South African protests as Obama visits


This video says about itself:

June 25, 2013

Patrick Bond: South Africans plan protests over Obama administration’s funding of African dictators, revelations of NSA spying and economic agenda.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Protesters tell Obama: You’re not welcome

Friday 28 June 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Hundreds of people marched to the US embassy in South Africa today protesting against President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.

The nearly 1,000 communists, trade unionists and students had a litany of complaints, from US policy on Cuba and Palestine to Mr Obama’s continued support for imperialist wars and failure to improve the lot of black people in the US.

“I celebrated with my friends and comrades when Obama won the elections in 2008,” Young Communist League national secretary Buti Manamela told the rally.

We were all happy and merry. We thought that US global domination and military might have reached its end.

“But no. We had yet again a president who was more loyal to those who put the Benjamins in his election funds than those who put the ballot in his name.”

Protesters carried signs reading: “No, You Can’t Obama,” a reference to the misleading “Yes We Can” campaign of his first election.

Mr Obama got a jot of good news on Wednesday as a court ruled that he wouldn’t be arrested for war crimes.

The North Gauteng High Court decided that the Muslim Lawyers Association request to have him arrested wasn’t urgent, so it will be heard in an ordinary court in a few months’ time.

The association pointed out that the allegations of war crimes relating to the US drone programme and Guantanamo Bay prison camp remain untested.

Mr Obama said early today in Senegal that ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was a “personal hero” whose “legacy will linger through the ages.”

But protesters were shocked at the president’s arrogance.

“Mandela valued human life. Mandela would condemn drone attacks and civilian deaths, Mandela cannot be his hero, he cannot be on that list,” protester Yousha Tayob told Reuters.

Mr Obama’s African trip, intended to shore up US interests in a region increasingly turning to China, was overshadowed by the ill health of the former president affectionately known as Madiba.

His ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said the national hero had made “a great improvement” in recent days.

But she said he was “clinically” still unwell.

See also here. And here.

ORIGINAL NSA WHISTLEBLOWER: I Saw The Order To Wiretap Barack Obama In 2004


Who is Big Brother NOT watching?! Very few people, it seems … Time to stop this spying on millions of people!

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Obama 25Russ Tice worked as an offensive National Security Agency (NSA) agent from 2002 to 2005, before becoming a source for this Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article exposing NSA domestic spying.

This week he appeared on the Boiling Frogs Show and detailed how he had his hands “in the nitty-gritty, the nuts and bolts” during his 20 years as a U.S. intelligence analyst.

Tice claimed that he held NSA wiretap orders targeting numerous members of the U.S.

View original post 81 more words

Close Guantanamo, Avaaz petition


This 2009 video is called Exclusive Tour Of Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray – Full Documentary.

From Avaaz.org:

Dear friends,

GuantanamoIn 24 hours, President Obama could end more than a decade of injustice by finally closing Guantanamo — the world’s most notorious prison camp. While he preps for a major speech to respond to hunger-striking detainees, let’s send him a massive message: no more excuses — the world demands he close this American gulag down. Sign now:

In 24 hours, President Obama could finally move to close Guantanamo — the most notorious prison camp on earth.

With inmates on a 100-day hunger strike and the UN denouncing their force feeding as torture, Obama has been pushed to respond with a major speech about the prison. If enough of us demand a plan — he could free the prisoners already cleared for release, and appoint a White House official with one mission: close Guantanamo down!

We’re at a tipping point. Sign up to demand Obama close this shameful gulag down, and share the shocking facts below so others join this urgent call:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_4/?bHFhfab&v=25090

The facts speak for themselves:

  • Detainees in Guantanamo now: 166
  • Detainees facing active charges: 6
  • Detainees cleared for immediate release, but stuck in the camp: 86
  • Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike: 103
  • Hunger strikers strapped down and force fed: 30
  • Prisoners who have died in custody: 9
  • Children the US has held at Guantanamo: 21
  • Detainees tried in civilian court: 1
  • “Unreleasable” detainees who can’t be tried for lack of evidence or torture: 50
  • Prisoners released by the Bush administration: 500+
  • Prisoners released by the Obama administration: 72
  • Current annual cost to US taxpayers: $150 million
  • Days since Obama first pledged to close Gitmo: 1579
  • Days since first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo: 11 years, 4 months, 11 days

For years, Obama has blamed the US Congress for the failure to close Guantanamo. But since Congress granted the Defense Department waiver authority that allows prisoners who have been cleared to be transferred out, Obama himself can free these 86 men. And while he will need Congressional cooperation to close the prison completely, if he truly wants to shut it down, he can task someone at the White House right now to show it is a priority and make it happen.

Sign now to demand Obama announce a plan to close Guantanamo, and share this with everyone — let’s build an urgent global call to end this shame.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_4/?bHFhfab&v=25090

When he first campaigned to become US president, Obama promised to close Guantanamo down. This illegal and repulsive prison has led to far too much suffering and fuelled great divisions and hate in our world. Enough is enough. Let’s get Obama to act and close this painful scar on humanity.

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Joseph, Allison, Bissan, Nick, Alice, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

PS – Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue – local, national or global: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bgMYedb&v=25040

MORE INFORMATION

Obama to address Guantánamo and drones in major defence speech (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/19/obama-guantanamo-drones-defence-speech

Guantanamo by the numbers (ACLU)
http://www.aclu.org/national-security/guantanamo-numbers

Gitmo is killing me (The New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/opinion/hunger-striking-at-guantanamo-bay.html

How Gitmo imprisoned Obama (Newsweek)
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/05/15/how-gitmo-imprisoned-obama.html

Stop force-feeding inmates and close Gitmo (CNN. Op-Ed)
http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/09/opinion/warren-gitmo-hunger-strike/index.html

Guantanamo hunger strike enters 100th day (Aljazeera English)
http://www.aljazeera.com/video/americas/2013/05/201351719348602566.html

Three Guantanamo Bay prisoners who’ve been on hunger strike for 100 days (VICE)
http://www.vice.com/read/prisoners-in-guantanamo-bay-are-on-hunger-strike

Yemen wants it’s detainees out of Guantanamo (UPI)
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/05/17/Yemen-wants-its-detainees-out-of-Guantanamo/UPI-58651368823800

Why We Have Cautious Optimism Regarding President Obama’s Plans for Guantánamo: here.

A former Guantanamo Bay inmate called on the US to close the notorious concentration camp at the weekend as the number of hunger strikers rose to 104 of 166 prisoners: here.

A Medical Ethics-free Zone? Guantánamo Doctors Urged to Stop Force-Feeding Hunger-Striking Prisoners: here.

Veterans Arrested At White House Guantanamo Protest. Vietnam Veteran Diane Wilson Goes Over White House Fence: here.

The US government defended the force-feeding of hunger strikers at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp on Wednesday: here.

Free Bahraini political prisoners, petition for Obama


This video from the USA says about itself:

Nabeel Rajab of Bahrain Center for Human Rights on His Possible Military Trial for Publishing Photo.

By Brian Dooley, Human Rights Defenders Program:

Tell President Obama: Demand Bahrain to Free Jailed Dissidents [Petition]

2-20-2013

In Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, a government crackdown on dissent and increasingly violent protests have led to mounting civilian and police casualties. Bahrain desperately needs an end to this crisis.

Two years ago, President Barack Obama told the Bahraini government “the only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.”

The regime restarted its dialogue with some opposition groups last week. This is an encouraging step, but real progress will only happen if the regime releases its prominent dissidents in jail and allows them to join the dialogue.

Urge President Obama to demand that the Bahraini Kingdom release dissidents jailed on politically motivated charges.

As the dialogue continues, medics who were detained after treating wounded protesters and telling the international media the truth about the abuses remain in jail. Opposition and human rights leaders who called for democratic reforms remain in jail. And human rights defenders and civil society leaders continue to face threats, arrests, and prosecutions for peaceful human rights activities.

Two years after the democracy movement filled the streets of Bahrain, human rights defenders continue to look to the United States for support—despite its muted criticisms of the violations committed by the ruling family. It’s past time that the United States supports—through word and deed—human rights and civil society groups fighting for democratic reforms in the country.

Urge President Obama to demand that the Bahraini Kingdom release dissidents jailed on politically motivated charges.

VOICES: Forced into Hiding in Bahrain But Speaking Out: here.

33 new trapdoor spiders discovered, named after Obama, Jolie


This 29 December 2016 video from the USA is called These nine different creatures have been named after Barack Obama.

After United States President Obama had a long-extinct lizard named after him, now he has also inspired the naming of a still living newly discovered animal species.

From Wildlife Extra:

33 new trapdoor spider species discovered in the American southwest

Barak Obama & Angelina Jolie get spiders named after them
December 2012. A researcher at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History and Department of Biological Sciences has reported the discovery 33 new trapdoor spider species from the American Southwest. These newly described species all belong to the genus Aptostichus which now contains 40 species, two of which are already famous – Aptostichus stephencolberti and Aptostichus angelinajolieae.

Barack-Obama-i

The genus now includes other such notable species as Aptostichus barackobamai, named for Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, and reputed fan of Spiderman comics; Aptostichus edwardabbeyi, named for environmentalist and author Edward Abbey (1927-1989); Aptostichus bonoi from Joshua Tree National Park, named for the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2; Aptostichus pennjillettei named for illusionist and intellectual Penn Jillette; Aptostichus chavezi, named for Mexican American and civil rights and labor activist César Chávez (1927-1993).

Other notable new species names include Aptostichus anzaborrego, known only from the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southern California; and Aptostichus sarlacc from the Mojave Desert, named for George Lucas’ Star Wars creature, the Sarlacc from the fictional desert planet Tatooine.

The researcher, Prof. Jason Bond, who is a trapdoor spider expert and the director of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History was excited at the prospect of such a remarkable and large find of new species here in the United States and particularly California.

Biodiversity hotspot

“California is known as what is characterized as a biodiversity hotspot. Although this designation is primarily based on plant diversity, the region is clearly very rich in its animal diversity as well. While it is absolutely remarkable that a large number of species from such a heavily populated area have gone unnoticed, it clearly speaks volumes to how little we know of the biodiversity around us and that many more species on the planet await discovery ” Bond said.

Like other trapdoor spider species, individuals are rarely seen because they live their lives in below-ground burrows that are covered by trapdoors, made by the spider using mixtures of soil, sand, and/or plant material, and silk. The trapdoor serves to hide the spider when it forages for meals at the burrow entrance, usually at night.

Aptostichus species are found in an amazing number of Californian habitats to include coastal sand dunes, chaparral, desert, oak woodland forests, and at high altitudes in the alpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Bond said, “This particular group of trapdoor spiders are among some of the most beautiful with which I have worked; species often have gorgeous tiger-striping on their abdomens. Aptostichus to my mind represents a true adaptive radiation – a classical situation in evolutionary biology where diversification, or speciation, has occurred such that a large number of species occupy a wide range of different habitats”.

Bond also noted that while a number of the species have rather fanciful names, his favourite is the one named for his daughter Elisabeth. “Elisabeth’s spider is from an incredibly extreme desert environment out near Barstow, California that is the site of a relatively young volcanic cinder cone. The spiders make their burrows among the lava tubes that extend out from the cone – it is a spectacular place to visit but the species is very difficult to collect because the spiders build rather deep burrow among the rocks”.

Obama lizard became extinct with dinosaurs


This video from the USA says about itself:

Meet Obamadon, the Lizard Name for the President

Obamadon sounds like an overblown campaign event, but it’s actually a newly identified lizard that a Yale scientist decided to christen with the president’s name.

Less than a foot long, the extinct Obamadon had “tall, slender teeth” that it likely used to nab insects for dinner. It was one of nine new species identified by scientists from fossils previously collected in Montana. The pint-sized lizard probably died out along with dinosaurs after a massive asteroid strike in Mexico 65-million years ago.

The scientist who singled out the tiny beast said no political agenda was behind the name, noting that he had previously named a find “Mojoceratops.” Obamadon joins a freshwater fish and a lichen organism that also share President Obama’s name.

From e! Science News:

Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs also wiped out the ‘Obamadon’

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 – 17:06 in Paleontology & Archaeology

The asteroid collision widely thought to have killed the dinosaurs also led to extreme devastation among snake and lizard species, according to new research — including the extinction of a newly identified lizard Yale and Harvard scientists have named Obamadon gracilis. “The asteroid event is typically thought of as affecting the dinosaurs primarily,” said Nicholas R. Longrich, a postdoctoral associate with Yale’s Department of Geology and Geophysics and lead author of the study. “But it basically cut this broad swath across the entire ecosystem, taking out everything. Snakes and lizards were hit extremely hard.”

The study was scheduled for online publication the week of Dec. 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earlier studies have suggested that some snake and lizard species (as well as many mammals, birds, insects and plants) became extinct after the asteroid struck Earth 65.5 million years ago, on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula. But the new research argues that the collision’s consequences were far more serious for snakes and lizards than previously understood. As many as 83 percent of all snake and lizard species died off, the researchers said — and the bigger the creature, the more likely it was to become extinct, with no species larger than one pound surviving.

The results are based on a detailed examination of previously collected snake and lizard fossils covering a territory in western North America stretching from New Mexico in the southwestern United States to Alberta, Canada. The authors examined 21 previously known species and also identified nine new lizards and snakes.

They found that a remarkable range of reptile species lived in the last days of the dinosaurs. Some were tiny lizards. One snake was the size of a boa constrictor, large enough to take the eggs and young of many dinosaur species. Iguana-like plant-eating lizards inhabited the southwest, while carnivorous lizards hunted through the swamps and flood plains of what is now Montana, some of them up to six feet long.

“Lizards and snakes rivaled the dinosaurs in terms of diversity, making it just as much an ‘Age of Lizards’ as an ‘Age of Dinosaurs,'” Longrich said.

The scientists then conducted a detailed analysis of the relationships of these reptiles, showing that many represented archaic lizard and snake families that disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous, following the asteroid strike.

One of the most diverse lizard branches wiped out was the Polyglyphanodontia. This broad category of lizards included up to 40 percent of all lizards then living in North America, according to the researchers. In reassessing previously collected fossils, they came across an unnamed species and called it Obamadon gracilis. In Latin, odon means “tooth” and gracilis means “slender.”

“It is a small polyglyphanodontian distinguished by tall, slender teeth with large central cusps separated from small accessory cusps by lingual grooves,” the researchers write of Obamadon, which is known primarily from the jaw bones of two specimens. Longrich said the creature likely measured less than one foot long and probably ate insects.

He said no one should impute any political significance to the decision to name the extinct lizard after the recently re-elected U.S. president: “We’re just having fun with taxonomy.”

The mass (but not total) extinction of snakes and lizards paved the way for the evolution and diversification of the survivors by eliminating competitors, the researchers said. There are about 9,000 species of lizard and snake alive today. “They didn’t win because they were better adapted, they basically won by default, because all their competitors were eliminated,” Longrich said.

Co-author Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar, a doctoral student in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University, said: “One of the most important innovations in this work is that we were able to precisely reconstruct the relationships of extinct reptiles from very fragmentary jaw material. This had tacitly been thought impossible for creatures other than mammals. Our study then becomes the pilot for a wave of inquiry using neglected fossils and underscores the importance of museums like the Yale Peabody as archives of primary data on evolution — data that yield richer insights with each new era of scientific investigation.”

Jacques A. Gauthier, professor of geology and geophysics at Yale and curator of vertebrate paleontology and vertebrate zoology, is also an author.

The paper is titled “Mass Extinction of Lizards and Snakes at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary.” The National Science Foundation and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies supported the research.

Next time he’s vacationing in Hawaii, President Barack Obama might just bump into his new namesake: a pink, yellow and blue coral-reef fish that researchers have named in the president’s honor. Researchers discovered the previously unknown fish species, now dubbed Tosanoides obama, during a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in June 2016: here.

Obama re-elected United States president


This video is called Barack Obama’s victory speech.

From Common Dreams in the USA:

Published on Wednesday, November 7, 2012

President Obama Re-Elected – Common Dreams staff

It’s over. Shortly after 11 PM eastern, the major television networks, including NBC News, CNN, CBS News, and even a reluctant Fox News, put the state of Ohio in the column for Barack Obama and moments later—given the national projections—those same networks announced they felt comfortable calling the evening as a re-election victory for Obama.

Allen West, the Tea Party Congressman from Florida, has lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to NBC. More Tea Party defeats: here.

With nearly all votes counted and races determined, the 2012 US elections left the two houses of Congress virtually unchanged, with the Democrats increasing their narrow margin of control in the Senate but cutting only slightly into the Republican majority in the House of Representatives: here.

Maine and Maryland became the first US states to approve same-sex marriage in a public ballot taken alongside the presidential election.

So, Mitt Romney tried very much for ten years to become president of the USA. This final failure, according to pundits, means the end of his political career.

Mitt Romney lost in circumstances which, in theory, should have meant victory for the Republican party. Four years ago, there was a wave of enthusiasm in the USA to vote in Obama. People thought Obama would end the economic crisis and inequality of the George W Bush days. That he would end George W Bush’s wars. That the would close George W Bush’s Guantanamo Bay torture camp.

Four more years after 2008, and even more economic crisis and inequality now than then. Bloody wars are continuing. Guantanamo Bay is still open.

Circumstances in which one might expect millions of 2008 Obama voters to stay away from the ballot box in disgust, benefiting Romney. And millions of such voters did stay away. But even in this favourable situation, Romney was unable to win.

That the Republican party even in such a situation lost the elections ought to make them think about their sliding further and further to the right. But don’t count on it.

The Obama campaign’s heavy focus on women’s issues for the past year paid off in a big way on Tuesday night, resulting in an 18-point gender gap that largely contributed to the president’s reelection: here.

An initial analysis of the results of the Tuesday’s presidential election reveals one overriding element that is little noted in the American media: the staggering decline in voter turnout, and in particular the vote for President Barack Obama. More than anything else, the vote is the expression of an electorate that is disillusioned and increasingly alienated from the entire two-party political system: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Lessons from Obama’s win

Wednesday 07 November 2012

What a difference a period of four years makes. Barack Obama’s initial presidential victory in 2008 sparked hope and expectation across the globe.

This time round expectations were muted and the overwhelming feeling is one of relief that his opponent did not carry the day.

Anthony D. Romero Asks Obama to Fulfill His Promise to Close Guantanamo, Ensure Safe and Legal Abortions and Reform Immigration Policies: here.

Lupe Fiasco, Rapper, Thrown Off Stage At Obama Inaugural Concert, when singing anti-war song: here.

NATO kills Afghan children again


This video is called Afghanistan villagers say NATO strike killed 18 civilians.

Another similar video, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

June 9, 2012 by afghandaily

18 Civilians Killed In Logar, Were Attending a Wedding.

A morning NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan has left at least 18 people dead, including women and children – according to local officials. People living nearby say all those killed were celebrating a wedding.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Four Afghan children killed in US raid

24 October 2012

The killing of four children in a US raid and the disappearance and murder of civilians at the hands of occupation troops have provoked growing anger and protests among the people of Afghanistan.

With the US-led war now in its twelfth year, violence against the country’s population continues to mount. The latest incidents were confirmed by the office of Afghanistan’s puppet president, Hamid Karzai, on Tuesday. The worst of them took place on Sunday in the eastern province of Logar, just south of Kabul.

Citing a report from the provincial governor, Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, a statement from Karzai’s office recounted: “NATO forces carried out an operation on Sunday afternoon to detain two armed militants, but resulted in killing four innocent children who were just grazing animals.”

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) acknowledged Tuesday that civilians may have been killed in the raid. Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, offered “condolences to the families” and said officers would be sent out to “offer a condolence payment and express our deep regret.”

The slaughter of the children in Logar comes just one week after ISAF issued a formal apology for the killing of three other children in an air strike conducted in southern Helmand province’s Nawa district. A teenage girl and two young boys were killed in the October 14 strike, which the occupation command claimed had been directed against “insurgents” planting improvised explosive devises (IED). Witnesses, however, said that only the bodies of the children, who had been collecting firewood, were found at the scene.

According to estimates by the United Nations, the war in Afghanistan killed or wounded more than 578 children in the first six months of 2012. A UN report issued in August found that during the first half of this year, two-thirds of the victims of US and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan were women and children.

In his debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney Monday night, President Barack Obama spoke of the US intervention as a “nation-building experiment.” In fact, the war has left the country devastated, exacting its greatest toll upon Afghanistan’s children.

While Washington has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the country since the 2001 invasion, Afghanistan still has the world’s highest infant mortality rate, with one out of four children dying before reaching the age of five.

In his statement Tuesday, Karzai declared, “Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives, including children, are still being lost.”

The second incident condemned by Karzai was a joint military operation carried out by US troops and Afghan puppet forces in southern Zabul province, near the Pakistan border, on October 13. In the midnight raid, four civilians were taken away, according to the Afghan president’s statement, and three of them have since disappeared.

Nearly 1,000 people demonstrated Monday in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province, blocking the Kandahar-Kabul highway to protest against the operation and continuing US-led night raids. These raids, which, after air strikes, are the leading cause of civilian casualties inflicted by occupation forces, are deeply unpopular in Afghanistan.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, the demonstration in Qalat was sparked by a more recent raid in which two tailors were arrested. It quoted one of the organizers of the protest, Abdul Qadir Qalatwal, a member of the local parliament, as saying that the “beheaded bodies of the tailors were dumped in a desert before being blown up.”

The news agency reported that the Zabul governor’s office had confirmed the deaths of the two men and “had sought clarity from the NATO-led force.”

ISAF confirmed that civilians had been detained in both raids, but claimed that in the October 13 incident they had been released, while in the October 20 operation, they had been “turned over to Afghan police.”

The obvious question raised by the two incidents is whether US forces are detaining individuals suspected of supporting the resistance to foreign occupation and then turning them over to an Afghan death squad for elimination.

In their debate Monday night, both Obama and Romney insisted that the “surge” that tripled the number of US troops deployed in Afghanistan under Obama was a success, and that a “transition” to Afghan responsibility for security in the country would be completed in December 2014, with US troops coming home.

Both men know that this is a lie. Obama administration officials are currently negotiating the terms of a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Karzai regime that would see an estimated 25,000 US troops, largely Green Berets and other Special Operations units, stay behind for another decade or more.

Both parties are committed to pursing the aims that drove the invasion to begin with, along with the subsequent war in Iraq: the use of military force to assert US hegemony over the strategic energy reserves of the Caspian Basin and the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, the rosy projections about the readiness of the Afghan troops and police to assume responsibility for security continue to be denied by those most involved in training them.

Quoting US military officers and officials, the Washington Post reported Saturday that claims Afghanistan’s 352,000-strong security forces are prepared to take over from the US-led occupation are patently false. According to the Post: “No Afghan army battalion is capable of operating without US advisers. Many policemen spend more time shaking down people for bribes than patrolling. Front-line units often do not receive the fuel, food and spare parts they need to function. Intelligence, aviation and medical services remain embryonic. And perhaps most alarming, an increasing number of Afghan soldiers and policemen are turning their weapons on their US and NATO partners.”

The article, based on interviews with a dozen active-duty officers involved in the training of Afghan forces, makes it clear that in the rush to build the number of Afghan troops and police up to 352,000, Washington has failed to provide adequate training or sufficiently vet the security forces for sympathizers of the Taliban and other armed opposition groups.

“The army is so hollow that some of those units are just going to collapse,” a Special Forces major involved in the training program told the Post.

Britain: Four-month-old baby whose soldier father was killed in Afghanistan is denied compensation because paternity cannot be proved: here.

Afghans fear being left out in the cold. Spectre of hunger and death looms as Central Asian nation prepares for harsh winter in the months ahead: here.

Survival and Dignity in an Afghan Winter: here.

Obama-Romney debate avoids problems again


Pollster's prediction of US presidential election

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Obama-Romney debate number two: Another stage-managed charade

17 October 2012

The second nationally televised debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney served only to underscore the hypocrisy and deceit that pervade the entire election.

Two representatives of the corporate-financial elite that rules America spent nearly two hours trying to sell themselves as partisans of the common man in a thoroughly stage-managed production. It was painful to watch and a struggle to stay awake.

As has become the norm in American politics, it was a “debate” without any discussion or substance, a tired and empty ritual designed to conceal the truth and chloroform the public.

Every aspect of the event was orchestrated and vetted. The so-called “town hall” setting had nothing to do with a real give-and-take with ordinary people. The 82 people sitting on the stage with Obama and Romney had been chosen by Gallup, the polling firm, from so-called “undecided voters” residing in the Hempstead, Long Island area, where the debate was held.

Following a rehearsal the morning of the event, these 82 hand-picked voters submitted their questions to the moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, who then decided the questions to be asked by choosing which of the 82 would get to speak. The microphones of the questioners were automatically shut off as soon as their questions had been asked.

Both candidates ritualistically invoked the American “middle class,” which has largely disappeared, as millions have been thrown into the ranks of a working class whose existence neither candidate acknowledged. They repeatedly declared their commitment to improving the lot of the “middle class,” while concealing the plans being worked out between the Democrats and Republicans for after the election to drastically cut basic social programs upon which tens of millions of people depend.

Hovering in the background was the catastrophic state of American society, which neither candidate seriously addressed. Romney mentioned the growth of poverty and continuation of mass unemployment only as talking points to use against the incumbent. Obama never acknowledged them.

A basic purpose of the spectacle was to create the illusion of fundamental policy differences between the two candidates and their parties, when there are none. The political differences between the Democrats and Republicans reflect secondary tactical differences within the ruling oligarchy.

The first question and the candidates’ responses set the tone for the evening. A 20-year-old college student said he was being told he had little chance of getting a job after he graduated, and asked what the candidates could say to reassure him that he would be able to support himself.

Romney declared that he knew “what it takes to create good jobs again” without offering any specifics. Obama began by saying, “Your future is bright.” He then boasted of his bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, claiming he had saved 1 million jobs, without mentioning the brutal cuts in wages and benefits he imposed on the workers.

Neither of the two could offer any policies to address the disastrous situation confronting young people and students.

When Crowley asked them to address the plight of the 40 percent of unemployed people without a job for more than six months, both were silent on the bipartisan bill passed last February to slash the duration of jobless benefits and their plans to terminate extended unemployment benefits altogether on January 1.

Leaked Documents Reveal “Monopoly-Like” Control of Presidential Debates: here.

Green Party candidates for US president and vice president Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested at the second so-called presidential debate on Tuesday: here.

Employees of Romney Family’s Secret Bank Tied to Fraud, Money Laundering and Drug Cartels: here.

Romney, Obama avoid Iraq


This folk music video from the USA says about itself:

David Rovics: Operation Iraqi Liberation (Oil)

David performs one of his songs about the War in Iraq, “Operation Iraqi Liberation (Oil)” in Port Townsend, WA at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

By Dan Froomkin in the USA:

Remember Iraq? Romney, Obama Fail To Make War Major Part Of Campaign

Posted: 10/09/2012 5:56 pm EDT Updated: 10/10/2012 3:12 am EDT

WASHINGTON — In his major foreign policy speech on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the “costly gains made by our troops” in Iraq are now eroding due to President Barack Obama’s “abrupt withdrawal.”

That was largely the extent of his comments on a war many historians consider the most disastrous in modern times and the most significant foreign policy legacy of the last Republican president, George W. Bush.

Romney didn’t elaborate on the “gains,” nor did he address whether he thought the cost was appropriate — $3 trillion in borrowed money, nearly 5,000 dead U.S. servicemembers; and as many as half a million wounded or otherwise damaged veterans. Romney also left unclear what he would have done differently if faced with a pro-Iran Iraqi government demanding a U.S. ouster and brandishing an agreement signed by Bush himself. He didn’t indicate whether he intended to send more troops back to Iraq.

And yet it was more than either candidate had said about Iraq in a long time. Less than a year after Obama ordered the last American troops out, Iraq has barely been an issue in the presidential race.

But the U.S still maintains a significant diplomatic presence there, in the form of the largest and most expensive embassy ever built. Iraq is at long last becoming a geopolitical force in the region — but an increasingly authoritarian one, closely allied with Iran.

And perhaps most significantly, Romney’s own foreign policy speech was vetted by a team of foreign policy advisers heavy with the same neoconservative ideologues responsible for the U.S. presence in Iraq in the first place. Those include former U.N. ambassador and famed unilateralist John Bolton; Robert Joseph, a former National Security Council official who included the false claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger into Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address; Eric Edelman, who was former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s national security adviser; Dan Senor, head of public relations for the Coalition Provisional Authority [in Iraq]; and many others.

“Iraq is relevant in all sorts of ways,” said Peter Van Buren, a former State Department officer who wrote a satirical book blowing the whistle on Iraqi reconstruction efforts. “The first way of course is that those who don’t follow history are doomed to repeat it.”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Company: The 2000th member of the American military recently died in Afghanistan. There are two more presidential debates, and the question that needs to be posed to Romney and Obama is: “Why are we killing the kids that don’t need to die?” See here.

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell: Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates: here.

Dina Rasor, Truthout: Mitt Romney hopes to raise the defense budget by $2 trillion in order to purchase more Cold War-style weapons that have no relevance to our modern security threats: here.

Richard D. Wolff, Truthout: Obama and most Democrats are so dependent on contributions and support from business and the rich that they dare not discuss, let alone implement, the kinds of policies Roosevelt employed the last time US capitalism crashed: here.