Enlisting Michelle Obama—and the American Public—to Stop War on Iran

Medea Benjamin & Rae Abileah


Alice Walker. (Pls. sign the petition)

On Friday, March 30, First Lady Michelle Obama received an unusual request at her San Francisco fundraiser. Instead of “Can I have a picture with you?,” one major donor asked, “Will you use your leadership to prevent an attack on Iran?” Kristin Hull hand delivered to Ms. Obama a petition against war on Iran that was signed by prominent women including Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, and Eve Ensler, and over 20,000 American women and allies.Hull implored the First Lady to think of the military families and veterans who have paid the price of war. Ms. Obama has championed veterans’ issues while in office and for this reason, in addition to her obvious proximity to the President, women’s groups have made her a focus of their peace efforts.

Ms. Obama thanked Hull for her advocacy and said, “Keep up the great work.” As Hull was walking away after her photo with the First Lady, Michelle Obama grabbed her hand, squeezed it and said, “We really need you.”

The petition implores three powerful American female politicians—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice and First Lady Michelle Obama—to use their influence to push for diplomacy, not bombing, in US relations with Iran. The next step will be to hand-deliver the petition to Clinton. CODEPINK launched this petition online on March 20th, the 9th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq (coincidentally also on the Iranian New Year, Norooz), with a call from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. “Nine years ago, I joined CODEPINK in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience to try to stop our government from bombing Iraq,” said Alice Walker. “None of us could live with ourselves if we sat by idly while a country filled with children was blown to bits using money we needed in the United States to build hospitals, housing and schools. We must not let another tragic war begin.”


Scoundrels Attack Günter Grass Truths

Stephen Lendman

UN member states are obligated to punish violators. America and Israel top the list. Both threaten world peace. If that's not just cause to confront them, what is? Writers and others need to say so.

Touching the most sensitive nerves has risks. Nearly always hostile responses follow.

Criticizing Israel is the third rail of US politics. It's also largely off limits in scoundrel media managed news, op-eds, and editorials.

Günter Grass took the risks. He acted forthrightly. His new poem "What Must Be Said" explained that he'll no longer be silent on what's long been known but virtually never discussed publicly.

Israel's nuclear armed and dangerous. Previous articles discussed it. Portions are repeated below to explain what's vital to know.

In his 1991 book, "The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and America Foreign Policy," Seymour Hersh discussed its strategy to launch a massive nuclear counterattack if it felt its existence threatened.

In his 1997 book, "Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies," Israel Shahak said that, helped by the Israeli Lobby (and Christian Zionists), "Israel (is) clearly prepar(ing) itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East (with no) hesitati(on) to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones."

According to Hebrew University's Professor of Military History Martin Van Creveld, "We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you (it) will happen before Israel goes under."

Israel hypocritically maintains double standard duplicity. It wants other regional states denied what it reserves the right to have and use preemptively.


Obama Administration Silencing Pakistani Drone-Strike Lawyer

Medea Benjamin


Lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar (right)

When is the last time you heard from a civilian victim of the CIA’s secret drone strikes? Sure, most of them can’t speak because they’re deceased. But many leave behind bereaved and angry family members ready to proclaim their innocence and denounce the absence of due process, the lack of accountability, the utter impunity with which the U.S. government decides who will live and die.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has increasingly deployed unmanned drones in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. While drones were initially used for surveillance, these remotely controlled aerial vehicles are now routinely used to launch missiles against human targets in countries where the United States is not at war, including Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As many as 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians and even American citizens, have been killed in such covert missions.

The U.S. government will not even acknowledge the existence of the covert drone program, much less account for those who are killed and maimed. And you don’t hear their stories on FOX News, or even MSNBC. The U.S. media has little interest in airing the stories of dirt poor people in faraway lands who contradict the convenient narrative that drone strikes only kill “militants.”

But in Pakistan, where most strikes have occurred, the victims do have someone speaking out on their behalf. Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who co-founded the human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Right, filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims and has become a critical force in litigating and advocating for drone victims.


America's Fiscal Cliff

Stephen Lendman

While trillions go for militarism and wars, trillions more for Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and America's super-rich, most households are on their own, out of luck. Post-election, expect more of the same. Unless public anger reacts, the worst is yet to come.

America's weak economy shows further deterioration. According to former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, "(t)he fiscal cliff in early 2013 - when the government stimulus spending and tax relief are set to fall - is not misfortune. It is the inevitable result of policies that kick the can down the road."

In other words, chickens inevitably come home to roost. Reckless money printing, free lunch handouts to corporate favorites and rich elites, and other policies favoring super-rich Americans won't last forever. When the music stops, watch out.

The latest jobs report perhaps warns what's coming. Characterized by some as bad Friday, it was much worse than reported. It suggests trouble ahead, perhaps by late spring or summer.

The Labor Department reported 120,000 new jobs. Its web site says "The confidence level for the monthly change in total employment is on the order of plus or minus 430,000 jobs."

BLS so manipulates data, place no confidence whatever in its reports. In good times, employment growth may be understated. During Main Street Depression conditions, it's mirror opposite.

Moreover, the so-called "birth-death model" distorts reality. It reflects estimated net non-reported jobs from new businesses minus losses from others no longer operating.

During expansions, it works because start-ups exceed shut-downs. During economic weakness, it fails. Yet BLS assumes employees from non-operating companies still work. In addition, around 48,000 monthly jobs are added whether or not new companies exist. Removing them drops Friday's number close to 70,000, but it's worse than that.

Weakness showed up across the board. Over 160,000 stopped looking for work. Around 90% of the fastest growing job areas are low-pay service ones. Most are part-time or temp. High-pay full-time jobs are becoming an endangered species. Economies can't grow and prosper that way.


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