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Obama on the Budget: "Target the Military? No, I'm gonna hit the working poor, the middle class and students"

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Washington - Less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, President Barack Obama proposed a spending plan to Congress that cuts funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education, undermining the kind of community-based organizations that helped Obama launch his political career in Chicago.

Obama's new budget puts forward a plan to achieve $1.1 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, according to an administration official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal release of the budget.

Those reductions -- averaging just over $100 billion each year -- are achieved mainly by squeezing social programs. A deal struck to extend the Bush tax cuts for just two years, meanwhile, increased the deficit by $858 billion dollars. More than $500 billion of that bargain constituted tax cuts, with billions more funding business tax breaks and a reduction in the estate tax. Roughly $56 billion went to reauthorize emergency unemployment benefits.

The president's budget was expected to mostly target "non-defense discretionary spending," which makes up less than one-quarter of the overall budget, making balancing the budget with such cuts mathematically impossible.

USA

Grapes of Wrath - 2011

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"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." - John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck wrote his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at the age of 37 in 1939, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize for literature. John Ford then made a classic film adaption in 1941, starring Henry Fonda. It is considered one of the top 25 films in American history. The book was also one of the most banned in US history. Steinbeck was ridiculed as a communist and anti-capitalist by showing support for the working poor. Some things never change, as the moneyed interests that control the media message have attempted to deflect the blame for our current Depression away from their fraudulent deeds. The novel stands as a chronicle of the Great Depression and as a commentary on the economic and social system that gave rise to it. Steinbeck's opus to the working poor reverberates across the decades. He wrote the novel in the midst of the last Fourth Turning Crisis. His themes of man's inhumanity to man, the dignity and rage of the working class, and the selfishness and greed of the moneyed class ring true today.

MIB

Egyptians concerned about plot to hijack revolution

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Egypt's people power movement forced out an arrogant pharaoh, who had ruled the country for the last thirty years with the help of the United States, other Western powers, and Israel, but now it seems that new dangers are arising.

The Egyptians may be chanting that their country is free, but their struggle is far from over since some lackeys of the USA and Israel in the Egyptian establishment are already making efforts to hijack the historic revolution.

The Egyptian military is now officially in control of Egypt and the counter-revolution is unfolding. So a new phase of the liberation struggle has started.

On Sunday, protesters again took to the streets across the country and thronged Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square as the new military rulers announced that they would stay in power for six months, when they say elections will be held.

The military rulers also dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution on Sunday.

The protesters want all their demands met, including the transition of power from the military to a civilian, democratic government.

On Sunday, clashes broke out between the army and the protesters as troops tried to disperse thousands of demonstrators in Tahrir Square, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The wave of demonstrations in and around the square is showing no sign of stopping, with hundreds of thousands of protesters continuing to gather in the square.

Red Flag

China's Wheat Crop at Risk, World Wary

drought/China
© Lu Jian / EPA
New Delhi: There is bad news on the global food front. In an alert issued this week, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that more than two-thirds of China's gigantic wheat crop may be under risk "because of substantially below-normal rainfall" this winter.

The affected areas in the northern plains of China produced over 75 million tonne of China's total production of 112 million tonne of wheat last year. Any shortfall in Chinese production would have serial effects on availability and prices of wheat around the world.

Global food prices have been silently climbing upward through the past six months and with production and consumption very finely balanced, any disruption in production may wreak havoc with prices. Already, food prices are touching the record levels set in 2008 although prices of rice - the world's largest staple food - are still below those levels.

High food prices have been feeding growing restlessness and anger in a swathe of countries including West Asia. Egypt had experienced an 18.5% rate of inflation driving up prices of all food commodities except bread which is subsidized by the government to the tune of $1.5 billion annually. This was a major contributory factor to the 18-day uprising that dislodged the three-decade-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Protests against high food prices have taken place in Oman, Israel and Jordan and have contributed to political unrest in Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria.

Hourglass

Bread, dignity and lies

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So Omar "Sheik al-Torture" Suleiman has warned that the only alternative to dialogue with the opposition is "a coup". The suave United States Central Intelligence Agency point man for extraordinary renditions to Egypt, now Washington-anointed "orderly transition" conductor, may be more versed in electroshocks than onanism; otherwise he would have realized that a military dictatorship toppling itself still ends up as a military dictatorship.

Yet maybe that's exactly what he meant. Suleiman said protests are "very dangerous" - not so subtly implying the interference of hidden agendas by foreign journalists; a subversive coalition of the US, Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and al-Jazeera; the Muslim Brotherhood (MB); and all of the above (and all duly evoked by the regime).

Osama Saraya, editor-in-chief of the pro-government newspaper al-Ahram, who was there when Suleiman uttered his sinister warnings, is assured he meant not only a military coup, but an Islamist coup as well.

Shoe

Clashes mark Bahrain 'Day of Rage', depsite regime's efforts to pay off protesters

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© Sara Hassan
Activists are demanding reforms, better human rights and stopping of discrimination against Shias
Minor clashes reported from parts of kingdom as security forces remain on alert over planned day of protests.

Small-scale clashes have been reported from parts of Bahrain amid heightened security over planned protests by the kingdom's disgruntled Shia majority.

Protesters have called for a "Day of Rage" to be observed on Monday, inspired by anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Helicopters circled over the capital Manama, where protesters were expected to gather in the afternoon, and there was greater police presence in Shia villages.

At least 14 people were injured in clashes overnight and on Monday, news agencies reported.

The reports said police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse marchers in the mostly Shia village of Newidrat in the southwest region of the island kingdom - a key Western ally. The marchers were demanding the release of those detained during earlier protests.

Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for human rights told Al Jazeera: "We are only asking for political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.

Comment: Kuwait's ruler gifts money and food coupons to all his subjects!


Stormtrooper

Police attack Yemeni protesters

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Yemeni police lay razor wire at Al-Sabiine square near the presidential palace in the capital, Sana'a on February 13 to block the protesters.
Yemeni police have clashed with thousands of protesters calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years.

At least one woman was injured during the clashes which took place on Sunday in the capital, Sana'a, AFP reported. At least 10 demonstrators have also been arrested.

Around 2,000 people marched during the rallies from Sana'a University towards Al-Sabiine square near the presidential palace. Government forces laid razor wire to prevent people from reaching the palace.

Police also apprehended 120 people among hundreds of protesters, who were rallying in the southern city of Taez's main square.

Pro-democracy protests have been bubbling up in Yemen since January.

On Saturday, thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of the capital, urging Saleh to follow the example of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "Get out, Get out Ali" and "The people want the regime to fall," some shouted.

Mubarak handed power over to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces on Friday, giving in to 18 straight days of pro-democracy protests.

Pharoah

Millions of Egyptians live in cemeteries


Millions of Egyptians living in abject poverty are the inhabitants of a macabre quarter not far from the capital's Liberation Square which has become the symbol of Egypt's popular revolution.

The poor in the Egyptian capital's urban slums live in almost the same manner as they did under the pharaohs, a Press TV correspondent reported Sunday.

There are over 50 cemeteries in Cairo, Muslim and Christian, and all of them are inhabited by several million people who constitute the absolute bottom of Egypt's social structure, the report added.

The five major cemeteries in the capital include the Northern Cemetery, Bab el Nasr Cemetery, the Southern Cemetery, the Cemetery of the Great, and Bab el Wazir Cemetery. They are known as the "City of the Dead."

Padlock

Egyptian army rejects protesters' demands

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Egypt's military has rejected the demands of pro-democracy protesters for a swift transfer of power to a civilian administration, saying it will rule by martial law until presidential election is held in September.

The army's announcement, which included suspension of the Egyptian constitution, was a further rebuff to some pro-democracy activists after troops were sent to clear demonstrators from Cairo's Liberation Square, the center of the protests that brought down President Hosni Mubarak, a Press TV correspondent reported.

"We do not want any protesters to sit in the square after today," said the head of the military police, Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa Ali on Monday.

Many pro-democracy Egyptians refused to leave Liberation Square, saying they would remain until the army took a series of steps toward democratic reforms, which include installing a civilian-led government and abolishing the repressive state of emergency.

The ruling military council said it intends to retain power for six months or longer while Presidential election is scheduled and will rule by decree.

It suspended the constitution and said a committee will draw up amendments that will be put to a referendum.

Butterfly

US: Giffords Mouthing Song Lyrics

Gabrielle Giffords
© Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords/Associated Press
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords's has been able to mouth the lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday To You

U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' efforts to relearn how to speak have included mouthing song lyrics, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Happy Birthday to You," as friends and family sang along.

Giffords also briefly spoke with her brother-in-law Scott Kelly by telephone Sunday afternoon as he orbited aboard the International Space Station, The New York Times reported on its website.

"She said, hi, I'm good," her chief of staff, Pia Carusone, told the paper. He is the brother of Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

She has also been receiving bedside briefings from aides on the recent uprising in Egypt and on last week's decision by Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona not to seek re-election,

"We tell her everything that's going on," Carusone said.

"Don't get the idea she's speaking in paragraphs, but she definitely understands what we're saying and she's verbalizing."