| Barack Obama ‘approved tapping Angela Merkel’s phone 3 years ago!’

Barack Obama ‘approved tapping Angela Merkel’s phone 3 years ago’ ~  , New York and Louise Barnett in Berlin, The Telegraph.

President Barack Obama was told about monitoring of German Chancellor in 2010 and allowed it to continue, says German newspaper.

Obama 'approved tapping Merkel's phone 3 years ago'

Mr Obama was told of the secret monitoring of Mrs Merkel by General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, in 2010, according to Bild am Sonntag, a German newspaper.  Photo: AFP/GETTY

President Barack Obama was dragged into the trans-Atlantic spying row after it was claimed he personally authorised the monitoring of Angela Merkel’s phone three years ago.

The president allegedly allowed US intelligence to listen to calls from theGerman Chancellor’s mobile phone after he was briefed on the operation by Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), in 2010.

The latest claim, reported in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, followed reports in Der Spiegel that the surveillance of Mrs Merkel’s phone began as long ago as 2002, when she was still the opposition leader, three years before being elected Chancellor. That monitoring only ended in the weeks before Mr Obama visited Berlin in June this year, the magazine added.

Citing leaked US intelligence documents, it also reported that America conducted eavesdropping operations on the German government from a listening post at its embassy beside the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, one of more than 80 such centres worldwide.

Mr Obama’s European allies will now ask him to say what he personally knew about the NSA’s global eavesdropping operation and its targeting of world leaders, including those from friendly states. The White House declined to comment on the German media reports.

Last week, however, Mr Obama assured Mrs Merkel that her phone is not being monitored now – and will not be in future. But the US has pointedly declined to discuss the NSA’s actions in the past.

Its surveillance operations raises questions about whether US officials breached domestic laws. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the German interior minister, said: “If the Americans intercepted cellphones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil”. He noted that wiretapping was a crime in Germany and “those responsible must be held accountable”.

Even before the latest reports, German intelligence chiefs were preparing to travel to Washington this week to demand answers from the NSA about the alleged surveillance of Mrs Merkel.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, received a dose of European fury this weekend when he visited Paris and Rome. The trip was arranged to discuss the Middle East peace process, the Syrian civil war and Iran’s nuclear programme. Instead, he was confronted by outrage over the scale of US surveillance operations.

“The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us,” said Bernard Kouchner, a former French foreign minister, in a radio interview. “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”

According to the leaked documents in Spiegel, NSA officials acknowledged that any disclosure of the existence of the foreign listening posts would lead to “grave damage” for US relations with other governments.

Such posts exist in 19 European cities, including Paris, Madrid, Rome and Frankfurt, according to the magazine, which has based its reports on documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.

Mr Obama did not comment, but Republican supporters of the US intelligence community began a fightback on the political talk-shows.

Mike Rogers, the chairman of the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, said that America’s allies should be grateful for surveillance operations which targeted terrorist threats. “I would argue by the way, if the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.

“It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the US safe. It keeps our European allies safe.”

Peter King, a fellow Republican congressman, said that Mr Obama should not apologise for NSA operations in Europe. “The president should stop apologising, stop being defensive,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe. Quite frankly, the NSA has done so much for our country and so much for the president, he’s the commander in chief. He should stand with the NSA.”

John Schindler, a former NSA official, noted that planning for the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001 had taken place in Hamburg.

“If 9/11 had happened to Germany and been planned in NY not Hamburg, I’d expect [German] intel to monitor USA top 2 bottom,” he wrote on Twitter.

A German intelligence official, quoted by Die Welt, said: “The Americans did not want to rely exclusively on us after September 11th. That is understandable.”

Another told the newspaper: “Without information from the Americans, there would have been successful terrorist attacks in Germany in the past years.”

More from The Telegraph



| Rouhani returns to mixed reception in Tehran!

Rouhani returns to mixed reception in Tehran ~ Al Jazeera.

Iranian president greeted by both flung shoe and grateful supporters after historic conversation with President Obama.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has returned to Tehran to a mixed reception, with one protester throwing a shoe at his vehicle while dozens of others chanted slogans in support of him, after having ahistoric conversation with Barack Obama, his US counterpart.

Some 60 demonstrators chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as Rouhani’s motorcade drew out of Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on Saturday, but they were outnumbered by 200 to 300 supporters of the president who shouted: “Thank you Rouhani”.

A small police contingent separated the rival demonstrators.

The shoe missed the car and Rouhani stood up through the sunroof to acknowledge the crowds.

Before leaving New York where he attended the UN General Assembly, Rouhani had a 15-minute telephone conversation with President Obama on Friday, the first contact between leaders of the two countries since 1979.

Obama hails talks

Obama, speaking from the White House, said after speaking with Rouhani that he believed the two countries could reach a comprehensive solution over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The president said he and Rouhani had both directed their teams to work quickly to pursue an agreement.

He said the US will co-ordinate closely with its allies, including Israel, which considers an Iranian nuclear weapon capability to be an existential threat.

Obama said the conversation showed the possibility of moving forward and that it was a unique opportunity to make progress with Iran over an issue that has isolated it from the West.

Iranian and UN officials have been meeting to continue talks on how to investigate suspicions that Iran has worked secretly on trying to develop nuclear weapons, claims which are denied by Tehran.

Foreign language exchange

The impetus for the call came from Iranian officials, who US officials said told them hours earlier in New York that Rouhani wanted to speak to Obama before leaving the United Nations General Assembly.

The White House had indicated to Tehran earlier this week that it was open to an informal encounter between the leaders at the UN.

But the Iranians at the time said such a meeting was too complicated, raising questions as to whether Rouhani was wary of angering hardliners in Iran’s clerical hierarchy.

The leaders’ momentous conversation took place when Rouhani was on his way to the airport in his official limousine, the Iranian side said.

Obama spoke in English and Rouhani spoke Farsi as they chatted through interpreters, according to US officials.

But before hanging up, in an exchange that would have been thought impossible only days ago, Obama bade Rouhani “khodahafez” – Farsi for “goodbye.”

Rouhani replied “Have a good day, Mr President” in English, according to tweets by the Iranian leader’s office and a US official.




| Now Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks!

Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks ~

Exclusive: Top-secret directive steps up offensive cyber capabilities to ‘advance US objectives around the world’

• Read the secret presidential directive here

Link to video: Obama defends internet surveillance programmes

Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks, a top secret presidential directive obtained by the Guardian reveals.

The 18-page Presidential Policy Directive 20, issued in October last year but never published, states that what it calls Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) “can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging”.

It says the government will “identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power”.

The directive also contemplates the possible use of cyber actions inside the US, though it specifies that no such domestic operations can be conducted without the prior order of the president, except in cases of emergency.

The aim of the document was “to put in place tools and a framework to enable government to make decisions” on cyber actions, a senior administration official told the Guardian.

The administration published some declassified talking points from the directive in January 2013, but those did not mention the stepping up of America’s offensive capability and the drawing up of a target list.

Obama’s move to establish a potentially aggressive cyber warfare doctrine will heighten fears over the increasing militarization of the internet.

The directive’s publication comes as the president plans to confront his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a summit in California on Friday over alleged Chinese attacks on western targets.

Even before the publication of the directive, Beijing had hit back against US criticism, with a senior official claiming to have “mountains of data” on American cyber-attacks he claimed were every bit as serious as those Chinawas accused of having carried out against the US.

Presidential Policy Directive 20 defines OCEO as “operations and related programs or activities … conducted by or on behalf of the United StatesGovernment, in or through cyberspace, that are intended to enable or produce cyber effects outside United States government networks.”

Asked about the stepping up of US offensive capabilities outlined in the directive, a senior administration official said: “Once humans develop the capacity to build boats, we build navies. Once you build airplanes, we build air forces.”

The official added: “As a citizen, you expect your government to plan for scenarios. We’re very interested in having a discussion with our international partners about what the appropriate boundaries are.”

The document includes caveats and precautions stating that all US cyber operations should conform to US and international law, and that any operations “reasonably likely to result in significant consequences require specific presidential approval”.

The document says that agencies should consider the consequences of any cyber-action. They include the impact on intelligence-gathering; the risk of retaliation; the impact on the stability and security of the internet itself; the balance of political risks versus gains; and the establishment of unwelcome norms of international behaviour.

Among the possible “significant consequences” are loss of life; responsive actions against the US; damage to property; serious adverse foreign policy or economic impacts.

The US is understood to have already participated in at least one major cyber attack, the use of the Stuxnet computer worm targeted on Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges, the legality of which has been the subject of controversy. US reports citing high-level sources within the intelligence services said the US and Israel were responsible for the worm.

In the presidential directive, the criteria for offensive cyber operations in the directive is not limited to retaliatory action but vaguely framed as advancing “US national objectives around the world”.

The revelation that the US is preparing a specific target list for offensive cyber-action is likely to reignite previously raised concerns of security researchers and academics, several of whom have warned that large-scale cyber operations could easily escalate into full-scale military conflict.

Sean Lawson, assistant professor in the department of communication at the University of Utah, argues: “When militarist cyber rhetoric results in use of offensive cyber attack it is likely that those attacks will escalate into physical, kinetic uses of force.”

An intelligence source with extensive knowledge of the National Security Agency’s systems told the Guardian the US complaints again China were hypocritical, because America had participated in offensive cyber operations and widespread hacking – breaking into foreign computer systems to mine information.

Provided anonymity to speak critically about classified practices, the source said: “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

The US likes to haul China before the international court of public opinion for “doing what we do every day”, the source added.

One of the unclassified points released by the administration in January stated: “It is our policy that we shall undertake the least action necessary to mitigate threats and that we will prioritize network defense and law enforcement as preferred courses of action.”

The full classified directive repeatedly emphasizes that all cyber-operations must be conducted in accordance with US law and only as a complement to diplomatic and military options. But it also makes clear how both offensive and defensive cyber operations are central to US strategy.

Under the heading “Policy Reviews and Preparation”, a section marked “TS/NF” – top secret/no foreign – states: “The secretary of defense, the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], and the director of the CIA … shall prepare for approval by the president through the National Security Advisor a plan that identifies potential systems, processes and infrastructure against which the United States should establish and maintain OCEO capabilities…” The deadline for the plan is six months after the approval of the directive.

The directive provides that any cyber-operations “intended or likely to produce cyber effects within the United States” require the approval of the president, except in the case of an “emergency cyber action”. When such an emergency arises, several departments, including the department of defense, are authorized to conduct such domestic operations without presidential approval.

Obama further authorized the use of offensive cyber attacks in foreign nations without their government’s consent whenever “US national interests and equities” require such nonconsensual attacks. It expressly reserves the right to use cyber tactics as part of what it calls “anticipatory action taken against imminent threats”.

The directive makes multiple references to the use of offensive cyber attacks by the US military. It states several times that cyber operations are to be used only in conjunction with other national tools and within the confines of law.

When the directive was first reported, lawyers with the Electronic PrivacyInformation Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request for it to be made public. The NSA, in a statement, refused to disclose the directive on the ground that it was classified.

In January, the Pentagon announced a major expansion of its Cyber Command Unit, under the command of General Keith Alexander, who is also the director of the NSA. That unit is responsible for executing both offensive and defensive cyber operations.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon publicly accused China for the first time of being behind attacks on the US. The Washington Post reported last month that Chinese hackers had gained access to the Pentagon’s most advanced military programs.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, identified cyber threats in general as the top national security threat.

Obama officials have repeatedly cited the threat of cyber-attacks to advocate new legislation that would vest the US government with greater powers to monitor and control the internet as a means of guarding against such threats.

One such bill currently pending in Congress, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa), has prompted serious concerns from privacy groups, who say that it would further erode online privacy while doing little to enhance cyber security.

In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, national security council spokeswoman, said: “We have not seen the document the Guardian has obtained, as they did not share it with us. However, as we have already publicly acknowledged, last year the president signed a classified presidential directive relating to cyber operations, updating a similar directive dating back to 2004. This step is part of the administration’s focus on cybersecurity as a top priority. The cyber threat has evolved, and we have new experiences to take into account.

“This directive establishes principles and processes for the use of cyber operations so that cyber tools are integrated with the full array of national security tools we have at our disposal. It provides a whole-of-government approach consistent with the values that we promote domestically and internationally as we have previously articulated in the International Strategy for Cyberspace.

“This directive will establish principles and processes that can enable more effective planning, development, and use of our capabilities. It enables us to be flexible, while also exercising restraint in dealing with the threats we face. It continues to be our policy that we shall undertake the least action necessary to mitigate threats and that we will prioritize network defense and law enforcement as the preferred courses of action. The procedures outlined in this directive are consistent with the US Constitution, including the president’s role as commander in chief, and other applicable law and policies.”




| Sorry Mr. President: Actually, Corporations are the People of the Year!

Corporations are the people of the year, my friend ~ Tim Fernholz, Quartz.


Who’s the most important newsmaker of the year? Time magazine says Barack Obama. We disagree. It’s the American corporation.

Ever since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reminded us of the legal fiction of corporate personhood during the past summer’s presidential campaign—“corporations are people, friend!”—we’ve looked at the organizational structure in a new, more personal light. While Time, the popularizers of the person of the year concept, is right that the president dominated 2012, it’s worth remembering this: His term has largely been defined by his efforts to rescue corporations from themselves, and their attempts to fight his policy agenda.

And it turns out corporations have had quite the resurgence in the past year:

Corporate profits as a percentage of US GDP chart

What you’re seeing is after-tax corporate profits as a percentage of the US economy, and the the last decade has just been swell for them; record-setting, in fact, despite the crisis. Corporate profits now make up more than one-tenth of the whole economy! This is a highly unusual situation to be in, and well worthy of recognizing.

Our case further solidifies with a look at how poorly unincorporated persons have fared in recent years:

A measure of labor's share of US national income.

A measure of labor’s share of US national income.Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

That chart comes from this research at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, which shows the share of national income that goes to workers. It’s a story with many factors, but the overarching theme is that of capital income eclipsing labor income. This is all thanks to high unemployment, which hurts wage growth, the favorable tax treatment of corporations and the income they produce for investors, and advances in productivity that make fewer people capable of doing much more work.

And it’s not just that corporations are competing with real people in the economic environment. They are also doing so in the political sphere, using $1 billion to influence the 2012 presidential election after a Supreme Court decision that removed limits on corporate political spending. The bulk of that money went, appropriately, to support Romney, but though he failed to win, the ads—like thisscare-mongering number about China—helped shape the campaign narrative. The SuperPAC funded by Sheldon Adelson’s businesses was almost single-handedly bankrolling the presidential campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last year, and that’s got to count for something.

Corporations are among the more trusted institutions in our public life: Small businesses and technology companies are the two institutions with the most positive impact, according to Pew Center data, and while large corporations are viewed to have a negative impact, they’re considered more beneficial than the news media and the federal government.

Then there’s the criminal activity. HSBC, the global bank, entered a deferred-prosecution agreement with the US government to settle charges of money-laundering, proving far more robust than people charged with the same offenses.

Time magazine also included two business leaders on its shortlist—Apple CEO Tim Cook and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. While both may be talented individuals, they would be nothing without the corporate bodies undergirding their success. Tim Cook is just a stand-in for “the year Apple became the globe’s biggest-ever company” (score another point for corporations) while Mayer’s nomination, well, it’s not yet clear what Yahoo has done under her tenure, but the fact that the internet-era dinosaur still exists is a point in favor of corporate resilience.

Indeed, as global economies struggle for growth, the only institutions showing much adaptability to the world-spanning economy are multinational companies that operate in many jurisdictions, seizing opportunities and extracting value at will. People are limited by their physicality, their mortality and, in some cases, an unwillingness to make quarterly earnings their guiding principle. The corporate person as a globe-spanning abstraction, potentially immortal and amorally efficient, is by far the better symbol of our times.

In awarding our person of the year award to “the corporation,” we hope we have at least made one thing clear: “Person of the year” is a fairly silly analytical concept.



| Murdering the Palestinians while rationalizing Obama’s police state!

Murdering the Palestinians while rationalizing Obama’s police state ~ Larry PinkneyIntrepid Report.

“I demand that notice be taken of my negating activity insofar as I pursue something other than life; insofar as I do battle for the creation of a human world—that is, of a world of reciprocal recognitions.”—Frantz Fanon

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” — Frederick Douglass

The horrible and massive Israeli Zionist slaughter of Palestinian children, women, and old and young men is, in fact, an ongoing bloody affair which takes place due to the blatant and constant support on part of the pro-apartheid Zionist, war criminal U.S. president Barack Obama and his corporate-owned Democrat and Republican party cohorts.

This is the politics of deliberate genocide, terror, and subterfuge. It is also the politics of continued unabated hatred and instability against the everyday ordinary peoples throughout Mother Earth; for as long as this terror, instability, hatred and fear is perpetuated—the U.S. and other ‘Western’ governments have the pretext with which to suppress or outright eradicate the civil liberties and human rights of persons (citizens and non-citizens alike)within the borders of their own nations.

Occasionally, as in recent weeks, the massive wounding and slaughter of the de facto occupied Palestinian people became so obvious that the overwhelmingly biased pro-Zionist U.S. corporate-stream media found it necessary and convenient to intensify its unceasing disinformation and misinformation campaign against the Palestinian people, in particular, and against Arab and African peoples, in general. However, the reality is that allpeople on this planet—be they of so-called Arab, African, Asian, or European, descent are the victims of this deliberately perpetuated insanity.

Both the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Jews are, essentially, Semitic people. More importantly however, they—like the rest of the people who inhabit Mother Earth—are human. The conflict between the nation-state of Israel and the occupied Palestinian people is fostered by a combination of an ideologically-driven apartheid-Zionism combined with an entrenched refusal on the part of the U.S. and its allies to address the root causes and legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people. There can and will be no genuine or lasting peace with justice until these root causes are forthrightly addressed.

Grasping history in order to understand the present

At this juncture, it should be clearly understood that all Jewish people are notZionists just as, for example, in the 1930s and 40s all Italians and Germans were by no means fascists. On the other hand, there are some non-Jewish persons, such as Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who are in fact ardently pro-apartheid Zionist. Moreover, it is important to understand that there are deep historical and contemporary factors which shape the unacceptable present day realities, not only as pertains to Palestine and the Middle East, but as it relates to the rest of the world. As long as we remain ignorant and in denial of historical and contemporary causal factors, we remain as malleable putty in the hands of those national and international misleaders who use disinformation, fear, and subterfuge to sustain and maintain their economic and political power—at the horrible expense of everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people.

Obama’s bloody hypocrisy

On November 18, 2012, the wily pro-apartheid Zionist, corporate-owned U.S. president, Barack Obama, in an insipid attempt to defend the recentindefensible actions by the Israeli Zionists to massively attack Gaza and wound and slaughter Palestinian people, publicly stated: “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside of its borders.” The utter hypocrisy of Obama’s afore described statement issurpassed only by the blood of the innocent children, women, and men murdered by Obama’s own missiles “raining down on” them from outside of their national borders in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, and elsewhere. Obama’s hypocritical defense of the murderous actions by the Israeli Zionists is an attempt by one war criminal (i.e., Barack Obama) to defend the indefensible actions of other war criminals (the Israeli Zionists). This, of course, represents Barack Obama’s own brand of massive state-sanctioned terrorism, which in turn, guarantees violent reprisals—which is exactly what Barack Obama, his corporate masters, and their political minions are counting on.

What better way to ensure ‘terrorism’ at home and abroad than by planting, in the fallacious name of peace and national security, ticking political time bombs throughout the world while using that very ‘terrorism’ as the manufactured pretext for ushering in and perpetuating a de facto police state at home? The corporate- owned Barack Obama and his accomplices know precisely what they are doing to the people of this nation and the world—and it has nothing whatsoever to do with economic, political, or physical security for the everyday people of this nation and world!

It should be kept in mind that this same Barack Obama signed the draconian indefinite detention provision of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act)into law, which egregious police state provision impacts both citizens and non-citizens alike inside the United States. Furthermore, this is the very same Barack Obama who has his very own ‘Kill List,’ bestowing upon himself the ‘right’ to engage in unmitigated extrajudicial murders of U.S. citizens and non-citizens anywhere in the world without even the pretense of due process of U.S. law and in horrendous violation of international law. [Reference: The NDAA and Obama’s secret kill list—are you on it?]. Finally, this is the same Barack Obama who, without congressional approval and in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and international law, attacked and “rained down” missiles and bombs upon the people of Libya (North Africa), not to mention the other sovereign nations that he has and is militarily attacking.

There can be no doubt whatever that Barack Obama, in service to his corporate masters, is an utter and complete war criminal and that he and his Democrat and Republican Party cohorts have also economically and politically blind-sided, emaciated, and enslaved, as never before, the people of all colors in the United States—all in the hypocritical name of ‘national security,’ etc.

The physical atrocities being practiced jointly by the Zionist Israeli nation-state and the United States against the ordinary people of Palestine are part and parcel of a much larger scenario of economic and political apartheid being waged against the everyday people of Mother Earth by an insatiably greedy U.S. and global corporate elite.

Link the issues and connect the dots

It is imperative that the ordinary everyday people of the United States and the entire world link the issues and connect the dots between the ongoing atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people and how we ourselves are being duped, set-up, manipulated, economically emaciated, and used as political and physical pawns and cannon fodder by the U.S. and global corporate elite which is currently represented by Barack Obama.

Ordinary peace and justice-loving people of all colors, ethnicities, and nationalities throughout Mother Earth are the targets and victims of perpetual wars and economic austerity. This did not come about through mere osmosis. War, which is actually organized ‘terrorism,’ is big business for the corporate elite profiteers. Missiles, drones, bombs, timers, tanks, warplanes, warships, bullets, land mines, and a litany of related equipment, represent many trillionsof dollars for the corporate elite. The enormous loss in human lives and the pillage of Mother Earth are of little or no consequence to this scandalous corporate elite. In fact ordinary everyday people, who are the cannon fodder and victims in these wars and/or military adventures, are viewed withdemonstrative contempt by this corporate elite. We are viewed as idiots and fools to be manipulated, used, and discarded—as Barack Obama and his ilk (including the corporate-stream media) repeatedly demonstrate by their lies, omissions, and subterfuge.

If we everyday ordinary people link the issues and connect the dots we begin to realize that, in varying degrees, we are all Palestinians. If we link the issues and connect the dots we can take back the political narrative from these corporate-owned political misleaders and their minions, and in so doing, we can begin to regain our dignity and humanity.

Remember well the words of Frederick Douglass when he said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” So do not give up or give in! Resist! In Joe Hill’s words, “Don’t Mourn. Organize!” This is a long and arduous struggle—but it is we, the ordinary everyday people, who will ultimately prevail!

Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward, then, my sisters and brothers. Onward!


Intrepid Report Associate Editor Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities, Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. Pinkney is a former university instructor of political science and international relations, and his writings have been published in various places, including The Boston Globe, the San Francisco BayView newspaper, the Black Commentator, Global Research (Canada), LINKE ZEITUNG (Germany), and Mayihlome News (Azania/South Africa). For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist 



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| Electoral Reform: Time to end the US Electoral College!

It’s Time to End the Electoral College ~ Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation.

America can be a strange place. Tuesday night, after learning that President Obama had won Ohio and thus (what a relief!) secured re-election, many of us went to sleep without knowing which candidate more Americans had voted for.

It turns out Obama won the popular vote too, averting a much-predicted electoral college/popular vote split. Some will argue that winning the popular vote as well as the electoral college gives Obama more of a mandate to govern—and it should. But this election—the latest to be fought out over a dozen counties rather than fifty states—should still offer an inspiration to fix how we pick our presidents.

Some argued in recent weeks that Obama wouldn’t score a “real” win if he secured the electoral college alone. But the real issue wasn’t the legitimacy of a victory—it was the integrity of our democracy. After all, this election was governed by the archaic rules we still use. Both campaigns knew this, and essentially wrote off efforts to win the popular vote for its own sake. A popular vote election would have been a very different election in all kinds of respects (consider the drop-off in Obama’s support in deep-blue states, which neither side had reason to care about).

(Facile comparisons to 2000 were inevitable, and of course that election also illustrated the inanity of the electoral college. But liberal rejection of that election’s legitimacy was based in other outrages: names expunged; voters intimidated; translators denied; recounts halted; malfunctioning machines.)

But what we do know is that every American would have had the chance to participate on an equal basis, in sharp contrast to our current system in which four out of five are absolutely ignored by both campaigns.

Electoral college defenders offer a range of arguments, from the openly anti-democratic (direct election equals mob rule), to the nostalgic (we’ve always done it this way), to the opportunistic (your little state will get ignored! More vote-counting means more controversies! The Electoral College protects hurricane victims!). But none of those arguments overcome this one: One person, one vote.

Our current system has a different pedigree: the “three-fifths compromise” between slave states and free states. As Yale constitutional law expert Akhil Amar has pointed out, James Madison wrote in his diary that the question of counting slaves posed a challenge “of a serious nature.… The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.”

The American electorate has been transformed since then. But not the Electoral College. In a 2000 editorial, we called our system “a drafty old house.” Perhaps we were being too generous.

As Harvard historian Alexander Keyssar observed, “It is hardly an accident that no other country in the world has imitated our Electoral College.” Imagine, for a moment, trying to convince constitution-writers in any newly democratic nation that there are more prudent alternatives to one person, one vote. Or proposing that California, which is large and diverse in its own right, assign votes to its various regions rather than to its citizens. Or suggesting that the US choose its president by tabulating who won the battleground age groups, or classes or religions.

So what can be done? Congress could get the ball rolling but, with Republicans holding the House, we shouldn’t hold our breath. Fortunately, we don’t have to. Thanks to Amar’s clever strategy and advocates’ savvy organizing, there’s an alternative, with momentum: state-by-state National Popular Vote (NPV).

The concept is simple: individual state legislatures pledge that they’ll assign all of their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote—conditional on enough other states following suit. Once a majority of the nation’s electoral votes rest in states that have passed NPV measures, the laws go into effect and winning the popular vote becomes the only way to win. This elegantly exploits one of the perversities of our current system—there’s no individual, federal right to have your ballot counted—and turns it against the system itself. It’s a state-based solution that could finally force a federal popular-vote election.

And it’s gaining steam. In fact, it’s almost halfway there. Nine states with 132 electoral votes have already passed NPV (that’s 49 percent of the necessary 270 electoral votes). While opponents claim that popular vote elections (read: democracy) would doom small states to irrelevance, some small states aren’t convinced. NPV supporters include not just California (fifty-five electoral votes), but states like Maryland (ten), Hawaii (four), and Vermont (three). After another election fought out over state like Ohio and Florida, it’s not hard to imagine why. In 2008, Ohio drew more campaign cash and visits than the smallest twenty-five states; this year’s stats will be even worse.

“Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone,” Obama told the crowd late Tuesday night, “whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.” It’s time to end the Electoral College, so those words can pack a greater punch.

Obama won the popular vote last night thanks to a diverse coaltion of citizens. Check out The Nationeditors’ take on “A Progressive Surge” in this election.


| President Barack Obama defeats Romney to win re-election!

President Barack Obama defeats Romney to win re-election ~ BBC.



Barack Obama: “I have never been more hopeful”

President Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

America’s first black president secured more than the 270 votes in the electoral college needed to win.

In his victory speech before supporters in Chicago, Mr Obama said he would talk to Mr Romney about “where we can work together to move this country forward”.

Mr Obama prevailed despite lingering dissatisfaction with the economy and a hard-fought challenge by Mr Romney.

His Democrats also retained their majority in the Senate, which they have held since 2007.



  • California 55
  • Colorado 9
  • Connecticut 7
  • District of Colombria 3
  • Delaware 3
  • Hawaii 4
  • Iowa 6
  • Illinois 20
  • Massachusetts 11
  • Maryland 10
  • Maine 4
  • Michigan 16
  • Minnesota 10
  • New Hampshire 4
  • New Jersey 14
  • New Mexico 5
  • Nevada 6
  • New York 29
  • Ohio 18
  • Oregon 7
  • Pennsylvania 20
  • Rhode Island 4
  • Virginia 13
  • Vermont 3
  • Washington 12
  • Wisconsin 10
  • Alaska 3
  • Alabama 9
  • Arkansas 6
  • Arizona 11
  • Georgia 16
  • Idaho 4
  • Indiana 11
  • Kansas 6
  • Kentucky 8
  • Louisiana 8
  • Missouri 10
  • Mississippi 6
  • Montana 3
  • North Carolina 15
  • North Dakota 3
  • Nebraska 5
  • Oklahoma 7
  • South Carolina 9
  • South Dakota 3
  • Tennessee 11
  • Texas 38
  • Utah 6
  • West Virginia 5
  • Wyoming 3
270 to win

The Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives, which analysts say will likely result in more of the gridlock that characterised Mr Obama’s first term, with the House and the president at loggerheads on most legislation.

In his address, the president challenged his opponents, asking them to work with him.

With only Florida’s 29 electoral votes still undecided, Mr Obama won 303 electoral votes to Mr Romney’s 206.

The popular vote, which is symbolically and politically important but not decisive in the race, remains very close.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

In 2008, they built a coalition forged in the white heat of passion. In 2012, they carefully constructed it, patiently persuading supporters to become voters. Both candidates said this was a choice of two visions, America has chosen. ”

image of Mark Mardell
Mark Mardell North America editor

‘One nation’ speech

Mr Obama congratulated Mr Romney and Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan on their hard-fought campaign.

“We have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come,” he said.

Mr Obama said he was returning to the White House “more determined, and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do, and the future that lies ahead”.

He pledged to work with Republican leaders in Congress to reduce the government’s budget deficit, fix the tax code and reform the immigration system.

“We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation,” he said.

In Boston, where his campaign was based, Mr Romney congratulated the president and said he and Mr Ryan had “left everything on the field” and had given their all in the campaign.

Continue reading the main story

US media reaction

Thomas L Friedman of the New York Times writes: “No one can know for sure what complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama’s way… it came down to a majority of Americans believing that whatever his faults, Obama was trying his hardest to fix what ails the country.”

Dan Balz of the Washington Post says: “Tuesday’s election produced an uncertain mandate, although Obama will attempt to claim one. Obama offered a plan, but not one that deals directly with some of the problems he will have to confront immediately.”

Wall Street Journal opinion piece read: “[Obama] said little during the campaign about his first term and even less about his plans for a second. Instead his strategy was to portray Mitt Romney as a plutocrat… it worked with brutal efficiency – the definition of winning ugly.”

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times writes: “If we’re lucky, we will find that we elected a different Obama from the one who won four years ago – not just a grayer Obama but a wiser one too.”

Referring to the struggling economy, Mr Romney said now was not the time for “partisan bickering and political posturing”, and thatRepublicans and Democrats must “put people before politics”.

“I so wish that I had been able to fulfil your hopes to lead the country in a different direction but the nation chose another leader and so I join with you to earnestly pray for [Mr Obama] and for this great nation,” he said.

Under the US constitution, each state is given a number of electoral votes in rough proportion to its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral votes – by prevailing in the mostly winner-takes-all state contests – becomes president.

On Tuesday, the president held the White House by assembling solid Democratic states and a number of important swing states such as Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin. His narrow victory in Ohio, a critical Mid-Western swing state, sealed the victory.

In other key ballots:

  • Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved same-sex marriage in local referendums
  • Colorado and Washington state voted to legalise recreational use of marijuana
  • California voters rejected a proposal to abolish the death penalty
  • Puerto Ricans voted in a referendum on whether to maintain their status as a US “free associated state”. Early results suggest a majority answered “No”, voting in favour of becoming the 51st US state, if Congress approves the move.

Billions spentMr Romney won North Carolina and Indiana, both of which Mr Obama won in 2008, as well as the solid Republican states.

But he was unable to win in Ohio or other states needed to breach the 270 threshold.

Also on Tuesday’s ballot were 11 state governorships, a third of the seats in the 100-member US Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

Mr Obama’s victory came despite lingering high unemployment – 7.9% on election day – and tepid economic growth.

But voters gave him credit for his 2009 rescue of the US car industry among other policy accomplishments, and rewarded him for ordering the commando mission that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan last year.

He and Mr Romney, as well as their respective allies, have spent more than $2bn (£1.25bn) – largely on adverts in swing states.

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| Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: 6 critical Foreign Policy Questions that WON’T be raised in the Presidential Debates!

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell 
Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates Peter Van Buren TomDispatch.com, + The Nation.

We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would then try, through persuasion and the marshalling of facts, to clinch the argument. There’d be judges and a winner.

Today’s presidential debates are a long way from Mr. Garrity’s club. It seems that the first rule of the debate club now is: no disagreeing on what matters most. In fact, the two candidates rarely interact with each other at all, typically ditching whatever the question might be for some rehashed set of campaign talking points, all with the complicity of the celebrity media moderators preening about democracy in action. Waiting for another quip about Big Bird is about all the content we can expect.

But the joke is on us. Sadly, the two candidates are stand-ins for Washington in general, a “war” capital whose denizens work and argue, sometimes fiercely, from within a remarkably limited range of options. It was D.C. on autopilot last week for domestic issues; the next two presidential debates are to be in part or fully on foreign policy challenges (of which there are so many). When it comes to foreign—that is, military—policy, the gap between Barack and Mitt is slim to the point of nonexistent on many issues, however much they may badger each other on the subject. That old saw about those who fail to understand history repeating its mistakes applies a little too easily here: the last eleven years have added up to one disaster after another abroad, and without a smidgen of new thinking (guaranteed not to put in an appearance at any of the debates to come), we doom ourselves to more of the same.

So in honor of old Mr. Garrity, here are five critical questions that should be explored (even if all of us know that they won’t be) in the foreign policy-inclusive presidential debates scheduled for October 16 and 22—with a sixth bonus question thrown in for good measure.

1. Is there an end game for the global war on terror?

The current president, elected on the promise of change, altered very little when it came to George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (other than dropping the name). That jewel-in-the-crown of Bush-era offshore imprisonment, Guantanamo, still houses over 160 prisoners held without trial or hope or a plan for what to do with them. While the U.S. pulled its troopsout of Iraq—mostly because our Iraqi “allies” flexed their muscles a bit and threw us out—the war in Afghanistan stumbles on. Drone strikes and other forms of conflict continue in the same places Bush tormented: YemenSomalia and Pakistan (and it’s clear that northern Mali is heading our way).

A huge national security state has been codified in a host of new or expanded intelligence agencies under the Homeland Security umbrella, and Washington seems able to come up with nothing more than a whack-a-mole strategy for ridding itself of the scourge of terror, an endless succession of killings of “Al Qaeda Number 3” guys. Counterterrorism tsar John Brennan, Obama’s drone-meister, has put it this way: “We’re not going to rest until al-Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas.”

So, candidates, the question is: What’s the end game for all this? Even in the worst days of the Cold War, when it seemed impossible to imagine, there was still a goal: the “end” of the Soviet Union. Are we really consigned to the Global War on Terror, under whatever name or no name at all, as an infinite state of existence? Is it now as American as apple pie?

2. Do today’s foreign policy challenges mean that it’s time to retire the Constitution?

A domestic policy crossover question here. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was generally assumed that our amazing Constitution could be adapted to whatever challenges or problems arose. After all, that founding document expanded to end the slavery it had once supported, weathered trials and misuses as dumb as Prohibition and as grave as Red Scares, Palmer Raids, and McCarthyism. The First Amendment grew to cover comic books, nude art works, and a million electronic forms of expression never imagined in the eighteenth century. Starting on September 12, 2001, however, challenges, threats, and risks abroad have been used to justify abandoning core beliefs enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That bill, we are told, can’t accommodate terror threats to the Homeland. Absent the third rail of the Second Amendment and gun ownership (politicians touch it and die), nearly every other key amendment has since been trodden upon.

The First Amendment was sacrificed to silence whistleblowers and journalists. The Fourthand Fifth Amendments were ignored to spy on Americans at home and kill them with drones abroad. (September 30 was the first anniversary of the Obama administration’s firstacknowledged murder without due process of an American—and later his teenaged son—abroad. The U.S. has similarly killed two other Americans abroad via drone, albeit “by accident.”)

So, candidates, the question is: Have we walked away from the Constitution? If so, shouldn’t we publish some sort of notice or bulletin?

3. What do we want from the Middle East?

Is it all about oil? Israel? Old-fashioned hegemony and containment? What is our goal in fighting an intensifying proxy war with Iran, newly expanded into cyberspace? Are we worried about a nuclear Iran, or just worried about a new nuclear club member in general? Will we continue the nineteenth century game of supporting thug dictators who support our policies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Libya (until overwhelmed by events on the ground), and opposing the same actions by other thugs who disagree with us like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar Al Assad? That kind of policy thinking did not work out too well in the long run in Central and South America, and history suggests that we should make up our mind on what America’s goals in the Middle East might actually be. No cheating now —having no policy is a policy of its own.

Candidates, can you define America’s predominant interest in the Middle East and sketch out a series of at least semi-sensical actions in support of it?

4. What is your plan to right-size our military and what about downsizing the global mission?

The decade — and counting — of grinding war in Iraq and Afghanistan has worn the American military down to its lowest point since Vietnam. Though drugs and poor discipline are not tearing out its heart as they did in the 1970s, suicide among soldiers now takes that first chair position. The toll on families of endless deployments is hard to measure but easy to see. The expanding role of the military abroad (reconstruction, peacekeeping, disaster relief, garrisoning a long necklace of bases from Rota, Spain, to Kadena, Okinawa) seems to require a vast standing army. At the same time, the dramatic increase in the development and use of a new praetorian guard, Joint Special Operations Command, coupled with a militarized CIA and its drones, have given the president previously unheard of personal killing power. Indeed, Obama has underscored his unchecked solo role as the “decider” on exactly who gets obliterated by drone assassins.

So, candidates, here’s a two-parter: Given that a huge Occupy Everywhere army is killing more of its own via suicide than any enemy, what will you do to right-size the military and downsize its global mission? Secondly, did this country’s founders really intend for the president to have unchecked personal war-making powers?

5. Since no one outside our borders buys American exceptionalism anymore, what’s next? What is America’s point these days?

The big one. We keep the old myth alive that America is a special, good place, the most “exceptional” of places in fact, but in our foreign policy we’re more like some mean old man, reduced to feeling good about himself by yelling at the kids to get off the lawn (or simply taking potshots at them).

During the Cold War, the American ideal represented freedom to so many people, even if the reality was far more ambiguous. Now, who we are and what we are abroad seems so much grimmer, so much less appealing (as global opinion polls regularly indicate). In light of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and the failure to embrace the Arab Spring, America the Exceptional, has, it seems, run its course.

America the Hegemonic, a tough if unattractive moniker, also seems a goner, given theslow-motion defeat in Afghanistan and the never-ending stalemate that is the Global War on Terror. Resource imperialist? America’s failure to either back away from the Greater Middle East and simply pay the price for oil, or successfully grab the oil, adds up to a “policy” that only encourages ever more instability in the region. The saber rattling that goes with such a strategy (if it can be called that) feels angry, unproductive, and without any doubt unbelievably expensive.

So candidates, here are a few questions: Who exactly are we in the world and who do you want us to be? Are you ready to promote a policy of fighting to be planetary top dog—and we all know where that leads—or can we find a place in the global community? Without resorting to the usual “shining city on a hill” metaphors, can you tell us your vision for America in the world? (Follow up: No really, cut the b.s and answer this one, gentlemen. It’s important!)

6. Bonus Question: To each of the questions above add this: How do you realistically plan to pay for it? For every school and road built in Iraq and Afghanistan on the taxpayer dollar, why didn’t you build two here in the United States? When you insist that we can’t pay for crucial needs at home, explain to us why these can be funded abroad. If your response is we had to spend that money to “defend America,” tell us why building jobs in this country doesn’t do more to defend it than anything done abroad.

Now that might spark a real debate, one that’s long, long overdue.

October 11, 2012


While CIA agents that tortured and killed prisoners go unpunished, whistleblower John Kiriakou faces up to forty-five years in prison.