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Just five years after President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize (to much global amazement), Norwegian politicians have nominated none other than Edward Snowden for this year’s award for contributing to transparency and global stability by exposing a U.S. surveillance program. As Reuters reports, Snowden’s “actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies.”
“The public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden’s whistleblowing have contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order,” Norwegian parliamentarians Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell said in the nomination letter obtained by Bloomberg.
“There’s no doubt that the actions of Edward Snowden may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term,” said Valen and Solhjell, who was environment minister in the former Labor-led government. Snowden’s “actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies.”
Valen and Solhjell, who represent the Socialist Left Party in the Norwegian parliament, also said that they “don’t necessarily condone or support all of his disclosures.”
The Nobel Committee accepts nominations from members of national assemblies, governments, international courts, professors and previous laureates. It received a record 259 nominations for last year’s prize. While the nominees are kept secret for 50 years, names are sometimes disclosed by the nominators. The prize winner will be announced in October.
Is this the Nobel’s last best effort to regain some credibility?
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out til too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along.” – Terry Pratchett
There has not been a more enigmatic U.S. President than Barack Obama since Abraham Lincoln. We know so little about Obama. It is certainly true that he has divided the Nation further than any President since Lincoln. But the questions I cannot shake as we enter into our sixth year of his Presidency are: What are his ultimate goals, and how in the world did this African-American junior Senator and former community leader become the most powerful man in the free world?
It is easy to jump to the conclusion that Obama could be a Muslim and a Marxist bent on remaking America into a socialist state much like so many European countries. That Obama has driven an even wider divide between America, between left and right, is beyond debate. That Obama has added nearly $7 trillion to America’s Federal debt is a black-and-white fact.
That is a far cry from 2008 when candidate Obama promised to be a breakaway leader for the American people. Instead, President Obama has proven himself to be a President for Wall Street interests, billionaire bankers and the military-industrial establishment. That during his Presidency, Obama has fulfilled none of the promises to the middle class or to the millions of black Americans who saw him as a ray of hope for a better future is certain. That Obama has helped make the world a more divided and dangerous place for all is undoubtable.
The Tale Of Two Obamas
Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities150 years ago about the French Revolution: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
So it has been these past several years with Obama the candidate and as the President.
Beginning in the summer of 2008, it seemed that America could be on the verge of anarchy. It seemed possible that there could be an economic collapse as well as a collapse in confidence in the Federal government and many of the Nation’s institutions. That would lead to a collapse in the New World Order, which the United States underpins. Those forces built up over decades needed somebody transformative, somebody to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. From the shadows stepped Obama, anointed by some as the chosen one and appealing to tens of millions of people at home and hundreds of millions of people abroad.
The real question is by whom was Obama chosen? He had no experience as a leader or a thinker and certainly not as a doer. His past was so checkered it called into question not only his birthplace but his college background, economic beliefs and even his religion. Yet within a year he had become an international sensation, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. That erstwhile kid from Hawaii was a pop star 10 times bigger than Justin Bieber and half as smart.
But rather than change, Obama has doubled down on all the corruption and dysfunction that our Federal government has planted over the past three decades. It was Obama the candidate who attacked George W. Bush’s abuse of executive powers, only to spy upon the Nation with impunity as President. It was Obama the candidate who criticized Bush and the Republicans for the bailouts of big investment banks but then as President provided a no-strings-attached policy after his Administration’s $800 billion bailout, which allowed for record bonuses to top Wall Street executives who scant months before he had vilified.
A Probable Pawn For The NWO
The most startling discrepancy between candidate Obama and President Obama is when it comes to foreign policy. As President, Obama has wielded foreign policy with a broadsword against real or perceived enemies in ways that Dick Cheney must watch with green envy. Consider Obama’s air attacks on Libya.
In December 2007, candidate Obama was asked if a President could bomb Iran without Congressional authorization. Obama’s answer: “The President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Yet as commander in chief, Obama did not have a problem breaking such a promise and quickly used massive American airpower and sea power against Libya. In 2011, Obama went so far as to go against his legal advisers, insisting he did not need Congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue attacks against Libya beyond the 60-day limit dictated by the resolution. Obama sounded like Bill Clinton when he said that what he had done was dependent on the definition of “sex.” Obama claimed that U.S. attacks were outside the legal definition of “hostilities.”
Even a military hawk like Speaker of the House John Boehner was outraged, saying, “The White House’s suggestion that there are no ‘hostilities’ taking place in Libya defies rational thought.”
So what is rational when it comes to Obama, both the candidate and the President? The two are very separate men. The first, who offered to change things for the better, no longer exists (if he ever did). The President is the ever faithful company man to the financial and military establishments. Obama has made his mark as the first African-American President. Despite his myriad failures in office and his multitude of lies, I believe his Presidency will be celebrated. Those who determined his election know how to pay off a loyal servant. But thankfully for some, Obama will be remembered as a pawn and not a king. How many feel that way depends on us understanding the truth, fighting for our liberties and protecting the Constitution.
Yours in good times and bad,
Several prominent secular activists have been arrested in the past three weeks [Al Jazeera]
|Human Rights Watch has denounced the arrest of a prominent Egyptian activist during a raid by security forces on a domestic human rights organisation, which it described as a continuation of a crackdown on dissent.Police broke into the offices of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights late Thursday and arrested six of its members who were blindfolded and detained in an undisclosed place for nine hours. Five of them were later released.
Mohamed Adel, a founding member of the April 6 movement that contributed to the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak, remains in custody.
Police have in the past three weeks also gone after three other prominent activists of the Egyptian protest movement; Alaa Abdelfattah, Ahmed Maher and Ahmad Douma.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said the pursuit of the activists is a deliberate effort to target “voices who demand justice and security agency reform”.
“It should come as no surprise that with the persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood well underway, the Ministry of Interior is now targeting leaders of the secular protest movement,” Whitson said in a statement released on Saturday.
“The Egyptian government has sent a strong signal with its attack on a human rights group, and these arrests and prosecutions, that it is not in the mood for dissent of any kind,” Whitson said.
With Adel’s arrest, the number of prominent political activists arrested by Egypt’s security forces in the past three years has risen to a total of five.
Ahmed Maher, founder of the April 6 youth movement and a 2011 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, is among those put in jail since the government passed a law outlawing the calling for protests without first attaining approvals from the Ministry of Interior.
Along with Adel, Maher and activist Ahmed Douma are on trial on charges relating to a protest on November 30, with a verdict scheduled for December 22.
Prosecutors also recently referred Alaa Abdelfattah, one of the most vocal critics of the police and the military, to trial on charges of organising a demonstration without notification.
Human Rights Watch accused the police of using “the deeply repressive” law to arrest scores of political activists on grounds that they failed to seek advance permission for their demonstrations.
“The government claims that, instead of criminal penalties, the new law sets fines – of 10,000 – 30,000 Egyptian Pounds (US$ $1,500 – 4,300) under article 21 – for failing to get advance permission,” the HRW statement said, adding: “Yet the new law incorporates the existing restrictive assembly laws, including Law 14 of 1923, which carries with it a prison sentence for participation in an unauthorised demonstration.”
10 more years in Afghanistan|Washington’s Blog | Business, Investing, Economy, Politics, World News, Energy, Environment, Science, Technology Washington’s Blog
When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later. Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s. Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign the deal. Here is his list of concerns. He’d like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people’s doors at night. He’d like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations. He’d like innocent Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo. And he’d like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections. Whatever we think of Karzai’s legacy — my own appraisal is unprintable — these are perfectly reasonable demands.
Iran and Pakistan oppose keeping nine major U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, some of them on the borders of their nations, until the end of time. U.S. officials threaten war on Iran with great regularity, the new agreement notwithstanding. U.S. missiles already hit Pakistan in a steady stream. These two nations’ concerns seem as reasonable as Karzai’s.
The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible” for years and years. We’re spending $10 million per hour making ourselves less safe and more hated. The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this mad operation is suicide.
When the U.S. troops left Iraq, it remained a living hell, as Libya is now too. But the disaster that Iraq is does not approach what it was during the occupation. Much less has Iraq grown dramatically worse post-occupation, as we were warned for years by those advocating continued warfare.
Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan — or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country — would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations, and would make us the most beloved nation on earth. I bet we’d favor that course if asked. We were asked on Syria, and we told pollsters we favored aid, not missiles.
We stopped the missiles. Congress members in both houses and parties said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before. But we didn’t stop the guns that we opposed even more than the missiles in polls. The CIA shipped the guns to the fighters without asking us or the Congress. And Syrians didn’t get the aid that we favored.
We aren’t asked about the drone strikes. We aren’t asked about most military operations. And we aren’t being asked about Afghanistan. Nor is Congress asserting its power to decide. This state of affairs suggests that we haven’t learned our lesson from the Syrian Missile Crisis. Fewer than one percent of us flooded Congress and the media with our voices, and we had a tremendous impact. The lesson we should learn is that we can do that again and again with each new war proposal.
What if two percent of us called, emailed, visited, protested, rallied, spoke-out, educated, and non-violently resisted 10 more years in Afghanistan? We’d have invented a new disease. They’d replace the Vietnam Syndrome with the Afghanistan Syndrome. Politicians would conclude that the U.S. public was just not going to stand for any more wars. Only reluctantly would they try to sneak the next one past us.
Or we could sit back and keep quiet while a Nobel Peace Prize winner drags a war he’s “ending” out for another decade, establishing that there’s very little in the way of warmaking outrages that we won’t allow them to roll right over us.
Many of the ills of the modern world — starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease — are likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts.
The report uses the word “exacerbate” repeatedly to describe warming’s effect on poverty, lack of water, disease and even the causes of war.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income.
A leaked copy of a draft of the summary of the report appeared online Friday on a climate skeptic’s website. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.
“We’ve seen a lot of impacts and they’ve had consequences,” Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who heads the report, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “And we will see more in the future.”
Cities, where most of the world now lives, have the highest vulnerability, as do the globe’s poorest people.
“Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger,” the report says. “Climate change will exacerbate poverty in low- and lower-middle income countries and create new poverty pockets in upper-middle to high-income countries with increasing inequality.”
For people living in poverty, the report says, “climate-related hazards constitute an additional burden.”
The report says scientists have high confidence especially in what it calls certain “key risks”:
People dying from warming- and sea rise-related flooding, especially in big cities.
- Famine because of temperature and rain changes, especially for poorer nations.
- Farmers going broke because of lack of water.
- Infrastructure failures because of extreme weather.
- Dangerous and deadly heat waves worsening.
- Certain land and marine ecosystems failing.
“Human interface with the climate system is occurring and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems,” the 29-page summary says.
Exacerbating current health problems
None of the harms talked about in the report is solely due to global warming nor is climate change even the No. 1 cause, the scientists say. But a warmer world, with bursts of heavy rain and prolonged drought, will worsen some of these existing effects, they say.
For example, in disease, the report says until about 2050 “climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating health problems that already exist” and then it will lead to worse health compared to a future with no further warming.
‘Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, intergroup violence and violent protests.’– Report
If emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas continue at current trajectories, “the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year will compromise normal human activities including growing food or working outdoors,” the report says.
Scientists say the global economy may continue to grow, but once the global temperature hits about 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than now, it could lead to worldwide economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0 percent of income.
One of the more controversial sections of the report involves climate change and war.
“Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, intergroup violence and violent protests by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks,” the report says.
Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the international study team, told the AP that the report’s summary confirms what researchers have known for a long time: “Climate change threatens our health, land, food and water security.”
The summary went through each continent detailing risks and possible ways that countries can adapt to them.
For North America, the highest risks over the long term are from wildfires, heat waves and flooding. Water — too much and too little — and heat are the biggest risks for Europe, South America and Asia, with South America and Asia having to deal with drought-related food shortages.
Africa gets those risks and more: starvation, pests and disease. Australia and New Zealand get the unique risk of losing their coral reef ecosystems, and small island nations have to be worried about being inundated by rising seas.
Field said experts paint a dramatic contrast of possible futures, but because countries can lessen some of the harms through reduced fossil fuel emissions and systems to cope with other changes, he said he doesn’t find working on the report depressing.
“The reason I’m not depressed is because I see the difference between a world in which we don’t do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem,” he said.
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