Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Americans Feel 15.6% Unemployment as Underemployment Surges

Americans Feel 15.6% Unemployment as Underemployment Surges

By Matthew Benjamin

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Joseph Ramelo gave up searching for work in January to return to school, two months after he was laid off as a San Francisco election clerk. Antonio Poe is struggling to get by doing part-time landscaping in Greensboro, North Carolina, after losing his job as an electrician.

While such workers are feeling real pain from the recession that began in December 2007, they’re not represented in the 8.5 percent unemployment rate the Labor Department reported last week. They are part of a broader group that includes those who want a job but have stopped looking for work and those who want full-time positions but have to settle for part-time employment.

A measure of underemployment that counts those people has almost doubled over the past two years, to 15.6 percent, providing a more complete gauge of the labor market’s deterioration. Along with an historic drop in the percentage of the population who are working, and record numbers of long-term unemployed, the figures point to a permanent shift in employment patterns, said former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

“We’re seeing many more people who are losing their connectedness to the labor force,” said Reich, who served in President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet and is now an economist at the University of California at Berkeley. “There is a profound weakening of ties to the labor market among a large portion of our working-age population.”

Job Losses

U.S. employers cut 663,000 jobs in March, bringing losses since the slump began in December 2007 to about 5.1 million, the worst in the postwar era, according to the Labor Department. Unemployment exceeds 10 percent in seven states. Michigan’s jobless rate is 12 percent, South Carolina’s is 11 percent and California’s is 10.5 percent.

Job losses in the current recession are more enduring than in previous ones, according to an April 3 research report by Credit Suisse.

“Permanent job losses are accounting for a much larger share of total job losses than any cycle in recent memory,” with almost half of unemployed workers “job losers” as opposed to temporary layoffs, according to the report.

The number of Americans who want full-time jobs but are working part time has increased 83 percent in a year to 9 million, according to Labor Department data.

Ken Hueser may become one of them. The Minneapolis architect lost his $60,000-a-year position in February and is applying for part-time work at garden centers for $8.50 an hour.

Sooner or Later

“The economy will come back some day, but the unknown is whether it’s sooner or later,” said Hueser.

In the meantime, said Ramelo in San Francisco, “even if I don’t have a job, at least I’ll have my degree.” He returns to his City Hall job temporarily later this month. “At this point, I’m thinking any income will do,” he said.

The increase in temporary workers is the result of a severe recession that coincides with a large drop in household wealth and a lack of access to credit, leaving laid-off workers without the cushion they might have had in a milder downturn, said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “So people are doing whatever it takes to get some income for their households,” said Feroli.

Lisa Smith, a Trenton, New Jersey, childcare worker who lost her job last September, said she is now willing to take whatever work she can get.

“I would like to work 40 hours a week, but if someone offered me 30 or 35, I’d be glad too,” she said.

More Competition

She and workers like her face greater competition, even for temporary jobs, because more people are out of work for longer periods. There are currently about four unemployed workers for every job opening, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

The long-term unemployed, those who have been out of a job for more than six months, constitute 24.2 percent of the unemployed, the largest share during a recession since the Labor Department began recording data in 1948.

“This recession is causing extreme desperation and frustration for a very wide swath of workers, even people who thought they were flexible and could find work again easily,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director at the National Employment Law Project, a New York group that advocates for workers’ rights.

In addition, the downturn is undoing years of gains to overall employment. Beginning in the mid-1970s, the percentage of working-age adults who have jobs began to rise steadily as more women joined the workforce, from about 56 percent in 1975 to 63.4 percent in December 2006. It has since dropped 3.5 percentage points, the steepest decline in any recession since the Great Depression.

That drop has implications for the economy’s potential growth rate, because fewer workers, without a compensating increase in productivity, means less output.

“We’ve taken a huge step back here,” said James Glassman, senior economist at JPMorgan & Co. He said elevated levels of unemployment and underemployment are costing the economy about $1 trillion in gross domestic product a year.

“We’ve lost several decades of progress that was going on in terms of the people number of people coming into the workforce,” said Glassman.

Cities Collapsing throughout the USA

Cities Collapsing throughout the USA

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"With enough abandoned lots to fill the city of San Francisco, Motown is 138 square miles divided between expanses of decay and emptiness and tracts of still-functioning communities and commercial areas. Close to six barren acres of an estimated 17,000 have already been turned into 500 "mini- farms," demonstrating the lengths to which planners will go to make land productive.
The city, like the automakers, has to shrink to match what's left, said June Thomas, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
"The issue is how," she said. "There's no vision."
"People are moving out of the city, trying to find work," said David Martin of Wayne State University's Urban Safety Program. Those who stay "can't afford to move out."

"Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable -- shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service.
...
[Mayor] Brown said that as more people abandon homes, eating away at the city's tax base and creating more blight, the city might need to examine "shutting down quadrants of the city where we (wouldn't) provide services."
He did not define what that could mean -- bulldozing abandoned areas, simply leaving the vacant homes to rot or some other idea entirely."

"Cul-de-sac neighborhoods once filled with the sound of backyard barbecues and playing children are falling silent. Communities like Elk Grove, Calif., and Windy Ridge, N.C., are slowly turning into ghost towns with overgrown lawns, vacant strip malls and squatters camping in empty homes."

"In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again).
...
But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them."

21st Century Internment Camps: Disaster relief or civil rights disaster?

21st Century Internment Camps: Disaster relief or civil rights disaster?

The National Emergency Centers Establishment Act

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On January 22, 2009, the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act (NECEA) [1] was submitted to Congress for consideration. It was introduced by Congressman Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, a man who, in 1989, became only the sixth federal judge in the history of America to be removed from office by the Senate for corruption and perjury.

The War on Yugoslavia, 10 Years Later

The War on Yugoslavia, 10 Years Later

Stephen Zunes

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It has been 10 years since the U.S.-led war on Yugoslavia. For many leading Democrats, including some in top positions in the Obama administration, it was a "good" war, in contrast to the Bush administration's "bad" war on Iraq. And though the suffering and instability unleashed by the 1999 NATO military campaign wasn't as horrific as the U.S. invasion of Iraq four years later, the war was nevertheless unnecessary and illegal, and its political consequences are far from settled.

Unless there's a willingness to critically re-examine the war, the threat of another war in the name of liberal internationalism looms large.

Crisis Could Have Been Prevented

Throughout most of the 1990s, the oppressed ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo waged their struggle almost exclusively nonviolently, using strikes, boycotts, peaceful demonstrations, and alternative institutions. The Kosovar Albanians even set up a democratically elected parallel government to provide schooling and social services, and to press their cause to the outside world. Indeed, it was one of the most widespread, comprehensive, and sustained nonviolent campaigns since Gandhi's struggle for Indian independence. This was the time for Western powers to have engaged in preventative diplomacy. However, the world chose to ignore the Kosovars' nonviolent movement and resisted consistent pleas by the moderate Kosovar Albanian leadership to take action. It was only after a shadowy armed group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army emerged in 1998 that the international media, the Clinton administration and other Western governments finally took notice.

By waiting for the emergence of guerrilla warfare before seeking a solution, the West gave Serbia's autocratic president Slobodan Milosevic the opportunity to crack down with an even greater level of savagery than before. The delay allowed the Kosovar movement to be taken over by armed ultra‑nationalists, who have since proven to be far less willing to compromise or guarantee the rights of the Serbian minority. Indeed, the KLA murdered Serb officials and ethnic Albanian moderates, destroyed Serbian villages, and attacked other minority communities, while some among its leadership called for ethnic cleansing in the other direction to create a pure Albanian state. Despite such practices, as well as ties to the international heroin trade, it was KLA's leadership which came to dominate the subsequent autonomous and now independent Republic of Kosovo.

It's a tragedy that the West squandered a full eight years when preventative diplomacy could have worked. The United States rejected calls for expanding missions set up by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo, or to bring Kosovo constituencies together for negotiations. Waiting for a full-scale armed insurrection to break out before acting has also given oppressed people around the world a very bad message: Nonviolent methods will fail and, in order to get the West to pay attention to your plight, you need to take up arms.

When Western powers finally began to take decisive action on the long-simmering crisis in the fall of 1998, a ceasefire was arranged where the OSCE sent in unarmed monitors. While the ceasefire didn't hold, violence did decrease dramatically in areas where they were stationed. Indeed, the OSCE monitors could have done a lot more, but they were given little support. They were largely untrained, they were too few in number and NATO refused to supply them with helicopters, night-vision binoculars or other basic equipment that could have made them more effective.

Ceasefire violations by the Yugoslav army, Serbian militias, and KLA guerrillas increased in the early months of 1999, including a number of atrocities against ethnic Albanians by Serbian units, with apparent acquiescence of government forces. Western diplomatic efforts accelerated, producing the proposal put forward at the Chateau Rambouillet in France, which called for the withdrawal of Serbian forces and the restoration of Kosovo's autonomous status within a greater Serbia. Such a political settlement was quite reasonable, and the Serbs appeared willing to seriously consider such an agreement. But it was sabotaged by NATO's insistence that they be allowed to send in a large armed occupation force into Kosovo, along with rights to move freely without permission throughout the entire Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other measures that infringed on the country's sovereignty. Another problem was that it was presented essentially as a final document, without much room for negotiations. One of the fundamental principles of international conflict resolution is that all interested parties are part of the peace process. Some outside pressure may be necessary — particularly against the stronger party — to secure an agreement, but it can't be presented as a fait accompli. This "sign this or we'll bomb you" attitude also doomed the diplomatic initiative to failure. Few national leaders, particularly a nationalist demagogue like Milosevic, would sign an agreement under such terms, which amount to a treaty of surrender: Allowing foreign forces free reign of your territory and issuing such a proposal as an ultimatum.

Smarter and earlier diplomacy could have prevented the war.

The Bombing Campaign

Many liberals who had opposed U.S. military intervention elsewhere recognized the severity of the ongoing oppression of the Kosovar Albanians and the need to challenge Serbian ethno-fascism, and therefore initially supported the war. Had such military intervention led to an immediate withdrawal of Yugoslav forces and Serbian militias, one could perhaps make a case that, despite the war's illegality, there was a moral imperative for military action in order to prevent far greater violence. But, as many experts of the region predicted, this wasn't the case.

The bombing campaign, which began March 24, 1999, clearly made things worse for the Kosovar Albanians. Not only were scores of ethnic Albanians accidentally killed by NATO bombing raids, but the Serbs — unable to respond to NATO air attacks — turned their wrath against the most vulnerable segments of the population: the very Kosovar Albanians NATO claimed it would be defending. While the Serbs may have indeed been planning some sort of large-scale forced removal of the population in areas of KLA infiltration, both the scale and savagery of the Serbian repression that resulted was undoubtedly a direct consequence of NATO actions. Subsequent U.S. claims that the bombing was in response to ethnic cleansing turns the reality on its head.

By forcing the evacuation of the OSCE monitors, which — despite their limitations — were playing something of a deterrent role against the worst Serbian atrocities, NATO gave the Serbs the opportunity to increase their repression. By bombing Yugoslavia, they gave the Serbs nothing to lose. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were forced from their homes into makeshift refugee camps in neighboring Macedonia.

As the bombing continued, the numbers of Serbian troops in Kosovo increased and the repression of Kosovar Albanians dramatically escalated. Those doing the killing in Kosovo were primarily small paramilitary groups, death squads, and police units that couldn't have effectively been challenged by high-altitude bombing, and weren't affected by the destruction of bridges or factories hundreds of miles to the north. If protecting the lives of Kosovar Albanians was really the motivation for the U.S.-led war, President Bill Clinton would have sent in Marine and Special Forces units to battle the Serbian militias directly instead of relying exclusively on air power.

The war against Yugoslavia was illegal. Any such use of force is a violation of the UN Charter unless in self-defense against an armed attack or authorized by the United Nations as an act of collective security. Kosovo was internationally recognized as part of Serbia; it was, legally speaking, an internal conflict. In addition, the democratically elected president of the self-proclaimed, if unrecognized, Kosovar Albanian Republic, Ibrahim Rugova, didn't request such intervention. Indeed, he opposed it.

The war was also illegal under U.S. law. The Constitution places war-making authority under the responsibility of Congress. While it's widely recognized that the president, as commander-in-chief, has latitude in short-term emergencies, the 1973 War Powers Act prevents the executive branch from waging war without the express consent of Congress beyond a 60-day period. Only rarely has Congress formally declared war, but it has passed resolutions supporting the use of force, as with the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution concerning Vietnam, the January 1991 approval of the use of force to remove Iraqi occupation troops from Kuwait, and the October 2002 authorization for the invasion of Iraq. Clinton, however, received no such congressional approval. That he got away with such a blatant abuse of executive authority marked a dangerous precedent in war-making authority in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The 11-week bombing campaign resulted in the widespread destruction of Yugoslavia's civilian infrastructure, the killing of many hundreds of civilians, and — as a result of bombing chemical factories, the use of depleted uranium ammunition and more — caused serious environmental damage. Far more Yugoslav civilians died from NATO bombing than did Kosovar Albanian civilians from Serb forces prior to the onset of the bombing. A number of human rights groups that condemned Serbian actions in Kosovo also criticized NATO attacks that, in addition to the more immediate civilian casualties, endangered the health and safety of millions of people by disrupting water supplies, sewage treatment, and medical services.

U.S. Motivations

There are serious questions regarding what actually prompted the United States and NATO to make war on Yugoslavia. While the Serbian nationalism espoused by Milosevic had fascistic elements, and his government and allied militias certainly engaged in serious war crimes throughout the Balkans that decade, comparisons to Hitler were hyperbolic, certainly in terms of the ability to threaten any nation beyond the borders of the old Yugoslavia.

As today, there was civil strife in a number of African countries during this period, resulting in far more deaths and refugees than Serbia's repression in Kosovo. As a result, some have questioned U.S. double standards towards intervention such as why the United States didn't intervene in far more serious humanitarian crises, particularly in Rwanda in 1994, where there clearly was an actual genocide in progress.

But a more salient question is why the United States has never been held accountable for when it has intervened — in support of the oppressors. In recent decades, the U.S. government provided military, economic, and diplomatic support of Indonesia's slaughter of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese, and of Guatemala's slaughter of many tens of thousands of its indigenous people.

While Clinton tried to justify the war by declaring that repression and ethnic cleansing must not be allowed to happen "on NATO's doorstep," he was not only quite willing to allow for comparable repression to take place within NATO itself, but actively supported it: During the 1990s, Turkey's denial of the Kurds' linguistic and cultural rights, rejection of their demands of autonomy, destruction of thousands of villages, killing of thousands of civilians and forced removal of hundreds of thousands bore striking resemblance to Serbia's repression in Kosovo. Yet the Clinton administration, with bipartisan congressional support, continued to arm the Turkish military and defended its repression.

Such questions necessarily raise uncharitable speculation about what might have actually motivated the United States to lead such a military action. For some advocates of U.S. military intervention, there was no doubt some genuine humanitarian concern, which — unlike many other cases around the world — support for those being oppressed didn't conflict with overriding U.S. strategic or economic prerogatives. There may have been other forces at work, however, which saw the use of force as advantageous for other reasons than a sincere, if misplaced, hope of assuaging a humanitarian crisis.

For example, the war created a raison d'ĂȘtre for the continued existence of NATO in a post-Cold War world, as it desperately tried to justify its continued existence and desire for expansion (This resulted in a kind of circular logic however: NATO was still needed to fight in wars like Yugoslavia, yet the war needed to be continued in order to preserve NATO's credibility.).

The war also benefitted influential weapons manufacturers, leading to an increase in U.S. military spending by more than $13 billion, largely for weapons systems that most strategic analysts and even the Pentagon said weren't needed. This came on top of an increase in military spending passed before the onset of the war (By contrast, aid from the United States to help with the refugee crisis was very limited, and efforts by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees were severely hampered by lack of funds, in large part a result of the refusal by the United States to pay more than $1 billion in dues it then owed to the UN, equivalent to approximately one week of bombing.).

Whatever its actual motivations, why would the United States lead NATO into a long, drawn-out war with no guarantee of fulfilling its objectives, given the real political risks involved? Much of the problem may have been that of arrogance. There's a fair amount of evidence to suggest that the Clinton administration falsely assumed the threat of bombing would lead to a last-minute capitulation by Milosevic, but, having made the threat, felt obligated to follow through.

Even after the bombing began and Finnish and Russian mediators began working on a ceasefire agreement, greater U.S. flexibility regarding Serbian concerns could have brought the war to an end much sooner. What a number of NATO members suggested, but the Clinton administration refused to consider, was to agree that the postwar peacekeeping force in Kosovo be placed under the control of the UN or the OSCE. Instead, the United States insisted that peacekeeping should be a NATO operation.

This effectively would have forced the nationalistic Serbs into accepting demands that a part of their country effectively be placed under occupation by the same military alliance that attacked them. As a result, despite suffering ongoing death and destruction, the Serbs continued fighting. The Clinton administration, meanwhile, seemed more intent on dominating the postwar order politically and militarily than agreeing to a ceasefire which could have prevented further bloodshed and allowed refugees to return sooner.

Eventually, a compromise was reached whereby the peacekeeping troops sent into Kosovo following a Serb withdrawal would primarily consist of NATO forces, but under UN command.

Perhaps the greatest myth of the war was that the Serbs surrendered and NATO won. In reality, not only was there a compromise on the makeup of postwar peacekeeping forces, but the final peace agreement also omitted the most objectionable sections of the Rambouillet proposal and more closely resembled the counter-proposal put forward by the Serbian parliament prior to the bombing. In other words, rather than being a NATO victory as it has been repeatedly portrayed by Washington and much of the American media, it was at best a draw.

Ramifications of the War

The war had serious consequences besides death and destruction in Serbia and Kosovo. One of the original justifications was to prevent a broader war, yet it was the bombing campaign that destabilized the region to a greater degree than Milosevic's campaign of repression. It emboldened ethnic Albanian chauvinists, not just in Kosovo where they have come to dominate, but in the neighboring country of Macedonia and its restive ethnic Albanian minority, which has twice taken up arms in the past 10 years against the Slavic majority.

At the NATO summit in April 1999, the member states approved a structure for "non-Article 5 crisis response," essentially a euphemism for war (Article 5 of the NATO charter provides for collective self-defense; non-Article 5 refers to an offensive military action like Yugoslavia.). According to the document, such an action could take place anywhere on the broad periphery of NATO's realm, such as North Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, essentially paving the way for NATO's ongoing war in Afghanistan. This expanded role for NATO wasn't approved by any of the respective countries' legislatures, raising serious questions about democratic civilian control over military alliances.

Furthermore, the U.S.-led NATO war on Yugoslavia helped undermine the United Nations Charter and thereby paved the way for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant violation of the international legal order by a major power since World War II.

The occupation by NATO troops of Serbia's autonomous Kosovo region, and the subsequent recognition of Kosovar independence by the United States and a number of Western European powers, helped provide Russia with an excuse to maintain its large military presence in Georgia's autonomous South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, and to recognize their unilateral declarations of independence. This, in turn, led to last summer's war between Russia and Georgia.

Indeed, much of the tense relations between the United States and Russia over the past decade can be traced to the 1999 war on Yugoslavia. Russia was quite critical of Serbian actions in Kosovo and supported the non-military aspects of the Rambouillet proposals, yet was deeply disturbed by this first military action waged by NATO. Indeed, the war resulted in unprecedented Russian anger towards the United States, less out of some vague sense of pan-Slavic solidarity, but more because it was seen as an act of aggression against a sovereign nation. The Russians had assumed NATO would dissolve at the end of the Cold War. Instead, not only has NATO expanded, it went to war over an internal dispute in a Slavic Eastern European country. This stoked the paranoid fear of many Russian nationalists that NATO may find an excuse to intervene in Russia itself. While in reality this is extremely unlikely, the history of invasions from the West no doubt strengthened the hold of Vladimir Putin and other semi-autocratic nationalists, setting back reform efforts, political liberalization, and disarmament.

The war also had political repercussions here in the United States. On Capitol Hill, it created what became known as an "aviary conundrum," where traditional hawks became doves and doves became hawks. It provided a precedent of Democratic lawmakers supporting an illegal war and allowing for extraordinary executive power to wage war, with which the Bush administration was able to fully take advantage in leading the country into its debacle in Iraq.

The presence of large-scale human rights abuses, as was occurring in Kosovo under Serb rule, shouldn't force concerned citizens in the United States and other countries into the false choice of supporting war and doing nothing. This tragic conflict should further prove that, moral and legal arguments aside, military force is a very blunt and not very effective instrument to promote human rights, and that bloated military budgets and archaic military alliances aren't the way to bring peace and security. As long as such "conflict resolution" efforts are placed exclusively in the hands of governments, there will be a propensity towards war. Only when global civil society seizes the initiative and recognizes the power of strategic nonviolent action, and the necessity of preventative diplomacy, can there be hope that such conflicts can be resolved peacefully.

US expands war into Pakistan

US expands war into Pakistan

Missile strikes to be intensified

By Keith Jones

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The head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, visited Islamabad Monday and Tuesday to press Pakistani authorities to intensify their efforts to staunch the anti-American insurgency in the country’s Pashtun-speaking Afghan borderlands.

Unveiled by US President Barack Obama late last month, Washington’s new strategy to pacify Afghanistan calls for a dramatic escalation of the war—US troop strength in Afghanistan is to almost double from 38,000 to 68,000—and for the war’s further expansion in Pakistan, both through coordinated action with Islamabad and unilateral US strikes inside Pakistan.

Since 2004, the Pakistani military has repeatedly mounted anti-insurgency operations in the historically autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), suffering some 1,500 fatalities, provoking widespread popular anger over its wanton indifference to civilian casualties, and triggering a growing humanitarian crisis. More than half a million FATA residents have been rendered refugees.

In Bajur, the site of heavy fighting last fall, the military flattened whole villages. According to a recent BBC report, there is growing anger among refugees over the government’s failure to provide them with assistance to rebuild their homes. Teacher Abdul Haleem, who is now living at a refugee camp near Peshawar that used to house Afghanis displaced by the civil war of the 1980s, told the BBC, “They’ve destroyed the whole village, the whole market. There are no hospitals, no schools, no teachers in Bajur. They’re all here.”

But the US political and military elite is adamant that Pakistan act more aggressively to quell the insurgency, charging that FATA and neighboring parts of Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province have become a “safe-haven” for anti-US forces. In recent days, top US officials including Holbrooke and General David Petraeus, the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, have publicly charged that elements within Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the ISI, are continuing to consort with the Taliban and other anti-US Islamic insurgents.

In the midst of Holbrooke’s and Mullen’s visit to Islamabad, the New York Times, no doubt at the behest of the Obama administration, published a report meant to underline Washington’s determination to wage war in Pakistan. Titled “More drone attacks in Pakistan Planned,” the report cited “senior administration officials” as saying that the US intends “to step up its use of drones to strike militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas.”

Since last August, US forces have carried out at least 35 drone missile strikes inside Pakistan, killing more than 340 people, many, if not most of them, civilians. The most recent attack came on the morning of April 4 in North Waziristan. Local officials said women and children were among the 13 dead.

Tuesday’s Times article also reported that the Obama administration is considering broadening “the missile strikes to Baluchistan,” repeating a claim made in an earlier Times report.

US officials claim the drone missile strikes in FATA have caused some leaders of the anti-US insurgency to flee to Quetta, Baluchistan’s capital. The implication is that if Pakistani authorities don’t soon act to apprehend or kill these insurgents, the US will begin mounting drone attacks in and around Quetta, a city of well over a million people.

The drone attacks very much exemplify the servile relationship that exists between Washington and Islamabad and are seen as such by ordinary Pakistanis. Having for the better part of a decade sustained the dictator General Pervez Musharraf in power, because he was providing vital support to the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Washington now brazenly asserts the right to violate Pakistani sovereignty at will and rain down death on impoverished villagers.

Such is the popular feeling, all sections of the Pakistani political elite have been compelled to condemn the drone attacks. Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, interior minister during much of Musharaff’s rule, recently told the Times that only about 1 to 2 percent of Pakistanis support the US’s policy toward their country: “A cross-section of people is dead set against the Americans. Another section is not happy, but not vocal.”

A spokesman for the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said the FATA-based pro-Taliban group will mount two suicide bombings a week until the US ceases its drone attacks. Pakistani authorities have blamed TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud for a series of devastating attacks in the heart of Pakistan’s major cities, including the December 2007 assassination of Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto. Mehsud has denied most of these claims, but he did claim authorship of last week’s attack on a police academy in Lahore and a paramilitary camp in Islamabad.

Popular sentiment notwithstanding, it is an open secret that the Pakistani government tolerates the drone attacks, albeit grudgingly, as necessary to sustain the reactionary, client-patron partnership between the Pakistani military and the Pentagon that has for decades been at the heart of the Pakistani elite’s geo-political strategy. Indeed, it has been all but conclusively established that many of the drone attacks are launched from a CIA base located within Pakistan.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday alongside Holbrooke and Mullen, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “We did talk about drones and let me be very frank, there is a gap between us and them [the US officials]. I want to bridge that gap.

“My view is that [the drone attacks] are working to the advantage of the extremists.”

Qureshi said the two sides “agree to disagree on this.” In other words, the US will continue to carry out unilaterally military strikes inside Pakistan, a violation of international law that is tantamount to an act of war.

Qureshi claimed that the US has agreed to abide by “certain red lines,” specifically that there will be no “foreign boots on Pakistani soil.” In fact, already last month Holbrooke and the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher made statements stipulating that there will not be a repeat of the US Special Forces’ raid mounted inside Pakistan last September. That raid provoked a crisis in US-Pakistani relations with the Pakistani military briefly closing down the principal Pakistani supply route for US forces in Afghanistan and demonstrably shooting at US helicopters when they passed over from Afghanistan into Pakistani air space.

The Pentagon clearly would like US forces in southern Afghanistan to have the option to cross into Pakistan. But the far more important objective for it and for Washington is to get Pakistan to coordinate military action with US forces in Afghanistan and to bear a large part of the fighting and the surge in casualties that will result from the intensification of the war in what the Obama administration now officially describes as a single war-theater embracing Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions.

The tensions that underlie the US-Pakistan relationship were given muted expression when Qureshi declared, “The bottom line is the question of trust.... We can only work together if we respect and trust each other.”

These remarks were clearly in reaction to the assertions of top US officials that sections of the ISI retain relations with the Taliban and like groups, believing them to be an important instrument of Pakistani geo-political strategy, and more generally US complaints that Islamabad has not given Washington good value for the more than $10 billion in military aid and “war on terror payments” that the Bush administration funneled to the Musharraf regime.

A key element in the Obama administration’s Afghan war strategy is a redefinition of Washington’s relations with Islamabad. The Obama plan calls for Pakistan to be given $1.5 billion per year in development aid for the next 5 years and close to $3 billion in additional counter-insurgency aid over 5 years. The development aid constitutes less than $10 per year per Pakistani, but it is far more than the US has ever offered Islamabad in non-military aid.

To the frustration of the Pakistani elite, the offer of aid comes with significant strings attached. Obama pointedly proclaimed that there will be “no blank checks” for Pakistan. The annual development money will be tied to as yet unspecified conditions meant to measure and judge, at least on an annual basis, that Pakistan is doing the US’s bidding in the Afghan-Pakistan war. The “Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund” will be subject to unprecedented Pentagon controls and US stipulations that the military aid cannot be used against India.

Islamabad has long complained that Washington has failed to supply the Pakistani military with advanced counter-insurgency equipment, including night vision glasses and attack helicopters.

In announcing its new Afghan War strategy, top Obama administration officials also made clear, to Islamabad’s chagrin, that the US has no intention of getting involved in the Indo-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir. In the run-up to last November’s US elections, Obama and several of his aides suggested that the US should take a more active role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, with the implied suggestion that placing pressure on India to make concessions to Pakistan over Kashmir would be a quid pro quo for getting Pakistan to be even more supportive of the US occupation of Afghanistan.

India, being the larger and stronger power, has always insisted that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue and vigorously opposed any suggestion of third party involvement. In recent months, New Delhi has made thwarting any possible US intervention in the Kashmir conflict a key priority. Through diplomatic channels it has strongly voiced its opposition directly to Washington. But India also seized on last November’s Mumbai terrorist atrocity to press its claim that Pakistan is the nexus of world terrorism and that the Kashmir insurgency is simply a product of the machinations of the Pakistani military-security establishment.

Washington has gotten the message and is anxious to assuage India, which it has been courting for a decade as a potential Asian counterweight to a rising China. To appease New Delhi, Holbrooke’s job description was changed at the last minute to Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Top US officials charged with briefing reporters on the Obama administration’s new Afghan War strategy reiterated that the US will not get involved in resolving the Kashmir dispute. “We don’t intend to get involved in that issue,” declared US National Security Advisor General James Jones. “But we do intend to help both countries build more trust and confidence, so that Pakistan can address the issues that it confronts on the western side of the nation.”

The reality is that Washington’s drive to extend US influence in oil rich Central Asia through the conquest of Afghanistan and its attempt to make India a “global, strategic partner” are placing great pressure on the crisis-ridden Pakistani state.

Thirty years ago the US instigated Islamabad to mentor Islamic fundamentalist militias in Afghanistan as part of its reactionary drive against the Soviet Union and backed the Pakistani dictator and Islamic reactionary General Zia ul Haq to the hilt.

Today it demands that Pakistan crush the Taliban. This not only undercuts the Pakistani elite’s attempt to maintain influence in Afghanistan under conditions where the government in Kabul, with US support, has developed extensive ties to India. It enflames Pashtun nationalist feeling on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border further feeding national-ethnic tensions within the Pakistani state, has caused fissures within the military, and has further discredited the government in the eyes of the Pakistani people by demonstrating it to be a US mercenary regime.

Obama stages surprise visit amid renewed bloodshed in Iraq

Obama stages surprise visit amid renewed bloodshed in Iraq

By Bill Van Auken

Go To Original

President Barack Obama staged an unannounced visit to Baghdad Tuesday afternoon as a series of car-bombings and renewed clashes between Sunni militias and Iraqi security forces contradicted claims of “success” for the US neo-colonial venture in Iraq.

Such claims, promoted by both the US government and the media, were also belied by the extraordinary secrecy and security surrounding the visit by Obama, who was forced to sneak into the country in the same way as George W. Bush in years past and was unable to leave Camp Victory, the sprawling US military base near the airport.

Reporters were told that a planned helicopter trip to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone for a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had been cancelled because of a light sand storm. Whether security reasons were the real reason for keeping Obama from taking the flight is not clear, but one thing is certain, US officials categorically ruled out transporting the US president through the streets of the Iraqi capital. In the end, Maliki was driven to Camp Victory.

Newsweek’s Holly Bailey, who was part of the press pool traveling with Obama, described the short drive from the airport to the US base: “The motorcade, which was tailed in the sky by low-flying black helicopters, slowly exited down a dusty road for the five mile drive to Camp Victory. In all directions, there is just total devastation. Dead trees, piles of bricks and rubble that were once presumably buildings. Just nothingness. It looked like moonscape, only dusty.”

Before getting into the SUVs, the reporters were instructed what to do in case of a bombing.

The four-hour visit came at the end of an 8-day trip to Europe and Turkey in which the US president pleaded unsuccessfully for the European powers to come to his aid with coordinated fiscal stimulus plans and more troops for the war in Afghanistan.

Given the centrality of the US military escalation targeting both Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Obama administration’s foreign policy, there were questions as to why the president did not fly there instead. The answer given by the White House press spokesman was that Baghdad was closer to Turkey than Kabul.

The brief visit, however, was motivated by more than just geographical proximity and the desire for a Bush-style photo-op with American troops. The separate closed-door meetings Obama held with Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talibani appeared to be aimed at preventing the unraveling of the situation in Iraq just as the US prepares to transfer troops from there to Afghanistan.

Following his meeting with Maliki, Obama told reporters that he had “strongly encouraged” the Iraqi regime to take measures needed to unify the country’s disparate factions, including the integration of members of the Sunni minority into the government and its security forces.

For his part, Maliki stated, “We assured the president that all the progress that has been made in the security area will continue.”

There is every reason to doubt this promise. While the Pentagon and the Iraqi government have boasted that the past several months have seen the lowest level of armed violence since the US war and occupation began over six years ago, attacks have continued. Over the past month, the level of violence has risen significantly, with the worst attacks carried out on the eve of Obama’s visit.

On Monday, some 3 dozen people were killed and over 130 wounded in what appeared to be a series of 7 coordinated car bombings in different parts of Baghdad. The deadliest explosion took place in the Shiite slum of Sadr City, where a bomb placed in a car parked next to a crowded market killed 10 and wounded 65. The death toll was expected to rise due to the grievous character of the wounds inflicted by the blast.

Just hours before Air Force One touched down in Baghdad, two more bombs, one near a Shiite mosque in Baghdad and another in Fallujah, killed at least 11 people.

It is widely suspected that the latest attacks stem from an escalating confrontation between the Maliki government’s predominantly Shiite security forces and so-called Awakening Councils—Sunni militias formed in collaboration with the US occupation forces as part of a counterinsurgency strategy that accompanied the military “surge” carried out under the Bush administration in 2007.

The Awakening Councils, referred to by the US military as Sons of Iraq, are credited with much of the apparent success of the surge in bringing down the horrific level of bloodshed that prevailed in 2006. Under the arrangement, Sunni sheiks organized the militias, which in many cases were made up of former members of armed resistance groups, to provide security in Sunni areas and assist the occupation forces in suppressing more intransigent elements. In return, the militia members were paid a salary of up to $300 a month by the US military.

The strategy was implemented over the opposition of the Maliki government, which feared that the Awakening Councils could serve as the basis for a challenge to his government. As part of negotiations between the US and Baghdad, responsibility for Awakening groups has been turned over to the Maliki government, which pledged to continue paying their members while integrating them into the security forces or providing them with civilian jobs in the public sector.

However, the Awakening members are not being paid, and only a relative handful of the estimated 100,000 who participated in the councils have been given jobs. Moreover, the Maliki government appears to be carrying out a campaign to suppress the councils and arrest their leaders, with US troops providing much of the firepower to carry it out.

At the end of March this repressive campaign sparked an armed revolt in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Fadhil when Iraqi security forces arrested an Awakening Council leader. US troops and Apache helicopters were called in to suppress it.

The incident reportedly sparked fears among leaders of other Awakening Councils that they too would be rounded up and provoked anger among former Sunni resistance fighters who had joined the militias.

The recent bombings are widely seen as a response to these events and pose the danger that the volatile political situation in Iraq could erupt once again into intense violence.

Maliki reacted to the bombings by angrily blaming them on former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party, which ruled the country for 35 years before the US invasion. The bombings, Maliki said, were a “gift of the disbanded Baath party on the ill omen of its anniversary,” a reference to the fact that Tuesday marked the anniversary of the party’s founding.

The comment seemed designed to exacerbate sectarian tensions, calling into question recent pledges by the government to reach an accommodation with former Baathists—most of them Sunni—a policy that has drawn sharp criticism from some of Maliki’s own Shiite supporters.

Meanwhile, tensions between Arabs and Kurds are rising in northern Iraq over Kurdish attempts to extend the control of their semi-autonomous region to the city of Kirkuk and its oil wealth, posing an additional threat of a violent fracturing of Iraq along sectarian lines.

A further intensification of these conflicts could call into question the Iraq withdrawal plan formally announced by Obama in February. It calls for US troops to be pulled out of Iraqi cities within two months and for all “combat troops” to be withdrawn by August of 2010.

The term “combat troops” excludes a whole range of military units that engage in armed actions. In any case, the Pentagon reportedly plans to reclassify some combat units as non-combat forces so as to continue using them in Iraq after the August 2010 deadline, when a “residual force” of up to 50,000 troops will be left behind to carry out “counterterrorism operations,” train Iraqi forces and protect American personnel and interests.

All US troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011 under the terms of the Status of Forces agreement signed in 2008. However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the top US commanders—all holdovers from the Bush administration—have indicated that they fully expect US forces to be deployed in the country for years afterwards.

Washington needs to reduce its forces in Iraq in order to escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Obama plans to double the number of American troops. It clearly still faces the prospect of a debacle in both military efforts.

Before leaving Turkey, Obama appeared before a group of Turkish students in Istanbul. One of them asked him about Iraq and his political differences with George W. Bush, citing the belief that with the election of Obama “just the face has changed...but core is the same still.”

In response, Obama declared that he had opposed the war in Iraq, but now that he was president he had to be careful about how troops are withdrawn from the country. “So some people might say, wait, I thought you were opposed to the war, why don't you just get them all out right away?” he said. “Well, just because I was opposed at the outset it doesn’t mean that I don't have now responsibilities to make sure that we do things in a responsible fashion.”

The question is: responsible to whom? The Turkish student pointed to an essential truth about Obama’s Iraq policy.

Behind the talk of withdrawal and turning over the country to the Iraqis, the new administration is pursuing a policy which, at its core, is fundamentally in line with that of its predecessor. It is aimed at furthering US geo-strategic interests by controlling Iraq’s huge oil reserves, albeit at what the White House hopes will be a reduced price and with a smaller military occupation. Meanwhile, a larger war is to be waged in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to root out Al Qaeda, but to assert US hegemony in the equally vital and similarly oil-rich region of Central Asia.

These policies are a direct repudiation of the desires of tens of millions of people who voted for Obama because they wanted to put an end to the militarism of the Bush administration and halt the US wars of aggression. It is not the will of the American people that determines either the military or the economic policies of the Obama administration, but rather the interests of a narrow corporate and financial elite.

American Sovereignty Shredded At G-20 Summit - Health Freedom & All Freedoms Jeopardized

American Sovereignty Shredded At G-20 Summit - Health Freedom & All Freedoms Jeopardized

Go To Original

Please watch this video of Dick Morris discussing what just happened at the G-20 Summit in London: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFDBkf4F_hs

Obama has just engaged in the single most traitorous acts ever perpetrated against the American people through his criminal actions at the G-20 Summit. The Bilderberg puppet currently occupying the White House must be opposed with every fiber of our being, along with his controllers- especially Zbignieu Brzezinski- current events are moving us toward civil war and martial here in America as our country is being forcibly dismantled right under our noses.

Read this commentary by Dick Morris- I'll have some thoughts about this and the implications for Health Freedom below it. I'll also take a look at the (so called) "Cyber Security" bills sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and their implications as we seek to defend the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act by defending US Sovereignty as the main way of attempting to thwart the ruling elite's genocide and societal control agendas. Due to what has just happened at the G- 20 Summit, The EU is now in control of America's financial decision making, not Congress. The EU is driving what happens at Codex and they're in position now to force America into a North American Union dictatorship with Canada and Mexico, but we are going to monkeywrench this nonsense via strategic action that I'll outline below.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE HAS BEEN REPEALED

By DICK MORRIS

Published on DickMorris.com
on April 6, 2009

On April 2, 2009, the work of July 4, 1776 was nullified at the meeting of the G-20 in London. The joint communiqué essentially announces a global economic union with uniform regulations and bylaws for all nations, including the United States. Henceforth, our SEC, Commodities Trading Commission, Federal Reserve Board and other regulators will have to march to the beat of drums pounded by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), a body of central bankers from each of the G-20 states and the European Union.

The mandate conferred on the FSB is remarkable for its scope and open-endedness. It is to set a "framework of internationally agreed high standards that a global financial system requires." These standards are to include the extension of "regulation and oversight to all systemically important financial institutions, instruments, and markets...[including] systemically important hedge funds."

Note the key word: "all." If the FSB, in its international wisdom, considers an institution or company "systemically important", it may regulate and over see it. This provision extends and internationalizes the proposals of the Obama Administration to regulate all firms, in whatever sector of the economy that it deems to be "too big to fail."

The FSB is also charged with "implementing...tough new principles on pay and compensation and to support sustainable compensation schemes and the corporate social responsibility of all firms."

That means that the FSB will regulate how much executives are to be paid and will enforce its idea of corporate social responsibility at "all firms."

The head of the Financial Stability Forum, the precursor to the new FSB, is Mario Draghi, Italy's central bank president. In a speech on February 21, 2009, he gave us clues to his thinking. He noted that "the progress we have made in revising the global regulatory framework...would have been unthinkable just months ago."

He said that "every financial institution capable of creating systemic risk will be subject to supervision." He adds that "it is envisaged that, at international level, the governance of financial institutions, executive compensation, and the special duties of intermediaries to protect retail investors will be subject to explicit supervision."

In remarks right before the London conference, Draghi said that while "I don't see the FSF [now the FSB] as a global regulator at the present time...it should be a standard setter that coordinates national agencies."

This "coordination of national agencies" and the "setting" of "standards" is an explicit statement of the mandate the FSB will have over our national regulatory agencies.

Obama, perhaps feeling guilty for the US role in triggering the international crisis, has, indeed, given away the store. Now we may no longer look to presidential appointees, confirmed by the Senate, to make policy for our economy. These decisions will be made internationally.

And Europe will dominate them. The FSF and, presumably, the FSB, is now composed of the central bankers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus representatives of the World Bank, the European Union, the IMF, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Europe, in other words, has six of the twelve national members. The G-20 will enlarge the FSB to include all its member nations, but the pro-European bias will be clear. The United States, with a GDP three times that of the next largest G-20 member (Japan), will have one vote. So will Italy.

The Europeans have been trying to get their hands on our financial system for decades. It is essential to them that they rein in American free enterprise so that their socialist heaven will not be polluted by vices such as the profit motive. Now, with President Obama's approval, they have done it.

SENATOR ROCKEFELLER (D-WV) ATTACKS THE INTERNET UNDER GUISE OF "DEFENDING CYBER SECURITY"

Watch this:

http://vodpod.com/watch/1477517-jay-rockefeller-internet-censorship

Read this: Should Obama Control the Internet? http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/04/should-obama-control-internet

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (PDF) gives the president the ability to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any "critical" information network "in the interest of national security." The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president.

The bill does not only add to the power of the president. It also grants the Secretary of Commerce "access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws.

Rockefeller made cybersecurity one of his key issues as a member of the Senate intelligence committee, which he chaired until last year. He now heads the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which will take up this bill.

"We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs—from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records—the list goes on," Rockefeller said in a statement. Snowe echoed her colleague, saying, "if we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina."

But the wide powers outlined in the Rockefeller-Snowe legislation has at least one Internet advocacy group worried. "The cybersecurity threat is real," says Leslie Harris, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), "but such a drastic federal intervention in private communications technology and networks could harm both security and privacy."

The bill could undermine the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), says CDT senior counsel Greg Nojeim. That law, enacted in the mid '80s, requires law enforcement seek a warrant before tapping in to data transmissions between computers.

"It's an incredibly broad authority," Nojeim says, pointing out that existing privacy laws "could fall to this authority."

Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that granting such power to the Commerce secretary could actually cause networks to be less safe. When one person can access all information on a network, "it makes it more vulnerable to intruders," Granick says. "You've basically established a path for the bad guys to skip down."

The bill's scope, she says, is "contrary to what the Constitution promises us." That's because of the impact it could have on Internet users' privacy rights: If the Commerce Department uncovers evidence of illegal activity when accessing "critical" networks, that information could be used against a potential defendant, even if the department never had the intent to find incriminating evidence. And this might violate the Constitutional protection against searches without cause.

"Once information is accessed, it can be used for whatever purpose, no matter the original reason for accessing something," Granick says. "Who's interested in this [bill]? Law enforcement and people in the security industry who want to ensure more government dollars go to them."

Nojeim, though, thinks it's possible the bill's powers could be trimmed as it moves through Congress. "We will be working with them to clarify just what is needed and how to accomplish that," he says. "We're hopeful that some of the very broad powers that the bill would confer won't be included."

HAD ENOUGH???

If you aren't already a member of Gun Owners of America, I urge you to join, massively forward their legislative alerts, and to start taking target practice at your nearest rifle range: http://gunowners.org/

Especially take note of the fact that Obama is setting up databases intended to match up gun owners with medical records so as to ban more people's access to firearms while charging each of us $10 Grand per year for the "privelege" by forcing us to get medical insurance: http://gunowners.org/a040209htm.htm and note that anti gunner Eric Holder has just been sworn in as Attorney General http://gunowners.org/a020409.htm We're getting very close to the time when it could become necessary to start shooting the terrorists occupying the District of Criminals.

You need to realize that the G-20 Summit just put the EU in control of our nations financial decision making. You need to realize that whats happening at Codex vis a vis Dietary Supplements is being driven by the EU where their draconian Food Supplements Directive, Medicines Directive, and Herbal Directives are threatening to crush consumer access to dietary supplements, and now the EU is in a position to force the accelerated dismantling of America and our being forced into a North American Union Dictatorship.

Obama is deeply committed to the planned destruction of America and all of our civil liberties, but we're not going to take ANY of this.

WHAT TO DO:

I want you all to call your Senators and Congressmen via the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121 in opposition to the Cybersecurity Act of 2009. It doesn't yet have a bill number according to thomas.loc.gov When you get your Congressman or Senator's aide on the phone, let them know you have joined Gun Owners of America, and that it appears like its getting very close to the time when we may have no choice but to declare war on the vast collection of mindless New World Order controlled zombies currently purporting to "represent" us inside the District of Criminals, especially the Obamation, Olympia Snowe, and Rockefeller.

We must remind these peons that we outnumber them heavily, and that we regard them to be terrorists. I don't know about you, but I've had more than ENOUGH!!

Thats one reason I joined the Nemenhah Band of the Native American Church: http://www.nemenhah.org/ I urge you to read their Brief issues of law at http://www.nemenhah.org/internal/resources.html and to grasp my reasons for joining.

You see, I am a Libertarian. I believe in my heart that all of us have the right to ingest any substance we want into what I fully believe are OUR bodies. I do not believe our bodies and minds are the property of the damn Government, but thats what THEY increasingly seem to believe. They act as though they think we are the collateral for the unpayable debt, and that they will do with us whatever they wish.

You'll be very glad to know that a Supreme Court decision protects members in good standing of the Native American Church to possess any substance they wish if they consider it to be a sacrament, be it marijuana, peyote, echinacea, or any other herb or dietary supplement.

You'll also be glad to know that recently in Ohio, a woman who was charged with "practicing medicine without a license" who was hauled before a Judge was apologized to by the Judge when he was made to realize that he in fact had no jurisdiction over her because she was a member of the Native American Church protected by this same Supreme Court decision.

You'll be glad to know that you don't have to have a drop of native blood to join, and you'll be glad to know that if you do join you can take courses from Cloudpiler Landis that will help you be your own doctor when Martial Law goes down and our predatory government attempts to start rounding up all dissenters.

You'll be glad to know that Cloudpiler is descended from the famous Chief Joseph who refused to ever live on a reservation, a courageous man who fought 13 pitched battles against the US Calvary during the course of a brilliant 1200 mile tactical retreat into Canada. Via the Nemenhah band we can defend against the FDA which would have no jurisdiction over any buyers clubs we set up for dietary supplements.

We don't have to take any of this crap laying down. I intend to fight these collectivist bastards with every fiber of my being, and I urge you to join me. Please forward this widely, and urge everyone you know to sign on to the IAHF email distribution list at www.iahf.com Rember to delete the unsub link at the bottom of this email before forwarding or else someone might click on it which would unsub you.

Please assist IAHF in doing this work. Your donations let me know you care, that you're with me, and that you want to help me carry my message as far and wide as humanly possible!

You can zip a quick donation to IAHF via paypal at http://www.iahf.com/index1.html or via check or M.O. to IAHF 556 Boundary Bay Rd., Point Roberts WA 98281 USA Questions? Call me at 800-333-2553 Pacific time home and work.

U.S. Muslims Still Under Siege

U.S. Muslims Still Under Siege

By Amy Goodman

Go To Original

As President Barack Obama made his public appearance with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Monday as part of his first trip to a Muslim country, U.S. federal agents were preparing to arrest Youssef Megahed in Tampa, Fla. Just three days earlier, on Friday, a jury in a U.S. federal district court had acquitted him of charges of illegally transporting explosives and possession of an explosive device.

Obama promised, when meeting with Gul, to “shape a set of strategies that can bridge the divide between the Muslim world and the West that can make us more prosperous and more secure.”

Megahed, acquitted by a jury of his peers, thought he was secure, back with his family. He was enrolled in his final course needed to earn a degree at the University of South Florida. Then the nightmare he had just escaped returned. His father told me: “Yesterday around noon, I took my son to buy something from Wal-Mart ... when we received a call from our lawyer that we must meet him immediately. ... When we got to the parking lot, we found ourselves surrounded by more than seven people. They dress in normal clothes without any badges, without any IDs, surrounded us and give me a paper.

“And they told me, ‘Sign this.’ ‘Sign this for what?’ I ask him. They told me, ‘We are going to take your son ... to deport him.’ ”

Megahed is being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a deportation proceeding. The charges are the same ones on which he was completely acquitted. In August 2007, Megahed and a fellow USF student took a road trip to see the Carolinas. When pulled over for speeding, police found something in the trunk that they described as explosives. Megahed’s co-defendant, Ahmed Mohamed, said they were homemade fireworks.

Prosecutors pointed to an online video by Mohamed, said to show how to convert a toy into an explosives detonator. Facing 30 years behind bars, Mohamed took a plea agreement and is now serving 15 years. Megahed pleaded not guilty, and the federal jury in his trial agreed with his defense: He was an unwitting passenger and completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

That’s where ICE comes in. Despite being cleared of the charges in the federal criminal case, it turns out that people can still be arrested and deported based on the same charges. The U.S. Constitution protects people from “double jeopardy,” being charged twice with the same offense. But in the murky world of immigrant detention, it turns out that double jeopardy is perfectly legal.

Ahmed Bedier, the president of the Tampa Human Rights Council and co-host of “True Talk,” a global-affairs show on Tampa community radio station WMNF focusing on Muslims and Muslim Americans, criticizes the pervasive and persistent attacks on the U.S. Muslim community by the federal government, singling out the Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or JTTFs. The JTTFs, Bedier says, “include not only federal FBI agents, but also postal inspectors, IRS agents, deputized local police officers and sheriff’s deputies, any type of law enforcement,” and when one agency fails to take down an individual, another agency steps in. “It’s like an octopus,” he says.

When the not guilty verdict was read in court last Friday, Megahed’s father, Samir, walked over to the prosecutors. Bedier recalled: “It startled many people. He walked over to the prosecution, the people that have been after his son for a couple of years now, and shook their hands, extended his hand, and he shook hands with the prosecution team and the FBI themselves and then also shook hands with the judge. The judge shook hands with Youssef and wished him ‘good luck in your future’ ... the case was over.”

Obama said in Turkey, “[W]e do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

Until Monday, Samir Megahed praised the justice system of the United States. He told me, “I feel happiness, and I’m very proud, because the system works.” At a press conference after his son’s ICE arrest, he said: “America is the country of freedom. I think there is no freedom here. For Muslims there is no freedom.”