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Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

Joseph E. Stiglitz | Vanity Fair | May 2011

THE FAT AND THE FURIOUS The top 1 percent may have the best houses, educations, and lifestyles, says the author, but “their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” Illustration by Stephen Doyle May 2011

It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

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Three Quarters of Deaths in Two Years Since President Obama Took Office

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  January 02, 2011

A new report from the Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC) has reported that 2,043 Pakistanis have been slain in CIA drone strikes in the past 5 years, with the vast majority of them innocent civilians.

The report notes that the attacks target Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas where “people usually carry guns and ammunition as a tradition. US drones will identify anyone carrying a gun as a militant and subsequently he will be killed.” Pakistan’s government, which has only a nominal presence in the region, traditionally brands anyone killed by the US a “suspect.”

And while 2,043 is a lot of people to kill in the past five years, over 75% of them were actually killed in the past two years since President Obama took office. 2009 saw over 700 people killed in the CIA drone strikes, and the report shows 929 more killed in 2010.

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by Paul Craig Roberts, Foreign Policy Journal, Dec 31, 2010

”Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.”

–Lewis H. Lapham

The year 2011 will bring Americans a larger and more intrusive police state, more unemployment and home foreclosures, no economic recovery, more disregard by the US government of US law, international law, the Constitution, and truth, more suspicion and distrust from allies, more hostility from the rest of the world, and new heights of media sycophancy.

2011 is shaping up as the terminal year for American democracy. The Republican Party has degenerated into a party of Brownshirts, and voter frustrations with the worsening economic crisis and military occupations gone awry are likely to bring Republicans to power in 2012. With them would come their doctrines of executive primacy over Congress, the judiciary, law, and the Constitution and America’s rightful hegemony over the world.

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By Rick Rozoff, opednews.com, Dec 23, 2010

On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year’s Defense Department budget.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.

The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.

The proposed figure for the Pentagon’s 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.

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Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, Dec 20, 2010

After nine years of war in Afghanistan, costing over $100 billion in taxpayer money and 700 American lives, the full truth about this murky conflict remains elusive.

The government and media have colluded to paint the picture of a noble, heroic, flag-waving American enterprise in Afghanistan that is, alas, very far from reality. As the cynic Ambrose Bierce pointedly observed of patriots — “the dupe of statesmen; the tool of conquerors.”

Three interesting reports about Afghanistan emerged in Washington last week.

First, a political whitewash issued by the Obama White House claiming the war was going well and some US troops might be withdrawn next year. This ‘don’t worry be happy’ summary was trumpeted by the pro-war New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other members of the government-friendly US media.

US generals spoke of “progress” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, as US forces conducted a brutal campaign around Kandahar to crush resistance to the occupation and punish communities that supported Taliban.

Second, the Red Cross issued a grim report showing that Afghans were suffering widespread malnutrition and serious health problems after nearly a decade of Western occupation. So much for US-led nation-building.

Third, there were leaks about a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the combined findings of all 16 US intelligence agencies. This key intelligence report is explosive and may not be fully revealed.

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Eric Margolis, Information Clearing House, Dec 13, 2010

In 1956, Britain, France and Israel colluded to invade Egypt to overthrow its hugely popular nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Israel provoked border clashes and quickly captured the Sinai Peninsula. The British and French landed at Suez.

US President Dwight Eisenhower deemed the tripartite Suez aggression immoral and damaging to American interests in the Muslim world.   “Ike” angrily ordered the British, French and Israelis to get out of Egypt at once – or else. They got out.

Fast forward to 2010. President Barack Obama has been demanding Israel stop building illegal Jewish settlements around Jerusalem and on the West Bank.

Obama rightly concluded the ongoing agony of Palestine has turned the Muslim world against the United States. It is also  the primary cause of what Washington calls “terrorism.” I write about this extensively in my latest book, “American Raj.”

After the Suez invasion, Israel’s American partisans set about building an influence network that would ensure no American president could ever force Israel to do anything against its will. Over the next half century, the Israel lobby became the most powerful and feared lobby in America, dominating both the US Congress and media.

The lobby’s brilliant success was again confirmed last week as Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Israel’s rightist coalition, literally spit in Obama’s face, sneeringly rejecting the president’s pleas to create a viable Palestinian state. Vice President Joseph Biden was earlier humiliated on a trip to Israel to plead with Israel to stop building Jewish settlements.

The US Congress and rightwing media actually applauded the public humiliation of their president and vice president.

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by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, Dec 7, 2010

America’s heroes?  Not so much.  Not anymore.  Not when they’re dead, anyway.

Remember as the invasion of Iraq was about to begin, when the Bush administration decided to seriously enforce a Pentagon ban, in existence since the first Gulf War, on media coverage and images of the American dead arriving home at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware?  In fact, the Bush-era ban did more than that.  As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote then, it “ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”

For those whose lives were formed in the crucible of the Vietnam years, including the civilian and military leadership of the Bush era, the dead, whether ours or the enemy’s, were seen as a potential minefield when it came to antiwar opposition or simply the loss of public support in the opinion polls.  Admittedly, many of the so-called lessons of the Vietnam War were often based on half-truths or pure mythology, but they were no less powerful or influential for that.

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