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An All-American Nightmare: This Is What Defeat Looks Like

An All-American Nightmare: This Is What Defeat Looks Like | U.S. History | Scoop.it

Editor SASFOR- We are carrying this content in full. "Scooped"  on All the SASFOR Scoops. Tom Engelhardt, I believe has got it right.  

 

By Tom Engelhardt

Nov. 8, 2011

How about a moment of silence for the passing of the American Dream? M.R.I.C. (May it rest in carnage.)

 

Follow up:

No, I’m not talking about the old dream of opportunity that involved homeownership, a better job than your parents had, a decent pension, and all the rest of the package that’s so yesterday, so underwater, so OWS. I’m talking about a far more recent dream, a truly audacious one that’s similarly gone with the wind.

 

I’m talking about George W. Bush’s American Dream. If people here remember the invasion of Iraq -- and most Americans would undoubtedly prefer to forget it -- what’s recalled is kited intelligence, Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent nuclear arsenal, dumb and even dumber decisions, a bloody civil war, dead Americans, crony corporations, a trillion or more taxpayer dollars flushed down the toilet... well, you know the story. What few care to remember was that original dream -- call it The Dream -- and boy, was it a beaut!

An American Dream

It went something like this: Back in early 2003, the top officials of the Bush administration had no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, drained by years of war, no-fly zones, and sanctions, would be a pushover; that the U.S. military, which they idolized and romanticized, would waltz to Baghdad. (The word one of their supporters used in the Washington Post for the onrushing invasion was a “cakewalk.”) Nor did they doubt that those troops would be greeted as liberators, even saviors, by throngs of adoring, previously suppressed Shiites strewing flowers in their path. (No kidding, no exaggeration.)

How easy it would be then to install a “democratic” government in Baghdad -- which meant their autocratic candidate Ahmad Chalabi -- set up four or five strategically situated military mega-bases, exceedingly well-armed American small towns already on the drawing boards before the invasion began, and so dominate the oil heartlands of the planet in ways even the Brits, at the height of their empire, wouldn't have dreamed possible. (Yes, the neocons were then bragging that we would outdo the Roman and British empires rolled into one!)

As there would be no real resistance, the American invasion force could begin withdrawing as early as the fall of 2003, leaving perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 troops, the U.S. Air Force, and various spooks and private contractors behind to garrison a grateful country ad infinitum (on what was then called “the South Korean model”). Iraq's state-run economy would be privatized and its oil resources thrown open to giant global energy companies, especially American ones, which would rebuild the industry and begin pumping millions of barrels of that country's vast reserves, thus undermining the OPEC cartel's control over the oil market.

And mind you, it would hardly cost a cent. Well, at its unlikely worst, maybe $100 billion to $200 billion, but as Iraq, in the phrase of then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, “floats on a sea of oil,” most of it could undoubtedly be covered, in the end, by the Iraqis themselves.

Now, doesn’t going down memory lane just take your breath away? And yet, Iraq was a bare beginning for Bush's dreamers, who clearly felt like so many proverbial kids in a candy shop (even if they acted like bulls in a china shop). Syria, caught in a strategic pincer between Israel and American Iraq, would naturally bow down; the Iranians, caught similarly between American Iraq and American Afghanistan, would go down big time, too -- or simply be taken down Iraqi-style, and who would complain? (As the neocon quip of the moment went: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”)

And that wasn’t all. Bush’s top officials had been fervent Cold Warriors in the days before the U.S. became “the sole superpower,” and they saw the new Russia stepping into those old Soviet boots. Having taken down the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, they were already building a network of bases there, too. (Let a thousand Korean models bloom!) Next on the agenda would be rolling the Russians right out of their “near abroad,” the former Soviet Socialist Republics, now independent states, of Central Asia.

What glory! Thanks to the unparalleled power of the U.S. military, Washington would control the Greater Middle East from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border and would be beholden to no one when victory came. Great powers, phooey! They were talking about a Pax Americana on which the sun could never set. Meanwhile, there were so many other handy perks: the White House would be loosed from its constitutional bounds via a “unitary executive” and, success breeding success, a Pax Republicana would be established in the U.S. for eons to come (with the Democratic -- or as they said sneeringly, the “Democrat” -- Party playing the role of Iran and going down in a similar fashion).

 

An American Nightmare

When you wake up in a cold sweat, your heart pounding, from a dream that’s turned truly sour, sometimes it’s worth trying to remember it before it evaporates, leaving only a feeling of devastation behind.

So hold Bush’s American Dream in your head for a few moments longer and consider the devastation that followed. Of Iraq, that multi-trillion-dollar war, what’s left? An American expeditionary force, still 30,000-odd troops who were supposed to hunker down there forever, are instead packing their gear and heading “over the horizon.” Those giant American towns -- with their massive PXs, fast-food restaurants, gift shops, fire stations, and everything else -- are soon to be ghost towns, likely as not looted and stripped by Iraqis.

Multi-billions of taxpayer dollars were, of course, sunk into those American ziggurats. Now, assumedly, they are goners except for the monster embassy-cum-citadel the Bush administration built in Baghdad for three-quarters of a billion dollars. It’s to house part of a 17,000-person State Department “mission” to Iraq, including 5,000 armed mercenaries, all of whom are assumedly there to ensure that American folly is not utterly absent from that country even after “withdrawal.”

 

Put any spin you want on that withdrawal, but this still represents a defeat of the first order, humiliation on a scale and in a time frame that would have been unimaginable in the invasion year of 2003. After all, the U.S. military was ejected from Iraq by... well, whom exactly?

Then, of course, there’s Afghanistan, where the ultimate, inevitable departure has yet to happen, where another trillion-dollar war is still going strong as if there were no holes in American pockets. The U.S. is still taking casualties, still building up its massive base structure, still training an Afghan security force of perhaps 400,000 men in a county too poor to pay for a tenth of that (which means it’s ours to fund forever and a day).

 

Washington still has its stimulus program in Kabul. Its diplomats and military officials shuttle in and out of Afghanistan and Pakistan in search of “reconciliation” with the Taliban, even as CIA drones pound the enemy across the Afghan border and anyone else in the vicinity. As once upon a time in Iraq, the military and the Pentagon still talk about progress being made, even while Washington’s unease grows about a war that everyone is now officially willing to call “unwinnable.”

 

In fact, it’s remarkable how consistently things that are officially going so well are actually going so badly. Just the other day, for instance, despite the fact that the U.S. is training up a storm, Major General Peter Fuller, running the training program for Afghan forces, was dismissed by war commander General John Allen for dissing Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his generals. He called them “isolated from reality.”

 

Isolated from reality? Here’s the U.S. record on the subject: it’s costing Washington (and so the American taxpayer) $11.6 billion this year alone to train those security forces and yet, after years of such training, “not a single Afghan army battalion can operate without assistance from U.S. or allied units.”

 

You don’t have to be a seer to know that this, too, represents a form of defeat, even if the enemy, as in Iraq, is an underwhelming set of ragtag minority insurgencies. Still, it’s more or less a given that any American dreams for Afghanistan, like Britain’s and Russia’s before it, will be buried someday in the rubble of a devastated but resistant land, no matter what resources Washington choses to continue to squander on the task.

 

This, simply put, is part of a larger landscape of imperial defeat.

 

Cold Sweats at Dawn

Yes, we’ve lost in Iraq and yes, we’re losing in Afghanistan, but if you want a little geopolitical turn of the screw that captures the zeitgeist of the moment, check out one of the first statements of Almazbek Atambayev after his recent election as president of Kyrgyzstan, a country you’ve probably never spent a second thinking about.

Keep in mind that Bushian urge to roll back the Russians to the outskirts of Moscow. Kyrgyzstan is, of course, one of the former Central Asian SSRs of the Soviet Union, and under cover of the Afghan War, the U.S. moved in, renting out a major air base at Manas airport near Bishtek, the capital. It became a significant resupply station for the war, but also an American military foothold in the region.

 

Now Atambayev has announced that the U.S. will have to leave Manas when its lease is up in 2014. The last time a Kyrgyz president made such a threat, he was trying to extort an extra $40 million in rent from the globe’s richest power. This time, though, Atambayev has evidently weighed regional realities, taken a good hard look at his resurgent neighbor and the waning influence of Washington, and placed his bet -- on the Russians. Consider it a telling little gauge of who is now being rolled back where.

Isolated from reality? How about the Obama administration and its generals? Of course, Washington officials prefer not to take all this in. They’re willing to opt for isolation over reality. They prefer to talk about withdrawing troops from Iraq, but only to bolster the already powerful American garrisons throughout the Persian Gulf and so free the region, as our secretary of state put it, “from outside interference” by alien Iran. (Why, one wonders, is it even called the Persian Gulf, instead of the American Gulf?)

 

They prefer to talk about strengthening U.S. power and bolstering its bases in the Pacific so as to save Asia from... America’s largest creditor, the Chinese. They prefer to suggest that the U.S. will be a greater, not a lesser, power in the years to come. They prefer to “reassure allies” and talk big -- or big enough anyway.

 

Not too big, of course, not now that those American dreamers -- or mad visionaries, if you prefer -- are off making up to $150,000 a pop giving inspirational speeches and raking in millions for churning out their memoirs. In their place, the Obama administration is stocked with dreamless managers who inherited an expanded imperial presidency, an American-garrisoned globe, and an emptying treasury. And they then chose, on each score, to play a recognizable version of the same game, though without the soaring confidence, deep faith in armed American exceptionalism or the military solutions that went with it (which they nonetheless continue to pursue doggedly), or even the vision of global energy flows that animated their predecessors. In a rapidly changing situation, they have proven incapable of asking any questions that would take them beyond what might be called the usual tactics (drones vs. counterinsurgency, say).

In this way, Washington, though visibly diminished, remains an airless and eerily familiar place. No one there could afford to ask, for instance, what a Middle East, being transformed before our eyes, might be like without its American shadow, without the bases and fleets and drones and all the operatives that go with them.

 

As a result, they simply keep on keeping on, especially with Bush’s global war on terror and with the protection in financial tough times of the Pentagon (and so of the militarization of this country).

 

Think of it all as a form of armed denial that, in the end, is likely to drive the U.S. down. It would be salutary for the denizens of Washington to begin to mouth the word “defeat.” It’s not yet, of course, a permissible part of the American vocabulary, though the more decorous “decline” -- “the relative decline of the United States as an international force” -- has crept ever more comfortably into our lives since mid-decade. When it comes to decline, for instance, ordinary Americans are voting with the opinion poll version of their feet. In one recent poll, 69% of them declared the U.S. to be in that state. (How they might answer a question about American defeat we don’t know.)

 

If you are a critic of Washington, “defeat” is increasingly becoming an acceptable word, as long as you attach it to a specific war or event. But defeat outright? The full-scale thing? Not yet.

You can, of course, say many times over that the U.S. remains, as it does, an immensely wealthy and powerful country; that it has the wherewithal to right itself and deal with the disasters of these last years, which it also undoubtedly does. But take a glance at Washington, Wall Street, and the coming 2012 elections, and tell me with a straight face that that will happen. Not likely.

 

If you go on a march with the folks from Occupy Wall Street, you’ll hear the young chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” It’s infectious. But here’s another chant, hardly less appropriate, if distinctly grimmer: “This is what defeat looks like!” Admittedly, it’s not as rhythmic, but it’s something that the spreading Occupy Wall Street movement, and the un- and underemployed, and those whose houses are foreclosed or “underwater,” and the millions of kids getting a subprime education and graduating, on average, more than $25,000 in hock, and the increasing numbers of poor are coming to feel in their bones, even if they haven’t put a name to it yet.

 

And events in the Greater Middle East played no small role in that. Think of it this way: if de-industrialization and financialization have, over the last decades, hollowed out the United States, so has the American way of war. It’s the usually ignored third part of the triad. When our wars finally fully come home, there’s no telling what the scope of this imperial defeat will prove to be like.

Bush’s American Dream was a kind of apotheosis of this country’s global power as well as its crowning catastrophe, thanks to a crew of mad visionaries who mistook military might for global strength and acted accordingly. What they and their neocon allies had was the magic formula for turning the slow landing of a declining but still immensely powerful imperial state into a self-inflicted rout, even if who the victors are is less than clear.

 

Despite our panoply of bases around the world, despite an arsenal of weaponry beyond anything ever seen (and with more on its way), despite a national security budget the size of the Ritz, it’s not too early to start etching something appropriately sepulchral onto the gravestone that will someday stand over the pretensions of the leaders of this country when they thought that they might truly rule the world.

 

I know my own nominee. Back in 2002, journalist Ron Suskind had a meeting with a “senior advisor” to George W. Bush and what that advisor told him seems appropriate for any such gravestone or future memorial to American defeat:

 

"The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality... That's not the way the world really works anymore… We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'''

We’re now; it seems, in a new era in which reality is making us. Many Americans -- witness the Occupy Wall Street movement -- are attempting to adjust, to imagine other ways of living in the world. Defeat has a bad rep, but sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered.

 

Still, reality is a bear, so if you just woke up in a cold sweat, feel free to call it a nightmare.

 

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com.


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obama and Classic Yellow Journalism: use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.[1] Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.[1] By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.[2]

Campbell (2001) defines yellow press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion. The term was extensively used to describe certain major New York City newspapers about 1900 as they battled for circulation.

Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics:[3]


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More: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies--Successor is VP who claims US gave Chavez cancer!

More: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies--Successor is VP who claims US gave Chavez cancer! | U.S. History | Scoop.it
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies

 

 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died at the age of 58 after losing his long battle with cancer.

The country's vice president, Nicolas Maduro, announced the death in a national television broadcast.

He said Chavez died at 4.25 pm local time "after battling a tough illness for nearly two years".

The fiery populist leader's condition had been said to be deteriorating in recent days.

He had been undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba on and off since June 2011 - when he was first diagnosed with the illness.

The announcement came just hours after Mr Maduro announced the government had expelled two US diplomats from the country.

He said "we have no doubt" that Chavez's illness was induced by foul play by "the historical enemies of our homeland".

The government announced late Monday that Chavez's condition was "very delicate" due to a "new, severe" respiratory infection.

Chevez had not been seen in public or heard since undergoing a fourth round of surgery in Cuba on December 11 in the pelvic area

The government said he returned home on February 18, and had been confined to Caracas' military hospital ever since.

During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally.

He declared a socialist revolution in Venezuela, crusaded against US influence, championed a leftist revival across Latin America, and over time, gradually placed all state institutions under his personal control.

But the former army paratrooper commander, who rose to fame by launching a failed 1992 coup, never groomed a successor.

His death sets up a snap presidential election after his illness prevented him from taking the oath of office when he was re-elected last year.

Under the constitution, the head of Congress, Diosdado Cabello, would assume the interim presidency.

However, Mr Maduro is Chavez's self-annointed successor and has been holding the reigns since the president's health took a turn for the worse.

The man Chavez defeated in October's presidential elections, Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles, is expected to represent the opposition in any new national polls.

More follows...

 


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littlebytesnews's curator insight, March 5, 2013 6:38 PM

His successor is a former bus driver who didn't graduate high school, but Chavez chose him as successor despite the Constitution recognizing the head of Congress as the interim president. Nicolas Maduro was chosen by Chavez for his loyalty to Chavez and his support of his socialist policies. 

 

Today his self appointed successor claimed the US was responsible for infecting Chavez with cancer and said they would seek some type of retaliation and expelled two US diplomats:

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/05/17196733-venezuela-vp-chavezs-cancer-was-an-attack-by-his-enemies?lite

Hours before Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died, his second-in-command accused enemies of giving him cancer and announced the expulsion of two U.S. diplomats for an alleged plot to destabilize the government.

 

"There's no doubt that Commandante Chavez's health came under attack by the enemy," Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in an address to the nation from the presidential palace.

"The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health,'' according to Maduro, drawing a parallel to the illness and 2004 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, which some supporters blamed on poisoning by Israeli agents.

He said a special commission would investigate how Chavez, 58, ended up with the unspecified cancer that months of chemotherapy and radiation and four surgeries failed to tame.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement it was "absurd" to suggest that the U.S. was somehow involved in Chavez's illness.


Maduro accused one of them, David Delmonaco, of spying and meeting with Venezuelan military officials for nefarious purposes. The expulsion of the second, Devlin Kostal, was announced soon after.

 

Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said Delmonaco would be leaving Caracas and that Kostal was already in the U.S. and denied the allegations against them.

"We completely reject the Venezuelan government's claim that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela government," he said.

 

Ventrell also dismissed the accusations.


As a result it doesn't sound like US-Venezuela relations will improve. Hugo Chavez called the US the great emperor and saw the US as a threat and believed the US sought a military coup against him in 2008. Chavez nationalized business and banks in Venezuela, telling the people he believed in "spreading the wealth'', much like Obama has done in the US after saying he wants to 'spread the wealth' and nationalizing the car industry with a bailout and the banks. 

 

The president had not been seen in public for the three months but the cult of his personality kept his leadership alive.

Hugo Chavez was one of the most charismatic and controversial leaders of our time.

A master of the spotlight, his military fatigues and synthetic red tracksuits underlining his socialist credentials made him a photographer's dream.

Best of all were the shots that captured him with his pet parrot, named after a Venezuelan General, and sometimes sporting a tiny red beret to match his own.

No wonder he caught the imagination of Hollywood filmstars and directors. One day attending premieres with Oliver Stone, the next sharing jokes with Naomi Campbell.

Mr Chavez in a Cuban hospital with his daughters

Mr Chavez was a former soldier who was elected president in 1998, after being imprisoned for a failed coup seven years earlier.

His nineties brand of revolutionary socialism won him plenty of affection amongst the poor, with many of his supporters viewing him with almost religious reverence.

It was an emotional connection he was happy to milk on his weekly television show, Alo Presidente. The masses tuning in for his rambling poetry recitals and even stranger song and dance routines.

His country's vast oil reserves gave the president the money to tackle poverty, boosting spending on health and education. But corruption and mismanagement left the economy struggling and democracy withered under his rule.

 

An increasingly autocratic Mr Chavez changed the constitution to allow unlimited presidential terms, stamped hard on press freedom and nationalised many of the country's industries.

A natural firebrand, he didn't confine himself to Latin American politics. Instead he took on the West by courting fellow controversial figures like Cuba's Fidel Castro and  Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, forging a close alliance with Iran and offering Argentina support on the Falklands.

But Mr Chavez saved most of his wrath for the Americans, regularly referring to George W Bush as Mr Danger, and accusing Washington of "fighting terror with terror" in Afghanistan.

In one particularly bellicose statement in 2006 he appeared at the UN a day after the former American president and stated: "The Devil came here yesterday. It smells of sulphur still".

 

http://news.sky.com/story/1060598/hugo-chavez-a-master-of-the-spotlight

 

The Obama White House has expressed relief at Chavez's death and believe Hugo Chavez was trying to cause trouble between the US and Venezuela, and calling GWB "the Devil''. Obama has finally issued a short statement in response to the death of Hugo Chavez, stating that he hopes the people of Venezuela will reach out for democracy and peacful policies and respect for the rule of law. [That's almost laughable considering Obama has been following similar policies in the US and ignoring the rule of law when it comes to immigration, DOMA and nationaling banks and the auto industry. 

 

US representatives and analysts see the death of Chavez as a blow for socialism and could be an opportunity for South American countries to revive their economies and move away from socialism. Cuba has the largest oil reserves in the world, but has given Cuba a lot of power in the world market despite competition with Saudi Arabia. 

 

According to the AP, Chavez chosen successor Maduro is a loyalist who would keep Chavez legacy and policies in place. 

 

However, "Maduro now faces the daunting task of rallying support in a deeply divided country while maintaining unity within his party's ranks.


Maduro decidedly lacks the vibrant personality that made Chavez a one-man political phenomenon in Venezuela, but he has the advantage of being Chavez's hand-picked successor.

The mustachioed 50-year-old former bus driver won Chavez's trust as a loyal spokesman who echoed the president's stances. How Maduro will lead in Chavez's absence remains to be seen, although he's widely known as both a skilled negotiator and a leader who views upholding his mentor's legacy as his personal crusade and responsibility.

 

One of the biggest tasks Maduro will likely face is attempting to hold together a diverse movement that includes radical leftists, moderates and many current and former military officers.

Analysts have speculated that differences might emerge between factions led by Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, the influential National Assembly president who is thought to wield power within the military. But thus far both men have denied such divisions and vowed to remain united.

 

After Chavez's Dec. 11 cancer surgery, Maduro stepped up his public appearances to fill the void, providing regular updates on the president's condition, calling for unity among allies and lambasting the opposition.

 

Maduro also showed how he could attempt to continue Chavez's socialist-inspired project. Speaking at one December rally, he vowed in vague terms to maintain policies that have angered the country's leading business federation, Fedecamaras, which was long at odds with the president.

 

"We aren't going to give dollars to Fedecamaras. What we're going to give them is pains, headaches with this Bolivarian Revolution," Maduro shouted, his voice hoarse. "I swear to you ... we're never going to betray the people of Venezuela!"

Chavez's deteriorating health led him on Dec. 8 to announce Maduro as his chosen successor. He said that if his illness prevented him from being sworn in on Jan. 10, government supporters should rally around Maduro and elect him president.

Maduro is expected to keep promoting programs such as free medical clinics staffed by Cuban doctors and subsidized food stores, which have endeared the president with the country's vast numbers of poor. Maduro has vowed to block a return to past policies that he said had benefited the wealthy.

 

"Our people will never again see the bourgeoisie plundering this country," Maduro said, adding, "Better to be dead than traitors to the people and to Chavez!"

 

That loyalty made Maduro a logical choice, political observers said.

 

"Maduro combines two characteristics that influenced Chavez in his decision to designate him as successor: first, his loyalty to the party leadership, and second, his positions in favor of popular measures," such as social programs for the poor, said Steve Ellner, a political scientist at Venezuela's University of Oriente.

In his youth, Maduro drove a bus for the Caracas Metro transit system and later became a union leader."

.....

Maduro "is perceived by Chavez as a negotiator with diplomatic skills who could potentially gather the support of the different factions and keep it united in the difficult months ahead," said Diego Moya-Ocampos, an analyst with the London-based consulting firm IHS Global Insight.

 

"Nevertheless, he is not necessarily perceived as such within all the top ranks of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the armed forces," Moya-Ocampos added.

 

Jennifer McCoy, a political science professor at Georgia State University, described Maduro as an easygoing man who has shown a willingness to talk with government opponents.

"He's always been someone who is easy to talk to," said McCoy, director of the Americas program at the Carter Center, which helped the Organization of American States facilitate dialogue between the government and opposition after a 2002 coup that briefly ousted Chavez.

 

Maduro was always willing "to discuss the issues, and I think that's really important going forward for Venezuela," McCoy said.

Before Chavez underwent his latest operation in December, he explained why he had chosen Maduro:

 

"He's one of the young leaders with the greatest ability to continue, if I'm unable to — God knows what he does — if I'm unable to, to continue with his firm hand, with his gaze, with his heart of a man of the people, with his gift for people, with his intelligence, with the international recognition he's earned, with his leadership, leading the presidency."

 

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2013-03-05-Venezuela-Chavez's%20Successor/id-12a921c5f345420f94a1d5ade323cd1a

 

Now that Chavez has died will Obama reach out more to Venezuela and attend his funeral?? Many in Chavez party are pro-Cuba and pro-communist, however many countries have depended upon Chavez and Venezuela to keep their economies strong through the oil industry. However, there are many in the Chavez party who are not as socialist as Chavez, but his successor is seen as a hardline socialist like Chavez. 

 

 

 

 

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FAO - News Article: Farm machinery and sustainable agriculture must evolve together

FAO - News Article: Farm machinery and sustainable agriculture must evolve together | U.S. History | Scoop.it
New research from @FAOnews - Farm machinery and sustainable agriculture must evolve together http://t.co/QAHTXRdpDo

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How Trains 'Railroaded' The American Economy : NPR

How Trains 'Railroaded' The American Economy : NPR | U.S. History | Scoop.it
In his new book, Railroaded, historian Richard White examines the impact transcontinental train corporations had on business and politics at the end of the 19th century.

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Sharon wrecked the two-state solution

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Sharon wrecked the two-state solutionSunday, 12 January 2014Text size A A AChris Doyle

Ariel Sharon was the most formidable opponent that the Palestinian people have ever faced. Militarily, he was one of Israel’s most gifted military generals, brave, brilliant but ruthless. His talents helped Israel win wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. Ideologically he was a Greater Israel fanatic, championing the settler movement, devising strategic settlement plans that would erase the Green Line, separate Jerusalem, fragment the West Bank and control strategic resources, particularly water. He entered politics to execute this vision for Israel with extraordinary success. More than any other Israeli figure, he has engineered the cantonised West Bank of today and the devastating Palestinian geographic (West Bank and Gaza) and political divisions (Fatah and Hamas) that make a final political settlement now so remote.

There was little mystery about Sharon’s strategy for those who followed his career closely. It was explicit and consistent. His most lauded metamorphosis from bulldozer to peace builder was more spin than substance. The late Graham Usher, a brilliant journalist who passed away recently, once observed to me that that “if Netanyahu said that he would kill Arafat tomorrow, he would advise the Palestinian leader to do nothing. If Sharon said so, Arafat would be best advised to leave immediately.” For Sharon, in contrast to Netanyahu, personal ambition came second to decisive action to realise his dream.

Passionate beliefs

Sharon believed passionately in a Greater Israel and went along with the peace treaty with Egypt precisely because it did not threaten Israel’s hold on the West Bank. As housing minister, he masterminded around 100,000 Israelis settling in areas of the West Bank and another 73,000 as prime minister. He summed up his view in 1998 when he told settlers that “everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can, to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...Everything we don’t grab will go to them [the Palestinians].” His disciples heard his call and a hundred new hilltop outposts were set up across the West Bank.

Arafat was Sharon’s obsession. In his view, Arafat was dangerous because he was the symbol of Palestinian nationalism, whose regular visits to the White House and a Nobel Peace Prize marked an international acceptance that infuriated Sharon. He knew that Hamas, on the other hand, could never gain such global support. He opposed the Oslo Accords and was terrified that a peace deal, so nearly reached in the summer of 2000 at Camp David, would have ended everything he had worked for. His response was his deliberately provocative visit to the Temple Mount on Sept. 28, 2000 that triggered the second Intifada, the death of the peace talks and his election as prime minister.

Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan was designed to smash the Palestinian national movement and, as his senior adviser boasted, “freeze the peace process”

Chris Doyle

As prime minister, Sharon was once more in confrontation with Arafat. Sharon promised Israelis he would provide security whilst expanding settlements and without signing any peace deal. He declared Arafat to be irrelevant and backed this up by confining the PLO leader to just a few rooms of his Ramallah headquarters. His then-Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom, summed up Sharon’s view in 2011: “between Hamas and Arafat, I prefer Hamas.” Sharon did not want to negotiate terms but dictate them.

Designed to smash

Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan was designed to smash the Palestinian national movement and, as his senior adviser boasted, “freeze the peace process.” For the price of removing 8000 settlers from Gaza, a burden on Israel and not an area of great strategic importance, Sharon received the written promise from President Bush that Israel would not be expected to give up the large settlement blocs. By not negotiating a withdrawal from Gaza, Sharon quite deliberately undermined Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas and rewarded Hamas. Sharon did not want Abbas to reap the rewards of the withdrawal. Hamas claimed to Palestinians that it had been its violent resistance that had forced the Israelis out, a message that helped it win the Palestinian elections five months later. Rather than advancing peace through negotiations Sharon was killing it by dividing the possible state of Palestine, the Palestinian leadership and by earning U.S. endorsement for a major annexation of the West Bank that makes a viable Palestinian state impossible.

Ariel Sharon’s maximalist dreams, might against right and winner-takes-all approach is little different to what has blighted recent political life in Syria, Egypt and Iraq. He nourished the belief amongst most Israelis that survives today that they could enjoy peace and security without ending the occupation or the settlement expansion. This was premised on the Palestinian people being cowed into submission, abandoning their aspirations and meekly accepting the semi-autonomous parcels of land he was prepared to allow them.

For genuine peace to take hold, Israelis will have to look beyond the mirage of Sharon’s short-term approach of security through force and to understand that like every other people, Palestinians will not be forced into abandoning their quest for freedom.

__________________________

Chris Doyle is the Director of CAABU (the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding). He has worked with the Council since 1993 after graduating with a first class honors degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter University. As the lead spokesperson for Caabu and as an acknowledged expert on the region, Chris is a frequent commentator on TV and Radio, having given over 148 interviews on the Arab world in in 2012 alone. He gives numerous talks around the country on issues such as the Arab Spring, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Islamophobia and the Arabs in Britain. He has had numerous articles and letters published in the British and international media. He has travelled to nearly every country in the Middle East. He has organized and accompanied numerous British Parliamentary delegations to Arab countries. Most recently he took Parliamentary delegations to the West Bank in November 2010 and November 2008, he accompanied a delegation including Edward Davey MP, the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesman, to Israel and the West Bank.
 

Last Update: Monday, 13 January 2014 KSA 13:30 - GMT 10:30

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War Over

War Over | U.S. History | Scoop.it

Curiously, the actual date of the Philippine independence day is a subject of contention. It was President Diosdado Macapagal who signed the executive order Republic Act No. 4166 in August 1964 that "moved" the Philippines's independence day from 4 July 1946 to 12 June 1898, the year when General Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine "independence" over the dead bodies of Katipunan founder, Andres Bonifacio, his brothers and their followers. Aguinaldo's goons murdered these freedom fighters who founded the Katipunan secret society of Filipino rebels on July 7, 1892 to fight the Spanish colonization. 1946 was the year when the Philippine-American War ended, and the US granted independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946 through the Treaty of Manila.

So there's nothing really special about 8 June that warrants kicking a fuss over. It's just another occasion for people like West Coast GRC Member of Parliament Arthur Fong to castigate Singaporeans and canonise the Philippines I-Day event as a “shot across the bow” that should “prompt Singaporeans to examine themselves”. And remind us of his party's pro-alien sympathies.


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Direct Primary Care: An Innovative Alternative to Conventional Health Insurance

Direct Primary Care: An Innovative Alternative to Conventional Health Insurance | U.S. History | Scoop.it

State and federal policymakers can improve access to direct primary care by removing prohibitive laws and enacting laws that encourage this innovative model to flourish.


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Healthcare’s Big Data Opportunity

Healthcare’s Big Data Opportunity | U.S. History | Scoop.it

The hospitals where my grandchildren are born will be unrecognizable to those we know today; they’ll be safer, cleaner and more efficient. And what is considered world class in 2014 will tomorrow be viewed with the same disdain we reserve for medical practice in the Dark Ages.

Global healthcare is at a pivotal moment in its history, on a par with Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin and Louis Pasteur’s groundbreaking work with sterilization. As the quantity of data we generate rapidly expands and we continue to develop the computational power to store it, health authorities will be able to gather more information about their patients in a single year than has been open to them in all history.

While today we rely on the well-trained eye of the general practitioner and the steady hand of the surgeon, tomorrow’s lifesavers will be the number-crunching data scientists, individuals with only a passing understanding of first aid.

Tracking Big Data

Thanks to advancements in data analysis, almost everything that determines our health – from our individual genetic coding to our particular retail habits – is becoming knowable. With all this information at its fingertips, the medical profession is capable of spotting patterns of disease, gauging the efficacy of treatments and identifying links between causes and symptoms.

It has long been mooted that healthcare will be among the early big data winners. Intel recently announced that it is working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research on a new pilot initiative that is aimed at using data mined from wearable devices to detect patterns in the progression of the disease. The data will be collected on Intel’s software platform, and analysts will examine it to look for markers of Parkinson’s that couldn’t be perceived by the naked eye.

And earlier this year the University of Irvine Medical Center unveiled a radical scheme that is helping to reduce the number of deaths caused by medical error. My company, WANdisco, is helping the hospital use big data platform Hadoop to digitally collate, store and analyze all data relating to its patients’ conditions in real time. Electronic signals sent out by equipment such as heart monitors, ventilators or wearable devices can now be monitored whether the patient is in the hospital, at home or on the move.

This means that hospital staff are now alerted if a patient’s vital signs cross a key threshold – easing the burden on doctors and nurses whose heavy patient loads prevent 24/7 care – and essentially providing the equivalent of having a doctor in every room.

To this end the U.S. is leading the way. Across America we are seeing a steady increase in the number of data-driven strategies being implemented – progress that is transforming the standard of healthcare available to U.S. citizens. Many of today’s startups are at the heart of the action.

Jersey City’s Medical EMS recently teamed up with Bradshaw Consulting Services to improve the hospital’s ability to respond to emergency calls, where a minute can often mean the difference between life and death. The hospital now employs a system that collates geographic information system technology, wireless communications and GPS data to help response units arrive at their destinations more quickly, providing the emergency services with real-time analyses about where they are most likely to be needed.

Response rates now average fewer than six minutes, significantly lower than the national average of nine minutes. Before the system was installed, only one in five patients regained a pulse after suffering a cardiac arrest – today it’s one in two.

Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s Keystone Center is now using ArborMetrix’s technology to capture obstetrics data and reports at 60 hospitals across the state. The group’s hospitals are using data analytics to monitor readmission rates for pneumonia and heart failure, identifying patients treated at multiple facilities to more accurately calculate readmission rates. This is allowing its members to better understand what they will need to do to improve the quality of care for their patients while reducing operational costs.

The Fear in Numbers

But a look further afield suggests the appetite for big data hospitals is by no means universal.

Many have gone on record to say that, with the data records of the National Health Service (NHS), the U.K. has the potential to be the real leader for data-driven healthcare.

 

“We think that over the next three years Britain will become the most interesting country in the world when it comes to health technology,” U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Financial Times last year, adding that big data could “save thousands of lives … [driving] up our clinical standards to the very best in the world.”

Dating back to the 1940s, the NHS possesses vaults of information that, if centrally stored, could provide British doctors with an unparalleled insight into patient wellbeing. Having access to whole-population data, for example, would allow drug side effects to be picked up where they would previously go unreported.

Used effectively it could revolutionize treatments and help the U.K. take a lead in the bioscience industry. The U.K. has the potential to personalize healthcare for every NHS patient. The personal data that can risk score every NHS patient already exists. And it is already far more centralized and normalized than in countries such as the U.S., giving the U.K. the opportunity to become the world leader. Identifying people at risk of becoming ill or developing a serious condition and providing the foresight to prescribe preventive measures is a very real possibility.

But big data’s British advocates are doing a terrible job at articulating its benefits.

Unlike the U.S., Britain has fallen foul of a big data panic, fueled by a misguided belief that using anonymized patient records to offer improved healthcare would mark the first step on the road to the dystopian futures portrayed in 1984 and Brave New World.

Whereas the U.S. has managed to separate the revelations over spying and surveillance from discussions around big data, many in the U.K. view them as part of the same whole. Earlier this year, as a result of widespread public pressure, the NHS suspended its plans for Care.data, a central stash of patient records that researchers said could transform UK healthcare.

The main problem seems to have been attitudinal in nature, with Britons struggling to reconcile the trade-off between individual privacy and the collective benefits of medical research.

There can be no denying that the timing was unfortunate. Calls for Care.data to be shelved increased rapidly as people grew twitchy about data security, while Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA served as the ideal backdrop for civil libertarians arguing that citizens were signing away their privacy.

Equally damaging was the way in which the NHS persisted in ignoring this climate of apprehension. As newspaper headlines focused on the ongoing fallout from the Snowden affair – one that soon embroiled the U.K.’s own intelligence service – homes up and down the country were flooded on a weekly basis with leaflets that focused on how the government was going to access confidential records. Only in the small print was it made apparent that patients had a right to withhold their records.

A much more effective approach would have been to listen to the public fears and explain the life-enhancing implications of data-driven healthcare. How many millions could be saved by new treatments? How many lives currently cut short could be extended? And how many terminal diseases could be eradicated?

Open Tech

New tech is frequently mocked or feared before, ultimately, it is grudgingly accepted. When Bill Clinton introduced his human genome project in the 1990s the initial investment of $1 billion from the U.S. government was met with public outcry. However, it created a $150 billion industry and one of the most important medical breakthroughs of our generation. We stand on the verge of an even greater breakthrough on a global scale.

The more data that can be analyzed, the better the medical insights and the more lives that can be saved. In that context, it is everyone’s interests for big data to be embraced by the worldwide healthcare community – and not just the U.S.

We tend to think of medical progress as something that happens in laboratories, but the reality is that future breakthroughs may have less to do with chance discovery than the systematic analyses of existing data. And while these are the early days of data-driven hospitals, the writing is on the wall for healthcare as we know it.

 

 


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Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island | U.S. History | Scoop.it
This post originally appeared at Mother Jones.
Immigrant children at Ellis Island, New York, circa 1908 (National Archives)
An unaccompanied child migrant was the first person in line on opening day of the new immigration station at Ellis Island.

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