Obama’s chief of staff choice favors compulsory universal service

Obama’s chief of staff choice favors compulsory

universal service

by J.D. Tuccille

Rahm Emanuel
Rep. Rahm Emanuel wants to force people 18 to 25
to labor for the government.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, President-Elect Barack Obama’s choice for chief of staff in his incoming administration, is co-author of a book, The Plan: Big Ideas for America, that calls for, among other things, compulsory service for all Americans ages 18 to 25. The following excerpt is from pages 61-62 of the 2006 book:

It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service.

Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.

Emanuel and co-author Bruce Reed insist “this is not a draft,” but go on to write of young men and women, “the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service.” They also warn, “[s]ome Republicans will squeal about individual freedom,” ruling out any likelihood that they would let people opt out of universal citizen service.

As chief of staff, Emanuel will not be in a position to directly introduce public policy, but his enthusiasm for compulsory service, combined with Barack Obama’s own plan to require high school students to perform 50 hours of government-approved service, suggest an unfortunate direction for the new administration.

US: “It’s Taliban’s fault if we slaughter Afghan children”

US: “It’s Taliban’s fault if we slaughter Afghan children”

ABDUL WAHEED WAFA and SANGAR RAHIMI, NYTimes

afghanchildren7.jpg

U.S. Says Taliban Put Afghans in Line of Fire

KABUL, Afghanistan — As Afghan officials reported more civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes on Thursday, witnesses to a strike that apparently hit a wedding party on Monday said the civilian death toll could be more than double the 40 reported so far by Afghan officials.

The United States military says it is conducting a joint investigation with the Afghan authorities into the strike on the wedding party, which took place in the Shah Wali Kot district of the southern province of Kandahar, where the Taliban insurgency has been strong.

On Thursday, American officials offered their first account of the events, saying that insurgents had prevented civilians from fleeing the area, trapping them in a firefight pitting coalition and Afghan Army forces against the militants who had ambushed those forces.

Referring to the deaths in both that strike and another reported on Thursday, in which Afghan officials said at least seven civilians were killed in the northwestern province of Badghis, Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for United States forces, said, “We hope that it’s not from our fire, but we suspect it may well have been.”

In a telephone interview, Colonel Julian accused Taliban forces of “immersing themselves” among civilians on Monday to deter American forces from using airstrikes.

“Our close air support has been so devastating with the Taliban that they are trying to stop us using it” by provoking situations in which civilians are caught up in fighting and killed, he said.

People who said they saw the wedding party attack said the death toll among civilians was much higher than the official Afghan figure of 40. “I counted 90 dead bodies,” said Abdul Rahim, 26, who said he was a survivor of the family that hosted the wedding party. “I saw them with my own eyes,” he said in a telephone interview from Kandahar Province. “I discovered them under the debris.”

He said he had lost 15 members of his family, including two brothers, 8 and 10 years old; several women; and other children. Mr. Rahim said he was in a neighboring village collecting more food for the wedding party when the airstrike happened.

He said Taliban insurgents had fired some shots from the top of a hill toward a convoy of American vehicles, and the Americans had returned fire. About an hour later, the Americans called in an airstrike, he said. Four houses, including the house where the wedding party was under way, were destroyed, Mr. Rahim said.

A tribal elder of Shah Wali Kot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety, said he could not confirm the exact death toll, but he also insisted that the casualties were higher than the Afghan government’s estimate of 40.

The United States military, in its statement, made no reference to airstrikes, saying only that militants had “ambushed a coalition security patrol using rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars” and that Afghan and coalition forces had “responded with a variety of weapons fire.”

“Civilians reportedly attempted to leave the area, but the insurgents forced them to remain as they continued to fire” on Afghan and coalition forces, the statement continued. It quoted a local police commander as saying that there had been reports that several civilians had been wounded while trying to leave the area.

The United States statement said nine insurgents had been killed, but did not refer to civilian deaths. But an earlier statement said that “if innocent people were killed in this operation, we apologize and express our condolences to the families and people of Afghanistan.”

The American military used almost identical language in a statement on Thursday about the latest reported attack, on three villages in northwestern Afghanistan.

In that case, Abdullah Waqif, the district governor of the Ghormach area of Badghis Province, said that fighting and coalition airstrikes had killed 7 civilians and 15 Taliban fighters.

Qari Dawlat Khan, the provincial council leader in the area, said as many as 20 civilians might have been killed. One council member, Tawakal Khan, said he had lost two sons, 12 and 35 years old, and a grandson, 7.

Colonel Julian, the United States spokesman, said the attack early Thursday happened after a Taliban ambush, when two quick reaction units came to the assistance of the force under attack and called in airstrikes.

States face unemployment cash crisis

States face unemployment cash crisis

Rising unemployment drains state trust funds, forcing them to borrow from Washington to continue paying claims.

By Tami Luhby

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — State unemployment insurance trust funds are rapidly running out of money amid soaring job losses.

This is prompting state officials to consider raising employer taxes or curtailing benefits, while forcing them to borrow from the federal government to cover claims.

“Some states didn’t have adequate reserves built up,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. “They are having significant problems paying out the increased number of benefits.”

The number of people collecting state unemployment benefits hit a 25-year high of 3.84 million, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said Thursday. The following day, the department announced that 240,000 jobs were lost in October, pushing the unemployment rate up to 6.5%, up from 6.1%. It’s the highest rate since March 1994. Nearly 1.2 million jobs have been lost this year.

With companies unveiling mass layoffs almost daily, states are likely to see further strains on their trust funds. This comes at a time when the weakening economy is already putting great stress on governments and employers alike.

The trust funds are financed through unemployment insurance taxes levied on businesses. States must pay out the claims promised under the law, even if they have to borrow the funds from the feds.

The trust funds of five states are insolvent – meaning they have reserves of three months or less – while another eight state funds are nearly insolvent with reserves of four to six months, according to the National Employment Law Project. Six other states don’t have enough money to cover a year of payments.

Michigan is hurting

Michigan, hit hard by the collapse of the auto industry, has essentially nothing left in its trust fund, said Norman Isotalo, spokesman for state’s Department of Labor & Economic Growth. New initial claims are up 21% over a year ago, while the unemployment rate hit 8.7% in September, up from 7.3% a year earlier.

Though it has borrowed money from the feds to cover claims since 2006, Michigan has avoided paying interest on the loan by repaying it quickly. The state, however, no longer has the funds to repay the loan, which currently totals nearly $473 million. The debt will starting accruing interest in January, and the state will pass along the additional fees to employers.

Businesses already shell out between .06% and 10.3% on the first $9,000 of earnings of each worker, depending on how many of their former employees are drawing benefits. About 20% of companies soon will start paying up to $67.50 in an additional solvency tax, levied on employers who have paid less in unemployment taxes than their former employees have received in benefits.

The state realizes the additional tax will impose yet another burden on struggling companies, but the law does not allow exceptions, said Stephen Geskey, director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

“It is not an optimal time for the solvency tax to kick in,” Geskey said. “But there’s really no wiggle room.”

The Michigan fund is being squeezed, in part, because of changes lawmakers made over the past 12 years, Geskey said. When times were good — the fund had a $3 billion balance in 2001 — officials lowered the tax rate. This resulted in a loss of $1.1 billion in contributions, he said.

Spurred by the looming interest payments, legislators are only now planning to address the matter. Discussions should begin soon, said Democratic state Sen. Michael Switalski.

“Now it has our attention,” Switalski said. “We’re going to have to deal with it.”

Ohio contemplates benefit freeze

In Ohio, claims are running 40% above last year’s levels. The state’s trust fund is running an uncomfortably low balance of $305.6 million. Its own calculations show it needs $2.3 billion to withstand a moderate recession, said Sara Hall Phillips, labor policy analyst with the state’s Department of Job and Family Services.

Ohio lawmakers failed to act on recommendations by a state advisory council to replenish the fund. The council had proposed raising taxes paid by employers and freezing workers’ benefits for three years, Hall Phillips said.

Employers in Ohio pay between 0.5% and 9.2% on the first $9,000 of earnings of each worker. The maximum weekly benefit is $365 for a worker with no dependents.

Even though the fund will likely run out of money by early January, lawmakers likely won’t address the issue before the middle of next year.

The rising number of claims is not the only reason the fund is running out of money, Hall Phillips said. The law calls for benefits to increase annually, though there’s no provision for taxes to do the same.

When Ohio faced a similar fiscal crunch in the 1980s, forcing it to borrow from the feds from 1980 through 1988, it had to temporarily freeze benefits and raise taxes.

“Claimants will still receive unemployment compensation benefits and that will continue no matter what happens with the trust fund or with the legislature,” she said. But “benefits may be locked at that level for a few years.”

Wall Street woes hit New York

The implosion of Wall Street and the weakened economy around the state has led to a surge of unemployment claims in New York. The state now pays benefits to 148,000 people, up from 113,000 a year ago, said Leo Rosales, spokesman for the state Department of Labor.

As a result, New York’s trust fund has dwindled to $357 million, down from $538 million a year ago. To meet its obligations, the state has been borrowing from the feds for years, receiving nearly $1.1 billion over the past three years alone. In 2006, the state had to pay $7 million in interest of $1.5 billion it borrowed in 2005.

The state legislature tried unsuccessfully in the spring to increase unemployment insurance taxes, while also raising the maximum weekly benefit, which now stands at $410, to $550. The bill would have increased the wage base to $11,500 over time, from its current $8,500.

Tuesday’s election left Democrats in control of both chambers of the state legislature, and the bill now has a better chance of getting passed, said Assembly member Susan John, a Democrat, chair of the labor committee.

“Members are back home in their districts and are recognizing how much people are struggling,” John said. To top of page

Deep Events and the CIA’s Global Drug Connection

Deep Events and the CIA’s Global Drug Connection

by Peter Dale Scott

Introduction

Recently I published two articles pointing to suggestive similarities between the recurring deep events in recent American history – those events which, because of their intelligence aspects, are ignored, misrepresented, or covered up in the American media. The first article pointed to overall similarities in many deep events since World War II. The second pointed to surprising points of comparison in the two deep events which were followed shortly by major U.S. wars: the John F. Kennedy assassination and 9/11. In the background of all these events, I suggested, was recurring evidence of the milieu “combining intelligence officials with elements from the drug-trafficking underworld.”

In this essay I shall first attempt to lay out the complex geography or network of that milieu, which I call the global drug connection, and its connections to what has been called an “alternative” or “shadow” CIA. I shall then show how this network, of banks, financial agents of influence, and the alternative CIA, contributed to the infrastructure of the Kennedy assassination and a series of other, superficially unrelated, major deep events.

In this narrative, the names of individuals, their institutions, and their connections are relatively unimportant. What matters is to see that such a milieu existed; that it was on-going, well-connected, and protected; and that, with increasing independence from governmental restraint, it played a role in major deep events in the last half century.  (read more)

Obama advisers discuss preparations for war on Iran

Obama advisers discuss preparations for war on Iran

By Peter Symonds
6 November 2008

On the eve of the US elections, the New York Times cautiously pointed on Monday to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus in Washington for an aggressive new strategy towards Iran. While virtually nothing was said in the course of the election campaign, behind-the-scenes top advisers from the Obama and McCain camps have been discussing the rapid escalation of diplomatic pressure and punitive sanctions against Iran, backed by preparations for military strikes.

The article entitled “New Beltway Debate: What to do about Iran” noted with a degree of alarm: “It is a frightening notion, but it not just the trigger-happy Bush administration discussing—if only theoretically—the possibility of military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program… [R]easonable people from both parties are examining the so-called military option, along with new diplomatic initiatives.”

Behind the backs of American voters, top advisers for President-elect Barack Obama have been setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of confrontation with Iran as soon as the new administration takes office. A report released in September from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, argued that a nuclear weapons capable Iran was “strategically untenable” and detailed a robust approach, “incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion”.

A key member of the Center’s task force was Obama’s top Middle East adviser, Dennis Ross, who is well known for his hawkish views. He backed the US invasion of Iraq and is closely associated with neo-cons such as Paul Wolfowitz. Ross worked under Wolfowitz in the Carter and Reagan administrations before becoming the chief Middle East envoy under presidents Bush senior and Clinton. After leaving the State Department in 2000, he joined the right-wing, pro-Israel think tank—the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—and signed up as a foreign policy analyst for Fox News.

The Bipartisan Policy Center report insisted that time was short, declaring: “Tehran’s progress means that the next administration might have little time and fewer options to deal with this threat.” It rejected out-of-hand both Tehran’s claims that its nuclear programs were for peaceful purposes, and the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate by US intelligence agencies which found that Iran had ended any nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The report was critical of the Bush administration’s failure to stop Iran’s nuclear programs, but its strategy is essentially the same—limited inducements backed by harsher economic sanctions and the threat of war. Its plan for consolidating international support is likewise premised on preemptive military action against Iran. Russia, China and the European powers are all to be warned that their failure to accede to tough sanctions, including a provocative blockade on Iranian oil exports, will only increase the likelihood of war.

To underscore these warnings, the report proposed that the US would need to immediately boost its military presence in the Persian Gulf. “This should commence the first day the new president enters office, especially as the Islamic Republic and its proxies might seek to test the new administration. It would involve pre-positioning US and allied forces, deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers, [and] emplacing other war materiel in the region,” it stated.

In language that closely parallels Bush’s insistence that “all options remain on the table”, the report declared: “We believe a military strike is a feasible option and must remain a last resort to retard Iran’s nuclear program.” Such a military strike “would have to target not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an Iranian response.”

Significantly, the report was drafted by Michael Rubin, from the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, which was heavily involved in promoting the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A number of Obama’s senior Democratic advisers “unanimously approved” the document, including Dennis Ross, former senator Charles Robb, who co-chaired the task force, and Ashton Carter, who served as assistant secretary for defense under Clinton.

Carter and Ross also participated in writing a report for the bipartisan Center for a New American Security, published in September, which concluded that military action against Iran had to be “an element of any true option”. While Ross examined the diplomatic options in detail, Carter laid out the “military elements” that had to underpin them, including a cost/benefit analysis of a US aerial bombardment of Iran.

Other senior Obama foreign policy and defense advisers have been closely involved in these discussions. A statement entitled, “Strengthening the Partnership: How to deepen US-Israel cooperation on the Iranian nuclear challenge”, drafted in June by a Washington Institute for Near East Policy task force, recommended the next administration hold discussions with Israel over “the entire range of policy options”, including “preventative military action”. Ross was a taskforce co-convener, and top Obama advisers Anthony Lake, Susan Rice and Richard Clarke all put their names to the document.

As the New York Times noted on Monday, Obama defense adviser Richard Danzig, former navy secretary under Clinton, attended a conference on the Middle East convened in September by the same pro-Israel think tank. He told the audience that his candidate believed that a military attack on Iran was a “terrible” choice, but “it may be that in some terrible world we will have to come to grips with such a terrible choice”. Richard Clarke, who was also present, declared that Obama was of the view that “Tehran’s growing influence must be curbed and that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.” While “his first inclination is not to pull the trigger,” Clarke stated, “if circumstances required the use of military force, Obama would not hesitate.”

While the New York Times article was muted and did not examine the reports too deeply, writer Carol Giacomo was clearly concerned at the parallels with the US invasion of Iraq. After pointing out that “the American public is largely unaware of this discussion,” she declared: “What makes me nervous is that’s what happened in the run-up to the Iraq war.”

Giacomo continued: “Bush administration officials drove the discussion, but the cognoscenti were complicit. The question was asked and answered in policy circles before most Americans know what was happening… As a diplomatic correspondent for Reuters in those days, I feel some responsibility for not doing more to ensure that the calamitous decision to invade Iraq was more skeptically vetted.”

The emerging consensus on Iran in US foreign policy circles again underscores the fact that the differences between Obama and McCain were purely tactical. While millions of Americans voted for the Democratic candidate believing he would end the war in Iraq and address their pressing economic needs, powerful sections of the American elite swung behind him as a better vehicle to prosecute US economic and strategic interests in the Middle East and Central Asia—including the use of military force against Iran.

Obama Picks Pro-Israel Hardliner

Obama Picks Pro-Israel Hardliner


For Top Post

By Ali Abunimah

06 November, 2008
The Electronic Intifada

During the United States election campaign, racists and pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of President-elect Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Such people might take comfort in another middle name, that of Obama’s pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel Emanuel.

Emanuel is Obama’s first high-level appointment and it’s one likely to disappointment those who hoped the president-elect would break with the George W. Bush Administration’s pro-Israel policies. White House Chief of Staff is often considered the most powerful office in the executive branch, next to the president. Obama has offered Emanuel the position according to Democratic party sources cited by media including Reuters and The New York Times. While Emanuel is expected to accept the post, that had not been confirmed by Wednesday evening the day after the election.

Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1959, the son of Benjamin Emanuel, a pediatrician who helped smuggle weapons to the Irgun, the Zionist militia of former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, in the 1940s. The Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians including the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946.

Emanuel continued his father’s tradition of active support for Israel; during the 1991 Gulf War he volunteered to help maintain Israeli army vehicles near the Lebanon border when southern Lebanon was still occupied by Israeli forces.

As White House political director in the first Clinton administration, Emanuel orchestrated the famous 1993 signing ceremony of the “Declaration of Principles” between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Emanuel was elected to Congress representing a north Chicago district in 2002 and he is credited with a key role in delivering a Democratic majority in the 2006 mid-term elections. He has been a prominent supporter of neoliberal economic policies on free trade and welfare reform.

One of the most influential politicians and fundraisers in his party, Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of AIPAC’s executive board just after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby’s conference last June.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. “We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror,” Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders “was clearly justified as an application of Israel’s right to self-defense” (“Pelosi supports Israel’s attacks on Hamas group,” San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003).

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because al-Maliki had criticized Israel’s bombing of Lebanon. Emanuel called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments “totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies” in a 19 July 2006 speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel’s bombing of both countries that caused thousands of civilian victims.

Emanuel has sometimes posed as a defender of Palestinian lives, though never from the constant Israeli violence that is responsible for the vast majority of deaths and injuries. On 14 June 2007 he wrote to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “on behalf of students in the Gaza Strip whose future is threatened by the ongoing fighting there” which he blamed on “the violence and militancy of their elders.” In fact, the fighting between members of Hamas and Fatah, which claimed dozens of lives, was the result of a failed scheme by US-backed militias to violently overthrow the elected Hamas-led national unity government. Emanuel’s letter urged Rice “to work with allies in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan, to either find a secure location in Gaza for these students, or to transport them to a neighboring country where they can study and take their exams in peace.” Palestinians often view such proposals as a pretext to permanently “transfer” them from their country, as many Israeli leaders have threatened. Emanuel has never said anything in support of millions of Palestinian children whose education has been disrupted by Israeli occupation, closures and blockades.

Emanuel has also used his position to explicitly push Israel’s interests in normalizing relations with Arab states and isolating Hamas. In 2006 he initiated a letter to President Bush opposing United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy the management business of six US seaports. The letter, signed by dozens of other lawmakers, stated that “The UAE has pledged to provide financial support to the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority and openly participates in the Arab League boycott against Israel.” It argued that allowing the deal to go through “not only could place the safety and security of US ports at risk, but enhance the ability of the UAE to bolster the Hamas regime and its efforts to promote terrorism and violence against Israel” (“Dems Tie Israel, Ports,” Forward, 10 March 2006).

Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told Fox News that picking Emanuel is “just another indication that despite the attempts to imply that Obama would somehow appoint the wrong person or listen to the wrong people when it comes to the US-Israel relationship … that was never true.”

Over the course of the campaign, Obama publicly distanced himself from friends and advisers suspected or accused of having “pro-Palestinian” sympathies. There are no early indications of a more balanced course.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli- Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

A Paradigm Shift In America’s Intellectual Community

A Paradigm Shift In America’s Intellectual Community

By Pablo Ouziel

06 November, 2008
Countercurrents.org

Contrary to popular belief, the big change in America’s society stemming from the recent presidential elections, was not the election of the first black president. The most important event has taken place in the intellectual community, in which a paradigm shift has taken place and few have noticed.

The new era of voting for the lesser of the two evils has penetrated the core of America’s critical intellectual community, and some of the biggest voices for change have endorsed Obama. In effect, what has taken place is the union between those opposed to imperial ideology and those endorsing it. Although this serious event has gone largely unnoticed, American intellectuals will need to reflect on its consequences seriously if they are to contribute to the building of a stable future for humanity as a whole, and in particular to mending the tarnished corrupt fabric of American society.

One American intellectual, James Petras, has been able to identify the direct social consequences of such a paradigm shift and prior to the elections has publicly expressed his views in an article titled; The Elections and the Responsibility of the Intellectual to Speak Truth to Power: Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney.

As the title of the article clearly states, Petras voices the reasons why intellectuals have the responsibility of voting against Obama just like they should vote against McCain. In regards to those intellectuals who have endorsed Obama he says:

They are what C. Wright Mills called ‘crackpot realists’, abdicating their responsibility as critical intellectuals. In purporting to support the ‘lesser evil’ they are promoting the ‘greater evil’: The continuation of four more years of deepening recession, colonial wars and popular alienation.

After listening last night to Obama’s first speech after his victory, a victory he said was of the people, what Petras is saying seems disturbingly accurate when looked at through the prism of critical discourse analysis. One can look back now to the presidency of George W. Bush and listen to his rhetoric. What has been his message throughout the last 8 years? When Obama’s core messages are compared to Bush’s, it becomes apparent that the coming presidential plans are not too different to current presidential policies.

Even more disturbing, is the fact that when Bush spoke throughout his presidency there was always a slight cynical reaction by the majority of the public, as most of the surveys have shown time and time again. However, last night the cynicism seemed to have vanished and the hope of a new American century was reborn with full force, to the clapping thunder and joyous splendour of the reborn American people. With every word uttered by Obama one could see how the empire was not gone, Bush almost killed it, now Obama the symbol of hope, together with all the American people in unity, are going to reconstruct their country and the world, restabilising America’s faltering hegemony.

For those in the struggle against imperial expansion, the task ahead is going to prove daunting. Perhaps the echoed endorsement of the new presidency by some of the world’s most public intellectuals is going to set back the struggle for true justice, in the sense that although voting without ‘illusions’, a landslide victory has been handed out to Obama by millions of delusional Americans. Expect more bailouts of the economic elite, expect the war drums to continue, expect more people to lose their homes and jobs. Keep organizing at the grassroots level because millions of Americans are going to need help, like the billions of people around the world who year after year ravaged by the smiling face of capitalist imperialism, have been shouting out and had their voices ignored.

The essence of capitalism in the twenty-first century is one of popular misery, thunderous war, and smiling politicians, as the global elites struggle to save pieces of their crumbling cake. In the middle of this chaos there is room for ‘hope’, there is certainly no ‘illusion’, and respect must go to Ralph Nader for fighting on and James Petras for speaking truth to power. As for the paradigm shift faced by America’s intellectual community, strong choices must be made and a new generation of intellectuals must begin to drive critical thinking into a more serious and coherent direction, if humanity as a whole, is to overcome the obstacles it faces.

The Sick Man of North America

The Sick Man of North America

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Eric Margolis

Saturday, 01 November 2008 18:54
Mr. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, who is an ardent defender of Bush administration policies in Afghanistan and the region. It’s also dedicated to the inept Pakistani ruling elite which, like the Americans, is addicted to borrowing and refuses to spur industrialization in Pakistan to protect its feudal interests.

An empire built on debt, is an empire built on sand.

The U.S. government now owes a staggering $10 trillion.  American consumers owe $14 trillion. Welcome to the United States of debt.

Twenty-four trillion dollars is a huge sum, even for the mighty U.S. economy. It is now clear that America’s once lauded ‘prosperity’ was built on runaway debt rather than productivity or innovation.

At the end of the 19th Century, the dying, debt-ridden Ottoman Empire became known as ‘the sick man of Europe.’  Under the Bush administration, the United States has become the Sick Man of North America.

Like the British Empire after 1945, the United States has gone bankrupt thanks to a national orgy of borrowing, the replacement of manufacturing by financial manipulation, two ruinous foreign wars, and a government whose stunning incompetence and ignorance was exceeded only by its reckless imperial arrogance.

The financial panic that has gripped the globe, and the shameful collapse of once mighty Wall Street, proved the American colossus had feet of clay. Washington’s furious printing of untold billions of new dollars to prop up its sinking economy, finance this year’s staggering $1 trillion deficit, and pay enormous foreign debts looks very likely in the long term to unleash a storm of dangerous inflation that will infect the world’s financial system.

Short-term, the current financial crisis will have a deflationary effect, but in years to come the full effects of devalued U.S. currency must bring serious inflation.

Recall the great economist John Maynard Keynes warned that the quickest way to destroy a nation was by wrecking its currency through inflation.

The world balance of power is already shifting. For example, Pakistan’s new president, Asif Zardari, just went cap in hand to China, seeking $4–6 billion in emergency loans. Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy and may shortly default on its debt, risking social chaos.

But Pakistan’s patron, the United States, which has been paying that nation’s politicians and army $1.2 billion per annum to support the occupation of Afghanistan, has no cash to spare for Pakistan.

So Pakistan is turning to China, which has $19 trillion in foreign exchange reserves – the world’s largest. Beijing cautiously responded it would help old ally Islamabad ‘within our capabilities.’

The U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan is likely to be adversely affected by Washington’s new pauper status just at a time when the war is going very badly for the American-led occupation.

Bankrupt people, companies, and nations have to sell assets to meet their debt obligations. China and Japan alone hold over $1.5 trillion of U.S. government securities in the form of U.S. Treasury notes and bonds (which are really IOU’s).

Nervous Chinese and Japanese central bankers now want real assets rather than more paper. So there is talk of America’s Asian creditors demanding their IOU’s be converted into shares in U.S. corporations and property.

Sovereign wealth funds from the Arab oil states and Singapore may soon demand chunks of premier U.S. corporations and property. This is ironical, given all the previous hue and cry in the U.S. about ‘Arabs’ having too much influence due to oil sales.

In the 19th century, European imperial powers used to force loans on China, Egypt, the Gulf, Iran, and Latin America. When the locals could not pay off these debts, parts of their territory was seized. Russia was forced to sell Alaska to the U.S. for next to nothing when it could not repay its debts.

China’s coast was carved up by the British, French, Germans, Russians, Americans and Japanese. These imperial foreclosures created the trading ‘concessions’ of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tsingtao, Tianjin, and Port Arthur.

Now, it’s payback time for China. How ironic that the Chinese Communists have ended up with a so-far sound financial system while the Wall Street bandit capitalists have gone bust and are groveling for foreign loans.

To help pay its monster debts, I suggest Washington consider selling Louisiana back to France. Canada, whose banking system remains solid, ought to pick up Florida for a song.  Switzerland would do well to spend some if its gold and buy Vermont and New Hampshire.

Mexico will want to buy Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.  Russia, of course, will buy back Alaska and Washington State. China will purchase California. San Francisco will become ‘New Shanghai’ and Los Angeles, ‘New Beijing.’

Japan will buy up Oregon, Montana, and Hawaii. Holland will repossess New York State, and Germany will buy Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

Just kidding, of course, but this joshing shows how bad things have become for poor old Uncle Sam.

Pakistan’s move into China’s financial embrace is a harbinger of things to come. Unless the U.S. quickly repairs its economy, its world power could slip away as quickly as postwar Britain’s, leaving China, Japan, Russia, the EU, the Arab oil states, and India as the world’s new superpowers.

This may not be so awful. All power, as Briton’s Lord Acton famously said, corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As the world’s sole superpower, the U.S. under the Bush administration became totally corrupted by imperial hubris, financial fraud, lust for resources, and greed.

A world with more balanced, diffused power may be preferable. But such profound historical change is always dangerous and unpredictable. Right now, China looks like top dog. Mao must be smiling.

Who would have ever imagined the ‘godless Red Chinese hordes’ would end up propping up America’s sleazy economy?

13 killed in US missile strikes in N Waziristan

13 killed in US missile strikes in N Waziristan

MIRANSHAH: At least 13 people were reportedly killed Friday in five US missile strikes in North Waziristan.

According to sources, US drones fired several missiles in Jankhel area of North Waziristan.

Terrorists may strike during presidential change: Bush

IT IS BECOMING COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT A MAJOR TERROR ATTACK IS IMMINENT.

Terrorists may strike during presidential change: Bush

Terrorists may strike during presidential change: BushTerrorists may strike WASHINGTON, Nov 6: US President George W. Bush on Thursday warned that terrorists could strike the United States during the transfer of power to president-elect Barack Obama.

“We’re in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us, and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people,” he said in a speech to aides at the White House.

Bush cited the threat of terrorism and “economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in” among the top reasons for which “ensuring that this transition is as smooth as possible is a priority for the rest of my presidency.”

11 victims of Russian suicide blast: official

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11 victims of Russian suicide blast: official

MOSCOW (AFP) — A suspected suicide blast that ripped apart a minibus in a busy square in the southern Russian city of Vladikavkaz killed 11 people plus the suspected bomber, officials said.

“As of now, 11 people have died. All have been identified,” local government health minister Vladimir Lekoyev told AFP, adding that this figure did not include the suspected bomber.

In addition to the dead, 41 people were injured in the blast in the city of Vladikavkaz in the North Ossetia region of the Russian Caucasus, he said.

An investigator with the prosecutor’s office told AFP on condition of anonymity that law-enforcement agencies were trying to identify the severed head of the person suspected of detonating the bomb as people got on and off a minibus on a busy square.

“We are trying to create a photo-fit. All that’s left is the head,” the official said.

A video camera in the square showed the explosion occurred as a woman was boarding the bus, the official said.

North Ossetia, a mainly Christian region that lies on Russia’s southern border with Georgia, was the scene of the devastating 2004 school hostage crisis at Beslan.

Russian soldiers and police continue to be killed on a weekly basis by mainly Muslim insurgents, most notably in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya, the latter the scene of two full-scale wars since the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Syrian TV shows men ‘confessing’ to deadly bomb blast

“The Saudi” connection to anti-Shiite bombings

and attacks by  “al Qaida” linked Fatah al-Islam,

the United States and Israel.

Syrian TV shows men ‘confessing’ to deadly bomb

blast

DAMASCUS (AFP) — Syrian state television on Thursday broadcast statements by men it said were Fatah al-Islam militants, in which they admitted carrying out a bomb attack in September that killed 17 people.

The men included Abdul Baqi al-Hussein, described as the head of security in Syria of Fatah al-Islam, who said the aim of the attack was to “harm the regime in Syria.”

He said he “joined Al-Qaeda in Syria in 2005… and went to Tripoli in Lebanon in 2007.”

The television programme also showed a photo of a man said to have been the suicide bomber in the September 27 attack in Damascus, naming him as Abu Aysha al-Saudi — ‘The Saudi’.

“Abu Aysha was smuggled into Syria,” Hussein said. “It was him who drove the car packed with explosives and blew himself up in a street in southern Damascus.”

On September 27, a car bomb exploded near a Shiite shrine in the capital, killing 17 people and wounding 14 others in one of the deadliest attacks in Syria in a dozen years.

The car, packed with 200 kilos (440 pounds) of explosives, blew up near a security checkpoint on a road to Damascus international airport at an intersection leading to the Sayeda Zeinab neighbourhood.

All the victims were civilian passers-by.

Last year, the army in Syria’s neighbour Lebanon fought a 15-week battle with the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli that left 400 people dead, including 168 soldiers.

However, Fatah al-Islam chief Shaker al-Abssi managed to flee the camp and vowed revenge attacks against the Lebanese army. Before the deadly camp siege in Lebanon Abssi served a prison term in Syria for having links to Al-Qaeda.

Among those on the Thursday night broadcast was a woman Syrian television said was Wafa al-Abssi, daughter of the Fatah al-Islam chief.

The men who spoke in the programme said they had carried out a series of armed robberies to finance the September attack. They also said the car used in the bombing had been stolen from an Iraqi.

Sayeda Zeinab where the bomb went off is popular among Shiites from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq who go there on pilgrimage to pray at the tomb of Zeinab, a grand-daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

The men said they had also planned to attack Syrian security posts, British and Italian diplomats and the country’s central bank.

September’s blast was the worst to rock Syria since February when Hezbollah commander Imad Mughnieh was killed by a car bomb in Damascus.

Since May, Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli near the Syrian border has also been rocked by deadly sectarian violence between Sunni supporters of the government and their Damascus-backed rivals from the Alawite community.

Lebanon was under Syrian political and military domination for three decades until 2005.

After the assassination in Beirut that year of former premier Rafiq Hariri in a car bombing, Syria was forced to pull its troops out of Lebanon following a 29-year deployment.

It denied any involvement in killing Hariri.

Beirut and Damascus agreed to establish diplomatic relations for the first time at a summit in Paris in July, but although Lebanese President Michel Sleiman visited Syria in September, embassies have yet to be opened.

Dispatches From The Edge: A New Foreign Policy

Dispatches From The Edge: A New Foreign Policy

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday November 06, 2008

Over the next four years the U.S. will confront several key foreign policy decisions. While the president and the executive branch—in particular the Departments of State and Defense—will play an important role in this, Congress has abrogated its constitutional responsibilities in the making of foreign policy. Here is Dispatches wish list for the coming administration.

Europe

Put a halt to North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) expansion. The recent Georgia-Russia War was a direct outcome of the misguided and provocative strategy of recruiting former members of the Soviet bloc into NATO. The Russians quite rightly see this as a potentially threatening military alliance and are justly angry with the Americans for breaking their promise not to recruit former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO.

The U.S. Congress must halt the deployment of U.S. anti-missile ballistic systems (ABM) in Poland and the Czech Republic. ABMs will increase tensions in the region and put thousands of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert. ABMs were not designed to stop attacks, but to absorb an enemy’s counterstrike following a first strike. First use of nuclear weapons is current U.S. military policy, so it is understandable why the Russians are deeply concerned. While the anti-missile system is supposedly aimed at Iran, Teheran has neither the delivery systems nor the weapons that could pose a threat to Europe. A group of American physicists recently concluded that the ABMs are indeed aimed at the Russians.

A corollary to halting deployment the ABMs is to reverse the Bush administration’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and to dismantle the current U.S. ABM system deployed in Alaska. These moves would not only reduce tensions in Europe, but with China as well.

The Middle East

The absolute chaos the Bush Administration has inflicted on this region of the world will take decades to repair, and the hostility that those policies have engendered will take decades to dissipate. But there are some immediate things that can be done to start the process:

A rapid withdrawal from Iraq. The argument that such a withdrawal would create chaos misses the point that the U.S. is the cause of the chaos. Current U.S. policy is to support the Shiite government of Noui al Maliki against the Sunnis and nationalist Shiites (who make up the majority of Shiites in Iraq) led by Muqtada al Sadr. As long as the U.S. remains, tensions between Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds will simmer without resolution. Might it explode into civil war? It might, but all the players have reasons to avoid one. In any case, the current occupation is no longer sustainable and the Iraqis want us out.

A nationwide ceasefire in Afghanistan—including ending cross-border attacks into Pakistan—and immediate negotiations with the Taliban. Tentative talks have already begun, but they must be expanded to include regional players, in particular Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia, all which border Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO will have to recognize that there is no military solution to the Afghan War, a point France and Britain have already made. A “surge” of troops into Afghanistan will do nothing more than increase the number of civilian casualties and continue propping up a government that has no authority outside of Kabul’s city limits.

Indeed, the entire concept of the “war on terrorism” must be jettisoned. “Terror” is a tactic of the powerless against the powerful, it is not a vast worldwide conspiracy by a disciplined group with a common ideology. Elevating “terror” to the same level as a state-to-state conflict means fighting a forever war, with all of the vast expense, suffering, and erosion of rights that such an endeavor entails.

Justice for the Palestinian people, which must include an immediate renunciation of the Bush administration’s support for West Bank settlements. Such settlements are a violation of international law and insure a never-ending battle between Palestinians and Israelis. The settlements must go and Jerusalem should be divided. Both sides have a legitimate claim to the city.

A new administration could begin by condemning the current wave of right-wing settler-instigated violence aimed at driving Palestinians out of Hebron, Acre, and other towns. The U.S. should publicly condemn the Israeli plan to build more than 1300 houses in East Jerusalem and the drive to dominate the West Bank. From 2006 to 2008, the settler population has grown from 250,000 to 300,000, not counting those in East Jerusalem.

There are a number of other initiatives the U.S. could take, from ending its political and economic blockades of Syria and Iran, to refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of Lebanon.

Africa

Current U.S. policy has created the single greatest humanitarian crisis on the continent: Somalia. While Sudan gets all the attention, according to the United Nations conditions in Somalia are far worse, because in 2006 the U.S. and its client, Ethiopia, overthrew the Islamic Courts Union (ISU), the umbrella organization that had finally brought peace to that war-torn country. Sudan is a long-term crisis with complex roots, but the Somalia crisis was made in the USA. The U.S. should end its support of Ethiopia’s occupation and call for an all-Somali peace conference with a prominent role for the ISU.

The U.S. should roll back the militarization of its African policies, including dissolving Africom, the military command recently created to fight “terrorism” and “insecurity” on the continent. No African country will host Africom, because they quite rightly see it as an extension of U.S. military power in the region. The U.S. is also currently training the armed forces of more than a dozen African countries, as well as selling arms on the continent. It also has a significant military presence in Djibouti. Africa needs aid, it does not need U.S. troops and more weapons.

Latin America

While it is doubtful the U.S. will renounce the 1823 Monroe Doctrine-which in any case is increasingly a dead letter—Washington must declare that it will no longer intervene in the internal affairs of Latin America.

To this end it must end its illegal blockade of Cuba, curb its hostility toward Venezuela and terminate its meddling in Bolivia. The U.S. should release CIA and U.S. Defense Department documents on the 2001 coup against President Hugo Chavez, so that all Americans can see what role the U.S. played in that debacle. The new administration might also want to read investigative journalist Jeremy Bigwood’s “New Discoveries Reveal U.S. Intervention in Bolivia” at Upsidedownworld.com for an update on what the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID and the American Embassy have been up to in the restive eastern provinces of that country.

Rather than reactivating its Latin American Fourth Fleet and building a new military base in Colombia, the U.S. should de-militarize its approach to the region. The Colombian government must be held accountable for the fact that it has done nothing to halt the murder of over 3,000 trade unionists, and for its documented ties to right-wing death squads. Support for land reform and a war on poverty in Latin America would do far more to curb the drug trade than U.S.-sponsored aerial spraying and counterinsurgency warfare.

The U.S. must realize that while it will always play a significant role in Latin America, it is no longer the only game in town. India, China, Russia, South Africa, and Iran are the new kids on the block, and south-south relationships are becoming as important for the continent as its traditional north-south ties.

Asia and the Pacific

The U.S. should recognize that the Pacific Ocean is no longer an “American lake.” To this end it needs to recognize that countries like China have legitimate economic, political and security interests in their own backyard. The push to ring China with military bases and sign countries like Japan, Australia and India onto the U.S. ABM system should stop. China is not a threat to the U.S., or to other nations in the region. For all its bombast aimed at Taiwan, Beijing has no intention of fighting a war with one of its major trade partners. It is far too busy making money.

The U.S. should immediately terminate the so-called 1-2-3 Agreement with India, which not only violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but also will ignite a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan, two countries that came perilously close to a nuclear war in 1999.

The push to bring NATO into the Pacific Basin should be halt forthwith. NATO, originally created for Europe, has now metastasized into an international military alliance. The history of alliances is that they cause far more wars than they prevent, and the U.S., Canada and Europe have no business injecting their militaries into a region that is just beginning to come into its own.

There are any number of other areas that Dispatches cannot address here given space availability. Among these are whether the U.S. will strengthen the United Nations, join the war on global warming, recognize the International War Crimes Tribunal and close the illegal and immoral prison camp at Guantanamo.

It is time for the U.S. to end its adherence to the concept of the national security state. This is the claim that the U.S. reserves the right to intervene politically, economically and militarily into the affairs of other nations if we decide U.S. interests are at stake. Challenging the national security state will be a long fight, but in the end, ending it is central to everything listed above.

And Nov. 5 is a good time to begin.

Morales just says no to US anti-drug agency

Morales just says no to US anti-drug agency

Sunday 02 November 2008

Bolivian President Evo Morales said he would suspend the presence of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in his country, accusing the anti-drug agents of spying and plotting to overthrow the Andean country’s government.

Sunday 02 November 2008

President Evo Morales said Saturday he was suspending the work of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Bolivia, accusing it of having encouraged political unrest that killed 19 people in September.

The US government rejected the accusations as “absurd” and warned that an end to US-Bolivian cooperation would only result in increased violence and drug trafficking.

“From today all the activities of the US DEA are suspended indefinitely,” the Bolivian leader said in the coca-growing region of Chimore, in the central province of Chapare, where he was evaluating efforts to combat drug trafficking.

“Personnel from the DEA supported activities of the unsuccessful coup d’etat in Bolivia,” Morales said, referring to fighting in five of the country’s nine departments in September that resulted in 19 deaths.

Morales said DEA agents had been “conducting political espionage to fund criminal groups” who aimed at “attacks on the lives of (government) officials, and the president himself.”

He also directly accused DEA officials of disrupting government activities during the unrest in September by “funding civic leaders with the aim of sabotaging airports in eastern Bolivia … to prevent visits from (government) officials.”

“We have the obligation to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the Bolivian people,” Morales said at the airport in Chimore, where an anti-drug base funded in the 1990s by the United States is located.

Morales did not say whether he would order DEA staff to leave Bolivia, as coca-growers have asked him to do. The growers had already forced officials of the US Agency for International Development to halt their operations in two provinces where the aid agency was seeking to help growers find alternatives to raising coca.

“We reject the accusation that DEA or any other part of the US government  supported the opposition or conspired against the Bolivian government,” US State Department spokesman Karl Duckworth told AFP.

“These accusations are false and absurd and we deny them. We value our relationship with the Bolivian security forces in combatting narcotics production and trafficking,” he said.

“Should US cooperation be ended, more narcotics will be produced and shipped from Bolivia. The corrupting effects, violence and tragedy which will result will mainly harm Bolivia as well as the principal consumers of Bolivian cocaine in the neighboring Latin American countries, Europe and West Africa.”

The US embassy in Bolivia has also denied that DEA and USAID were conducting political work in the country.

In Washington, the DEA reacted swiftly to the Morales announcement.

“It’s an unfortunate situation and an unfortunate decision on his part,” DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney told AFP.

He added that there had been dialogue for the past three months with Bolivian officials over the future of the agency’s work in the country, and acknowledged that the DEA was initially asked to leave a forward operating base.

Courtney would not be drawn on whether DEA believed Morales ordered the suspension as a result of Washington placing Bolivia on a blacklist of drug-transit or drug-producing countries in mid-September for failing to live up to their obligations to battle the narcotics trade.

“We have had a great working relationship with our counterparts there for over 30 years,” he said.

President George W. Bush had written in a finding released September 16 that Bolivia joined Myanmar and Venezuela, which were already on the list in 2007, as countries that “failed demonstrably” in that regard.

Just five days before Bush put Bolivia on the blacklist, Morales had ordered the expulsion of the US ambassador, Philip Goldberg, after accusing him of encouraging division in the country by backing opposition figures.

In a briefing before leaving La Paz, Goldberg warned that Bolivia, which receives 100 million dollars a year in US aid to anti-drug efforts, could expect “serious consequences” for starting a diplomatic row with the United States.

Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, has served as the leader of the Bolivian coca-growers union. The coca plant, from which cocaine is derived, has many uses in traditional Andean culture.

Bolivian leader says US encouraged drug trafficking

Bolivian leader says US encouraged drug trafficking

Posted: 07 November 2008 1012 hrs

Photos 1 of 1


Bolivia’s President Evo Morales waves as he walks with supporters.

LA PAZ : Bolivian leader Evo Morales on Thursday accused the US government of encouraging drug-trafficking as he explained his decision to banish the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Morales, a staunch opponent of the Washington government, said the staff from the US agency had three months to prepare to leave the country, because “the DEA did not respect the police, or even the (Bolivian) armed forces.”

“The worst thing is, it did not fight drug trafficking; It encouraged it,” the Bolivian leader said, adding that he had “quite a bit of evidence” backing up his charges.

Presidential Minister Juan Ramon Quintana presented a series of documents and press clippings at a news conference, which he described as “object data” that had influenced Morales’ decision to suspend DEA activities last week.

Quintana said Morales was ready to present the evidence to incoming US president Barack Obama “to prove the illegality, abuse and arrogance of the DEA in Bolivia.”

Throughout the 1990s, the DEA in Bolivia “bribed police officers, violated human rights, covered up murders, destroyed bridges and roads,” said Quintana.

Morales earlier Thursday said that after a 1986 operation in Huanchaca National Park, it was determined that the largest cocaine processing plant “was under DEA protection.”

He also charged that the DEA had investigated political and union leaders opposed to neoliberal economic policies, which he said amounted to political persecution.

On Wednesday, he had accused the DEA of shooting and killing Bolivians during their anti-drug operations, including members of the coca farmers’ movement.

Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, has served as the leader of the Bolivian coca-growers union. The coca plant, from which cocaine is derived, has many uses in traditional Andean culture.

The Bolivian leader announced last Saturday he was suspending the work of the DEA in the impoverished Andean nation, and accused it of having encouraged political unrest that killed 19 people in September.

“From today all the activities of the US DEA are suspended indefinitely,” the Bolivian leader had said in the coca-growing region of Chimore, in the central province of Chapare, where he was evaluating efforts to combat drug trafficking.

The DEA has denied Morales’ accusations.

US President George W. Bush, in a finding released in September, added Bolivia to a list of countries that have “failed demonstrably” in anti-drugs cooperation.