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Photos by: joanneleon. August 15, 2013.



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If Dr. King Was Alive Today He Would Be In The Streets Holding Leaders Accountable - Structural Racism Persists 50 Years After Washington March

The Rev King didn't dream of better people; he dreamed of a better system

... [T]here was one thing on which [Bayard Rustin, the event organizer] would not compromise. There would be no politicians speaking from the platform that day, he insisted. If they came, they would come to listen, not to lecture.

So President Obama's appearance at the podium today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march illustrates a significant difference in what has changed over the past 50 years. Half a century ago, the keynote speaker Martin Luther King took to the Lincoln Memorial to speak truth to power. Today the keynote speaker is a black man who represents power. ...

It would be foolish not to acknowledge the progress this represents. Not only did the civil rights movement make it possible for African Americans to vote in the large numbers that would help Obama win in southern states like Florida, North Carolina and Virginia; it was also responsible for the affirmative action that would get them into college and help them land the kinds of jobs in both the public and private sectors from which America draws many of its politicians.

Nonetheless the sight of civil rights veteran Julian Bond having his mic cut off after just two minutes while Holder got half an hour on Saturday also tells a a different story. For when Obama takes the mic today he will personify, among other things, the ability of individual black Americans to advance even as the movement that might enable collective gains for black people as a whole has perished. ...

But while King – preacher, protester, dissident – could dream, Obama needs to lay out a plan. He's the president. There are things he can say and do about everything from the financial sector to the criminal justice system that have blighted the lives of the poor and minorities. But, like Kennedy 50 years ago, he will only make the pronouncements and proposals necessary if he is forced to. And that will only happen if the civil rights leaders care less about their proximity to power than about representing the interests of their constituents.


There is No Military Solution to Syria

[T]here is no military solution to the crisis in Syria. It is a civil war. Greater intervention by the United States is not going to make it better. It's not going to end the war sooner. And it certainly isn't going to protect Syrian civilians. ...

We need to be clear there are five separate wars being fought in Syria. And, unfortunately, the victim of all of them is the people of Syria. There is certainly one war between the Syrian regime and a component of the Syrian people, as I mentioned earlier, with a very complex combination of forces challenging and fighting against the regime.

There is a sectarian war that's underway. It didn't start that way, but it has become a thoroughly sectarian war between, on the regional side, Sunni and Shia, with the Alawite leadership in Syria on the Shia side. And that takes shape when you see Iraq and Syria and Iran on one side versus Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey on the other side.

Then there's a regional war for power, largely between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but being fought in Syria to the last Syrian, and with other forces such as Turkey, such as Qatar and others playing a role.

You have the war, the new Cold War, if you will, between the United States and Russia over sea lanes, over control of resources, control of oil fields, etc., pipelines. All those factors come into play. And that war is being fought to the last Syrian.

And then, of course, you have the war between Israel and United States on the one hand and Iran on the other hand over Iran's alleged nuclear aspirations. And that war right now is being fought to the last Syrian. So you have a number of wars that are taking shape inside Syria. And the people of Syria are the ones who are paying the highest price.

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break the deadlock over Syria. “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,” he said at the four-hour meeting with Mr Putin.

“We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas in the Mediterranean from Israel to Cyprus. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area,” he said, purporting to speak with the full backing of the US. ...

The details of the talks were first leaked to the Russian press. A more detailed version has since appeared in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, which has Hezbollah links and is hostile to the Saudis.

As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.

The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer, though western pressure has escalated since then. ... Prince Bandar in turn warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.


 
Obama And Biden Have Said Military Action Without Congressional Approval Is Unconstitutional

President Obama and Vice President Biden once held radically different views on the use of military force without congressional authorization. During the 2008 presidential campaign, both made undeniably clear the president could not authorize a military strike without congressional except for a case of an “imminent threat.” Then-Senator Biden found the offense impeachable. ... I drafted and outline of what I think the constitutional limits have on the president in over the war clause. ... And I want to make it clear and I made it clear to the president, if he takes this nation to war in Iran, without congressional approval — I will make it my business to impeach him.”

Then-Senator Obama likewise agreed with the assessment from Biden saying the President of the United States could only authorize an attack in the instance of “imminent threat” to the nation, responding to a question to a 2008 Boston Globe questionnaire on executive authority.

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

Democratic values? A nice idea ….

Last year ... Home Secretary Theresa May put in place measures to make it as hard as possible for Syrian refugees to reach sanctuary in the UK. Subsequently, Syrians who have travelled to the UK and sought asylum have been prosecuted for travelling on false papers and imprisoned, despite the Court of Appeal having ruled that this should not happen. Meanwhile, much poorer countries, such as Jordan, have been coping with a volume of refugees much greater that wealthy countries like the UK have ever had to. The complaints of western politicians that they are motivated by humanitarian concern as they ratchet up the rhetoric for bombing should be listened to in the light of their shameful efforts to evade their humanitarian obligations in the conflict so far.

As Strikes on Syria Loom, Is U.S. Ignoring a Diplomatic Track That Could Prevent More Violence?

Let's see, I seem to remember some other president in the recent past who had little patience for the completion of UN inspections of suspected wrongdoing.  Now who was that?  Could it have been Satan George W. Bush?
In Rush to Strike Syria, US Tried to Derail UN Probe

After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation.

The administration’s reversal, which came within hours of the deal reached between Syria and the U.N., was reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday and effectively confirmed by a State Department spokesperson later that day.

In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the U.N. investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people.

The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the U.N. investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the U.N. as hindering its plans for an attack.

Chuck Todd: Obama Avoiding Congress Because ‘Isolationists’ May Block Attack on Syria

NBC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd told the hosts of MSNBC’s The Cycle warned that President Barack Obama may believe that seeking congressional authorization to attack Syria in the coming days would be counterproductive. The debate over a resolution would take too long and jeopardize too many Syrian lives, Todd said, if it passes at all.

MSNBC host Ari Melber noted that action against Syria will almost certainly come without congressional authorization. He noted that Obama has acted militarily abroad without specific Congressional authorization on multiple occasions during his first term. ...

Todd added that a vote to intervene in Syria may not pass because “isolationists” in both the Democratic and Republican parties would attempt to block a resolution authorizing the use of force.

The Obama administration's relentless pursuit of injustice continues:
Obama administration asks court to force NYT reporter to reveal source

The Obama administration is trying to dissuade federal judges from giving the New York Times reporter James Risen one last chance to avoid having to disclose his source in a criminal trial over the alleged leaking of US state secrets.

The Department of Justice has filed a legal argument with the US appeals court for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, in which it strongly opposes any further consideration of Risen's petition. Risen's lawyers have asked the court to convene a full session of the 15-member court to decide whether the journalist should be granted First Amendment protection that would spare him from having to reveal the identity of his source to whom he promised confidentiality. ...

In a 26-page filing, the US prosecutor Neil Macbride and his team argue that Risen has no grounds to be offered a full hearing of the appeals court because there is no such thing as a reporters' privilege in a criminal trial. They insist that the New York Times journalist was the only eyewitness to the leaking crimes of which Sterling has been charged and under previous case law has no right to claim First Amendment protection. ...

The DoJ's robust attempt to block any further legal discussion about Risen's plight will add to the impression that the Obama administration is determined to stamp on official leaking regardless of its implications for press freedom – a syndrome that some critics have dubbed a "war on whistleblowing".

David Dayen: Could the White House Want to Confirm Larry Summers With Republican Votes?

[W]e’re starting to see the stirrings of strategizing about whether Summers can get the votes in the Senate for confirmation. I start from the position that he can and will – I have seen far too little inclination from Senate Democrats to stand up to their party leader, and regardless of how big a game Republicans talk, when the officialdom wants something to happen, it usually does. Nevertheless, the capacity does exist to bottle up the nomination, particularly in the Senate Banking Committee, if not on the Senate floor. Reuters gamed this out:

Summers, who writes an opinion column for Reuters, has drawn the ire of two Democrats on the committee that will need to clear his nomination. And a third of the Democratic caucus in the Senate sent Obama a letter urging him to choose Yellen, putting the onus on the president to court Republicans to reach the required number of votes if he picks Summers instead [...]

If Obama chooses Summers, the first hurdle would be getting through the Senate Banking Committee.

Obama’s fellow Democrats have a 12-10 majority on the panel, but two of them are Summers’ biggest critics within the party – Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a consumer advocate and fierce critic of Wall Street, also sits on the committee.

Brown, who spearheaded the pro-Yellen letter, has told Reuters he would vote against Summers, while Merkley has said he has serious doubts about the former World Bank chief economist.

For her part, Warren is trying to reinstate a modern version of the Glass-Steagall Act – the 1933 law that barred banks from merging their investment activities with commercial banking, which Summers helped dismantle when he was Treasury Secretary in 1999.

If Brown follows through, the White House would need at least one committee Republican to support Summers for his nomination to be considered by the full 100-member Senate.

Things get trickier if Merkley and Warren also oppose him.

Emphasis mine. First of all, this is a threshold moment for the named Senators here, and if they really don’t want to see Summers at the Fed they should make it known very directly to the White House that their votes cannot be had. They don’t have to go public, though that might help. But they need to be direct. Brown has gone public, and good for him; Merkley has expressed “reservations,” and Warren has been very tight-lipped (it would not be enough to get a viral video out of some tough questions and then going along with the vote; Warren did oppose Michael Froman for U.S. Trade Representative over the TPP, so there’s precedent here for her). There are others in the caucus, like Maria Cantwell and Bernie Sanders, who could vote no if Summers advanced out of committee and onto the floor, but I think the deal is sealed at that point. It’s either committee or bust.
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The Evening Blues

For unemployed black Americans, MLK ‘dream’ unfinished

Stiglitz: “How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics.” (“He knew...dreaming was not enough.”)






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