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Archive for February 2011

Egypt: History Will Be Made Tonight!

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See Al Jazeera Live or at YouTube and also their Live Blog

Wael Ghonim vs. Barack Obama: Change we Can Believe in, Yes we Can

02/10/2011 by Juan Cole

It is no secret that President Barack Obama has been in some regards a profound disappointment to the American Left, and his erratic and often disgraceful performance on the Egypt crisis exemplifies his faults in this regard. (Tom Engelhardt puts it best regarding the administration: “It has shown itself to be weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do, and always several steps behind developing events.”) Obama just seems to lack empathy with the little people and is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency. As Iran’s speaker of the house put it, the Obama administration, faced with a choice of supporting the youth revolution or the camels unleashed on it, has chosen the camels. It makes a person think there should be rule that no one can run for the presidency who didn’t have a proper father figure in his or her life (Bill Clinton, W., Obama), since apparently once they get into office they start thinking the billionaires are their long-lost parent, whom they have to bend over backward to please.

Obama dealt with the Wall Street crisis by rewarding with more billions the corrupt and/or grossly incompetent financiers who threw millions of Americans out of work and out of their homes, and by appointing persons to deal with the crisis who had been among its instigators. He declined to end the abuses against the Bill of Rights of the Orwellian-named ‘PATRIOT Act,’ even though he had a Democratic House and Senate. Indeed, the Left was put in the humiliating position of being grateful to Michelle Bachman for helping do what Obama would not, when she and other Tea Party Republicans joined the principled Democrats in the House to decline to extend the human rights abuses embedded in that infamous Act.

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What was Raymond Davis Up To In Pakistan?

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3/16/11:


  • CIA contractor Raymond Davis freed from Pakistan jail on ‘blood money’
  • Plus Updated   x 4  below:

    US Terror Campaign in Pakistan? What was Raymond Davis Shooting for in Lahore?

    Wed, 02/09/2011   ThisCan’tBeHappening
    Dave Lindorff

    The mystery surrounding Raymond A. Davis, the American former Special Forces operative jailed in Lahore, Pakistan for the murder of two young motorcyclists, and his funky “security” company, Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, in the US continues to grow.

    When Davis was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the double slaying in a busy business section of Lahore, after he had fatally shot two men in the back, claiming that he feared they might be threatening to rob him, police found business cards on him for a security company called Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, which listed as its address 5100 North Lane, Orlando, Florida.

    A website for the company gave the same address, and listed the manager as a Gerald Richardson.

    An investigation into the company done for Counterpunch Magazine that was published on Tuesday, disclosed that the address was actually for a vacant storefront in a run-down and almost completely empty strip mall in Orlando called North Lane Plaza. The 5100 shop was completely empty and barren, save for an empty Coke glass on a vacant counter.

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    Written by laudyms

    February 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    US Hypocrisy Scuttles its Own Sinking Ship

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    The worm turns….or twists in the wind, according to your view. It really was international Banksters that lit the fuse under Mubarak with their wholesale looting, so it’s almost fun to watch them scurry around trying to find someone to bail them out of this mess.  Too bad power and wisdom don’t go together. And in the end the people pay with misery for the blunders of their bosses.

    US envoy’s business link to Egypt : Robert Fisk

    “Obama scrambles to limit damage after Frank Wisner makes robust call for Mubarak to remain in place as leader…..Frank Wisner, President Barack Obama’s envoy to Cairo who infuriated the White House this weekend by urging Hosni Mubarak to remain President of Egypt, works for a New York and Washington law firm which works for the dictator’s own Egyptian government. Mr Wisner’s astonishing remarks – “President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical: it’s his opportunity to write his own legacy” – shocked the democratic opposition in Egypt and called into question Mr Obama’s judgement, as well as that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US State Department and Mr Wisner himself have now both claimed that his remarks were made in a “personal capacity”. But there is nothing “personal” about Mr Wisner’s connections with the litigation firm Patton Boggs, which openly boasts that it advises “the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government’s behalf in Europe and the US”.”

    US Warships Signal Washington’s Intervention to Save its Egyptian Garrison by Finian Cunningham

    Three US warships dispatched to Egypt signal that Washington is stepping up efforts to secure the embattled regime of Hosni Mubarak.

    The IMF’s Epic Fail on Egypt (naked capitalism)

    Over the last week, we’ve had the spectacle of the Western media speculating about what is going on in Egypt in the absence of much understanding of the forces at work (this article by Paul Amar is a notable exception).

    Needless to say, there has also been a great deal of consternation as to how the West’s supposedly vaunted intelligence apparatus failed to see this one coming. This lapse is as bad as the inability to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union (it’s arguably worse: a lot of people profited from the Cold War, and they’d have every reason to fan fears and thus look for evidence that would support the idea that the USSR was a formidable threat. By contrast, one would think that conveying word that the domestic situation in Egypt was charged would have led to more intense scrutiny which ought to have served some interests (like various consultants and analysts). That suggests the US was so wedded to Mubarak that anyone who dared say his regime was at risk would get “shoot the messenger” treatment, and thus nary a discouraging word was conveyed).

    Tomgram: Engelhardt, Goodbye to All That

    Pox Americana
    Driving Through the Gates of Hell and Other American Pastimes in the Greater Middle East

    Reagan: myth and realities

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    The man many want to remember never existed. I lived in California throughout his governorship and watched him and his pet stormtrooper Ed Meese (who worked in the Alameda Co. DA’s office and later as Reagan’s chief of staff)  make war on the people of Berkeley and Oakland.

    Here are a few links to the real Reagan:

    Ronald Reagan, Enabler of Atrocities
    Though hailed for making Americans feel good, Ronald Reagan facilitated horrible human rights crimes, recalls Robert Parry. February 6, 2011

    10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan

    Reagan’s embrace of apartheid South Africa

    Plus: Salon has more in their series “The Real Reagan,” including how he cared more about UFOs than AIDS and how Reagan destroyed respect for the social compact that rebuilt America after World War II.

    Michael Hudson: Reaganomics Sucked Wealth Up, Did Not Trickle It Down

    Michael Hudson on Reagan Centenary: “Creating an economy for predators is not respect for a free market”

    And finally a personal note-

    WHY does no one mention that Reagan dumped tens of thousands of mental patients onto the streets when he closed state hospitals? He promised “community care” but didn’t fund much.  This move was followed by other states and then by the federal government when Reagan became president:  the walking wounded have formed the majority of the homeless population ever since.

    For a more detailed look at how he sacrificed vulnerable people to expediency see:

    Governor Reagan: his rise to power – Google Books Result

    Written by  Lou Cannon – 2003 – Biography & Autobiography – 579 pages
    “Reagan accepted the change without comment, but that was not the end of the story. Soon the trickle of patients out of the mental hospitals became a torrent …”

    Corporate Control? Not in These Communities

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    Citizens of Mt. Shasta, California have developed an ordinance to keep corporations from extracting their water.

    Photo by Jill Clardy.

    Can local laws have a real effect on the power of giant corporations?

    by Allen D. Kanner       Feb 04, 2011          YESmagazine

    Mt. Shasta, a small northern California town of 3,500 residents nestled in the foothills of magnificent Mount Shasta, is taking on corporate power through an unusual process—democracy.

    The citizens of Mt. Shasta have developed an extraordinary ordinance, set to be voted on in the next special or general election, that would prohibit corporations such as Nestle and Coca-Cola from extracting water from the local aquifer. But this is only the beginning. The ordinance would also ban energy giant PG&E, and any other corporation, from regional cloud seeding, a process that disrupts weather patterns through the use of toxic chemicals such as silver iodide. More generally, it would refuse to recognize corporate personhood, explicitly place the rights of community and local government above the economic interests of multinational corporations, and recognize the rights of nature to exist, flourish, and evolve.

    Mt. Shasta is not alone. Rather, it is part of a (so far) quiet municipal movement making its way across the United States in which communities are directly defying corporate rule and affirming the sovereignty of local government.

    Since 1998, more than 125 municipalities have passed ordinances that explicitly put their citizens’ rights ahead of corporate interests, despite the existence of state and federal laws to the contrary. These communities have banned corporations from dumping toxic sludge, building factory farms, mining, and extracting water for bottling. Many have explicitly refused to recognize corporate personhood. Over a dozen townships in Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire have recognized the right of nature to exist and flourish (as Ecuador just did in its new national constitution). Four municipalities, including Halifax in Virginia, and Mahoney, Shrewsbury, and Packer in Pennsylvania, have passed laws imposing penalties on corporations for chemical trespass, the involuntary introduction of toxic chemicals into the human body.

    When the attorney general of Pennsylvania threatened to sue Packer Township for banning sewage sludge within its boundaries, six other Pennsylvania towns adopted similar ordinances.

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    The Egyptian Uprising Is a Direct Response to Ruthless Global Capitalism

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    AlterNet / By Nomi Prins
    Economic decline at the hands of ‘hot’ money has driven Egyptians’ discontent.
    February 4, 2011 |

    The revolution in Egypt is as much a rebellion against the painful deterioration of economic conditions as it is about opposing a dictator, though they are linked. That’s why President Hosni Mubarak’s announcement that he intends to stick around until September was met with an outpouring of rage.

    When people are facing a dim future, in a country hijacked by a corrupt regime that destabilized its economy through what the CIA termed, “aggressively pursuing economic reforms to attract foreign investment” (in other words, the privatization and sale of its country’s financial system to international sharks), waiting doesn’t cut it.

    Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian who catalyzed this revolution, didn’t set himself on fire in protest of his inability to vote, but because of anguish over his job status in a country with 15.7 percent unemployment. The six other men in Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania who followed suit were also unemployed.

    Tunisia’s dismal economic environment was a direct result of its increasingly “liberal” policy toward foreign speculators. Of the five countries covered by the World Bank’s, Investment Across Sectors Indicator, Tunisia had the fewest limits on foreign investment. It had opened all areas of its economy to foreign equity ownership, except the electricity sector.

    Egypt adopted a similar come-and-get-it policy, on steroids. From 2004 to 2008, as the world economic crisis was being stoked by the U.S. banking system and its rapacious toxic asset machine, Mubarak’s regime was participating in a different way. Mubarak wasn’t pushing subprime loans onto Egyptians; instead, he was embarking on an economic strategy that entailed selling large pieces of Egypt’s banks to the highest international bidder.

    The result was a veritable grab-fest of foreign bank takeovers in the heart of Cairo. The raid began with Greek bank, Piraeus, taking a 70 percent stake in the Egyptian Commercial Bank in 2005, and included the sale of Bank of Alexandria, one of the four largest state-run banks, to the Italian bank, Gruppo Sanpaolo IMI in 2006. For the next two years, “hot” money poured into Egypt, as international banks muscled into Egypt and its financial system, before the intensity leveled off in 2008.

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    Egyptian Protests Expose Fraudulent U.S. “Spreading Democracy” Meme

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    Steve Horn January 31, 2011   PRWatch

    The Egyptian people have exposed the great myth that prevails in the sphere of United States’ foreign policy, namely that U.S. foreign policy elites are concerned with “spreading democracy.”

    That is because, as Hampshire College’s Michael Klare has written, since 1945, the United States has maintained a foreign policy that is centered around “blood and oil.” The foreign policy establishment often uses “democracy spreading” as a public relations platitude because it sounds much better than saying, “We went to war for oil.” But caring about democracy goes out the window when one truly scrutinizes U.S. foreign policy through a critical lens. Sourcewatch calls this phenomenon Big Oil, Big Lies.

    Case Studies Exposing the Mythology

    Several case studies ring a bell.

    Case in point: The cozy relationship with Azerbaijan, a country with one of the worst human rights track records in the world. It just happens to be next to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, and is strategically located next to Iran, another oil-rich country.

    Case in Point: Those who know the history of Iran know that in 1953, the Central Intelligence Agency and the MI6 together overthrew the democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh.

    The reason? Mossadegh decided to nationalize Iran’s oil and British Petroleum, then called the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, didn’t like that very much. Thus, Mossadegh was overthrown and replaced with the oil-industry friendly Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, a man who happened to be brutally oppressive toward his own people.

    To repeat, the U.S. had a democracy in Iran, but because that democracy chose to nationalize its oil, the U.S. overthrew it.

    Case in point: The long-standing “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the worst human rights’ track records in the world. Last time I checked, I heard they have quite a bit of oil, too.

    Case in point: The overt favoritism by the U.S. toward Israel in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel is currently in the midst of its 44th year of the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and on a daily basis commits egregious human rights violations against the Palestinian people, all while the United States showers Israel with expensive toys, to the tune of over $3 billion+ per year in military aid.

    Case in point: The “special relationship” with Egypt that has existed since the days of Henry Kissinger-led “shuttle diplomacy”, which resulted in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 (yes, this Henry Kissinger). Egypt switched from being a Cold War enemy to a Cold War ally, and a country that has had an atrociously bad human rights’ record for decades has now erupted from within as a backlash against this. The U.S. is complicit in these Hosni Mubarak-led human rights abuses, as it is caught in a pickle, which is the “special relationship.” These abuses are irrelevent to the foreign policy establishment though, for Egypt is located on the Israeli border, and like Israel, serves as a client state in the region.

    Some have called this moment in history in Egypt Obama’s 9-11, for it is quite obvious that he has no clue what to do about it or what to say about it. While true, the most apparent and least presumptive thing to say right now is that the American Empire has been exposed, its hypocrisy and hubris shed in the limelight, and Nemisis, the Greek Goddess of Revenge, has her eyes peeled and focused on Narcissus — the United States in this scenario.

    The Revolution Carries On

    As the days roll on, the Egyptian protests grow in size, with the biggest one yet planned for February 1.

    The Middle East, for better or for worse, is a changed place forever and there’s no looking back for the Egyptian people now.

    Just don’t buy the spin about “concern for democratic rights” by Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — they could care less about that. They are just scared they are about to lose an obedient regional client.

    And then all hell could really break loose in the region, domino effect style.

    Only time will tell.

    Consequences: the US is not immune

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    Quote of the day- from Chris Hedges’  What Corruption and Force Have Wrought in Egypt:

    The failure of the United States to halt the slow-motion ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel has consequences. The failure to acknowledge the collective humiliation and anger felt by most Arabs because of the presence of U.S. troops on Muslim soil, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but in the staging bases set up in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, has consequences. The failure to denounce the repression, including the widespread use of torture, censorship and rigged elections, wielded by our allies against their citizens in the Middle East has consequences. We are soaked with the stench of these regimes. Mubarak, who reportedly is suffering from cancer, is seen as our puppet, a man who betrayed his own people and the Palestinians for money and power.

    Farmer-scientist group wants to ‘hack society’ through open-source technology

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    by Bonnie Azab Powell 29 Dec 2010     Grist.org

    One of the most frequent criticisms leveled against the sustainable agriculture movement is that its proponents want to send farmers back to 19th-century hard labor, with hand weeding and harvesting. Here’s an incredibly cool group of eco-minded “farmer-scientists” who aren’t in the least afraid of technology — and in fact believe in “creating industrial processes that are fully in harmony with ecologically responsible living.”

    The Open Source Ecology team’s first, ambitious project is the Global Village Construction Set — a sort of life-size Erector set of the most essential machines for building a “small civilization with modern-day comforts,” including housing and the means for food, energy, and technology production.

    40 machines

    The proposed set of essential machines. Eight prototypes have been built so far. Drawing: Courtesy of Open Source Ecology

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