Tag Archives: Barack Obama

“An Extraordinary Achievement”

www.aljazeera.com

Barack Obama has welcomed home some of the last US troops from Iraq in a ceremony to mark the coming end of his country’s military campaign after nearly nine years of war.

The US president paid tribute to soldiers gathered at the Fort Bragg military station in North Carolina on Wednesday, saying he was proud to welcome them home after what he called an “extraordinary achievement”.

Juan Cole does the numbers:

Population of Iraq: 30 million.

Number of Iraqis killed in attacks in November 2011: 187

Average monthly civilian deaths in Afghanistan War, first half of 2011: 243

Percentage of Iraqis who lived in slum conditions in 2000: 17

Percentage of Iraqis who live in slum conditions in 2011: 50

Number of the 30 million Iraqis living below the poverty line: 7 million.

Number of Iraqis who died of violence 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000.

Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million.

Orphans living in the streets: 600,000.

Number of women, mainly widows, who are primary breadwinners in family: 2 million.

Iraqi refugees displaced by the American war to Syria: 1 million

Internally displaced [pdf] persons in Iraq: 1.3 million

Proportion of displaced persons who have returned home since 2008: 1/8

Rank of Iraq on Corruption Index among 182 countries: 175

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Filed under international affairs, war & peace

The “Pepper Spray Incident” and the Inevitable Radicalization of the UC Student Body

occupyeverything.org
The “Pepper Spray Incident” and the Inevitable Radicalization of the UC Student Body
Written by Eric Lee
November 22nd, 2011

When I watched Lt. John Pike and the University of California Davis Police Department violently attack our peaceful demonstration against social inequality and austerity on Friday, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation.

There is no dearth of personal recollections of this weekend’s events circulating the internet as the “pepper spray incident” and Chancellor Linda Katehi’s “walk of shame” have made UC Davis the center of international attention and outcry. In light of this, it is more important to consider the implications of these events and what they mean for the growing global movement against social inequality. Particularly, it is important to recognize the historical importance of the past week’s profound radicalization of students in the UC system and across the nation. The entrance of an organized student movement into the current social situation has deep implications, and they should be considered as the movement goes forward.

The video that has now gone viral speaks volumes and there is no need to romanticize the moments in great detail. My friends and I were approached by a small army of thugs, who violently attacked some of the kindest, most intelligent, most caring people I have ever met. I was not as brave as my friends who made history by refusing to yield to the police goons, and I have to admit that after watching their bodies react, I do not regret falling back. I saw hard working, compassionate students and teachers violently vomiting, weeping, and holding each other as that disgusting orange goo ran down their teary faces. I saw hundreds of students pour out of classrooms and the library to come to our defense. I saw the police turn tail and flee after seeing the looks of fury in our eyes. I saw the looks in their eyes, too—looks of genuine fear. I’d never seen that before in a police officer’s eyes.

So, what role will California college students play in the Occupy movement? As the worldwide revolt against social inequality continues despite the deeply disturbing intentions of the wealthiest among us to suffocate the movement, the students now have an incredibly important role to play. With the original occupiers on the East Coast forced by the cold weather and brutal police raids to reclaim less visible, unused property, the West Coast is responsible for sustaining and building the movement until spring.

And UC and CSU students are ready to rise to the occasion. 10,000 of us gathered in Berkeley last Tuesday, 2,000 here in Davis on the same day, and an Occupy camp has been set up at UCLA. Hundreds of UC students converged in downtown San Francisco last week and succeeded in shutting down a Bank of America. CSU students forced the CSU Board of Trustees to secretly flee their original meeting spot before passing another round of fee increases. UC leadership cancelled the UC Regents’ meeting last week out of fear that it would be shut down by student protestors.

The participation of thousands of students across the state in the anti-Wall Street movement represents the rapid radicalization of California students, which in itself is indicative of the quick move to the left by millions of movement sympathizers. The radicalization of the students manifests itself on the busses, in the restaurants, and in the coffee shops on and around my campus, where discussion of political strategy dominates. Of course, these anecdotes mean relatively little—but the politicization of the student body is significant nevertheless. Though the process of politicization is experiencing its birth pangs, it is emotionally moving that the process has finally begun.

This radicalization must continue to be channeled into a starkly anti-capitalist political tendency. Objective material conditions are ensuring that liberal elements of the student body will be drowned out. This is a huge break from the Free Speech Movement of the mid-60s, and even from the anti-Vietnam War movement that followed. Youth unemployment in the United States is above 20% – higher than in some “Arab Spring” countries. We’ve seen the statistics about wealth inequality: the top 1% controls the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90%. Only 40% of college students graduate, and for those that do, they enter the workforce with an average debt-load just under $30,000.

And then what? A minimum wage Starbucks job at $8.50 an hour? Perhaps most importantly, though, is the current rollback of nearly every major social gain won by the working class since the 1930s. Even in the midst of the Vietnam War, after all, President Johnson’s “Great Society” at least recognized that social inequality existed and that the most impoverished Americans were worthy of minuscule levels of government support.

At least our parents got “Guns and Butter”. Now we’re stuck with just the guns.

Today, the contrasts couldn’t be starker. President Obama has escalated the war on the working class by continuing the decades-long trend of drastically slashing social services. In fact, Obama has promised to out-do the GOP in the race to see who can slash more services to deal with the massive debt our country has accumulated from years of war and tax breaks for the wealthy. He has proposed gutting services that tens of millions of Americans rely on for survival: Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, WIC, etc. The cynical Manipulator-in-Chief has invaded new countries, illegally murdered American citizens abroad, and expanded the War on Terror into Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

I spent a year working as a volunteer on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. I was drawn to his candidacy by his promises to serve “Main Street, not Wall Street”, to close Guantanamo Bay, to end the wars, to stop the mass deportation of undocumented families, and to roll-back the PATRIOT Act and the rest of the unconstitutional post-9/11 national security apparatus. I, like many in my generation, naively thought that a candidate that was backed by Wall Street could still make “change”.

Barack Obama has delivered on exactly none of these promises. In fact, the ruling class could hardly ask for a better leader. Corporate profits have soared during his presidency, as unemployment remains stiflingly high with no signs that the economy will add jobs at a rate quick enough to keep up with population gain. It makes me furious that the candidate to whom I dedicated a year of my life has turned on me. I take it very personally. I am not the only 21-year-old who feels this way. I also served the President’s political party for a year following his election. I was an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party, and was a staffer for a statewide Democratic campaign. But the Democratic Party is leading the attack on working people across America.

Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown, for example, seems like he’s trying to out-do Scott Walker in imposing austerity on the indigent and the young. Democratic mayors across the country are ordering riot police on their own peaceful protesters. In the bay area, “progressive” Democrats like Jean Quan and Ed Lee have ordered riot police to evict occupiers on multiple occasions. These liberal champions ordered police to beat Iraq War Veterans Scott Olson and Kayvan Sabehgi.

Today, no solution to the social crisis can be found through either of the two big-business parties. This is why the burgeoning student movement in California represents a great hope for the anti-capitalist position. In light of this, demands for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation should be considered only as a show of our power. In reality, even if we are to succeed in ousting Katehi, her replacement would be no different.

We students can re-shape the future of public education in California only by abolishing the UC Regents, CSU Board of Trustees, and their respective police forces. Democratic student, worker, and faculty control of the entire decision-making process is needed to reverse the trends towards privatization, debt, and austerity.

And we should also remember that the crisis in higher education is a symptom of the crisis of capitalism. The American student movement of the late 60s, for example, failed to prevent the attack on the working class that has been carried out by Democrats and Republicans throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s because it failed to self-consciously establish itself as a movement against capitalism.

This belies the issue of “no politics” that is such a popular refrain for liberals taking part in the Occupy movement today. “No politics” has been our strategy for 40 years, and look what it has gotten us! Back to UC Davis — I have read multiple accounts on the events of the past days that emphasize how UC Davis is a turning point for the Occupy movement. Images of the blatant police brutality and the powerful silence that met the Chancellor when she left her botched press conference have terrified and inspired millions. But this isn’t an unprecedented show of violence, and police brutality isn’t a new phenomenon. The events of the past days are a glimpse of reality, not a break from the past. Though it has taken a viral video to make this clear to many, it is an important fact to remember.

The images from Davis, Berkeley, Chapel Hill, New York, Oakland, Denver, and countless other cities and towns across the country have galvanized support for the movement and have even further embedded Occupy Wall Street as a facet of American political life. The images have also revealed democracy in America for just what it is: a façade.

In light of this, students at UC and across the country must prepare ourselves for the coming struggle. The police attacks will not abate—they will only grow in intensity. Our debt load will grow, unless we reject the concept of debt as required by capitalism. Fee hikes will continue until we reject the very idea of paying for school. We should fight for something radically different—a society where production is managed based on social need and human rights to housing, food, education, transportation, and physical security. One where our friends, brothers, sisters, and parents aren’t sent off to die in unnecessary wars. One where speculators and bankers are treated like the criminals they are.

The lines in the sand are being drawn on my campus and across the country. Students, ask yourselves: Which side are you on?

[Point of clarification: I write this as an individual and in no way as a spokesperson for any group.]

Eric Lee is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.

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Filed under activism, critical thought, leftist movements, political repression, protests, student movements

Committee to Stop FBI Repression: Support Carlos Montes!

Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)
Support Carlos Montes as he goes to court Friday, August 12
Call
President Barak Obama at 202-456-1111

Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001

Sample call: “My name is ________ and I am calling from [city, state]. I’m calling about Carlos Montes of Los Angeles. He is one of the anti-war activists being targeted by the FBI. I want you to tell Attorney General Holder [or President Obama]:

1. Drop the charges against Carlos Montes!

2. Stop the FBI and the Grand Jury repression of the other 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists.

3. Return all property to Carlos Montes and the other activists raided by the FBI.

The U.S. government should not be prosecuting us when we exercise our rights to freedom of speech and dissent.”

On Friday, August 12, Carlos Montes will appear in a Los Angeles court again, for a preliminary hearing. At his last court date on July 6, Carlos pled not guilty to six charges, including a felony charge each for a firearm and ammunition, and four related to the permits’ paperwork. Like millions of Americans, Carlos has for many years held legal permits. So why is it that all of a sudden the government is saying there is a problem? These charges are a pretext to attack Carlos for his years of activism.

Please join us in calling U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, demanding a stop to the prosecution of Carlos Montes. We need to stop the persecution of political activists like Carlos, like the 23 Midwest anti-war and international solidarity activists, people like you and me.

Make no mistake: the U.S. government’s trial of Carlos Montes is an attack on the immigrants’ rights and anti-war movements. So please call today and let Holder and Obama know we are building a movement that will not bow down to dirty tricks and political repression.

In addition, the Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression is mobilizing to pack the courtroom on the morning of Friday, August 12, in Department 100 at the Criminal Courts Building, 210 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, when Carlos Montes appears.


About Carlos Montes:
Carlos Montes is a veteran Chicano activist known for his leadership of the 1968 East Los Angeles education reform movement (see film Walkout), the historic Chicano Moratorium against the U.S. war in Vietnam, and the recent immigrants’ rights mega-marches of 2006. Carlos Montes was a co-founder of the Brown Berets, a Chicano youth organization that stood for justice, equality, and self-determination.

With the 2003 Bush administration war and occupation of Iraq, Montes helped form and lead L.A. Latinos Against War. In recent years, Carlos helped initiate and organize the Southern California Immigration Coalition, to fight against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and police repression.

About this case:
Now Montes himself is the target of government repression and the FBI’s dirty tricks. When the FBI raided several Midwest homes and served subpoenas on September 24, 2010, Carlos Montes’ name was listed on the FBI search warrant for the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis–the organizing center for the 2008 Republican National Convention protests, where Carlos participated.

Then on May 17, 2011, the LA Sheriffs broke down Carlos’ door, arrested him, and ransacked his home. They took political documents, a computer, cell phones and meeting notes having nothing to do with the charges. The FBI attempted to question Montes while he was handcuffed in a squad car, regarding the case of the 23 Midwest anti-war and solidarity activists.

On June 16, 2011, Carlos appeared in court and obtained the arrest documents showing the FBI initiated the raid. A reporter interviewing a Los Angeles Sheriff sergeant confirmed that the FBI was in charge. Carlos Montes is facing six felony charges with the possibility of 18 years in prison due to his political organizing. Carlos Montes case is part and parcel of the FBI raids and political repression centered in the Midwest. We need you to take action against this repression.


You can also invite Carlos Montes to speak using a live Internet video call. It is easy to do and works well. More details on the video calls coming next week.


Please sign the petition for Carlos Montes on the International Action Center website.

Visit www.StopFBI.net or write StopFBI@gmail.com or call 612-379-3585.

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Filed under activism, immigration, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, war & peace

Medvedev to Obama: “You have carried out vital social reforms”

Now we get it…

Dear Barack, you have reached this milestone in your life with a great store of professional and personal achievements. […] Despite the serious global challenges and political risks faced during your term in office, you have successfully carried out vital financial and social reforms for the benefit of the United States and its future. You have set new benchmarks in foreign policy and vividly demonstrated how to “listen and hear” and successfully tackle even the most complex issues. (“Medvedev greets Obama on 50th birthday,” ITAR-TASS)

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Obama Kills Off New Deal, Great Society, Economy, All Hope, Then Celebrates with a Burger

With a deal to raise the debt ceiling secured, President Obama treated White House staffers who’ve been working tirelessly for months on the debt issue to burgers at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill this afternoon. “Michelle eats here all the time, but I don’t get out,” Obama explained, according to a White House pool report (The Wall Street Journal adds that the First Lady even has a burger named after her on the Good Stuff menu). Obama, in shirtsleeves, reportedly paid for the lunch of a woman who was standing next to him in line and offered an 11-year-old boy a milkshake from his table. Obama himself had a burger, fries, and a salad.

Obama couldn’t escape debt talk entirely, however. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat, ran into the President while picking up lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant. “We talked about the difficult vote the other night,” he told reporters. “I explained to him that I didn’t vote with him, but I’m glad that it passed. He said he understood.” These AP and Getty photos, above and below, suggest that the President was in a pretty good mood.
Uri Friedman, “Obama Celebrates Debt Deal at One of Michelle’s Favorite Burger Joints,” The Atlantic Wire

In 2000, we spent 3.7% of GDP on the military. The Pentagon didn’t have to hold bake sales. We’re now spending 5.4%. Merely going back to 2000 would save 1.7% of GDP, or $255 billion. If over the next decade we spent 3.7% of GDP instead of 5.4%, we’d save $3.6 trillion. That’s close to what many of the deficit hawks are aiming for. Let the Bush tax cuts expire and bump up the top rate a few points and everyone could have free child care and free college tuition!

Of course to do that would be unAmerican.
Doug Henwood, “Wild Budget Math,” LBO News

We are now in the 21st century. The US no longer controls 60% of global wealth and capital has abandoned its national character. As a consequence of trade agreements, capital is free to move over most of the globe in search of higher profits.  But while capital has become international, the United States military continues to function as capital’s chief global cop.

The difference is that the US no longer controls enough of the world’s wealth to maintain both the empire’s cop function – a world safe for Global Capital – and the US standard of living, i.e. the American Dream. Something has to change: either the empire will be scaled back or some Americans will have to sustain a cut in living standard.

Global Capital needs the empire but it does not want to pay for it. Wealthy Americans also refuse to bear the burden. That necessitates transferring the cost of empire to US workers, the poor and middle class. Obama is committed to maintaining the empire and its police force – the US Military.

While he would prefer that rich American’s share the burden, when push comes to shove he will sacrifice fairness to the interests of his Wall Street backers.  Obama is the instrument by which Global Capital hopes to secure cuts in Social Security and Medicare necessary if working, poor and middle class folks are going to be made to pay for the empire.

One indication of global capital’s agenda is what President Obama and Congress have done with the military budget. While claiming that he wants to end wars which have produced 15-25% of US debt and which do not make Americans safe or secure, Obama has escalated one war and begun yet another military adventure (Libya). While claiming that he wants to cut military spending, Obama actually requested a $26 billion increase in military spending for the 2012 fiscal year. The Republican House recently approved a $17 billion increase.  The debt/budget deal ostensibly cuts $350 billion from military budgets over the next ten years.  However, automatic increases for inflation could offset the entire amount. The US Military – global capitalism’s global cop – is unlikely to sustain real and substantial budget cuts.

The Obama Presidency is Global Capital’s creation and he is their man. The Obama White House has now delivered part of what Global Capital demanded: the debt/budget deal will shift more of the economic burden of empire from corporations and their owners (aka the rich or monied interests) to working people and the poor.
Felice Pace, “Disaster Politics,” Counterpunch

The phony debt ceiling crisis was, from beginning to end, a con. It was an elaborate and successful hoax in which the nation’s first black president, the Democratic and Republican parties, Wall Street and corporate media all played indispensable parts. The object of the supposed “crisis” was to short circuit public opinion, existing law, democratic process and traditions of public oversight, in order to deal fatal blows to Medicaid, Medicare, social security, job growth and public expenditures for the common good. It worked. We’ve been conned.

[…]

The key actor in the con was and is Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic party and president of the United States. When the Bush and Obama administrations bailed out the banksters in 2008, 2009 and 2010 they didn’t print new warehouses of greenbacks and send them over in a fleet of trucks. The Federal Reserve simply opened its spreadsheets, and wrote numbers with lots of zeroes crediting the banksters’ accounts. It literally created the new money by giving it away, and next proceeded to borrow those funds back from the banksters at interest. The debt ceiling crisis was nothing but those same banksters twirling their mustaches and oinking “Well, we don’t think you (the government that created the money by giving it to them) can really afford to repay all these loans you’ve been taking out… We might have to downgrade your credit rating…”

The whole notion of excessive government indebtedness, or that government might not be able, as the president threatened, to issue or cash social security checks was always a crock, a sham. There was never, ever a moment when Barack Obama didn’t know that his homey analogies about government having to live within its means just like a family were just cynical fairy tales.

The president could have prevented this “crisis” by passing a debt ceiling when he had a 50 vote majority in Congress for all of 2009 and 2010. He could have avoided it again by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Instead the president renewed the Bush tax cuts when he had a 50 vote majority in Congress. The president could have defused it in the last month by any of a number of means, including simply calling it fake. But giving away the game is not what actors in a con do.
Bruce A. Dixon, “Barack Obama and the Debt Crisis: A Successful Con Game Explained,” Black Agenda Report

See, the dirty little secret is that we never had a debt “crisis.”  We had a jobs crisis.

While Republicans were arguing about the faux “crisis” and the press and Obama joined them, we got a series of disturbing economic signals. Consumer confidence was down, manufacturing was off, May and June’s job numbers were pathetic. In fact, if not for a hiring binge by McDonald’s there would have been a net job loss in May. That’s something to hang your hat on: McDonalds accounted for what little job growth there was.  What’s next, America gets saved by an uptick in Wall Mart greeters?

Look. This whole drown the beast strategy has been nothing more than a stealth tactic for instituting an extremist version of a laissez faire, market uber-alles policy designed by and for the Plutocracy.

And to be sure, it’s worked great for them. Today, the richest 1% owns 40% of the nation’s wealth, and the top 10% owns nearly 75% of it.

The rest of us?  Not so much.

Income and wealth inequality in the US has been increasing rapidly since Reagan,  (with a slight break under Clinton). In terms of income inequality, the US now ranks about the same as Ivory Coast, Uganda and Cameroon – countries not exactly noted for being prosperous, equitable and just societies.
John Atcheson, “The Beast Is Starved: Welcome to the Next Great Depression,” CommonDreams.Org

Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs.

This has been a busy week in Washington, but today happens to be Barack’s 50th birthday. I’m writing to you because this year, the girls and I would like to do something a little different.

I’m asking friends and supporters of this campaign to wish him a happy birthday by signing his card, and sharing why you’re on this journey with us.

Your names and notes will become part of a book that tells the story of this campaign — who’s building it, why we’re in this thing, and what he means to us. We’ll deliver a copy to Barack and send one to our campaign offices across the country.

Sign the card for Barack:

http://my.barackobama.com/Birthday-Card

I’ve known Barack for more than 20 of his 50 years, and we’ve been through quite a lot together.

It still amazes me that no matter how many decisions and distractions he’s faced with every day, he’s always able to focus on the bigger picture. One way he does that is by making time for stories and letters from people like you — because he knows that this job isn’t about him, but about the millions of folks around the country he’s fighting for.

This next year will challenge us all to work harder than ever before, but the crucial thing is that you’re here now, early on, helping to build this campaign.

I know that, like Barack and me, you have your own reasons why, so I hope you’ll take a moment to sign the card and share your story with him and other supporters of this campaign.

http://my.barackobama.com/Birthday-Card

Thanks for being a part of this,

Michelle

It’s redundant to note that only a Democrat could get away with this, yet it’s all too true. That the liberal savior is overseeing the cuts must really sting his followers. I’m tempted to say they have it coming, but after Obama’s debt deal with our owners’ reactionary wing, we’re all going to get it. Schadenfreude is pointless.

This won’t stop liberals from voting again for Obama. Nothing would. Obama knows this and serves his real base. The slaves will come crawling, thinking that their votes will stave off ruin and plunder. All they’re doing is ratifying further political attacks on themselves. The brighter slaves understand and rationalize. The dimmer slaves smile and beg for more. Our owners remain untouched, free to milk the system anytime they choose. Their press agents insist that we’re the envy of the world. Many of us believe it or want to, crumbling infrastructure to the contrary.

Old family photos portray a shinier past, when American power and wealth was at its zenith. Big cars, new neighborhoods, expanding consumer confidence. I bitch about today’s tech toys, but looking back to my childhood, there were countless toys to go around. People bought the bullshit because they were able to buy things. For people my age and older, the steady American decline has been quite amazing to witness. It doesn’t seem real, but that’s the privilege of living in an imperial country. Fantasy is always an option.
Dennis Perrin, “Assemble the Ways”

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Obama: Stop Torturing Bradley Manning!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bradley_manning/?vl

Dear friends,

Right now, Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning is being tortured in a US military prison. Manning is subjected to utter isolation that can drive many people insane, with short periods each day where he is stripped naked and abused by jeering inmates.

Manning is awaiting trial for releasing secret military documents to Wikileaks – including a video of US soldiers massacring Iraqi civilians. And his brutal treatment appears to be part of an intimidation campaign to silence whistleblowers and crack down on Wikileaks. The US government is split on this issue, with diplomats publicly criticizing the military for Manning’s treatment, but President Obama has stood aside so far.

Obama cares about the US’s global reputation – we need to show him that it’s at stake here. Let’s build a massive global call to the US government to stop torturing Manning and uphold the law. Sign the petition below – our message will be delivered through hard-hitting ads and actions in Washington DC as soon as we reach 250,000 signatures:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bradley_manning/?vl

On paper the United States opposes torture. The US Constitution forbids “cruel and unusual punishment”. And, along with almost a hundred other countries, the US has signed an international convention promising to treat all prisoners “with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” But today, Bradley Manning is utterly isolated in a cell without sheets, not allowed to exercise and is being subjected to brutal humiliation that is causing serious mental harm. This violates US and international law.

Bradley is being held under ‘prevention of injury’ status despite 16 reports from military mental health professionals that he should be removed from these severe conditions. His lawyers are trying to enforce his basic Constitutional and international human rights in court, but so far the military tribunal responsible for Bradley’s fate has ignored his suffering.

There has been a crack down on Wikileaks since the explosive revelations of US military crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many speculate that this brutal pressure on Bradley is intended to force him to implicate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But Obama promised Americans and the world that he would protect, not persecute, whistleblowers:

“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.”

Bradley’s cruel treatment does the opposite and sends a chilling message to others who may want to expose important information. Let’s act quickly to put massive international pressure on the United States government to honor its commitment to human rights and the protection of whistleblowers and end the shockingly cruel treatment of their own citizen. Sign the petition below:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bradley_manning/?vl

Bradley Manning claims he is a patriot and has admitted to releasing information that he felt the world had a right to know. While reasonable people can disagree about the approach of Wikileaks and the the rights or wrongs of those who delivered information to them, the illegal torture of Bradley Manning, who has yet to receive a fair trial or be convicted of any crime, is a shameful violation of human rights and human dignity.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Ricken, Pascal, Janet and the rest of the Avaaz team

Sources:

Check out Obama’s statement on the importance of whistleblowing released on his official website http://change.gov/agenda/ethics_agenda/

PJ Crowley resigns over Bradley Manning remarks, The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/13/pj-crowley-resigns-bradley-manning-remarks

Soldier’s inhumane imprisonment, LA Times

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/10/opinion/la-ed-manning-20110110

US: Explain Conditions of Bradley Manning’s Confinement, Human Rights Watch

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/16/us-explain-conditions-bradley-manning-s-confinement

Stripped naked every night, Bradley Manning tells of prison ordeal, The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/11/stripped-naked-bradley-manning-prison

WikiLeakers and Whistle-Blowers: Obama’s Hard Line, Time

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2058340,00.html

The Implications of the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning, Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-kane/bradley-manning-obama_b_832933.html

U.S. Pledges Rights Improvements, New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/world/19briefs-ART-Nations.html

Bradley Manning: charge sheet

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/interactive/2011/mar/04/bradley-manning-charge-sheet

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Filed under activism, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, war & peace

The Protest They Didn’t Want You to See, The War You Don’t See

Scenes from an antiwar civil disobedience action outside the US White House, organized by Veterans for Peace on December 16:


www.commondreams.org
Black-Out in DC: Pay No Attention to Those Veterans Chained to the White House Fence
by Dave Lindorff

There was a black-out and a white-out Thursday and Friday as over a hundred US veterans opposed to US wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and their civilian supporters, chained and tied themselves to the White House fence during an early snowstorm to say enough is enough.

Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president’s daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government’s Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.

No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital’s local daily, the Washington Post.

Making the media cover-up of the protest all the more outrageous was the fact that most news media did report on Friday, the day after the protest, the results of the latest poll of American attitudes towards the Afghanistan War, an ABC/Washington Post Poll which found that 60% of Americans now feel that war has “not been worth it.” That’s a big increase from the 53% who said they opposed the war in July.

Clearly, any honest journalist and editor would see a news link between such a poll result and an anti-war protest at the White House led, for the first time in recent memory, by a veterans organization, the group Veterans for Peace, in which veterans of the nation’s wars actually put themselves on the line to be arrested to protest a current war.

Friday was also the day that most news organizations were reporting on the much touted, but also much over-rated Pentagon report on the “progress” of the American war in Afghanistan–a report that claimed there was progress, but which was immediately contradicted by a CIA report that said the opposite. Again, any honest journalist and editor would see the publication of such a report as an appropriate place to mention the unusual opposition to the war by a group of veterans right outside the president’s office.

And yet, the protest event was completely blacked out by the corporate news media, even as the capital was whited-out by a fast-moving snowstorm that brought traffic almost to a standstill.

If you wanted to know about this protest, you had to go to the internet and read the Huffington Post or to the Socialist Worker, or to this publication (okay, we’re a day late, but I was stuck in traffic yesterday), or to Democracy Now! on the alternative airways.

My old employer, the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, showed how it’s supposed to be done. In an article published Friday about the latest ABC/Washington Post Poll, reporter Simon Mann, after explaining that opposition to the war in the US was rising, then wrote:

“The publication of the review coincided with anti-war protests held across the US, including one in Washington in which people chained themselves to the White House fence, leading to about 100 arrests.”

That’s the way journalism is supposed to work.

Relevant information that puts the days news in some kind of useful context is supposed to be provided to the reader.

Clearly, in the US the corporate media perform a different function. It’s called propaganda. And the handling of this dramatic protest by American veterans against the nation’s current war provides a dramatic illustration of how far the news industry and the journalism profession has fallen.

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John Pilger, The War You Don’t See:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Thanks to The Unrepentant Marxist and Lenin’s Tomb for previously posting these videos.

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