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President-elect on Meet the Press

Sunday, December 07, 2008

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The Real Bill Ayers

By William Ayers
NY Times Op-Ed

In the recently concluded presidential race, I was unwillingly thrust upon the stage and asked to play a role in a profoundly dishonest drama. I refused, and here’s why.

Unable to challenge the content of Barack Obama’s campaign, his opponents invented a narrative about a young politician who emerged from nowhere, a man of charm, intelligence and skill, but with an exotic background and a strange name. The refrain was a question: “What do we really know about this man?”

Secondary characters in the narrative included an African-American preacher with a fiery style, a Palestinian scholar and an “unrepentant domestic terrorist.” Linking the candidate with these supposedly shadowy characters, and ferreting out every imagined secret tie and dark affiliation, became big news.

I was cast in the “unrepentant terrorist” role; I felt at times like the enemy projected onto a large screen in the “Two Minutes Hate” scene from George Orwell’s “1984,” when the faithful gathered in a frenzy of fear and loathing.

With the mainstream news media and the blogosphere caught in the pre-election excitement, I saw no viable path to a rational discussion. Rather than step clumsily into the sound-bite culture, I turned away whenever the microphones were thrust into my face. I sat it out....(Click for remainder).

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President-elect Barack Obama lays out key parts of Economic Recovery Plan


Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama
Radio Address on the Economy
Saturday, December 6, 2008

Good morning.

Yesterday, we received another painful reminder of the serious economic challenge our country is facing when we learned that 533,000 jobs were lost in November alone, the single worst month of job loss in over three decades. That puts the total number of jobs lost in this recession at nearly 2 million.

But this isn’t about numbers. It’s about each of the families those numbers represent. It’s about the rising unease and frustration that so many of you are feeling during this holiday season. Will you be able to put your kids through college? Will you be able to afford health care? Will you be able to retire with dignity and security? Will your job or your husband’s job or your daughter’s or son's job be the next one cut?

These are the questions that keep so many Americans awake at night. But it is not the first time these questions have been asked. We have faced difficult times before, times when our economic destiny seemed to be slipping out of our hands. And at each moment, we have risen to meet the challenge, as one people united by a sense of common purpose. And I know that Americans can rise to the moment once again.

But we need action – and action now. That is why I have asked my economic team to develop an economic recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street that will help save or create at least two and a half million jobs, while rebuilding our infrastructure, improving our schools, reducing our dependence on oil, and saving billions of dollars.

We won’t do it the old Washington way. We won’t just throw money at the problem. We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve -- by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world.

Today, I am announcing a few key parts of my plan. First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.

Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.

Third, my economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.

As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.

In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.

These are a few parts of the economic recovery plan that I will be rolling out in the coming weeks. When Congress reconvenes in January, I look forward to working with them to pass a plan immediately. We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least two and a half million jobs so that the nearly two million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future. And that’s exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States.

Thanks for listening.

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Obama Doesn't Plan to End the Occupation in Iraq

The president-elect's thinking 'evolves' -- we can expect tens of thousands of American troops to stay.

By Jeremy Scahill
AlterNet

The New York Times is reporting an "apparent evolution" in president-elect Barack Obama's thinking on Iraq, citing recent statements about his plan to keep a "residual force" in the country and his pledge to "listen to the recommendations of my commanders" as Obama prepares to assume actual command of U.S. forces. "At the Pentagon and the military headquarters in Iraq, the response to the statements this week from Mr. Obama and his national security team has been akin to the senior officer corps' letting out its collective breath," the Times reported. "[T]the words sounded to them like the new president would take a measured approach on the question of troop levels."

The reality is there is no "evolution."

Anyone who took the time to cut past Barack Obama's campaign rhetoric of "change" and bringing an "end" to the Iraq war realized early on that his Iraq plan boiled down to a down-sizing and rebranding of the occupation. While he emphasized his pledge to withdraw U.S. "combat forces" from Iraq in 16 months (which may or may not happen), he has always said that he intends to keep "residual forces" in place for the foreseeable future.

It's an interesting choice of terms. "Residual" is defined as "the quantity left over at the end of a process." This means that the forces Obama plans to leave in Iraq will remain after he has completed his "withdrawal" plan. No matter how Obama chooses to label the forces he keeps in Iraq, the fact is, they will be occupation forces....(Click for remainder).

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Coca-Cola's Latest Environmental Scam

Under fire for its mismanagement of water resources in India, Coke has gone all out to create an image of itself as a leader in water conservation.

By Amit Srivastava
India Resourse Center via AlterNet

The Coca-Cola Co. is up to its old tricks again. The company, which is under fire for its mismanagement of water resources in India, has gone all out to manufacture an image of itself as a global leader in water conservation. Sections of Coca-Cola's Web site, for example, read like a proposal that a nongovernmental organization working on water issues might write.

Now, in an attempt to position itself as "aggressively" tackling the world's water problems, the company has come up with a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative -- water neutrality. The company has already announced that it will become water neutral in India by the end of 2009 and that it has plans to do so in its global operations as well. Sure, it all sounds good, and who could object to water-conservation measures in an increasingly water-scarce world? But just what does becoming water neutral mean?

In a concept paper on water neutrality developed in November 2007 by the Coca-Cola Co., the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, World Wildlife Fund and others,  it reads: "In a strict sense, the term 'water neutral' is troublesome and even may be misleading. It is often possible to reduce a water footprint, but it is generally impossible to bring it down to zero."

I see. Troublesome and misleading.

The concept paper also notes: "After having done everything that was technically possible and economically feasible, individuals, communities and businesses will always have a residual water footprint. In that sense, they can never become water neutral."

In other words, becoming water neutral is impossible....(Click for remainder).

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