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Obama Nixed Pentagon Plan for Full Afghanistan Surge

by Gareth Porter Obama had called McKiernan directly and asked how he planned to use the 30,000 troops, but got no coherent answer to the question. It was after that conversation that Obama withdrew his support for the full request. The unsatisfactory response from McKiernan had been preceded by another military non-answer to an Obama question. At his meeting with Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon Jan. 28, Obama asked the Joint Chiefs, 'What is the end game?' in Afghanistan, and was told, 'Frankly, we don't have one'

Antarctic Ice Melt Means North America Disaster, New Study Finds

If global warming ever causes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse, as many experts believe it could, the resulting sea level rise in much of the United States would be significantly higher than is currently projected, a new study concludes

Too Small Glimmers of Hope

by Alexander Cockburn The number of seemingly decent nominations has been pathetically small: Hilda Solis is a promising pick as labor secretary; Leon Panetta as CIA chief seems good. No doubt there are more among the hundreds of new officials. But the symbolism has been overwhelmingly negative. Obama has methodically surrounded himself with ranking members of the party of permanent war and with the economic strategists who have blazed the path to the nation's present ruinous state

Notes from the Road in a Tailspin Economy

by Alexander Cockburn Trailer-park management is a tough business, giving the veteran a skeptical posture toward protestations of good faith and square dealing

The Parable of the Shopping Mall

by Alexander Cockburn Today the Bayshore Mall molders, embodying the misfortunes of General Growth -- the second largest mall owner in the United States -- whose stock trades now for 55 cents, down from $44 last May. Some major retailers, like Lauren's Polo, have long since fled. Walk east along one of the arcades and you come to a wall of plywood, behind which lies the desolation that was Mervyn's, a clothing chain that has now filed for bankruptcy. The little stores nearby have a somber mien, like people compelled to live in the chill shadow of a funeral home. The food court, serviced by six or seven fast food businesses, is becoming a sanctuary for the poor

Payback Time Creeps Closer for Bush and his Top Officials

by Alexander Cockburn What was dismissed only a few months ago by leading Democrats in Washington as unthinkable now seems possible -- that senior officials in the Bush administration, even Bush and Cheney, will be the target of public war-crime hearings and even criminal prosecutions here in the United States

How the Networks Went into the Drug Peddling Business

by Alexander Cockburn Back at the start of the 1990s, the drug companies were spending $55 million on DTC ads. By 2003, the outlay had soared to $3 billion -- by 2006, the outlay on DTC ads went to $5.2 billion

The Third Obama

by Alexander Cockburn So far as I can figure it at this early stage of the game, we elected at least three presidents last November, all of them identified by the name Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the one on duty in the Oval Office most of the time, the First Obama -- the one the elites picked as their man -- is sticking to utterly conventional and catastrophic policies

Don't Let Your Kids Go To Fox News During Spring Break

by Steve Young In a surprise warning, the State Department issued a travel alert cautioning college students and teens to be mindful of the deluge of video clips depicting near-naked, gyrating women cavorting on Mexican beaches and pool sides during Spring Break that are being aired 24/7 on Fox News

Pilgrimage to Mount RUSHmore

by Steve Young Even in the face of what Rush and Republicans wrought, the Right, lead by Rush's Lords of Loud brethren, is spinning the shoot-the-messenger card in an attempt to make their self anointment of Mount Rushmore a White House creation that they say is meant to distract from the three real issues of the day: The economy, the economy and the economy

The Train, The Mouse And The ACORN

by Steve Young Did you know that House Leader, Nancy Pelosi put $20 million into the stimulus package to keep the San Francisco areaŐs salt marsh mouse from perishing? And thanks to talk radio and Fox News, real Americans know that there is zillions in the bill to aid ACORN, those bastards who tried to register Mickey Mouse so he could vote for Democrats. These points were made over and over last week and every one of them are strong evidence that talk radioŐs presence as a forum for information youŐll never hear in the mainstream media -- if they were true

Fairness For Those Who Can Afford It

by Steve Young The right wonders why Katie Couric isn't being Fair Doctrine'd -- you know, because Katie's reporting is so liberal. See, that's one of the most successful effects from years of conservative talk. They have so successfully defined anything infinitesimally left of Rush, Sean or Bill as leftist. The center no longer exists. To talk radio, moderate Republicans are leftists

Obama: Role Model...Bush: Not

by Steve Young Seemingly fearful of getting anything wrong, Bush and his admirers have defended his presidency by saying history will prove he was right about most things, including Iraq. My guess is that history will prove that he never learned a thing from history

Republicans Fiddle While America Burns

by Robert Scheer It is obscene that the Republicans who created this mess dare question the cost of a stimulus package directed at meeting a crisis that their radical deregulation of the financial markets created

Socialism? Not Hardly

by Robert Scheer So what we have here is socialism without even the pretense of a soul. Certainly that has been the case with the abject refusal of the banks that received government bailouts to be more aggressive in preventing home foreclosures. And the Obama administration has made it clear that it has no intention of taking over the operation of any of the mega-companies that are in trouble, even when, as in the case of AIG, the government already owns 80 percent of the shares. The reason? Because that would be viewed as nationalization

AIG Returns to the Federal Feeding Trough

by Robert Scheer We are already into AIG for a total of $170 billion -- an amount that dwarfs the $75 billion allocated to helping those millions of homeowners facing foreclosures. And more will be thrown down the AIG rat hole because President Barack Obama is blindly following the misguided advice of his top economic advisers, who insist that AIG is too big to fail

Obama Speech Hits the Right Notes

by Robert Scheer At some point, if he is to make good on his promise to cut the deficit by half within four years, he will have to confront the military-industrial complex, which now obtains much larger annual budget allocations than when President Dwight Eisenhower issued his famous warning. Currently, military spending makes up 60 percent of the federal government's discretionary budget

Chevron Silent on Bribery Allegations

by Marwaan Macan-Markar Under fire for failing to disclose the amount of money it allegedly paid to secure rights to drill for offshore oil in corruption-ridden Cambodia

Polio Spreading From Afghanistan Into Pakistan

by Ashfaq Yusufzai Since 2001, Pakistan has spent an estimated one billion dollars annually on polio eradication efforts. The campaign has failed to penetrate remote areas, particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas adjoining the NWFP, in the wake of opposition from Islamist radicals that the vaccine is a U.S. ploy to make the population infertile

Stimulus Skeptics Wrong...Again

by Joe Conason Back in 1993, Dick Armey, a Republican representative from Texas and former economics professor, warned that Mr. Clinton's proposed increase in the top tax rate would lead to economic disaster. Those predictions were echoed by every right-wing politician and talking head and soon proved utterly wrong by the historic growth rates of the Clinton years. Now we hear Armey offering the same kind of predictions about the Obama stimulus plan -- and he is treated as a sage rather than a dolt who bet the ranch on his ideology and lost

Push Back Against AIG's 'Brightest'

by Joe Conason Disgruntled AIG employees may not just quit; they may sue us if we don't pay their bonuses. But let's see what happens in five years or so, as their lawsuit moves through the courts. Let's see how many of these executives really want to answer hard questions in a deposition about their dubious activities at AIG. And let's see how many of them suddenly realize that they may have criminal liability

AIG the Biggest Shark of All

by Robert Scheer The $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery

NATO -- Still Mission-Creeping At 60

by Alexander Cockburn NATO doesn't need a new mission. It needs to disappear into the trashcan of history along with the cold war that engendered it

Evening At The Tucker Carlson Improv

by Steve Young Tucker Carlson is muy jealous. He has a problem with Stewart not only because Stewart called him for what he was four years ago on CNN's Crossfire, but because Stewart, while a comic, knows that when a bull takes dump it front of the whole world, it can only be called one thing


by Steve Young I will continue to shine a light on the inanity of broadcast snake oil hawkers through my own site ( as well as other websites and print venues, but the Albion Monitor will be missed

The Con Game of Blame

by Joe Conason Ever since Election Day 2008, the usual suspects have been hard at work, deflecting responsibility from the Bush administration (and the Republicans in Congress) for the catastrophic effects of conservative policy enacted during the past eight years

Obama's Toxic Advisers

by Robert Scheer Gary Gensler helped create this financial crisis when he was in the Treasury Department back in the Clinton era, when bipartisan cooperation with Wall Street lobbyists was all the rage

Obama's Fall Guy

by Alexander Cockburn Geithner gets pelted with moldy cabbages, while Obama -- entirely responsible for the basic economic strategy of bailing out the banks rather than taking them over -- charms the nation

FOX, Friends, Dems, and Nazis

by Steve Young Following their March 26 Fox & Friends segment where co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson hosted Michael Franzese, former capo of the Colombo crime family, to discuss similarities between Democratic leaders and the Mafia, Kilmeade and Carlson brought on Walter Schreiber. Now 111 years young and missing since 1952, Schreiber, who was instrumental in Nazi medical experiments on concentration camp inmates, was asked to discuss the Obama's administration's parallels to the Third Reich

Bill the Brawler, Keith the Pugilist

by Steve Young At 6'4" and both weighing in at well over 200 pounds, the heavyweights are imposing figures, but they're two completely different types of brawlers. O'Reilly is willing (unaware?) that he is taking a beating while Olbermann doesn't want to mess up his hair

O'Reilly Myth #9,368: Only Liberal Newspapers Closing

by Steve Young Every time Bill OŐReilly uses the closing of newspapers as a rationale for liberalism as a loss revenue agent I wonder why he never uses the same generalization for the closing of any other business. 'The Folks just arenŐt buying from Circuit City anymore because of their pinhead liberal marketing tactics.' And it would just make as much sense

Coming Soon: The New Fox News Network

by Steve Young Sure, Glenn Beck is nuts, but not nuts enough for some. There's a real cry out there for a network that isn't afraid to say what the real patriot holed up in his axles-on-blocks, trailer shack is thinking, the guy who feels that Michael Savage is too wishy-washy. So it comes as no surprise that Fox President Roger Ailes has announced the development of a new News Corp network to fill the niche: Fox News Adrenalin Network

A Presidency In Ruin

by Steve Young This president apparently uses a teleprompter even to remind him of facts and figures at news conferences. I want a president who isn't afraid to make up stuff if he can't remember the facts and figures - a president who boldly speaks off the top of his head rather than bothering with preparation and deliberation

From Frozen Minds, A 'Spending Freeze'

by Joe Conason What makes someone like Boehner important and potentially dangerous is not that anyone takes his bonehead advice seriously, but that he and his caucus can block or stall policies that might rescue us from the worst consequences of the bust

Rushing Toward Irrelevance

by Joe Conason For Democrats, these clown shows are amusing and encouraging. As long as the Republicans kowtow to Limbaugh, they won't be able to muster substantive opposition to President Obama and the Congressional majority

Pushed To the Margins, Finally

by Joe Conason At the brink of global ruin, many Americans suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable, and to reject foolish notions that were once deemed brilliant

Israel Braces for Wave of Lawsuits Over Gaza Assault

by Mel Frykberg Israel is bracing for a wave of lawsuits charging substantial human rights violations during its 22-day military assault on Gaza which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and nearly 5,000 wounded, more than half of them civilian

N Pole, Antarctic Teeming With Life, Study Finds

by Stephen Leahy Earth's two ice-covered polar oceans may be the most inhospitable places on the planet, but more than 12,000 species of animals have been found there, according to new research

Most Iraqi Doctors Practice Medicine in Stealth

by Dahr Jamail 70% percent of Iraq's doctors are reported to have fled the war-torn country in the face of death threats and kidnappings. Those who remain live in fear, often in conditions close to house arrest

Maliki Draws U.S. Troops into Crackdown on Sunnis

by Gareth Porter Sunday's battle in Fadhil was a warning signal that the U.S. command has allowed itself to be drawn into a campaign by al-Maliki to pick off individual commanders of the Sunni neighborhood security groups made up of former insurgents

Pakistan Frees Rogue Nuclear Scientist A. Q. Khan

Analysis by Beena Sarwar The release of Pakistani rogue nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, underlines major issues confronting Pakistan -- and indeed the world -- ranging from nuclear proliferation to governance, corruption, hypocrisy, and how public opinion is shaped by falsehoods

No Progress in Exposing Human Trafficking, UN Finds

by Mirela Xanthaki The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates 2 million as the yearly net addition to the total number of slaves worldwide. Subtracting the number of people rescued or who die annually, the total number is thought to be over 10 million. However, the actual number of known trafficking victims is only 22,500

No GOP "Victory"

by Joe Conason Nearly every poll now says that Obama's popularity and approval ratings remain at extraordinary levels. Just as important, he has displayed the capacity to persuade the public that his policies deserve support, as he did when he finally began to campaign on behalf of the stimulus last week. The latest Gallup survey shows that support for the stimulus rose markedly among Democrats and stabilized among both independents and Republicans as soon as he started speaking out forcefully

Stronger, Please, Mr. President

by Joe Conason For the White House, the strategic issue is whether he waited too long to confront the stimulus critics -- and how he will balance bipartisanship with toughness in dealing with the recalcitrant Republicans from now on

Study Shows Wall St. Lobbyists Shaped Deregulation Behind Crisis

by Marina Litvinsky Financial sector invested more than $5 billion on purchasing political influence in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse

Pakistan Under Taliban Siege

by Al Jazeera Authorities in Pakistan have vowed to deal sternly with Taliban militants who have this month mounted a series of deadly attacks apparently aimed at weakening this country that has close links with neighboring Afghanistan

Taliban Now Centered in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, Strategists Claim

Analysis by Gareth Porter A few influential strategists here have been doubting that al Qaeda would seek to move into Afghanistan as long as they are ensconced in Pakistan and argue that escalating U.S. drone airstrikes or Special Operations raids on Taliban targets in Pakistan will actually strengthen radical jihadi groups in the country and weaken the Pakistani government's ability to resist them

Fish Disappearing From Tigris as Pollution Contaminates Iraq's Main River

by Dahr Jamail Fishing is not just difficult now, but also unpleasant and hazardous. The smell of burning plastic, or at places of raw sewage, is overpowering. And, Majit says, he has been shot at by U.S. soldiers from the Green Zone, whose concrete walls line the banks along one stretch. Iraqi environmentalists report that the river is contaminated with war waste, oil derivatives, industrial waste, and toxins

Israeli Siege Wiped Out Gaza Infrastructure, UN Finds

by Mirela Xanthaki The United Nations is urgently appealing for $613 million to aid more than a million desperate civilians in the ruins of Gaza, where schools, hospitals, houses, factories and even farmland were obliterated during the three-week assault by Israeli air and ground forces

At Least 22 Children Among Gitmo Prisoners

by William Fisher Since the iconic detention center in Cuba opened in 2002, some 22 juveniles have been imprisoned there. And contrary to the UN's Rights of the Child protocol, all but three have been housed with the general population

Study Debunks Claims of Gitmo Recidivism

by William Fisher The latest DOD report, which was issued in mid-January, alleged that 61 detainees have returned to the battlefield. The Seton Hall report notes that in each of its 43 attempts to provide the numbers of the recidivist detainees, the Department of Defense has given different sets of numbers that are contradictory and internally inconsistent with the Department's own data

Thousands of Iraqi Homeless Squat in Bombed Buildings

by Dahr Jamail The compound, which was the headquarters of former dictator Saddam Hussein's son Qusay Hussein, was heavily damaged by U.S. air strikes during the invasion in March 2003. Buildings like this became shelters for thousands displaced then and later

Israelis Slowly Moving Away From Simplistic Views of Palestine Conflict, Study Finds

Analysis by Daan Bauwens 46 percent of those surveyed thought that responsibility for the conflict is more or less evenly divided between Jews and Arabs, while 43 percent thought Palestinians are mainly to blame, and 4.3 percent that the Jews are mainly to blame

No Tough Love for Wall Street

by Robert Scheer The leaks from Treasury promise that $50 billion will eventually be allocated directly to helping homeowners, which is a day late and a dollar short in chump change compared to the trillion dollars that Geithner on Tuesday committed to the purchase of more bad bank debt

Runaway Wall Street

by Robert Scheer What we need is an honest accounting of how we got into this mess, beginning with an investigation of the role of Goldman Sachs as the most insidious Wall Street player. But we are not likely to get that from an administration populated by Goldman's Washington allies

Arms Makers Need Bailout Too, Say Neo-Cons

by Jim Lobe Despite a shrinking national economy and a record defense budget, U.S. neo-conservatives and other right-wing hawks are mounting a spirited -- if misleading -- campaign to persuade Congress that the military should get a bigger slice

Pakistan's Peace Deal With Taliban a Setback for Women

by Zofeen Ebrahim The ceasefire agreement reached by the provincial government in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Taliban on Feb.16, involving implementation of shariah (Islamic law), is being seen as a setback for women's rights in the area bordering Afghanistan. Going by what the Taliban have in mind for women in Swat, the worries are well placed

Afghanistan's Three Futures

by Pratap Chatterjee Want a billion dollars in development aid? If you happen to live in Afghanistan, the two quickest ways to attract attention and so aid from the U.S. authorities are: Taliban attacks or a florishing opium trade. For those with neither, the future could be bleak

Pirates 'r' Us

by Michael Winship "One of the ironies at play is that the maritime industry being victimized is itself a standard-bearer for the advantages that exist in a world beyond law and regulation"

Helen Thomas, Please Stop Tormenting O'Reilly?

by Steve Young Oh, to be a FoxNews fly on the wall at the O'Reilly Factor preproduction meeting putting together last Wednesday's show

Hamas Ends With More Arab Support After Israeli Siege

Analysis by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani Despite declarations of victory by Israel, the military assault on the Gaza Strip failed to achieve its stated aims, many analysts say. The assault, and even its exceptional brutality, may only have vindicated the notion of resistance among the Arab public

Obama Justice Dept. Seeks to Continue Bush "State Secrets" Privilege

by William Fisher Before a federal appeals court in San Francisco Monday, lawyers from the Obama Department of Justice invoked the same 'state secrets privilege' used by the Bush administration to argue that a lawsuit brought on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyan Mohamed and four other alleged victims of the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' program should not go forward because revealing the evidence would harm national security

Democrats Divided Over "Reckoning" for Bush

Analysis by William Fisher With growing public support for a public investigation of crimes that may have been committed by the Bush administration, policy makers and legal experts are deeply divided on how to proceed -- and President Barack Obama seems ambivalent about whether to proceed at all

Kurds Worry That U.S. Will Pullout Before Conflicts With Iraqi Arabs Settled

Analysis by Mohammed A. Salih The U.S. is making sure Iraqi security forces can take over the task of protecting the country against rebellious forces once it leaves. To achieve that end, the U.S. is equipping and training Iraqi security forces. But this is hardly reassuring to Kurds, many of whom see a conflict with Baghdad forthcoming in some form in the future

U.S. and Iraqis not Counting Dead in Vast Unofficial Cemeteries

by Dahr Jamail Latif produced the cemetery logbook. 'As of this hour, exactly, there are 5,500 bodies in this place. I log their names in my book, but we've never had anyone come from the government to ask how many people are here. Nobody in the media nor the Ministry of Health seems to be interested.' Such graveyards, and there are many, raise questions about the real death toll in Iraq

Bush Signs Declaration to Protect Remote Areas of Western Pacific

Just two weeks before he leaves office, President George W. Bush set aside January 6 three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Taken together, the three monuments cover nearly 200,000 square miles, and they will now receive America's highest level of environmental recognition and conservation, the president said

Pentagon Delayed Releasing Innocent Gitmo Prisoners in Fear of Bad Press

by William Fisher Newly released documents confirm the existence of 'black site' prisons at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and in Iraq; affirm the Defense Department (DOD's) cooperation with the CIA's 'ghost' detention program; and show one case where the DOD sought to delay the release of Guantanamo prisoners who were scheduled to be sent home in order to avoid bad press

Petraeus Leaked Misleading Story on Pullout Plans

Analysis by Gareth Porter The real story of the leak by Petraeus is that the most powerful figure in the U.S. military has tried to shape the media coverage of Obama and combat troop withdrawal from Iraq to advance his policy agenda -- and, very likely, his personal political interests as well

Christian Right Labels Jimmy Carter as Enemy of Israel

by Bill Berkowitz As the world awaits the formation of a new Israeli government -- likely to be headed by Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party and possibly in partnership with Kadima's Tzipi Livni -- Evans has honed in on another of his favorite targets: former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

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