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Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

From videonation | November 15, 2010

Last week, a report by the leader’s of Obama’s deficit commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, recommended massive cuts across the budget, most significantly to Social Security and health care programs. But according to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the report is “the wrong answer to not a problem.” The report has now been roundly criticized by progressives for its seemingly-targeted cuts, but according to Dean, the real cause of the deficit remains hidden from most Americans: our ongoing healthcare crisis.

Baker joins The Nation on Grit TV via Skype from Washington, DC to talk about what can really be done to balance the budget and why we should be much more focused on creating jobs and really reforming healthcare than on slashing programs that benefit us all.

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The National Security Archive’s Tom Blanton on “safe haven” in the US, for Nazis and their collaborators.

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Democracy NOW! – Headline News – November 15, 2010

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Paul Craig Roberts – The Stench of American Hypocrisy

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From Information Clearing House:

The Stench of American Hypocrisy

By Paul Craig Roberts

November 15, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — Ten years of rule by the Bush and Obama regimes have seen the collapse of the rule of law in the United States. Is the American media covering this ominous and extraordinary story? No the American media is preoccupied with the rule of law in Burma (Myanmar).

The military regime that rules Burma just released from house arrest the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The American media used the occasion of her release to get on Burma’s case for the absence of the rule of law. I’m all for the brave lady, but if truth be known, “freedom and democracy” America needs her far worse than does Burma.

I’m not an expert on Burma, but the way I see it the objection to a military government is that the government is not accountable to law. Instead, such a regime behaves as it sees fit and issues edicts that advance its agenda. Burma’s government can be criticized for not having a rule of law, but it cannot be criticized for ignoring its own laws. We might not like what the Burmese government does, but, precisely speaking, it is not behaving illegally.

In contrast, the United States government claims to be a government of laws, not of men, but when the executive branch violates the laws that constrain it, those responsible are not held accountable for their criminal actions. As accountability is the essence of the rule of law, the absence of accountability means the absence of the rule of law.

The list of criminal actions by presidents Bush and Obama, Vice President Cheney, the CIA, the NSA, the US military, and other branches of the government is long and growing…

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Grant Smith – AIPAC Bares All to Quash Lawsuit

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

From Antiwar:

AIPAC Bares All to Quash Lawsuit

Sex, Spies, and Videotape

By Grant Smith

On Nov. 8, 2010, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) filed a massive 260-page motion [.pdf] in the District of Columbia Superior Court. It asks Judge Erik Christian to dismiss former AIPAC employee Steven J. Rosen’s $20 million defamation suit. In October the court dismissed all counts of the March 2009 lawsuit except for Rosen’s claim of harm over AIPAC statements to the press that he did not uphold its standards of conduct. Rosen and AIPAC have – until now – abstained from filing damaging information about the internal workings of AIPAC in court. AIPAC’s willingness to publicly air some extremely sordid and revealing content to get the remaining count thrown out before an alternative dispute resolution hearing begins in December is a sign that AIPAC is now fighting for its life, or – as one former AIPAC attorney put it – “reason for being.” If Rosen proves in court that AIPAC has long handled classified information while lobbying for Israel, the worn public pretense that AIPAC is anything but a stealth extension of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – from which it emerged in 1951 – will end forever.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

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World’s longest high-speed rail link lays last track

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Media Matters – Still lapdogs: Media figures host Bush’s rehabilitation tour

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John Byrne – Revealed: GOP senator who railed against healthcare and earmarks got $960,000 healthcare earmark

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The Doors – When the Music’s Over

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Helen Thomas on Her Resignation and Middle East

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International Solidarity Movement – This week in Silwan: clashes, raids, arrests, and demolition orders

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

From the International Solidarity Movement:

This week in Silwan: clashes, raids, arrests, and demolition orders

Posted on: November 15, 2010 | 14 November 2010 | Wadi Hilweh Information Center & ISM

On Saturday, Israeli forces erected checkpoints at the entrances to Silwan village for the second day in a row. The network of checkpoints are a notorious source of inconvenience and frustration to the people of Silwan, whose freedom of movement is obstructed by the “security” barriers.

Jerusalem municipality bulldozers remove a barn on the property of Silwan resident Mohammed Siyam, in Abbasiya district

Last week, on Monday the 8th of November, Jerusalem Municipality workers, accompanied by Israeli forces, removed the memorial to Silwan martyr Samer Sarhan. A drinking fountain and olive tree dedicated to the memory of Sarhan were also removed from the site. Municipal workers and Israeli troops completed the operation in less than ten minutes, shadowed by an Israeli military helicopter overhead.

Later Monday night clashes erupted in the Bir Ayyub district of Silwan, following an Israeli military raid on a small shop and a number of Palestinian homes in the region. Undercover forces and Israeli troops violently arrested 7 Palestinian residents of Silwan, between the ages of 17 and 21, at 9pm after forcing entry into the shop. Eyewitnesses report that the shop’s customers were beaten and sprayed in the face with pepper spray by Israeli troops.

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Also…

Jewish extremists assault two Palestinians in Silwan

Posted on: November 14, 2010

Silwan resident Annan Yaghmour, 21, assaulted by settler extremists

12 November 2010 | Wadi Hilweh Information Center

Photos by Maisa Abu Gazaleh

Silwan resident Annan Jawad Yaghmour, 21, was severely assaulted, beaten, and abused by a group of extremist Jews this Saturday, November 6, 2010, as he was walking late at night near Hillel Street in West Jerusalem. According to Annan, he was walking along when a girl stopped him and asked him for a cigarette, and during a brief chat discovered that he was Palestinian. Shortly after they parted ways, Annan was attacked by a number … Continue reading

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Price of ‘Peace’: 20 F-35 stealth jets to bribe Israel?

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

From RussiaToday | November 15, 2010

Price of ‘Peace’: 20 F-35 stealth jets to bribe Israel?

The U.S. is desperately trying to revive the stalled Middle East peace talks, by enticing Israel to extend its construction moratorium in occupied Palestinian territories. Washington’s put 20 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion on the table – and a pledge to fight any international resolutions against Israel. In exchange, it wants Israel to halt construction in the West Bank for three months, with a U.S. promise not to ask to prolong it further. Palestinians are criticizing the plan, saying the proposed freeze will not apply to East Jerusalem.

Stealth jets for peace? ‘Israel blackmails the world’

The U.S. is trying to revive the stalled Middle East peace talks, by enticing Israel to extend its construction moratorium in occupied Palestinian territories. Washington’s put 20 stealth fighter jets worth 3 billion dollars on the table – and a pledge to fight any international resolutions against Israel. In exchange, it wants the country to pause construction in the West Bank for three months, with a promise not to ask to prolong the freeze afterwards. Palestinians are criticizing the plan, pointing out it will NOT apply to East Jerusalem. To discuss this in more depth, RT talks to Dr. Hassan Abu Libdeh, Palestinian Autonomy Economics Minister and Chairman of the Palestinian campaign against settlements products.

From the International Solidarity Movement

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Economist’s View – Paul Krugman: The World as He Finds It

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Economist’s View:

Paul Krugman: The World as He Finds It

Does Obama have the ability to take a stand, and then fight to hold his ground?:

The World as He Finds It, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: On Wednesday David Axelrod, President Obama’s top political adviser, appeared to signal that the White House was ready to cave on tax cuts — to give in to Republican demands that tax cuts be extended for the wealthy as well as the middle class. “We have to deal with the world as we find it,” he declared.

The White House then tried to walk back what Mr. Axelrod had said. But it was a telling remark…

In retrospect, the roots of current Democratic despond go all the way back to the way Mr. Obama ran for president. Again and again, he … promised to transcend … partisan divisions. … But the real question was whether Mr. Obama could change his tune when he ran into the partisan firestorm everyone who remembered the 1990s knew was coming. He could do uplift — but could he fight?

So far the answer has been no.

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US – Korea Free Trade Agreement

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

From Public Citizen:

Korea Free Trade Agreement

The Bush administration notified Congress of its intent to launch negotiations on the Korea “free trade agreement” (FTA) on February 3, 2006, and formally began the negotiations on June 5, 2006. The agreement was signed and negotiations were concluded on June 30, 2007. In June 2010, the Obama administration announced plans to move on the FTA, but Congress and the public are demanding that the agreement be changed to be consistent with the fair-trade principles that President Obama promised during his campaign.

As it is currently written, the Korea FTA will promote further financial services deregulation – even after the hard lessons learned through the economic crisis. And it will be the first U.S. trade deal with a major capital exporter since NAFTA to include the extraordinary rights for foreign investors. These led to many corporate demands for taxpayer cash in challenges of U.S. and Canadian public interest regulations in foreign tribunals. There are over a hundred significant Korean investors in the U.S. that would have new rights under the FTA to challenge local, state and national laws.

Featured resources:

From Dave Johnson

Public Citizen points out that there are other problems with the agreement, that would lead to NAFTA-style job losses for Americans, if the treaty is ratified. The treaty was originally negotiated by the Bush administration, and contains the same kind of language that previous trade agreements contained, encouraging American companies to outsource jobs.

From David Dayen

The US and South Korea are working on a revised free trade agreement that would differ somewhat from the original terms negotiated by George W. Bush’s Administration…

Democrats have been skeptical of claims that the deal will create jobs. In a joint letter last month to Mr. Obama and Mr. Lee, 20 House members and 35 Korean lawmakers called for strengthening health, labor and environmental standards in the agreement, echoing concerns raised by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. But neither government seems to want to revisit those terms.

Republicans broadly support the deal the Bush administration negotiated.

From AMERICAblog:

Korean ‘free trade’ deal duplicates NAFTA

by Gaius Publius on 11/14/2010 04:22:00 PM

There’s much to figure out in the new ‘free trade’ deal (pdf) that Obama is eager to ink on behalf of his hoped-for 2012 campaign contributors, but Jane Hamsher points us to this:

The Korea FTA text contains the extreme investor rights that promote offshoring; the private enforcement of those rights that had led to serial attacks on domestic environmental, health, and other safeguards; a ban on Buy America; limits on financial service regulation ( recall, this is a 2007 pre-crisis text with all of the crazy extreme dereg language of past Bush FTAs) and more of the most damaging NAFTA-style provisions Obama promised to fix.

“Extreme investor rights” — has a nice ESPN ring to it; extreme sports for the golf-and-Viagra crowd.

That’s extreme foreign investor rights, by the way. Obama on the campaign trail:

“With regards to provisions in several FTAs that give foreign investors the right to sue governments directly in foreign tribunals, I will ensure that foreign investor rights are strictly limited and will fully exempt any law or regulation written to protect public safety or promote the public interest. And I will never agree to granting foreign investors any rights in the U.S. greater than those of Americans.”

Now, not so much. Jane adds (my emphasis):

The trade deal is seen as a sop to Korea so the US can maintain a military presence in the region. … Hillary Clinton has been pushing hard for the agreement, and its ratification is the fondest wish of the Chamber of Commerce. … It would be a truly horrific blow to whatever is left of American manufacturing at a time when unemployment is rampant. But from a political standpoint, fighting for another so-called “free trade” agreement right now has got to represent some kind of death wish for the Democratic party. I don’t have any other way to explain it.

A nice tight package of things to keep in mind:

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