News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

In his first month in office Obama broke his campaign promise to struggling Rust Belt Americans to renegotiate NAFTA, confirming Canadian officials' belief that his promise was just to fool Rust Belt union workers into voting for him. Obama even chose not to make the announcement on US soil, he made it in Canada 'during his first trip abroad' as US president-Washington Post, 2/19/2009

Obama inaugurated Jan. 20, 2009.

2/19/2009, "NAFTA Renegotiation Must Wait, Obama Says," Washington Post, Michael D. Shear 

"President Obama warned on Thursday against a "strong impulse" toward protectionism while the world suffers a global economic recession and said his election-year promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement on behalf of unions and environmentalists will have to wait. 

Obama made the comments as he stood with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his first trip abroad as president. The two pledged cooperation on efforts to stimulate the economy, fight terrorism in Afghanistan and develop clean energy technology.

In a joint news conference, Obama said he wants to find a way to keep his campaign pledge to toughen labor and environmental standards -- and told Harper so -- but stressed that nothing should disrupt the free flow of trade between neighbors.

"Now is a time where we've got to be very careful about any signals of protectionism," the president said. "Because, as the economy of the world contracts, I think there's going to be a strong impulse on the part of constituencies in all countries to see if we -- they can engage in beggar-thy-neighbor policies."

The president's message served as a reminder of last year's private assessment by Canadian officials that then-candidate Obama's frequent criticism of NAFTA was nothing more than campaign speeches aimed at chasing support among Rust Belt union workers.

"Much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy," the Canadians concluded in a memo after meeting with Austan Goolsbee, a senior campaign aide and now a member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. [Goolsbee was already on his way out by this time: On Nov. 5, 2008, the day after the election, Obama's transition team was announced. The list "was most notable for who was not on it, especially on the economic side. Austan Goolsbee...didn't make the cut." 12/10/2009, "Obama's Big Sellout: The President has Packed His Economic Team with Wall Street Insiders," Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi] 

When the memo became public, Obama advisers rejected the idea as absurd and insisted that he was serious about changing NAFTA. Obama even suggested that the United States might opt out of NAFTA if the standards could not be improved to the nation's satisfaction.

But some longtime observers of the U.S.-Canada relationship said Obama's current position appears to confirm the impression that Canadian officials got from the meeting with Goolsbee. 

"It sounds like [Goolsbee] was right," said former Massachusetts governor Paul Cellucci (R), who served as U.S. ambassador to Canada during George W. Bush's first term. "It looks like [President Obama has] softened that quite a bit, to put it mildly."

That could anger some of Obama's staunchest labor supporters, who blame NAFTA for sending American jobs oversees by not requiring a level playing field in the areas of labor and the environment.

But some of those allies said Thursday that they are giving the president more time to make good on his promise and praised Obama for finding a sophisticated way to express support for trade and changes to NAFTA.

"I am happy for him to frame his way of positioning the issue any way he wants, as long as he actually delivers on the issue," said Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division. "If down the road Obama doesn't deliver on the policy, there will be a whole lot of really upset people."

(p. 2) The trade discussion came as Canadians have expressed concern in recent days about the "Buy American" provision that Congress added to the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama signed into law this week. 

Harper said he has "every expectation" that the United States will abide by trade rules that forbid such preferences. But he used strong language to indicate how seriously the country takes that issue.

"If we pursue stimulus packages, the goal of which is only to benefit ourselves, or to benefit ourselves, worse, at the expense of others, we will deepen the world recession, not solve it," he said. Obama and Harper also pledged to work together to battle terrorism, especially in Afghanistan, where Canadian soldiers have been fighting and dying for years.

In his first public comments since sending an additional 17,000 troops to the war-torn country earlier this week, Obama said that "it was necessary to stabilize the situation there in advance of the elections that are coming up."

The president declined to say how long the troops will remain there, citing a 60-day review he has ordered. Harper also declined to say whether his country's troops will remain beyond 2011, but said the long-term goal of the war should be constrained.

"We are not in the long term, through our own efforts, going to establish peace and security in Afghanistan. That, that job, ultimately, can be done only by the Afghans themselves," he said.

The president's trip to Canada was a traditional visit early in his term. The snow may have subtly reminded him of campaigning in the Midwest, as he said he was pleased "to be here in Iowa -- Ottawa."

He disappointed many Canadians who had hoped to see him at a public event. Instead, he waved briefly to a crowd of about 2,000 waiting in the snow as he walked to his meetings.

He did surprise reporters with a brief stop at a converted indoor farmers market in a historic stretch of Ottawa afterward. He bought a keychain with Canadian currency, telling reporters that he was continuing a tradition of buying knickknacks when he travels.

 Obama and Harper also pledged cooperation to revive North America's closely linked economy and signed an agreement to work toward developing clean energy technology.

"It will advance carbon reduction technologies. And it will support the development of an electric grid that can help deliver the clean and renewable energy of the future to homes and businesses, both in Canada and the United States," Obama said."






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Trump approval reaches new high of 50% among registered voters nationwide-Morning Consult Politico Poll, 2/24-2/26/17

Poll dates: Feb. 24-26, 2017, 2000 registered voters, online poll

2/28/17, "Ahead of Joint Address, Most Voters Think Trump Is Delivering on Promises," Morning Consult, Eli Yokley 

"As President Donald Trump prepares to deliver his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, most voters say he has kept his promises to the American people during his first month in office."...

 












Among Trump voters: 88% say he's keeping his promises so far. 

Among all voters: 56% say he's keeping his promises so far.

"On the campaign trail, Trump promised a lot. He pitched voters on a broad “America first” pledge — reinforced during his inaugural address — aimed at strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector and improving the job market, as well as “draining the swamp” of influence in Washington. He also vowed to cut regulations, ramp up deportations of undocumented immigrants [illegal aliens], build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, slow the flow of refugees and immigrants into the U.S., repeal...[ObamaCare], and “drain the swamp” of political corruption.

And while Trump has taken steps to accomplish some of these goals — mostly via executive action — it’s too early to determine how successful he will be in pushing his agenda through. But, most voters say he’s delivering so far....

A third of voters (33 percent) said Trump has accomplished more than they expected since he took office in January, while 36 percent said he has accomplished about as much as they expected him to. More than half of Trump’s supporters (56 percent) said Trump has accomplished more than they expected, while about 4 in 10 (39 percent) of Clinton’s voters said he’d accomplished about as much as they expected.... 

Trump’s approval numbers among registered voters also hit a new high over the weekend, with 50 percent approving of his performance, [page 1] compared with 45 percent who do not....

The national, online survey polled 2,000 registered voters on Feb. 24-26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See more here."

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p. 4. Should transgendered persons use rest rooms according to the gender they identify with or the gender they were born with?

Identify as: 38%
Don't know: 16%

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Demographics, page 12
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Liberal 31, Moderate 23, Conservative 37

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Income: Under $50,000 53, $50-100,000 33, $100,000+ 14

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Demographics, page 13

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Race: White 81, Hispanic 9, Black 13, Other 6

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Top Issue, page 14

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Economy 30%
Security 21%
Health care 16%
Medicare/Soc. Security 15%




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So-called humanitarian 'regime change' in Libya via US taxpayer funded bombing was highly profitable for US war industry but created a lawless Libya now epicentre for migrant child abuse and sex slavery. Continuing political turmoil and militia control in Libya make it impossible to gain access to areas where abuse takes place-BBC (No amount of human suffering is enough for US taxpayer enriched neocons like John McCain who said 'our intervention in Libya will be judged on the political order that emerges.' 8/21/2011)

"Armed groups also hold migrants in an unknown number of unofficial camps...."That's where a lot of abuse is happening and we have very, very limited access.""...

2/28/17, "Libya exposed as an epicentre for migrant child abuse," BBC,  

"Libya's continuing political turmoil makes it extraordinarily difficult to tackle a phenomenon, which the report says has spiralled out of control....

"Sexual violence was widespread and systemic at crossings and checkpoints," says the report. 

Many of the assailants are in uniform. This is said to be just one reason why those who suffer abuse are reluctant to report their experiences. 

And Libya, as the funnel through which so many journeys pass, has earned itself a shocking reputation as the epicentre of abuse.

"Approximately one third [of those interviewed] indicated they had been abused in Libya," the report says. "A large majority of these children did not answer when asked who had abused them."...

The report maps 34 known detention centres in Libya, three of them deep in the country's desert interior. 

Most are run by the government's Department for Combating Illegal Migration. But Unicef says that armed groups also hold migrants in an unknown number of unofficial camps

"The detention centres run by militias, we're much more worried about," says Mr Forsyth. "That's where a lot of abuse is happening and we have very, very limited access."...

"It's a combination of factors," says Mr Forsyth. "The situation in places like Eritrea and northern Nigeria is very bad. Also in the Gambia recently."...

"Libya is a major transit hub for women being trafficked to Europe for sex," the report says." 

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"The United States has the power to decree the death of nations" as it did in Libya: "We came; we saw; he died." (said Hillary Clinton, Oct. 2011) 

With unlimited access to US taxpayer dollars, 'regime change' is an ingenious money laundering operation for parasites. To be part of it, you can have a long track record of continuous failure and a depraved indifference to humanity, with a resume including: 

*countless dead and maimed bodies
*causing permanent suffering, poverty, and social upheaval across entire continents, 
*enabling genocide of Christians and forcing them to flee for their lives from various countries

The Washington Post and NY Times like to promote anything that bleeds and punishes the US middle class, and the neocon money laundering operation is no exception. Munitions are purchased and moved around. Then it's on to the next 'regime change.' US neocons have never expressed an interest in protecting the US, its borders, or the people inside them. The War Party just wants us, its global slaves, to shut up and hand over more of our earnings to their royal lifestyle.

We're told we're "racists" if we don't flood our towns with "refugees" created by endless foreign wars. Then we're forced to give billions more of our tax dollars to so-called "religious" groups which are paid by the head to provide "refugees" with US taxpayer funded services when they first get to the US.

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Citation for US ability to decree death of nations:

Feb. 18, 2016, "The media are misleading the public on Syria," Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer, opinion 

Misinformed or ignorant Americans are "more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans--and many journalists--are content with the official story."

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Added: Cost of Libya "regime change" $1.1 billion US taxpayer dollars by end of Sept. 2011:

Libyan intervention will cost $1.1 billion US taxpayer dollars by  the end of Sept. 2011: ABC News:


6/15/2011, "Obama Administration: Libya Operation Has Cost More than $716 Million, Does Not Require Congressional Authorization," ABC News, Jake Tapper

"In a report revealing that the total cost of US intervention in Libya as of June 3 has been $716 million and will reach $1.1 billion by the end of September, the Obama administration today told congressional leaders in a report (click HERE for an unauthorized version)."...


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Added: As is the case with all neocons, McCain and Graham have never once been right: "Ultimately, our intervention in Libya will be judged a success or failure based not on the collapse of the Kadafi regime, but on the political order that emerges in its place," the senators said."...8/21/2011 

Aug. 21, 2011, "John McCain, Lindsey Graham weigh in on Libya," LA Times, Kim Geiger

"The fall of the Kadafi regime is a victory for Libya, the Middle East and the world, said U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who had been strong advocates for U.S. military intervention in the months-long conflict.

"Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Kadafi," the senators said in a statement released late Sunday night.  "But we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower."

The senators said the U.S. "must lead the international community to provide the support that our Libyan friends need."

"Ultimately, our intervention in Libya will be judged a success or failure based not on the collapse of the Kadafi regime, but on the political order that emerges in its place," the senators said."... 



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Added: April 2011, McCain is cheered in Benghazi, Libya, touts 'free' Libya:

In April 2011, McCain is given hero's welcome in Benghazi, Libya, where he brags that people should visit "free" Benghazi to see how great it is thanks to US intervention (meaning bombing paid for by US taxpayers): "Mr McCain called on critics of intervention to tour Benghazi to see a 'powerful and hopeful example of what a free Libya can be.'" Neocons create permanent misery and suffering wherever they go by transferring taxpayer dollars to the endless war industry.

4/22/2011, "'Let's get this thing over with,' says McCain as he calls for more help for rebels in Libya," Daily Mail


"A day after the U.S. said it was deploying drones in Libya, Senator John McCain called for more help for Libyan rebels so that can 'get this thing over with.'...

The former Republican presidential candidate toured the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Friday.

He received a hero's welcome on his tour as rebel forces, locked in a deadly stand-off with forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gaddafi, gained ground in central Misrata.

Mr McCain said the drones would increase NATO's capability but not enough to make up a shortfall needed to break a 'significant degree of stalemate.'...

Mr. McCain called on critics of intervention to tour Benghazi to see a 'powerful and hopeful example of what a free Libya can be.' 

People waved American flags as a crowd of about 100 Libyans greeted McCain, the leading Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee."...












 





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Being a neocon:

6/20/2014, "Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry," Foreign Policy, Stephen M. Walt 

"The neoconservative-liberal alliance in effect re-legitimates the neoconservative world view, and makes their continued enthusiasm for U.S.-led wars look "normal.""


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Feb. 2015: "ISIS beheadings of Coptic Christians on Libyan beach brings Islamists to the doorstep of Europe:"



2/16/2015, "ISIS beheadings of Coptic Christians on Libyan beach brings Islamists to the doorstep of Europe,"
UK Independent, Lizzie Dearden

"Former Libyan PM previously warned that they would reach Mediterranean."

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9/7/2015, "How Neocons Destabilized Europe" by Robert Parry, consortiumnews.com
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"The refugee chaos that is now pushing deep into Europe...started with the cavalier ambitions of American neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks who planned to remake the Middle East and other parts of the world through “regime change.”
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Instead of the promised wonders of “democracy promotion” and “human rights,” what these “anti-realists” have accomplished is to spread death, destruction and destabilization across the Middle East and parts of Africa and now into Ukraine and the heart of Europe. Yet, since these neocon forces still control the Official Narrative, their explanations get top billing – such as that there hasn’t been enough “regime change.”"...

   
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"(Hillary) Clinton may claim she has lots of foreign policy experience, but but the hard truth is that much of her experience has involved making grievous mistakes and bloody miscalculations....Clinton’s ultimate vulnerability on Libya is that she was a principal author of another disastrous “regime change” that has spread chaos not only across the Middle East and North Africa but into Europe, where the entire European Union project, a major post-World War II accomplishment, is now in danger." ...

April 1, 2016, Cleaning Up Hillary’s Libya Mess,” Robert Parry, Consortium News

"Hillary Clinton’s signature project as Secretary of State – the “regime change” in Libya – is now sliding from the tragic to the tragicomic as her successors in the Obama administration adopt increasingly desperate strategies for imposing some kind of order on the once-prosperous North African country torn by civil war since Clinton pushed for the overthrow and murder of longtime Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi in (Oct. 20) 2011.

The problem that Clinton did much to create has grown more dangerous since Islamic State terrorists have gained a foothold in Sirte and begun their characteristic beheading of “infidels” as well as their plotting for terror attacks in nearby Europe.

There is also desperation among some Obama administration officials because the worsening Libyan fiasco threatens to undermine not only President Barack Obama’s legacy but Clinton’s drive for...the White House. 

The continuing crisis threatens to remind...voters about Hillary Clinton’s role in sparking the chaos in 2011 when she pressured President Obama to counter a military offensive by Gaddafi against what he called Islamic terrorists operating in the east.

Though Clinton and other “liberal interventionists” around Obama insisted that the goal was simply to protect Libyans from a possible slaughter, the U.S.-backed airstrikes inside Libya quickly expanded into a “regime change” operation, slaughtering much of the Libyan army.

Clinton’s State Department email exchanges revealed that her aides saw the Libyan war as a chance to pronounce a “Clinton doctrine,” bragging about how Clinton’s clever use of “smart power” could get rid of demonized foreign leaders like Gaddafi. But the Clinton team was thwarted when President Obama seized the spotlight when Gaddafi’s government fell.

But Clinton didn’t miss a second chance to take credit on Oct. 20, 2011, after militants captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him. Appearing on a TV interview, Clinton celebrated Gaddafi’s demise with the quip, “we came; we saw; he died.”

However, with Gaddafi and his largely secular regime out of the way, Islamic militants expanded their power over the country. Some were terrorists, just as Gaddafi had warned.

One Islamic terror group attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel, an incident that Clinton called the worst moment of her four-year tenure as Secretary of State.

As the violence spread, the United States and other Western countries abandoned their embassies in Tripoli. Once prosperous with many social services, Libya descended into the category of failed state with the Islamic State taking advantage of the power vacuum to seize control of Sirte and other territory. In one grisly incident, Islamic State militants marched Coptic Christians onto a beach and beheaded them.

Yet, on the campaign trail, Clinton continues to defend her judgment in instigating the Libyan war. She claims that Gaddafi had “American blood on his hands,” although she doesn’t spell out exactly what she’s referring to. There remain serious questions about the two primary incidents blamed on Libya in which Americans died – the 1986 La Belle bombing in Berlin and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

But whatever Gaddafi’s guilt in that earlier era, he renounced terrorism during George W. Bush’s presidency and surrendered his unconventional military arsenal. He even assisted Bush’s “war on terror.” So, Gaddafi’s grisly fate has become a cautionary tale for what can happen to a leader who makes major security concessions to the United States.

The aftermath of the Clinton-instigated “regime change” in Libya also shows how little Clinton and other U.S. officials learned from the Iraq War disaster. Clinton has rejected any comparisons between her vote for the Iraq War in 2002 and her orchestration of the Libyan war in 2011, saying that “conflating” them is wrong.... 

Though her (past) Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, hasn’t highlighted her key role in the Libya fiasco, Clinton can expect a tougher approach from the Republicans if she wins the nomination. The problem with the Republicans, however, is that they have obsessed over the details of the Benghazi incident, spinning all sorts of conspiracy theories, missing the forest for the trees.

Clinton’s ultimate vulnerability on Libya is that she was a principal author of another disastrous “regime change” that has spread chaos not only across the Middle East and North Africa but into Europe, where the entire European Union project, a major post-World War II accomplishment, is now in danger.

Clinton may claim she has lots of foreign policy experience, but the hard truth is that much of her experience has involved making grievous mistakes and bloody miscalculations."


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Comment: No amount of human suffering is enough for neocons and their media cheerleaders who are now entrenched throughout US institutions bleeding US taxpayers dry.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

WSJ NBC News Poll: 86% agree with Trump that a few in Washington have 'reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.' For first time since 2002, Republican optimism soars. 'Americans overall do view Trump more positively than negatively on being effective, bringing change to D.C., being firm and decisive, direct and straightforward-and perhaps most importantly, dealing with the economy”-Wall St. Journal, 2/26/17. Poll dates, 2/18-2/22/17

"Asked about the course of the country, 40% said the nation is headed in the right direction. That is up from 33% in December and 18% in July."
 
Poll dates: Feb. 18-22, 2017, telephone interviews with 1000 adults nationwide. (No further description, such as if respondents voted, political affiliation, male vs female) 3.1 error margin on total. No link to poll. Article is WSJ subscription.

2/26/17, "Many Americans Disapprove of Trump but Are Open to His Agenda, Poll Finds," Wall St. Journal, Michael C. Bender

(Scroll to paragraph 17): "47% said they approve of most of his policies. That is a higher rate than Ronald Reagan recorded in January 1987, or George W. Bush in March 2006. Among three previous Republican presidents, only George H.W. Bush had a higher rating, in October 1991, with 50% approving. 

When pollsters tested one of the lines from Mr. Trump’s inaugural speech—asking whether a small group in Washington had “reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost”—an overwhelming majority of 86% said they agreed.

I thought this would test well, but never thought it would reach 86%,” Mr. McInturff said. 

He added that while Mr. Trump’s speeches are often described as dark and apocalyptic, many individual lines resonate powerfully with many Americans. That may continue with Mr. Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday. 

The poll suggested that the public may be sympathetic to some of Mr. Trump’s recent attacks on the media. A majority of adults, 51%, said the media has been too critical of the president, while 41% said the press has been fair and objective.

When a similar question was asked in the third year of Mr. Clinton’s first term, 45% said news coverage of the president was fairly well balanced, while about one-third said it was biased against Mr. Clinton and 16% said it was biased in his favor.

Aiding Mr. Trump’s approval rating was the fact that Americans are slowly becoming more optimistic about the country and the economy. Asked about the course of the country, 40% said the nation is headed in the right direction. That is up from 33% in December, and 18% in July.

A plurality of Americans, 41%, continue to believe that the U.S. economy will improve, a postelection shift that followed three years in which most Americans expected economic prospects to remain stagnant. Among those who are anticipating improvement, 73% credit the expected gains mostly to Mr. Trump’s policies, while 20% say it would result from the normal ebb and flow of the business cycle. 

Some 60% of Americans now say they’re hopeful and optimistic about the future of the country, up 4 percentage points from December. Just 40% are worried and pessimistic, slightly lower than in other recent Journal/NBC News polls.

That optimism is reflected in a sharp change in how Americans view major institutions in the country. For the first time since 2002, a majority of adults, or 52%, say they don’t believe the nation’s economic and political systems are stacked against them. An improved outlook among Republicans is largely responsible for the change....

His voters wanted change,” Mr. McInturff said. “He’s not another president; he’s their president. And Americans overall do view him more positively than negatively on being effective, bringing change to D.C., being firm and decisive, direct and straightforward—and perhaps most importantly, dealing with the economy. 

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was based on nationwide telephone interviews of 1,000 adults conducted from Feb. 18-22. Overall, the data’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The margin of error for subgroups is larger."

"Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com"

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From the article:

2/26/2017: "For the first time since 2002, a majority of adults, or 52%, say they don’t believe the nation’s economic and political systems are stacked against them. An improved outlook among Republicans is largely responsible for the change."... 

Comment: The Bushes and their presidencies have been the worst thing to happen to this country since WWII. George W. Bush scorned Republican voters and ensured that the Republican Party, if it existed at all, didn't reflect views of its voters. He left the country with only one functioning political party, no checks and balances, effectively a dictatorship. Trump offered to represent us and didn't scorn us:

NYC Mayor De Blasio's quest for national respect hit another roadblock Saturday after defeat of his candidate Ellison for DNC chair-NY Post Editorial Board

2/24/17, DeBlasio exits NYC building after 5 hours of questioning by feds

















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2/26/17, "De Blasio’s quest for national respect hits another roadblock," NY Post Editorial Board

"Mayor de Blasio’s endless drive to win respect as a national progressive leader hit another banana peel Saturday with the defeat of his candidate to chair the Democratic National Committee. 

The mayor had dramatically flown to Atlanta on Friday afternoon, after his 4½-hour grilling by federal prosecutors probing the possible sale of City Hall favors, to rally support for Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

The change-the-subject stunt annoyed some in the Ellison camp. As Mary Kay Linge and Aaron Short reported in Sunday’s Post, one Democratic source said Ellison allies had asked de Blasio not to come: “The buzz is, what the f–k was he doing here?”

After all, the mayor has built a rep not so much as a progressive leader but as a progressive opportunist. During the long Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton contest for the 2016 presidential nomination, he first tried (and failed) to play power broker, as with his unsuccessful efforts to make both candidates attend his own issues forum.

Behind the scenes, he was trying to get the Clinton camp to make him its point man with progressives as a condition of his support. In the end, he got nothing for holding out months after virtually every other New York elected Democrat had endorsed Clinton.

Perhaps de Blasio was looking to reconnect with the Bernie bros by going all-in for Ellison: Sanders and American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten were the two main speakers when Ellison announced for the job.

In the end, though, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez — the preferred candidate of former President Barack Obama — won.

Meanwhile, de Blasio burned bridges with other local Democrats by failing to support the DNC vice-chair bids of Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake and Queens Rep. Grace Meng. (Instead, he backed a California labor activist.)

In a speech Friday night at a private party (he didn’t get a slot at the actual meeting), the mayor complained that people had come to see Democrats as “a party of lobbyists and consultants.” Funny: The mayor himself not only faces multiple probes into his relationship with lobbyists, he’s also in court fighting to keep the public from seeing his communications with lobbyist-consultants he declared to be secret “agents of the city.”

Perhaps the rest of the progressive movement has good reason for not wanting de Blasio as its leader."




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Rapper MC Rove performs at 2007 Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner-Time.com

Karl Rove, 2007 Beltway media dinner










"The Radio-Television Correspondents Association is the major organization of broadcast journalists who report on the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. comprised of radio and television broadcasters from every part of the world."


"Top Ten Performing Politicians," time.com

6 of 10, "Karl Rove": The main attraction of course is DJ Jazzy Rover here. At the 2007 Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner, the Architect himself revealed his most frightening persona — MC Rove. Which is really the laziest hip-hop name he could have come up with. Ol' Dirty Rove? Rove Dogg? Ice-K? We're not even trying here. Also, he apparently believes that rapping can only occur with a deep, faux-gravelly voice. Shockingly embarrassing, no matter your politics."...










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Warren Buffett says weather events haven't changed in a way that would cause his insurance businesses to write policies differently-CNBC, 2/27/17

2/27/17, "Warren Buffett says global warming is not impacting the way Berkshire writes insurance," CNBC, Tom DiChristopher

"Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett on Monday said he has not yet seen sufficient evidence that climate change is affecting weather events to a degree that would make him change the way his conglomerate's insurance businesses write policies.

Events such as Hurricane Sandy have raised concerns that global warming is increasing the intensity and frequency of so-called superstorms.

"I have not seen anything yet that would cause me to change the way we look at evaluating quakes, tornadoes, hurricanes by atmosphere. Now, that may happen some day," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box." 

He added that the frequency of Florida hurricanes has been "quite low" for roughly the last decade compared to historical trends, and storms in the Sunshine State, Texas and the U.S. Southeast have been "remarkably benign."

Buffett delivered a similar assessment in last year's annual letter to shareholders. In that letter, he said climate change had not up until then "produced more frequent nor more costly hurricanes nor other weather-related events covered by insurance."


That caused rates for super-catastrophe insurance to fall, leading Berkshire to back away from the products, according to Buffett. Costlier and more frequent "super-cats" would actually likely benefit Berkshire's insurance business, he wrote.

At the time the letter was released, Buffett was facing a proposal from a shareholder that asked Berkshire to report on the dangers climate change poses to the company's insurance operations.

Research shows it is premature to conclude greenhouse gas emissions from human activities "have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."...






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Sunday, February 26, 2017

With Hollywood and Oscars, We are all Neocons now: False Syrian war coverage by US media and Hollywood cause more suffering and death. Misinformed Americans are most dangerous because with their support and unlimited access to US taxpayer dollars, neocons can righteously decree death of nations or 'regime change' as they did in Libya-Boston Globe, 2/28/2016, Stephen Kinzer. Beltway war machine profits with media, Hollywood, and Oscars warmongers pretending to be humanitarians-Rick Sterling, Consortium News. 2/2/4/17

At a 2016 debate in Milwaukee, "Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on "an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva." The precise opposite is true....No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her."  

Feb. 18, 2016, "The media are misleading the public on Syria," Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer, opinion

"Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents:

“Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it. 

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending. 

Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars, one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS— so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”

 This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery. 

Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win. 

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media. 

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. 

Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria. 

Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on “an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.”

The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her. 

Politicians may be forgiven for distorting their past actions. Governments may also be excused for promoting whatever narrative they believe best suits them. Journalism, however, is supposed to remain apart from the power elite and its inbred mendacity. In this crisis it has failed miserably. 

Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story. 

In Syria, it is:

Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death." 

"Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Follow him on Twitter @stephenkinzer."

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Added:

Oscar-nominated "short documentary" Netflix movie "The White Helmets"..."is a contrived infomercial." 

2/24/2017, "Syrian War Propaganda at the Oscars," Consortium News, Rick Sterling

"The Western-backed war in Syria, like the invasion of Iraq, was so smothered by propaganda that truth was not only the first casualty but has been steadily suffocated for five years, now reaching the Oscars, says Rick Sterling.

"The Netflix movie "The White Helmets" may win an Oscar in the “short documentary” category at the Academy Awards on Sunday. It would not be a surprise despite the fact that the group is a fraud and the movie is a contrived infomercial.

Awarding “The White Helmets” an Oscar would fit with the desire of Hollywood to appear supportive of “human rights,” even if that means supporting a propaganda operation to justify another bloody “regime change” war in the Middle East.

Much of what people think they know about the White Helmets is untrue. The group is not primarily Syrian; it was initiated by British military contractor James LeMesurier and has been heavily funded (about $100 million) by the U.S., U.K. and other governments. The White Helmets are not volunteers; they are paid, which is confirmed in a Al Jazeera video that shows some White Helmet “volunteers” talking about going on strike if they don’t get paid soon.

Still, most of the group’s heavy funding goes to marketing, which is run by “The Syria Campaign” based in New York. The manager is an Irish-American, Anna Nolan, who has never been to Syria. As an example of its deception, “The Syria Campaign” website features video showing children dancing and playing soccer implying they are part of the opposition demand for a “free and peaceful” Syria. 

But the video images are taken from a 2010 BBC documentary about education in Syria under the Baath government.

There is also something almost dated about the Academy selecting this infomercial as an Oscar finalist, let alone the possibility of giving it the award. It’s as if the Syrian propaganda narrative of “good” rebels vs. “bad” government was still viable. In the case of the White Helmets, they were literally made into “white hats” bravely resisting the government’s “black hats.”

Yet, we now know that the propaganda around the “noble” rebels holding out in east Aleppo – with the help of the White Helmets – was largely a lie. The rebels mostly fought under the command structure of Al Qaeda’s Nusra affiliate and its fellow jihadists in Ahrar al-Sham. A video shows White Helmet workers picking up the corpse of a civilian after execution by Nusra/Al Qaeda and celebrating the extremists’ battle wins.

Western “human rights” groups touted not only the White Helmets but the “moderate rebels” who we now know were largely a P.R. cover for the terrorists and jihadists, as well as an excuse for the U.S. and its allies to funnel in weapons that were then turned over to the extremists
.
When eastern Aleppo was finally freed from the armed militants, it was discovered that the White Helmets headquarters were alongside the headquarters of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. Civilians from east Aleppo reported that the White Helmets primarily rallied their “humanitarian” operations when the militants were attacked.

Soon after departing Aleppo in government-supplied buses, the White Helmets showed up in the mountains above Damascus where they allied with terrorist groups responsible for poisoning and then shutting off the water source for five million people in Damascus.

Neither Neutral Nor Independent

The White Helmets’s claim to be neutral and independent is another lie. They only work in areas controlled by the rebel groups, primarily Al Qaeda’s Nusra, and their leaders seek to bring in direct U.S. and NATO military intervention to assure a “regime change” in Syria although it likely would create a vacuum that the extremists would exploit to the further suffering of the Syrian people.




The film is as fraudulent as the group it tries to turn into heroes. The filmmakers never set foot in Syria. Their video footage takes place in southern Turkey where they show White Helmet trainees in a hotel and talking on cell phones. The footage from inside Syria is not from independent journalists but from the White Helmets themselves – and much of it looks contrived.

Khaled Khatib, the White Helmets’s photographer who says he filmed the footage inside Syria, reportedly received a U.S. visa and will attend the Oscars. Khatib tweeted the first video he took showing the White Helmets, with a girl who was totally buried being removed without injuries or wounds or even much dirt.

The original video has the logo of Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which was created by the Syrian Expatriates Organization. Their address on K Street in Washington DC suggests this is yet another Western-funded operation similar to the Iraqi National Congress that lobbied and lied on behalf of the 2003 invasion of Iraq
.
In the past few days, with perfect timing for the upcoming Oscars, there was yet another “miracle” rescue, another girl buried but then removed and whisked away in record-breaking time – perfect for social media.

The momentum in support of the White Helmets infomercial raises a question about how this Oscar is awarded. Is it for journalistic authenticity or is it to conform with the political passions of the moment, which themselves are partly contrived by a well-funded propaganda campaign mounted by Western/Israeli/Gulf governments.

Investigative Reports

The true source and real purpose of the White Helmets were exposed almost two years ago by investigative journalists. Max Blumenthal has written a two-part detailed examination of the “shadowy PR firm” behind the White Helmets. And Jan Oberg has written an overview survey of the “pro” and “con” examinations in his work “Just How Gray are the White Helmets”.

Map of Syria
More recently, Vanessa Beeley has documented the fact that the White Helmets pretends to be the Syrian Civil Defense when there is a real Syrian Civil Defense, which was begun in the 1950s and is a member of the International Civil Defense Organizations. The White Helmets group was launched as “Syria Civil Defense” in Turkey in 2013 before being re-branded as the “White Helmets” in 2014. 

According to on-the-ground interviews in Aleppo, militants began supplying this operation by killing real Syrian rescue workers and stealing their equipment. Since then the White Helmets have been supplied by the West through Turkey with brand new ambulances and related rescue equipment. 

Despite exposés about the group, the West’s mainstream media and some “alternative” outlets continue to uncritically promote the White Helmets myth and rely on the group as a source of news about Syria. In 2014-2015, the White Helmets became a rallying point for columnist Nicholas Kristof, the activist group Avaaz and others to campaign for all-out Western assault on the Syrian government and its military.

Perhaps ironically – given the Israeli government’s desire for a “regime change” in Syria – the Israeli mainstream TV program I24 presented both sides of the issue and titled the segment “White Helmets: Heroes or Hoax?” By contrast, the progressive program “DemocracyNow” in the United States has only broadcast a puff piece promoting the “White Helmet” disinformation.

Whether or not the White Helmets snag the Academy Award, they surely deserve recognition for their skillful marketing and advertising. In 2016, the group received the Rights Livelihood Award and was seriously considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. The Oscar nomination for “The White Helmets” movie is just the latest success in the ongoing campaign of distortion and deception around Syria."

"Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com"
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