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Obama to address AIPAC before talks with Netanyahu on Iran

Image
© Joshua Roberts/Pool/ISP Pool/Corbis
Obama Speaks At AIPAC Policy Conference 2011
Barack Obama will address the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on March 4, a day before he and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold talks expected to focus on Iran, the White House announced Tuesday.

With the Middle East peace process stalled, the president and his guest are likely to focus on the best way to confront Iran over its suspect nuclear program, as well as the response to Syria's bloody crackdown on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The president's speech to the most powerful US pro-Israel lobby group could also have an election-year flavor: Republicans have tried to portray Obama as insufficiently supportive of Israel's security, a charge rejected by several high profile Israeli officials including Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The announcement came after Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, paid a two-day visit to Israel.

Comment: Middle East peace process? Is that what this is:



Crusader

US Religious Right: Graham Doubts Obama's Christianity, Santorum Warns of Satan

Santorum
© Eric Gay/AP Photo
The 2012 race turned to God, Satan and religion when Franklin Graham said he's surer that Rick Santorum is a Christian than President Obama and a 2008 Santorum speech surfaced in which the top GOP candidate told a religious audience that Satan is attacking U.S. institutions.

Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, said on MSNBC Tuesday that he could not verify that President Obama is a Christian. "I just have to assume that he is," Graham said.

But he has no question about Rick Santorum. "His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it. ... I think he's a man of faith."

Santorum's faith was in the news for another reason, too. The Pennsylvania Republican said in 2008, two years after losing his Senate seat and four years before seeking the presidency, that Satan was attacking U.S. institutions in government and religion.

The comments, not before mentioned during the 2012 election cycle, were the lead item on the Drudge Report Tuesday. Santorum has surged to even or even ahead of Mitt Romney in opinion polls, including in Romney's home state of Michigan, where Republican voters cast their preference for the GOP nominee next Tuesday.

House

US: The 50-State Foreclosure Settlement- Why Hasn't Anyone Gone to Jail?

foreclosure sign 2
© n/a
Under the terms of the 50-state mortgage foreclosure settlement, US taxpayers could end up paying billions in penalties that were supposed to be paid by the banks. That's the gist of a front-page story which appeared in the Financial Times on Thursday, February 17. The widely-cited article by Shahien Nasiripour notes that the 5 banks that will be effected by the settlement - Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial - will be able to use Obama's mortgage modification program (HAMP) to reduce loan balances and "receive cash payments of up to 63 cents on the dollar for every dollar of loan principal forgiven."

And that's not all. If borrowers stay current on their payments after their loans are restructured, the banks could qualify for additional government funds which (according to the FT) "could then turn a profit for the banks according to people familiar with the settlement terms."

How do you like them apples? Leave it to the bank-friendly Obama administration to turn a penalty into a windfall. In effect, the settlement will help the banks avoid losses on mortgages that are vastly overpriced on their books and which were probably headed into foreclosure anyway.

Taxpayers will stump up the money for the principle writedowns that will allow the banks to extract even more tribute from underwater homeowners. What kind of penalty is that?

Cult

What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe

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© The Independent
While ordinary people fret about austerity and jobs, the eurozone's corridors of power have been undergoing a remarkable transformation.

The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By replacing the scandal-surfing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has dislodged the undislodgeable. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, it has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.

This is the most remarkable thing of all: a giant leap forward for, or perhaps even the successful culmination of, the Goldman Sachs Project.

It is not just Mr Monti. The European Central Bank, another crucial player in the sovereign debt drama, is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank's alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Until Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund's European division was also run by a Goldman man, Antonio Borges, who just resigned for personal reasons.

Even before the upheaval in Italy, there was no sign of Goldman Sachs living down its nickname as "the Vampire Squid", and now that its tentacles reach to the top of the eurozone, sceptical voices are raising questions over its influence. The political decisions taken in the coming weeks will determine if the eurozone can and will pay its debts - and Goldman's interests are intricately tied up with the answer to that question.

Bad Guys

Afghan drug war debacle: Blair said smashing opium trade was a major reason to invade but 10 years on heroin production is up from 185 tons a year to 5,800

Tony Blair
© Reuters
Broken pledge: Then prime minister Tony Blair meets British troops in Afghanistan in 2006
The West is losing the heroin war in Afghanistan - ten years after Tony Blair pledged that wiping out the drug was one of the main reasons for invading the country.

Despite spending £18billion and a conflict which has so far cost the lives of almost 400 British troops, production of the class-A drug by Afghan farmers rose between 2001 and 2011 from just 185 tons to a staggering 5,800 tons.

It increased by 61 per cent last year alone.

Such has been the failure to combat the problem that more than 90 per cent of the heroin sold on Britain's streets is still made using opium from Afghanistan.

The United Nations yesterday warned that the situation was out of control.

Vader

America: Hypnotized Into an Endless Dirty War

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© n/a
America has decided it has the right to kill whoever it wants, whenever it wants.

If in the year 2000 the U.S. president had told the American people that the government would soon begin using robot planes to track people, including U.S. citizens, all over the world, and would reserve to itself the right to kill them without trial, it is safe to say there would have been an enormous uproar. But that is exactly what is happening today, and nobody cares. The majority of Americans, including those who were opposed to the war in Iraq, have no problems with their government killing at will, so long as the killing is done in the name of "national security."

How did this happen? In retrospect, the war in Afghanistan was the prime culprit. That endless, Sisyphean war was the thin end of the wedge. In that murky, shifting struggle, it was normal for the U.S. to arrogate to itself the right to kill the Taliban wherever they were in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Once that precedent was established, it was an small step to killing bad guys in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. And so, by imperceptible steps we arrived at the place we are now, where 77 percent of liberals support President Obama's vastly expanded killer drone campaign, where an American citizen can be remotely vaporized at the touch of a button and no one cares. The war on Afghanistan set the precedent that shaped the entire "war on terror" paradigm. The chimera of "safety from terrorism" led us by easy stages to begin waging dirty war across the globe - changing the definition of war, eroding moral and legal standards and greatly increasing the likelihood of ugly future consequences.

What makes this subject so tricky is that morally, legally and by any standard, the war on Afghanistan was completely justified. Recall the situation before we launched the invasion. 9/11 had just happened. The Taliban were in control of Afghanistan. They had aided and abetted Osama bin Laden, and refused to hand him over. This was an intolerable situation. As accomplices to mass murder, they could not be allowed to get away with their monstrous crimes. Moreover, if bin Laden remained at large he could plan another attack. Removing the Taliban was a matter of self-defense. We had to do everything possible to reduce the chances of another 9/11.


Comment: Of course, none of this argumentation amounts to a hill of beans when you consider that 9-11 was NOT due to Osama bin Laden, but was rather, an inside job carried out by MOSSAD, the CIA, the MIC, and more...


Stormtrooper

Consequences To Expect If The U.S. Invades Iran

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© n/a
Let's be honest, quite a few Americans love a good war, especially those Americans who have never had to bear witness to one first hand. War is the ultimate tribally vicarious experience. Anyone, even pudgy armchair generals with deep-seated feelings of personal inadequacy, can revel in the victories and actions of armies a half a world away as if they themselves stood on the front lines risking possible annihilation at the hands of dastardly cartoon-land "evil doers". They may have never done a single worthwhile thing in their lives, but at least they can bask in the perceived glory of their country's military might.

This attitude of swollen ego through proxy is not limited to the "Right" side of the political spectrum as some might expect. In fact, if the terrifyingly demented presidency of Barack Obama has proven anything so far, it is that elements of the "Left" are just as bloodthirsty as any NeoCon, and just as ready to blindly support the political supremacy of their "side" regardless of any broken promises, abandoned principles, or openly flaunted hypocrisies. No matter how reasonable or irrefutable the arguments against a particular conflict are, there will ALWAYS be a certain percentage of the populace which ignores all logic and barrels forward to cheerlead violent actions which ultimately only benefit a select and elite few.

They do this, though they rarely openly admit it, because of unbalanced and irrational biases which drive their decision making processes. In the case of the wars in the Middle East, the common public argument boils down to one of "self defense". "They are coming to get us!" At least, that is what we are constantly told. And I'm sure that some Americans out there truly believe this. However, in their heart of hearts, others instead relish the idea of imposing their world views and philosophical systems upon others, even if it means using cluster bombs and predator drones.

UFO 2

US Sends Drones Over Syria as Fighting Spreads

drone
© Reuters
US military officials confirmed Saturday that US drones are flying over Syria, as fighting spreads inside the country and US officials discuss military or "humanitarian" intervention to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

The drone flights, which flagrantly violate Syrian air space, include a "good number" of both military and US intelligence drones, according to US defense officials. These officials said the drones' mission is to obtain "intercepts of Syrian government and military communications in an effort to 'make the case for a widespread international response.'"

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz also reported Saturday that Syrian forces had captured 40 Turkish intelligence operatives working with the "opposition" inside Syria. It said the Turkish operatives confessed to working with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to train the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), and claimed that Mossad operatives were working with Al Qaeda operatives in Jordan planning operations in Syria.

This echoes testimony Thursday before the US Senate Armed Services Committee by US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He said that recent bombings in Damascus and Aleppo "had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack. So we believe that al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria."

Dominoes

West's Poker Face at Middle Eastern Grand Chessboard

US Navy's USS Carl Vinson
© Reuters/Tyrone Siu
The US Navy's USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier
The planned neo-colonial takeover of the Middle East is gearing up. As the heat rises, the West finds it increasingly difficult to proceed with its grab for dominance and maintain a brave face, says political analyst Adrian Salbuchi.

­Things are happening very fast in the Middle East. Tensions are mounting, threats are being made, and strange assassinations are taking place... Even stranger diplomatic, political, global media, military and economic strings are being pulled; sometimes so quickly, that they're getting tangled! The atmosphere is becoming very rarefied indeed! A bit of historical perspective might even lead you to think we're re-living August 1939: the last days before World War II.

But what is really happening over there and why? Well, to begin with, we witnessed twenty years during which the US, UK, France, other NATO members, and Israel have variously attacked, bombed and overrun Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Palestine almost constantly and unimpaired.

Millions of Muslims have died as a consequence of these aggressions which have been based either on flagrant lies like Iraq's non-existent WMDs, or Iran's alleged A-Bomb program. Blatant double-standards make the media systematically ignore Israeli ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Last year we saw a fabricated and engineered social turmoil throughout the region - dubbed the "Arab Spring."

People

US: Rick Santorum Sings The Praises Of Income Inequality

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© unk
Rick Santorum has said a lot of dumb things in his feeble existence. He has pushed extreme religious views, accused President Obama of wanting to exterminate religious people and he has made many hateful statements about women and the LGBT community. Santorum has largely avoided making as many gaffes about the economy which may be one reason why Romney is falling in the polls, but Santorum decided to talk about the auto industry bailout during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday, and made some stunningly stupid comments about income inequality.
There is income inequality in America. There always has been and hopefully, and I do say that, there always will be. Why? Because people rise to different levels of success based on what they contribute to society and to the marketplace and that's as it should be. We shouldn't have a society that has a President who envies or creates class warfare or envy between one group of people and another. We should celebrate like we do in the small towns all across American as you do here in Detroit. You celebrate success. You build statues and monuments. Buildings, you name after them. Why? Because in their greatness and innovation, yes, they created wealth, but they created wealth for everybody else, and that's a good thing, not something to be condemned in America.