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Archive for May 2010

Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord, and Corporate Shill – Stephen Lendman

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May 31, 2010

(ThePeoplesVoice) – It shouldn’t surprise because no one gets the top job or any government position of power unless they’re safe-  yet, naively, most people thought Obama was different. Many still do.

As a candidate, he promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and “ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists” – the same ones who bought and now own him. He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands – let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.

At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides operating in a regulatory-free environment.

The 1995 Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA – courtesy of Bill Clinton) exempted royalties on defined amounts of deep water production. After its 2000 expiration, the law was redefined and extended to promote further deep water drilling.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) defines it as having a water depth of 200 meters (656 feet). To be eligible, leases must be in the Gulf of Mexico, west of 87 degrees and 30 minutes west longitude (the Florida-Alabama boundary), and MMS must determine that the site isn’t economically viable without relief.

Given longstanding MMS-industry coziness, it’s practically rubber-stamp. DWRRA also reduced royalties on pre-November 28, 1995 leases, decided by the Interior Department Secretary on a case-by-case basis – again, practically assured by officials with close industry ties.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act was one of the friendliest ever with over $10 billion in handouts. It lets oil giants pay federal royalties in barrels of oil and grants exemptions on some wells, subsidizes a new R & D program for ultra deep water drilling and unconventional oil and gas development, creates hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax breaks, increases what oil and gas companies can deduct on pipeline expenses, provides more liability protection besides the $75 million cap (established by the 1990 Oil Pollution Act after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, an amount too small to matter).

As an Illinois senator, six months into his term, Obama supported it, an early clue to where he stood, and how he hoped to gain – the usual “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” payoff.

It worked hugely with BP, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reporting that its employees and political action committees gave more to him than to any other federal candidate in the past 20 years.

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EMERGENCY-Take Action: Israel Attacks Gaza Humanitarian Aid Flotilla

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(AP)

A woman is captured on camera apparently carrying a bloodstained stretcher

May 31st, 2010   US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation


In an international act of piracy and murder in international waters, the Israeli navy intercepted, boarded, and opened fire on humanitarian activists on a flotilla of ships attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian Gaza Strip.

According to news reports, Israeli commandos killed as many as 19 humanitarian activists on board one ship, and have abducted all 700 passengers on board the six boats composing the flotilla who are in the process of being sent against their will to Israel for arrest and/or deportation.

The reaction of the Obama Administration to Israel’s attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla, which included U.S. citizens, has been tepid.  A White House spokesperson stated that he “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained.”

Of course, this statement completely ignores U.S. complicity in arming Israel and enabling its human rights abuses.  In July 2008, the United States signed a contract worth $1.9 billion to transfer the latest-generation of naval combat vessels to Israel at U.S. taxpayer expense.  Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel this budget year.

Events are moving quickly.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently canceled his meeting tomorrow at the White House to return to Israel.  Later today, the UN Security Council is set to address Israel’s attack on the humanitarian flotilla.  For the latest news from the flotilla, please click here.

TAKE ACTION

1. Organize an emergency protest against Israel’s attack on the humanitarian flotilla.  Find events near you and post your event details by clicking here.

2. Contact the U.S. Mission to the United Nations at 212-415-4062 right away and demand that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice vote to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s action and initiating an investigation. Or email at http://archive.usun.state.gov/Issues/Contact2.html

3. Learn more about the deadly impact of U.S. military aid to Israel and take action to end it by clicking here.

see also:

Felled by Pathocracy: Rachel Corrie, Palestinians and 20 newly dead humanitarians

United States of Ecocide: Spilling and Consuming Way to Oblivion

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May 29, 2009  By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet

A great, free nation remains immobilized in the face of ecological collapse

The United States of America is an epic experiment, as despite great accomplishments and numerous imperfections, we share a long history of constantly striving to improve our union. As Americans settle in for Memorial Day to remember veterans of all stripes – from great wars of world defense to more recent military adventurism – it is appropriate to consider what the current Gulf Oil Spill says about the American way of life. Plainly, our addiction to oil and consumption in general threatens to destroy regional and global ecosystems – the water, air, land and oceans –upon which Americans, humanity and all species depend upon for habitat and life.

America is truly exceptional. Yet it is not because of our materially excessive lifestyles, as best demonstrated by our wide girths and ample posteriors. There is more to America than consumption. Our greatness is primarily due to our wavering, imperfect yet unique commitment to freedom and liberty. Over two hundred years ago a just revolution was fought asserting individual liberties from monarchial authoritarianism. The principles of freedom and liberty were a gift to the world. This is what truly has set us apart. And despite two decades of consistent roll-backs in civil and human rights, Americans remain for now free peoples to prosper or expire.

America has and continues to face many challenges – repudiating slavery, enfranchising most, world wars – and most recently the inevitable slowdown of economic growth as speculative, industrial capitalism runs its course. America has enjoyed for awhile super-sized living and grown to be what it is based upon liquidating ecosystems. We have progressed to the point where regional ecosystems are collapsing – most obviously in the Gulf Coast, but throughout the vast country as ecosystems are dying. America now faces our most difficult and profound test ever, coming to terms with our deeply ecologically unsustainable lifestyles, and committing to national and global ecological sustainability.

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Who caused the financial collapse? Why aren’t they in jail?

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Devona Walker May 26, 2010  AlterNet

We’re livid about the Wall Street bailout and skeptical about financial reform

If you write bad checks, if you steal a car, you are going to jail. That’s how the system works for regular folks. On Wall Street, if you rip someone off, defraud them, take their (our tax) money, you may get a bonus or you may lose your job. But not one of the players that contributed to the financial meltdown has seen the inside of a jail cell. That’s predatory capitalism at its finest. That’s the American double standard that has so many Americans livid about the Wall Street bailout and skeptical about financial reform.

Here are some of the biggest players, who have not been held accountable and won’t really be touched by Financial Reform.

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BP Gulf catastrophe typifies corporate behavior in America

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010  by Mike Adams  NaturalNews

The Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe, now in its 35th day, has struck land, coating tourist beaches, marshes and shorelines with a greasy black filth that metaphorically represents the corporate greed that now dominates the U.S. economy.

We are all awash in the dark slime of corporations gone bad, and now we’re paying the price for allowing these companies to dominate our media, our government and our entire economy.

You might think government regulators could have prevented all this, but that’s hardly the case. This disaster isn’t merely about a government regulation failure; it’s about what happens when you let corporations rule Washington.

Reporters threatened with arrest by U.S. Coast Guard under orders from BP

British Petroleum has been steamrolling both the federal government and the press over this oil catastrophe in the Gulf. For starters, the U.S. Coast Guard is now threatening to arrest journalists who try to cover the story by invoking “BP rules” that forbid journalists from conducting investigative journalism. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010…)

As reported by CBS News: “When CBS News tried to reach the beach, covered in oil, a boat of BP contractors with two Coast Guard officers on board told us to turn around under threat of arrest.”

In other words, the U.S. Coast Guard is now protecting the financial interests of corporations by trying to censor a story the public needs to see.

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Brazil-Turkey Deal with Iran Undermines Big Power Politics

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By Thalif Deen  IPS – Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, May 19, 2010 (IPS) – When Brazil and Turkey clinched a deal with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme last weekend, the two non-permanent members of the Security Council not only challenged the unbridled political power exercised by the five big powers but also jeopardised U.S. plans for a unanimous resolution imposing sanctions against Tehran.

As a result, the 15-member Security Council now remains split, with at least two countries – and possibly more – lined up against a U.S.-inspired resolution against Iran.

The Brazil-Turkey initiative, which has undermined the upcoming resolution likely to be adopted next month, has also triggered implicit political threats against the two “renegade” countries.

According to unnamed government sources both in Europe and Washington, Turkey’s longstanding attempts to join the European Union (EU) are likely to be derailed further.

And so would Brazil’s plans to join as a permanent member of the Security Council (along with Japan, Germany and India).

Both countries, with strong economic links to Iran, stand accused of thwarting mostly Western efforts to isolate Tehran.

Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS that rather than wisely encouraging Turkey and Brazil to pursue their new diplomatic efforts with Iran, the U.S. government is spurning those constructive efforts.

“Washington is failing to affirm the enormous positive potential of the kind of diplomacy that Turkey and Brazil are offering,” he said.

Instead of searching for a new configuration, the administration of President Barack Obama is falling back on an old one: confrontation, he noted.

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The Incompetent Leadership Class in a World of Hurt

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Updated below:

It should be apparent to all by now that the Obama administration is fifth-rate at best. Perhaps any American administration in these days would be. It is stuffed with self-important folks with Ivy-league wallpaper, few competencies, and endless ambition.

Meanwhile the US was embarrassed (thankfully, for those of us fearing a world war) by Iran’s recent nuclear deal with Brazil and Turkey; frozen in the headlights by the No. Korean torpedoing of the So. Korean ship; tap dancing as fast as they can to do endless U turns in Afghanistan re: Karzai; and in a daze regarding the Gulf oil disaster. There isn’t a logistics expert in sight, no one with an organizing principle or maybe any principles at all. And the financial meltdown is far from over.

The signs of delusion and decay are everywhere.  Any self-respecting rat should be hunting for the nearest porthole.

–Claudia

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