The US War on Iraq: a Criminal Enterprise — But Where Will Justice be Found?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A decade after the US attempt to “shock and awe” humanity and usher in its new “American century” more than a million Iraqis are dead, and trillions of dollars have been squandered, while the high ranking architects and enablers of these monstrous crimes are still riding high…

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: The story of U.S. Exceptionalism in Iraq

by Ajamu Baraka, in Black Agenda Report

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq, one of the most egregious expressions of naked power and imperial ambition since the Second World War. The attack defied both an outraged world opinion — expressed by global mass demonstrations — and the United Nations charter. It also marked a change from the previous veiled decorum of supposed adherence to international law that defined post-war international relations. The Bush administration, armed with the ultimate expression of the arrogance of U.S. exceptionalism – legislation passed by the U.S. Congress – unleashed a murderous assault on the people of Iraq dubbed “Operation Shock and Awe.”

Ten years later, the awesome consequences of that criminal assault are clear. More than a trillion dollars spent, almost five thousand American lives lost, more than 32,000 Americans wounded, estimates of a million dead Iraqis and almost five million displaced, an epidemic of Iraqi birth defects from “depleted” uranium, daily bombings, devastated public services and the dismemberment of the country. Yet, ten years later, no one, not one government official, has been held accountable. The obvious question is: how is it that, in light of one of the most heinous crimes ever committed by a State, there have been no investigations, prosecutions or convictions of the officials responsible for this assault?

The lack of accountability is even more incomprehensible in light of the fact that it is now widely acknowledged that the real reason for the Western invasion of Iraq had little to do with its concern about weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with its desire to steal Iraq’s oil. Continue reading

Ten Years Later: Remembering the “liberals” Who Led Us, with bi-partisan deceptions, Into War

The Liberal Hawks Who Lead Us into War 

Michael Ratner, AlterNet, March 19, 2013

The liberal establishment willfully played along with the preposterous claims that led to the Iraq War.
Ten years ago, between January and April 2003, it is estimated that an unprecedented 36 million people around the world took to the streets in protest against the Iraq War. They believed the war entirely unjust, the evidence of a threat, flimsy, and the costs, in terms of lives and otherwise, potentially astronomical. Worldwide protests, from Rome to Manhattan, brought together hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions to collectively voice opposition.In any just government, these astounding numbers would give pause to the war-wagers in power. In a truly democratic America, these sentiments should have been represented in Washington.  And surely this moment should have been the cue for our “liberal media” to echo the cautionary cries of our protesters to deafening levels. Instead, our reliably bellicose Republican congressmen were joined in support by an overwhelming majority of our so-called liberal representatives, and war went ahead as planned.Even more alarmingly, in the months preceding the start of the war, the pages of the  New York Times would greet us with more banging of the drums: a demand by Thomas Friedman that France be kicked out of the Security Council for its refusal to join up, or a startling piece of war propaganda by then soon-to-be Executive Editor Bill Keller, fantasizing about the impact of a one-kiloton nuke detonated in Manhattan – 20,000 incinerated, many more dying a “gruesome death from radiation sickness.” But make no mistake: although the  New York Times has a shameless history of supporting war after war, other prominent mainstream journalists and intellectuals were eager to ride the bandwagon.  These names include George Packer of the  New Yorker, Newsday’s Jeffery Goldberg,  The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart, Fareed Zakaria, Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Paul Berman to name a few.The late Tony Judt sized up this whole lot most aptly with the label “Bush’s Useful Idiots.”  The “useful idiots,” he said, were those from within the liberal establishment who, either through a misguided attempt to project strength, willfully played along with preposterous WMD claims, or simply allowed themselves to get carried away with the imperialistic fervor surrounding a new call to war, abdicating the responsibilities upon which liberal ideology is based. Instead, they aligned their positions with the neo-conservative architects of the Iraq War. Continue reading

Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres

Exclusive: General David Petraeus and ‘dirty wars’ veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

The Guardian, Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Guardian investigation was spurred by the 2010 Wikileaks release.  Their initial video report, “The Torture Trail: What did General Petraeus’s special advisor, James Steele, know?”, showed how the newly released US military files reveal an instruction to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities; what that meant on the ground; and just how far up the chain of command the order went.  That 7-minute  video, from 2010, is shown here:

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO VIEW THE COMPLETE AND FINAL 2013 VIDEO REPORT (51 minutes): James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows. Continue reading

In The US, Mass Child Killings Are Tragedies. In Pakistan, Mere Bug Splats

, The Guardian, Monday 17 December 2012
 
A memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The children killed by US drones in north-west Pakistan 'have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and teddy bears'. [A memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The children killed by US drones in north-west Pakistan ‘have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and teddy bears’. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty.]

“Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why. Continue reading

Obama’s Presidency Through Palestinian Eyes

By Dr. Elias Akleh

13 November, 2012
Countercurrents.org

People worldwide were very interested and following the 2012 American election believing that their future would, somehow, be affected by the foreign policies of the new American President. Only the Palestinian people were totally apathetic to the election. They believe that the American stance toward the Palestinian cause, specifically, and towards the Middle East, generally, would not change no matter who becomes the American president; whether a democrat or a republican.

Many people, including large percentage of the American people, are under the illusion that the President really has the power to change things. It appears that a president may have the power to take his country to war, to create jobs, to improvise and improve medical care plans, or to change tax laws or any other law, in that matter. Such matters are determined by a power elite representing the very rich and very influential 1% of the population, who owns, controls and manipulates the economic, political, industrial, and social structures of the country. The President is just an employee, who is appointed in a theatrical game of fake democratic election, in order to carry the plans of this power elite.

A thorough analytical study of American policies and regulations shows that the long succession of the American Presidents, democrats as well as republicans, had abused and manipulated the majority of Americans to serve the interests of the rich 1% to acquire and control the natural richness of the US and other countries around the world. The American people have been in uninterrupted continuous state of wars of aggression against other countries since the establishment of the federation for the control of natural resources locally and around the world. The real war has always been a class war, where the rich abuse and manipulate the poor.

The Palestinian people understand very well that such self-acclaimed righteous American presidents, who call for justice, freedom and democracy to all, would not help them achieve these noble goals.Successive American administrations had always armed Israel , supported the Israeli occupation of Palestine , and covered the Israeli war crimes, terrorism and violations of international laws and humanitarian rights of Palestinians and other Arab citizens. President Obama had done that during his first four years, and he will continue to do the same during his next four years.

When Obama was first elected a president in 2008 with the slogans of “change” and “yes we can” addressing the Muslim and Arab world in his June 2009 speech in Cairo university, many Arabs and Palestinians had the illusion that Obama; coming from a black African and Muslim background, may be more sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause than any other American President. Unfortunately Obama turns out to be a more aggressive president towards the Muslim world and worst to the Palestinian cause.

His previous four years of presidency show that Obama cared about Israeli citizens more than he cared even about his own American citizens. During the last four years many Americans had lost their jobs, their businesses, and their homes. American jobs and businesses were exported to other countries, where labor is cheaper and environmental regulations are laxed. Some states and major cities had filed for bankruptcy. Public schools were devastated by budget cuts and overcrowded, and university tuitions were raised out of proportion. Budget cuts had devastated many Americans including military veterans, who served their country but don’t get social re-habilitation leading many of them to crimes of family violence and many are homeless. Necessary social services were severely decreased. Many Americans lack medical coverage and the suffering and misery of many others are numerous to mention. The American wars and failed economical policies had raised the national dept to staggering amount of $16 trillion.

There is a dire need for Americans to spend their tax money internally to solve their own problems. Yet, during the past three years the Obama administration, instead, had contributed American tax money to Israeli military budget more than the contribution of the Israelis themselves according to Israeli military commander Gabi Ashkinazi. Continue reading

US: After the elections, how will Obama’s liberals grease the “austerity” path?

[Glenn Greenwald, an analyst/journalist of progressive reform politics, reveals the likely path of Democratic/Obama/liberal cuts in major historic social programs such as Social Security and Medicare in the weeks ahead.  Many who supported Obama as the last, best defense against such cuts, will find, now, that the system, which has created the economic and fiscal crisis, has no means or will  to solve the problem it has made. — Frontlines ed.]

———————————————

Obama and progressives: what will liberals do with their big election victory?

With fights over social security, Medicare, ongoing war, and other key progressive priorities looming, what will they do with their new power?

guardian.co.uk

Wednesday 7 November 2012
The greatest and most enduring significance of Tuesday night’s election results will likely not be the re-election of Barack Obama, but rather what the outcome reflects about the American electorate. It was not merely Democrats, but liberalism, which was triumphant.

To begin with, it is hard to overstate just how crippled America’s right-wing is. Although it was masked by their aberrational win in 2010, the GOP has now been not merely defeated, but crushed, in three out of the last four elections: in 2006 (when they lost control of the House and Senate), 2008 (when Obama won easily and Democrats expanded their margins of control), and now 2012. The horrendous political legacy of George Bush and Dick Cheney continues to sink the GOP, and demographic realities – how toxic the American Right is to the very groups that are now becoming America’s majority – makes it difficult to envision how this will change any time soon.

Meanwhile, new laws to legalize both same-sex marriage and marijuana use were enacted in multiple states with little controversy, an unthinkable result even a few years ago, while Obama’s late-term embrace of same-sex marriage seems to have resulted only in political benefit with no political harm. Democrats were sent to the Senate by deeply red states such as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, along with genuinely progressive candidates on domestic issues, including Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, who became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. As a cherry on the liberal cake, two of the most loathed right-wing House members – Rep Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida – were removed from office.

So the delirium of liberals this morning is understandable: the night could scarcely have gone better for them. By all rights, they should expect to be a more powerful force in Washington. But what are they going to get from it? Will they wield more political power? Will their political values and agenda command more respect? Unless the disempowering pattern into which they have voluntarily locked themselves changes, the answer to those questions is almost certainly “no”.

Consider the very first controversial issue Obama is likely to manage, even before the glow of his victory dims, literally within the next couple of weeks. It is widely expected – including by liberals – that Obama intends (again) to pursue a so-called “Grand Bargain” with the GOP: a deficit- and debt-cutting agreement whereby the GOP agrees to some very modest tax increases on the rich in exchange for substantial cuts to entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare, the crown legislative jewels of American liberalism. Continue reading

Black Agenda Report on what happens when you believe the hype

Doing Us Proud: Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, 11/07/2012

When a Bush, a McCain, or a Romney condones corporate crimes against the rest of us, lies to us, tortures and imprisons at will and murders civilians at a whim, it’s a moral disaster. When a black Democrat does it, it’s nothing personal, just business. And we are soooo proud. What’s wrong with us?

Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

At our October 12 affair at Harlem’s Riverside Church, Black Agenda Report’s executive editor Glen Ford said that the most damning and lasting result of the Obama presidency might be that black America was losing its moral compass

Those of us, this author included, who reached adulthood in the brief eight or nine year heyday of the modern Freedom Movement got to see our elders shuck the shackles of what was proper and legal and take to the streets in defiance of evil in authority. We learned that going door to door, organizing our friends, our neighbors, our fellow workers on the job, calling meetings and demonstrations, and standing up to unjust authority, at whatever cost was the highest duty of citizenship and the only way things ever changed.

During the eight years Obama will have served in the White House, Ford observed, black youth can expect to see nothing like this. Where we learned to be skeptical of what our government, and often our elders told us, they are learning to believe, or pretend to believe whatever they’re told. Where we learned the highest goal of the struggle was improving the lives of ordinary people, they are learning that the highest goals are the big house, the prestigious career, the large lifestyle of those who serve the power and unlock the mysteries of the Market. Continue reading

US election: Who will wage — and win — the battle for full health care and reproductive rights?

[For all the talk of democracy that fills the air and sucks all the oxygen out of the air preventing honest discussion, the capitalist / imperialist system continues to maintain the system of bourgeois class rule with its essential pillars of patriarchy/misogyny/traditional familial property relations, white supremacy/black and brown oppression, xenophobia/exclusion/aggression, Christian club membership, and, bottom line, class exploitation and privilege.

At election times, competing candidates — who have been fully vetted (by the bourgeois powers-that-be) as potential administrators of these systems of power and privilege, oppression and despair — spew volumes of hype and fatuous solutions to the more contentious divides.  But none, ever, speak to the root cause of these systems in the structures of capitalist power, which have invented and/or maintained these pillars throughout its time in power, (and have re-worked and re-branded,  from time to time, these systems).

So, with the Democrats, there has been an embrace of the process of making full use of women workers, professionals, and technicians in service to imperialism.  Upholding women’s reproductive rights including abortion is a critical part of women’s inclusion, BUT it has been steadily restricted (and in many places, practically eliminated and non-existent) on the resource level for poor, working, migrant, imprisoned, unemployed, black, brown, and undocumented women, under every recent President including Obama.  There does not appear to be any effort by the Obama administration or the national Democratic Party to block and roll back these restrictive measures at the state level.  Activists and pro-choice Democratic politicians on the state level have been losing round after round without help from their national party. In this sense, Obama and the national Democratic Party are silent partners and complicit in the growing restrictions on abortion rights.  Obama Democrats have formally supported Roe v Wade but have still let the substantive rights go.  But because rich and professional/petty-bourgeois women have not suffered the loss of reproductive and abortion services — and most people tend to look at these services through their access by privileged classes, (as that is how the mass media tends to frame the issue) — they are praised, though the poor have increasingly lost access to these basic health services.

The other capitalist/imperialist presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, in line with the Republican party program, has cast the issue as a formal rejection of public-financed reproductive rights, and toward the formal elimination of Roe vs Wade.  Given the way power works, a Romney in the White House would likely appoint a fellow Christian misogynist to the Supreme Court, which could lead to elimination of Roe vs Wade.  For poor women, this would mean the expansion of forced pregnancies and childbirth, and rapid re-establishment of illegal abortion mills on a massive scale.  At the same time, for privileged women, abortion services would be concealed within readily available and re-named health services, and continued as a class privilege.

Some will vote against Romney this year with hopes that this will secure reproductive rights.  But since this election bears no prospect of eliminating the systems of privilege and power which continue to require restrictions on reproductive rights, no electoral solution  is at hand.  Capitalism vs socialism is not on the ballot.  In the period ahead, as grassroots forces organize and set an independent course from the degrading and confusing bourgeois electoral process, there must be an emphasis on building  and struggling for grassroots health services, including contraceptive and abortion services.  And the importance of developing programmatic unity on these issues — as part of fighting to establish free and complete medical service for all — is essential for the development of the revolutionary forces.

The following article from the New York Times (representing the bourgeois forces who advocate continued administration of the system by Obama) which argues the view that Romney’s program would create more problems.  —  Frontlines ed.]

———————————————————-

How Romney Would Treat Women

By , New York Times, OP-ED COLUMNIST,  November 3, 2012
IN this year’s campaign furor over a supposed “war on women,” involving birth control and abortion, the assumption is that the audience worrying about these issues is just women.

Give us a little credit. We men aren’t mercenaries caring only for Y chromosomes. We have wives and daughters, mothers and sisters, and we have a pretty intimate stake in contraception as well.

This isn’t like a tampon commercial on television, leaving men awkwardly examining their fingernails. When it comes to women’s health, men as well as women need to pay attention. Just as civil rights wasn’t just a “black issue,” women’s rights and reproductive health shouldn’t be reduced to a “women’s issue.”

To me, actually, talk about a “war on women” in the United States seems a bit hyperbolic: in Congo or Darfur or Afghanistan, I’ve seen brutal wars on women, involving policies of rape or denial of girls’ education. But whatever we call it, something real is going on here at home that would mark a major setback for American women — and the men who love them.

On these issues, Mitt Romney is no moderate. On the contrary, he is considerably more extreme than President George W. Bush was. He insists, for example, on cutting off money for cancer screenings conducted by Planned Parenthood. Continue reading

Obama’s Destructive Foreign Policy and Black Disillusionment

Black Agenda Report, Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It is painfully distressing to witness members of my community so willfully complicit with lethal war policies simply because they are coming from a brown skinned man,” writes the author. “African-Americans’ honorable legacy of opposing Euro-America’s imperialist wars is quickly eroding.”

by Solomon Comissiong

We must undo the mental spell placed upon us by the Democratic Party and their Trojan horse – Barack Obama.”

The anti-imperialist war legacy of African (black) people in United States is a rather long one. Most American born Africans have historically opposed Euro-America’s bloody legacy of global military engagements aimed at everything from regime change to plunder to flat out planetary domination. Prominent African leaders like Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, not only opposed Euro-America’s voracious appetite for death and destruction, by way of war – these leaders were outspoken in telling the world exactly why they opposed these wars. For instance, it was in 1967 at Riverside Baptist Church [5] in New York City that Dr. Martin Luther King said:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

 Dr. King, like countless other Africans, simply could not accept the US’s deadly imperialist war in Southeast Asia. It clearly weighed heavily upon his conscience. He was not fearful that his rightful opposition to the Vietnam War would greatly distance himself with President Lyndon Johnson – doing the right thing mattered much, much more. Dr. King was not alone; a critical mass of African people refused to support this war.Professional athletes, like Muhammad Ali, were also among the great number of Africans who took courageous stances, vociferously speaking out against the war in Southeast Asia. I say all this to, not only provide historical context, but also to contrast history to the present day.

Dr. King was not alone; a critical mass of African people refused to support this war.”

It distresses this African author to slowly come to the realization that African-American’s honorable legacy of opposing Euro-America’s imperialist wars is quickly eroding. This is by no means a rush observation on my part; my assessment dates back to 2008. It was in 2008 that a United States senator named Barack Obama was elected president. I was definitely within the minority of Africans who made the strong decision not to vote for either corporate candidate (Barack Obama & John McCain).  Senator Barack Obama made it clear that he intended to expand the war in Afghanistan if he was elected – and he more than made good on that promise. This is merely one of the reasons I had for not supporting Barack Obama as president. And if there was no better option for me, I would simply not have voted in that election. I don’t buy in to the lesser of two evils argument; if you do you are ultimately still voting for evil. Continue reading

Secret Wars, Secret Bases, and the Pentagon’s “New Spice Route” in Africa

Nick Turse, Middle East Online, July 12, 2012

They call it the New Spice Route, an homage to the medieval trade network that connected Europe, Africa, and Asia, even if today’s “spice road” has nothing to do with cinnamon, cloves, or silks. Instead, it’s a superpower’s superhighway, on which trucks and ships shuttle fuel, food, and military equipment through a growing maritime and ground transportation infrastructure to a network of supply depots, tiny camps, and airfields meant to service a fast-growing U.S. military presence in Africa.
Few in the U.S. know about this superhighway, or about the dozens of training missions and joint military exercises being carried out in nations that most Americans couldn’t locate on a map. Even fewer have any idea that military officials are invoking the names of Marco Polo and the Queen of Sheba as they build a bigger military footprint in Africa. It’s all happening in the shadows of what in a previous imperial age was known as “the Dark Continent.”
In East African ports, huge metal shipping containers arrive with the everyday necessities for a military on the make. They’re then loaded onto trucks that set off down rutted roads toward dusty bases and distant outposts.
On the highway from Djibouti to Ethiopia, for example, one can see the bare outlines of this shadow war at the truck stops where local drivers take a break from their long-haul routes. The same is true in other African countries. The nodes of the network tell part of the story: Manda Bay, Garissa, and Mombasa in Kenya; Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda; Bangui and Djema in the Central African Republic; Nzara in South Sudan; Dire Dawa in Ethiopia; and the Pentagon’s showpiece African base, Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, among others.
According to Pat Barnes, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Camp Lemonnier serves as the only official U.S. base on the continent. “There are more than 2,000 U.S. personnel stationed there,” he told TomDispatch recently by email. “The primary AFRICOM organization at Camp Lemonnier is Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). CJTF-HOA’s efforts are focused in East Africa and they work with partner nations to assist them in strengthening their defense capabilities.”
Barnes also noted that Department of Defense personnel are assigned to U.S. embassies across Africa, including 21 individual Offices of Security Cooperation responsible for facilitating military-to-military activities with “partner nations.” He characterized the forces involved as small teams carrying out pinpoint missions. Barnes did admit that in “several locations in Africa, AFRICOM has a small and temporary presence of personnel. In all cases, these military personnel are guests within host-nation facilities, and work alongside or coordinate with host-nation personnel.” Continue reading

Don’t Put Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa

Kenyan farmer at protest of Monsanto genetically modified corn

by Common Dreams     May 22, 2012

Written by Yifat Susskind

This past weekend, President Obama hid out from protesters at Camp David. He was hosting the leaders of the world’s eight wealthiest economies, known as the G8. As they readied to meet, on Friday, Obama put forward his New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

This occasion gave Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, the chance to make an astonishing statement:

“We are never going to end hunger in Africa without private investment. There are things that only companies can do, like building silos for storage and developing seeds and fertilizers.”

That’s news to millions of women farmers in Africa. Their harvests feed their families and generate income that sustains local economies. For generations, they have been doing just those things: storing their harvests, protecting and developing seeds, using natural fertilizers. Continue reading

Obama has a Monsanto plan for Africa: (Beware of Genetic Engineers Bearing Gifts)

How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, PepsiCo and Others

The G8 scheme does nothing to address the problems that are at the core of hunger and malnutrition but will serve only to further poverty and inequality.
May 23, 2012

[Photo Credit: michaeljung via Shutterstock.com]

Driving through Ngong Hills, not far from Nairobi, Kenya, the corn on one side of the road is stunted and diseased. The farmer will not harvest a crop this year. On the other side of the road, the farmer gave up growing corn and erected a greenhouse, probably for growing a high-value crop like tomatoes. Though it’s an expensive investment, agriculture consultants now recommend them. Just up the road, at a home run by Kenya Children of Hope, an organization that helps rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families, one finds another failed corn crop and another greenhouse. The director, Charity, is frustrated because the two acres must feed the rescued children and earn money for the organization. After two tomato crops failed in the new greenhouse, her consultant recommended using a banned, toxic pesticide called carbofuran.

Will Obama’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition help farmers like Charity? The New Alliance was announced in conjunction with the G8 meeting last Friday. Under the scheme, some 45 corporations, including Monsanto, Syngenta, Yara International, Cargill, DuPont, and PepsiCo, have pledged a total of $3.5 billion in investment in Africa. The full list of corporations and commitments has just been released, and one of the most notable is Yara International’s promise to build a $2 billion fertilizer plant in Africa. Syngenta pledged to build a $1 billion business in Africa over the next decade. These promises are not charity; they are business.

This is par for the course for the attempted “second green revolution” that is currently underway. The Gates Foundation and its Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa are working to build up a network of private seed companies and private agro-dealers across Africa. The goal is to increase average fertilizer use in Africa by more than a factor of six and to decrease the distance each African farmer must travel to reach a shop selling seeds and inputs. Those who support this vision have heaped praise on Obama and the G8’s New Alliance. In fact, with both Republican and Democratic support, this is one of the only things both parties agree on.

But what do actual Africans think? Not just the elite, but the peasant farmers? Charity, for her part, is frustrated. Continue reading

“Outside My Window” — poem by Jeff Hay

They Appear to be intelligent
engaging
even full of a type of life energy
and yet
there they are
with a table 
full of buttons and stickers
supporting 
advocating
voting for
a monster

On the surface
they seem to be
progressives
do they not know
have they ignored
or are they
just in denial

I’m sure
when Bush was President
they were adamantly opposed to war
to torture
to slaughtering 
blowing the guts out of
women and children
of treating “illegal” immigrants
like cockroaches
of fucking the poor
while enriching his rich buddies
of shredding the Constitution
of total disregard
for the safety of our 
food supply
of total disregard
for the climate catastrophe
that is unfolding
of being an
asshole


And yet they have  a table
outside my window
campaigning for a man
who has invaded more countries than Bush
given more money to the Banksters than Bush
deported and imprisoned more immigrants
than Bush
wiped his ass on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
more than Bush
had more contempt for the poor
than Bush

And yet 
there they are
smiling and handing out
their buttons
and stickers
never reflecting
upon their hypocrisy
upon their 
favoring 
the policies
they hated 
when it was Bush

Then there are my 
right-wing friends
who call him a “socialist”
And if 
you’re talking about 
corporate welfare
and tax breaks for the rich
in other words
redistributing the wealth
to the already wealthy
than he is sort of a 
Robin Hood in reverse
Stealing from the poor
to give to the rich
a Socialist 
in reverse

My right-wing friends
wonder about his birth certificate
wondering about his
“muslim” name
never noticing
his glee
as he 
“changes the mindset that leads to war”
by blowing the brains
out of 
those “other” people
those “unpeople”
which he holds
in as much contempt
as Bush ever dreamed of

He said his campaign would be different
wouldn’t take huge corporate donations
he lied
He said he would filibuster
retroactive immunity for the telecoms
who helped the government
spy on us
He lied
He said in his victory speech
that global warming
would start cooling
that rising oceans
would start receding
now that he was in charge
he lied
He said he would not fill his
Administration
as Bush had
with lobbyists
he lied

He said he would close Guantanamo
instead he opened more Guantanamo’s than even Bush
He said he would make it easier 
for workers to join a union
he lied
When it came to 
who to help
he decided
that ten million people
losing their homes
while he gave trillions
of dollars
to the very people
who gave him more money
than any presidential candidate has ever received
from Wall Street
His choice was easy
I WILL FUCK THE POOR
Guess that’s 
“Socialism”

He “saved General Motors”
by giving billions to Management
while forcing pay cuts 
loss of health care
and pensions
on the workers
Guess that’s “Socialism”

He said
his administration
would be transparent and open
and democratic
he said
“whistleblowers should be protected”
he fucking lied
he has prosecuted more whistleblowers
than all other presidents in
the history of the United States combined
No President has hated democracy more than him

Oddly my right-wing friends
who loved all of this
when Bush did it
 think
he’s a Socialist”
and my “progressive” friends
who hated it when Bush did what he does
are the same
 in one way
they are tragically
ill informed
about
Barack Obama

 


Dispatch From Detention: A Rare Look Inside Our ‘Humane’ Immigration Jails

[Photo: Paul J. Richards/Getty Images]

by Seth Freed Wessler, Color Lines

Wednesday, January 4 2012

Sam Kitching, a soft-spoken, round old man dressed in civilian clothes who works for the Sheriff’s department at the Baker County Jail put his hand on my shoulder and, addressing me as “young man,” said, “It’s very important that you be careful in there. They might have AIDS and might try to grab your hand and push something into it.”

“AIDS?” I ask.

“They could,” he said. “These men can be dangerous.”

A younger man dressed in a tight, dark green Sheriff’s uniform unlatched the door into one of the pods that holds several dozen federal immigration detainees.

Mostly Latino and black and all dressed in orange jump suits, unzipped with the arms tied around waists, the men stood or sat at metal tables in groups of four or five in the three-sided concrete room.

“Zip up,” the guard yelled as the door opened.

The detainees pulled the jumpers up over their shoulders and I followed the guard, Kitching and a young Legal Aid attorney named Karen Winston into the pod. A man stood on a grated walkway in front of one of the two-bed jail cells where the detainees eat, sleep, bathe and go to the bathroom. The rest of the men were below in the concrete room where they pass all their time—there’s only one hour of recreation time in an enclosed gravel yard.

“Hey, Honduras, get down here,” Kitching yelled to the man on the platform, who walked down the grated metal stairs and joined three other Latino men talking in a corner.

“That’s what I do sometimes,” Kitching explained to me. “I call them by their country. For some reason if they’ve been here a while, I can remember their country.”

Winston, a recent law school graduate, works long days in the south Florida jail defending some of the close to 250 immigration detainees held there. On this Friday morning, she’d driven from Jacksonville, the closest city, to conduct a “know your rights” training for as many of the detainees as possible. She noted the training name is misleading, since detainees don’t have many rights to know of. Continue reading

USA: The hollow words and empty claims of “democratic rights”

[The noted Black author James Balwin wrote to Angela Davis in 1970, when she was being unjustly prosecuted during the Nixon era, that “we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”  These words continue to ring true, and loud, today. Those who act like nothing’s wrong, those who do not speak and act against the unjust persecution of people of whatever shape, size, color, and belief, will certainly face such fate themselves, in due time.  The time to resist is now. — Frontlines ed.]

—————————————————————

President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Bill Into Law

Statement from the American Civil Liberties Union–FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–December 31, 2011

CONTACT: media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law today. The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision.  While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations.  The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill.

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.  The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.” Continue reading