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Showing posts from March 8, 2009

Record 31.8 million on food stamps - Mar. 5, 2009

Record 31.8 million on food stamps - Mar. 5, 2009: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A record 31.8 million Americans received food stamps at the latest count, an increase of 700,000 people in one month with the United States in recession, government figures showed Thursday.

Food stamps, which help poor people buy groceries, are the major U.S. anti-hunger program, forecast to cost at least $51 billion in this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up $10 billion from fiscal 2008.

'A weakened economy means that many more individuals are turning to SNAP/food stamps,' said the Food Research and Action Center. Last summer food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP."

REFILE-COLUMN-Setback for pro-Israel hawks in US:Bernd Debusmann | Antiwar Newswire

REFILE-COLUMN-Setback for pro-Israel hawks in US:Bernd Debusmann | Antiwar Newswire: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 'The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending ... Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians, it strives to pacify them ... American identification with Israel has become total.'

These are excerpts from a 2007 speech by Charles (Chas) Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, whose appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council was announced on February 26 and is turning into a test case for the strength of Washington's right-wing pro-Israel lobby.

Signs are that its influence might be waning under the administration of President Barack Obama. Does that mean the days of unquestioning American support for Israel are coming to en end? Probably not. But the furious reaction to Freeman's appointment from some of the most fervent neo-conservative champions of Israel point…

Kathleen and Bill Christison: U.S. Military Aid to Israel

Kathleen and Bill Christison: U.S. Military Aid to Israel: "In these days of economic crisis, budget overruns, earmarks, and multi-billion dollar bailouts, when Americans are being forced to tighten their own belts, one of the most automatic earmarks—a bailout by any measure—goes to a foreign government but is little understood by most Americans. U.S. military aid to Israel is doled out in annual increments of billions of dollars but remains virtually unchallenged while other fiscal outlays are drastically cut.

The United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2007 committing the U.S. to give Israel $30 billion in military aid over the next decade. This is grant aid, given in cash at the start of each fiscal year. The only stipulation imposed on Israel’s use of this cash gift is that it spend 74 per cent to purchase U.S. military goods and services.

The first grant under this agreement was made in October 2008, for FY2009, in the amount of $2.55 billion… "In his Thursday column, Kristof describes the plight of an eight-year-old boy named Bakit who blew off his hands picking up a grenade that Kristof suspects was left behind by Bashir’s forces operating on the Chad side of the border with Sudan.

“Bakit became, inadvertently, one more casualty of the havoc and brutality that President Bashir has unleashed in Sudan and surrounding countries,” Kristof wrote. “So let’s applaud the I.C.C.’s arrest warrant, on behalf of children like Bakit who can’t.”

By all accounts, Kristof is a well-meaning journalist who travels to dangerous parts of the world, like Darfur, to report on human rights crimes. However, he also could be a case study of what’s wrong with American journalism.

While Kristof writes movingly about atrocities that can be blamed on Third World despots like Bashir, he won’t hold U.S. officials to the same standards.

Most notably, Kristof doesn’t call for prosecuting former President George W. Bush for war crimes…

Russian FM: Make Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone - Haaretz - Israel News

Russian FM: Make Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone - Haaretz - Israel News: "Russia repeated on Saturday its call for the Middle East to be made a nuclear weapons-free zone.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing a disarmament conference after holding bilateral talks in Geneva on Friday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said:"

Afghans protest US raid, official says 4 killed | Antiwar Newswire

Afghans protest US raid, official says 4 killed | Antiwar Newswire: "Afghan demonstrators in the eastern city of Khost threw rocks at the convoy, shouted 'Death to America' and burned tires in the road, sending up dark plumes of smoke. AP Television News footage showed several hundred men gathered in the street blocking the vehicles' path, but there were no direct clashes between the convoy and protesters.

The demonstrators were condemning an early morning raid in Khost province that killed four people and wounded two, Tahir Khan Sabari, Khost deputy governor, told The Associated Press."

UK ex-commander: Afghanistan mission "worthless" | Antiwar Newswire

UK ex-commander: Afghanistan mission "worthless" | Antiwar Newswire: "LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - A former British commander in Afghanistan has described the military operation in the south of the country as 'worthless' and compared the campaign to the start of the Vietnam war.
Ex-SAS commander Maj. Sebastian Morley, who resigned last year in protest at the handling of the conflict, said operations were being undermined by a lack of troops and resources. "I don't think we have even scratched the surface as far as the conflict goes," he told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published on Saturday, his first since stepping down. "I think the level of casualties and attrition is only set to rise. This is the equivalent to the start of the Vietnam conflict, there is much more to come," he said. "We hold tiny areas of ground in Helmand and we are kidding ourselves if we think our influence goes beyond 500 metres of our security bases,&q…

Al Jazeera English - Africa - Iran and Hamas back Sudan's Bashir

Al Jazeera English - Africa - Iran and Hamas back Sudan's Bashir: "A delegation of senior Middle Eastern leaders has travelled to Sudan to express international support for Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, who is accused of war crimes in Darfur.

Officials from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah joined Syria's parliament speaker and the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group for talks with al-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, on Friday.

The visit comes days after the International Criminal Court at The Hague issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Ali Larijani, Iran's parliament speaker and a member of the international delegation in Khartoum on Friday, said the ICC arrest warrant is an 'insult directed at Muslims'.

'This group today indicates a readiness, a will and a unified position to support Sudan, its government and people,' Larijani said at a ne…

Al Jazeera English - Americas - UN 'divided' over Sudan aid crisis

Al Jazeera English - Americas - UN 'divided' over Sudan aid crisis
The United Nations Security Council has failed to agree on a response to Sudan's decision to expel 13 aid groups from the country following the indictment of its president for war crimes.France had reportedly urged the council on Friday to issue a non-binding statement that condemned Sudan's decision.However attempts to urge the council to act have been blocked by opposition from Sudan's council allies, Libya and China, the Associated Press reported.Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, ordered the aid agencies out of the country on Thursday, a day after the International Criminial Court at The Hague issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has warned that aid operations in the troubled Darfur region would be "irrevocably damaged" and has urged Sudan to reconsider.And Catherine Bragg, the UN's deputy em…