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Libya Airstrikes: The Psychopathic Women Who Called for War

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© AFP
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (L) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R)
That a diplomatic team led by Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power advocated military action against Gaddafi may be a footnote in the Libyan conflict - but it is a significant mark of our nation's evolution, argues John Avlon.

The Libyan airstrikes mark the first time in U.S. history that a female-dominated diplomatic team has urged military action.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and the influential Office of Multilateral and Human Rights Director Samantha Power to argue for airstrikes against Libya. Their advice triggered an abrupt shift in U.S. policy, overturning more cautious administrations' counselors.

The circumstances under which the U.S. decided to attack the Gaddafi regime reveal an internal evolution of strategy. Until last week it was assumed the North African uprising against dictatorships would overwhelm the Libyan dictator. But in the absence of an established no-fly zone, he successfully turned the tide against rebels in the eastern half of his nation by strafing his citizens.

In a strange reversal of international stereotypes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy took the lead in arguing for military intervention and organizing an international coalition. (In 1986, French President François Mitterrand had resisted allowing U.S. planes to use French airspace when President Reagan bombed Tripoli and Muammar Gaddafi's palace in retaliation for sponsoring terrorist attacks.) Sarkozy's arguments took on more urgency as it became clear that the Obama administration's inaction was itself a decision that could prove politically pungent at home and disastrous for the people of Libya.

Document

John Boehner to President Obama: Define the mission

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© Associated Press
Boehner also said the U.S. has a “moral obligation" to stand with those who seek freedom.
House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday that President Barack Obama must "better explain what America's role" is in the Libya offensive before further military action is taken.

It was the speaker's first public remarks since the U.S. and allies launched an air and sea attack on Col. Moammar Qadhafi on Saturday.

"The president is the commander-in-chief, but the administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is, better explain what America's role is in achieving that mission, and make clear how it will be accomplished," the Ohio Republican said in a statement. "Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved."

Though he was largely critical of Obama, Boehner also said the United States has a "moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people."

Boehner was phoned into a meeting with administration officials Friday, an aide said, but Boehner did not speak, nor did the White House ask anything of him. On Saturday, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough called Boehner and other congressional leaders about the situation in Libya, just before Obama announced that missile strikes had begun.

The White House did, however, respond to Boehner's comments Sunday: "The president answered all those questions already. ... The very thing he's saying we need to do," the president has considered.

Bizarro Earth

UN investigator: Israel engaged in ethnic cleansing with settlement expansion

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© Reuters
A protester in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah on Feb. 18, 2011.
U.S. academic Richard Falk spoke to UN Human Rights Council as it prepared resolution condemning settlement building in East Jerusalem and West Bank.

Israel's expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and eviction of Palestinians from their homes there is a form of ethnic cleansing, a United Nations investigator said on Monday.

United States academic Richard Falk was speaking to the UN Human Rights Council as it prepared to pass resolutions condemning settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The "continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation" in the part of the city previously controlled by Jordan, he said.

This situation "can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing," Falk declared.

Israel declines to deal with Falk or even allow him into the country, accusing him of being biased.

In a related discussion on Israeli policies towards the lands it seized in the 1967 war, Israeli and Palestinian delegates clashed over the recent killing of members of a Jewish settler family in the West Bank.

Life Preserver

Liberal Democrats in uproar over Libya action

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© Associated Press
John Larson wants the president to seek approval on U.S. enforcement of a 'no-fly' zone.
A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) "all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president's actions" during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.

Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq - only to be blocked by his own leadership - asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren't impeachable offenses.

Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn't object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for American participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone during a White House Situation Room meeting on Friday, sources told Politico.


Bizarro Earth

Bahrain Opposition Ask UN to Stop Pro-Democracy Crackdown

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© Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
Bahraini Shiite mourners chant slogans during the funeral of slain Issa Abdali Radhi on March 20.
Manama, Bahrain - Bahrain's opposition asked for UN and American intervention in the government crackdown on the Shiite protests trying to loosen the monarchy's grip, in a brief protest Sunday in the capital that disbanded before police could arrive to break it up.

The 18 opposition legislators protesting Sunday at the UN offices in Manama resigned last month to protest the crackdown on the month-long revolt, inspired by the pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world. Bahrain's king declared martial law last week, and a Saudi-led military force from other Gulf nations is in the country to back the Sunni monarchy.

In the five-minute protest, the lawmakers appealed to the UN to stop the violence against protesters and mediate talks between the opposition and the monarchy; they asked the U.S. to pressure the Gulf force to leave.

"They should return home. There is no need for them to be here since this a political, not a military problem," said Jassim Hussein, a former parliament member of Bahrain's largest Shiite group Al Wefaq.

Bizarro Earth

Weakened Yemen President's Own Tribe Calls for Him to Step Down

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© Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Mourners shouted slogans as they awaited coffins during a funeral for antigovernment protesters in Sana, Yemen. Security forces had fired on protesters from rooftops Friday.
The US-backed president of Yemen took a devastating political blow yesterday when his own powerful tribe demanded his resignation, joining religious leaders, young people, and the country's traditional opposition in calls for an end to his three decades in power.

Massive crowds flooded cities and towns around the impoverished and volatile nation, screaming in grief and anger as they mourned dozens of protesters killed Friday when President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security forces opened fire from rooftops on a demonstration in the capital.

Saleh appeared to be trying to hold on, firing his entire Cabinet ahead of what one government official said was a planned mass resignation, but making no mention of stepping down. Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations and its human rights minister had announced their resignations earlier in the day.

Analysts said Saleh, who has cooperated closely with US military operations against his country's branch of Al Qaeda, had lost the support of every major power base in Yemen except the military. Many said he would now be forced to choose between stepping down and confronting demonstrators with even deadlier force.

Cow Skull

Feedlot Meat Has Spurred a Soy Boom That Has a Devastating Environmental and Human Cost

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© Alternet
South America is being taken over by a handful of companies in the soy business that are destroying ecologically sensitive areas and pushing people from their ancestral land.

Much of South America is rapidly coming to resemble Iowa. Where one might expect to see virgin Amazon rainforest, lush grasslands or Patagonian steppe, there are now often monocultures of soybeans, extending for miles and miles. People and cultures are disappearing in the transition; small landholders and tenant farmers are being driven off their land (or pushed deeper into untouched forests or grasslands); and pasture-based cattle ranches are being replaced by feedlots. In the feedlots the cattle eat some of the soy produced on the land where they once would have grazed; but an enormous portion of the soy is never eaten in South America. Instead, it is exported, mostly to China or the EU. (The United States is the largest producer and exporter of soy in the world and is thus not a major market for South American soy.)

The change has occurred only in the last few decades. Soybeans now occupy huge swaths of land in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia. Together, these nations make up five of the world's top 10 soy producers. Most significant among them are Brazil and Argentina, which together produced over 105 million metric tons of soybeans in 2008. Half of Argentina's cropland is devoted to soy, and the crop makes up one-third of the country's exports. And for the most part, soy cultivation, processing and exporting took off in these countries since the year 2000. Soy is typically crushed into meal, which is fed to animals, and made into oil used for biofuels or added to many food products.

Bizarro Earth

Libya: Obama's Iraq Moment?

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© Unknown
Tel Aviv - United States President Barack Obama is in a major predicament over Libya. His lack of enthusiasm for a military campaign against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces, evident in his pointed silence on the issue for most of last week, found new justification on Sunday when the Arab League condemned the killing of "civilians" by Western forces in the initial bombing raids.

A request by the league for a no-fly zone over Libya, made a week ago, was considered one the main sources of international legitimacy for the bombing raids against Gaddafi's army. All of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) opposed the move, as did the African Union. Thus, the token support of the Arab League was all the more important, and when its secretary general (incidentally also one of the front-runners for the Egyptian presidency), Amr Moussa, said on Sunday that "what is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians", this undermined severely the moral foundation of the campaign.

True, the legal basis is quite solid, in the form of a remarkably Byzantine United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which, in the words of Asia Times Online's M K Bhadrakumar "opens up all sorts of dangerous possibilities to stretch the type and scope of military operations".

Still, for an American leader who built much of his foreign policy image in contrast to his predecessor's unilateral interventionism and who received a Nobel Peace Prize practically on a naked promise for "change we can believe in", selective interpretation of legal documents to justify a war with no clear objective or exit strategy is a slippery slope.

Bizarro Earth

China intensifies condemnation of Libya air strikes

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© Unknown
The Middle East is an important source of oil for China. On the weekend, Saudi Arabia's Aramco announced its latest proposal to supply crude to a refinery in the southwest of China, where Beijing is building an oil pipeline that slices through Myanmar.

About half of China's crude imports last year came from the Middle East and North Africa. China wants to diversify supplies, but Arab countries and Iran hold so much of global reserves that they are sure to remain major suppliers.

Arrow Down

France is collapsing, Le Pen says

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© France 24
Marine Le Pen
After several polls showed Marine Le Pen more than holding her own against rivals in a hypothetical presidential match-up, FRANCE 24 sat down with the far-right leader for a wide-ranging interview touching on Europe, immigration and nuclear energy.

Riding high on strong showings in a handful of French polls on the 2012 presidential election, National Front leader Marine Le Pen has had an early start on the campaign trail.

The far right politician, who took over from her father as head of the party in January, sat down with FRANCE 24 journalist Roselyne Fèbvre for an interview covering a wide range of domestic and international issues. Here are some of the highlights.

President Nicolas Sarkozy

"France is collapsing because of a French president who is no longer running anything, who is governing on impulse or emotion, depending on the circumstances. And France's interests and image have suffered for it."

Comment: Even if some of what Le Pen says is true (although she uses authoritharian-right wing rhetoric), she - like the rest of the psychopathic political elite - is just another Puppet of the Puppet Masters. Political parties, political fights, political agendas, it's all one big game designed to distract people from real issues and give them the illusion of choice. As was once pointed out here, change won't come from politics, because they're ALL one at the top and you can bet regular people's well being are not part of their agenda.

Of course, here at SOTT, we do think that change is coming - and it's Mama Earth who's gonna do it. Some are really not going to be happy about it...