June 29, 2007

Obama most popular Democratic presidential candidate among Arab-Americans, poll shows

Obama most popular Democratic presidential candidate among Arab-Americans, poll shows: "Among Arab-American Muslims, Sen. Obama%u2019s support jumped to 50%, while Sen. Clinton got 38%."
Obama most popular Democratic presidential candidate among Arab-Americans, poll shows

June 29, 2007

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is the most popular Democratic presidential candidate among Arab-Americans, especially those who are Muslim, according to a new poll released this week.
Thirty-seven percent of the Arab-American Democrats or Independents who were polled said they would vote for Sen. Obama in a primary, while U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton got 33%. John Edwards got 12%, and Bill Richardson, 10%.

Among Arab-American Muslims, Sen. Obama’s support jumped to 50%, while Sen. Clinton got 38%.

The nationwide poll was conducted by Zogby International and was released by the Arab American Institute on Thursday. They polled 501 Arab-Americans across the country from May 22 to May 26, asking them 38 questions. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The biggest issue for Arab-Americans is the Iraq war, with 61% of them saying it’s a top concern, according to the poll.

“It’s somewhat more important for them than the general public,” said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

The poll also shows that almost eight in 10 Arab-Americans rate President Bush’s job performance negatively.

Zogby said the poll also shows that Arab-American Republicans are turning away from their party.

Over half of the Republican Arab-Americans polled, 53%, said they would vote either Democrat, or that it would depend on the candidate.

Among Republican candidates, Rudy Giuliani got 32% of support among Arab-American Republicans or Independents, with Sen. John McCain at 28%, and Mitt Romney at 16%.

Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at nwarikoo@freepress.com or 248-351-2998.
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June 20, 2007

Crowds Surpass Expectations in South Carolina

The Obama volunteers in So. Carolina got a nice surprise

Campaigns & Elections
Obama Team Proud Of Crowds

After all my years in South Carolina, I never would have thought we could assemble 3,500 Barack Obama supporters on a Friday afternoon in Greenville.

With a candidate like Barack Obama, large turnouts at events can be expected, but the number of you who came out to support the Senator last Friday exceeded even our most optimistic expectations of Upstate support.

Click here to watch the video

Even more telling than the size of the crowd, though, was how it came together.

While the campaign might have hung the flag and set-up the chairs, it was supporters like you -- supporters who talked to their friends, emailed their family and promoted the event at weekly religious services -- who laid the groundwork for such an incredible event.

In a part of the state that's not known as a Democratic stronghold, 3,500 people rallied in support of Barack because of your efforts. Together, we showed the entire country that South Carolina is ready to elect Barack Obama President of the United States.

Want to revisit Friday's rally or didn't get a chance to join us? Be sure to take a look at the videos of the event that are already available online.

Also, take a moment to check out the video of the important policy speech about fatherhood, family and economic opportunity that Senator Obama made at an earlier stop Friday at Spartanburg's Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.

The best news is that last week's trip certainly won't be the Senator's last to the Upstate or South Carolina. Barack will be back, and if the crowd we saw at last week's rally is any indication, we're sure his next visit will be another important step towards building a movement to change this country.

Thanks for all you do,

Stacey Brayboy
South Carolina State Director
Obama for America
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Foreign Service Diplomatic Staff Show Stress in Iraq, Afghanistan

We usually don't think of the diplomatic staff's health, but these wars have been exceedingly stressful for these people who have not been trained for living in combat conditions. Their rate of post-traumatic stress and mental health issues is equal to soldiers'.

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Children become face of US immigration debate - US

Families are being torn apart as this administration appeases its anti-immigrant base. Children are the most innocent victims of this political opportunism. That is why I support Obama for President in 08. He will make reunification of families a priority in U.S. immigration policy.
Children become face of US immigration debate - US
Children become face of US immigration debate

By Anne K Walters Jun 20, 2007, 0:04 GMT
Washington - A swarm of baby strollers descended on the White House Tuesday accompanied by hundreds of children, their parents and organizers hoping to put children at the forefront of a push for US immigration law reform and to protest policies that separate families.
The march of about 2,000 people brought together groups of immigrants from across the country just as the US Congress is set to again tackle controversial legislation that would overhaul US immigration laws for the first time in decades.
As the immigration issue has come to the political forefront, children born with US citizenship who have watched their parents forced to leave the country have drawn attention and put a human face on an issue that most politicians say needs to be fixed - even if they disagree on how.
One such child, Kunal Sah, 13, who has US citizenship because he was born here, saw his parents return to India after being denied political asylum, but chose to stay with his aunt and uncle in Utah. He went on to compete in the National Spelling Bee last month, and the competition became a hook for international media attention, including articles in Indian newspapers and on the front page of the New York Times.
However, the vast majority of those at Tuesday's march were Hispanic, reflecting the onslaught of immigration by those in Latin America seeking higher wages in the US.
At the march, the children carried posters with the face of a crying child separated from her parents in prominent immigration raids earlier this year.
The crying girl symbolized the outrage after a raid at a factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts in March left children scared and abandoned after their parents were apprehended at work and detained for being in the country illegally.
The march was timed to coincide with the political debate on the issue and to tug on politician's heartstrings after the US celebration of Fathers' Day on Sunday, by urging children to protest on behalf of their parents, many of them here illegally.
'I don't like what they are doing to separate families,' said Rosa Marina Alvarez, 52, 'That's half a life here and half a life there.'
Alvarez, a native of El Salvador, brought her three grandchildren to the march. She pushed one child in a stroller and waved a sign proclaiming in English and Spanish: 'The government doesn't support me, I support them.'
The quote was a retort to critics who feel immigrants could become a drain on society. In fact, many illegal immigrants pay taxes.
Organizers say immigration raids have to stop, but have focused most of their energy on pushing for immigration reform they believe would make such actions unnecessary by granting illegals a chance to stay in the United States.
Some marchers carried posters showing a small boy and his father next to a Christmas tree under the words, 'Where's my daddy on Fathers' Day?'
The theme continued with a giant, symbolic Fathers' Day card for US President George W Bush. Showing the president with his daughters on the outside, it wished him a happy fathers' day, but noted 'it isn't one for us.'
Deportations go largely unnoticed across the country. More than 200,000 foreign nationals were removed from the US in 2005 through formal channels, and another estimated 1.3 million were turned back at or near the border, according to the office of immigration statistics.
No numbers were available on how many of those cases separated family members who are US citizens from those who were here illegally.
In the same year, nationals of 188 countries were apprehended by authorities - with Mexicans making up 85 per cent of the group. Other Latin American countries made up much of the rest of the top 10.
'I wouldn't like to get separated from my mother and my dad,' said Luis Vargas, 19, who came to the rally with several siblings whose parents immigrated from Mexico. 'Everyone had to come from somewhere.'
Senator Edward Kennedy, a key sponsor of the legislation, brought the crowd to its feet at a rally in a Washington church before the march.
'It is not right to divide families as we have seen in New Bedford, Massachusetts' and other locations, he said. 'That is not American.'
The bill championed by Bush appeared to die earlier this month, before being revived in a congressional compromise late last week. It would overhaul immigration laws, providing for an expanded 'guest worker' programme and a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million or more people living illegally in the United States.
Bush's own Republican Party rejected his previous efforts to push through the bill. It stands a better chance with the new Democratic- controlled Congress, but still faces tough opposition from both sides.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
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June 19, 2007

U.S. Funds Another African Civil War

In Ethiopia, Fear and Cries of Army Brutality - New York Times

This story outlines how the Ethiopian government's army is abusing civilians in Ethiopia and in Somalia, and how this administration is trying to almost double Ethiopia's non-humanitarian aide - which means money for weapons, people! And note that the U.S. would not label the Ethiopian rebels who oppose the government as "terrorists" up until now. What changed? The Ethiopian rebels attacked and killed Chinese and Ethiopian employees of a Chinese oil well, of course! See, we don't want China getting Africa's oil, but we especially don't want Africans getting the idea they can push any foreign oil companies out of their countries. Therefore, the U.S. State Department is "considering" making the Ethiopian rebels against the government that we fund to commit crimes against humanity "terrorists". After you read it, you might want to write your Representatives and Senators (use link on the sidebar!) and tell them: I do not want you to provide any funds at all to the Ethiopian government until they permit human rights and aide workers and news reporters into areas where they are fighting rebels. The Ethiopian government arrested five NYT reporters for trying to report this story, releasing them without charges after five days. Stop all non-humanitarian funding for Ethiopia and certainly do not increase their funding until we have full access to the details of how the Ethiopian government treats its citizens and neighbors.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/world/africa/18ethiopia.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all" Read more!

June 18, 2007

Free E-Book Obama's Best Speeches

Go to this link and download PDF of the E-Book Edition, dedicated to Oprah Winfrey, available to all for free. The printed, bound edition is available with this link too, but of course that costs money.

http://www.freeobamabook.com/Best-Speeches-Of-Barack-Obama.pdf" Read more!

June 16, 2007

Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War - washingtonpost.com

In the news again, but never often or prominently enough, here are the military security force contractors, or mercenaries, if you prefer. The "surge" our beloved Congress let go through has, of course, resulted in huge increases in military/security contractor personnel, equipment and costs to the taxpayer, even as their deaths and injuries also grow. We should really think about this issue.

This article notes that these contractors, since 2006, are not even provided with the no-doubt bought-and-paid-for licenses the Iraqi "government" once issued them. They are operating totally outside the constraints of any law, Iraqi or American, and certainly outside of International Law [as is the US government in maintaining its Occupation of Iraq].

If you were a "Jericho" TV show fan, as I was, you know that in case of a national disaster, mercenary contractors - now as large a part of our Federal Emergency Management Administration as they are of our military, and FEMA must now await orders first from Homeland Security, which awaits orders from the President only - can go completely renegade if not catered to. They have great weapons and armor, nicer than our government's/country's own troops! Are you ready to resist a mercenary army on American soil? Is our National Guard ready?

These tens of thousands of contracted soldiers and security guards do not have any of the inadequate but certainly better-than-nothing benefits that our country's soldiers have, such as the retirement, life insurance and education benefits. Most of them are former soldiers who did not retire to get the maximum benefits. As a matter of fact, the contracting companies need so many "security officers" that they are enticing current Army, Marine, Air Force and Navy personnel to quit as soon as their current term is up and sign up as contractors for many times the pay of soldiers. As former soldiers, though they won't have the extra insurance the military provides, they will have access to the Veterans Hospitals, and we will pay for that.

So, we are paying at least double for for these "security officers", most of the profit is going to the company hiring them, then we foot the bill for their healthcare if/when they get injured or their stint as contractor-Veterans results in any long-term health impact. The contractors might be left disabled, mentally unstable, unemployed, homeless, and we will have to take care of all that - not the contracting companies like Blackwater and Halliburton, who will be happily spending our money in places like Dubai in Saudi Arabia to avoid paying US taxes. And if those contracted-then-dumped soldiers decide America hasn't treated them right - who knows, as Rummie so infamously said?

Time to stop paying for contracted mercenaries, um, sorry, "security officers". We're getting ripped off big time, and these lovely contractors will have become accustomed to utter lawlessness, and will have as many problems with mental illness as any of the enlisted soldiers. Write your congress and newspapers: Stop funding military contractors who don't care for their employees, don't obey laws, ignore the legal authority of the US Congress, and profiteer from war and occupation!

Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War
As Security Work Increases, So Do Casualties
By Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, June 16, 2007; Page A01

BAGHDAD -- Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives.

While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.

Parallel War
Security contractors employed by private companies are fighting a parallel war in Iraq. The buildup of this private force, which guards convoys, sites and personnel, has mirrored the increase of U.S. troops.
Private Armies
Four Hired Guns in an Armored Truck, Bullets Flying, and a Pickup and a Taxi Brought to a Halt. Who Did the Shooting and Why?
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Special Report

The majority of the more than 100 security companies operate outside of Iraqi law, in part because of bureaucratic delays and corruption in the Iraqi government licensing process, according to U.S. officials. Blackwater USA, a prominent North Carolina firm that protects U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, and several other companies have not applied, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Blackwater said that it obtained a one-year license in 2005 but that shifting Iraqi government policy has impeded its attempts to renew.

The security industry's enormous growth has been facilitated by the U.S. military, which uses the 20,000 to 30,000 contractors to offset chronic troop shortages. Armed contractors protect all convoys transporting reconstruction materiel, including vehicles, weapons and ammunition for the Iraqi army and police. They guard key U.S. military installations and provide personal security for at least three commanding generals, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Scott, who oversees U.S. military contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm kind of practicing what I preach here," Scott said in an interview on the use of private security forces for such tasks. "I'm a two-star general, but I'm not the most important guy in the multinational force. If it's a lower-priority mission and it's within the capabilities of private security, this is an appropriate risk trade-off."

The military plans to outsource at least $1.5 billion in security operations this year, including the three largest security contracts in Iraq: a "theaterwide" contract to protect U.S. bases that is worth up to $480 million, according to Scott; a contract for up to $475 million to provide intelligence for the Army and personal security for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and a contract for up to $450 million to protect reconstruction convoys. The Army has also tested a plan to use private security on military convoys for the first time, a shift that would significantly increase the presence of armed contractors on Iraq's dangerous roads.

"The whole face of private security changed with Iraq, and it will never go back to how it was," said Leon Sharon, a retired Special Operations officer who commands 500 private Kurdish guards at an immense warehouse transit point for weapons, ammunition and other materiel on the outskirts of Baghdad.

U.S. officials and security company representatives emphasized that contractors are strictly limited to defensive operations. But company representatives in the field said insurgents rarely distinguish between the military and private forces, drawing the contractors into a bloody and escalating campaign.

The U.S. military has never released complete statistics on contractor casualties or the number of attacks on privately guarded convoys. The military deleted casualty figures from reports issued by the Reconstruction Logistics Directorate of the Corps of Engineers, according to Victoria Wayne, who served as deputy director for logistics until 2006 and spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq.

Wayne described security contractors as "the unsung heroes of the war." She said she believed the military wanted to hide information showing that private guards were fighting and dying in large numbers because it would be perceived as bad news.

"It was like there was a major war being fought out there, but we were the only ones who knew about it," Wayne said.

After a year of protests by Wayne and logistics director Jack Holly, a retired Marine colonel, the casualty figures were included. In an operational overview updated last month, the logistics directorate reported that 132 security contractors and truck drivers had been killed and 416 wounded since fall 2004. Four security contractors and a truck driver remained missing, and 208 vehicles were destroyed. Only convoys registered with the logistics directorate are counted in the statistics, and the total number of casualties is believed to be higher.
Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War - washingtonpost.com
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June 15, 2007

Terrifying Turkey-Iraq scenarios discussed at Hudson Institute

Turkey's government is nervous - are the crisis scenarios discussed by the Hudson Institute mere scenarios, or plans? One of the scenarios includes the incursion of the Turkey military into Iraq, which according to some news sources this past week, has already happened. Whatever the goal of the conference, here is yet another diplomatic fiasco generated by the American neo cons, just as these two supposed allies of the US are toe-to-toe.
Terrifying scenarios discussed at US think tank

A Washington-based think tank is reported to have had participants at a closed-door meeting, including Turkish military officials and civilian experts, discuss various crisis scenarios for Turkey in a brainstorming session.

Tülay Tuğcu
Assassi-nation of the recently retired chief of Turkey’s Constitutional Court, Tülay Tuğcu; a plot where 50 people would lose their lives in a terrorist act claimed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district; and a cross-border operation by the Turkish military into Iraq were among the possible scenarios discussed at the Hudson Institute, known for its anti-Islam discourse and neocon stance, both favored at the time of the US invasion of Iraq. Sources close to the think tank said that a significant number of the participants from the US objected to the scenarios floated during the session, asserting that they were too “unrealistic,” and refrained from making comments on the possibilities mentioned. About 20 participants attended the conference, which lasted a couple of hours, the same sources said.

At least one of the Turkish participants opposed a scenario in which terrorist leaders in northern Iraq were captured by US authorities and handed over to Turkish authorities, according to sources. This opposition was based on the reasoning that such a move would be perceived as US support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) ahead of the general elections on July 22. The suggestion that the AK Party would benefit if the US supported Turkey in its war against northern Iraq-based terrorism is not new in Washington. In a report written last month by Soner Çağatay and Yüksel Sezgin, associates of the Washington Institute, the authors argued: “Can the AK Party sustain its latest strategy? Assuming that its apparent tactic of political polarization works, other variables could have an impact on the party’s public support. For instance, terrorist attacks by the PKK would hurt the AK Party significantly. Alternatively, the party’s popularity would be boosted if the United States pressured Iraqi Kurds to extradite into Turkish custody those PKK leaders currently based in northern Iraq.” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza said the scenarios being spoken of in the Hudson Institute were “insane,” according to a Turkish translation of his remark. Bryza also said that the US had no concern about the outcome of the general elections in Turkey, as long as the government is democratically elected. He added that Turkey’s democratic structure was most important for Turkey.

A group of AK Party deputies visiting Washington described the incident as “disgusting,” and said it would spell “treason” if Turkish participants really argued that PKK leaders should not be handed over to Turkey due to domestic political reasons.

Officials at the Turkish Embassy in Washington said they had heard that a meeting would be held at the Hudson Institute, but they had not been invited. No Turkish diplomat participated in the meeting, the same officials underlined.

Brig. Gen. Süha Tanyeri, director of the General Staff’s Strategic Research and Study Center (SAREM), Brig. Gen. Bertan Nogaylaroğlu, Turkey’s defense attaché in Washington, and Zeyno Baran, director of the Center for Eurasian Policy and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, are rumored to have been among the meeting’s participants.

The scenarios discussed at the Hudson Institute dominated a press conference held on Thursday at the Turkish Embassy by AK Party deputies, led by İstanbul deputy Egemen Bağış, who is also a senior advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Saying that a brainstorming exercise based on the question “What will happen in Turkey if the head of Turkey’s Constitutional Court is assassinated?” had been held during a closed-door meeting at a US think tank, journalist Hasan Mesut Hazar asked Bağış as well as two other AK Party deputies, Reha Denemeç and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, about their reactions.

“I condemn all kinds of efforts that accept killing of any Turkish citizen, be it a senior judge or not, as the starting point or as part of a scenario. These are really shameful. I also condemn those who attempt to do such a thing in a country that alleges to be a democracy,” Bağış said.

“Certain quarters set to become engineers of social projects designed in Turkey or certain quarters who try to determine the course of politics in Turkey from abroad do not have the right to say a word about Turkey’s national unity and Turkey’s national security,” he added.

Journalist Yasemin Çongar said “certain experts and officials argued at the meeting that the capture of PKK leaders by the US at this stage and their being handed over to Turkey would be unfavorable for political reasons,” and asked the deputies visiting Washington for their reaction.

“I find it disgusting that those persons who are from those lands assume an approach, saying, ‘Let’s wait for a while, let losses of people continue for a while’, just because of their political expectations concerning Turkey, while our commanders, conscripts and civilians are losing their lives. I harshly condemn it. These are approaches beyond politics that are equal to treason,” Bağış said.

“If there are certain persons who favor increasing the number of soldiers being martyred by the PKK because they believe that this will have an impact on the political life in Turkey, I say that they are traitors,” he added.

When journalist Yılmaz Polat asked whether the said discussion was the one held at the Hudson Institute, and hence organized by Zeyno Baran, Bağış said, “I don’t know that.” Facing insistent questions from journalists, Bağış, Denemeç and Çavuşoğlu said they didn’t have any information regarding those behind the controversial remarks and whether there were Turkish officials at the meeting. “I say that it is disgusting if the allegations are true,” Bağış said.

Meanwhile the hypothetical scenarios were described as being simply “too stupid” to have any credibility, by the former co-chair of the joint Turkish-EU Parliamentary Commission, Bülent Akarcalı. “These are simply too stupid to be credible. The US government has always been close to independent think tanks. So even if this is not an organization that is part of the US State Department, the US government should make a statement. In addition it is also important to know how much of these comments are adopted by the US administration. I believe the Turkish representatives that attended the meeting must have been there to prevent any mistakes that might have been made.”

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Şükrü Elekdağ, a retired ambassador, referred to the Hudson Institute as a “serious institution,” but continued, “This is absurd.” Elekdağ, who served as ambassador to the US for 10 years added: “I don’t think serious people would take such scenarios seriously. They are trying to manipulate the country. It is a humiliating scenario.”

International relations Professor Hüseyin Bağcı of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) said he expected more scenarios on Turkey with sources in the US. Expressing concern that the Middle East could be restructured, Bağcı said: “I think intervention in northern Iraq would be wrong. That would create enormous problems for Turkey.”

They could be taking Turkey’s pulse

However the scenarios were not uniformly condemned as outrageous. Retired Ambassador İnal Batu said the Hudson Institute has a habit of “acting” out similar scenarios, even world wars. “It is very scary when it is very close to us. I don’t see anything strange. It would have been very different of course had this been a state institution,” he said, adding: “This is quite fashionable in the US. We have war games too. Senior officers attend such classes.” Batu also said that if the meeting had involved military officials from NATO countries then the participation of Turkish military officials was only natural.

Although he stated that acting out scenarios was not strange, Batu noted that if the claim that a Turkish representative indeed opposed handing over PKK terrorists to Turkish authorities by US forces in Iraq, “That would hurt us.” He added that speaking about something like this with foreigners would be “very wrong.”

Oya Akgönenç, Felicity Party (SP) representative responsible for foreign relations, said that in her opinion the content of the talks leaked to the press had the intention of taking Turkey’s pulse. “They will come to a conclusion and make some analysis. Leaking this story is perhaps a preparation, a way to determine an attitude,” she suggested.

Retired Ambassador Nüzhet Kandemir said US-based think tanks always worked on a number of scenarios. However he said that such scenarios never came under the spotlight during his time as Turkish ambassador to the US because he never allowed such a thing to happen. He also said Turkey would never let any of the Hudson scenarios become reality.

ALİ H. ASLAN WASHINGTON http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=114232
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June 14, 2007

Media ignore key details in Obama/Rezko letter story

Media Matters [once again] finds misleading media stories suggesting Obama's ethics aren't so "squeaky clean". All fail to mention that Obama's the only frontrunner that takes no PAC or fed lobbyist donations, and isn't a self-funding millionaire candidate. Obama also 1st to file to use Public Campaign Financing in '08 if his opponent will also.

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June 10, 2007

Dubai Developer Gives 1 Kilo of Gold Each to 3 Home Buyers

Well, as you try to figure out how to pay that mortgage with the ballooning payments and the gasoline bill to commute to that thankless job, and you read how your ever-more-costly house is losing value instead of gaining it - consider buying property in Dubai, Saudi Arabia! Business is booming! Ask Halliburton, that just moved its corporate offices to Saudi Arabia's no-taxes-for-America zone after robbing the US blind in Iraq, New Orleans, and everywhere else it got a no-bid contract through Cheney of the Dark Force. And ask property buyers of super-luxurious homes in Dubai, especially the three who were rewarded with One Kilogram of Solid Gold in a "raffle" held by the developers. Wouldn't you like to get an entire kilo of gold, worth almost $21,000 on that day, for having been talked into the Housing Bubble by some fly-by-night lender? Don't you wish you could get in on an $8.3 Billion dollar developer deal? Just imagine what that kind of money could do to solve homelessness in the USA. Nuff said, read it and weep:

Worth over AED 78,000 each, 1kg of gold was handed over to three lucky individuals at Tameer’s sales office in Sharjah after each had been selected from the vast prize draw conducted at the Middle East’s largest property exhibition in April.

Tameer awards three lucky winners 1kg of gold worth of (78,000 Dhs) after International Property Show 2007 success
6/10/2007 11:29:51 AM - (DPM)

Tameer Holding, the region’s leading property developer, proudly awarded the winners of its recent Gold Promotion Campaign with their glittering prizes this week after cementing its reputation as a company that cares at the International Property Show 2007 in Duba

. Worth over AED 78,000 each, 1kg of gold was handed over to three lucky individuals at Tameer’s sales office in Sharjah after each had been selected from the vast prize draw conducted at the Middle East’s largest property exhibition in April.

Qualifying for the draw by purchasing property from Tameer’s broad portfolio of eclectic real estate projects, Mrs. Leena Aldwaik, Mr. Abdul Wahab Walad and Mr. Ahmad Jafar Hakeem, were all delighted to be selected as winners, each paying tribute to the creativity of Tameer and the prime value which their properties offer.

“I am so happy to win 1kg of gold and must thank Tameer for this stunning prize,” said Leena Aldwaik, whom bought Plot 185 in Al Ameera Village to qualify for the gold draw. “Regardless of the monetary benefit, I feel that we are honored and privileged with this opportunity. Part of this award will go to charity as well”.

Winner number two Mr. Abdul Wahab Walad, who bought a town house in Al Salam City from Tameer at IPS 2007, said: “Tameer has a fantastic selection of property solutions which cater for all needs and this project fits my family’s requirements perfectly. The gold is a huge bonus though.”

After the success Tameer Holding achieved through its participation in the International Property Show 2007, which took place on April 3-5, Tameer CEO, Abdallah Hageali, insisted that the company now holds a premier position in the hearts and minds of investors and customers in the Middle East real estate market.

“Again, we must congratulate the winners and we thank them for their precious confidence in Tameer’s projects, which were superbly showcased at IPS 2007 and which continue to be supremely executed,” he said. “Our vision and goal is to continuously increase our efforts to add value for our customers – old and new – all of whom we consider as our key partners in our success”.

Talking of his delight at winning 1kg of gold from Tameer, Mr. Ahmed Jaafar Hakeem said: “Winning gold is brilliant news for me. I may even use it as an investment to help purchase another Tameer property,” he said. “As one of the most forward thinking property companies in today’s market, I always know that I will get a handsome return on my investments further down the line. Thank you Tameer.”

IPS 2007 featured projects from the AED 150 billion project portfolio of Tameer Holding, which includes the “Imperial Residence”, “Elite Tower”, “Regal Tower” and the “Palace Towers”: all located in Dubai's most exclusive locations and carrying Tameer's signature art-deco design. Tameer also featured the epic USD 8.3 billion “AlSalam City” project in Umm Al Quwain, one of the largest projects in the Northern Emirates, which is designed to accommodate half a million residents and to be completed by year 2021.

Copyright © 2006 DPM News Agency. All rights reserved

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June 9, 2007

Suicide Epidemic Among Youth in Indian Reservations

In case you haven't been thinking of equality in the treatment of depression and mental health when it comes to the whole healthcare issue, think again. This story from the NYT illustrates the impact on a small community in extreme poverty when there are few or no mental health services available, especially the threat to the lives of adolescents:

ROSEBUD, S.D. — The two suicides struck the Rosebud Sioux Reservation like a random virus. No one saw them coming.
At the reservation, Luke and Gaylord Black Spotted Horse. Suicide has become the second-leading cause of death for Indian youths.
The young man, 19 years old, played varsity football and basketball at Todd County High School. He was admired across the reservation, in that way small towns follow and celebrate their teenage athletes. The girl, weeks shy of her 14th birthday, made straight A’s at Todd County Middle School, played volleyball and basketball and led a traditional Lakota drum corps.

They hanged themselves. This happened at the end of a particularly brutal two and a half months, from Jan. 1 to March 13, when tribal authorities were called to three suicides and scores of attempts. The next day, with the reservation (population 13,000) reeling, tribal officials declared a state of emergency.

Since then, a woman in her early 20s killed herself with pills, and scores more young people have tried to kill themselves — a total of 144 so far this year, at doctors’ best count; the computer used for recordkeeping was down for six weeks. In May, seven youths who tried hanging, poisoning or slashing themselves to death were admitted to the reservation hospital in one 24-hour period.

What is happening at Rosebud is all too common throughout Indian Country. American Indian and Alaska Native youth 15 to 24 years old are committing suicide at a rate more than three times the national average for their age group of 13 per 100,000 people, according to the surgeon general. Often, one suicide leads to another. For these youths, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death (after accidents). In the Great Plains, the suicide rate among Indian youth is the worst: 10 times the national average.

Here at Rosebud, when six high school girls were approached at the Boys and Girls Club one recent afternoon for their reactions to the suicides, four said they had tried suicide. The four compared notes on their methods — two slashed their wrists, two overdosed on pills — and their motives. “There are a lot of reasons,” said Areina Young, a 16-year-old cheerleader at Todd County High who overdosed on sleeping pills and codeine in February. “We have a lot of issues.”

Plains reservations are among the poorest places in the country, with all of poverty’s consequences. But the why of the suicide phenomenon — why American Indian youth, why the Great Plains — is complicated, experts say. The traumas Plains tribes have experienced over the last 175 years — massacres like the one at Wounded Knee, the decimation of their land and culture — are part of it.

“Very generally, adolescence is a time of trouble for all youths,” said Philip May, a professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico who has been studying suicide among American Indians for more than 35 years. “But in many American Indian communities, it’s compounded by limited opportunities, historical trauma and contemporary discrimination. The way the Lakota people and other Plains tribes have experienced history in the last 100 years has reduced the mental health factors that are available to them to cope.”

Tribal leaders at Rosebud took a survey of Todd County students in March. The students’ biggest complaint was that they did not feel safe for fear of gangs. They said that they had no refuge, that their parents were not present, and that they saw too much tragedy, alcoholism and hopelessness.

In response, tribal and community leaders have redoubled their efforts to stem the reservation’s gang problem. They have organized after-school programs, sponsored talks by motivational speakers and made school counselors widely available.

At the same time, schools and the community at large are not commemorating those that kill themselves, said Victoria Sherman, the principal at Todd County High School. She refused, she said, to allow an elaborate memorial during this year’s graduation for a student who killed himself last year on graduation day. “We don’t want to encourage desperate acts,” Ms. Sherman said.

Federal lawmakers are also beginning to address the problem. Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, recently introduced a bill to combat child abuse and Indian youth suicide. The legislation would provide increased resources for suicide prevention training and treatment.

With few places for students on this sprawling reservation to congregate — some commute as far as 40 miles each way to school — the Boys and Girls Club, a former bowling alley, opened before it was ready so students could have a place to gather after school.

Rosebud and the neighboring Pine Ridge reservation, using a $400,000 federal grant, have started training community members and school employees in suicide prevention and intervention.

But tribal leaders say they need more concrete help to turn the situation around. The reservation has only four full-time mental health professionals, and two are leaving soon, said the Rosebud tribal president, Rodney Bordeaux.

“We did the emergency declaration because we needed to get attention,” Mr. Bordeaux said. “We’re saying, we need more funding, more help, now.”

Health services are seriously underfinanced on reservations nationwide. For over a decade, Congress has failed to reauthorize a law that would increase aid.

Officially, three youths at Rosebud committed suicide last year and 193 tried. But not all suicides or attempts involve calls to the police, officials here said.

The group of girls who had attempted suicide said they all knew others who had tried several times.

“A lot of people are just trying to get attention,” Areina Young said.

One girl in the group, a 15-year-old, had swallowed a bottle of Tylenol on April 14 and spent two weeks in the hospital.

“Me, I had a really good explanation,” she said. She started into a horrific story of being raped by her half-brother for years before he was arrested two years ago; of her and her siblings being routinely abandoned for months at a time by their mother, an alcoholic; of her grandmother beating her.

“But now I know that suicide is the permanent solution to temporary problems,” she said. “Counseling really helped me a lot. Put down that we need more counseling. For me, right now, I need it every day.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
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June 8, 2007

Obama's Quiet Riots Are For Real

Conservative critics have been lighting up the airwaves and blogs for the last 48 hours after Sen. Barack Obama's speech to the Hampton University Annual Ministers' Conference raised the combustible topic of the burning anger among the nation's poor African Americans.
By Roland S. Martin
CNN contributor
Editor's note: Roland S. Martin is a CNN contributor and a talk-show host for WVON-AM in Chicago.

(CNN) -- Conservative critics have been lighting up the airwaves and blogs for the last 48 hours after Sen. Barack Obama's speech to the Hampton University Annual Ministers' Conference raised the combustible topic of the burning anger among the nation's poor African-Americans.

Much of this was the result of a terrible story written by Bob Lewis of The Associated Press, who wrote in his lead that "Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Tuesday that the Bush administration has done nothing to defuse a 'quiet riot' among blacks that threatens to erupt just as riots in Los Angeles did 15 years ago."

After seeing the story I was stunned to read such a thing, and immediately sought the transcript of Obama's speech. In reading it, Obama used the word riot nine times; the phrase "quiet riot" three times; and never suggested that America was on the verge of seeing African-Americans lash out like they did during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.

But what he did try to do was give the 8,000 attendees, and anyone else watching, an understanding of what is a real problem in America's inner cities. And more importantly, his blueprint for fixing the problem.

"(Quiet riots) happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates," according to a written version of his speech. "Despair takes hold and young people all across this country look at the way the world is and believe that things are never going to get any better.

"You tell yourself, my school will always be second rate. You tell yourself, there will never be a good job waiting for me to excel at. You tell yourself, I will never be able to afford a place that I can be proud of and call my home.

"That despair quietly simmers and makes it impossible to build strong communities and neighborhoods. And then one afternoon a jury says, 'not guilty' -- or a hurricane hits New Orleans -- and that despair is revealed for the world to see."

We all saw what that looks like when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and it was ugly and sad. Even worse was our government's response to the crisis.

But folks, this goes on every day. And we do a very good job of pretending that it doesn't matter.

Check out what often quoted conservative "thinker" Dinesh D'Souza had to say about this: "A quiet riot. Now certainly that's the best kind of riot, because no buildings get burned and nobody gets stampeded or knifed or shot. And if it's a really quiet riot, then we don't even have to listen to shouting and can continue to work or read or watch TV without disruption. It would really be nice if all riots could be quiet riots."

See, guys like D'Souza, who know nothing about the conditions of the nation's urban poor, want to sit in their ivory towers and pretend that if you just read, write and work hard, all will be well. And there is no doubt that the work ethic and willingness to do better is paramount, and encouraged -- even by African-Americans. But it's also critical to know that there are many who are working and working and working, and don't seem to be making any headway.

I don't sit in a think tank and write papers and books like D'Souza and these other wholly ignorant conservative bloggers. In fact, most of my time is spent at 1000 E. 87th St., in the heart of Chicago's South Side. That's the headquarters of WVON, where I host a morning talk show. When I ran the Dallas Weekly, it was on the South Side of Dallas on Martin Luther King Drive (Why is it that the black parts of town are always on the south side? Maybe because north means going up and south means going down).

And what Obama spoke of I see every day. I can look out our bay window and see men and women going to work each day, trying to make ends meet, and they often don't. I see women walking their kids to school just to keep them safe, but inevitably, some don't come home, like the 31 students from Chicago Public Schools who have been murdered this year. Oh, I definitely see the urban terrorists -- gang members and drug dealers -- who tear the fabric of the black community apart with their rampant violence.

People shouldn't have to endure "quiet riots." They should be shouting from the rooftops, and we should hear their pleas. See, if someone is stranded on a roof and the tides are rising, if they want to be rescued two things must happen: One, they must make themselves visible for the helicopter to see. Second, the helicopter must lower a line to help them up. The pilot can't hook up the belt and do all the work; the individual must be a willing participant.

Obama gave a voice to the voiceless. As he said, they must do their part. They must work hard to escape poverty by going to school, do a good job at work and not be involved in crime.

Let's not treat them as if they are nonexistent. If we remain quiet in the face of chronic conditions, shame on us for saying, "God bless America." Because we surely we are not being a blessing to our fellow Americans.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the writer. This is part of an occasional series of commentaries on CNN.com that offers a broad range of perspectives, thoughts and points of view.

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TALK RADIO AND C-SPAN: Don't Just Listen/Watch - Call In and Represent!

I'm a progressive talk-radio junkie, especially call-in radio (Response from my fellows in 12-Step: Hi VCubed!). I confess also that, at 4 a.m. California-time, I'm tuning in online to C-SPAN to watch/hear Washington Journal, sometimes staying awake for three hours of call-ins (with a few guests, news reviews interspersed). Obviously I don’t work days.

I'd like to encourage all you good folks to call in to those shows and help people learn what Obama’s candidacy is about. If we don’t, for 24 hours a day on some of these stations, people who know nothing about him or have been misinformed will keep getting false information from callers who support Republicans or other Democrats. Those programs reach tens if not hundreds of thousands of people across the country at any given time. I'd love it if sweeter, calmer, mellower people than I would call in and represent.

Gather up a few relevant points and speak up for Obama! Check out the phone numbers and websites at the end of this post and give it a whirl! It’s easier than you think – at least there are no cameras!

Tonight/this morning I was driven to call in and clarify Obama’s healthcare plan (see my blog below) – that is, whenever that particular over-caffeinated radio jock who supports a Democrat-other-than-Obama let me get a word in edgewise – but there are lots of other issues to speak up on:

Obama is all fluff - Wrong. He has proposed all kinds of policies and, more important to judge his record, legislation. If his Democratic competitors and Republican opponents (and some political players) claim he isn't substantive, it’s just a common tactic, it doesn't make it so.

Obama's healthcare plan doesn't cover everyone - Wrong. Often Obama's plan is compared to Edwards'. As a Medicare client I can testify that Medicare-for-All means no vision insurance/provision, no hearing aids, no dental without huge copays and deductibles, if at all! It means limited services and only partial payment to the provider, so no one wants to see you coming. Obama's plan is what I had as a working woman and mother in the 70s and 80s: a choice of full PPO coverage with small co-pays, my choice of doctor/specialist, and almost all the dental, vision, hearing, orthopedic, etc. stuff Medicare doesn’t cover! Obama's plan subsidizes those who can't afford it, after controlling costs with group rates and eliminating waste and the unholy influence of the pharmaceutical and HMO industries.

Obama's no different from the other candidates - Wrong. On foreign policy, only Obama mentioned something that I think most of us feel is very important and that our next President must change: We must stop being the world's arms dealer, and arming both sides of conflicts. He said this in his 2002 speech against the Iraq War. I was stunned and relieved that he addressed what I think is the most relevant issue when it comes to war, along with oil and resources: arms sales.

On domestic policy, Obama is pushing the Second Chance Act and publicizing it (unlike Joe Biden, another Democratic candidate but one who doesn't mention he sponsored it this year). The Second Chance Act Obama co-sponsored (call your Senators and Reps and support it!) provides and funds programs to help ex-offenders who are in our communities already to prepare for, find and keep jobs. How much will that change the pathetic economies in our poor, especially racial- or ethnic-profiled neighborhoods? Plenty, I think.

You get the idea. Tactically speaking, start your chat with props to the host/hostess and agreement with something they said to open without a ready conflict or prepared rhetoric. Have your phone fully charged; you usually wait anywhere from 30-45 minutes! Now here are the contact numbers/websites:

C-SPAN Washington Journal (on cable and online http://c-span.org/
Be honest about Party affiliation – Host will try to snag scammers!

Support Democrats:
(202) 737-0002

Support Independents:
(202) 628-0205

Support Republicans:
(202) 737-0001

Nova M : (800) 989-1480, 602-258-8800
Air America Phoenix Toll Free: 800-989-1480
Air America Radio: 866-303-2270
To record a comment that might/might not air:
Air America Comment Line : 602-297-6642

Nova M Radio Affiliates:
KPHX 1480 AM Phoenix AZ www.1480kphx.com
WINZ 940 AM South Florida FL www.supertalk940.com
KQKE 960 AM San Francisco CA www.quakeradio.com
KSAC 1240 AM Sacramento CA www.1240talkcity.com
SIRIUS 146 CH Sirius Left USA www.sirius.com
KPTK 1090 AM SeattleWA www.am1090seattle.com
KLSD 1360 AM San Diego CA www.1360klsd.com
KYNS 1340 AM San Luis Obispo CA www.1340kyns.com
KGOE 1480 AM Eureka CA www.kgoe.com
KTNF 950 AM Minneapolis MN www.950airamerica.com
XM Coming Soon USA www.xmradio.com
WCPT 850 AM Chicago IL www.wcpt850.com
KPOJ 620 AM Portland OR www.620kpoj.com
WXXM 92.1 FM Madison WI www.themic921.com
WAAW 94.7 FM (Early June) Augusta GA www.rejoiceradio.com
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June 7, 2007


OK, here’s just one reason I’m tired of the focus on the huge, media-vulture events and our knee-jerk compulsive-obsessive responses to them. I’m as exasperated as most Americans with our lack of progress to end this stupid Occupation of Iraq, and the ongoing disaster in Afghanistan. The fact is, though, I would be immensely exasperated even if we didn’t have these occupations going on, even if we weren’t the biggest arms dealers usually to both sides of any conflict anywhere in the world.

On average every year since 9/11, about 20,000 young people from ages 10-34 die violently – they either commit suicide or are murdered.

We’re supposed to have a “terrorism” crisis, and it’s supposed to be coming from outside the US, with some “homegrown terror cells” too. We’re spending billions (let’s just forget “millions” as a large measure anymore, when we’re dealing with budget deficits in the trillions) to “prevent terrorism”. We’re spying on regular people’s web surfing habits, emails and phone calls because over 3,000 people were killed in a one-day attack.

Meanwhile, our young people, as young as age 10, are being murdered or committing suicide at the rate of 20,000 a year. These young people, people who could be (hopefully already haven’t been) our nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, young parents, grandchildren, cousins, brothers and sisters – all were not killed in a war. What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, we’re rightfully protesting the deaths of almost 4,000 soldiers now, along with the lifelong injuries of tens of thousands more. That’s been in four years. That’s about 1,000 soldiers a year – while 20,000 young people of about the same age as those soldiers (some much younger) are dieing right here in that same year.

Why don’t we care about these “domestic” deaths? Why don’t we demand, with equal vehemence, that our government deal with these deaths as a crisis? Twenty times as many people as soldiers in Iraq, some as young as 10, most between 15-34, die of violent causes every year. Another 9,000 or so people between 35-44 die violently, either by murder or suicide. That's almost 30,000 people between 10 and 44 years of age dieing violently in the US per year! Between the ages of 44-64, another 10,000 who haven’t been felled by cancer or heart disease or accidents are also murdered or commit suicide! In one year!

Inside our country, in one year over 27,000 people commit suicide; another 13,000 are killed. I'll bet you didn't know suicide kills more people than homicide, eh? You don't see a huge movement to arrest all those suicidal people and throw away the key [yet!] - your news only tells you that you must distrust your neighbor and expect to be murdered anytime, anywhere.

These 40,000+ violent deaths are from CDC statistics from 2004 – and as poverty spreads, despair and violence spread, and poverty has increased for millions of people in America. Expect higher numbers for 2005 and 2006.

So what do I want you to take from this? Well, keep it in perspective, please. While we’re being jerked around by our media and politicians to focus on things they control completely, we are letting these daily atrocities go, for the most part, unchallenged. These 40,000 murder/suicides per year are ripping at the very fabric of our existence. It’s as if we were being attacked by an outside enemy and mustering no defense whatsoever.

If it were an outsider killing this many in our country, even most of us who oppose empire-wars would join to defend ourselves against such a virulent attack. Why don’t we demand some national defense against this institutionalized (as in "routine", "ignored", "treated as normal") attack on our humanity?

Mental health PACs and interest groups aren’t in the news much (unless there’s a massacre!). They’ve never been busted for bribing legislators or singled out by those wonderful millionaires and actors who push the “liberal” agenda. Yet really, what’s more likely to impact our lives, our families, our homes? Are you or your loved ones more likely to die from global warming this year, or terrorism – or murder, or despair?

Take a look at the figures, and if life at home here in the US isn’t what it should be, let’s start demanding changes here, too, not just in our policies overseas. We won’t really value life any more elsewhere until we start valuing life (and not just fetuses) here. There are more demonstrations to protect fetuses than there are to stop the despair and violence within our own communities. It’s no coincidence that so many feel so helpless to change national and foreign policies when we live so tenuously right here.

We need mental health care for everyone that is fully paid for and available at many times the levels we have now. We need real mental health care, not pharmaceutical-industry-sponsored pill-pushing and “Ta-ta! See you when you need more!” We need to stop ignoring the despair that’s so close to home and so frightening to us all. We need to reach out to those who are close to the edge, not run from them – there’s nowhere to run; they’re in our communities, they are “us”.

Even in the presidential election endless season, only John Edwards stresses mental health for everyone, and Barack Obama wants improved mental health care for troops and veterans. None stress anything other than the methods and treatments that are obviously woefully inadequate. The 40,000 needless deaths will continue, year after year, while we wait for government and the media to even acknowledge it's a real problem they can help change.

As long as we have such easy access to weapons that easily kill others (and we always will so long as the US is the biggest arms dealer – by multiples! – in the world), we have to treat the epidemic of violence against others and ourselves as what it is – A CRISIS! Leaving millions of people in a state of poverty, anxiety and despair that could drive them to kill others and/or themselves is a stupid and cruel domestic policy.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/osp/charts.htm Read more!

June 1, 2007

Making the Commitment to Obama

I just viewed Obama’s speech in Detroit, and now I know I want Obama to be President for sure. My former hesitation came from my radical roots and weariness with political rhetoric, but like many who’ve worked hard to change our political, economic, environmental and social downslide in the past, I’m tired of reacting with equal vehemence as my Neo-Con opponents. Truly I am finally sold on Obama’s incremental but steady change with more allies than opponents, and on his knowledge and ability to lead our country through that difficult but necessary transition. I even dare feel optimistic about it! (See http://www.barackobama.com/tv/ under “Obama Speeches” Address to the Detroit Economic Club.)

Obama’s address to the Detroit Economic Council was the most comprehensive I’ve seen and finally touched on almost every issue that so matters to me. Yes, there were the myriad, really well developed solutions for:
• Cleaner alternative and higher efficiency energy
• Increased modernized industry and jobs
• A cleaner safer environment and focus on averting global warming
• Ending our dependence on oil imports by 2020
• Helping the business bottom line and people by providing the same level of health care coverage for everyone as a Senator has
• Providing quality and preventative, efficient and safer health care affordably and with government subsidies to create group rates to cover every individual, but ending monopolies and restrictions that profiteer from providing medical access.

But finally, at the end when Detroit’s Mayor raised the questions about an urban agenda, I remembered, I am still urban, in the Bay Area now even if on an island literally, born and raised in the Bronx NY, having lived in San Diego, CA and Seattle, WA, near one of two opposite borders at one time or another. That said, it was Detroit – immigration wasn’t raised.

As Obama’s address concluded, Detroit’s Mayor raised the question of what to do about fixing our rustbelt and our generally dilapidated cities, and Obama said all I’ve scarcely heard discussed in this campaign, never mind so well thought out. When he sounded like he was promising to fund many programs, I remembered I read an article evaluating his first run for Illinois Senator that said Obama was tenacious about accountability for program outcomes when he was in charge of or on boards of programs in the South Side of Chicago. He’s not an amateur. He knows how to prevent waste and fraud from the start and throughout the process. Obama doesn’t want to just hand out dollars, he wants results! http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/archive/barackobama/

I saw that Obama saw affordable housing for the crisis it is, pointing out something that creeps in the back of my mind still, but was right up there making me nervous day and night when disability almost made me homeless: There is not one city in all the US where a minimum wage worker (or for that matter someone living solely on any government program for retirement, disability, unemployment or general un-employability) can afford their own even modest apartment – all must either share or pay more than the recommended 25-30% of take-home income. Obama recognized there are lots of creative ideas for solving that without segregating low-income renters, and that it requires the federal government’s leadership and financial assistance to coordinate all the groups willing and able to help: non-profit construction companies, city and rural housing administrators, and faith-based organizations. Finally he supports reinvigorating the Block Grant program, much decimated by this Administration, to fund business and commercial development.

I heard him recognize the need to give people who made mistakes and broke laws but paid for their crimes a Second Chance – how bold in this punishment-centered era (even torture – we’ll see our Civil Rights expert-President Obama eliminate that disgrace fast!), how sensible and what a model of truly reasoned generosity instead of penalizing and wasting lives! He’s proposed Second Chance legislation in the Senate with bipartisan support to end legalized employment discrimination against people free but with a record, thus bringing a huge proportion of unemployed exploited urban youth and adults ready to turn their lives around, who are already in our communities, back into the workforce with training, jobs and guidance for transition.

Obama can rattle off the program for fixing education faster than I’ve ever heard, and I’m an Education doctorate-all-but-dissertation specialist! Increase funding for and modernize with proven-best-methods all public education, Early Childhood on; pay teachers more and train them better to replace one million retiring in the next decade; and for both education and urban businesses, wire the city for 100% access to broadband – a notion that left many in the audience a bit stunned, as if not expecting a high-tech recommendation. He didn’t mention he’d proposed and helped pass legislation to increase college grants and hopes to do much more to make higher education more affordable.

All of his plans take into account the twin realities of a history of opposition, and the need to move forward or get run over in the global environment we now live. All of it is to be done in increments, but inexorably forward to a safer cleaner environment, with increased industry and jobs, health care for all with a public and private foundation, and oil import independence and a new alternative energy industry that will help agricultural as well as industrial cities and towns within years of his taking office in 2008. At every stage every participant gets rewards, and penalties if they refuse to lead the country into an alternative energy and employment future.

There was one exception, and it was a big one, I'm the first to say it and write him about it: He called Venezuela's President Chavez a dictator, getting very little positive feedback on that comment, thankfully. We have to stop calling other countries' elected officials dictators just because this administration and corporate interests say so. That said, I hope and believe Obama will be much more open to reasonably discuss Chavez and a viable collaboration to help Venezuela benefit from and expand their economy beyond petroleum once he's out of this miserable campaign spotlight - certainly more so than Hillary, who is simply too indebted to lobbyists and corporations to be independent. And on his energy proposal, I'm not in favor of increased reliance on coal and nuclear power. I'll have lots of company pressuring him on that!

All in all, Obama’s rich background and experience were in full display, and his full grasp of the complexity and finesse needed to push through so much change convinced me. I went from “OK, he seems to be the best we’ve got who can win” to “We need him and only him right now. I will help others working for Obama to win, from now until 2008.” It's a relief that I can really like and have some confidence in the candidate I'll be volunteering for this year. The rest of the Democratic presidential candidate crew sure doesn't give me a thrill.

And we almost lost Detroit this time… from CD “Glory, The Best of Gil Scott-Heron” Read more!