obama administration

thenation.com
The Obama Administration Has Brokered More Weapons Sales Than Any Other Administration Since World War II
When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

“Though seldom thought of this way, the US political system is also a global arms distribution system of the first order. In this context, the Obama administration has proven itself a good friend to arms exporting firms. During President Obama’s first six years in office, Washington entered into agreements to sell more than $190 billion in weaponry worldwide—more, that is, than any US administration since World War II. In addition, Team Obama has loosened restrictions on arms exports, making it possible to send abroad a whole new range of weapons and weapons components—including Black Hawk and Huey helicopters and engines for C-17 transport planes—with far less scrutiny than was previously required.”

U.S. Democrats plan to give Israel an addition $225 million for military spending. The same bill also cuts $1 billion of emergency funds meant to deal with the 50,000 undocumented child migrants held in crowded and unsanitary border facilities.

Israel already received $504 million for the joint U.S.-Israel Missle Defense Program for the Fiscal Year of 2014. That is not including the $3.1 Billion the Obama Administration spent on Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Israel for the Fiscal Year 2014.

theguardian.com
All 50 US states fail to meet global police use of force standards, report finds
Amnesty International report describes ‘shocking lack of fundamental respect for the sanctity of human life’ as nine states have no laws to deal with police force
By Jamiles Lartey

Every state in the US fails to comply with international standards on the lethal use of force by law enforcement officers, according to a report by Amnesty International USA, which also says 13 US states fall beneath even lower legal standards enshrined in US constitutional law and that nine states currently have no laws at all to deal with the issue.

The stinging review comes amid a national debate over police violence and widespread protest following the high-profile deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York; 50-year-oldWalter Scott in South Carolina; and 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore – all unarmed black men killed by police within the past 11 months.

Amnesty USA executive director Steven Hawkins told the Guardian the findings represented a “shocking lack of fundamental respect for the sanctity of human life”.

“While law enforcement in the United States is given the authority to use lethal force, there is no equal obligation to respect and preserve human life. It’s shocking that while we give law enforcement this extraordinary power, so many states either have no regulation on their books or nothing that complies with international standards,” Hawkins said.

Amnesty found that in all 50 states and Washington DC, written statutes were too broad to fit these international standards, concluding: “None of the laws establish the requirement that lethal force may only be used as a last resort with non-violent means and less harmful means to be tried first. The vast majority of laws do not require officers to give a warning of their intent to use firearms.”

WikiLeaks: Obama Administration Pressured Haiti’s President To Lower Minimum Wage

A Wikileaks post published on The Nation shows that the Obama Administration fought to keep Haitian wages at 31 cents an hour.

Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.

It started when Haiti passed a law two years ago raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. According to an embassy cable:

This infuriated American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss that pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes. They said they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and they got the State Department involved. The U.S. ambassador put pressure on Haiti’s president, who duly carved out a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies (the U.S. minimum wage, which itself is very low, works out to $58 a day).

Haiti has about 25,000 garment workers. If you paid each of them $2 a day more, it would cost their employers $50,000 per working day, or about $12.5 million a year … As of last year Hanes had 3,200 Haitians making t-shirts for it. Paying each of them two bucks a day more would cost it about $1.6 million a year. Hanesbrands Incorporated made $211 million on $4.3 billion in sales last year.

Thanks to U.S. intervention, the minimum was raised only to 31 cents.

The revelation of US support for low wages in Haiti’s assembly zones was in a trove of 1,918 cables made available to the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté by the transparency group WikiLeaks. As part of a collaboration with Haïti Liberté, The Nation is publishing English-language articles based on those cables.

vine

Michelle Obama wants you to “turnip for what”

U.S. Dismisses Lawsuit Against Chiquita For Hiring Paramilitary Groups To Kill Colombians

July 25th, 2014

A US appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit against banana grower Chiquita brought by at least 4,000 Colombians who accused the company of supporting paramilitary forces who killed or tortured their relatives.

In the 2-1 decision on Thursday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found a 2013 US Supreme Court ruling limited foreign nationals’ ability to seek damages against corporations in US courts.

Chiquita, the world’s largest banana producer, pleaded guilty in 2007 to making over 100 payments beginning in 1997 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a right-wing paramilitary group the United States considered a terror organization. Chiquita handed AUC $1.7 million in cash and checks before ending the practice in February 2004.

In 2001, Chiquita was identified in invoices and other documents as the recipient of a shipment from Nicaragua of 3,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition. The shipment was actually intended for the AUC.

Banana giant Chiquita has spent around $780,000 in the past year and a half to block a 9/11 victims’ bill in the US Congress. The legislation aims to aid victims and families in their claims against supporters or sponsors of terror attacks.

The bill would attempt to impose civil liabilities on those found to have aided and abetted US-designated terrorist groups overseas.

Now-Attorney General Eric Holder represented the fruit company in the previous lawsuit.

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Donald Trump’s convention speech, fact-checked

Read more:

America has had, for over 200 years, a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by f–king them over once they give their guns back.
— 

Jon Stewart cuttingly reminds the GOP of its own terrible VA track record

On Monday, Jon Stewart lit into the Obama administration for not fixing the problems in the Veterans Affairs Department health care system, even though he has known about the long waits since before taking office. On Thursday night's Daily Show, Stewart reminded the Republicans now pouncing on the VA hospital scandal that their hands aren’t exactly clean on the matter, either.

More Protesters Arrested As Obama’s Deportation Record Nears 2 Million

Eight demonstrators tied themselves to one another wrist-to-wrist in the falling snow Tuesday morning, and lay down across the road in a human chain, blocking access to an immigration detention center in Elizabeth, N.J. Detention officers on their way to work waited in a line of cars stretching down the street.

For nearly a minute, the steady blast of a car horn drowned out the sound of the protesters’ chants. By the time the police arrested the protesters about a half-hour later, snow had begun to pile up on their bodies, hiding the slogans on the T-shirts they had pulled on over their sweaters.

The protest was the latest in a recent series of demonstrations aimed at urging President Barack Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. In the past year, supporters of immigration rights have expressed growing frustration with the president, who has overseen the deportation of nearly 2 million immigrants during his time in office, far more than any other president in history. With a deeply divided Congress now nearing its holiday recess, it seems nearly certain that another year will pass with lawmakers failing to make any headway on immigration reform.

In November, immigration-rights activists made headlines by interrupting the president during a speech in San Francisco, demanding that he use his executive powers to stop deportations of immigrants who would gain legal status under reform legislation. A few days later, Obama met with activists who have been staging a hunger strike for nearly a month in a tent on the National Mall. Since September, more than 80 people have been arrested in more than half a dozen protests around the country.

Jorge Torres, one of the protesters who was arrested, denounced Obama as the “deporter-in-chief,” a term that has become popular in immigration-rights circles.

The president can’t be the deporter-in-chief and a champion for reform at the same time,” Torres said. “If he wants to help immigrants he can start by not deporting them.

Obama Administration Issues Guidelines to Ensure Transgender Students Receive Appropriate Treatment in Schools

The Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Education issued a new guidance for school districts to ensure transgender students will be treated with dignity in public and federally funded schools, including having equal access to sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, that are consistent with their gender identity.

buzzfeed.com
White House Appoints First Transgender Person As Primary LGBT Liaison
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is now the White House’s main point of contact for LGBT groups on all issues.
By Dominic Holden

President Barack Obama has appointed Raffi Freedman-Gurspan as the White House’s primary LGBT liaison, making her the first transgender person in the role, White House officials told BuzzFeed News on Monday.

LGBT leaders applauded the announcement.

“Raffi is a great choice,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “President Obama has said he wants his administration to look like America, and they have moved to include trans Americans. Raffi’s skills and personality make her the exact right person for this important job.”

Freedman-Gurspan became the first transgender staffer appointed to the White House in 2015, working as the outreach and recruitment director in the presidential personnel office.

In her new role — as the Outreach & Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel and Associate Director for Public Engagement — Freedman-Gurspan becomes the White House’s lead point of contact for LGBT groups on all issues.

Marsha Scott, a straight woman, was the first White House gay and lesbian liaison,named to the role by President Clinton in 1995. Later, cisgender gays and lesbians held the role in the Clinton and Obama administrations. The position was held most recently by Aditi Hardikar, who left the post in January to join Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Before joining the White House, Raffi was a policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality and a legislative director in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

The Obama administration has been a steady advocate for transgender rights, including the use of existing civil rights laws to protect the rights of transgender workers and students from discrimination.

“We believe it is a tremendous decision by the White House to recognize Raffi’s leadership as well as the importance of having transgender leadership in an important role for the community,” said JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. 

h/t: Dominic Holden at BuzzFeed News

reason.com
President Obama Addresses Dallas Shootout, Talks About Access to ‘Powerful Weapons’
Says we don’t know all the facts, but gun control is going to be an issue.

“We still don’t know all the facts,” President Obama said at the beginning of a press conference in Warsaw, where a NATO summit is being held. “What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs keeping people safe during peaceful protests,” the president said. “These law enforcement officers were targeted.”

I believe I speak for every single American when I say we are horrified by these events and stand united with the people and police department of Dallas,” the president said he told the Dallas mayor.

The president said there were multiple suspects and that the country would “learn more about motivations” soon, although there was “no possible kind of justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement.”

“I will have more to say about this as the facts become more clear,” the president said while noting that even in his comments yesterday about the police shootings that precipitated protests in Dallas and around the country that police “had an extraordinary difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion.”

“I also indicated the degree to which we need to be supportive of those officers that do their jobs each day,” he said. “Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us.”

We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic,” he continued, “and in the days ahead we’ll have to consider those realities as well.

Unless the snipers turn out to be former law enforcement officials or another special class with privileged access to weapons, in which case, as with the Orlando shooter who worked for a major Homeland Security contractor with all kinds of weapons clearance, the details won’t matter. Earlier this year a police officer in Philadelphia was killed using a gun that had been previously stolen from the police department.

washingtonpost.com
Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
Sweeping new rules also curb isolation for adult inmates, limit time for first offense to 60 days, rather than 365.
By https://www.facebook.com/eilperin

President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

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Reports: U.S. Army Trained ISIS Members In 2012 To Destabilize Syria

As the American government is contemplating on whether or not to launch an airstrike on ISIS that is threatening to destroy Iraq, reports have now surfaced that way back in 2012, the US Army had trained members of the same terrorist group in Jordan.

As per several corroborated reports, hundreds of ISIS militia were indeed trained by US instructors for covert operations to destabilize Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, though the training was strictly for Syria.

Back in February 2012, WND had reported that the US, with the help of Turkey and Jordan, was running a training base for Syrian rebels in the Jordan. German weekly Der Spiegel also confirmed in 2013 that the US was still training Syrian rebels in Jordan.

The report noted that the organizers of the training wore US Marine uniforms, and the training focused on the use of anti-tank weaponry. The ISIS terrorists, who now hold almost the entire north of Iraq, have quite effectively neutralized most Iraqi tank battalions put against the invading forces.

ISIS, also known as ISIL, has let loose a reign of terror both in Syria and Iraq. The group has been denounced even by Al-Qaeda for its brutality and violence.

A USA-ISIS tie-up is plausible, considering the fact how the CIA was responsible for the strengthening of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It is widely reported that during the anti-Soviet war, Osama Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Defence analysts strongly believe that Bin Laden himself had received security training from the CIA.

The US, which is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq, is reportedly flying F-18 surveillance missions in the country from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, officials confirmed to Fox News. 

The F-18 surveillance missions are being launched from the USS George HW Bush. While the Obama administration is yet to decide on airstrikes, the US government has authorized “manned and unmanned” surveillance flights for collecting information.