MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – A rebel official in Libya’s besieged city of Misrata desperately pleaded Tuesday for Britain and France to send in troops to help against the forces of strongman Moamer Kadhafi, saying “if they don’t, we will die.”
In what was the first request by any insurgents for boots on the ground, a senior member of Misrata’s governing council, Nuri Abdullah Abdullati, said they were asking for the troops on the basis of “humanitarian” principles.
Previously, he told journalists, “we did not accept any foreign soldiers in our country, but now, as we face these crimes of Kadhafi, we are asking on the basis of humanitarian and Islamic principles for someone to come and stop the killing.”
“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
While I didn’t particularly want to put something traif atop that most kosher of dishes, this Passover falls on the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. And since BP, the leaseholder of the failed well, seems intent with its new television ads on making us forget about the spill, I felt that something drastic was in order to help us remember. Combining the memorial powers of the Seder plate with the canary-in-the-coal-mine nature of the oyster seemed a good way to keep the disaster – and BP’s promises to clean up its mess – in mind.
Judging by last week’s performance, it sure looks as though the country’s top bank regulator is back to its old tricks.
Though, to be honest, calling the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency a “regulator” is almost laughable. The Environmental Protection Agency is a regulator. The O.C.C. is a coddler, a protector, an outright enabler of the institutions it oversees.
Before Tahrir Square happened almost nobody predicted that President Hosni Mubarak would be forced out of office by a movement that didn’t pick up a gun. Had President Barack Obama expected that outcome, he might have publicly backed Mubarak’s departure before, rather than after, Mubarak stepped down.
Obama can be seen as overcompensating for that performance in Libya, but there he is placing faith in weapons. Anybody can do that. Egypt still has a long way to go on its path to a just society. But the question of whether Tunisian-Egyptian movements will find success elsewhere is the question of whether people can take the far more challenging step of placing trust in nonviolence.
We stand today before the gates of one of our temples of finance. It is a temple where greed and profit are the highest good, where self-worth is determined by the ability to amass wealth and power at the expense of others, where laws are manipulated, rewritten and broken, where the endless treadmill of consumption defines human progress, where fraud and crimes are the tools of business.
The two most destructive forces of human nature-greed and envy-drive the financiers, the bankers, the corporate mandarins and the leaders of our two major political parties, all of whom profit from this system. They place themselves at the center of creation. They disdain or ignore the cries of those below them. They take from us our rights, our dignity and thwart our capacity for resistance. They seek to make us prisoners in our own land. They view human beings and the natural world as mere commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. Human suffering, wars, climate change, poverty, it is all the price of business. Nothing is sacred. The Lord of Profit is the Lord of Death.
For God’s sake, American press! Hurry up! Get up to speed on the Egyptian revolution evolution! It is changing every day.
You journalists do deserve thanks for your international outcry about the abuse of power against citizens, notably women. Faces were red, small ignorant aggressive heads fell, the military boys are sorry and on best behavior and under the eye of officers (for now, and of course this is not static!). People are sitting on the tanks and sharing soft drinks with their soldier brothers again. They’ve turned the page, we’re on to the next chapter-this is EGYPT, my brothers. The people are forgiving, they do not hold a grudge: THE LOVE IS BACK.
Americans need not agree with everything that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says or does to recognize that he is one of the few members of Congress who is contributing anything more than hype and hypocrisy to the current budget debate.
Unlike House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and the other “deficit hawk” pretenders who back bank bailouts and every new war that a president proposes, Senator Paul keeps pushing his colleagues to get real about addressing the real bloat in the budget.
The betting in the White House is that by 2014 the recovery will be in full force, and the economy will have grown so much that the ratio of deficit to the GDP will be in the range of 3 to 5 percent anyway. That means any across-the-board cuts wouldn’t have to be very deep.
Yet what are the chances of a booming recovery? The economy is now growing at an annualized rate of only 1.5 percent. That’s pitiful. It’s not nearly enough to bring down the rate of unemployment, or remove the danger of a double dip. Real wages continue to drop. Housing prices continue to drop. Food and gas prices are rising. Consumer confidence is still in the basement.
The underlying problem isn’t the budget deficit. It’s that so much income and wealth are going to the top that most Americans don’t have the purchasing power to sustain a strong recovery.
Until steps are taken to alter this fundamental imbalance – for example, exempting the first $20K of income from payroll taxes while lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes, raising income and capital gains taxes on millionaires and using the revenues to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit up to incomes of $50,000, strengthening labor unions, and so on – a strong recovery may not be possible.
The crunch of the sand seemed intrusive to the pre-dawn still of the morning, as she dragged the row boat off of its little wooden dolly that served as a trailer for the riding mower. “If the mower didn’t wake up the world, this surely won’t,” she thought.
The little electric motor was blessedly quiet as she slipped around the first sand bar and headed out of the cove into the lake proper. The sky was still silver, the water inky with the beginnings of the fingerlets of mist striving to break free from the confines of their fellow molecules in the lake. It was already warm, going to be a scorcher. The air smelled soft and thick as the birds started announcing the arrival of the first light.
She cut the motor and drifted into the second sandbar at the point. She needed the stillness and to think. She slipped off the shirt and shorts covering her bathing suit and stepped off into the water. Water always felt like home. It brought the inner quiet that brought the clarity the city sounds always drove out. Out in the water, or in the woods; it was a different world, a world in which there was only you and the everything. It made one feel both infinitesimally small, and immeasurably connected.
There was no better place to be at the crossroads in your life.
On this day in 1775, the American Revolution beginsAt about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his “Concord Hymn”, described the first shot fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge as the “shot heard “round the world.”
A British officer, probably Pitcairn, but accounts are uncertain, as it may also have been Lieutenant William Sutherland, then rode forward, waving his sword, and called out for the assembled throng to disperse, and may also have ordered them to “lay down your arms, you damned rebels!” Captain Parker told his men instead to disperse and go home, but, because of the confusion, the yelling all around, and due to the raspiness of Parker’s tubercular voice, some did not hear him, some left very slowly, and none laid down their arms. Both Parker and Pitcairn ordered their men to hold fire, but a shot was fired from an unknown source.
According to one member of Parker’s militia none of the Americans had discharged their muskets as they faced the oncoming British troops. The British did suffer one casualty, a slight wound, the particulars of which were corroborated by a deposition made by Corporal John Munroe. Munroe stated that:
“After the first fire of the regulars, I thought, and so stated to Ebenezer Munroe …who stood next to me on the left, that they had fired nothing but powder; but on the second firing, Munroe stated they had fired something more than powder, for he had received a wound in his arm; and now, said he, to use his own words, ‘I’ll give them the guts of my gun.’ We then both took aim at the main body of British troops the smoke preventing our seeing anything but the heads of some of their horses and discharged our pieces.”
Some witnesses among the regulars reported the first shot was fired by a colonial onlooker from behind a hedge or around the corner of a tavern. Some observers reported a mounted British officer firing first. Both sides generally agreed that the initial shot did not come from the men on the ground immediately facing each other. Speculation arose later in Lexington that a man named Solomon Brown fired the first shot from inside the tavern or from behind a wall, but this has been discredited. Some witnesses (on each side) claimed that someone on the other side fired first; however, many more witnesses claimed to not know. Yet another theory is that the first shot was one fired by the British, that killed Asahel Porter, their prisoner who was running away (he had been told to walk away and he would be let go, though he panicked and began to run). Historian David Hackett Fischer has proposed that there may actually have been multiple near-simultaneous shots. Historian Mark Urban claims the British surged forward with bayonets ready in an undisciplined way, provoking a few scattered shots from the militia. In response the British troops, without orders, fired a devastating volley. This lack of discipline among the British troops had a key role in the escalation of violence.
Nobody except the person responsible knew then, nor knows today with certainty, who fired the first shot of the American Revolution.
Witnesses at the scene described several intermittent shots fired from both sides before the lines of regulars began to fire volleys without receiving orders to do so. A few of the militiamen believed at first that the regulars were only firing powder with no ball, but when they realized the truth, few if any of the militia managed to load and return fire. The rest wisely ran for their lives.
Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq
By Paul Bignell Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.
Iraq’s burgeoning oil industry: Click HERE to view graphic (160k)
The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of
The other day, on April 15, veteran journalist, war correspondent and truthdig.com columnist Chris Hedges was interviewed on RT News about the state of American society, repeating his oft stated warnings about the long corporate assault on and takeover of politics, the seeming death of reason and critical thinking in public discourse, and the development of a feudalistic “totalitarian democracy” in which the vast majority of the population is reduced through a media manufactured state of ignorance, inability to think clearly, and entertainment dazed complacence to a state of serfdom as a renewable ‘resource’ for a capitalism defined by American and multinational big business, and critiquing from this perspective the US budget developments of the past few days.
The budget is closing American schools and libraries across the country while firing teachers and taking away collective bargaining rights, Hedges notes, while banks and the largest corporations are not paying any taxes, including Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, and GE. Protesters gathered on Saturday April 17 at New York City’s Union Square for the Sound of Resistance protests, part of the US Uncut tax weekend protests challenging the banks, most notably Bank of America, for avoiding paying taxes.
US Uncut is a grassroots movement taking direct action against corporate tax cheats and unnecessary and unfair public service cuts across the U.S. Washington’s proposed budget for the coming year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the shoulders of hard-working Americans. That’s unacceptable.
Obama seeks to trim $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next ten years by cutting or eliminating over 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education. For instance, it cuts in half funding to subsidize heating for low-income Americans; limits an expansion of the Pell grant program for students; and decreases Environmental Protection Agency funding by over 12%.
Meanwhile, Republicans are using their new House majority to slash spending even more brutally. The GOP has made it clear that they are bent on raiding funds for Social Security, Medicare, education; determined to kill health care reform; and gut needed investments in infrastructure, climate change and job creation, at a time when America needs it most.
These cuts will come on top of very painful austerity measures made at the state-level across our nation–worth hundreds of billions–since the recession began.
In short, budget cuts demonstrate that Washington has abandoned ordinary Americans.
What is making the situation worse is the ignorance of politicians and others leaping around he fringes. Hedges also reminds that the US is the only industrialized nation in the world that argues over the existence of evolution. Magical thinking, combined with a military superpower, is frightening, he says. “We invest emotional energy on the ridiculous and the sublime… the liberal class has been decimated… what used to be unconstitutional is now legal“, he says, pointing to illegal searches under the Patriot Act and corporate bailouts under the health care legislation. The rights and needs of citizens are being ignored in favor of corporations.
While all across the blogosphere and in mainstream media I watch people argue about which faction of the ‘corporatist party’ to elect in 2012, I’m reminded strongly here of something Chris Floyd wrote nearly four years ago, in September 2007: