Photo credit: Reuters

Friday, November 30, 2012

138 to 9, Palestine Wins

Dear Mr. President,
138 to 9 with 41 abstentions. Not even close. In spite of intense lobbying, the only countries you could muster to keep Palestine from gaining observer status in the UN was Canada (our lapdog neighbor to the north), the Czech Republic, Palau, Panama, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru (I had to look that one up–pop. 9,322). Israel cooked their own goose with the latest 8-day onslaught of Gaza; the world just couldn’t keep looking the other way at Israel’s genocide of Palestinians, their occupation of the West Bank, their land grabs and illegal settlements, their systemic destruction of UN-sponsored humanitarian projects such as solar powered electricity, and their 6-year blockade of Gaza. Predictably, our UN ambassador, Susan Rice dismissed the vote and claimed “…the prospects of a durable peace… only receded.” Senator Lindsey Graham called it “an unhealthy step that could undermine the peace process,” while Netanyahu ranted and denounced Abbas’s speech as “…a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against the Israel Defense Forces and the citizens of Israel,” A few hours later, the Israeli Security cabinet, headed by Bibi, announced 3,000 new homes will be built–in illegal settlements–in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and more are being considered, clearly retribution for the UN vote. But in spite of all the bluster by the U.S. and Israel, this is a major step in ending the injustice and violent occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. What does it mean for the blockade and ethnic cleansing of Gaza? What about the expropriation of Palestinian land? And most frightening to Israel, what if Palestine joins the ICC and brings charges of war crimes against them? This is a new ball game, Mr. President, and you’re on the wrong side of history. You’re on the wrong side of justice, of freedom, of human rights and the rule of law—and not just with Israel and Palestine, but also in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia—and right here at home. Rice said of the UN vote: "Today's unfortunate and counter-productive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it," No, that’s not why the U.S. voted against. We have a long history of backing tyrants and dictators and condoning crimes against humanity and you continue that sad legacy. The mantle of justice and freedom is no longer ours; you had an opportunity to regain it but you chose war and violence instead.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Real Global Warming Conspiracy

Dear Mr. President,
After reading Dave Lindorff’s article, “Thinking the Unthinkable: What if America’s Leaders Actually Want Catastrophic Climate Change?” ( everything fell into place. I am not a conspiracy theory adherent and maybe this isn’t a conspiracy, more a Gentleman’s Agreement, but why else would the U.S. stonewall and undermine global warming talks for the past 20 years? Why do we refuse to sign the Kyoto Agreement? Why are we not taking a leadership role at this year’s COP18 meeting in Qatar? (Qatar, with the highest CO2 emissions per capita in the world! How ironic is that?). Why is there no massive investment in green energy? I’ve realized for some time that, while global warming affects everyone, the wealthy elites will be the least affected, insulated from catastrophe by their wealth, able to pay much higher prices for food, water and essentials, maintain fortresslike redoubts to repel marauding bands of the less well-off and withstand hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, but Lindorff, while reading the 84-page World Bank Report, “Turn Down the Heat,” makes the next logical step and notes that the good old U.S. of A. will probably be much better off than most areas on the planet and so, why not let it happen? He points out that the devastation eliminates our biggest economic competitors—China and India—and we’ve got a strong enough military to guard our southern border and repel the hordes trying to come up from Central and South America, and the Canadian border isn’t a problem, so for the next hundred years or so until the water runs out we’re okay and who cares what happens after that? nobody thinks that far ahead. Meanwhile Republicans and their propagandists—Fox News and the Wall Street Journal—are still riding their hobby horse that global warming is an illusion and the WSJ, after the announcement that the U.S. would surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil and gas production, said in an editorial that all the money spent on green energy is a waste and we’ll look back someday and wonder why we did it. Meanwhile, on today’s front page of the New York Times, this headline on the aftermath of Sandy: “Post-Storm Cost May Force Many From Coast Life: Woes For Nonwealthy,” predicting a major shift in population along the New York and Jersey shorelines. Lindorff’s speculation is not so far fetched.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Response to Feinstein Response

Dear Senator Feinstein,
Received your response via email today. At first, I thought your letter was addressed to the wrong person since I have never objected specifically to foreign aid to Egypt in any of my letters; only to military weapons flowing to Mubarak (and military weapons flowing to all our “allies,” many of which are autocratic and repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel and Mubarak’s Egypt). Since I began copying you, Senator Boxer and Representative Pelosi on my letters to the president on November 19, I went back through them to try and understand what you were responding to. The only letter sent or copied to you that even mentions Egypt is my November 23 letter in which I compare Morsi’s power grab to Obama’s, the unbridled assumption of power without oversight or check. I also speculated about the backroom deal that Obama might have made with Morsi, brothers under the skin, two peas in a pod. That letter was about the truce in Gaza that Morsi was lauded for brokering, the timing of it and his power grab the next day and NOT about foreign aid to Egypt or the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood that you seem so concerned about. Most troubling about your letter however, is the way my letter was misread to serve your own ends, ignoring—or maybe not understanding the central point of my letter. While I appreciate hearing from my elected representatives (even though I did not vote for you or Pelosi), I really expected more from you and your aides (who, I’m sure, actually read and responded to my letter). I would expect more attention to the message received and more importantly, some oversight of the Executive Branch and consideration for the real issues we face, issues like global warming, unregulated fracking, ending unwarranted, lawless and costly wars, maldistribution of wealth, unaccountability of Wall Street Banksters, illegal home foreclosures and, one of your pet projects, the build-up of an all-encompassing Security State and the end of democracy as we knew it. What seems clear is that Congress is in business only to protect the 1%, rubber stamp Obama’s wars of aggression and make sure you get re-elected. At least you answered one of my letters but I must say, Senator Feinstein, the response was as disappointing as your record in Congress.

Wed, November 28, 2012 10:46:26 AM
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein responding to your message
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Dear Mr. Yoder :
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding United States foreign aid to Egypt.  I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important topic, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
While I was heartened to see the citizens of Egypt participate in free and fair elections and begin a peaceful transition to a new era, I am closely monitoring the Muslim Brotherhood's commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 
Please know that I understand you have concerns about providing foreign aid to Egypt, especially given participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the new Egyptian government and the difficult economic situation here at home.  While I believe that sustaining the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt on counterterrorism and Israeli security issues is important, I also believe that it is imperative that Egyptian authorities respect human rights, religious freedom, due process, and the rule of law.  It is also critical that the new Egyptian government maintains its peace treaty with Israel.
As you may know, the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget proposes $1.56 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt, similar to the levels approved in the previous three years. On May 24, 2012, the Senate Appropriations  Committee approved the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (S. 3241), which accepts the President's level of foreign aid to Egypt. The House Appropriations Committee has passed its own appropriations bill (H.R. 5857) and also approves the Administration's request.  Please know that both bills contain provisions that block the transfer of aid unless the U.S. Secretary of State certifies to Congress that the Egyptian Government has completed the transition to civilian government; is implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion; and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
I also remain concerned about recent acts of violence targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt. Egyptian authorities must identify those responsible and bring them to justice. All Egyptians should be able to practice their faith freely without threat of violence or discrimination.
Please be assured that I continue to monitor developments in Egypt closely, and I will keep your concerns in mind as the Senate discusses U.S.-Egypt relations and our foreign aid budget.
Once again, thank you for  writing, and I hope that you will continue to keep me informed about issues of importance to you. Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator
Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the nation are available at my website,  You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list. Click here to sign up.  And please visit my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to communicate with me.