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Quite a bit of synchronicity in the U.S. stories this week. Obama’s Peace Prize (deserved?), war in Afghanistan, capitalism, Michael Moore, economy (upsides and downsides), Michael Moore, the economy…-KS

Obama says Nobel Peace Prize is “call to action”

Matt Spetalnick and Wojciech Moskwa
Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision that honored the first-year U.S. president more for promise than achievement and drew both praise and skepticism around the world.

The bestowal of one of the world’s top accolades on Obama, who has yet to score a major foreign policy success after nearly nine months in office, was greeted with gasps from the audience at the announcement ceremony in Oslo.

Describing himself as surprised and deeply humbled, Obama said he would accept the award as a “call to action” to confront the global challenges of the 21st century.

“I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,” he said in the White House Rose Garden.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” citing his fledgling push for nuclear disarmament and his outreach to the Muslim world…
(9 Oct 2009)

Afghan War Debate Now Leans to Focus on Al Qaeda

Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt, New York Times
President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

As Mr. Obama met with advisers for three hours to discuss Pakistan, the White House said he had not decided whether to approve a proposed troop buildup in Afghanistan. But the shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

It remains unclear whether everyone in Mr. Obama’s war cabinet fully accepts this view. While Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems.
(11 Oct 2009)

Mike’s Blog #1: ‘Pilots on Food Stamps’

Michael Moore,
We’re on the descent from 20,000 feet in the air when the flight attendant leans over the elderly woman next to me and taps me on the shoulder.

…”The pilots would like to see you in the cockpit when we land,” she says with a southern drawl.
“Did I do something wrong?”

“No. They have something to show you.” (The last time an employee of an airline wanted to show me something it was her written reprimand for eating an in-flight meal without paying for it. “Yes,” she said, “we have to pay for our own meals on board now.”)

“Great,” I said. “Just what I want — you coming to work sick, flying me up in the air and asking to borrow the barf bag from my seatback pocket.”

He then showed me his pay stub. He took home $405 this week. My life was completely and totally in his hands for the past hour and he’s paid less than the kid who delivers my pizza…
(11 Oct 2009)
Thanks to William Tamblyn for this story and the Bill Moyers tip.

The Economic Revolution Is Already Happening — It’s Just Not on Wall St.

Maria Armoudian, alternet
America is in the midst of a new revolution. But this revolution is quiet, incremental, nonviolent and traveling beneath the mainstream media’s radar.

The new American revolution challenges the current notions of dog-eat-dog capitalism — through the building of a parallel economic system that shares, co-operates, empowers and benefits fellow workers and community members.

Over the past few decades, thousands of alternatives to the standard, top-down corporate model have sprouted up — worker-owned companies and co-operatives, neighborhood corporations and trusts, community-owned technology centers and municipally owned enterprises.

In fact, today, involvement in these alternative models of business outnumber union membership as the means by which private-sector workers and community members are taking their economics into their own hands. The story is revealed in the 4-year-old book, America Beyond Capitalism, written by University of Maryland political science professor Gar Alperovitz…
(7 Oct 2009)

There’s no there there

Ilargi, the automatic earth
Yeah, Obama’s peace prize. More than anything else, really, I think it’s too ridiculous to waste words on. I also thought of Martin Luther King and his courage and grace; what perspective does Obama’s award lend to Dr. King’s? Absolute non-violence versus a decision to send 40,000 more troops into a desert, or not. I come away thinking that the biggest beneficiaries may be America’s right wing wing nuts. Why award someone a prestigious prize when there’s so obviously nothing much, if anything, he did to deserve it, when there’s no there there?

That same feeling quite adequately describes my view of what Obama and his administration have done for the USA during the past 9 months, and “no there there” is the most positive notion I can muster. And I probably shouldn’t try to muster anything, I should be frank and say that Obama is an unmitigated disaster for the people of the country in any way other than keeping their dreams and illusions from being recognized, just a little bit longer, for the walking dead they already are.

It’s also what I came away with after watching Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. Moore is great when he depicts what those Americans go through who get stuck in, and fall through, the cracks of the final stages of a once promising society. Few people would be able to make a film about them as well as Moore can. But there is a point in the movie, about two-thirds in, where he lets his own dreams and illusions take over. Where he starts letting his hopes for the change that President Obama promised to bring take over from his observations of the real world, the real people that he has a unique connection with. And once the movie got to that point, that’s precisely what I was thinking: there’s no there there.

Stoneleigh wrote a review of Moore’s film. Note: she wrote it before Obama’s peace prize was announced. Here goes:…
(10 Oct 2009)

Interview with Marcy Kaptur and Simon Johnson
Bill Moyers Journal
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL.

I sat in a theater packed with passionate moviegoers, every one of them seemingly aghast at the Wall Street skullduggery exposed by Michael Moore in his latest film. It’s called ‘Capitalism: A Love Story.’ Here’s an excerpt:

MICHAEL MOORE: We’re here to get the money back for the American People. Do you think it’s too harsh to call what has happened here a coup d’état? A financial coup d’état?

MARCY KAPTUR: That’s, no. Because I think that’s what’s happened. Um, a financial coup d’état?


MARCY KAPTUR: I could agree with that. I could agree with that. Because the people here really aren’t in charge. Wall Street is in charge…
(9 Oct 2009)
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