What Will Obama Inherit?

The Day the Earth Still Stood: What Will Obama Inherit?
By Tom Engelhardt
Inauguration day!

Gazillions of Americans descended on Washington. The rest of us were watching on TV or checking out streaming video on our computers. No one was paying attention to anything else. Every pundit in sight was nattering away all day long, as they will tomorrow and, undoubtedly, the next day about whatever comes to mind until we get bored. And in the morning, when this post is still hanging around in your inbox, you'll be reading your newspaper on… well, you know… the same things: Obama's speech! So many inaugural balls! Etc., etc.

So I'm thinking of this post as a freebie, a way to lay out a little news about the world that no one will notice. And all I can say -- for those of you who aren't reading this anyway, and in the spirit of the clunky 1951 sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still -- is: Klaatu barada nikto!

Okay, no actual translation of that phrase (to the best of Wikipedia's knowledge) exists. We do know that, when invoked, the three words acted as a kind of "fail-safe" device, essentially disarming the super-robot Gort (which arrived on the Washington Mall by spacecraft with the alien Klaatu). That was no small thing, since Gort was capable not just of melting down tanks but possibly of ending life on this planet. Still, I remain convinced, based on no evidence whatsoever, that the phrase could also mean: "Whew! We're still here!"
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Mr. Obama, Tear Down These Walls!

Obama Supporters in DC Want Bush Arrested
by David Swanson
Sunday evening I spoke on a panel in Washington, D.C., about war crimes, and in walked a group of spirited activists led by Laurie Arbeiter wearing "Arrest Bush" sweatshirts and carrying "Arrest Bush" signs, and they were absolutely dumfounded by what they had just experienced.
They'd spent the day at the train station in D.C. and on the streets of D.C. as excited Obama celebrators poured in by the tens of thousands, and they'd been unable to walk a dozen steps without people stopping them to have their photo taken with an "Arrest Bush" sign.

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Gaza: Right to Remain Unsilent

Not to Remain Silent
by Jim Miles
I write simply not to remain silent in the face of U.S. and Israeli aggression against the Palestinian population in general, and the Gaza population in particular.  

Where to start?  There are so many writers and spokespersons appearing regularly on the internet alternative media that speak clearly, passionately, and knowledgeably about the Israeli atrocities in Gaza.  On the regular media, the corporate controlled agenda continues its endless reiterations of the Israeli line that their purpose militarily is to stop Hamas’ rockets, a position grievously out of context and so contrary to the obvious war crimes being committed against the people of Gaza. 
The governments of the west, part and parcel of the same agenda, proffer up political platitudes about regretting civilian casualties, about proportionality, about the right of Israel to defend itself.  The reports themselves disingenuously seek “balance” by equating the ineffective and feeble rocket attacks with the thunderous bombardment of U.S. Hellfire missiles fired from U.S. helicopters and war planes, the use of phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs, and other modern creations of “precision” warfare.  
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Inauguration Nauseum

Inauguration Ad Nauseum
by Christopher Ketcham
The American presidency in its outward show and innermost tendency has since World War II increasingly shown all the markings of monarchy. The president is hovered over and catered to by hundreds of aids and sycophants, his every whim answered at notice. He enjoys a private army in the guise of the paramilitaries in the intelligence agencies. He lives in a “White House” that is itself a court contained in a bubble where the troubles of the average man cannot penetrate.
He certainly does not walk often among the people, but when he does, he allows the people to touch him as they would a king, the black-suited guard walling him off, his contempt expressed in direct proportion to the ceremony, noise, trumpets, curtains, light, music, and entertainments meant to ensure that we understand this is no mere man but an ur-expression of power itself.

Hence, the pomp of the presidential inauguration, which now, under Barack Obama, is expected to become the most expensive in US history. One estimate is that the total cost for the festivities of January 20, and in the days running up to it and after, will rise above $150 million. (By contrast, the 2005 swearing-in of George W. Bush, as profligate an executive as ever imagined, cost $42 million.)
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Flatlanders Come to the Mountain

Wiping the Forest off the Map
by Zoe Blunt
Please join us Wednesday, January 21 from 4:30 to 7 pm in Langford, as we bear witness to new plans to bulldoze and subdivide the south side of SPAET (Skirt) Mountain. The city is promoting more development on the Bear Mountain Parkway, directly uphill from the Bear Mountain Interchange (Highway 1 west of Spencer Road.) This development will wipe out some of the remaining traditional sites on the mountain, including the Guardian Rocks and the canyon.
Langford Open House on Development News advisory - for immediate release. Jan 20, 2009 Contact: Zoe Blunt 250-885-8219 (phone is fixed now) Photo ops: Presentation and maps, developers, environmentalists, etc. Wed Jan 21, 4:30 - 7 pm, West Shore Ballroom of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 829 McCallum Road off Millstream (north of Highway 1 in Langford.)
On the ridge above the development area stands SPAET Cave, which was blasted open in late 2006 during construction of the Bear Mountain golf course. In the past year, natural wetlands on the slope were filled with tonnes of broken rock while watercourses were diverted into culverts, leading to flooding and erosion below the interchange site. Flagging tape and survey stakes cover the hillside, and it appears that clearing of Garry Oak and arbutus groves could begin at any time.
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Flash: Gordon Brown to the Rescue...of Israel

PM Gordon Brown, Here Is My Shopping List
by Gilad Atzmon
Gordon Brown the British PM has managed to come up yesterday with one of his most immoral and irresponsible announcements so far. In his desperate attempt to appease notorious Israeli war criminal leadership, Brown pleaded to redeploy the British Navy in the region.  “We'll send Royal Navy to help fight (weapon) smuggling,” said the British PM.

Mr. PM, can’t you see for yourself the total carnage inflicted on the innocent Palestinian civilians by the IDF?  Didn’t you follow, like the rest of us, the horrendous indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians perpetrated by the Israel army while being fully supported by the Israeli Jewish population? Did you also manage to miss the repeated Israeli usage of unconventional weapons against innocent civilians? Did you fail to learn about the repeating reports of Israeli bombardments of UN refugee centres?
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Act to Restore the Constitution

Obama and Congress Must Act to Restore the Constitution
by Dave Lindorff
The calls for a reckoning for the criminals of the Bush/Cheney administration are growing by the day, as the final few days of the Bush presidency tick down, and as new evidence of their crimes keep pouring out of the deflating gas bag that was the Bush White House.

For years, the Democrats in Congress, with a few notable exceptions, have sat on their hands, allowing the ongoing destruction of the Constitution, of the US military, of the nation’s reputation, and of the rule of law, as well as of the institution of Congress itself, by a cabal of Republicans in the White House, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who have sought to establish an executive-led government that answered only to itself.

Obama, running for the White House, initially talked of restoring the constitutional order, and of prosecuting crimes where they had occurred, much as he talked of ending the war in Iraq. But now, as he increasingly assumes the role of President, he is backing away from that kind of talk, with plans instead to extend the war and occupation in Iraq for years, while actually expanding the war in Afghanistan, and to give the outgoing administration of criminals and Constitution-wreckers a free pass, in the name of “letting bygones be bygones.”
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Crime's Gleeful Abandon in Gaza

The End of Hypocrisy: Crime's Gleeful Abandon in Gaza
by Chris Floyd
More and more, comment on Israel's savage attack on the people of Gaza seems superfluous. The facts -- even the modicum of facts that can be gleaned through the deadly wall of Israeli censorship and the perverse and sinister distortions of the American media -- speak loudly, with horrifying clarity, for themselves. We are witnessing monstrous crimes, committed with cold deliberation: a bloodthirsty spectacle of unbridled terrorism, openly celebrated by the political and media elites of Israel and America.  

This is, of course, the same kind of moral insanity that has raged around the American terrorist attack on Iraq for many years. It is the same moral insanity that guides the actions of power in many  lands, in increasingly brazen and unapologetic ways, with less and less of the shamefaced furtiveness that once surrounded such abominations as military aggression, torture, "ethnic cleansing" and other crimes of power down through the centuries. This furtiveness was hypocrisy, of course -- but in hypocrisy there remains some vestige of the morality it falsely purports to uphold, some awareness that an evil thing is being done which must be hidden or disguised.
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Gaza: Life and Death Amid the Rubble

Life and Death Amid the Rubble
by C. L. Cook
Just in time for the inauguration of the Great Hyped Hope, Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. Israel announced it will cease for now its ruthless fire over Gaza.
Following three weeks of the most brutal, post-modern warfare witnessed by the world, (despite Israel's best efforts to restrict the recorded proof of its criminality in occupied Palestine) the international corporate media and state broadcasters in the western democracies are breathing a collective sigh of relief, and trying in their best approximation of an authoritative voice to convince their audience, appalled for the most part at the spectre of Israel's high-tech "war" of collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza, that "there's nothing left to see here."

"Just go about your business folks," they intimate, cutting quickly to the banality of preparations for Tuesday's Obama swearing in ceremonies. Typically, what's left unsaid by these major media actors, like just what is to become of those thousands of Gazans left orphaned, homeless, and/or horribly wounded and disfigured to wander the rubble field that was until recently their towns, cities, and villages speaks volumes.
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Parting Favours: Bush's Gift to America

Bush's Only Gift to America
by Robert Parry
George W. Bush’s gift to the American Republic may be that he has discredited a host of right-wing theories and practices – “trickle-down economics”; “self-regulating markets”; “tough-guy” foreign policy; the “imperial presidency”; and the notion that “government is the problem.”
As the United States gazes out on the wreckage of the past eight years – a $1.2 trillion (and growing) budget deficit, 7.2 percent (and rising) unemployment, two open-ended wars, a sullied U.S. image abroad, environmental degradation and a world that seems to be ripping apart – the hope must be that Bush has so tarnished these policies, which trace back to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, that they will never be tried again.

If that is the lesson that the United States learns, then Barack Obama’s election truly could mark the end of an era and the start of something very different. However, if Obama and the Democrats fail to drive these lessons home – if they let bygones be bygones – they are courting a huge risk in that the same behavior could reemerge and the misjudgments could reoccur.
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Planet of Lost Souls

Planet of Lost Souls
by Mickey Z.
I wasn’t supposed to be born. After my mother gave birth to my sister, the doctors told her she’d never have another child. They couldn’t say exactly why (later, she was diagnosed with endometriosis) but they were pretty damn certain…the way doctors tend to be pretty damn certain. Wisely, my mother ignored such white coat condescension and less than two years later, yours truly arrived on the scene. Mom called me her “miracle baby” and I think this played a role in the amazingly close relationship we always had.

In the U2 song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” Bono warbles: “That’s all right, we’re the same soul.” This simple line have given me the poetic license to imagine that my mother defied the medical odds by choosing to “share her soul” (so to speak) with me. This selfless act is what made it possible for me to be born and for us to have been such good friends.

We’re the same soul…
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Let Judgment be the Legacy

Let Judgment Be Bush's History
by David Swanson
History cannot be the judge of Bush and Cheney. The corporate news really is the first draft of history, and there will be no magical leap from its dishonesty to an honest account. Most in the Washington establishment want to protect Bush and Cheney and gang, although the New York Times has now printed one column admitting the obvious point that if the outgoing criminals are not punished, their heirs will repeat their crimes.

What is Bush's legacy? Wars, ruined economy, destroyed relations, increased terrorism, global warming? Yes, but for the most part Bush's legacy will be determined by what happens after he's gone. If all power remains in the White House and Congress devolves into a royal court, that will be Bush's legacy, and the historians who are permitted to publish their thoughts will glorify, not judge, it. If, instead, we choose to enforce the laws of the land, then judgment will be Bush's history. In fact, the books judging the need for judgment have already been written.
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