Monday, January 25, 2010

Pat Robertson and Haiti 1-25-10

25, January 2010                   Pat Robertson and Haiti

It is a pity that Pat Robertson has chosen to sign a pact with the devil by continuing his diatribe on gays, women’s rights, the separation of church and state – and more recently  Haiti’s earthquake victims on its ‘un-Christian’ past. Even New York Times conservative columnist, David Brooks blamed Haitians for being “progress resistant.”

Brooks and Robertson would do well to reflect on France and the US’s sordid historical roles in Haiti. First the French ran Haiti as a slave colony robbing the land of its rich sources of coffee, sugar and tobacco. In an incredible cruel twist of colonial exploitation, the French demanded reparations from an impoverished ‘free’Haiti after its forces were expelled in 1804.

The US invaded Haiti in 1916 and continued the legacy of ‘colonial exploitation’ by appointing unpopular proxy dictators president for life’ Fran├žois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, followed by his son Jean-Claude Duvalier. Both rulers acquiesced to US demands to privatize its state run industries and establish sweat shops to provide US corporations with cheap imports.

It is puzzling why Obama appointed former President Clinton and President Bush to undertake the earthquake relief efforts when both were instrumental in undermining Haiti’s democracy. 

It now behooves us help Haitians rebuild their devastated nation. As a start, let us demand that the democratically elected exiled leader, President Aristide, be allowed to return to his country. Finally, Haiti’s long term debt of $880 million should be forgiven.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blackwater (Soldiers for Hire) 1-16-10

16, January 2010                      Blackwater (Soldiers for Hire)

The ‘soldiers for hire’, military contractor, Blackwater is back in the news. Recently, two of  Blackwater’s former employees were arrested on murder charges involving the death of two Afghan civilians. In an earlier incident, dozens of eyewitnesses witnessed the brutal slaying of seventeen Iraqi civilians in the Nisoor massacre by five Blackwater employees. To compound the outrage, the company paid a miniscule compensation of $100,000 for each death and $20,000 to $30,000 to each Iraqi wounded. It is unconscionable that our tax money should be used to retain the services of Blackwater who is a repeat offender of the slaying and injury of innocent civilians. What is especially astounding and disturbing is the casual and nonchalant way our government is contracting out its mafia style assassination attempts. Blackwater’s ‘007’ antics have tarnished the image of the US and invoked seething anger in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany (where one their citizens was ‘renditioned’ and tortured). It is encouraging that REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (leading member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations) is introducing legislation to stop outsourcing security by companies like Blackwater. She deserves our full support. The Pentagon should follow CIA’s decision by canceling their contract with Blackwater. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wall Street 1-7-10

 7, January 2010                     Wall Street

Last Christmas Eve, the Obama administration inexplicably removed the $400 billion cap on Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac allowing them to continue to gamble with the people’s money with complete abandon. The CEO’s were rewarded with bonuses of $6 million. Meanwhile real employment is approaching 18-20% and foreclosures are at a staggering 200,000 a month. The banks are making no effort to restructure mortgage loans because they receive 85% against foreclosure from private insurance companies.

In a further effort to prop up government-subsidized banks and allow them to jettison their toxic assets, the Treasury Department has granted massive tax exemptions amounting to billions of dollars. Coincidently, Citigroup announced $20 billion repayment of its toxic assets.

There has been no effort to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act which separated high risk investment banking from consumer oriented commercial banking. Bernanke lauded as ‘Man of the year’ by TIME, former Treasury Hank Paulson and Geithner pillaged the Federal Reserve and converted it into a national hedge fund using shrinking tax dollars to back toxic assets.

Contrary to Obama’s repeated promises to hold the ‘fat cats’ of Wall Street accountable, the ‘cats’ are very much in control many choosing to ignore the White House summons for “very serious discussions” on December 13, 2009. Among the “no shows” were Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.

Thus, its business as usual on Wall Street. Sadly, there is not much hope of any meaningful changes that would ease the burden for ‘real Americans.’