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Venezuela's Chavez says Obama has "stench" of Bush

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stay classy Hugo. What a total prat.

By Jorge Silva
Reuters


CAMPO CARABOBO, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday Barack Obama had the "stench" of his predecessor as U.S. president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American "empire."

Most world leaders expect a new era of U.S. foreign relations when Obama, a Democrat, is sworn in as president on Tuesday after Republican George W. Bush's eight years in the White House.

But Chavez said frayed ties with Washington were unlikely to improve despite the departure of Bush, who the Venezuelan leader has often called the "devil."

"I hope I am wrong, but I believe Obama brings the same stench, to not say another word," Chavez said at a political rally on a historic Venezuelan battlefield.

"If Obama as president of the United States does not obey the orders of the empire, they will kill him, like they killed Kennedy, like they killed Martin Luther King, or Lincoln, who freed the blacks and paid with his life."

Obama, who will be the first black president in U.S. history, was given Secret Service protection on the campaign trail earlier than is customary for candidates and security for Tuesday's inauguration is extremely tight....(Click for remainder).

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Obama’s Inauguration: Lincoln Memorial Speech


Washington, D.C.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I want to thank all the speakers and performers for reminding us, through song and through words, just what it is that we love about America. And I want to thank all of you for braving the cold and the crowds and traveling in some cases thousands of miles to join us here today. Welcome to Washington, and welcome to this celebration of American renewal.

In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes; they’re worried about how they’ll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen table. And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future - about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what’s best about this country to our children and their children.

I won’t pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.

But despite all of this - despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead - I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure - that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.

What gives me that hope is what I see when I look out across this mall. For in these monuments are chiseled those unlikely stories that affirm our unyielding faith - a faith that anything is possible in America. Rising before us stands a memorial to a man who led a small band of farmers and shopkeepers in revolution against the army of an Empire, all for the sake of an idea. On the ground below is a tribute to a generation that withstood war and depression - men and women like my grandparents who toiled on bomber assembly lines and marched across Europe to free the world from tyranny’s grasp. Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character’s content. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible.

And yet, as I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you - Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.

It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; Latino, Asian, and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.

This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office - the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans - that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.

It is this thread that binds us together in common effort; that runs through every memorial on this mall; that connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before.

It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds - because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.

That is the belief with which we began this campaign, and that is how we will overcome what ails us now. There is no doubt that our road will be long. That our climb will be steep. But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard. I ask you to help me reveal that character once more, and together, we can carry forward as one nation, and one people, the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today.

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Bush's Only Gift to America

George W. Bush’s gift to the American Republic may be that he has discredited a host of right-wing theories and practices – “trickle-down economics”; “self-regulating markets”; “tough-guy” foreign policy; the “imperial presidency”; and the notion that “government is the problem.”

By Robert Parry
Consortium News


As the United States gazes out on the wreckage of the past eight years – a $1.2 trillion (and growing) budget deficit, 7.2 percent (and rising) unemployment, two open-ended wars, a sullied U.S. image abroad, environmental degradation and a world that seems to be ripping apart – the hope must be that Bush has so tarnished these policies, which trace back to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, that they will never be tried again.

If that is the lesson that the United States learns, then Barack Obama’s election truly could mark the end of an era and the start of something very different. However, if Obama and the Democrats fail to drive these lessons home – if they let bygones be bygones – they are courting a huge risk in that the same behavior could reemerge and the misjudgments could reoccur.

So far, it appears that President-elect Obama is so set on making friends with Washington’s corrupt Establishment – from dinner with neoconservative columnists like Charles Krauthammer to coffee with the Washington Post’s editorial board, which avidly supported the Iraq War – that he may be missing the opportunity for a genuine transformation.

Rather than confronting the architects of America’s debacles and decline, Obama is currying favor with them. He’s even equivocating over whether Bush and his subordinates should be held accountable for criminal behavior, like torture and aggressive war, violations of longstanding American principles.

It’s possible that Obama is engaged in a tactical maneuver, keeping these pooh-bahs at bay or at least delaying their fury until they see their Establishment interests challenged. But there is a more troubling interpretation of Obama’s positioning....(Click for remainder).

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Obama: Our Democratic Tradition


Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Radio Address on Inauguration Week
January 17, 2009

Good morning. On Tuesday, the world will be watching as America celebrates a rite that goes to the heart of our greatness as a nation. For the forty-third time, we will execute the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next.

The first Inauguration took place 220 years ago. Our nation’s capital had yet to be built, so President George Washington took the oath of office in New York City. It was a spring day, just over a decade after the birth of our nation, as Washington assumed the new office that he would do so much to shape, and swore an oath to the Constitution that guides us to this very day.

Since then, Inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace; in Depression and prosperity. Our democracy has undergone many changes, and our people have taken many steps in pursuit of a more perfect union. What has always endured is this peaceful and orderly transition of power.

For us, it is easy to take this central aspect of our democracy for granted. But we must remember that our nation was founded at a time of Kings and Queens, and even today billions of people around the world cannot imagine their leaders giving up power without strife or bloodshed.

Through the ages, many have struggled for the right to live in a land where power does not belong to one person or party, and many brave Americans have fought and died to help advance that right. Through the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, our transitions from one President to the next provided a stark contrast to the suffocating grip of Soviet Communism. And today, the resilience of our democracy stands in opposition to the extremists who would tear it down.

Here at home, transitions also remind us that what we hold in common as Americans far outweighs our political differences. Throughout the current transition, President Bush and his Administration have extended the hand of cooperation, and provided invaluable assistance to my team as we prepare to hit the ground running on January 20th.

There is much work to be done. But now, all Americans hold within our hands the promise of a new beginning.

That is why the events of the next several days are not simply about the inauguration of an American President – they will be a celebration of the American people. We will carry the voices of ordinary Americans to Washington. We will invite people across the country to work on behalf of a common purpose through a national day of service on Monday. And we will have the most open and accessible Inauguration in history – for those who travel to the capital, and for those who choose one of the many ways to participate in the Inauguration from their own communities and their own homes.

Together, we know that this is a time of great challenge for the American people. Difficult days are upon us, and even more difficult days lie ahead. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in great turmoil. And there is so much work that must be done to restore peace and advance prosperity. But as we approach this time-honored American tradition, we are reminded that our challenges can be met if we summon the spirit that has sustained our democracy since George Washington took the first oath of office.

Addressing the nation that day, Washington explained his decision to serve, saying, “I was called by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.” This Tuesday, we can reaffirm our own veneration and love for our country and our democracy. We can once again provide an example to the world, and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and progress at home.

Thanks.

Change.gov

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US roquefort tariff angers French

Roquefort cheeses in a cellar at Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, southern France.
Photograph: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images


By Lizzy Davies
The Guardian UK


They were left battered by farmer Jose Bové's attacks on McDonald's and bruised by the birth of the "freedom fry". But yesterday the French and the Americans proved they had the stomach for another gloriously messy food fight.

Less than a week before it leaves office, the Bush administration has sparked anger across the Atlantic by tripling the import duty rate on roquefort cheese to 300%, a move which the US hopes will "shut down trade" in the sheep's milk product by making it prohibitively expensive.

The decision, part of Washington's attempts to force the EU into dropping its ban on hormone-treated beef, was greeted with disbelief by the French government and by farmers in the south-western Aveyron region who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.

"Maybe the Bush administration indulged itself by taking this decision just before it leaves," Robert Glandieres, president of the roquefort producers' group, told Reuters....(Click for remainder).

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Evangelical Christians fear losing right to incite murder

By John Aravosis
America Blog


From our dear friends in the religious right:
The Hate Crimes bill re-introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee will add homosexuals as a protected group to existing hate crime legislation. The bill will make it a federal crime for pastors to use the Bible to speak out against homosexuality if in response to that teaching someone commits an act of violence against a homosexual. This will effectively stifle the ability of pastors to preach the Word of God without fear of prosecution. Vision America has a plan to stop this Bill.
Inspiring someone to commit murder either is or isn't a crime already. The hate crimes bill has nothing to do with the spoken word - it has to deal with people dragging you behind their truck for a mile, or tying to you to a fence and pistol-whipping you in the head. I shouldn't be surprised, but still I am. Whining about your fear that you'll lose the right to incite murder. Only in America.

Needless to say, the Hate Crimes bill doesn't deal with speech. And in fact, America has had a hate crimes law for decades now, and no one has gone to jail for dissing blacks or whites, or people of faith, all of whom are already protected under the existing hate crimes laws. But somehow adding gays to a law that is already on the books, will magically make the law outlaw speech. Right. Evangelical bigots have a serious aversion to the truth.

(Click for remainder).

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