Friday, December 31, 2010

Hail to the Chief: Spinning Obama's Presidency

Hail to the Chief: Spinning Obama's Presidency - by Stephen Lendman

As if on cue, major media reports hailed "the Comeback Kid." In Obama's December 22 press conference, Reuters' Caren Bohan asked:

"You racked up a lot of wins in the last few weeks that a lot of people thought would be difficult to come by. Are you ready to call yourself the 'comeback kid?' "

CBS News anchor Katie Couric gushed about how "the president isn't calling himself the 'comeback kid,' but some other folks are."

From ABC News came Jake Tapper offering "congratulations," and George Stephanopoulos saying:

"The president takes a victory lap. How the Christmas season became what he called a 'season of progress.' Will it continue in the new year?"

New York Times writer Michael Shear added:

"But Mr. Obama rejected an opportunity to gloat about the success of the past several weeks by declaring himself the 'comeback kid,' telling a reporter that the results are 'not a victory for me. It's a victory for the American people."

A chorus of other media reports echoed the same sentiment, including USA Today citing a "political rebound," the Christian Science Monitor praising his notable legislative and other victories, and the Los Angeles Times hailing "image-altering successes."

Even hard-right Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer titled his December 17 article, "The new comeback kid," saying:

"Obama had a bad November," taking a midterm election "shellack(ing)....Now, with his stunning tax deal, (he's) back....His comeback is already a year ahead of Clinton's."

On December 21, Nation magazine writer Ari Berman headlined, "Is Obama Really the New Comeback Kid," saying:

Hold the cheers. "Obama's presidency didn't end after the midterm election and it hasn't been revived during the lame duck session of Congress....Let's hold off, please, from anointing Obama the comeback kid until we know what the full extent of that 'comeback' actually entails."

Nonetheless, Christmas came early for Obama, never mind two years delivering lumps of coal for American workers and promises for worse ahead, what media hype won't explain.

Yet some accounts even compared his record to Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Reality and mythmaking are farcically at odds, including Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel headlining her December 23 article, "Action, Hope, 2011," saying:

"Looking forward to 2011, there are many ideas....worth fighting for," listing five worthy ones, but omitting crucial others as well as exposing Obama's dark side, what for two years she's been loathe to do, save for occasional criticisms far less than deserved.

In his December 22 article headlined "The Progressive Honor Roll of 2010," Nation writer John Nichols named Bernie Sanders "most valuable senator," distorting his record that includes:

-- rhetorically backing universal single-payer healthcare, then voting for rationing and enriching drug companies, insurance giants and large hospital chains;

-- supporting Wall Street empowering financial reform, institutionalizing business as usual;

-- backing agribusiness-friendly food safety legislation, harming small farmers and consumers; and

-- supporting the stalled Senate cap and trade bill to empower polluters, raise energy prices, and provide a potential $10 trillion speculative carbon trading derivatives market, among his other notable "successes," while claiming peoples' senator credentials, which ones not explained.

More often than not, Nation magazine writers are on the wrong side of issues, running cover for Democrats indistinguishable from Republicans. Both parties support privilege over progressivism, imperial wars, hammering dissent, and waging war on Islam and Latino immigrants for political advantage.

In its December 22 issue, self-styled feminist columnist Katha Pollitt added her own insult, siding with Swedish prosecutors charging Julian Assange with unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape, no matter his persuasive denial, calling the accusations politically motivated. Pollitt, however, assailed WikiLeaks supporters who've "misrepresented the allegations, attacked the women and made light of date rape," when, if fact, charges clearly seem bogus.

In a December 29 report, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen said insider sources told him that "the CIA used Sweden to launder the transfer to WikiLeaks of carefully screened and redacted State Department cables and the subsequent release of the cables to pre-selected corporate news media entities. Sweden was chosen (for) its so-called 'press freedom and freedom of expression' traditions" to give the releases more legitimacy.

As for Assange's entrapers, Anna Ardin left the country for the West Bank, and apparently no longer is cooperating with authorities. Sofia Wilen is his other accuser. Swedish sources say:

"both women....were part of a carefully arranged plot to bring sex charges against Assange in order to discontinue the WikiLeaks Swedish asylum operation after the ultimate purpose was served: a major international news event designed to provide global support (for) draconian curbs on the Internet," including in Sweden, Britain and America.

On December 21, the FCC siding with telecom and cable giants against Net Neutrality corroborates Madsen's view. Ahead, expect two Internets (fast and slow lanes) and online discrimination, including possible censorship. Accusing Assange of sex crimes was a ploy for planned political harshness.

Obama Reality Exposes Media Crafted Illusions

A two-part Obama Year Two assessment explains a record that would make a despot proud, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/obama-year-two-continued-betrayal-and.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/obama-year-two-continued-betrayal-and_28.html

Part I has links to a Year One assessment, a pattern begun straightaway since taking office on January 20, 2009, seamlessly continuing his predecessor's agenda, and in many ways exceeding it destructively.

Paul Craig Roberts' December 28 "2011" article is right saying:

"The year 2011 will bring Americans a larger and more intrusive police state, more unemployment and home foreclosures, no economic recovery, more disregard (of) US law, international law, the Constitution, and truth, more suspicion and distrust from allies, more hostility from the rest of the world, and new heights of media sycophancy" about a president who should be condemned, impeached, and prosecuted for domestic and imperial high crimes and misdemeanors.

Roberts believes 2011 will be American democracy's '"terminal year." In fact, it was stillborn, had rare progressive moments, but in recent decades eroded to today's farcical state, a rhetorical, not real democracy. America is one-party duopoly with two wings. A corrupted judiciary and Congress support power, privilege and capital, not popular interests.

Obama is its titular head, but it hardly matters. Systemic power rules. The best democracy money can buy governs. Might over right marauds globally, invents terror threats to enlist support, crushes domestic dissent, spurns rule of law order for brute force, and threatens humanity with repression or possible extinction if not stopped.

Roberts calls America's future Winston Smith's world - "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength," but as Orwell explained: "In a time of universal deceit (more relevant than ever in modern America), telling the truth is a revolutionary act." In police state America, it's also a crime.

Obama, Congress, and right-wing courts oppose human rights, civil liberties, democratic values, equity and justice, the rule of law, labor rights, equal protections, peace, environmental sanity, regulatory restraints, free thought and expression, and truth.

Power for the privileged, marketplace fundamentalism, and super-wealth rule alone matter. So do illusions about the best of all possible worlds, substituting images for a harsh, repressive reality leaving millions of Americans on their own and out of luck because a president promising change spurned them.

Hold the cheers. He plans worse in 2011 and 12, hopefully his final ones if enough awareness understands that change comes bottom up, never top down, what only people power can bring. Isn't it long overdue time they tried, but wishing won't make it so or backing America's duopoly on election day.

A Final Comment

Rarely is there good news to report, but here's some, regardless of the less than honorable motive. An earlier article explained the shocking injustice against Jamie and Gladys Scott, sentenced to life imprisonment in Mississippi, for an $11 crime they didn't commit. The true story can be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/scott-sisters-victimized-by-american.html

On December 29, Gov. Haley Barbour, with clear political motives, announced the following:

"Today, I have issued two orders indefinitely suspending the sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott. In 1994, a Scott County jury convicted the sisters of armed robbery and imposed two life sentences for the crime. Their convictions and their sentences were affirmed by the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 1996."

"To date, the sisters have served 16 years....and are eligible for parole in 2014....The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society. Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation...."

Disgracefully, Barbour, a hard-right politician, stopped short of full exoneration for a crime neither sister committed. At least, however, they'll be free, especially Jamie who needs life-saving kidney transplant surgery with one Gladys will provide.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

America's Gulf: New Report Says it's Dying

America's Gulf: New Report Says It's Dying - by Stephen Lendman

Concerned Citizens of Florida.com (CCF) believe efforts must be made now "to address what may very well be the greatest environmental catastrophe of North America in modern history....government (and media) cannot be relied on" for truthful information. As a result, its site is a platform for truth and accuracy on a disaster of such magnitude.

On December 1, CCF published a special Dr. Tom Termotto Gulf disaster report, titled "The Gulf of Mexico is Dying." He's National Coordinator for the Tallahassee, FL-based Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference (International Citizens' Initiative). Its disturbing findings are discussed below. He published them so "the world community will come together to further contemplate this dire and demanding predicament." Future generations depend on it.

Termotto's entire report can be accessed through the following link:

http://phoenixrisingfromthegulf.wordpress.com/

In an early July statement, he called the Gulf disaster "a tragic violation of the public trust," adding:

"The BP Gulf Oil Spill was created by man; it was not an act of God....It was an utterly manmade event; not an accident....where fate would have everything accidently go wrong that could go possibly so wrong....We wonder out loud about whether it is now time to establish a Regional Citizens' Initiative....to step in where government and industry have completely failed and betrayed the people."

His current assessment is based on seven months Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference work, "disseminate(d) with the authority and confidence of those who have thoroughly investigated a crime scene." A compelling body of evidence, including photo-documentaries, portrays the Gulf's true state - what BP, Washington, and major media reports suppressed.

"BP('s) narrative is nothing but a corporate-created illusion - a web of fabrication spun in collaboration with the US Federal Government and (complicit) Mainstream Media. Big Oil, as well as the Military-Industrial Complex, have aided and abetted this whole scheme and info blackout because the very future of the Oil & Gas Industry is at stake, as is the future of the US empire," dependent on vast amounts of energy, mainly oil.

Most important is that planet earth may be at stake, "slowly but surely filling up with (toxic) oil and gas."

Visual evidence and diagrams captured "the true state of the underlying geological formations around the various wells drilled in the Macondo Prospect....there is no dispute (about) the most serious geological changes (caused and continuing) in (Macondo's) region...."

Besides nearly three months of gushing, expect worse conditions ahead. "It's not a pretty picture" when explained fully and accurately. Evidence shows "the geology around the well bore has been blown. This occurred because of:"

-- contiguous drilling "to a salt dome;" and

-- destructive gas explosions, damaging "the integrity of the well casing, cementing, well bore, well head, and foundation around the well head."

As a result, the entire well system was undermined, what official reports never explained. Then, after capping, pressure forced "upsurging hydrocarbons to find weaknesses throughout the greater system." Doing so exposed an array of "compromised, fractured and unsettled geology through which hydrocarbons could travel all the way to the seafloor and into the GOM (Gulf of Mexico)."

According to Geohazards Specialist BK Lim:

"The rock beds in the vicinity of a salt dome (in stratified rocks that often contain oil and gas) are highly fractured and permeable due to stress and deformation which occur as the salt dome thrusted upwards."

Faults are another problem. Depending on the amount of structural damage, their number, location and severity "will become prominently configured into the future stability of the whole region. Larger faults can open up much greater opportunities for the hydrocarbons to (rise) to the seafloor via cracks, crevices, craters and chasms."

In fact, visual evidence reveals "numerous leaks and seeps throughout the seafloor surface (suggesting) sub-seafloor geological formations in great turmoil and undergoing unprecedented flux."

Once oil penetrates shallow fault areas, an uncontrollable situation exists, information again suppressed because revelation might threaten the future of oil and gas exploration. Coverup protects it, no matter the extreme geological and human hazards.

Three Different Gulf Disasters

(1) the 87-day Macondo gushing.

(2) "Numerous leaks and seeps within five to ten square miles (of Macondo) with an (unknown) aggregate" daily hydrocarbon outflow.

(3) "Countless gushers and spills, leaks and seeps throughout the Gulf of Mexico" because of many decades of drilling. While the combined outflow is undetermined, it's likely to be significant, ensuring the Gulf's "slow and steady demise...."

The Gulf of Mexico is dying, but government and industry officials don't report it. Moreover, what happens there affects adjacent waters, including the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. All planetary waters are interconnected and potentially at risk, meaning the entire global ecosystem is endangered.

Methane is another problem. It's very corrosive when mixed with saltwater and mud. High pressure forces it to through seafloor cracks and crevices, "thereby creating a predicament that no science, technology or equipment can remedy."

Macondo is only one project. Many others exist globally "causing innumerable 'micro-displacements' " that cumulatively create a hazardous macro-event. The most serious Gulf issue relates to the amount and depth of drilling. "Of course, with greater depths come much greater risks," as modern technology and equipment haven't kept up with potential hazards.

Gulf Seabed May Be in Seismic Danger Zone

Decades of multiple seabed fracturing and fissuring created a "conducive environment for HUGE unintended consequences." Unless further exploration is halted, "coastal communities (and global waters) will remain in a very precarious situation." Drilling elsewhere compounds the problem. Planet Earth's future is at stake as well as humanity and other animal and vegetable life.

Addendum

The following additional problems are explained:

(1) "The wanton and indiscriminate use of (Corexit dispersant) turned an extremely serious regional disaster into an unmitigated global" one. Mixed with oil caused "fundamentally altered" Gulf waters. "Many are concerned that a tipping point has already arrived and that this sea change will irrevocably transform a way of life" negatively.

(2) "The deeper the geological source of hydrocarbons, the more radioactive isotopes" enter oil and gas. Big Oil keeps it secret. "So secret in fact that, if this were to get out, this single scientific fact would seal the fate of the entire industry." Moreover, it confirms the (non-biological) abiotic and (non-biochemical) abiogenic origin of oil and gas, facts counter to Peak Oil theory. Macondo is rumored to have a "reservoir of abiotic oil the size of Mount Everest." Tapping it safely, however, is another matter.

A Final Comment

On July 1, Concerned Citizens of Florida headlined, "They've Literally Punched A Hole Into Hell: We Need A Crash Alternative Energy Program Now, Assuming We Even Survive," saying:

No "verbal hyperbole" can explain "the magnitude of (Macondo's) environmental catastrophe. It is nothing short of an Armageddon of Oil." Fossil fuels and nuclear power are killing the planet. Unless crash alternatives are undertaken and accelerated, deciding later may not matter. Macondo was a defining moment. Something now must be done "to save our country and world." Tomorrow is too late.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Palestine Today: A Reality of Justice Denied

Palestine Today: A Reality of Justice Denied - by Stephen Lendman

On December 24, Mondoweiss co-editor Adam Horowitz wrote:

"Israeli military kills 20-year old Gazan for herding animals too close to buffer zone."

On December 23, Israeli forces shot and killed Salama Abu Harhish without warning while herding sheep and goats in Beit Lahya. Civilized nations don't murder nonviolent civilians in cold blood, this time leaving a widow and day-old unnamed baby.

What "democracy" thrives on violence, spurns peace, and wages preemptive wars like Cast Lead. Besides America, only Israel, a global menace like its Washington paymaster/partner, together with Britain the real axis of evil.

December 28 was Cast Lead's second anniversary, a three week continuing onslaught. Against Palestine, Israel's wars never end. The 2008-09 horror evoked memories of Franklin Roosevelt's December 8, 1941 moment, telling a joint session of Congress:

"Yesterday, December 7,1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that Nation, (and) look(ed) toward maintain(ing it) in the Pacific....I ask that the Congress declare that....a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire."

Historical analysis exposed America's real intent, its desire for war, its foreknowledge of the attack, its tracking of the Japanese fleet across the Pacific but not warning Pearl Harbor's commander to ensure surprise and public anger, and Roosevelt's imperial aims. Nonetheless, his powerful words expressed outrage about any nation attacking another preemptively, even if goaded to do it.

Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah remembered Cast Lead in his December 27 article headlined, "The Gaza massacre and the struggle for justice," saying:

"It was not only a massacre of human bodies, but of the truth and of justice." Goldstone and other investigations uncovered irrefutable evidence of high crimes of war and against humanity - willful slaughter of
nonviolent men, women and children.

Also targeted were schools, universities, hospitals, mosques, industrial and government facilities, police stations, fishing boats, agriculture and residential homes - all unrelated to military necessity in violation of fundamental international law.

Moreover, Israel was guilty of committing the "supreme international crime" against peace, an Israeli and American specialty though neither's been held accountable. As a result, justice remains denied, begging for redress.

Israel's attack was merciless. "The names of the dead fill 100 pages, but nothing can fill the void they left in their families....Two years after the crime, Gaza remains a giant prison....Israel's violence (continues) like its violence against Palestinians" throughout the Territories - sustained state terrorism against nonviolent civilians. It's "the logical outcome of the racism that forms the inseparable core of Zionist ideology and practice" that claims Israel belongs exclusively to Jews, no matter how many Palestinians have to die to prove it.

As a result, peace is consistently avoided, justice denied, and atrocities continue daily. Cast Lead highlighted Palestinian victimization, decades of occupation, besieged Gaza, persecuted Israeli Arabs, and the diaspora population prohibited from returning, a right enshrined in international law.

It also exposes a lawless society and bogus democracy, arousing millions globally to demand justice. Failure insults victims and the rule of law. Yet international community silence endorses rogue state lawlessness. Impunity encourages continuity, an endless cycle of persecution, violence, slaughter and destruction, seeking new pretexts to sustain it or inventing them when don't exist.

Israel's Self-Destructive Politics

Last March 16, Haaretz writer Bradley Burston headlined, "Israel's Titanic Moment: Does Obama Want Bibi's Head," saying:

Perhaps after years of trial and error, Hamas finally knows "the secret of how to bring down the Jewish state: Let the ship sink itself....One of the curses of endless war, is the tendency to become one's worst enemy," a skill Israel honed through years of practice, alienating Jews besides millions of others globally.

On December 28, Burston headlined, "Israel's government is turning into a settlement," saying:

Netanyahu works overtime for it, "letting Avigdor Lieberman and Arab-hating rabbis run wild, humiliating the United States in the settlement freeze fiasco, while exacerbating tensions with the Muslim world." His government thus meets five essential settlement criteria:

-- it obstructs peace;

-- denies fault for its absence;

-- allies with religious extremists at the expense of secular Israelis, the majority;

-- alienates allies and angers enemies; and

-- does anything, even at extreme internal risk, "to avoid being dislodged."

Burston denounced Avigdor Lieberman, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, for "drill(ing) new holes directly into (the) ship of state," a man Newsweek called "Israel's most popular politician." Interviewing him last October, Lieberman:

-- called "peace for territory" the wrong approach;

-- wants half of the 1.5 million Israeli Arabs removed, believing all represent a fifth column threat; saying they refuse to be integrated but enjoy "all the advantages of a democratic country," the same ones reserved solely for Jews;

-- calls Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "exactly like Hitler;" says "of course" Iran will get a nuclear bomb, then will "de facto or de jure (occupy) the Gulf countries," and Israel, no matter that the Islamic Republic hasn't attacked another country in over 200 years; by comparison, Israel's entire history is bloodstained, its politics based on sustained violence;

-- calls himself "the mainstream;" and

-- achieving a peace settlement in a year is "impossible."

On that issue, he's right because Israel spurns it, choosing violence over diplomacy, democratic values and equal justice. Eventually it's self-destructive as Burston believes.

It's no surprise that Haaretz believes "Lieberman must go," a December 28 editorial calling him "an opportunistic figure competing in the guise of a diplomat for the leadership of the Israeli right wing."

An earlier article presented a profile of his ultranationalist extremism, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/10/avigdor-lieberman-profile-in.html

Haaretz believes that "If Netanyahu expects to be taken seriously....he must dismiss Lieberman immediately." Israel needs a legitimate foreign minister, not a fractious lunatic vindicating Israel's adversaries. Perhaps he should dissolve his coalition and call new elections, though shuffling the deck won't matter, given the the loyal opposition's makeup - as belligerent and hard-line as Netanyahu at a time Israel's Knesset is its most extreme ever.

Besides an array of extremist passed or proposed legislation, it sanctions racism and violence, including the December 28 attacks against Beitin village. Sandwiched between Bet El and Ofra settlements, the main road between Beitin and Ramallah is closed, forcing residents to travel 30 minutes to the city, not five by the main road.

On December 28, hundreds protested and were attacked by Israeli forces, using rubber bullets, pepper spray, and high-velocity tear gas rounds fired, from close range, directly at protestors as well as into nearby homes.

Near Jerusalem, Palestinians protesting against Israel's Separation Wall were also attacked. Nine arrests were made, including international activists and an al Quds correspondent. After release, they got several days to leave the country.

Further, protestors against occupation and separation from Al Masara and other villages were assaulted. Together with international activists, they faced sound and tear gas bombs. Sixteen year old Ali Hamdan was struck in the chest and injured. Others suffered from inhilation effects. At Ni'lin's weekly anti-Wall protest, confrontations there occurred, as well as at Nabi Saleh where one protestor was shot 13 times with rubber bullets, was seriously injured and hospitalized.

On December 29, Haaretz writer Amira Hass headlined, "Israel's Qassam strikes on Gaza," saying:

Months ago, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai warned of "a bigger shoah (genocide)" if Palestinians fired rockets in self-defense, responding to Israeli attacks. He now calls Gaza "an abscess, troublesome pus)" and gets away with it.

"What was he trying to convey," asked Hass? "That Israel needs to use radical surgery to fully remove the localized infection? Vilnai (like other Israeli hard-liners) renounced any Israeli responsibility for the volatility, placing all the blame on Hamas. 'Instead of worrying about its own people, Hamas is trying to conquer Jerusalem,' he said."

In fact, Israeli soldiers "nearly daily fir(e) on Gaza civilians, regularly wounding (or) killing them." Vilnai, however, claims "They started it, so we have the right to respond." Yet in January 1991, as GOC Southern Command, he signed an infamous military order, revoking exit permits granted years earlier. As a result, Gazans lost free movement under military closure, a policy deeply hardened today under siege.

"It was Vilnai's signature, not a persistent infection, that fated the Gaza Strip to be the world's largest and most overcrowded detention camp. And we, the Israelis, are its wardens," in violation of fundamental international law, ruthlessly spurned for over six decades.

A Final Comment

NGO Monitor (NGOM) is a Jerusalem-based pro-Israeli front group, disseminating propaganda and hate. It debases legitimate human rights organizations, independent journalists, other advocates for truth, equity and justice, and, on Cast Lead's second anniversary, the Goldstone and other reports exposing Israeli crimes of war and against humanity against Gazans.

Calling irrefutable evidence "unsupported allegations (and) false investigations," it demanded acknowledgement of "the degree to which (they're) unsupported."

By backing Israeli lawlessness, NGOM's audacity gives chutzpah new meaning. Moreover, it's staff defile the dead and injured, wanton destruction, and human misery. They represent a frontal attack on truth, decency, and reality of 1.5 million Gazans under suffocating siege, denied life, liberty, and for many the ability to survive. Punishing repression and daily assaults are shocking crimes, begging for redress, highlighted by remembering Cast Lead's slaughter. NGOM forgets and desecrates.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Israel Hardens Repression as Palestinian Recognition Increases

Israel Hardens Repression as Palestinian Recognition Increases - by Stephen Lendman

On December 24, Ecuador became the fifth Latin American country to recognize "the Palestine state as free and independent within its borders since 1967." An accompanying statement said:

"Sadly, the Middle East continues to face wars and violent events that have led to the death of many innocent people, a situation contrary to the humane and pacifist position established by the Ecuadorian Constitution. This recognition is meant to reinforce the valid and legitimate wish of the Palestin(ian) people to have their own free and independent state." Having it is "fundamental to achieve the peaceful co-existence of the nations in the region through dialogue and mediation."

On December 23, Uruguay said it planned to join Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia in granting recognition, though would formerly do so in January 2011.

Though largely symbolic, growing recognition flies in the face of a unanimous December 16 House resolution opposing unilaterally declared independence, urging Palestinians to:

"cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiating process, including efforts to gain recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians....and calls upon foreign governments not to extend such recognition."

It also asked the White House to "deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties." EU nations said they'll act when "appropriate," meaning not until Washington and Israel approve.

Never mind that Israel and America don't negotiate. They demand, imposing their will unilaterally when denied, often by force. Both countries also deplore peace. They prevent it by provoked conflict, blamed on governments they oppose, even democratically elected ones.

Israel is now so extremist that Haaretz writer Zeev Sternhell described Netanyahu's Knesset as "an assembly line of legislation that is dragging Israel down to the bottom of the list of civilized countries," amounting to might makes right.

On December 22, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Netanyahu can blame himself for decline in Israel's world standing," saying:

He "embarked on a....diplomatic effort to (prevent possible) international recognition for Palestine (within) 1967 borders, and fend off a (UN Security Council resolution) condemning settlements." Another campaign aims to discredit what he calls the "delegitimization of Israel around the world."

He's "trying to convince us that Israel's" deteriorated image isn't "related to his government's policies on peace and settlements." Instead of seeking real peace, however, his "Foreign Ministry is sent to dust off ancient public-relations papers that failed to convince anyone." No wonder world leaders "are losing their patience with Netanyahu and are wondering if (he's really) a partner for peace."

On December 29, Haaretz writer Aluf Benn headlined, "It's over for Benjamin Netanyahu," saying:

"It's all downhill until the next elections, without any achievements and without an agenda....Instead of initiating and leading, Netanyahu (engages) in fruitless holding actions until he falls from power." Absurdly he claims "Palestinians are not ready to move forward to peace, so the whole country is stuck."

Of course, Palestinians always wanted an equitable peace, not conflict, but Israel wants none of the former. It thrives on conflict like America, inventing enemies as justification.

Benn urges that "Instead of cultivating false hopes for a peace agreement, international effort(s) should be geared toward heading off a war." Otherwise, it's just a matter of time before the next one.

Endless Wars

Decades of Arab-Israeli conflict produced seven full-scale wars, two Intifadas, thousands of violent incidents, bogus peace initiatives, annexed lands, settlement expansions, Gaza's siege, and repressive arrests, dispossessions, assassinations, torture, and countless other forms of police state terror. Why now would world leaders imagine potential policy change, especially under Israel's most extremist ever government and prime minister who abhors peaceful resolution, calling it a waste of time.

Moreover, he uses the coup d'etat Abbas regime repressively against his own people, and bogusly calls the legitimate Hamas government a terrorist organization as justification for Israeli assaults.

As a result, repeatedly without cause:

-- Israel attacks peaceful West Bank protestors;

-- conducts dozens of weekly incursions into West Bank communities, arresting Palestinian men, women and children;

-- attacks and kills farmers in their fields and fishermen at sea;

-- lets settlers rampage lawlessly against civilians, destroying property and causing injuries, at times serious;

-- uses drones to kill activists;

-- invades besieged Gaza at will; and

-- conducts regular F-16 air attacks, firing rockets against civilians and non-military targets.

More War Threatened

On December 23, Xinhau, China's English language news service, quoted PLO official Ahmed Majdalani saying:

Israel plans more war, and "is preparing the internal and international opinion using the same scenario" as during Cast Lead, claiming Gaza threatens its security. Majdalani believes "this proves there is a planned intention to wage a wide aggression on Gaza," perhaps harsher than before.

A December 22 Xinhau article headlined, "Israel, Palestinians warn of military escalation in Gaza," saying:

Palestinians fear it after "Israeli army officials said that the situation on the borders between the enclave and Israel is expected to flame sooner or later." In recent weeks, Israeli attacks increased, at times provoking responses regarded by Israel as "terrorism," the usual red herring for further escalation.

"Amid the mounting (attacks) and Israeli army officials (threatening) senior Hamas leaders, (its) government (ordered evacuation) of its ministries as well as police and security apparatuses headquarters" in preparation.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Xinhua that Israel:

"is preparing for a new war on the Gaza Strip by threatening to carry out a large-scale military operation or practice murder against the population and their military leaders. We expect anything from Israel, but Israel should understand that (Gazans) and their factions of resistance would never surrender in case of any operation....We will defend our people and our lands by all means."

Israeli Radio reported an official UN complaint filed, "accusing Gazan militants of firing homemade projectiles and rockets into Israel." Not explained was provocative IDF attacks using firepower Palestinian capability can't match. Nor that international law permits self-defense in response to naked aggression, an Israeli specialty.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Abu Obaida said the Ezz El-Deen al Qassam Brigades "want to keep the Palestinian people away from suffering from war and aggression." However, if Israeli chooses confrontation, "we are ready and will resist regardless of the price and the Zionists will pay an expensive" one.

Obaida's remarks came a day after Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas' leadership, renewed his ceasefire commitment. No matter. Obaida said calm "may not last for long" before another war erupts. Why not given Israel's history of aggression against neighboring states and Palestinian communities.

Hamas - Fatah Friction

Allied with Israel and Washington, Abbas is Israel's sheriff against his own people, including by provoking conflict with Hamas. According to a WikiLeaks released cable, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin "established a very good working relationship" with him. He, in turn, shared "almost all its intelligence" with Israel. "They understand that Israel's security is central to their survival in the struggle with Hamas in the West Bank."

Another cable disclosed Abbas wanting unprecedented Israeli help in attacking Hamas prior to the split that left Fatah illegally controlling the West Bank with Hamas governing Gaza. At the time, Diskin described Fatah as "desperate, disorganized and demoralized," saying:

"They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas. This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate." He also called Abbas "a paradox. He cannot function and do anything. Why is Fatah failing? (Abbas) knows he is weak and that he has failed....to rehabilitate Fatah. He did not start to take any action when he had the chance in 2004. Instead of choosing to be the leader of Fatah, he chose to be a national leader for all Palestinians," but he failed.

Hamas always accused Abbas of collaborating with Israel. Released cables prove it. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum expressed no surprise, saying:

"This is proof of what Hamas has said in the past, that there has been a division of labor between some elements of the former authority in Gaza and the Israeli occupation. The same situation is taking place right now in the West Bank as well."

Previous memos also showed Abbas - Israeli collaboration. A June 2009 diplomatic message cited Ehud Barak, Israeli defense minister, asking Fatah before Cast Lead if it wanted control of Gaza once Hamas was defeated. According to a US diplomatic memo, Fatah rejected the offer. Repeatedly, Abbas and key lieutenants acted duplicitously against their own people. In return, Israel and Washington rewarded them generously, no matter how repressively Palestinian civilians suffer.

On December 23, Zinhau reported that Hamas suspended reconciliation talks with Fatah, Hamas senior official Musa Abu Marzouq saying:

"There will not be any meeting with Fatah as long as it continues ignoring Hamas' prisoners who are (on) hunger strike."

Hamas wants all prisoners "immediately released," including six members detained in Jericho for nearly two years. Each side accuses the other of undermining Palestinian cohesion and reconciliation. It's no surprise with Abbas and key lieutenants as Israel's enforcer

A Final Comment

On December 25, the Palestine News Network headlined, "Santa Claus brings Rubber Bullets, Gas and Arrests," saying:

While Christmas was celebrated in Bethlehem, "the village of An Nabi Saleh (near Ramallah) faced another reality." Israel's military used "excessive violence" against peaceful demonstrators. "Several people (were) injured; three Israeli activists and one Palestinian....got arrested."

Twelve rubber-coated steel bullets struck a 16-year old boy, "aimed from close range directly at his chest." Though hospitalized, he escaped serious injury.

Santa Claus joined with demonstrators walking down the village's main road chanting slogans. Israeli military and Border Police met them forcefully with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets "aimed directly at people" with intent to commit harm - Israel's Christmas gift to nonviolent protestors.

Rubber bullets struck a man and his wife inside their home severely enough to require hospitalization. Gas inhalation harmed demonstrators.

"When the day came to a close, Santa Claus had brought only more tear gas and rubber bullets for the villagers....Merry Christmas," Israeli-style.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

America's Gulf Disaster: Accidental or Deliberate?

America's Gulf Disaster: Accidental or Deliberate? - by Stephen Lendman

On April 20, an initial explosion, then a larger one ignited BP's Deepwater Horizon platform. For over a day it burned before sinking, killing 11 crew members, releasing thousands of barrels of oil daily, and causing the greatest ever environmental disaster - criminal malfeasance by any standard.

Years from now, its full impact will be known, but already hundreds of thousands of people are harmed, local economies gravely impacted, and large parts of the Gulf contaminated by toxic hydrocarbons and dispersants, making seafood absolutely unsafe to eat.

Obama, administration officials, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and BP executives lied, claiming most oil disappeared, 96% of Gulf waters were safe and reopened, and seafood was safe to eat. False, according to mounting evidence confirming:

-- layers of oil residue contaminating several thousand square miles of seafloor;

-- elevated hydrocarbon levels in Gulf residents' blood, suggesting an epidemic of future illnesses, including cancer and others as lethal;

-- massive dispersants use prevented clean-up by skimming;

-- no practical way now to clean up spilled oil; and

-- dispersants bioaccumulate, making oil toxins more bioavailable to sealife, easier to absorb, and more harmful if ingested.

The effects will linger for decades, maybe generations, making critics wonder if willful intent was involved, given evidence, including:

-- Washington and BP complicity in misreporting, coverup and denying the disaster's severity from start to capping to the most recent disturbing findings;

-- virtual confirmation of the greatest ever environmental crime, contaminating large portions of the Gulf; destroying basic food chain elements that are building blocks for fisheries, birds, sea turtles and mammal populations; polluting coastal shorelines; and causing a massive public health problem with no federal aid to inform and mitigate;

-- irreparable harm to the lives and livelihoods of potentially millions of Gulf residents; and

-- BP's history of violations, exposing the industry's worst safety, maintenance, and environmental record, yet nearly always able to escape with small fines, penalties and settlements; no prosecutions; no pressure to operate responsibly; and no curtailment of government-let contracts, so no reason not to continue business as usual.

Yet after BP declared the Macondo well dead last September, the event died with it, disappearing from major media reports that were complicit with BP and Obama officials by misreporting it from the start.

No wonder critics ask: was Macondo's blowout accidental or willful? Was deliberate sabotage involved? Were the Obama administration and BP complicit in the greatest ever environmental crime with enormous global consequences? If so, why?

A November report showed BP ignored warning signs and used inadequate procedures to secure Macondo's integrity. Jointly prepared by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and National Research Council (NRC), it said:

"failures and missed indications of hazards were not isolated events during the preparation of the Macondo well for temporary abandonment. Numerous (faulty) decisions (preceded) abandonment despite indications of hazards, such as the results of repeated negative-pressure tests, suggest an insufficient consideration of risk and a lack of operating discipline."

As a result, safety was virtually ignored, including employee warnings that Macondo was a disaster waiting to happen. Moreover, the report found BP used only six centralizers (well casing centering devices in the wellbore) even though "modeling results suggested that many more (were) needed."

BP also didn't incorporate a "float shoe" at the well casing bottom - a devise containing a check valve to automatically activate in case of emergency. It's a vital extra precaution not used. In addition, BP chose not to remove drilling mud without first installing a "lockdown sleeve" on the production casing's wellhead seals. It would have protected against shifting position built up pressure.

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, its regulatory arm, was also cited for "not hav(ing) formal training and certification....for its inspectors." It means incompetents, not professionals, were in charge, leaving BP unregulated despite its poor safety, maintenance and environmental record - a red flag begging for close monitoring.

Most important is that longstanding safe operating practices would have prevented disaster, yet BP ignored them. Minimally, willful negligence should be charged. However, deliberate malfeasance is more accurate, revealing a manufactured crime for corporate gain despite short-term costs. Obvious red flags included:

-- suspicious BP stock transactions;

-- CEO Tony Hayward sold about one-third of his holdings weeks before the explosion;

-- Goldman Sachs sold BP stock worth over $250 million in Q I 2010, 44% of its investment: what did they, not the public, know? - and

-- Enormous Big Oil/Wall Street pressure was exerted to enact Obama-supported cap and trade legislation; after House passage, it stalled in the Senate.

The bill would have let corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by charging consumers more for energy, and also create a new bubble through carbon trading derivatives speculation.

It was about profits, not environmental protection, especially a potential $10 trillion market for derivatives speculation, a plum needing an environment crisis to enact, like last summer's salmonella scare. It provided impetus for lame duck session passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act - a food tyranny measure, benefitting agribusiness at the expense of small farmers and consumers.

Cap and trade is a stealth scheme to license pollution, raise energy prices, and provide a huge bonanza through carbon trading derivatives speculation. Corporate interests badly want it. It remains if the 112th Congress will oblige.

New York Times Deepwater Horizon Information

On December 25, writers David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephanie Saul headlined, "Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours," saying:

Months after the disaster, "Investigators have dissected BP's well design and Halliburton's cementing work, uncovering problem after problem." Besides attention on the failed blowout protector (BOP), the explosion "escaped intense scrutiny, as if" one problem caused the other. False.

Deepwater Horizon "had formidable and redundant defenses against even the worst blowout. It was equipped to divert surging oil and gas safely away from the rig. It had devices to quickly seal off a well blowout or to break free from it. It had systems to prevent gas from exploding and sophisticated alarms that would quickly warn the crew at the slightest trace of gas." The crew practiced responding to alarms, fires and blowouts, and "it was blessed with experienced leaders who clearly cared about safety."

In fact, Deepwater Horizon's disaster shouldn't have happened, yet it did. Why suggests willful malfeasance, given the huge profit potential involved, as explained above. Eleven lost lives, many injuries, billions in cost affecting one quarter only, a contaminated Gulf, and potentially millions of harmed coastal residents are inconsequential by comparison.

Based on interviews with 21 crew members, documents The Times obtained, sworn testimonies, and written statements from nearly all rig survivors, a disturbing picture emerges, especially a singular fact:

Crew members "died and suffered terrible injuries because every one of the Horizon's defenses failed on April 20," a near-impossibility, but it happened. "Some were deployed but did not work. Some were activated too late, after they had almost certainly been damaged by fire or explosions. Some were never deployed at all."

Everything that could go wrong did. Decisive steps weren't taken. Communications "fell apart." Warning signs were missed or weren't heeded, and "crew members in critical areas failed to coordinate a response." Paralysis, breakdown, and disaster resulted. "For many, the first hint of crisis came in the form of a blast wave."

Yet crew members weren't trained or prepared to handle worst type crises. Why not is key for Mocondo, what workers called a "well from hell," plagued by problems. "Heavy drilling fluid, called mud, kept disappearing into formation cracks. Less mud meant less weight bearing down on the oil and gas that were surging up. This set off violent 'kicks' of gas and oil that sent the (rig's team) scrambling to control the well."

In March, trouble halted operations for nine days. It was a hint of worse to come, and just a matter of time before occurring. Management should have taken extra precautions. Failure begs the question. Why not? Instead of instituting fail safe measures, they were systematically avoided. "In effect, they were daring the well to blow out." On April 20, it obliged.

What shouldn't and under safe operating conditions couldn't happen, in fact, did. Once the BOP failed, nothing stopped oil and gas from "racing up the Horizon's riser pipe. Nine minutes later came the first explosion."

The crew trained for blowouts. Procedure called for "quickly installing a special valve on the drill pipe....Only minutes before the blowout, the drill shack" got "puzzling pressure readings" and sensed trouble. "The industry (long believed) BOPs were 'the ultimate fail-safe' " device.

Transocean said Horizon's BOP couldn't prevent blowouts this extreme. However, evidence shows poor maintenance crippled it. Its problems included dead batteries, bad solenoid valves, and leaking hydraulic lines. None should have happened, and all could have easily been fixed.

Yet they were "overlooked and ignored." Willful negligence or criminal malfeasance? Either way is damning, especially for an industry major with decades of expertise. Failure was inexcusable, suggesting willful intent.

"Transocean (also) never performed an expensive 90-day maintenance inspection that the manufacturer said should be done every three to five years." So do industry and federal regulations.

Despite two explosions, Horizon still shouldn't have sunk. Disconnecting the rig from the BOP would have cut off the fire's main fuel source, giving rig and crew a fighting chance. Witnesses differ on details, but agree on one basic point: "even with Horizon burning, powerless and gutted by explosions, there was still resistance to the strongest possible measure that might save the rig."

However, Horizon's "death knell....was the emergency disconnect system itself. Like so many of the rig's defenses, it failed" for unexplained reasons. "Horizon was still handcuffed to the well from hell." Evacuating fast was essential.

Major unaddressed problems, initial explosions, subsequent small ones, intense heat, and poor evacuation drills left 11 crew members dead. Their epitaph should indict BP officials and complicit Obama officials for homicide. Justice demands holding them accountable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part II)

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part II) - by Stephen Lendman

Part II concludes an assessment of Obama's year two.

Lessons from the Gulf

The aftermath of last April's Deepwater Horizon disaster left Big Oil again triumphant, thanks to the Obama administration's close industry ties, conspiring with BP in the greatest ever environmental crime. At the time, Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum said BP has "the worst safety and environmental record of any oil company operating in America."

It's been cited numerous times for willful negligence, shoddy maintenance, environmental crimes, neglecting worker safety rules, manipulating energy markets, and making a mockery of good industry practice in a business devoid of standards and ethics.

It'll be years before the full extent of damage is known. However, it's already clear that BP turned much of America's Gulf into a toxic wasteland. Independent scientists confirmed the disaster, citing fouled waters, beaches, marshes and wildlife, the extent and level of toxicity extremely hazardous to human, fauna, and flora life and sustainability.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) warned that hydrocarbon/dispersants contamination "direct(ly) threat(ens) human health from inhalation or dermal contact." Millions have been exposed. A future public health disaster looms. An epidemic of diseases are expected, some potentially lethal like cancer.

Administration-BP complicity caused it, followed by coverup and denial, when independent research showed most oil remains. It still does. Moreover, Corexit dispersants increased toxicity manyfold. As a result, seafood is contaminated and unsafe. Vast areas of the Gulf and shorelines are hazardous to human health. The seabed is covered with an oily fluid. Oil and gas leaks continue unabated. Dispersants spraying continues. The Gulf's Loop Current has been disrupted, weakening the Gulf Stream. Global waters and weather patterns have been affected, perhaps catastrophically.

The long-term human, wildlife, and environmental harm potential is vast and serious. The disaster effects are increasing, not diminishing. A chain reaction of unpredictable phenomena may cause droughts, floods, crop failures, and global food shortages. Already many illnesses have occurred. Massive fish kills continue, and life along Gulf coastal areas may be threatened for decades.

The administration's response: On August 14, Obama gave the all-clear, saying oil no longer is flowing, and "as a result of the cleanup effort, beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean and safe and open for business."

He lied as he always does willfully and repeatedly on all administration policies - foreign and domestic, war and peace, human health, welfare and safety, and everything of public concern, defrauding and betraying Americans, what he does best.

Targeted Assassinations

The Obama administration authorized CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads to kill US citizens abroad, suspected of terrorist involvement. Hollywood tough guy Chuck Norris responded, saying:

Obama is "abandon(ing) our Constitution....based on nothing more than" suspicion. "That's right. No arrest. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just a bullet," bomb or slit throat, Washington's new approach along with torture as official policy. It's justice, American-style under Republicans and Democrats. Obama is even more extreme than Bush. He flaunts the rule of law, disgracing America and making the entire world unsafe.

Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen in Yemen, was first named, targeted for opposing US belligerency, not crimes. All Americans are at risk globally, based on suspicions, not proof.

Moreover, in September 2009, it was learned that Central Command head General David Petraeus issued a secret directive, sending covert US Special Forces to friendly and hostile states in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa, and by implication anywhere in the world to "penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy" terror threats and "prepare the environment" for planned military attacks.

Overall, the Obama administration significantly expanded America's secret war against Al Qaeda and other named terrorists, using Special Forces in 75 countries. By now it's perhaps even more, usurping greater power than George Bush. Involved is gathering intelligence and using drone attacks and other methods against civilians, killing thousands, including targeted US citizens, denied due process and judicial fairness. It's more proof of eroding constitutional freedoms.

Destroying Public Education in America

Continuing Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) fraud, Obama is spearheading his own Race to the Top, using failed NCLB practices, including rote learning, testing, teaching to the test, school choice, and (short of real achievement), market-based reforms.

In an unprecedented assault on public education, he's pitting one state against another, promoting school closures, mass teacher/staff layoffs, and wage and benefit cuts - arguing for draconian measures and privatizations to qualify for federal funding.

It's an insidious scheme to end a 375 year tradition. Today it's being incrementally destroyed to commodify education, end government involvement, make it another business profit center, benefit the well-off, revive a separate and unequal nation, consign poor kids to low-wage, no benefit service jobs with no future so why educate them. It thus puts the American dream out of reach for millions, besides destroying it altogether, except for children from super-rich or rich families.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan heads the effort. Formerly Chicago Public Schools CEO, he wrecked them by closures, teacher firings, budget cuts, militarizing city high schools, and privatizations, including nearly 100 quasi-private charter schools, many run by for-profit companies. He plans the same for America, replacing public education with marketplace inequality, what poor kids across the country can expect.

Targeting Net Neutrality and Privacy

Obama maintained Bush administration policy, expanding intrusive government surveillance, including by monitoring personal Internet communications. Moreover, despite a campaign pledge to support "network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet," he reneged across the board. As a result, a free and open Internet is now threatened, including under provisions of S. 3804: Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) if enacted with a similar House bill.

It aims to break the Internet one domain at a time, by requiring domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching certain web sites. In other words, if passed, COICA will let Washington suppress free speech and block access to non-infringing and other material, inflicting enormous constitutional damage in the process.

In addition, a leaked September 2010 House Energy and Commerce Committee draft bill, if enacted, will let cable and telecom giants establish, among other provisions, premium higher-priced lanes (two Internets), effectively destroying Net Neutrality, compromising the last free and open space. Despite his campaign promise, Obama supports these measures. If enacted, they'll institutionalize thought control, the main weapon of police state authority.

Note: Net Neutrality is a defining issue of our time to keep the last public space free and open, letting users access all content without restrictions, limitations or restrictions, maintaining a level playing field for everyone.

On December 21, that ended when the Democrat-controlled FCC bowed to giant cable and telecom demands, compromising Net Neutrality. Corporate interests got control. Another Obama promise was broken, subverting digital democracy for profit and the ability to block unwanted content.

A full account of what was feared can be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/net-neutrality-part-ii.html

High Court Injustice

The entire court represents elitist, pro-corporate, imperial interests, including Obama's two appointments, notably Elana Kagan. As Solicitor General, she argued that combating terrorism takes precedence over First Amendment rights. As Harvard Law School dean, she hired Bush's outgoing Office of Legal Counsel director, Jack Goldsmith, to teach law, a man Professor Francis Boyle calls "a war criminal."

She also endorsed Bush's bogus "unlawful enemy combatant" notion, what Boyle calls a "quasi-category to create an anti-matter universe of legal nihilism where human beings (including US citizens) can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried by kangaroo courts, executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to numerous other manifestations of State Terrorism."

It brazenly violates fundamental constitutional protections, ones shredded post-9/11. Kagan strongly supports it and other illegal measures, including presidential power, the "unitary executive" kind under Bush and now Obama, as well as any practice fighting terrorism. Her presence further solidifies extremist High Court control.

Targeting Whisleblowers, Endangering Truth

On April 27, 1961, Jack Kennedy said:

"The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighs the dangers, which are cited to justify it."

In a free and open society, principled leaking is vital to expose abuses of power and help make rhetorical democracies real ones. However, more than ever under Obama, those doing it are targeted, publicly denounced, pilloried by the media, fired if journalists, and at times arrested and prosecuted. The Obama administration has been more aggressive than his predecessors - going further than Nixon or Bush, including against Thomas Drake.

A former National Security Agency (NSA) senior executive, he was bogusly indicted on April 15, 2010 on multiple charges of "willful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements."

Julian Assange perhaps now is threatened for revealing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic, as well as Iraq and Afghan war documents - by candidate Obama promising transparency, accountability, and reform of extremist Bush policies. Instead, he systematically hardens them, usurping surveillance powers, including warrantless wiretapping, accessing personal records, monitoring financial transactions, and tracking email, Internet and cell phone communications to gather secret evidence for prosecutions. He also claims Justice Department immunity from illegal spying suits, an interpretation no member of Congress or administration ever made, not even Bush or his Republican allies.

As a result, no one is safe, including human rights activists, political dissidents, anti-war protestors, Muslims, Latino immigrants, lawyers who defend them, journalists exposing federal crimes who don't disclose sources, and whistleblowers like WikiLeaks, army Pfc. Bradley Manning, and government insiders, privy to lawlessness they want revealed. According to Obama prosecutors, they're enemies of the state for supporting a free and open society, one endangered, in fact, without them.

Note: On December 10, the Senate passed S. 372: Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009 (introduced on February 3, 2009).

The National Whistelblowers Center issued a red flag alert, saying:

"S. 372 is a bad deal for whistleblowers." Two "poison pills" undermine the bill's minor benefits. Specifically, for the first time, federal employees aren't protected, in violation of an earlier federal court ruling ordering corrective action for a whistleblower. "The provision also runs counter to every major study on how to detect fraud," including a recent one by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. It and others concluded that protecting whistleblowers is the best way to expose it and those culpable.

The second rollback gives the "broken" Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) greater power instead of reforming it. It lets MSPB dismiss whistleblower cases without hearings.

There's still time for the House to act responsibly. Public pressure alone makes it possible.

Political Prisoners in America

America has by far the world's largest prison gulag with over 2.4 million held in federal and state facilities, local jails, Indian, juvenile, and military ones, US territories, and numbers held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Half are for nonviolent offenses, many for political activism, others for political advantage to incite fear and hysteria for the bogus war on terror. As a result, large numbers have been wrongfully convicted, including many dozens for murders they didn't commit.

Post-9/11, Muslims became the target of choice, many hundreds hounded, vilified, rounded up, persecuted, and either deported or imprisoned on bogus terrorism charges.

They're also illegally entrapped, Obama's Attorney General Holder letting enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed. It's routine practice, an "essential law enforcement tool" to invent terror attacks, then prevent them, duping people to believe they're safer, unaware that Washington is the real threat, not innocent victims, rotting in prison to prove it.

In addition, Blacks and Latinos are victimized by racist drug laws, get tough on crime policies, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, three strikes and you're out, or simply too poor for a proper defense.

Confinement conditions are harsh and abusive, including long-term isolation, poor medical care, physical abuse including torture, and perfunctory parole hearings denying their right to justice.

Obama prosecutors continue these practices ruthlessly, including torture as official state policy. War on terror priorities take precedence over lawful practices, no longer assuring safety in America under a president as disdainful as his predecessor, even worse in disturbing ways.

Food Fascism Legislation

In July 2009, the House passed HR 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. It's code language for its real intent - to assure greater agribusiness consolidation and empowerment at the expense of small farmers and producers, as well as consumers.

In March 2009, the Senate version was introduced - S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. After consumer groups exposed its true purpose, it stalled but didn't die.

On November 30, New York Times writers Gardiner Harris and William Neuman, announced the bad news, headlining "Senate Passes Sweeping Law on Food Safety," saying:

"The bill is intended to keep unsafe foods from reaching markets and restaurants, where they can make people sick - a change from the current practice, which mainly involves cracking down after outbreaks occur."

Once again, The Times lied, displaying its support for wealth, power, and global corporate predation, endorsing S. 510 instead of exposing and condemning it. It did mention a problem, however, explaining the bill could die for lack of enough lame duck session time for House and Senate versions to be reconciled.

To solve the problem, "Top House Democrats said....that they were considering simply passing the Senate version to speed approval but that no decision had been made."

Still another problem remains, Roll Call's John Stanton saying S. 510 "violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House. By pre-empting the House's tax-writing authority," the bill was temporarily in limbo without resolution until the House passed it on December 8 in an amendment to HR 3082: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010.

On July 10, 2009, the earlier version passed the House. On November 17, 2009, the Senate approved its own bill. Obama never signed it because (on December 10, 2009) both Houses passed HR 3288: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, signed by Obama on December 16.

In the lame duck session, HR 3082, including amendments, is being used as a vehicle to pass a one-year Continuing Resolution (CR) for discretionary government funding through FY 2011. Included is amendment language to resolve the tax origination problem, assuring S. 510 passes and becomes law.

On December 19, it did in new form (unanimously with no recorded vote), as an amendment to HR 2751: Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act, passed by the House on June 9, 2009. On December 21, the House followed suit, Democrats (including Obama) as eager as Republicans to empower agribusiness at the expense of small farmers and consumers.

Earlier, Obama urged action, saying:

"With the Senate's passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, we are one step closer to having critically important new tools to protect our nation's food supply and keep consumers safe."

False, according to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), calling House and Senate bills "food tyranny," giving the corporate-run FDA sweeping new powers:

"to criminalized and imprison farmers and food producers while doing absolutely nothing to address the real root of the food contamination problem: Factory animal farm operations (regulated by the USDA, not FDA)."

"If you're in the food business," said FTCLDF, "better begin preparing now to avoid the FDA SWAT teams" from cracking down on small farmers and producers, while letting their corporate allies operate freely. As a result, expect more harm, not improved safety, as well as greater than ever consolidated control of America's food - instead of decentralized production, processing and distribution, assuring safer, cheaper, more reliable products.

Obama's Failed Ecuadorean Coup Attempt

What worked in Honduras, failed in Ecuador, President Raphael Correa lucky to survive a plot to oust (or perhaps kill) him. Coup plotters shut down airports, blocked highways, took over an airbase, parliament, and Quito streets, the pretext being a law restructuring police benefits despite Correa having doubled their wages.

In fact, Washington's fingerprints were all over another Latin leader removal plot, less than 100% supportive of neoliberal extremism. For Correa, it's not his domestic austerity and pro-business policies, but his ties to Hugo Chavez and Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) membership, a WTO/NAFTA alternative based on fair, not corporate one-sided free trade, the curse of Latin and other states for decades.

Correa survived, perhaps chastened enough to shift increasingly right, sacrificing more popular interests to keep power. If not, Washington's long knives remain sharp and ready to try again to oust him. Obama has proved as ruthless as Bush.

Provoking North Korea

Last March, Pyongyang was falsely blamed for sinking a South Korean ship. At the time, evidence suggested a false flag, manufactured to stoke regional tensions. The incident occurred near Baengnyeong Island opposite North Korea. US Navy Seals and four US ships were conducting joint exercises in the area. The torpedo used was German, not North Korean as claimed. Germany sells none to Pyongyang. Yet it was blamed for what it didn't do, a clear case of Pentagon-manufactured mischief.

On November 23, another incident heightened tensions after North Korea shelled a South Korean island, AP reporting:

"The skirmish began when Pyongyang warned the South to halt (provocative) military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters, albeit away from the North Korean shore, the North retaliated by bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations."

Despite repeated warnings, the South provoked the North, likely wanting a hostile response at the behest of Washington. The pattern follows how the 1950 Korean War began, getting Monthly Review co-founders Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, in 1952, to cite I F Stone's belief that it was the greatest swindle in military history, blaming the North for what the South initiated in cahoots with the Truman administration wanting war.

Stone called it international aggression. So did Huberman and Sweezy 14 months into the conflict saying:

"....we have come to the conclusion that (South Korean president) Syngman Rhee (a US puppet) deliberately provoked the North Koreans in the hope that they would retaliate by crossing the parallel in force. The northerners (who wanted a unified Korea, not war) fell neatly into the trap," giving Truman the war he wanted.

At issue now is whether Obama wants another one despite waging two unwinnable wars. It seems unlikely, but little by this administration surprises after nearly two years of out-of-control belligerency.

On December 4, it continued as US and South Korean forces conducted live fire naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea, provoking an angry Chinese response. At the same time, Pentagon and Japan's military held one of their largest ever joint military exercises with thousands of troops, hundreds of aircraft, and the USS George Washington, a nuclear armed aircraft carrier, and its accompanying ships.

On the same day, South Korea began week-long live fire drills in waters off North Korea's coast. More are planned, and according to Kim Kwan-jin, the South's new defense minister, "I don't care about North Korean responses and they are not worth considering." He also vowed to bomb the North if Pyongyang again attacks.

China called for emergency Six-Party Talks, including both Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and America. Washington, Tokyo and Seoul rejected them, holding their own instead, excluding China, a clear affront not soothed by Obama calling Chinese leader Hu Jintao. On December 6, China's People's Daily highlighted deteriorating Washington/Beijing relations in an op-ed titled, "How should China handle America's 'return to Asia?' " Given America's penchant for belligerency, China has clear reason to worry.

Choosing saber-rattling over diplomacy, regional tensions are now heightened. The Obama administration is using the South and its own area forces as weapons against the North with no reason to want conflict. Washington may have other ideas.

Obama's Repressive Immigration Policy

Since taking office, Obama made America more than ever a police state, including by targeting immigrants, holding thousands in hundreds of unlisted, unmarked detention facilities in nearly every state before secret courts deport them, at times stranding them far from home countries.

In 2009 and 2010, record numbers were deported, including many long-time residents contributing to their communities productively. No matter. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) goon squads reign terror on them, targeting homes, work places, and other locations where they congregate.

In detention, their conditions are inhumane. Secret courts deny due process, and dozens of deaths have occurred in captivity. Women are especially impacted, vulnerable to sexual harassment, rape, and loss of their US-born children, American citizens, seized in raids, and put up for adoption.

Overall, Obama's immigration agenda is brutal and unjust, normalizing police state tactics, forcibly separating families, destabilizing workplaces and communities, and committing widespread civil rights abuses, treating aliens like criminals, not with respect they deserve.

Obama Capitulates to Republicans

Unsurprisingly, a corporatist hard-right president favoring wealth and power over social justice and popular need broke another campaign pledge by capitulating on extending tax cuts and other benefits for the rich, while offering working Americans chump change.

His deal is worth up to $1 trillion, the lion's share to corporations and the nation's wealthy, promoted as stimulus to create jobs and revive economic growth. In fact, it's roughly neutral, offsetting stiff, growing headwinds that otherwise would have had greater impact without something counteracting them in place.

However, make no mistake. Obama took care of his own, a strategy he hopes will assure another four years and get enough Democrats elected with him. As for his base, he wants their votes, even lying to hide his betrayal, including class warfare planned during the next two years. More on that below.

Greater Homeland Repression Ahead

Former Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), now serving in Chicago's People's Law Office, Michael Deutsch, believes hardened "anti-terrorism" laws are coming against activists seeking social justice.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is using the Supreme Court's June 2010 Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project decision. It called nonviolent First Amendment speech and advocacy "coordinated with (or) under the direction of" groups designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) criminal activity.

Under the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Congress made it a crime punishable by up to 10 years, later 15 for anyone providing "material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization or attempts or conspires to do so." The statute defines it as:

"....any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel and transportation except medicine or religious materials."

In fact, many groups and individuals providing peaceful advocacy are threatened, including Jimmy Carter for training all Lebanonese parties (including Hezbollah) on fair election practices. He submitted an opposition amicus brief.

CCR called the ruling "one of a very few times that the Supreme Court has upheld a criminal prohibition of speech under strict scrutiny, and the first time it has permitted the government to make it a crime to advocate lawful, nonviolent activity."

Deutsch now believes Obama's Justice Department will target political groups and activists, using their First Amendment rights in support of liberating struggles, including against Israeli apartheid and occupation. Under material support's new definition, anyone backing (rightly or wrongly) designated terrorist groups may be prosecuted as criminals, no matter their just cause. Obama is even more lawless than Bush. As a result, expect harder-line enforcement to come.

Obama's Neoliberal Austerity

Instead of vitally needed stimulus to revive a troubled economy, Obama plans austerity, using the pretext of deficit cutting urgency to shift more public wealth to super-rich allies already with too much but want it all.

As a result, two deficit cutting commissions proposed punishing social cuts. They barely touched defense, endorsed corporate and super-rich benefits by lowering income tax rates dramatically, and recommended a national sales tax, harming working households most.

In addition, they want deep Medicare cuts and comprehensive tort reform to make it harder for aggrieved patients to file malpractice suits. They proposed raising the Social Security retirement age to 69, while at the same time, reducing cost-of-living increases, now based on annual (jerry-rigged low) inflation rates.

Other recommendations included ending home mortgage and most other deductions and credits, taxing employer provided health insurance to encourage less comprehensive coverage and make healthcare cost more, freeze vital non-defense discretionary spending for four years, then cap it according to GDP growth, and various other schemes hitting working households hardest.

On December 3, Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRR) voted 11 - 7 for a national impoverishment plan to make super-rich allies richer. Fourteen votes were needed for congressional consideration, yet supportive "liberals" like Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called it a major victory.

Another faux progressive also endorsed it, North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, saying in a December 1 press release:

"he supports the far-reaching debt reduction package produced by the President's (commission, calling it) a moment of truth....to avert a national fiscal crisis."

Even opposing members expressed overall support, signaling what's likely once the 112th Congress considers the plan next year. In a December 4 press release, Obama also effectively endorsed it, saying:

"I want to thank the (commission) members....for their important work in highlighting the magnitude of the challenge before us, and outlining an array of options to confront it....we simply cannot allow our nation to be dragged down by our debt. We must correct our fiscal course....our success depends on our willingness to engage (in) honest conversation and cooperation....we will all have to budge on long-held positions."

In other words, tax working Americans more, shred their social safety net, leave disadvantaged people on their own, while maintaining out-of-control militarism, support for criminal bankers and other corporate favorites, as well as super-rich allies by lower taxes and other benefits.

The latest example: Obama capitulating to Republicans on extending Bush's tax cuts for the super-rich on income, capital gains, and dividends. Also on their federal estate tax that lapsed at the start of 2010. Despite rhetorical disapproval, Democrats concurred, while at the same time agreeing to address deep austerity cuts for working Americans.

Overall, class warfare is planned for a future America unfit to live in, worse than now, a time of economic crisis, permanent wars, and increased homeland repression against dissent.

The class struggle between haves and have-nots keeps escalating. Already powerful winners have emerged. Wealth disparity extremes are unprecedented. Expect mass impoverishment, greater crises, and increased worker exploitation ahead. Congressional "progressives" and unions like the AFL-CIO effectively support it. So does Change to Win's four affiliated unions:

-- International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT);

-- Service Employees International Union (SEIU);

-- United Farm Workers of America (UFW), and

-- United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

Changetowin.org's web site describes the organization as:

"5.5 million workers united in Change to Win to build a new movement of working people equiped to meet the challenges of the global economy and restore the American Dream in the 21st century," apparently by wrecking it.

Their goal: cut wages and benefits to make US exports more competitive. Sacrifice worker needs on the alter of capitalist excess, their pain the price for its gain. It's a shocking indictment of a destructive system, winning bipartisan congressional and administration support, as well as union bosses betraying their rank and file instead of backing constructive alternatives.

New Start Treaty

On December 22, the Senate voted 71 - 26 to pass Start, what The New York Times called Obama's "most tangible foreign policy achievement." Thirteen Republicans joined Democrat unanimity, exceeding the constitutionally required two-thirds majority.

In fact, the treaty is more hype than substantive change. Serious nuclear reductions or disarmament aren't envisioned or planned. New modernized weapons will replace outdated ones. Dangerous testing will continue, and billions of dollars annually will be committed to proliferate a globally destructive first-strike capability, including from space.

The only common sense solution was ignored - full verifiable nuclear disarmament to avoid any possibility of nuclear war. Obama's year two ended as hypocritically as it began, promising little better going forward and likely worse.

A Final Comment

After nearly two years in office, Obama's been shameful, destructive, and criminal, sacrificing popular interests when most needed, pursuing an agenda heading America for tyranny and ruin unless stopped. A earlier 12 month assessment concluded that he wrecked America for a financial aristocracy; embraces a permanent war policy; flaunts human rights, civil liberties and constitutional freedoms; exceeds the worst of George Bush; and mocks democratic freedoms under a repressive police state apparatus.

It gets worse. Midway through his tenure, he's got bipartisan support to destroy America's middle class, create a nation of serfs, continue permanent wars, harden homeland repression, and solidify Orwell's dystopian future of "a boot stamping on a human face - forever," by a president promising change.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for December 30, 2010 and January 1 and 2, 2011

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for December 30, 2010 and January 1 and 2, 2011

Thursday, December 30 at 10AM US Central time: Jeff Blankfort

Blankfort is a radio producer and host, a journalist, and longtime Palestinian human rights activist. He's also the former Middle East Labor Bulletin editor, co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East, and founding member of the November 29 Coalition on Palestine.

Discussion will focus on Israel/Palestine and other key Middle East topics.

Saturday, January 1 at noon US Central time: Ali Abunimah

Abunimah is a Palestinian American journalist, frequent speaker, and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, an essential online source for real Israeli/Palestinian conflict information. He also served as Vice President and board member of the Arab American Action Network.

Discussion will focus on Israel/Palestine and his work.

Sunday, January 2 at noon US Central time: Franklin Lamb

Lamb is a journalist, author, and Director of Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace. He's also a board member of the Sabra Shatila Foundation and longtime civil rights activist.

Discussion will focus his work and current Middle East topics suppressed in the major media.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part I)

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part I) - by Stephen Lendman

Last December, a two-part article discussed Obama's year one betrayal and failure, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/12/obama-year-one-betrayal-and-failure.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/12/obama-year-one-betrayal-and-failure_23.html

In year two, the pattern continued, revealing domestic and foreign policies that:

-- outdid George Bush by exceeding his harshness, lawlessness, belligerency, and public trust betrayal;

-- maintained a 30 year agenda of shifting public wealth to the rich, as well as supporting capital, not public welfare, including targeting middle class households for destruction;

-- looted the nation's wealth, wrecked the economy, and consigned growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;

-- let hunger, homelessness, poverty, and those uninsured grow to unacceptable levels;

-- backed Wall Street's financial coup d'etat by greater Fed empowerment, as well as institutionalizing speculation, "too-big-to fail," super-wealth, and big money power;

-- plans new global monetary measures to control the world's money;

-- continued America's permanent war agenda by expanding imperial adventurism, increasing covert and overt aggression on new fronts with out-of-control military spending, exceeding the rest of the world combined at a time America has no enemies;

-- became the latest war criminal Nobel Peace Prize recipient;

-- executed his first successful coup d'etat in Honduras against its democratically elected president, then backed the fascist regime replacing him;

-- failed attempting regime change in Iran;

-- continued providing military, economic and political aid to the world's most ruthless, corrupt despots;

-- maintained a longstanding policy of supplying Israel with annual billions, more on request, other add-ons and extras, interest-free loans, the latest weapons, munitions and technology, unrestricted US market access, free entry of its immigrants, and unbridled support for its illegal belligerence, occupation, and crimes of war and against humanity;

-- presides over a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus, sacrificing due process, judicial fairness, and other civil liberty protections in the name of national security;

-- continued torture as official policy, extraordinary rendition to prison hellholes, and for the first time, targeted US citizens for assassination;

-- invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent lawsuits by victims of rendition, torture, abuse, and those opposing warrantless wiretapping;

-- targets whisleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, environmental and animal rights activists, anyone challenging state power, and civil rights lawyers who defend them too vigorously called terrorists or threats to national security;

-- endorsed preventive detention without charge for those at Guantanamo considered dangerous, but no evidence allows prosecuting them;

-- expanded Bush administration spying and secrecy;

-- refused to prosecute its officials, suppressing proof of their culpability;

-- planned cybersecurity tyranny, threatening a free and open Internet, consumer privacy, and civil liberties; more on how below;

-- waged war on organized labor through fewer jobs, less pay, reduced benefits, and gutted work rules, including health and safety on-the-job protections;

-- tried controlling the media more aggressively than Nixon;

-- denied budget-strapped states financial help, forcing them to slash welfare programs, education, health care for the poor, and other vital services when they're most needed;

-- continued to commodify public education, end government responsibility for it, and make it another business profit center;

-- promoted dangerous vaccines for a non-existent threat;

-- promoted health care legislation that rations care; enriches insurers, drug giants and large hospital chains; places profits above human need; and keeps a dysfunctional system in place; Peter Singer's July 15, 2009 New York Times article endorsed administration policy, headlined: "Why We Must Ration Health Care," saying it's essential to apportion a "scarce resource" to those who can afford it; others will get only what they can pay for;

-- on the pretext of improving food safety, enacted agribusiness-friendly House legislation, harming consumers, small farms and food producers without improving America's industrial food system; on November 30, the Senate passed its own version; more on that below;

-- wants so far not passed legislation to let corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by raising energy cost, while creating a speculative bonanza through a new carbon trading derivatives scheme;

-- cracks down harder on undocumented immigrants than George Bush, deporting a record number in FY 2010; others are held in over 300 detention facilities in nearly every state in the country, treated like criminals or terrorists; and

-- promoted a national ID card for all citizens and legal residents to be able to monitor them everywhere at all times.

Year two: Obama's destructive agenda continued.

Militarizing and Exploiting Haiti

An earlier article explained that Haiti is no stranger to adversity. Except for a brief time after its successful 1791 - 1803 revolution turning slaves into citizens and during Jean-Bertrand Aristide's tenure, it's experienced over 500 years of severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, occupation, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities from destructive hurricanes to powerful earthquakes, most recently on January 12. It devastated greater Port-au-Prince, killing up to 300,000, leaving around 1.5 million Haitians homeless with little aid and no help to rebuild.

Some countries reacted quickly, mostly a few Latin American ones, including Cuba and Venezuela. Washington did nothing, deploying marines and paratroupers instead, militarizing the country, obstructing, not providing aid, promising $1.1 billion, delivering none, planning only exploitation of Haiti's resources and cheap labor.

Haiti was opened for business, occupied to be plundered, its people on their own, sink or swim under circumstances assuring mass suffering, starvation, disease and for many, death. Only corporate interests mattered at a time of dire need.

Eleven months later, Haiti is still plagued by rubble everywhere, extreme deprivation, promised aid undelivered, none from Washington, 1.5 million without shelter in streets and other open spaces, and now raging cholera, and the aftermath of a sham election, institutionalizing coup d'etat rule.

Washington's imperial hand orchestrated it, denying Haitians any chance for real change. It represents another betrayal by a president showing contempt for essential needs, human rights, and basic freedoms, at home and abroad, even under the most dire conditions.

America's Permanent War Agenda

America glorifies wars in the name of peace, historian Gore Vidal titling his 2002 book, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace," saying:

"Our rulers for more than a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own."

It's persisted mainly since Franklin Roosevelt goaded Japan to attack us. It then continued in Korea, Vietnam, numerous proxy wars, the Cold War until the Soviet Union's 1991 dissolution, and now Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and new wars to be launched at opportunistic times against unnamed enemies.

Obama is America's latest warrior president, talking peace, waging war, packaged as liberating ones for democracy, freedom, and justice against bogus threats, when, in fact it's an imperial agenda for wealth, power, and unchallengeable global dominance.

He lied calling Afghanistan a "war of necessity, not choice," doubled the force contingent since taking office, yet stays mired in an unwinnable quagmire. He also destabilized Pakistan, plans control over the Caspian Sea's oil and gas riches, as well as energy routes to secured ports for export.

He approved US military bases encircling Russia, China and Iran, obstructing their solidarity and cohesion. He promised change and delivered betrayal, nearing year three of his tenure. Like his predecessor, he aroused global anger, his agenda endangering everyone, including Americans, heading the country for tyranny and ruin.

Enacting Obamacare

An earlier article called March 21 a day of infamy when House and Democrat leaders bullied, bribed, cajoled, muscled, and jerry-rigged Obamacare to pass, despite most Americans opposing it with good reason. Ralph Nader called it a "pay-or-die system that is the disgrace of the Western world," costing double what other Western countries spend and delivering less, rationing care to enrich corporate providers while making a dysfunctional system worse.

Henceforth, junk insurance policies will leave millions underinsured. Costs will remain out-of-control. Insurers can still deny care by delaying, contesting, preventing or over-charging people from accessing it. Everyone must have coverage or be penalized if opt out, a provision many states are contesting. A Virginia federal judge just ruled it unconstitutional, a battle the Supreme Court will decide. Company-provided policies will be taxed as ordinary income, harming working households most of all.

Physicians for a National Health Program denounced it, saying the new law "will enrich and further entrench (private insurers, forcing) millions of Americans to buy" defective coverage leaving most worse off than before at a cost of hundreds of billions of tax dollars given predators to game the system for profit, the public losing out. Moreover, 23 million Americans will remain uninsured, "translate(d) into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering."

Obama's centerpiece domestic policy scammed the public with a package of expensive mandates, new taxes, and sweetheart deals, creating a fragmented, dysfunctional, unsustainable system, denying Americans what they urgently need - universal coverage, an expanded, improved Medicare for all, everyone in, no one out, what neither party or Obama delivered.

Capitulating on Financial Reform

Omitting real structural reforms, Democrats, Republicans, and Obama agreed on a patchwork of half-measures. Instead of restraining financial fraud, too-big-to-fail empowerment, an out-of-control Fed, and casino capitalism's ability to game the system with public money, it institutionalized business as usual. The Financial Times (FT) quoted a Wall Street banker saying "We are all breathing a sigh of relief here....we can live with this." Indeed so since Wall Street lawyers wrote it. The FT added: investors believe the "overhaul in financial rules would not have a significant impact on the industry's structure and profitability."

Indeed not by:

-- empowering a financial aristocracy;

-- letting Wall Street run the country;

-- institutionalizing fraud, speculation and bailouts;

-- leaving executive pay, bonuses and perks untouched;

-- letting credit agency scams continue;

-- permitting giant banks, insurers and other financial firms to get bigger; and

-- establishing a toothless Consumer Financial Protection Bureau along with other anti-reform provisions.

Bottom line: the worst of bad practices will continue, besides teams of lawyers devising ways around whatever regulations emerge. According to University of San Diego Law Professor Frank Partnoy, "Wall Street has always been very skilled at getting around rules, and this law will be no different," especially with its loopholes, half-measures, and overall weakness. Bankers got the best deal big money can buy. The public again was scammed.

Part II will conclude Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.