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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obama Says Economic Critics Should Show Him Ideas

Facing unwelcome resistance from fellow Democrats, President-elect Barack Obama is encouraging critics of his $800 billion economic recovery plan to "just show me" their own ideas. With more than 11 million Americans out of work, Obama pressed Congress for urgent action Friday and said the U.S. is undergoing "a devastating economic crisis that will become more difficult to contain with time."

His warning was underscored by a government report showing that unemployment hit a 16-year high of 7.2 percent in December.

But congressional Democrats are making it clear they want to put their own stamp on the revival plan, despite the inevitable delays. Some Obama ideas, like a $3,000 job creation tax credit, might get scrapped.

Many Democrats aren't thrilled with Obama's business tax cut plans and are griping that there's not enough money in the measure for traditional infrastructure projects like road construction and water projects or for tax credits to promote renewable energy.

Under pressure, Obama aides agreed Friday to increase the money ticketed to energy tax breaks from $10 billion to $20 billion, according to congressional Democratic aides. The Democrats want $30 billion.

Burris appointment valid, Illinois high court says

(CNN) -- Illinois' highest court on Friday validated the appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat, ruling that the Illinois secretary of state does not have to sign off on it.

The court's opinion states that "no further action is required by the Secretary of State or any other official to make the Governor's appointment of Roland Burris to the United States Senate valid under Illinois law."

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Difficulty of Being an Informed American
By Paul Craig Roberts

The function of the "mainstream media" is to sell products and to brainwash the audience for the government and interest groups. By subscribing to it, Americans support their own brainwashing.
How Israel Brought Gaza to the Brink of Humanitarian Catastrophe
By Avi Shlaim

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions.
An Unnecessary "War"
By Jimmy Carter

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

Gaza medics describe horror of strike which killed 70

Growing evidence emerged today of the bloodiest single incident of the Gaza conflict when around 70 corpses were found by a Palestinian paramedic near a bombed-out house.

Starving Children Of Gaza
Meet the children left to die among the bodies of their parents and families

Red Cross Finds Starving Children with 12 Corpses in Gaza 'House of Horrors'
(Reuters) - The ICRC believes there are more wounded sheltering in the ruins of shelled houses in Gaza and has demanded that the Israeli military provide access for a search

Thursday, January 08, 2009

President Bush saved U.S. lives? That's only more Karl Rove-style spin

Clarke recently said that Barack Obama's election has "taken the wind out of al Qaeda's sails."
Let George Bush keep pushing the buttons on the spin machine. That cannot change the facts. His administration's actions on terrorism, including Iraq, killed many more Americans than U.S. intelligence agencies saved in the past eight years

Red Cross Reports Grisly Find in Gaza

JERUSALEM, Jan. 8 -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had found at least 15 bodies and several children -- emaciated but alive -- in a row of shattered houses in the Gaza Strip and accused the Israeli military of preventing ambulances from reaching the site for four days.
Red Cross officials said rescue crews had received specific reports of casualties in the houses and had been trying since Saturday to send ambulances to the area, located in Zaytoun, a neighborhood south of Gaza City. They said the Israeli military did not grant permission until Wednesday afternoon.
In an unusual public statement issued by its Geneva headquarters, the Red Cross called the episode "unacceptable" and said the Israeli military had "failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded."
When rescue workers from the Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent arrived at the site, they found 12 corpses lying on mattresses in one home, along with four young children lying next to their dead mothers, the Red Cross said. The children were too weak to stand and were rushed to a hospital, the agency said.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Your greatness will be defined by how we rise to overcome and undo what you have done."

The Greatest Greatness of George W. Bush
William Rivers Pitt, Truthout:
"Your greatness will be defined by how we rise to overcome and undo what you have done. Your greatness will stand forever if we never, ever forget the hard, bitter lessons you taught us. We are responsible for this republic, for our Constitution, and for each other. We are our brother's keeper. You taught us that by becoming our Cain. You nearly slew us, but here we stand, and we defy the place in history you would relegate us to. We defy you, and by doing so, we rise."

2009 - Time to wake up

2009 - Time to wake up
By Omran Al Sharhan
As conscious human-beings who care about humanity and still maintain hope for a better world, the recent global protests for Gaza should strengthen our faith in creating that better world we all dreamed of. A world in which no country is above International Law, a world with no occupied territories, a world where justice prevails, a world that does not remain quiet when a whole nation is being horrifically imprisoned for decades.
Gaza death toll rises to 399; 1925 injured:
A Palestinian medic was killed and two others wounded when a missile struck next to their ambulance east of Gaza City, Palestinians said.
Robert Fisk: The self delusion that plagues both sides in this bloody conflict:
Hamas is not Hizbollah. Jerusalem is not Beirut. And Israeli soldiers cannot take revenge for their 2006 defeat in Lebanon by attacking Hamas in Gaza - not even to help Ms Livni in the Israeli elections.
Hospital in Gaza City Engulfed by Suffering:
Rawiya Ayad lay in a bed on the ground floor of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital on Tuesday, connected to a respirator. A bandage covered her head, and dried blood scarred her face. Shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike was embedded in her brain, poisoning her blood. She was in a coma.
The Truth About Those Hamas Rockets

By Dennis Rahkonen

Five years ago, the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction to dupe us into supporting an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. A few days ago, Israel trotted out only an infinitesimally more credible excuse -- the Hamas rockets case -- as justification for its own murderous shock and awe in Gaza.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"Crazy Vice-President Gate."

Olbermann: 'Fatuous, condescending lunatic' Cheney failed to prevent 9/11

"Listen, you fatuous, condescending lunatic," Olbermann erupted. "Your task was not to deal with the aftermath of 9/11 -- it was to prevent 9/11."


Restore the rule of law after years of lawlessness that have undermined our national security,"

Feingold On Panetta: Very "Pleased" With Choice
Sen. Russ Feingold, a leading progressive Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, supports Leon Panetta for head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Leon Panetta has a long and distinguished career in public service and there are few people of whom I have a higher opinion," he said in a statement.
Feingold is widely regarded as a leading opponent of torture, extraordinary rendition and secret detention. Panetta, said Feingold, "has been a strong voice opposing the interrogation practices authorized by the Bush Administration and he is well-equipped to restore our national security, which has been undermined by the current administration's policies."
Feingold added, though, that he would continue to vet Panetta. "I look forward to closely examining his record, hearing his plans for protecting our nation against al Qaeda and other threats, and learning how he will help restore the rule of law after years of lawlessness that have undermined our national security," he said.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Haaretz reports: that the United States has decided to block any Arab initiative that would enable the Security Council to have a direct role in ending the Gaza crisis.

Investors dump $89B in U.S. securities in historic fire sale

The deep river of private money that helped knit together the global economy has abruptly dried up, new government figures show.
As the global financial crisis grew more severe this summer, foreigners sold almost $90 billion of U.S. securities — the greatest quarterly fire sale by overseas investors since the government began keeping track in 1960. U.S. investors also are retrenching; they unloaded about $85 billion worth of foreign holdings in the quarter, says the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.
"We've had a global panic. Everyone is pulling their money home," says economist Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute in Washington, D.C.
That's bad for economic growth in the U.S. because it threatens to starve capital-hungry companies and entrepreneurs. But it's especially serious for emerging-market countries that rely heavily on outside financing. Capital flows into countries such as South Korea, Turkey and Brazil were evaporating even before the mid-September Lehman Bros. bankruptcy made things worse.
The reversal of private capital flows signals an abrupt end to a nearly two-decades-long era of financial globalization, says economist Brad Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations. Private flows into and out of the U.S. for purchases of stocks, corporate bonds and federal agency bonds have dropped from around 18% of economic output to near zero "in a remarkably short period of time," Setser says.

"Integrity", hopefully at long last Integrity in the Justice Department.

President-elect Barack Obama has announced his choices to fill four top Justice Department positions Monday. David Ogden is being nominated for Deputy Attorney General, Elena Kagan for Solicitor General, Tom Perrelli for Associate Attorney General and Dawn Johnsen for Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. All four served in Bill Clinton's administration at some point. Kagan is currently the first female dean of Harvard Law School.
"These individuals bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times," Obama said. "I have the fullest confidence that they will ensure that the Department of Justice once again fulfills its highest purpose: to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."
The full press release:

(Build roads and schools? Not rockets? Why didn't we think of that!)

"Since Hamas's violent takeover in the summer of 2007, living conditions have worsened for Palestinians in Gaza. By spending its resources on rocket launchers instead of roads and schools, Hamas has demonstrated that it has no intention of serving the Palestinian people."
President's Radio Address, 1/2/09
Yep. You just gotta hate a government that blows all its money on weapons while its bridges fall down. What's Hamas's problem? Are they evil or just stupid? Thank God we're fighting them there, so they can't get here.
WASHINGTON -- President Bush rebuffed appeals from the nation's governors on Monday to increase spending on roads, bridges and other public works as a way to revive the economy.
NY Times 2/26/08
And this where we start wondering about whether this retarded murderer even listens to himself when he talks. (Build roads and schools? Not rockets? Why didn't we think of that!) And whether President Bush, or anyone, could really be that unconscious; or if he really believes anything; or if when he gave up snorting coke it was also the last time he looked in a mirror; or if he says these things just to make people crazy. And then we drag in poor old Freud and the narcissism of small differences, and blah, blah, blah. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to move on.
Besides, as Bush always says, it's not up to us to judge him, it's up to history. That and the wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
Anyway, thanks for the tip, G.
On your way out, go ahead and let the door hit you in the ass.
Max Blumenthal, 01.05.2009
Senior Writer for The Daily Beast
The surprising trend in American opinion on Gaza may be because the same pundits who are cheerleading Israel's assault once sold the occupation of Iraq, and with a nearly identical set of arguments.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

And there lie the bodies

By Gideon Levy
The legend, lest it be a true story, tells of how the late mathematician, Professor Haim Hanani, asked his students at the Technion to draw up a plan for constructing a pipe to transport blood from Haifa to Eilat. The obedient students did as they were told. Using logarithmic rulers, they sketched the design for a sophisticated pipeline. They meticulously planned its route, taking into account the landscape's topography, the possibility of corrosion, the pipe's diameter and the flow calibration. When they presented their final product, the professor rendered his judgment: You failed. None of you asked why we need such a pipe, whose blood will fill it, and why it is flowing in the first place. Regardless of whether this story is legend or true, Israel is now failing its own blood pipeline test. As Israel has been preoccupied with Gaza throughout the entire week, nobody has asked whose blood is being spilled and why. Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. Even if Israel wiped Gaza off the face of the earth, killing tens of thousands in the process, as a Chechnyan laborer working in Sderot proposed to me, one can assume that there would be no protest. They liquidated Nizar Ghayan? Nobody counts the 20 women and children who lost their lives in the same attack. There was a massacre of dozens of officers during their graduation ceremony from the police academy? Acceptable. Five little sisters? Allowed. Palestinians are dying in hospitals that lack medical equipment? Peanuts. Whatever happened to the not-so-good old days of Salah Shahadeh? When we liquidated him in July 2002, we also killed 15 women and children. At least back then, moral qualms were raised for a moment.
Here lie their bodies, row upon row, some of them tiny. Our hearts have turned hard and our eyes have become dull. All of Israel has worn military fatigues, uniforms that are opaque and stained with blood and which enable us to carry out any crime. Even our leading intellectuals fail to speak out on what havoc we have wreaked. Amos Oz urges: "Cease-fire now." David Grossman writes: "Hold your fire. Stop." Meir Shalev wants "a punitive operation." And not one word about our moral image, which has been horribly distorted. The suffering in the south renders everything kosher, as if the horrible suffering in Gaza pales in comparison. Everyone is hungry for revenge, and that hunger is excused by the need for "deterrence," after it was already proved that the killing and the destruction in Lebanon did not achieve it. Yes, I know, war is war. After all, they brought this on themselves. They are a terrorist organization and we are not. They want to destroy us and we seek peace. Still, is there nothing here that will stop this blood pipeline? Even those whose hearts are hardened by "moral righteousness" will have to momentarily halt the bombing machine and ask: Which Israel do we have before us? What will become of its standing in the world, which is now watching the events in Gaza? What are we inflicting on the moderate Arab regimes? And what of the simmering popular hatred we are sowing throughout the world? What good will emerge from this killing and destruction?

He is smaller than life.

A President Forgotten but Not Gone
WE like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella. So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down. Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat. He’s the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby. He is smaller than life.
The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Bush’s presidency found that 79 percent of Americans will not miss him after he leaves the White House. He is being forgotten already, even if he’s not yet gone. You start to pity him until you remember how vast the wreckage is. It stretches from the Middle East to Wall Street to Main Street and even into the heavens, which have been a safe haven for toxins under his passive stewardship. The discrepancy between the grandeur of the failure and the stature of the man is a puzzlement. We are still trying to compute it.

The crowning personality tic revealed by Bush’s final propaganda push is his bottomless capacity for self-pity. “I was a wartime president, and war is very exhausting,” he told C-Span. “The president ends up carrying a lot of people’s grief in his soul,” he told Gibson. And so when he visits military hospitals, “it’s always been a healing experience,” he told The Wall Street Journal. But, incredibly enough, it’s his own healing he is concerned about, not that of the grievously wounded men and women he sent to war on false pretenses. It’s “the comforter in chief” who “gets comforted,” he explained, by “the character of the American people.” The American people are surely relieved to hear it.
With this level of self-regard, it’s no wonder that Bush could remain undeterred as he drove the country off a cliff. The smugness is reinforced not just by his history as the entitled scion of one of America’s aristocratic dynasties but also by his conviction that his every action is blessed from on high. Asked last month by an interviewer what he has learned from his time in office, he replied: “I’ve learned that God is good. All the time.”
Once again he is shifting the blame. This presidency was not about Him. Bush failed because in the end it was all about him.
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