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Obama Speech Declares 'Make-or-Break Moment for the Middle Class'

Barack Obama portrays himself as champion of middle class in Kansas address harking back 100 years to Theodore Roosevelt


Obama/Guantanamo
© AP
Barack Obama blasted his Republican foes and Wall Street as he portrayed himself as a champion of the middle class and laid out in the starkest terms yet the populist themes of his 2012 re-election bid.

In a speech meant to echo a historic address given by the former US president Theodore Roosevelt in the same Kansas town more than 100 years ago, Obama railed against "gaping" economic inequality and pressed the case for policies he insisted would help ordinary Americans get through hard times.

He seized the opportunity to step up pressure on congressional Republicans to extend payroll tax cuts that independent economists say are vital to economic recovery, and vowed new legislation to punish Wall Street fraud.

But Obama's broader message was a sweeping call for the working class to get a "fair shot" and a "fair share" as he pushed for wealthier Americans to pay higher taxes and demanded that big corporate interests play by the rules.

Star of David

Israel Rift Roils Democratic Ranks

Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu
© unknown
Two of the Democratic Party's core institutions are challenging a bipartisan consensus on Israel and Palestine that has dominated American foreign policy for more than a decade.

The Center for American Progress, the party's key hub of ideas and strategy, and Media Matters, a central messaging organization, have emerged as vocal critics of their party's staunchly pro-Israel congressional leadership and have been at odds, at times, with Barack Obama's White House, which has acted as a reluctant ally to Benjamin Netanyahu's Israeli government.

The differences are ones of tone - but also of bright lines of principle - and while they have haven't yet made any visible impact on Democratic policy, they've shaken up the Washington foreign policy conversation and broadened the space for discussing a heretical and often critical stance on Israel heretofore confined to the political margins.

The daily battle is waged in Media Matters' emails, on CAP's blogs, Middle East Progress and ThinkProgress and most of all on Twitter, where a Media Mattters official, MJ Rosenberg, regularly heaps vitriol on those who disagree as "Iraq war neocon liar" (the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg) or having "dual loyalties" to the U.S. and Israel (the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin). And while the Center for American Progress tends to walk a more careful line, warm words for Israel can be hard to find on its blogs.

Bad Guys

US: 8 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst President of our lifetime

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© Google.com
Ronald Reagan, a bad apple
If you ever happen to come across a Republican on television these days, chances are that you will hear the name Ronald Reagan. Recent Republican debates are the perfect example of the love fest that the current Republican party has for Reagan as each candidate name drops the former president at every turn. If you only listened to conservatives you would think that Jesus Christ was the only person above Reagan on the totem pole of conservative love. They talk about his love of low taxes, less government and conservative family values. The problem is that when you step out of the conservative dream and come back to reality, you find that not only was Ronald Reagan a bad president, but he was one of the worst presidents we've seen in modern times. Reagan's policies have destroyed the United States for three decades, and for the eight years he was in office, here are eight reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime.

Stormtrooper

US: Occupy Wall Street Exposes Police State in it's Infancy

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© unknown
Police arrest protesters at Occupy Oakland
The protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement took to the streets to draw attention to corporate greed and the uneven distribution of wealth in the United States. In the end most media attention they got wasn't for their economic messages, but for the extreme treatment that they suffered at the hands and boots of the police. If the protesters can't expose corruption in the highest echelons of the banking system, perhaps they can expose the much more pressing and perhaps frightening development in the United States: The extreme militarization and illegal tactics of the police in the United States.

Over the years, the escalation of the "War on Drugs" has lead to increasing number of police stations across the country to begin training their officers in the use of more sophisticated weaponry and tactics. Due to fear mongering on all levels of government, the United States citizenry has sat silent over the years, believing that the increasing military style presence of the police all around them was for their own protection.

So when I show up to a peaceful protest in my hometown of Atlanta only to have it broken up by what I could only describe as black-clad, club wielding storm troopers, I begin to worry. So in this, our beautiful "land of the free", what are the freedoms that we hold so dear? Our freedom of speech is threatened. The government is voting on things like SOPA and Net Neutrality in order to limit our access to information online. Our freedom of press is limited. Media conglomerates control our media, and use their influence to seek private gains. Our freedom of religion is suppressed. Muslims in our nation are treated as outsiders and terrorists. And now we finally know that our greatest strength, our freedom to peaceful assembly is being slowly chipped away.

Health

Tyrannical "Health Standards" Of The New World Order

codex graphic
© n/a
As every nation in the world marches forward to a completely integrated and globalized society, the control of food is an absolute necessity for those who seek to accelerate amalgamation. It is for this reason that we see an increase in domestic legislation that mirrors the guidelines and demands of international standard-setting organizations. These attempts at harmonization of national laws, specifically those regarding food, are coming in daily from all sides of the globe.

Whether it's the GMO fight in the United States, Mexico, and Europe, or the question of the level of vitamins and minerals in supplements, the Biotech Corporations are continually winning most of their battles with the help of mass ignorance, national governments, the World Trade Organization and similar entities.

Indeed, when one begins to examine many of the debates regarding food and food regulation, one name appears over and over - Codex Alimentarius.

For those who may be unaware of what Codex Alimentarius is, I refer you to my book Codex Alimentarius - The End of Health Freedom. Briefly speaking, however, Codex is an agency created under the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO)and thereby functions under direction of the United Nations (UN).

Bizarro Earth

2012 Olympics: Police-State Measures for London as Super-Wealthy Party

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© unknown
When London's Conservative mayor Boris Johnson travelled to Beijing in 2008 to receive the Olympic flame from the Chinese state, the promise was that the 2012 games in Britain would be a "people's games". This would involve the maximum participation of the local population of East London where the main Olympic site is based.

However, with four years of austerity and the districts surrounding the Olympic site sinking into desperate hardship, and the eruption of riots this summer, the games are being approached based on the calculation that Britain is a country on the edge of mass social conflict.

Preparations have assumed the character of an orgy of luxury and ostentatious displays of wealth by the financial elite, coupled with police-state measures directed against working class districts.

The main Olympic site in Stratford East London is surrounded by 17 kilometres of electrified fencing, with up to 900 cameras 50 metres apart and patrols by attack and search dog teams. New software has integrated the entire CCTV network, enabling an individual to be followed across the whole of London. "Threat Assessment and Behavioural Analysis Software" is under development. The government is planning "exclusion zones" around key Olympic sites.

Chess

US Senator Continues to Rebuff White House Opposition to Iran Central Bank Sanctions

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) continues to rebuff the Obama administration's efforts to soften the amendment he authored with Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that would effectively cut off Iran's central bank from the world financial system (see GSN, Dec. 6).

The Obama administration sent a letter to the conference committee proposing "technical fixes" to the amendment the Senate unanimously voted to include within the defense authorization bill last week, Kirk said on Tuesday at an event hosted by conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. The Kirk-Menendez amendment is meant to prohibit any financial institution that does business with the Central Bank of Iran from also doing business with the United States. A Kirk aide said the administration's proposed changes included a six-month delay for the implementation of all sanctions, not just for oil and related products, and an easing of penalties imposed on foreign institutions for doing business with the CBI.

Kirk, buoyed by the Senate's 100-0 vote last week to include the sanctions amendment in the defense authorization bill, denounced this letter and the administration's concerns, saying their proposed changes are simply meant to "undermine" the amendment and "provide a way out for the administration to say that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but to take no action."

Kirk and Menendez sent their own letter to the House and Senate Armed Services chairmen and ranking members on Monday night.

Info

New Border Deal Will Change How Canada and U.S. Trade Goods

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© Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail
Trucks approach the border crossing at the Peace Bridge between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo N.Y.
Canada and the United States will announce a new security perimeter deal Wednesday that is expected to move more inspections off the border and onto factory floors, expanding the type of goods - including food - that can be fast-tracked between the two countries.

Business groups say the expansion of trusted shipper programs to include the food industry will likely be among the most concrete measures in a deal that aims to tackle the long security delays creating expensive logjams for business.

Rather than a sweeping new border deal that will take effect immediately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama are expected to unveil plans in Washington that are heavy on working groups and pilot projects. Many of the promised changes will roll out over the coming years, as both governments find the money for new border infrastructure like improved fast-track lanes for preapproved containers.

"Not all of it will be visible to the public," said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, who has monitored the talks closely. "A lot of it will be under the hood in a sense, in that it will be felt by business. For example, having one inspection instead of two. It will reduce compliance costs and delays significantly."

Stormtrooper

Are Americans in Line for Gitmo?

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© Unknown
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay in 2002
Exclusive: Though the 9/11 attacks occurred more than a decade ago, Congress continues to exploit them to pass evermore draconian laws on "terrorism," with the Senate now empowering the military to arrest people on U.S. soil and hold them without trial, a serious threat to American liberties, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the "extraordinary measures" introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.

And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, "With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater."

Stormtrooper

US: Insider: $56 Billion Later, Airport Security Is Junk

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© Flickr/Inha Leex Hale
The Department of Homeland Security has spent billions since 9/11 trying to keep dangerous people and dangerous explosives off airplanes, and treating us all air travelers like potential terrorists in the process. But according to a former security adviser to a leading airline, the terrorists have changed the game-and the government hasn't yet caught on.

According to Ben Brandt, a former adviser to Delta, the airlines and the feds should be less concerned with what gels your aunt puts in her carry-on, and more concerned about lax screening for terrorist sympathizers among the airlines' own work force. They should be worried about terrorists shipping their bombs in air cargo. And they should be worried about terrorists shooting or bombing airports without ever crossing the security gates.

Brandt says aviation security needs a fundamental overhaul. Not only is the aviation industry failing to keep up with the new terrorist tactics, TSA's regimen of scanning and groping is causing a public backlash. "From the public's perspective, this kind of refocusing would reduce the amount of screening they have to put up with in the United States," Brandt tells Danger Room, "and refocus it where it's needed."