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Oliver Stone: "Barack, Don't Betray Us"

Alternet.org | "Suddenly, a season of peace seems to be warming the world," the New York Times exulted on the last day of July 1988. Protracted and bloody wars were ending in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Nicaragua, and between Iran and Iraq. But the most dramatic development was still to come.

In December 1988, the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, declared the cold war over. "The use or threat of force no longer can or must be an instrument of foreign policy," he said. "This applies above all to nuclear arms."

He proposed cutting offensive strategic arms in half, jointly safeguarding the environment, banning weapons in outer space, ending exploitation of the third world and canceling third world debt payments. He called for a UN-brokered ceasefire in Afghanistan, acknowled­ging that, after nine years, the Russians had failed to defeat the Afghan insurgents despite deploying 100,000 troops.

Still, he was not finished. He held out an olive branch to the incoming administration of George H W Bush, offering a "joint effort to put an end to an era of wars".

The New York Times described Gorbachev's riveting, hour-long speech as the greatest act of statesmanship since Roosevelt and Churchill's Atlantic Charter in 1941. The Washington Post called it "a speech as remarkable as any ever delivered at the United Nations".

Gorbachev saw this as a new beginning for America, Russia and the world, but US policymakers had something very different in mind, hailing it as the triumph of the capitalist west after the long decades of the cold war.

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Arizona Approves Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates To Prove Eligibility


ABC15 | The Arizona Senate has approved a revised bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens eligible to run for the office. The bill approved Wednesday gives candidates additional ways to prove they meet the constitutional requirements to be president. 

It was prompted by the ongoing claim by some that there is no proof President Barack Obama was born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president.  Democrats argued the bill exceeds the state's authority and say state officials are not fully qualified to determine the validity of a candidate's documents. 

Republicans argue the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the right to determine how federal elections are conducted. 

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Obama Issues Veto Threat; Government Shutdown Looms


Foxnews | President Obama vowed Thursday to veto a Republican stopgap budget bill, a move that appeared to bolster a claim by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the government "looks like it's heading" toward a shutdown without a deal on a six-month plan.

The White House issued a statement Thursday afternoon declaring that Obama would veto a GOP proposal to fund the government for one week while negotiations continue on a longer-term plan. Republicans have pitched the bill as the only option for keeping the government open past a Friday deadline, but its policy riders and $12 billion in cuts are not acceptable to Democrats. 


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Ohio Passes Law Restricting Public Worker Rights


BBC | Legislators in the US state of Ohio have passed a bill that will severely limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.

The bill, which will affect teachers, nurses and other government workers, would allow unions to negotiate wages but not healthcare or other benefits.

Republican Governor John Kasich is likely to sign it into law within days.

He says the measure, which has sparked weeks of pro-labour protests in Ohio, is needed to close a big budget gap.

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Top Secret America


Washington Post | The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.

(Connections Map, Multiple Articles, Videos)

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Wisconsin Appeals Court Decides Against Ruling Over Union Law

A Wisconsin appeals court says the state Supreme Court should decide whether a law that takes away nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers should be allowed to take effect.

A majority of the seven-member Supreme Court must agree to take it or it would remain in the appeals court.

The 4th District Court of Appeals said Thursday it is appropriate for the state's highest court to take the case because it presents significant issues that are likely to end up before the Supreme Court anyhow.

A Dane County judge issued an order last week preventing Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, saying Republicans violated the state open meetings law when passing it.





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Obama Faces Questions Over Libya When Congress Returns


Foxnews | President Obama can't hold off Congress much longer. 

In the form of hearings, media appearances and possibly a vote, Congress is determined to have its say on the Libyan conflict when lawmakers return to Washington next week. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been grumbling ever since the president ordered U.S. missile strikes on Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime in support of a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone Saturday. But the unrest is reaching a boiling point and from the top down, elected officials are pressing for questions about the U.S. role in the assault to get a full airing on Capitol Hill next week. The coalition's involvement deepened after French fighter jets shot down a Libyan plane amid allegations Qaddafi's forces violated the no-fly zone. 

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Wisonsin Judge Blocks Controversial Law Curbing Union Power

CNN | A Wisconsin judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday halting the state's controversial budget repair law that curbs the union power of most public employees, the Dane County district attorney's office said.

Gov. Scott Walker, who championed the measure and signed it into law last week, said he was confident the initiative would eventually prevail in the court system, a spokeswoman said.

"This legislation is still working through the legal process. We are confident the provisions of the budget repair bill will become law in the near future," Cullen Werwie, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement.

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Patriot Groups Included In Report On "Hate" Groups


CNN |  The number of radical right groups in America -- including hate groups, "Patriot" groups and nativist groups -- increased in 2010 for the second year in a row, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The organization's quarterly publication, Intelligence Report, said the growth was "driven by resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the government's handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities."


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