Daily Archives: September 24, 2011

Obama-Soros Promote “Open Government”

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Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
9/22/2011

The Obama State Department and a George Soros-funded organization calling itself Global Integrity have launched an “Open Government” international initiative that should be a subject of late-night jokes.

“Here in the United States, we’ve worked to make government more open and responsive than ever before,” Obama said, as his administration fights congressional requests for information about the Solyndra bankruptcy and the U.S.-Brazil alliance to help the socialist and pro-Castro Latin American country develop its own oil resources.

Interestingly, the new “Open Government Partnership” project was announced on Tuesday at the United Nations by President Obama and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist terrorist…

…“Since the first day of his Administration, President Barack Obama has made Open Government a high priority,” declares the “Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.

This would be laughable were it not for the fact that the initiative and its cheerleaders, including those at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, are apparently taking it seriously.

But the conservative legal group Judicial Watch has filed a number of lawsuits, complaints and Freedom of Information Act legal actions against President Barack Obama and his administration “in pursuit of the president’s repeated violations of the law and his contempt for the public’s right to know.”

Obama used his U.N. speech on Wednesday to urge the world to “harness the power of open societies” in order to fight corruption.  [emphasis CAJ] This sounded very much like George Soros, a funder of this new project who has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year promoting “open societies” in the U.S. and around the world. Soros, one of the richest men in the U.S., named one of his foundations the “Open Society Institute” but runs a secretive off-shore hedge fund, the Quantum Group of Funds, based in the Caribbean country of Curaçao, a tax haven…

…The Soros role in the U.S. housing market collapse continues to be a subject of much controversy, stemming from a meeting he had with John A. Paulson, a Wall Street trader who made billions of dollars on the decline in housing prices.

A possible Soros role in the Obama Administration’s dealings with Brazil continues to generate controversy…

…The Global Integrity group is managing the project and says that it is “supported by a diverse mix of charitable foundations, governments, multilateral institutions, and the private sector.”

The list includes:

Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Inter-American Development Bank
National Endowment for Democracy
Open Society Institute (Soros-funded)
Open Society Justice Fund (also Soros-funded)
Sunrise Foundation
U.S. Department of State
Wallace Global Fund
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The World Bank
Google is listed separately as having provided $350,000…

The complete article is at Accuracy in Media.

H/T Gulag Bound

Related: War Drums Beating: Anti-American George Soros Promoting Anti-Americanism in Central Asia

Richard Miniter has a very interesting article in Forbes about the damage anti-American millionaire George Soros is causing to both Central Asia and the foreign policy of the United States.

Soros is an interesting if risible figure. For good reason his name is a boogieman name for we on the right. Truthfully, though, most on the right don’t really have a full grasp on what it is he does to make his name worthy of being put in the pantheon of history’s worst haters of America…

Original Article

Mexican Government Under Assault From Drug Cartels, Washington Yawns

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Suspected Mexican drug traffickers from the Zetas drug cartel on 20 September drove two trucks to a main avenue in the Mexican Gulf coast city of Boca del Rio in Veracruz state and dumped 35 corpses during rush hour while gunmen stood guard, menacing frightened motorists with automatic weapons.

So, why is this being written about here?

Well, if for no other reason, Mexico’s drug cartels have declared a de facto war with the government for control of the country’s northern provinces for exports routes into the United States.

Meanwhile, Washington, fixated on the decade-old war on terror, the Middle East and stopping Palestine’s incipient bid for statehood at the UN, doesn’t even mention a yawn, despite the fact that in the last five years drug violence has claimed more than 35,000 Mexican lives, according to government figures. And that’s the low end of the curve, as a number of human rights groups estimate that the true death toll is 40,000.

Forty thousand.

More than 12 times the number of Americans killed in the 9/11 2001 terrorist attacks, in a neighboring country.

Who cares? After all, we all know that Central America is prone to violence, and well… that’s just the way it is. Why should Washington care?

Quite aside from the human issues involved, Washington should care because, according to the U.S. Energy Administration, of United States total crude oil imports now averaging 9.033 million barrels per day, Mexico with its 1.319 million barrels per day of exports is exceeded only by Canada as the U.S. top importer of crude, and exceeds Saudi Arabian imports by over 200,000 bpd.

But in dealing with Mexico Washington is in a classic state of addict denial – and, after all, it is addicted to not one, but three Mexican narcotics – oil imports, drugs and cheap labor.

As for oil, it is worth remembering that all of Mexico’s energy imports fall under the purview of Petroleos Mexicanos state oil monopoly, more familiarly known as Pemex. Accordingly, threats against the government’s authority, as the Boca del Rio massacres most assuredly are, ultimately threaten the central administration’s ability to rule, which in turn calls into question larger governmental policies.

And the assault on oil exports is led by the cartels’ determination to both preserve and expand its footprint in the lucrative gringo market north of the border.

If we are to believe official Washington, these thugs have somehow managed to thwart border controls to flood the U.S. with cheap narcotics. The real truth, which one can only uncover by a close reading of the regional U.S. press in border communities, is that drug money has largely co-opted the local, state and federal authorities responsible for policing the frontier. Of course, in the post-9/11 security debate this is not discussed to unsettle the electorate.

And the third element complicating the issue is the estimated 35 million Hispanic immigrants, mostly illegal, now present in the U.S., a source of their wealthy employer’s interest in cheap, undocumented labor, a handy device for driving down wages.

So, as long as America continues to inject cheap oil, drugs and below minimum-wage labor into its collective arm to satisfy its cravings, little will change.

But it’s worth remembering that the U.S.-Mexican border, all 1,969 miles of it, is the only place in the world where the Third World washes up against the First. One can make a case for the divided Korean peninsula being a similar case, but the populations on both sides of the DMZ share a common culture, unlike the U.S-Mexican frontier, where a desperately poor Latino culture exists next door to the rich, English-speaking U.S. society.

Washington has got at some point to address all three interrelated issues – oil dependency, the drug culture destabilizing the frontier and the massive swell of undocumented aliens across the frontier. Washington’s fixation since 9-11 on the Middle E|ast and South Asia has allowed the issue to slip from what should be front and center of U.S. diplomatic policy, for all its ominous long term consequences.

Mexico’s narco-terrorists have effectively declared war on the government’s authority in Mexico City – rather than expending U.S. diplomatic capital in blocking the Palestinian’s bid for independence at the UN, or nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington might refocus its efforts to our southern neighbor.

After all, imagine Mexico’s carnage figures transplanted to Europe, or even the Middle East – Congress would be foaming at the mouth for intervention. To use the most recent statistics – last month, before the final push on the Libyan capital Tripoli began, a representative of the Transitional National Council estimated that 35,000 Libyans had been killed.

Grievous as the 35,000 Libyan deaths are, a similar number of casualties have occurred in Mexico – America’s neighbor.

In the Western Hemisphere.

Next door.

Time for a rethink in Washington – Mexico City is clearly under siege, and Mexico’s destabilization bids ill for those oil exports.

Bring the troops home…

And deploy them along the Rio Grande.

Or, perhaps not, given Washington’s self-absorption about the electoral races next year.

In the face of such torpor, horrific images such as those from Boca del Rio are likely to be only the beginning.

By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com

Original Article

The South American Arrangement

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September 10, 2011: The United States and most South American countries are having a growing problem with Islamic terrorists. The U.S. has identified an increasing number of individuals and groups in South America that are providing support (financial, media, recruiting) for Islamic terror groups. But South American governments refuse to prosecute these individuals, at least not for terrorism. The terrorist supporters can be prosecuted for more common criminal behavior. But South American governments like to point out that there have been very few Islamic terror attacks in their territory. That was also true for many European countries, for a long time, for the same reason; an unofficial truce with Islamic terrorists. The deal is simple. In return for no attacks within a particular country, Islamic terrorists would be given asylum, or otherwise allowed to set up shop as long as it was done quietly. Thus most South American countries don’t recognize the outlaw status of organizations considered international terrorist organizations in most of the world. The local governments will prosecute someone who is a notorious (easily identified and “very convictable”) Islamic terrorist, which is why Osama bin Laden didn’t head for South America. But a lot of lesser known Islamic terrorism supporters are hard at work down there. The few times, in the last two decades, that this truce was violated, the reaction was very costly to Islamic radicals, and countries like Iran, that sponsored them. This just reinforced the determination of the terrorists to observe the truce, and not spoil a good thing.

For years the U.S. has been monitoring South America for signs of Islamic terrorism. Most of action is non-terrorist criminality. Moslem criminal gangs in the region have provided some support services for al Qaeda, but otherwise there is not a lot of support for Islamic radicalism in South America. Moslems are a very small minority down there, and they don’t want to trigger an anti-Islamic attitude because of al Qaeda terrorism in the region.

But a more threatening new base area for Islamic radicals is developing in Venezuela. There, leftist president Hugo Chavez has not only established close diplomatic relations with Iran (and Cuba, North Korea and radical groups throughout the region), but has allowed Iran to set up terrorist operations in South America. Regular commercial flights from Iran to Venezuela (via Syria, to accommodate Hezbollah) carry people, cash and whatever else Iran wants to move. No questions asked, no visas required.

Several U.S. counter-terrorism organizations have gone to work, trying to find out what Iran is up to, and how to block any terrorist activity. For example, the U.S. Treasury Department‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control sought to block attempts by Iran and Hezbollah to get around banking restrictions placed on their terrorist activities, by opening bank branches in Venezuela. Hezbollah is using its new base in Venezuela to support its fund raising, and purely criminal activities, in South America. Iran is looking to support attacks against South American Jews, plus any other mischief it can pull off, without being blamed.

Hezbollah has long been involved in the drug business in South America. That gives these Iran backed Islamic terrorists access to the narcotics smuggling routes that Mexican gangs use to smuggle drugs and people into the United States. The Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and people smuggling in South America’s tri-border (Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil) region. This area has long been a hotbed of illicit activity, and too many politicians and police commanders are on the take from gangsters to change this.

Thus, South America makes an excellent refuge and base. Particularly worrisome is the cooperation between leftist rebel movements there, and Islamic terrorist groups. So far, the United States says little of what it is doing down there to monitor, or cope, with Islamic terrorist activity. But something is up.

Original Article

Obama Should Quit

The End of the Road

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by PAUL STREET

On March 31, 1968, United States President Lyndon Baines Johnson told a national television audience that he would not seek and would not accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for another term in the White House. “When the address was over,” author Hampton Sides notes, “a euphoric Johnson leaped from his chair and bounded from Oval Office to be with family. ‘His air was that of a prisoner let free,’ the First Lady wrote: ‘We were all fifty pounds lighter and ever so much more lookin’ forward to the future’…The president described his mood this way: ‘I never felt so right about any decision in life.’”

Harassed and depressed by antiwar demonstrators, urban riots, rampaging youth, unruly professors and reporters, and a deadly colonial quagmire in Southeast Asia, Johnson felt that (as he later told historian Doris Goodwin) he “was being chased on all sides by a giant stampede coming at me from all directions.” And by Bobby Kennedy.

He wanted out.  He left and it felt good.

Barack Obama might want to think about that happy moment experienced by an earlier failed Democratic president as he reflects on the revolting re-election season ahead. Along the way he should imagine a beautiful picture: he and his wife and two daughters relaxing on a beautiful beach on a sunny day in Hawaii on January 21 2013, one day a day after Mitt Romney, Rick Perry or Hillary Clinton is sworn in as the nation’s 45th president on January 20, 2013. As he looks out across the rolling waves of the blue Pacific, he takes a nice long drag on a cigarette he doesn’t feel compelled to hide from the press.  Reflecting on all the “ideological extremists,” “unrealistic” zealots, “partisan dividers” and opportunists who criticized him in office, he can take comfort in the fact that “they won’t have Barack Obama to kick around anymore” an d in contemplating the many millions of dollars he will be slated to rake through future speaking, writing, and other fees.

What does Obama have to look forward to in the future if he insists on trying for a second term? The stalled profits system seems ready to double dip back into full technical recession (the human recession never stopped beneath the mild statistical recovery), fitting him with the same fatal yoke of economic powerlessness that deep-sixed Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and the first George (H.W) Bush’s hopes for second term.  Unemployment remains sky high, contributing to a recent low in American history: the largest number U.S. citizens (46 million) ever recorded below the federal government’s notoriously inadequate poverty level. Obama’s job approval is at an all time low (43 percent), 7 points under his disapproval rating (50 percent). A preponderant majority of Americans say that the country is “on the wrong track.”

Four months after his empty, politically calculated execution and sea-dumping of Osama bin-Laden., Obama is widely perceived as weak and ineffective, as too eager to compromise with – and as incapable of standing up to – his (supposed) right-wing enemies.  His party has recently lost two special House elections and one of those defeats came in a district Democrats had previously held for 88 years in a row. He has staked his future prospects on a highly flawed jobs bill – legislation that may well not pass the House and that is scaring off many conservative Democratic legislators.  Most Americans think the bill won’t work.

The president is starting to look like the potential victim of a landslide in November of 2012.  The Democratic base is widely disillusioned with him. Even many among his fake-progressive pseudo-liberal dead-end defenders sometimes squawk about his conservative corporatism and unwillingness to govern in accord with his idealistic campaign promises.  Liberal and progressive Democratic elected officials in the House and Senate have been grumbling about his center-right proclivities for some time now. It is one thing to rightwardly triangulate on the backs of welfare mothers and declining unions in the mode of Bill Clinton; it is another thing to do so at the expense of the broadly popular programs Social Security and Medicare, all while passing on hyper-regressive Republican tax cuts for the obscenely rich and powerful.

After years of overexposure, the Obama brand has gone toxic to a degree that may well be terminal. Leading Democratic political consultant and media pundit James Carville recently offered a single word of advice for Obama: “PANIC.” According to Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman and senior political strategist, “Democrats should be very nervous.” Unless Obama can somehow rally his party’s progressive base, Burton thinks, “it’s going to be impossible for the president to win.” But how is the deeply conservative Obama (accurately described in 1996 by Dr. Adolph Reed Jr. as  “a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics”)  going to do that in the middle of a center-right presidency hat has been a shining monument to the power of the United States’ “unelected dictatorship of money” (Edward S. Herman and David Peterson’s term) and to John Dewey’s observation notion that American politics is “the shadow cast on society by big business”?  Obama’s “liberal” defenders complain that he is checked in his supposedly progressive ambitions by the power of right wing congressional Republicans.  But what did the nation get from their “liberal” president and the Democrats in his first year, when he enjoyed a clear and filibuster-proof Democratic majority in Congress?  Expansion of the monumental bailout of hyper-opulent financial overlords, refusal to nationalize and cut down parasitic financial institutions,  a health “reform” bill that only the big insurance and drug companies could love (consistent with Rahm Emmanuel’s advice to the president: “ignore the progressives”), an auto bailout deal that raided union pension funds and rewarded capital flight, the undermining of global carbon emission reduction efforts at Copenhagen, a  refusal to advance serious public works programs (green or otherwise), the green-lighting of escalated strip mining and hazardous deepwater oil drilling, the  disregarding of promises to labor and other popular constituencies (remember the Employee Free Choice Act?) and other betrayals of its “progressive base” (the other side of the coin of promises kept to its corporate sponsors), and the  appointment of a Deficit Reduction Commission “headed [in economist Michael Hudson’s words] by avowed enemies of Social Security”

Along the way, the “new” White House escalated Superpower violence in South Asia, passed a record-setting “defense” (Empire) budget, rolled over George W. Bush’s not-so counter-terrorist assault on human rights (in the name of “freedom”), extended the imperial terror war to Yemen and Somalia, disguised escalated U.S. occupation of Haiti as humanitarian relief, aided and abetted a thuggish right wing coup in Honduras, and expanded the Pentagon’s reach in Columbia/Latin America – a fascinating record for the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It called progressives who dared to criticize these and other White House policies “fucking retard[s] (former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel) who require “drug testing” (former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs).  Leftists and sincere liberals were accused of being “purists” who do not live in the real world, who make “the perfect the enemy of the good” and fail to grasp the necessity of “compromise” to “get things done.”

When Obama’s center-right corporate-imperial presidency yielded the predictable consequence of demobilizing the Democratic Party’s “progressive base” in the mid-term elections and thereby enabling an historic right wing sweep in Congress, the president quickly moved yet further to the business-friendly right like a hungry lion leaping on a faltering zebra. In the debt-ceiling fiasco last July and August (a preposterous drama he could have prevented), Obama ignored majority progressive opinion (as usual) and accepted the Republicans’ reactionary framework, according to which (i) the nation’s main imperative was deficit-reduction, not job creation and (ii) the way to reduce the deficit is to cut spending and attacking working people and the poor, not to raise taxes on business and the filthy rich.

Good luck “rallying the progressive base” with that sort of corporate-imperial track record and as the economy sours yet further!

It is possible, I suppose, that the Republicans’ nomination of the doltish Christian  Dominionist, mass executioner and arch-plutocrat Rick Perry could activate enough of the Democrats’ base and scare enough moderates and independents to push Obama over the top in November, 2012..  But does Obama really want an encore? Second terms have not been kind to returning presidents.  Think Watergate (Nixon), Iran-Contra (Reagan), the Monica Lewinsky impeachment (Clinton), Katrina, and the financial meltdown of 2008 (George Bush the Lesser). A second Obama term could well coincide with Republican control of both the House and the Senate.  Obama can expect many of his administration’s top staffers to exit in droves, leaving the second string to finish out a truly lame-duck term, headed by a temporizing, boring, and distant figurehead to whom the populace has long been overexposed.

If he cared about his party, Obama would step down and give the nomination to Hillary Clinton, determined by a recent Bloomberg poll to be “the most popular national political figure in America today.”  Ms. Clinton has distinct advantages over Obama in running against Perry or Mitt Romney in 2012.   She is not a member of Congress, which has even lower popular approval than Obama. She is associated with economic prosperity thanks to the long neoliberal Clinton boom of the 1990s.  And she carries a reputation for toughness, quite different from Obama’s emerging legacy as a 98-pound weakling who gets kicked around on the policy beach by bullies like John Boehner, Sean Hannity, and Eric Cantor.  (For those of us on the radical left, a Hillary Clinton presidency might have the benefit of inducing at least some less confusion and tepidness among progressives than “the first black president.”)

My sense is that quitting is unthinkable for the current president.  Obama is far too convinced of his own special qualities and qualifications for Mount Rushmore to seriously entertain standing down. Personalities and money and candidate brands have trumped traditional parties and party needs in U.S. politics for some time now. Obama’s narcissistic desire to be at the center of the action is too strong for him to seriously contemplate stepping down at the end of just one disastrous term. Relinquishing power would go against every grain of his being.

His campaign for a return engagement should be an especially nauseating chapter in the expression of what the still-left Christopher Hitchens once accurately described as “the essence of American politics….the manipulation of populism by elitism.” That was the basic nature of Obama’s 2007-08 campaign, of course. It’s going to be a harder and uglier sell this time around – a path worth not taking.

Original Article

The Up-and-Coming Presence of India in Latin America

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By Jaime Daremblum

The competition between China and India – the world’s largest dictatorship and the world’s largest democracy – will be a defining feature of 21st-century geopolitics. Because China opened its economy more than a decade before India did, the Middle Kingdom has a clear head start in the global battle for economic influence. Yet the South Asian giant is rapidly gaining ground on its northern neighbor, and over the long term its democratic system seems far more stable than the autocratic Chinese model. When assessing U.S. grand strategy in Asia, American policymakers view India as an important counterweight to China. Closer to home, India may also serve to balance Chinese economic clout in Latin America.

“China’s rise in bilateral trade with Latin America is the greatest of any region in the world – an astonishing 18-fold increase over the past decade,” Agence France-Presse reports. Chinese commodity demand has greatly boosted GDP growth in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and other resource-rich countries, thereby lifting millions out of poverty. These economic benefits are worth celebrating. Yet Beijing’s burgeoning hemispheric footprint has prompted security concerns in Washington, since Chinese military and political ambitions remain so murky. Moreover, China is helping to prop up the Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela, and it is also expanding cooperation with Chávez acolytes in Bolivia and Ecuador while strengthening ties with the Castro government.

Whereas Beijing’s newfound interest in the Western Hemisphere has understandably raised some eyebrows, India’s growing activity is unambiguously good for both Latin America and the United States. In a recent issue of Americas Quarterly, political scientist Jorge Heine and Indian diplomat R. Viswanathan observe that trade between India and the Latin America/Caribbean (LAC) region increased eightfold between 2000 and 2009, reaching about $20 billion. To be sure, that figure is dwarfed by overall Chinese trade with the LAC region, which totaled roughly $140 billion in 2008 (according to the Latin Business Chronicle).

But as The Economist noted a few years ago, Indian companies “have begun to make significant investments in software, pharmaceuticals, business software and natural resources.” (By contrast, Chinese investment in Latin America “has hitherto amounted to less than meets the eye.”) Since 2000, write Heine and Viswanathan, Indian companies have poured $12 billion worth of investment into six key LAC economic sectors: agrochemicals, energy, information technology (IT), manufacturing, mining, and pharmaceuticals. Indeed, many Indian firms have established a big presence in the region, including ONGC Videsh (an oil giant), Tata Consultancy Services (an IT powerhouse), and United Phosphorus (a massive agrochemical company).

Indian investment is helping Latin America to diversify its sources of economic growth, making the region relatively less dependent on commodity exports. But what about low-wage Indian manufacturing? Doesn’t it pose a competitive challenge to Latin America, where manufacturing wages are higher? To a certain degree, yes. Broadly speaking, however, “Indian exports to the region are not a threat to Latin American industries,” as Heine and Viswanathan stress. “Over half of them consist of raw materials and intermediate goods such as bulk drugs, yarn, fabrics, and parts for machinery and equipment, which can help Latin American industries cut production costs and become globally competitive.”

In a 2010 study (“India: Latin America’s Next Big Thing?”), Inter-American Development Bank economist Mauricio Mesquita Moreira concluded that, while “the fundamentals exist for a strong trade relationship between the two regions,” economic cooperation is being hampered by tariffs and other trade barriers. The hope is that incremental progress on trade expansion will discourage protectionist policies. “More trade is likely to strengthen the virtuous circle in which trade boosts incentives for cooperation while cooperation creates even more opportunities to trade,” explains Moreira.

The recent growth of trade and investment ties between India and Latin America has encouraged warmer diplomatic relations. By 2009, note Heine and Viswanathan, LAC countries had 18 diplomatic missions in New Delhi, and India had 14 missions in the LAC region, up from twelve and seven, respectively, in 2002. The single most important bilateral relationship is that between India and Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy and most populous country. In 2003, the two nations joined with South Africa to sign the Brasília Declaration, which launched the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum, or IBSA. The goal of this trilateral mechanism is to promote greater three-way cooperation on issues such as trade, investment, education, poverty reduction, and the environment. “Brazil has what India lacks: a large and fertile land mass with abundant water that can significantly increase the production of food – something India will always need, be it soybean oil, legumes or sugar,” write Heine and Viswanathan.

As Indo-Brazilian economic links continue expanding, we can expect the two governments to pursue closer collaboration on non-economic matters, including military affairs. This will unnerve the Communist rulers in Beijing, who fashion themselves the undisputed leaders of the developing world and fear the rise of India. Washington won’t always agree with New Delhi’s foreign-policy decisions, but it should welcome a robust Indian presence in Latin America. After all, on the biggest economic and strategic issues of the day, India and the United States are natural allies.

Original Article

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