Friday, May 16, 2014
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013 Saturday, April 27, 2013
Syria’s red lines

Syria’s red lines

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Interview: The photo that got the most likes on Facebook and most tweets on Twitter in their short histories
Photojournalist Scout Tufankjian: “I decided to focus on them rather than taking a wider shot, because I think I’m not alone in finding their relationship to be totally aspirational. The obvious love and respect that they have for each other, and that the relationship is clearly one of equals, despite the fact that he’s the president, is remarkable. So I wanted to focus on them as a couple rather than on them and the crowd, or them and their position.”

Interview: The photo that got the most likes on Facebook and most tweets on Twitter in their short histories

Photojournalist Scout Tufankjian: “I decided to focus on them rather than taking a wider shot, because I think I’m not alone in finding their relationship to be totally aspirational. The obvious love and respect that they have for each other, and that the relationship is clearly one of equals, despite the fact that he’s the president, is remarkable. So I wanted to focus on them as a couple rather than on them and the crowd, or them and their position.”

Friday, October 26, 2012
"In Defense of the Undecided Voter" in the US presidential election

"In Defense of the Undecided Voter" in the US presidential election

(Source: inthesetimes.com)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
anarcho-queer:

25 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Vote For Obama
1. On December 31, 2011, Obama signed the NDAA, giving him the ability to indefinitely detain any U.S. civilian without charge or trial. 
2. Obama supports internet censorship/surveillance. He plans to issue an executive order this year that resembles CISPA if the bill is not passed. 
3. Despite his claims, Obama has killed thousands of people, including civilians and children, with drone strikes.
4. The president redefined the word ‘militant’ to mean ‘all military-age males in a strike zone’. This allows him to refer to civilians killed in a drone strike as ‘militants’ to avoid counting civilian deaths.
5. President Barack Obama signed the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012 earlier this year allowing 30,000 drones to be used on U.S. soil by law enforcement, government agencies, corporations, etc.
6. Obama granted immunity to all government officials involved in torturing detainees. 
7. When a federal judge barred the white house from indefinitely detaining U.S. civilians, the Obama Administration appealed the decision and won the ‘right’ back. 
8. The Obama Administration and Lamar Smith (the creator of SOPA) are working together to have FISA passed. FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant.
9. When ACLU challenged the constitutionality of FISA, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the challenge.
10. Internet censorship has increased under Obama. The government has seized more than 750 domains in the past two years under a program called “Operation in Our Sites.” (.pdf)
11. William Binney, a former official with the National Security Agency, recently said that domestic surveillance in the U.S. has increased under President Obama, and trillions of phone calls, emails and other messages sent by U.S. citizens have been intercepted by the government.
12. Recently, the Obama Administration told a federal court that civilians have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may obtain documents detailing a person’s movements from wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant.
13. The Obama Administration argued in court earlier this year that they can spy on U.S. civilians with impunity. 
14. Even while denouncing Syria’s dictator, Obama has been arming Bahrain’s dictatorship with weapons that has killed several pro-democracy protesters.
15. When journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye reported on a U.S. drone strike that killed 14 women, 21 children and more in Yemen, he was arrested and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. After public outcry, Yemen’s president nearly released Shaye until Barack Obama called him on February 2, 2011 to request Shaye remain imprisoned. 
16. Drone strikes have dramatically increased under Obama. From 2000-2008, Bush authorized a drone strike in Pakistan every 28 days. During Obama’s administration, he authorized a drone strike in Pakistan every 6 days.
17. The Obama Administration is training and arming 15,000 African troops to fight a proxy war in Somalia, possibly violating an UN Embargo.
18. When a group of lawmakers sought documents that proved the Obama Administration illegally sold guns to Mexican drug cartels, Obama invoked executive privilege for the first time to keep to documents hidden. 
19. A few months ago, Obama’s trade documents were leaked. The documents revealed the Obama secretly gave big corporations the right to break domestic laws and violate national sovereignty. 
20. In 2009, Obama secretly cut a deal with lobbyist group PhRMA to reassure’ that industry would be protected against policies it disliked in exchange for support of the legislation and acceptance of other policies.”
21. President Obama deported undocumented immigrants at a faster rate then any other president in history. He is also close to deporting more undocumented immigrants than Bush did during his 8-year presidency. 
22. Obama has been extremely strict when it comes to whistleblowers. In fact, he has indicted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all past administrations combined.
23. Income inequality is worse under Obama than it was under Bush. The 1% received 65% of every dollar created from 2002-2007. The the recovery, 2009-2010, the 1% received 93% of every dollar created.
24. In 2008, Obama promised to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.40/hour. The current minimum wage remains at $7.25.
25. Obama has helped close hundreds of public schools nation-wide and replace them with for-profit charter schools.

anarcho-queer:

25 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Vote For Obama

1. On December 31, 2011, Obama signed the NDAA, giving him the ability to indefinitely detain any U.S. civilian without charge or trial. 

2. Obama supports internet censorship/surveillance. He plans to issue an executive order this year that resembles CISPA if the bill is not passed. 

3. Despite his claims, Obama has killed thousands of people, including civilians and children, with drone strikes.

4. The president redefined the word ‘militant’ to mean ‘all military-age males in a strike zone’. This allows him to refer to civilians killed in a drone strike as ‘militants’ to avoid counting civilian deaths.

5. President Barack Obama signed the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012 earlier this year allowing 30,000 drones to be used on U.S. soil by law enforcement, government agencies, corporations, etc.

6. Obama granted immunity to all government officials involved in torturing detainees

7. When a federal judge barred the white house from indefinitely detaining U.S. civilians, the Obama Administration appealed the decision and won the ‘right’ back. 

8. The Obama Administration and Lamar Smith (the creator of SOPA) are working together to have FISA passed. FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant.

9. When ACLU challenged the constitutionality of FISA, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the challenge.

10. Internet censorship has increased under ObamaThe government has seized more than 750 domains in the past two years under a program called “Operation in Our Sites.” (.pdf)

11. William Binney, a former official with the National Security Agency, recently said that domestic surveillance in the U.S. has increased under President Obama, and trillions of phone calls, emails and other messages sent by U.S. citizens have been intercepted by the government.

12. Recently, the Obama Administration told a federal court that civilians have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may obtain documents detailing a person’s movements from wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant.

13. The Obama Administration argued in court earlier this year that they can spy on U.S. civilians with impunity. 

14. Even while denouncing Syria’s dictator, Obama has been arming Bahrain’s dictatorship with weapons that has killed several pro-democracy protesters.

15. When journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye reported on a U.S. drone strike that killed 14 women, 21 children and more in Yemen, he was arrested and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. After public outcry, Yemen’s president nearly released Shaye until Barack Obama called him on February 2, 2011 to request Shaye remain imprisoned. 

16. Drone strikes have dramatically increased under Obama. From 2000-2008, Bush authorized a drone strike in Pakistan every 28 days. During Obama’s administration, he authorized a drone strike in Pakistan every 6 days.

17. The Obama Administration is training and arming 15,000 African troops to fight a proxy war in Somalia, possibly violating an UN Embargo.

18. When a group of lawmakers sought documents that proved the Obama Administration illegally sold guns to Mexican drug cartels, Obama invoked executive privilege for the first time to keep to documents hidden. 

19. A few months ago, Obama’s trade documents were leaked. The documents revealed the Obama secretly gave big corporations the right to break domestic laws and violate national sovereignty. 

20. In 2009, Obama secretly cut a deal with lobbyist group PhRMA to reassure’ that industry would be protected against policies it disliked in exchange for support of the legislation and acceptance of other policies.

21. President Obama deported undocumented immigrants at a faster rate then any other president in history. He is also close to deporting more undocumented immigrants than Bush did during his 8-year presidency. 

22. Obama has been extremely strict when it comes to whistleblowers. In fact, he has indicted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all past administrations combined.

23. Income inequality is worse under Obama than it was under Bush. The 1% received 65% of every dollar created from 2002-2007. The the recovery, 2009-2010, the 1% received 93% of every dollar created.

24. In 2008, Obama promised to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.40/hour. The current minimum wage remains at $7.25.

25. Obama has helped close hundreds of public schools nation-wide and replace them with for-profit charter schools.

Sunday, September 9, 2012 Sunday, March 18, 2012

#Obama waives the law goodbye

How can a government expect its people to respect the law when its president doesn’t? Obama circumvents his word and the law through the use of waivers. In his first week he signed an executive order to allow a military lobbyist to become the purchaser of arms for the Pentagon. This week, Obama decided he will sign a waiver to continue arming the Egyptian military despite Congress’ human rights requirements

I’d like to sign a waiver in many parts of my life. I’d like to sign a waiver to not pay taxes. I’d like to sign a waiver to refuse standardized testing. I’d like to sign a waiver to break any law I disagree with. But I can’t do that. This is real life and when you break the law there’s consequences. If you cannot agree to that social contract, then don’t participate in the real world and don’t claim to represent the people of a nation.

PS: New York Times, it’s not military “aid.” It’s arming a foreign military that oppresses its own people. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On one side: Obama, the enemy of Zionists. On the other side: #Obama, the friend of #Zionists.

The first picture is a cartoon from the anti-Obama, Christian Zionist blog Daletoons and republished by Mondoweiss. It’s loaded with symbolism, overt and implied. The bottom line is that it says Obama wants to tear down the Wailing Wall, is against peace, and favors sharia law. 

The second picture is a still of the 7-minute film titled America & Israel: An Unbreakable Bond. It’s an official campaign video for Obama. “It begins and ends with the US flag and the Israeli flag side by side – thus bringing the Israeli flag directly into the US election campaign,” writes Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada.

"As such, Obama is legitimizing the role of foreign – although certainly only Israeli leaders – to participate directly in US campaigns. Can we imagine Obama issuing a video in which he is endorsed as pro-Mexican by the President of Mexico, or pro-Canadian by Canada’s prime minister? It’s inconceivable."

So which one is right? 

Obama’s record is solidly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian. Although the video is for his campaign–and as such could be written off merely as political propaganda–it’s hard to argue with the facts presented in the video:

  • Obama blocked the Goldstone report, and pulled the US out of participation in the UN Durban conference on racism.
  • Under Obama, US military aid to Israel increased to “unprecedented levels”
  • “We are making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies.”

This also doesn’t include US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice refusing to applaud Mahmoud Abbas’ speech or the US cutting money to UNESCO after it gave membership to Palestine. Or Obama’s silence during Israel’s 2008 siege on Gaza, his allowance of continued settlement and theft of Palestinian homes and land, and in general the crimes of occupation.

Sunday, January 22, 2012
Atlanta Newspaper Editor: #Israel Should Consider Assassinating #Obama
"Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, a weekly newspaper serving Atlanta’s Jewish community, devoted his January 13, 2012 column to the thorny problem of the U.S. and Israel’s diverging views on the threat posed by Iran. Basically Israel has three options, he wrote: Strike Hezbollah and Hamas, strike Iran, or "order a hit" on Barack Obama. Either way, problem solved!"

Atlanta Newspaper Editor: #Israel Should Consider Assassinating #Obama

"Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, a weekly newspaper serving Atlanta’s Jewish community, devoted his January 13, 2012 column to the thorny problem of the U.S. and Israel’s diverging views on the threat posed by Iran. Basically Israel has three options, he wrote: Strike Hezbollah and Hamas, strike Iran, or "order a hit" on Barack Obama. Either way, problem solved!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

The failed promises of human rights by #Obama:

Dec 29, 2011; Obama signs the NDAA: “Indefinite military detention of Americans became the law of the land

Dec 23, 2011; The trial of Bradley Manning: “For seven days, a makeshift court inside a sprawling military base in Maryland has been hearing evidence in a case that that has raised questions of freedom of speech, the practices of US army intelligence, gender identity and the place of gay personnel in the armed services.”

Barack Obama:

Nov 16, 2008: “I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo and I will follow through on that. I’ve said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m gonna make sure we don’t torture.” 

Nov. 15, 2007: “We’re gonna lead by shutting down Guantanamo and restoring habeas corpus.” 

June 3, 2007: “Our legitimacy is reduced when we got a Guantanamo that is open when we suspend habeas corpus, those kind of things erode our moral claims that we are acting on behalf of broader universal principles.” 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Deconstructing #Obama #budget shows much harm

Some observations of President Obama’s budget proposal FY 2012:

The bad-

1) Creation of ‘land banks’ to develop ‘distressed’ properties- This is code for ‘buy up valuable properties in poor neighborhoods, increase their property values & drive out the locals into poorer neighborhoods.’ In other words: gentrification. It also mentions supporting ‘for-profit development’ with public funds, which is basically subsidizing big construction companies who already have plenty of money. If it’s for small contractors, then say that’s what it’s for; don’t leave it obscure.

2) ‘Invest in low-income youth and adults’- Sounds good on the surface, but lacks details of training, and only says people can ‘apply for funding’ to get training or go to community college, not that there’s more funding for them. 

3) Invest in transportation-Supposedly one of the stalwarts of Keynesian economics. The framework in this budget is loaded with problems. Its first emphasis is on the highway system. This only encourages the use of automobiles rather than public transport. Funding for highways is also the prime example of politicized pet projects, like the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere."

But wait, the budget also includes funding for repairing railways. I’d give the president a pass on this one, but he’s earmarked only 1/3 of the funding for railways that he did for highways.

The president is also giving $2bn to modernize airports. Really? One would think the absurd prices for food and drinks at airports combined with ‘security’ rules banning outside beverages would sufficiently raise enough funds to fix up airports. Or maybe the high taxes on airplane tickets and the large concessions paid by airlines for terminal rental fees would be sufficient? 

Despite all these problems, the largest of them all is that not a single penny goes to investing in green transportation projects (or green projects full stop). Nothing. Not a single mention. The word ‘sustainable’ appears ten times in the proposal, and only once does it refer to energy- and guess what- that’s for granting permits to oil & gas excavation on federal lands!

4) Members of the military will have a higher co-pay on health care- The average co-pay for military members is one-fifth of the national average ($9 vs $45). The administration will raise that. So now sick veterans are punished only because health insurers impose high fees? A better idea would be to require health insurers to do what they’re supposed to, which is cover the cost of health care. Or maybe require lower mark-ups on drugs produced by the giant pharmaceutical companies. The cowardice of the administration’s refusal to stand up to health insurance and drug companies is only exacerbated by passing the buck on to members of the US military, who are often in need of health care only they were fulfilling their duties.

5) Increase fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac- The absurdity of this proposal is that the administration claims that by forcing these lenders to charge to more fees on borrowers, that it’s actually helping protect consumers. 

6) Make flood insurance more expensive- Why is the federal government requiring people with flood insurance to pay higher premiums? Maybe the insurance companies should pay more, not citizens.

7) Sell off federal lands- A long-time favorite of neoliberal advocates of privatization. It doesn’t say what the ‘inefficiencies’ are, and describes federal land as a ‘real estate portfolio.’ Look, federal land is public land. It is the land of the people for the people. The federal parks system is one of the great achievements of protecting the beautiful natural environment of America. To auction it off (possibly to oil and gas companies mentioned in #3 above) is scandalous. It says this program will be modeled after the ‘sucessful Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. BRAC was possibly one of the most controversial programs of the last decade, destroying local economies supported by bases.

8) Allow agencies to contact delinquent debtors via their cellular phones- Wait a second! From where are these debt collection agencies going to get my cell phone number? As someone who has been a repeat victim of identity theft and was subsequently harassed on a daily basis by debt collection agencies, I can say this is tremendously troubling. Not only that, but it also opens up selling my cell phone number for marketing purposes without my consent. This is a dangerous precedent. Collection agencies are the bottom of the barrel in marketing. They must have a strong lobby to get a provision in the president’s budget.

9) Require the financial services industry to pay back taxpayers- You’re only proposing this now, years after giving them billions? This wasn’t in the original deal? Good luck getting this passed. 

10) Give more than $10 billion to nuclear energy- I’m not saying I’m opposed to nuclear energy, just that if you’re giving out all this money for two nuclear plants, you should be giving the same, or at least something, for other energy sources, like wind and solar, for example.

11) Principles of tax reform. The administration lists five principles. The first one is the only one that Congress will pass, and is the worst one because it moves toward eliminating the graduated tax system. 

A few good notes:

1) Eliminate direct payments to farmers with incomes over $100,000- These farm subsidies have benefited large farming companies, and give pay outs for producing agricultural products that worsen global food security. 

2) Expand wireless spectrum- This will make the Internet faster and one step closer to wireless everywhere.

3) Reform inland waterways funding- A big failure in Katrina disaster was poor engineering surrounding New Orleans. Good idea. Should have done it years ago. 

4) Align Medicare drug payment policies with Medicaid policies for low-income beneficiaries-It seems the drug companies were cheating on the required rebates for Medicare. This would close the gap and save $135 billion over ten years. Doubt this will make it through Congress. There’s a whole lot of other reforms to Medicare and Medicade in this budget, which is long overdue. The administration deserves credit for addressing this huge problem. 

5) Many of the tax reforms require their own post, but on the surface many of them look like respectable proposals.