europe are about 10 rungs above their counterparts in the US, so the effect will be negligible compared with the economic hardships to be faced continually by those at the bottom of the US economic ladder. Even setting aside the subprime crisis for a moment, US households are more in debt, generally, than at any time since the 1930s Great Depression. The US Wealth Gap and the US Household Savings rate are both at Great Depression extremes despite an extended period of global economic growth:

Here is the chart confirming a NEGATIVE savings rate, = – 1.5 %

Q. Do Asian economies including China, India, Malaysia and even Iran expect its ramifications?

A. As mentioned above, this is a US crisis because the US does not currently have the fiscal means, the monetary means or the political will to solve it: Nothing will improve unless and until fundamental measures are adopted by the next US Administration similar to those adopted by Bill Clinton (see charts above).

Q.Why has the US Dollar gone into a spiral of decline?

A.Mainly because it has to borrow $3 billions each and every day from foreigners to finance its massive current account deficit and its war machine. Foreign nations have become nervous at the annual 10% deterioration in their Dollar holdings. Foreigners don’t even need to reduce their Dollar reserves to precipitate a Dollar crisis; they can do so merely by refusing to increase their holdings, i.e., refrain from participating in further US Treasury auctions.

Q.There are two views about the impact of the dollar decline on the US economy: one holds that it would eventually benefit the US economy through boosting exports while others believe that it damage the US economy. What is your opinion?

A.The export view is sheer unadulterated nonsense. The Dollar has been in fundamental decline since the end of WWII, as has its trade deficit!!! A weak currency is not a panacea for economic health. It merely delays the inevitable drive to increase competitiveness, as demonstrated by Germany which has again become the world’s No. 1 exporter despite an 80% appreciation in the Euro since 2001! The drop in the Dollar has, on the contrary, caused only a minimal reduction of its annual $750 billion trade deficit, which proves that US lack of competitiveness is truly endemic and not a function of exchange rates.

A weak currency also boosts inflation as imports become more expensive. In America’s case it represents a ‘double whammy’ because, while imports become more expensive they are unavoidable since the US doesn’t produce many of the consumer goods it needs.

Q.Would the dollar’s depreciation lead other countries to switch to other main currencies and given that the US Dollar is a fiat currency could such a move further fuel the dollar’s decline?

A.They already have! Countries are realizing (ours a little late, but better late than never!) that the US Dollar is in fundamental imperial decline: From a peak of 121 shortly after Clinton left office the Dollar index has been swooning with no end in sight. Yes, Reagan boosted the Dollar temporarily, but only by raising the Prime Rate to a massive 21.5% to attract foreign aid (sorry, foreign ‘capital’)! Here is another chart, this time of the Dollar’s seemingly unstoppable decline against a basket of international currencies (trade-weighted index):

Q.What will be the impacts of the US dollar decline on Iran’s economy?

A.Not much. Iran’s own economic policies (or lack of)influence our nation’s economic health far more significantly than the Dollar exchange rate.

Q. What will be the impacts of the US presidential elections on the US economy?

A.There will definitely be a massive change, with a return to the much maligned ‘Clintonomics’ if either Hillary or Obama wins, as I personally predict. The Dollar will strengthen, by which I mean that it will reverse some of its losses, but not that it will re-emerge as the fiat currency. The deterioration in the US fiscal and current account deficits will be stemmed as the US increases taxes, reduces budget wastage, redistributes wealth more fairly and severely reduces military spending on the back of a partial or withdrawal from Iraq which has already cost $2 trillion according to 2001 Nobel Economics Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz.

If McCain wins, after a brief relapse the Euro will strengthen to $2.00 from its current rate of $1.48, because McCain will be just another Republican spendthrift unable to offload the party baggage (the “special interests”), no matter how ‘fiscally responsible’ he sounds on the surface. But I doubt he will win.

Q.Do you think the Iranian decision to cut its ties with the greenback and Tehran’s call on its importers of crude to pay in non-dollar currencies have adversely contributed to the Dollar nosedive?

A.Definitely, because it was not so much the nominal sums involved, which are paltry by global comparison, but the psychological effect of the move which encouraged others to follow suit.

Q.Should one consider the US crisis as an opportunity for booming economies like India and China to assume a more important role in the world’s markets?

A.They already have. The US is totally dependent on China’s goodwill. If the US were to ban all imports from China tomorrow morning the US economy would suffer a heart attack as it would have to import those same goods more expensively from elsewhere. In retaliation, the Chinese would sell their surplus Dollar mountain and precipitate a global economic depression. The emerging economies would be better able to withstand such an Armageddon scenario because they are accustomed to hardship, while decadent US consumers are already bankrupt despite an environment of extended global economic growth. The US would probably suffer riots, internal conflict and starvation for the first time in 80 years. Emerging economies are used to economic hardship and even war. The US is much more fragile than its leaders and economic pundits admit. There is a huge fundamental and conceptual difference between a) going from recession to depression (the USA), and b) going from 10% + economic growth to a more reasonable 3% economic growth (Russia, India, China, ….).

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Hamid Varzi, Press TV, Tehran, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8108

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Iran to launch oil and gas exchange on Feb. 27

1st Phase of Iran Oil Bourse Inaugurated on Kish Island

Economy

Loose Nukes, Here and There by Gordon Prather

Dandelion Salad

by Gordon Prather
Antiwar.com
February 16, 2008

According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, entitled “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues,”

“The main security challenges for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are keeping the integrity of the command structure, ensuring physical security, and preventing illicit proliferation from insiders.

“While U.S. and Pakistani officials express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, it is uncertain what impact continued instability in the country will have on these safeguards.”

U.S. officials confident that Pakistani nukes are safeguarded and secure against outsiders?

The Pentagon has just released its Defense Science Board Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Surety Report on the Unauthorized Movement of Nuclear Weapons.

If the Pakistani “surety” measures taken by “insiders” are no better than those of our Air Combat Command, we’re all in a heap of trouble.

According to the DSB Task Force Report, on August 29th, 2007, a pylon – carrying six cruise missiles, each armed with nuclear warhead – was without authorization removed from a nuclear weapons stockpile storage site at Minot AFB, transported without authorization – and mated without authorization – to a B-52 bomber. The nuke laden B-52 then sat, improperly, unguarded overnight, and was then, without authorization, allowed to take off the following morning, make an unauthorized flight to Barksdale AFB, to make an unauthorized landing, and then sit, unguarded, until alert Barkdale personnel discovered the six nukes, just sitting there on their tarmac.

For more than 36 hours no one in the U.S. nuclear weapon command-and-control system knew where those nukes were, or in whose possession.

Not to worry. The Task Force seems to conclude that it was a paperwork problem. An ACC documentation problem.

…continued

h/t: Greg

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Nukes Over America: Just a Stupid Mistake. Sure It Is By Dave Lindorff

Cynthia McKinney’s Draft Manifesto

Dandelion Salad

After Downing Street
Feb. 17, 2008

What We Want; What We Believe; What We Need. Now!

Draft Manifesto for a Reconstruction Party

This Draft Manifesto was produced by a group of Reconstruction Party activists who met in New Orleans on Saturday, Jan. 26 in support of the International Days of Action against Neo-Liberalism. This draft is being submitted for wide discussion and amendments to all activists interested in joining the effort to build a Reconstruction Party. Sister Cynthia McKinney participated in this meeting and contributed to this Draft Manifesto.

” . . . whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Declaration of Independence

In the context of what is perhaps the most important Presidential election in a generation, we feel compelled to add our voices to the deafening silence coming from both the Democratic and Republican parties on the real issues of concern to us. We therefore insert this agenda — our agenda — into the current political discourse and assert our readiness to cast our votes on the specificity with which these issues are addressed in the electoral arena. We reject “differences” that will not make a difference and “changes” that will not bring about any change. The vision of the Reconstruction Party encompasses all communities in need of reconstruction.

1. We Want Freedom Now!

We want the power to determine our destiny. We want an electoral system that allows true representation and that ensures that all votes are counted. We want an economic system that provides opportunity, security, and dignity for all. We want an end to all spying on U.S. citizens. We want respect for human rights as the bedrock consideration in all the political deliberations of this country.

We believe that we will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny. We believe that free and fair elections are not possible in the current climate in which electronic voting machines, special interest money, corporate control of the two-party system predominate. In the 2000 Presidential election, an estimated 6 million votes cast were not counted, reflecting a crisis in our voting system and a concrete denial of self-determination.

We need to remove the dominance of special interest money from our elections by instituting public financing of elections that restores true power to the people. We need to eliminate privately owned electronic voting machines and every machine that does not provide a paper ballot. We must never again allow political parties to control the hardware on which official votes are counted (as in Ohio 2004). Voters should never again be told that election results belong to a private company and are not accessible by the public (as in Georgia 2007). And any individuals found to have participated in any act or scheme to deny U.S. citizens their right to vote, or found to have obstructed such right to vote in any way, including the counting of votes cast, should be brought to justice.

Freedom also includes the rights to education, health care, housing, living wages, and freedom from racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, gentrification, and police terror. Therefore, elimination of all health, education, home ownership, and social justice disparities must form the foundation of every plank of any acceptable political and economic platform that seeks to address the real concerns of the peoples of the Americas.

Therefore, we need comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color. The continuing plight of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors, cases like the Jena 6, the Palmdale 4, the San Francisco 8, the ongoing situation with the country’s Black farmers demonstrate the unfulfilled need to address these basic issues for communities across our country.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors specifically need recognition as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); protection of their right of return, including protection of their right to vote in their home states; and reparations for the losses they incurred due to government abandonment and negligence.

Finally, we need repeal of the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, and other legislation that rolls back bedrock civil liberties.

2. We Want Full Employment Now!

We want the definition of national security to include the general well-being of U.S. citizens and residents. No children in this rich country should be raised below the poverty line.

We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to implement an economic policy that provides an opportunity for every family to have gainful employment at a guaranteed income. No family should remain mired below the poverty level when the head of household works in a full-time job. We believe that workers must be free to organize unions wherever and whenever they choose. We believe that by setting a goal of carbon neutrality within the next 20 years, our country can begin the shifts in investment necessary to fuel an investment renaissance in jobs, energy independence from fossil fuels, and manufacturing.

Unemployment is at a two-year high. We need a living wage. Official statistics fail to capture the immense pain and suffering being experienced by the American people, especially people of color. We need massive infrastructure investments and a greening of our economy that can also put people to work. An end to the illegal and immoral war/occupation of Iraq can provide much needed funding for such an initiative that would focus on rebuilding the skills of every able-bodied American and restoring manufacturing jobs in this country to assist in the greening of our economy. Special emphasis should be placed on a green rebuilding program, consisting of all areas in need plus infrastructure, and especially New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with a massive public works project.

No ethnically identifiable groups should also be economically identifiable. Sadly, today that is not true. Forty-three percent of the poor are Black, and 24 percent of Latinos are poor. We need a specific program agenda that reduces poverty and dismantles existing economic disparities.

We need to promote and enact laws for U.S. corporations that keep labor standards high at home and raise them abroad. Toward that end, it is clear that we need a repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, and the U.S.-Peru FTA and justice for immigrant workers, including an end to the guest-worker program riddled with abuses. In that regard, we also need immigration reform that includes amnesty and a path to documentation of those workers who are already in this country, have been here working for years, and who are undocumented. Surely the current policies are little more than union-busting, wage depressing tactics that rob all workers of their dignity and a fair wage for their labor. We need a complete overhaul of our country’s labor laws, beginning with the repeal of Taft-Hartley, to ban scabbing, stop the unjust firing of union organizers, and enable workers to exercise their voices at work. Finally, we need justice for victims of corporations that have participated in crimes against humanity, torture, human trafficking, or other illegal activities.

We need equal pay for equal work. It is intolerable that women and minorities performing the same job as white men receive less pay.

3. We Want Reparations Now!

African Americans are now sustaining the worst loss of wealth in U.S. history due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, an estimated $71 billion to $92 billion, according to United for a Fair Economy.

We believe that the U.S. government never kept its promise to former slaves of the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised as restitution for slave labor and the mass murder of Black people. Enduring racial disparities reflect the U.S. government’s failure to address the reality and the vestiges of Black poverty in this country. Hurricane Katrina is but a manifestation of the generations of previous neglect combined with current neglect.

A 2003 Harvard University study found that Black infant and maternal mortality rates are 2 and 3.5 times higher than for whites. The New York Times wrote that by 2003 nearly one half of all Black men between the ages of 16 and 64, living in New York City, were unemployed. Dr. David Satcher found in 2005 that 83,750 Black people died from premature deaths for no other reason than that they were Black. And in its 2005 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that it would take 1,664 years to close the home-ownership gap and that on some indices the racial disparities are worse now than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In its 2006 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that Blacks and Latinos lost ground, and that in order to close the racial wealth divide in our country, it would take the equivalent of a “G.I. Bill for Everyone” that would include comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color. In its 2007 report, United for a Fair Economy concluded that, while Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, they had little to show for such party loyalty according to the statistics reflecting the State of Black America and the policy initiatives of the Democratic Party in its first 100 hours as a Congressional majority. In 2008, United for a Fair economy concluded that it would take 440 years to close the racial disparity on per capita income.

That one million Black votes were not counted in the 2000 Presidential election is symptomatic of a host of broken promises, the denial of self-determination, and a refusal of both major parties to deal with the vestiges of slavery, racism, and discrimination with which too many families are forced to live today.

We urgently need policies enacted on the federal and local levels that will address the enduring disparities in education, health care, imprisonment, family income, wealth, home ownership, that reflect purposeful malign neglect of communities of color in this country. Further, these public policies must also specifically recover economic losses sustained during the current sub-prime mortgage crisis.

4. We Want Resources for Human Needs Now!

We want budget priorities that satisfy pressing and unmet human needs in health care, education, wealth development, and ending enduring disparities, not that further corporate greed or the war machine. We agree with United Nations representative and the findings of the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that the United States must do more to help those hurricane victims without financial means to rebuild. We want the Federal Reserve nationalized and designated as a Section or Department within the United States Treasury under the direction and supervision of the Secretary.

We believe in full reproductive rights for women — for legal rights and safe access to comprehensive prenatal and postnatal/infant care; family planning services and contraception, including “morning after” medication; and abortion.

We believe the United States has a responsibility to alleviate human suffering at home and abroad. We believe it is shameful that U.S. children suffer from malnutrition and that U.S. mayor’s report to us that homelessness and hunger have intensified in our cities. While food prices are rising and food banks report decreased supplies, our children suffer from worms and the physical stature of U.S. residents is now declining because of childhood malnutrition. According to the 2007 CIA statistics, the United States ranks 42nd in the world in infant mortality and 45th in life expectancy. We believe that the US dollar should be managed in the public by representatives of the people, not by private bankers meeting in secret.

We need to reject forced, coerced, or uninformed medication and sterilization. We need a universal access, single-payer, health care system. Americans should be able to purchase drugs from other countries if the price is cheaper, and the U.S. should negotiate with drug companies to provide cheaper drugs for all U.S. residents.

We need an education system that prepares our children for lifelong learning and that prepares adults to survive and thrive in a global economy. We need subsidized higher education; no student should graduate from college or university tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. We need affordable childcare in order to facilitate lifelong learning by parents. We need an end to the criminalization of our children in school. The Jena 6 and Palmdale 4 incidents, along with thousands of other incidents that take place in schools across our country, demonstrate that administrative measures are not taken when they could be to prevent the criminalization of our children. It is clear that current practices merely feed an insatiable criminal justice system building prisons, not for restorative justice, but for profits.

We need equal access to institutions and programs that help families build wealth. In 2004, 76 percent of Whites owned their own home, compared to 49.1% of Blacks and 48.1% of Latinos. Both African-Americans and Latinos have been disproportionately hit by the higher-cost loans that characterize sub-prime lending. Just in the sub-prime mortgage crisis alone, Latino families have lost between $76 and $98 billion, due to predatory lending practices on the part of lending institutions.

We need affordable housing for the working class and homeless throughout this country struggling to make ends meet. We oppose the senseless destruction of public housing in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Housing is a fundamental human right that we must protect and extend.

We need to stop giving outrageous sums of money to the Pentagon. The Pentagon cannot balance its books and admits to having “lost” $2.3 trillion. It claims it can’t balance its books because its computers don’t communicate with each other. However, even after having spent $20 billion to make the computers talk to each other, they still cannot, and hence, Department of Defense books cannot be properly audited. By canceling increased funding for the F-22 and weaponizing space, we would have $1.4 billion to devote to basic needs. A careful examination of corporate and millionaire welfare, combined with elimination of Pentagon waste, would yield at least an additional $99 billion that could be put to better use.

We need to repeal the Bush tax cuts and take appropriate steps to regain control over our monetary system because they both have contributed to the current economic crisis facing our country.

We need to defend and strengthen laws ensuring clinic access and that expand services to women and children fleeing domestic violence.

We need a Department of Peace that would put forward projects for peace all over the world. We should deploy our diplomats to help resolve conflicts through peaceful means. In the meantime, the Pentagon must oversee the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from the more than 100 countries around the world where they are stationed. We should deploy our Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild infrastructures and communities here and abroad.

5. We Want to Stop the War at Home Now!

The decision by Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown to prosecute the San Francisco 8 is chilling in the message it sends about impunity in the face of clear police wrongdoing. The San Francisco 8 (several of whom were members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), are being prosecuted and investigated by the very same police officers that committed torture against them decades ago. Obviously not satisfied with the 32 Black Panthers killed by law enforcement by 1973, a decision has been made to continue targeting Black Panther members in another way.

We want the hundreds of political activists falsely imprisoned by COINTELPRO and similar programs from the 1960’s to the present to be released from prison immediately. We want full disclosure on all the government’s spying and destabilization programs and for restitution to be provided to victims of these governmental abuses and their families for the suffering they have long endured.

In addition, members of the general public have become targets for police repression, including Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and other easily identifiable minorities. By 2004, Cincinnati had seen 18 young people murdered at the hands of brutal cops. Louisville, Kentucky saw seven young Black males killed in four years. In New York City, three unarmed Black men were killed within a period of 13 months. In fact, the book Stolen Lives lists the names of over 2000 people killed by police during the 1990s. Unfortunately, it is clear that the poor and people of color are disproportionately affected by the disproportionate application of force by law enforcement. Adding insult to injury, offending police officers are rarely if ever punished.

We believe that disparities in sentencing and in the criminal justice system as a whole can be overcome with political will to change the policies and punish those guilty of the racial profiling that often result in disparate treatment at each step of an encounter with the criminal justice system.

In study after study, the dismal performance of the criminal justice system against people of color has been documented. Policies designed to close the disparities in sentencing and treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system must be implemented with more than deliberate speed.

6. We Want an End to the War on Drugs Now!

We want an end to unequal justice in this country! We want an end to toxic spraying and military deployments in other countries. We want an end to the assault on our civil liberties. We want an end to the lies of the U.S. government around its own participation in the spread of drugs into poor communities in this country. We want an explanation of why a CIA rendition aircraft crashed in Yucatan with 3.2 tons of cocaine on board. After the crack cocaine epidemic and what we now know of U.S. government complicity therewith, we want to know if the U.S. government is fighting or fueling the use of drugs in its so-called War on Drugs.

We believe that the war on drugs provides cover for U.S. military intervention in foreign countries, particularly to our south, and that this increased militarization is used to put down all social protest movements in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and elsewhere. We believe that unequal justice is epitomized in the U.S. prosecution of the so-called War on Drugs. We believe that the United States has the most expensive, most repressive, least effective drug policy in the industrialized world. And it is this drug war that has helped the United States incarcerate a higher percentage of its own people than any other country in the world. We believe that the War on Drugs is waged largely against the poor and the resultant massive incarceration serves the profit-motive of prisons whose stocks are traded on Wall Street. The War on Drugs has become a war on truth, taxpayers, civil liberties, and higher education for the poor and middle class, and sadly, it has also become a war on treatment, addicts, and reason.

We need an end to mandatory minimum drug sentences. We need a budget focused on prevention and treatment. The law should include legal regulation of drugs. We need legalization of industrial hemp as a cash crop. We need drug laws based on the truth. According to the drug policy reform group Efficacy, from 1984 to 1996, California built 21 new prisons, and 1 new university. California state government expenditures on prisons increased 30% from 1987 to 1995, while spending on higher education decreased by 18%. This trend is echoed in every state of the nation. Clearly, we need a drug policy that is based on truth, compassion, prevention, and treatment. We need laws that franchise citizens of the United States without regard to incarceration status. No non-violent drug offender should suffer permanent or temporary disfranchisement of voting and other citizenship rights due to entanglement in the current system of criminal injustice.

We need to end the funding of Plan Colombia and Plan Mexico and other militarized “plans” enacted that fund and support a failed drug policy at home and abroad.

7. We Want to End Prisons for Profit Now!

We want an end to privatization of prisons and prison health services. We want an end to the racism that serves as an engine of growth for a profit-driven prison system. We want an end to prison labor schemes that are little more than corporate subsidies that provide little training or rehabilitation for inmates. We want reconciliation, transformation, preparation, rather than incarceration based on retribution and vengeance. We do not want race and class to serve as the primary determinants of punishment. And we want an end to the death penalty.

We believe that the prison-industrial, criminal injustice complex of today still operates in many respects as a vestige of slavery. And just as punishment was meted out disparately for Blacks and whites during slavery, these conditions persist today. For example, in the state of Virginia, a white person could only be sentenced to death for murder, but slaves could be sentenced to death for 71 offenses. Today, according to “Minding the Gap,” despite higher drug use by White Illinois teens, African American youth who make up 15.3% of Illinois’s youth population, are 59% of youth arrested for drug crimes, 85.5% of youth automatically transferred to adult court, 88% of youth imprisoned for drug crimes, and 91% of youth admitted to state prison. Disparities permeate the system from the laws enacted, to those who enact the laws, to those who enforce and interpret them.

Paul Street reports in Black Agenda Report, “one in three Black males will be sent to state or federal prison at some point in their lives compared to one in six Latino males and one in seventeen white males.” Writer Tim Wise writes, “According to FBI data, the percentage of crimes committed by African Americans has remained steady over the past 18 years, while the number of Blacks in prison has tripled and their rates of incarceration have skyrocketed.”

Clearly, it is time to rethink prison policy and the criminal justice system upon which it rests. Just as prisons for profit underscored profit-maximizing strategies, we need to explore new terrains for justice-maximizing policies, including prison abolition. We need public policy solutions that focus on reconciliation and restorative justice. Racism should not be rewarded with profits.

8. We Want an Environmental Protection Policy that Works Now!

We want the range of production and consumption policies enacted by our policy makers to reflect the limits of the finite resources that sustain life on this planet. We want our forests protected and restored; we want sustainable resource use and reuse, and we want less waste to dispose. We want renewable energy and we don’t want policies that pit food production against energy production. We want drinkable and clean water, soil, and air. We want to live within our resource means.

We believe that the production and pervasiveness of toxic chemicals in our environment is dangerous and must be stopped. We believe that workers should not be exposed to toxic work conditions. We believe that communities should be preserved and that local economies using local resources should be encouraged. We must put an end to child labor, forced labor, and other illegal or unethical activity included in the goods we consume: for example, Coltan (Columbite-Tantalite) and other minerals mined with slave labor and torture in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the 5 million deaths, political instability, and misery associated with pursuit of unfettered access to the mineral used in our computers, cell phones, and other electronic gadgets.”

We need air, land, water, climate, production and consumption policies that reflect the real limits within which we must live. We need an entirely new paradigm that encourages us to produce green, local, and fairly; most importantly we need true, representative government that serves the needs of the people over that of corporations so that these policies can become law.

9. We Want an End to Militarism Now!

We want all U.S. troops stationed in other countries around the world to come home. We want all homeless veterans off the streets and in veterans’ homes. We want the promise kept to veterans of free health care for a lifetime. We want military recruiters out of our schools and off our campuses. We call for an end to funding for war, products for war, preparation for war, intelligence for war or funds used to destabilize other countries, or to maintain or expand U.S. military presence at home or abroad. We call for an end to the expanding police state at home.

We believe that the United States has taken a dramatic turn against human rights and the rule of law by now permitting arrest and detention without charge, torture and spying without court oversight, prosecutors free to tape conversations between lawyers and their clients. We believe that the so-called “peace dividend” after the Cold War was stolen by the imposition of the War on Terror that is being waged against the people. War profiteers reap their profits while legislation passes that threatens to categorize as terrorists those who are innocent citizens. We believe it is wrong that the overwhelming amount of resources put into our foreign and security policies engage the world through military force.

We need the billions of dollars currently spent on militarizing domestic and foreign policies, and in weaponizing space to be spent on human needs and to alleviate human suffering.

10. We Want Peace Now!

We want to live in a peaceful world where the global community considers the United States a key partner for peace and development. We want the United States to adopt the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, recognizing that we cannot have peace until we start with our own history here at home. We want the United States to be a leader in research, development, technology, and innovation in the things that uplift people and help us to live more harmoniously with natural forces of this planet.

We believe that another United States is not only possible, but necessary! But, the two parties of corporate rule are not offering this vision of peace and partnership. We believe that an explicit rejection of the policies of political and economic destabilization that we have witnessed played out on the African Continent, in Latin America (particularly in Venezuela and in Bolivia), in the Caribbean and the Muslim world, and in Asia is urgently needed.

We need an end to all wars and occupations by U.S. forces, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need an immediate cessation of funding for war. We need prosecution for all individuals guilty of violating the law, including having committed or authorized crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, torture, or war crimes. We need a complete renunciation of the pre-emptive war doctrine. We need an end to all wars and war’s utility. We need to dismantle the apparatus that implements schemes of regime change around the world, and that instead assists in self-determination of all peoples. Sadly, the Bush – Pelosi war policy is a formula for endless global conflict, deterioration of the rule of law among nations, and growing impoverishment, indebtedness and evisceration of civil liberties at home.

Conclusion

Already, calls are being made that the end of race in American politics has arrived due to the phenomenal success at the polls of Democratic Presidential candidate Barrack Obama. None other than Dick Morris, former Clinton Presidential advisor, noted, “Obama — by winning in a totally white state — shows that racism is gone as a factor in American politics.” On CNN, Bill Bennett commented, “[Obama] never brings race into it. He never plays the race card. Talk about the Black community — he has taught the Black community you don’t have to act like Jesse Jackson; you don’t have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues.” It is clear from the statistics that all working families without regard to race or ethnicity are hurting. But families of color are hurting the most. Let us not fail to speak out in our own name and to organize around these fundamental programmatic planks so that we can forge and win solutions to the problems facing our communities, our country, and our world.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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To learn more about Cynthia McKinney’s record, visit www.allthingscynthiamckinney.com. To make a donation to her campaign fund, visit www.runcynthiarun.org. You can also send a check or money order to Power to the People Committee, P.O. Box 311759, Atlanta, GA 31153.

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Everything our young children are taught today about the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a lie by Cynthia Mckinney

The Audacity of Revolution VS The Hope of Chumps by Manila Ryce (video)

McKinney-Cynthia

Cynthia McKinney for President 2008! (Green Party)

‘False state’ Kosovo declares independence

Dandelion Salad

RussiaToday

Kosovo has officially declared independence from Serbia during a special sitting of parliament in Pristina. Belgrade has condemned the separation, saying Kosovo is a `false state`. Russia has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and says it fully supports Serbia`s demand to restore its territorial integrity.

Added: February 17, 2008

Continue reading

The Increasing Encirclement of Iran By Daan de Wit

Dandelion Salad

By Daan de Wit
ICH
Translation by Ben Kearney
02/17/08 “DeepJournal

Earlier this month the Annual Threat Assessment was released by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell. The assessment, provided as a testimony for the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, offers an insight into the current outlook of the president’s most important intelligence advisor. In his testimony McConnell emphasizes Iranian attempts to enrich uranium as well as Iran’s capacity to fire long-range weapons. The combination of these two are now being presented at the highest levels of power as the central argument for branding Iran as a danger to world peace. As if the National Intelligence Estimate never even existed.

The Annual Threat Assessment that Michael McConnell presents is the first important document to be released on this matter since the publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in December of 2007. McConnell says that, looking back, he would like to have seen the now infamous NIE formulated differently: ‘If I had ’til now to think about it, I probably would change a few things. […] I would have included that there are the component parts, that the portion of it, maybe the least significant, had halted’. In his Threat Assessment he corrects the balance regarding something that he feels was relatively unimportant – an Iranian program to develop nuclear warheads. The testimony of ‘the leader of our entire intelligence community’, as President Bush calls him, makes it clear once and for all: The American government was, and apparently still is, on a collision course with Iran.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Terrorists Still at Ground Zero, 7 World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan By Alexander Cockburn

Dandelion Salad

By Alexander Cockburn
ICH
17/02/08 “Counterpunch

Terrorism flourishes brazenly at Ground Zero, in the new 7 World Trade Center building. Here can be found a secretive entity of fabulous wealth and power. Kingdom and corporations alike tremble at its shadow and make haste to pay it tribute. I refer to Moodys Investor Services, wholly owned subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation, which reported $2 billion in revenues in 2006.

On January 10 Moody’s, in concert with the other main bond rating firm, Standard and Poor’s, gave the United States its top AAA credit rating. The terrorist blackmail threat came in the form of a demand by Moody’s that the U.S. government “reform” Social Security and Medicare: “In the very long term, the rating could come under pressure if reform of Medicare and Social Security is not carried out as these two programs are the largest threats to the long-term financial health of the United States and to the government’s Aaa rating.”

…continued


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Barak Obama Fronts Wall Street’s Infrastructure By Bruce Marshall + Subprime Obama

Dandelion Salad

By Bruce Marshall
17/02/08 “ICH

Swindle – What Change Really Means

Do not be fooled! Barak Obama’s call for National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank (NIRB) does not signal the return of the Democratic Party to the values of FDR and a revival of the Constitutional prerogative to ‘promote the general welfare’, but would rather provide more welfare for Wall Street and worse. Obama’s plan is nothing more than the direct means of instituting the Rohatyn-Rudman National Investment Corporation (NIC) plan called for in 2005, which in essence is a revival of Mussolini’s methods of corporatist control of the state in a politically correct post modern fashion..

When Senator Obama states that his National Investment Reinvestment Bank will magically turn $60 billion into trillions of dollars as he did in his Feb 13th Jamesville, WI speech, one can easily realize that the only way that this can happen is through the perverse magic of Wall Street. What would happen is that bonds floated by the NIRB will be bought on the open market, to then be speculated upon, securitized as derivatives, traded and ultimately used as collateral on the newly built infrastructure. What we will see is the emergence of an infrastructure bubble to replace the mortgage bubble, propped up by initial government expenditures towards infrastructure. This is just the start as Obama will fund the feel good ‘carbon credit’ swap to be the next blast of hot air to make Wall Street giddy. This is a key insight to a true understanding of what is going on. Bailout the financial powers with a clever plan that will raise money to then buy up hard assets, in other words the remaining wealth of our nation, as the meltdown crisis of over a quadrillion in derivatives losses grows and grows..

Besides artificially propping up the markets, Obama’s NIRB, as an initiation of the Rohatyn/Rudman infrastructure investment model, opens the door to the privatization of public assets. International predators and asset-strippers want to buy up public highways and impose cutthroat tolls, as they are already doing in many states. Then they run the turnpikes into the ground as cash cows while they mercilessly bilk the users. Privatization is a key goal of the Anglo-American financiers behind this scheme. Both the NIC and NIRB rely on the new darling of the markets, PPPs, known as public private partnerships. PPPs are the means by which market forces will dictate, and that is the word, the implementation of these projects. The argument is that the PPP will keep costs down, but in reality only because the private corporations, now controlling the public sector, will own the assets of what is being constructed. The PPP model is none other than the model implemented by Mussolini in his fascist corporate state. The creation of NIRB funds hark back to Hjalmar Schact’s ‘MEFO’ bills that created the speculative bubble of money so that the National Socialists could rearm Germany and fight World War II..

Since 9/11 America has certainly turned into a top-down police state, but true post-modern fascism requires a popular movement to usher it into power. Bush has created a dictatorship out of the Presidency, now the next step towards fascism is being marketed to exploit the desire for change. The depressed national mood, due to the war and economic recession/depression has compromised sane reasoning and courageous opposition needed now more than ever. This has created the conditions for a newcomer to magically appear with a message of hope, using the mantra ‘Change’, wrapped in a swooning fever that has infected the young and left liberal excuse machines, such as ‘Move On’ who were never serious about stopping Bush/ Cheney and the war.

Since he passed his audition at the Democratic convention in 2004, Senator Obama has been taken over by George Soros and other hedge fund millionaires to launch a campaign out of nowhere, based on nothing but rhetoric and Wall Street millions. As darling of the rich elitist Kennedy/Kerry/Dean wing of the Democratic Party, Obama’s pseudo-Camelot will deliver Wall Street and the Anglo-American financiers the goods while disguised in a patina of racial teflon and faux populism from the upper crust. For substance ask, where is the bill in the Senate by Kennedy/Kerry/Obama calling for a freeze on all foreclosures? Where’s their filibuster against the war? Where is a real minimumn wage in the form of a living wage? Where is impeachment of Bush-Cheney? Why did Senator Obama move against raising heating oil assistance to the poor in the recent spending bill?

The answer to this last question, besides Rohatyn, is Obama’s top economics controller, Austan Goolsbee, a sinister Skull & Bones, Friedmanite Chicago School free trade/free market economist who has delivered the real answer to the question of the difference between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. Goolsbee stated on CNBC that Obama is more market friendly ­ more in the pocket of Wall Street. This is precisely the establishment’s secret fear of Hillary Clinton that she might act as her heroine Eleanor Roosevelt, to implement a post modern New Deal that would oppose austerity measures against programs that help the poor. That she would fund essential public services, like hospitals and schools, and provide universal health care available to all. The greatest fear is that she might act like FDR to now start regulating the markets starting with a 1% Tobin tax which could eliminate the income tax burden for everyone earning less than $125,000 year with plenty of money to fund the basic social programs of a civilized and truly decent society.

Now Obama, with economic advisers such as David Cutler, who believes that rising health care prices are good for the economy, and Jeffrey Liebman, who wants to partially privatize social security, you see that Obama’s MBAs will be quite good at implementing the vision of the Democratic godfather Felix Rohatyn (ex-Lazard Freres) and Republican Warren Rudman, an proponent of savage austerity and the wrecking of entitlements.. Their obsession with balanced budgets, privatization, and asset stripping will be given new cover as the United States is dissolved into one great corporatist PPP.

Yes, we do need infrastructure, but the reason we have an infrastructure crisis is because people like Rudman and Rohatyn have influenced thinking against infrastructure projects because it would get in the way of their balanced budget mania and plans to loot the economy. Now they have a new solution and salesman. Watch out!

Remember it was Rudman who was a key figure in the conservative revolution around Gingrich. The nefarious interest of Rohatyn is even more sinister considering that this is the fellow who was part of the international team supporting fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, where Rohatyn’s social security privatization scheme was first tried. Soon a limited revised version of social security privatization will be introduced by Obama when an alarm is pulled by Wall Street during a Obama Presidency. In the 1970’s Rohatyn became the actual dictator of New York City under Big Mac (the 1975 Municipal Assistance Corporation), trumping the city government, as a financial czar who cared more about the city’s bond rating than lives, cutting essential services, including many inner-city hospitals in a mad example of a PPP. Rohatyn, who is also recognized as the money bags behind the pro-Obama Democratic Leadership Council, is also a big proponent of military privatization which is another step towards feudal fascism. No wonder the Democrats have not stopped the war; it is good for their business arrangements too.

While Senator Obama says that he will stop the war and use that money to initially finance the NIRB and his green initiatives, this will do nothing to stop the speculative forces that are causing the present hyperinflationary bubble. Will Obama stand up to the speculators whose gambling is responsible for up to 40% of the price of every gallon of gasoline? Not likely.

Sure the NIRB will create some low-wage jobs, but the PPP arrangement will make certain that organized labor does not get assertive about living wages and benefits, all the while private companies welcome a work force of illegal immigrants who will do much of the work for virtual slave wages as is already the case.

So, what is to be done? First, we need a real debate towards electing a President and Congress who will confront the crisis, the real issues surrounding the present meltdown of the derivatives bubble and what that means for the entire economy. The sub-prime mortgage collapse is the tip of the iceberg. If Obama prevails, Americans will find that like the SS Titanic, the USA does not carry enough life boats that are not already owned by the bankers. Congress must come to reassert its constitutionally mandated sovereignty, by taking steps to federalize the Federal Reserve, regulate the markets, save the essential banking interests of the people, and then create the money with which to create honest investment into our nation’s infrastructure to thus promote the general welfare of all.

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Barack, Hillary, and the Sinister Nothingness of “Change”

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
Black Agenda Report
Wednesday, 09 January 2008

When politicians offer nothing, and the people demand nothing, then the powers-that-be are free to continue doing whatever they choose. The death knell of participatory politics can often be a very noisy, celebratory affair – such as we have witnessed in the call-and-response ritual of “Change!” “Hope!” and other exuberant but insubstantial campaign exercises. Finally, the most accomplished slickster in presidential history, Bill Clinton, was compelled to expose Barack Obama’s “fairy tale” anti-war history – some truth for a “change.” Black Agenda Report knows the story very well, after more than four years of observing Obama’s descent from vaguely progressive rhetoric to shameless pandering (to whites) and vapid “Change!” mantra nonsense. Only the rich can win this game.

…continued

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Subprime Obama

by Max Fraser
Black Agenda Report
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Democratic presidential aspirants, Barack Obama has put forward the weakest response to the subprime lending crisis. John Edwards proposed “a mandatory moratorium on foreclosures, a freeze on rising interest rates for at least seven years, federal subsidies to help homeowners keep up with payments and restructure loans, and explicit measures to rein in predatory lenders and regulate the financial sector.” Clinton’s plan is voluntary, but includes $30 in federal aide to homeowners and communities. “Only Obama has not called for a moratorium and interest-rate freeze,” reflecting “the centrist politics of his three chief economic advisers and his campaign’s ties to Wall Street institutions opposed to increased financial regulation.”

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

If Only Saddam Had Injected HGH By Scott Ritter

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Ritter
ICH
17/02/08 “Antiwar

The recent spectacle of Congressional hearings on the alleged use of steroids and/or Human Growth Hormone (HGH) by Roger Clemons, a professional baseball player nicknamed “the Rocket,” throws into question the viability and functionality of a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party. The House Government Reform Committee, chaired by Representative Henry Waxman (D-California), carried out its own made-for-television version of Court TV, grilling the All Star pitcher and his former trainer over their contradictory statements as to whether or not Clemons actually was injected with a banned performance enhancing substance. While this hearing was underway, thousands of miles away, in Iraq, American service members continued the ugly business of occupying Iraq. That Waxman would abuse his position by pursuing such trivia while Americans continued to fight and die in a war built exclusively on a framework of lies is disturbing.

True, Henry Waxman has chaired numerous hearings, and issued even more statements, which have resulted in several embarrassing questions being asked by the Government Reform Committee of a recalcitrant White House. But none of Henry Waxman’s efforts have produced the high drama of the Clemons hearings, where every word was wrestled with, every context explored. Forensic data was introduced. Reputations were (and are) on the line. The consequences are potentially grave: perjury charges could be brought forward against Clemons and others. What was the source of this commotion? Simply put, a few syringes and a game. Baseball might be the national pastime, perhaps, but it remains a game nonetheless. War is all-too real, and the war in Iraq has cost nearly 4,000 Americans their lives, while wounding tens of thousands more, while killing and wounding hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

At the same time Henry Waxman’s committee was grilling the Cy Young award-winning pitcher, the House Foreign Affairs Committee was holding hearings of its own, on the issue of Iraq. Another Democrat, Representative Robert Wexler (D-Florida), raised the matter of findings from a report issued by the Center for Public Integrity, issued last month, that document some 935 allegations of false statements made by the Bush administration in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Of particular interest to Wexler were 56 of those allegedly false statements attributed to the witness seated before the committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had served as the National Security Advisor in the period of time when the alleged false statements were made.

To his credit, Representative Wexler pressed home his point, namely that Condi Rice had lied when she helped make the case for war against Iraq by selectively citing certain intelligence information while suppressing others. Secretary Rice, of course, denied any wrongdoing, leaving America with a curt point-counterpoint exchange which served little purpose when it comes to the matter of the search for truth and accountability through oversight. When Roger Clemons denied the charges leveled at him, the robust overseers of Congressional Constitutional mandate who populate the Government Reform Committee subjected him to a withering round of cross-examination full of recrimination and doubt. Following Wexler’s brief moment of inquiry, Condi Rice was let off without further reproach.

Clearly there are discrepancies between the charges leveled by Wexler and the responses offered by Rice. That the compendium of alleged false statements comes from an independent, non-governmental entity (the Center for Public Integrity) should not serve as a roadblock to further investigation and hearings into the matter: the Government Reform Committee was acting in response to an independent investigation, the Mitchell Report, authorized not by Congress, but rather the Commissioner of Baseball. Unlike the Mitchell Report, however, the matter of Bush administration prevarication concerning the false case made for war in Iraq delves not into the lives of private citizens, where the consequences get no bigger than inflated sports statistics, but rather the words and actions of elected officials which influenced public opinion and the will of Congress in a manner which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and several thousand American lives.

Congress shouldn’t have to wait for a private organization like the Center for Public Integrity to do its job for it. The misrepresentation of fact, fabrication of falsehoods, and outright lies the Center for Public Integrity documents are all a matter of public record, most of which were derived from statements made before Congress itself.

That Congress puts the so-called integrity of a game ahead of its own Constitutional mandate of oversight of legitimate governance is a travesty. That this travesty is carried out in the face of a pledge by a Democratic-controlled Congress to effectively and responsibly carry out its duty to investigate how and why our nation went to war with Iraq is not only incomprehensible, but reprehensible.

Perhaps if Saddam Hussein had been accused of injecting HGH instead of hiding WMD, Congress would have stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and dug deep into the truth of the matter. Henry Waxman, as well meaning as he is, sits at the head of a legislative process which has lost touch with reality and purpose. Pandering to the no-risk approach of non-governance by pursuing “The Rocket” and allegations of HGH abuse, while ignoring the high-risk demands of legitimate government by pursuing matters pertaining to how the Bush administration manufactured evidence of illusory Iraqi rockets tipped with imagined WMD, represents the ultimate indictment of a Congress, and legislative process, that long ago lost touch with its ultimate purpose of being: the pursuit of the best interests of the American people through the defense of the rule of law as set forth by the United States Constitution.

Scott Ritter is a former UNSCOM weapons inspector in Iraq and the author of Target Iran: The Truth Behind the White House’s Plans for Regime Change (Nation Books, 2006).


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Iniquities and Inequities of War By Ray McGovern

Dead For Lies by Cindy Sheehan

Charles Lewis (Center for Public Integrity) 935 Lies (and Counting) (video)

Bob Drogin: Curveball: Spies, Lies & the Con Man Who Caused a War (video)

Olbermann: Carolina On His Mind + Fool Me 935 Times… + Cash For Campaign + Bushed + Worst (videos)

Cafferty: Study: 935 False Statements Leading up to the War with Iraq (video)

Center for Public Integrity documents orchestrated campaign that led to Iraq invasion “under decidedly false pretenses”

Condoleezza Rice: Liar, Secretary of State, War Criminal Part 2

Undermining Bolivia by Benjamin Dangl

Dandelion Salad

by Benjamin Dangl
Global Research, February 17, 2008
The Progressive

A thick fence, surveillance cameras, and armed guards protect the U.S. Embassy in La Paz. The embassy is a tall, white building with narrow slits of windows that make it look like a military bunker. After passing through a security checkpoint, I sit down with U.S. Embassy spokesman Eric Watnik and ask if the embassy is working against the socialist government of Evo Morales. “Our cooperation in Bolivia is apolitical, transparent, and given directly to assist in the development of the country,” Watnik tells me. “It is given to benefit those who need it most.”

From the Bush Administration’s perspective, that turns out to mean Morales’s opponents. Declassified documents and interviews on the ground in Bolivia prove that the Bush Administration is using U.S. taxpayers’ money to undermine the Morales government and coopt the country’s dynamic social movements-just as it has tried to do recently in Venezuela and traditionally throughout Latin America.

Much of that money is going through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In July 2002, a declassified message from the U.S. embassy in Bolivia to Washington included the following message: “A planned USAID political party reform project aims at implementing an existing Bolivian law that would . . . over the long run, help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS or its successors.” MAS refers to Morales’s party, which, in English, stands for Movement Toward Socialism.

Morales won the presidency in December 2005 with 54 percent of the vote, but five regional governments went to rightwing politicians. After Morales’s victory, USAID, through its Office of Transition Initiatives, decided “to provide support to fledgling regional governments,” USAID documents reveal.

Throughout 2006, four of these five resource-rich lowland departments pushed for greater autonomy from the Morales-led central government, often threatening to secede from the nation. U.S. funds have emboldened them, with the Office of Transition Initiatives funneling “116 grants for $4,451,249 to help departmental governments operate more strategically,” the documents state.

“USAID helps with the process of decentralization,” says Jose Carvallo, a press spokesperson for the main rightwing opposition political party, Democratic and Social Power. “They help with improving democracy in Bolivia through seminars and courses to discuss issues of autonomy.”

“The U.S. Embassy is helping this opposition,” agrees Raul Prada, who works for Morales’s party. Prada is sitting down in a crowded La Paz cafe and eating ice cream. His upper lip is black and blue from a beating he received at the hands of Morales’s opponents while Prada was working on the new constitutional assembly. “The ice cream is to lessen the swelling,” he explains. The Morales government organized this constitutional assembly to redistribute wealth from natural resources and guarantee broader access to education, land, water, gas, electricity, and health care for the country’s poor majority. I had seen Prada in the early days of the Morales administration. He was wearing an indigenous wiphala flag pin and happily chewing coca leaves in his government office. This time, he wasn’t as hopeful. He took another scoop of ice cream and continued: “USAID is in Santa Cruz and other departments to help fund and strengthen the infrastructure of the rightwing governors.”

In August 2007, Morales told a diplomatic gathering in La Paz, “I cannot understand how some ambassadors dedicate themselves to politics, and not diplomacy, in our country. . . . That is not called cooperation. That is called conspiracy.” Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said that the U.S. Embassy was funding the government’s political opponents in an effort to develop “ideological and political resistance.” One example is USAID’s financing of Juan Carlos Urenda, an adviser to the rightwing Civic Committee, and author of the Autonomy Statute, a plan for Santa Cruz’s secession from Bolivia.

“There is absolutely no truth to any allegation that the U.S. is using its aid funds to try and influence the political process or in any way undermine the government,” says State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey. USAID officials point out that this support has gone to all Bolivian governors, not just those in the opposition. Despite Casey’s assertion, this funding has been controversial. On October 10, Bolivia’s supreme court approved a decree that prohibits international funding of activities in Bolivia without state regulation. One article in the law explains that Bolivia will not accept money with political or ideological strings attached.

In Bolivia, where much of the political muscle is in the streets with social organizations and unions, it’s not enough for Washington to work only at levels of high political power. They have to reach the grassroots as well. One USAID official told me by e-mail that the Office of Transition Initiatives “launched its Bolivia program to help reduce tensions in areas prone to social conflict (in particular El Alto) and to assist the country in preparing for upcoming electoral events.”

To find out how this played out on the ground, I meet with El Alto-based journalist Julio Mamani in the Regional Workers’ Center in his city, which neighbors La Paz.

“There was a lot of rebellious ideology and organizational power in El Alto in 2003,” Mamani explains, referring to the populist uprising that overthrew President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. “So USAID strengthened its presence in El Alto, and focused their funding and programs on developing youth leadership. Their style of leadership was not based on the radical demands of the city or the horizontal leadership styles of the unions. They wanted to push these new leaders away from the city’s unions and into hierarchical government positions.”

The USAID programs demobilized the youth. “USAID always took advantage of the poverty of the people,” Mamani says. “They even put up USAID flags in areas alongside the Bolivian flag and the wiphala.”

It was not hard to find other stories of what the U.S. government had been doing to influence economics and politics in Bolivia. Luis Gonzalez, an economics student at the University of San Simon in Cochabamba, describes a panel he went to in 2006 that was organized by the Millennium Foundation. That year, this foundation received $155,738 from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) through the Center for International Private Enterprise, a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Gonzalez, in glasses and a dark ponytail, described a panel that focused on criticizing state control of the gas industry (a major demand of social movements). “The panelists said that foreign investment and production in Bolivia will diminish if the gas remains under partial state control,” says Gonzalez. “They advocated privatization, corporate control, and pushed neoliberal policies.”

That same year, the NED funded another $110,134 to groups in Bolivia through the Center for International Private Enterprise to, according to NED documents, “provide information about the effects of proposed economic reforms to decision-makers involved in the Constituent Assembly.” According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by muckraker Jeremy Bigwood, the NED also funded programs that brought thirteen young “emerging leaders” from Bolivia to Washington between 2002 and 2004 to strengthen their rightwing political parties. The MAS, and other leftist parties, were not invited to these meetings.

The U.S. Embassy even appears to be using Fulbright scholars in its effort to undermine the Bolivian government. One Fulbright scholar in Bolivia, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that during recent orientation meetings at the embassy in La Paz, “a member of the U.S. Embassy’s security apparatus requested reports back to the embassy with detailed information if we should encounter any Venezuelans or Cubans in the field.” Both Venezuela and Cuba provide funding, doctors, and expertise to support their socialist ally Morales. The student adds that the embassy’s request “contradicts the Fulbright program’s guidelines, which prohibit us from interfering in politics or doing anything that would offend the host country.”

After finding out about the negative work the U.S. government was doing in Bolivia, I was curious to see one of the positive projects USAID officials touted so often. It took more than two weeks for them to get back to me-plenty of time, I thought, to choose the picture perfect example of their “apolitical” and development work organized “to benefit those who need it most.”

They put me in touch with Wilma Rocha, the boss at a clothing factory in El Alto called Club de Madres Nueva Esperanza (Mothers’ Club of New Hope). A USAID consultant worked in the factory in 2005-2006, offering advice on management issues and facilitating the export of the business’s clothing to U.S. markets. In a city of well-organized, working class radicals, Rocha is one of the few rightwingers. She is a fierce critic of the Morales administration and the El Alto unions and neighborhood councils.

Ten female employees are knitting at a table in the corner of a vast pink factory room full of dozens of empty sewing machines. “For three months we’ve barely had any work at all,” one of the women explains while Rocha waits at a distance. “When we do get paychecks, the pay is horrible.” I ask for her name, but she says she can’t give it to me. “If the boss finds out we are being critical, she’ll beat us.”

Benjamin Dangl is the author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia.” He received a 2007 Project Censored Award for his coverage of U.S. military operations in Paraguay.

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Benjamin Dangl, The Progressive, 2008
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see

US spy scandal in Bolivia (video)

The rise of neo-fascism in Bolivia + US/Bolivia: strained relations (videos; Escobar)

Homeland Security commissions new human incapacitation device

Dandelion Salad

Nick Langewis and David Edwards
Raw Story
Saturday February 16, 2008

One company has received an $800,000 contract from the Department of Homeland Security to develop a new “non-lethal” method of human incapacitation for use by law enforcement.

By 2010, Intelligent Optical Systems hopes to be selling a sort of high-powered flashlight, the “LED Incapacitator,” which would act by not only effectively blinding its target, but overloading his or her brain, with rapidly flashing lights at varying colors and frequencies. In addition to disorientation, headache and nausea are also likely.

…continued

see

New Bill To Allow Police Misconduct Be Hidden From Public + videos

Election Madness By Howard Zinn

Dandelion Salad

By Howard Zinn
ICH
The Progressive
March 2008 Issue

There’s a man in Florida who has been writing to me for years (ten pages, handwritten) though I’ve never met him. He tells me the kinds of jobs he has held-security guard, repairman, etc. He has worked all kinds of shifts, night and day, to barely keep his family going. His letters to me have always been angry, railing against our capitalist system for its failure to assure “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” for working people.

Continue reading

Israel Strangling the Life Out of Gaza By Liam Bailey

Liam

By Liam Bailey
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Bailey Mail
February 17, 2008

In an article the year before last, well respected Israeli scholar and author Ilan Pappe called Israel’s policies for the Gaza strip measured Genocide. He was referring to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, commenced in two operations (Summer Rains and Autumn Clouds) after the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, air-raids which, for a short-time ran in conjunction with a substantial Israeli ground operation into the coastal strip. Ilan believed (and believes) that Israel’s aim was to kill civilians in small enough numbers to keep the international community’s furore from becoming too severe, while still being enough to eventually deal with the “Gaza problem”.

Critics of Pappe said it couldn’t be genocide because the numbers killed were not overtaking the number of births in Gaza. There is validity in both arguments. While Israel’s current Gaza policies are not similarly directly Genocide, and while air-strikes killing civilians can at least be claimed to be accidental, Israel’s current behaviour is deliberately strangling the life out of an entire population.

When you take away a man’s ability to feed his children and/or provide for his family, you take away his will to live. When you force an entire community/population to live in abject poverty, force them to live miserable lives and rob them of all hope that their lives will ever be any better, you might as well kill them. Israel has been doing both these things since the Palestinians voted Hamas in September 2006 and Israel began the internationally supported financial and aid embargo.

The embargo caused a chain reaction, civil service workers, who made up a large proportion of Gaza’s workforce, and were the main breadwinners for the largest proportion of Gaza families, could no longer be paid. Unemployment levels had risen since Israel pulled their forces and settlers out of Gaza, and because of that and the second intifada Gazans could no longer enter Israel for work. The civil servants now joined the unemployed in being reliant on aid, aid which of course was no longer entering Gaza. Recently Israel’s Gaza policies became a more concentrated campaign of inflicting misery on Gazans, with the strip sealed off from the outside world, and Israel controlling every aspect of their lives.

It started with things like limiting fuel supplies into Gaza, and only giving them electricity for limited periods of time. Palestinian Mohammed Omer wrote earlier this year in the New Statesman, about the consequences of the fuel cuts.

As a dark brown putrid sludge snakes through Gaza’s streets. Fumes of methane and bacterial gases choke the air. Faucets ooze organic material, a noxious mixture of human and animal waste, disease and bile. The stench is overwhelming. Passers-by choke up, vomiting into the mire. “The smell,” Ayoub Al Saifi, 56, grimaces, holding a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. “The stench of the sewage … my wife has asthma and she can’t breath.” The sewage treatment plant requires 20,000 litres of fuel per day to run only in Al Zaytoun neighbourhood in Gaza City. Silent now without fuel, the waste backs up, flooding the streets and clogging the plumbing initiating what the Ministry of Health calls an “environmental catastrophe” in Gaza.

Omer also described how doctors are being faced with Sophie’s choice, about whether to turn off baby’s incubators, elderly heart monitors or shut down the operating theatres.

Israel having complete control of the Gaza border means they are controlling everything that gets in including food supplies and aid. The 4th Geneva Convention was written to prevent civilian populations of occupied countries from enduring the torture and other barbarous atrocities inflicted by the Nazi’s in the countries they occupied, and goes into great detail to state that occupied civilian populations should not be treated badly in any way. Ironic that the state of the people the convention was written because of atrocities against, is now the only state to get away with flouting it with such regularity.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in August 2005, which they believe means the Geneva Convention does not apply to them and that they can do what they want with and to the Gaza population because technically they no longer occupy it. The fact that they are in control of everything entering Gaza means that they are classed as an occupying force by all but Israel.

The 4th Geneva Convention also outlaws collective punishment, meaning an occupied civilian population at large can not be punished for the actions of their army or of militants amid their population. Israel proved it did not care about the Geneva Convention even when it did occupy Gaza, as it demolished the homes of suicide bomber’s families.

Israel’s Gaza policies since September 2006 have been nothing but one long period of collective punishment, as I said strangling the life out of an entire population. And that’s before I even mention the ten metre high (in places) security wall Israel is building that is preventing people in the West Bank from getting to and from their jobs, in some cases even preventing farmers from getting to their own olive trees.

The latter shows that Israel is completely riding rough-shot over the Palestinians, in building such a wall right through someone’s privately own land. The Wall is again against international law in that it excessively restricts the civilian’s right to move around in their own land, although Israeli check-points have been doing that for years anyway.

If any of the so-called “rogue states” like Iran, Syria or North Korea were so flagrant in their multiple contraventions of international law, we would go to war to bring them into line, it’s as simple as that. Yet Israel gets away with it. I personally feel it is time Israel was brought into line.

***

In my other recent articles on the Middle East conflict, I was attempting to curb my personal feelings and write in an objective and balanced way, but as I currently am not writing with the aim of getting published in the major papers as a freelancer, I am now telling it like it is. Liam Bailey is a freelance journalist based in the U.K. You can contact him by E-Mail

see

Bringing Down The New Berlin walls By John Pilger

Life in Occupied Gaza by Stephen Lendman

Crossing into Gaza (video) + The Convoy: Monday passed, the goods did not

Israeli Oppression in Hebron – A Case History of Separation, Forced Displacement & Terror by Stephen Lendman

Never against! European collusion in Israel’s slow genocide By Omar Barghouti

So Many Tragedies in Such Little Time By photojournalist Mohammed Omer (over 18 only)

Gaza