Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kim Jong Ill on Twitter

Make Marijuana Legal

Guest Column: The Drug Policy Alliance's Founder On Why Marijuana Should Never Have Been Made Illegal In The First Place

by Ethan Nadelmann, founder executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance

Marijuana should never have been made illegal in the first place.

Ask why it was made illegal - by many state governments and eventually the federal government during the first four decades of the past century - and the answer cannot be found in expert medical testimony or any objective assessment of the costs and benefits of prohibiting marijuana.

In many western states, it was simply a matter of prejudice against Mexican-Americans and Mexican migrants, with whom marijuana was popularly associated. Rancid tabloid journalism also played a role, as did Reefer Madness-like propaganda and legislative testimony.

We know the result. Marijuana became dramatically more popular after its prohibition than it ever was before. Over one hundred million Americans have tried it, including the three most recent occupants of the Oval Office. Billions, perhaps tens of billions, of dollars are spent and earned illegally on it each year. Marijuana is routinely described as the first, second or third most lucrative agricultural crop in many states. And taxpayers are obliged to spend billions of their own dollars each year in support of futile efforts to enforce an unenforceable prohibition.

Clearly marijuana prohibition is unique among American criminal laws. No other law is both enforced so widely and harshly yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the populace. Police made roughly 800,000 arrests last year for possession of marijuana, typically tiny amounts. That's almost the same number as are arrested each year for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, Ecstasy and all other drugs. Meanwhile recent polls show that over 40% of Americans think that marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol; and it's closer to 50% among Democrats, independents, adults under age 30, and voters in a growing number of western states.

This is an issue on which politicians can be counted on to follow, not lead, public opinion. But some at last are saying publicly that legalizing marijuana needs to be on the table. For California Governor Schwarzenegger, it's the prospect of new tax revenue and costs savings when the state's budget deficit has never been larger. For Arizona Attorney General Terry Goodard and the City Council of El Paso, Texas, it's the realization that legalizing marijuana would help reduce the violence and profits of Mexican drug gangs.

Common Sense Says, "No Thanks!"

Others point to the fact that marijuana prohibition is a remarkable failure in the eyes and ways of young people. Over eighty percent of high school seniors say that marijuana is easy to obtain - and even easier to buy than alcohol. It's hard to see how making marijuana legal for adults would make it any more available to young people than it is already.

Is marijuana addictive? Yes, it can be, in that some people use it to excess, in ways that are problematic for themselves and those around them, and find it hard to stop. But marijuana may well be the least addictive and least damaging of all commonly used psychoactive drugs. Most people who smoke marijuana never become dependent. Withdrawal symptoms pale beside those of other drugs. No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, which cannot be said of most other drugs. Marijuana is not associated with violent behavior and only minimally with reckless sexual behavior. And even heavy marijuana smokers smoke only a fraction of what cigarette addicts smoke. Lung cancers involving people who smoke marijuana but not tobacco are virtually nil.

It's no surprise that the Drug Enforcement Administration's own administrative law judge, Francis Young, came to the conclusion in 1988 that "marijuana may well be the safest psychoactive substance commonly used in human history."

The US Army blows Israel’s nuclear cover

By Jerry Mazza

We could say it was the best-known secret in the world that was finally officially revealed, i.e., that Israel has nuclear weapons, despite the US's "policy of ambiguity." Those of you who are really surprised raise your hand.

Nevertheless, a Defense Department study finished last year reveals for the first time in an unclassified report that Israel really is a nuclear power. Actually, it's on page 37 of the US Joint Forces Command report, where the Army claims Israel is within "a growing arc of nuclear powers that runs from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east." Is there anybody that doesn't have the bomb? Raise your hand. Sorry.

This reference is much more than the US usually states publicly about Israel, the poster nation of goodness and truth for so many Jewish folk about the globe. Yet the world knew Israel was heavily involved with nuclear weapons before whistleblower and former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, then an orthodox Jew, exposed the facts on its weapons program via a major story with pictures in the London Times.

Vanunu did 18 years in solitary for that. Upon his release in 2004, he spoke to a reporter and was put under house arrest. He is now a Christian, not to mention an incredibly brave man. Read Eileen Fleming's excellent article The Martyrdom of Mordechai Vanunu. The nuclear plant in question was at Dimona in a subterranean basement hidden from sight. The reactor by now is quite old and not particularly safe. But what the hell: in for two-to-four hundred missiles, in for Chernobyl.

Actually, a few years later no less than the New Yorker's star investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, published the book The Samson Option, which laid out Israel's strategy "of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened." He also mentioned the 200- to 400-missile figure.

Yet Israel has been mum about its nuclear capability, refusing to confirm or deny it. And the US waltzes right along with this dance on the nuclear edge.

Perhaps the real reason for the charade is that by law the US would have to stop providing billions of dollars in foreign aid to Israel every year if we actually said out loud that Israel had a nuclear weapons program, in fact an arsenal of 200 to 400 nuclear missiles. The reason for that is the Symington Amendment, legislation introduced by Stuart Symington, a former Democratic senator from Missouri, and authored to strengthen the US position on nuclear non-proliferation. It was passed in 1976 and bars assistance to any countries developing technology for nuclear weapons proliferation.

Given the US's deaf, dumb and blind, see-no, hear-no, say no evil policy when it comes to Israeli nukes, it's most likely that the 2008 Joint Operating Environment report put together by the Army will amount to not much more than a proofreader's wince. Although it should be a shot heard round the world fired as far back as the 1950s when France aided and abetted Israel in the building of the nuclear facility in return for Israeli scientists helping France assemble their own facility.

Thus, the facilitators will most likely carry the day, as usual, while Iran gets bonked daily for building a nuclear facility for power-generating reasons. And now North Korea is testing its own nuclear missiles without anything more than a rhetorical response from the US. Well, the one thing you can't accuse the US of is consistency.

One wonders where President Obama is in the middle of all this and if AIPAC and Rahm Emmanuel are still running Middle Eastern foreign policy.

In fact, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, whose editor recently proclaimed she was proud to be a Zionist, said in a March 8 article that "It is virtually unheard of for a senior military commander, while in office, to refer to Israel's nuclear status." Haaretz was referring to the fact that "In December 2006, during his confirmation hearings as secretary of defense, Robert Gates, referred to Israel as one of the powers seen by Iran as surrounding it with nuclear weapons." Doth Haaretz protest too much that Gates spoke?

His bad was right for once. But once in office, Gates dodged the bullet and refused to repeat the no-no allusion to Israeli nukes. He said that he had used it when he was a private citizen. Does that mean he doesn't tell the truth now that he's our secretary of defense? Well, play around with that conundrum for a minute or two. And you might want to look at my Online Journal article, Israel's 60 years of nuclear proliferation.

U.S. Manga Obscenity Conviction Roils Comics World

By David Kravets

mangapicIn an obscenity first, a U.S. comic book collector has pleaded guilty to importing and possessing Japanese manga books depicting illustrations of child sex abuse and bestiality.

Christopher Handley, described by his lawyer as a "prolific collector" of manga, pleaded guilty last week to mailing obscene matter, and to "possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children." Three other counts were dropped in a plea deal with prosecutors.

The 39-year-old office worker was charged under the 2003 Protect Act, which outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and which lack "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Handley's guilty plea makes him the first to be convicted under that law for possessing cartoon art, without any evidence that he also collected or viewed genuine child pornography. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Comics fans are alarmed by the case, (.pdf), saying that jailing someone over manga does nothing to protect children from sexual abuse.

"This art that this man possessed as part of a larger collection of manga … is now the basis for [a sentence] designed to protect children from abuse," says Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. "The drawings are not obscene and are not tantamount to pornography. They are lines on paper."

Congress passed the Protect Act after the Supreme Court struck down a broader law prohibiting any visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity, including computer-generated imagery and other fakes. The high court ruled that the ban was overbroad, and could cover legitimate speech, including Hollywood productions.

In response, the Protect Act narrows the prohibition to cover only depictions that the defendant's community would consider "obscene."

"It's probably the only law I'm aware of, if a client shows me a book or magazine or movie, and asks me if this image is illegal, I can't tell them," says Eric Chase, Handley's attorney.

Time on social networks almost doubles in a year

NEW YORK - Spending more time on social networks and blogs? You're not alone, with the latest figures showing the number of minutes spent on social networking sites in the United States has almost doubled over the past year.

Nielsen Online, which measures web traffic, said the number of minutes on social networks in the United States rose 83 percent in April from the same month a year ago, but found users were quick to move on and sites could quickly fall from favor.

Nielsen Online spokesman Jon Gibs said a major trend had been the continuing popularity of Facebook, which has more than 200 million active members and has become so mainstream it now hosts Pope Benedict and a list of world leaders.

The total number of minutes spent on Facebook surged 700 percent year-on-year to 13.9 billion in April this year from 1.7 billion a year ago, making it the No. 1 social networking site for the fourth consecutive month.

News Corp's MySpace was second most popular but the number of minutes spent on this site fell 31 percent to 4.97 billion from 7.3 billion a year ago, although it remained the top social networking site when ranked by video streams.

Blogger, and came third, fourth and fifth respectively, with the number of minutes spent on Twitter -- that lets people send 140-character messages or Tweets -- rocketing 3,712 percent in April from a year ago.

"We have seen some major growth in Facebook during the past year, and a subsequent decline in MySpace," said Gibs in a statement.

Facebook came second to MySpace in rankings of video streams followed by Stickam, and Funny or Die.

Gibs said Twitter had also come on the scene in an explosive way, perhaps changing the outlook for the entire social networking business.

"The one thing that is clear about social networking is that regardless of how fast a site is growing or how big it is, it can quickly fall out of favor with consumers," said Gibs.

Vigil For George Tiller (In The Name Of God)

By Thomas Good

A protester at the Union Square vigil expresses her view of Dr. Tiller
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Monday, June 1, activists from an array of human rights organizations came together in Union Square to celebrate the life of Dr. George Tiller and to mourn his murder — Tiller was shot dead in his local church on Sunday, May 31, allegedly by a man professing "pro-life" beliefs.

George Richard Tiller, MD (August 8, 1941 - May 31, 2009) was a physician from Wichita, Kansas. He was the director of a clinic in Wichita, "Women's Health Care Services" — one of only three clinics nationwide that provided abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Abortion opponents kept a daily vigil outside Tiller's clinic for many years, and he was targeted by violent extremists. On August 19, 1993, he was shot in both arms outside of the Wichita clinic by Shelley Shannon, who received an 11-year prison sentence for the crime. On May 31, 2009, Tiller was shot and killed as he served as an usher during the Sunday morning service at his church in Wichita.

City Council speaker Christine Quinn
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The murder of Tiller sparked outrage and shock in New York's pro-choice community and on Monday 1,000 mourners filled Union Square — in a vigil called on very short notice. The vigil was an opportunity to express grief, anger — and gratitude. Many attending the vigil inscribed their thoughts and feelings on a banner.

Some of the groups and individuals participating in the memorial included: Planned Parenthood, The American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL, the World Can't Wait, Christine Quinn and other members of the New York City Council, Liz Holtzman, Donna Lieberman, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Liz Holtzman
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NLN's Bud Korotzer photographed the vigil and singer/activist David Rovics contributed a new song about the murder, "In The Name Of God", to be used as the backing score of a slideshow of Korotzer's images.

View The Slideshow (NLN on YouTube)

We here at Next Left Notes offer George Tiller's family our condolences, our respect, and our solidarity. Presente.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Thomas Good, Editor
Next Left Notes (NLN)
National Writers Union - UAW Local 1981
International Federation of Journalists

Cheney: Death only option for some detainees if Gitmo closed

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that the only alternative to holding some suspected terrorists indefinitely would be to execute them, arguing against the Obama administration's plans to close the Guantanamo detainee prison.

"If you're going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we are, such as the global war on terrorism, if you don't have a place where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill them," Mr. Cheney said.

"And we don't operate that way."

The former vice president's statements only raise the stakes in fierce debate with his critics, who believe Mr. Cheney presided over the formulation of interrogation techniques that they regard as torture and remains unapologetic for approving waterboarding and other harsh methods used.

Mr. Cheney bases his argument on the view that suspected terrorists should be considered prisoners of war and said such persons "ought to be held until the end of the conflict.

He also criticized the Obama administration for failing to think through its plans to shutter Guantanamo.

"The administration made a mistake of the president issuing an order that he wants it closed within a year, but didn't have a clue as to how to proceed," Mr. Cheney said. "And now they're having trouble because they're having to come up with a plan of some kind."

Mr. Cheney, who has become the most prominent figure to defend the Bush administration's record on terror and national security, spoke and took questions at a lunch honoring journalism award winners at the National Press Club.

The former vice president said that the Guantanamo Bay prison is "a fine facility" and that the White House will have a "very difficult" time closing it, because of the legal, political and diplomatic challenges associated with indefinite detention.

A Tragic Lesson in Anti-Gay Bullying

By Joleen Hanlon

If you were taunted with words like "fag" and "dyke" daily in school, to what extent would this affect you? Perhaps the experience would keep you hiding in the closet for years, send you into a depression, or lower your academic achievement. Maybe the homophobic culture of your school would convince you that gay people are inferior, and you might start using the ubiquitous phrase "that's so gay" to describe every unfavorable person, place, or thing.

Or, if the bullying were unrelenting, perhaps you might do the unimaginable: commit suicide.

That was the tragic consequence in April for a 6th grade Massachusetts student named Carl Walker-Hoover, a victim of anti-gay bullying. People who knew Carl described him as flamboyant and effeminate. He defied gender expectations. Although he did not identify as gay, students harassed Carl daily, calling him names and saying disdainfully that he acted like a girl.

Months of being taunted and harassed finally became too much for Carl to bear. On April 6, he hanged himself with an extension cord in his Springfield, Mass., home while his mother was cooking dinner downstairs.

This 11-year-old sent the world a powerful message, one demonstrating just how painful words can be. His death also provided educators with another illustration of the need to address homophobic attitudes in schools. The consequences of anti-gay bullying may be difficult at times to see, but they can forever alter, and sometimes end, the life of a child. It is time for educators to stop overlooking anti-gay language and start responding to it with the same vigor we would to the expression of racist attitudes.

The fact is that this type of hate language, used against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youths, is common in American schools. Students who are LGBT—or, are perceived to be—are frequently bullied. In fact, sexual orientation is, according to a 2005 nationwide survey, the second most common reason for repeated harassment in schools.

GOP Takes a 'Cheap Shot' at Obama Date Night; Forgets Bush's Brush Clearing


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by Rebecca Freitag

George W. Bush visited Camp David and his Crawford, Texas ranch for 977 days during his presidency. Those 977 days amounted to 30 percent of his presidency spent driving pick-ups and clearing brush. American taxpayers paid for it each time.

We didn't hear the GOP tongues wagging then as he boarded Air Force One to spend days at a time, away from his presidential duties at the White House in Maine with his parents, in Texas at his ranch, or in Maryland at Camp David. But when President Obama took his wife out to dinner and a Broadway play in New York City Saturday night, the GOP was so offended that they took to their e-mail list to release a critical statement with the subject: "Putting on a show."

As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan's theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills... Have a great Saturday evening- even if you're not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense.

Traffic was stopped, photographers swarmed the area, and the show was delayed for 45 minutes. Secret Service agents surrounded them at all times, snipers perched on rooftops, and hundreds, maybe thousands of onlookers gathered to catch a glimpse of the Obamas on their now-famous "date night."

TV shows such as "Hardball," "The Rachel Maddow Show," and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" each responded to the controversial statement.

Chris Matthews called it a "cheap shot" on Monday during his "Sideshow" segment. He cited the Republicans' "nincompoop anti-intellectualism" as the reason for the statement, and said he enjoyed the fact that the president took his wife to Broadway and has cultural interests. President Bush, he said, has a "total lack of curiosity for anything beyond his backyard."

"I don't think the Republicans get it yet," Matthews said. "This is the kind of pissant criticism that makes you wonder why Michael Steele still has a job."

Stewart called them "insanely glamorous" and jokingly wept about them being so beautiful. The show even created a mock cologne called "POTUS" that "smells like freedom" for average Americans by the president so anyone could be like him.

The Obamas' "date night" has been a tradition for many years, according to First Lady Michelle Obama, when she spoke with Roland Martin on TV One in Aug. 2008.

Having "date night" shows that "This family is not just two folks raising kids, it's two people building a life together," she said.

Peace index ranks New Zealand the safest country in the world

Britain up slightly to 35th position, US up six places to 83rd while Iraq sits at the bottom of the list

by Julian Borger

On top of the many humiliations that have rained down on Iceland recently – the implosion of its economy, banks and currency to name just three – the erstwhile Viking tiger today lost its title as the safest place in the world.

New Zealand is now officially your best bet for a risk-free destination, according to the new Global Peace Index (GPI), an annual ranking of the world's nations on the basis of how peaceful they are.

Despite the much-vaunted progress on security, Iraq remained bottom of the list, below Afghanistan, Somalia and Israel, which found itself listed as more dangerous than Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the top, the usual Nordic suspects clustered below New Zealand: Denmark, Norway and Iceland came second, third and fourth, followed by Austria and then Sweden.

Britain was 35th: better than last year, and one position higher than Italy, but still below most of Europe and countries as diverse as Botswana, South Korea, Malaysia and Qatar.

The United States has clawed its way up six places to 83rd – still weighed down by two foreign wars, a high prison population and the general availability of guns. Its slight rise was attributed to the number of years since 9/11 that the country has avoided a terrorist attack, and the relative decline of other countries.

The index was collated by the Economist Intelligence Unit for a new thinktank called the Institute for Economics and Peace. It uses a weighted mix of 23 criteria, including foreign wars, internal conflicts, respect for human rights, the number of murders, the number of people in jail, the arms trade, and degrees of democracy.

This year's results found the economic downturn had made the world a little less peaceful. That, say the authors, "appears to reflect the intensification of violent conflict in some countries and the effects of both the rapidly rising food and fuel prices early in 2008 and the dramatic global economic downturn in the final quarter of the year.

"Rapidly rising unemployment, pay freezes and falls in the value of house prices, savings and pensions is causing popular resentment in many countries, with political repercussions that have been registered by the GPI through various indicators measuring safety and security in society."

The results come from a groundbreaking study, released alongside the 2009 GPI, which estimates the economic impact of lost peace on the global economy at $7.2tn (£4.4tn) a year.

The Dirty Facts on Clean Coal

Top Ten Reasons Clean Coal is Dirty

#1: "Clean" Coal Increases Rates of Disease

The United States burns more than a billion tons of coal each year – that's 20 pounds of coal for every person in the country, every day.

According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.

#2: "Clean" Coal Kills Jobs

Despite coal industry claims that coal mining creates lots of jobs, the truth is that coal mining employment has been declining for decades, due to increased use of machinery instead of manpower.

In West Virginia alone, coal mining employment has plummeted from 126,000 miners in 1948 (who produced 168 million tons of coal), to just 15,000 miners employed in 2005 (who, with the help of machinery, produced 128 million tons of coal).

#3: Burning "Clean" Coal Emits Mercury

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution in the U.S. Mercury emissions from electrical generation continues to rise.

Mercury in mothers' blood and breast milk can interfere with the development of babies' brains and neurological systems and can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, problems with coordination, lowered IQ and even mental retardation.

#4: Burning "Clean" Coal is Fuel for Global Warming

The U.S. produces about 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Burning coal contributes 40 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. According to the United Nations Environment Program, coal emits around 1.7 times as much carbon per unit of energy when burned as does natural gas and 1.25 times as much as oil.

#5: "Clean" Coal Kills Miners

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 12,000 coal miners died from black lung disease between 1992 and 2002.

#6: "Clean" Coal Wastes Huge Quantities of Water

Coal mining requires an estimated 70 to 260 million gallons of water every day.

#7: "Clean" Coal Pollutes Seafood and Freshwater Fish

49 U.S. states have issued fish consumption advisories due to high mercury concentrations in freshwater bodies throughout the country.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution in the U.S.

#8: "Clean" Coal Destroys Mountains

Instead of traditional mining, many coal companies now use mountaintop removal to extract coal.

Coal companies are increasingly using this method because it allows for almost complete recovery of coal seams while reducing the number of workers required to a fraction of what conventional methods require.

Mountaintop removal involves clear cutting native hardwood forests, using dynamite to blast away as much as 800-1000 feet of mountaintop, and then dumping the waste into nearby valleys, often burying streams.

#9: "Clean" Coal Kills Freshwater Streams

More than 1,200 miles of Appalachian streams have been buried or damaged by mountaintop removal mining. At least 724 miles of streams were completely buried by valley fills from Appalachian mountaintop removal between 1985 and 2001.

400,000 acres of rich and diverse temperate forests have been destroyed during the same time period as a result of mountaintop mining in Appalachia.

#10: "Clean" Coal Costs Billions in Taxpayer Subsidies

The U.S. government continues to aggressively fund coal-related projects despite all that is known about coal's impacts on health, climate and the economy.

The Department of Energy is currently seeking $648 million for "clean coal" projects in its 2009 budget request, "representing the largest budget request for coal RD&D in over 25 years."

Want to do more?

Check out our section on how you can fight "clean coal" in your community and online.

Coal is the Cleanest Thing Ever!

Socialism Then vs. Socialism Now for General Motors


Maybe Karl Marx was right about the inevitability of socialism, even if he got the exact mechanisms wrong.

Today many are decrying the government takeover of General Motors as "socialist." It's ironic, then, that it was a similarly knee-jerk aversion to "socialism" that, long ago, helped land Detroit's automakers in their present state.

From Roger Lowenstein's book, "While America Aged: How Pension Debts Ruined General Motors, Stopped the NYC Subways, Bankrupted San Diego, and Loom as the Next Financial Crisis" (p. 22-23):

G.M. had been forced to put up with government quotas, price controls, and meddling by the Labor Board during the war and its aftermath; now the company was anxious to return to normalcy, which the executives defined as operating its business with a free hand. [Alfred] Sloan, who had retired from day-to-day management but was still presiding as chairman, feared that expanding the federal welfare state would further, and perhaps irretrievably, entangle his company in the maws of government.

Looking across the Atlantic, welfare states were already emerging in Europe. Between the end of the war and 1948, the British government took over the country's coal mines, railroads, and gas and electric companies, all with rather little ado. The French leader General Charles de Gaulle nationalized Renault, France's leading automaker. In speeches and interviews, [Charlie] Wilson, an engineer like Sloan but 15 years younger and less parochial in his world view, argued that American industry and labor should work through their issues rather than submit to takeovers by the state — what Wilson termed "the philosophy of class conflict from Europe." The fear of creeping statism was very real. As Business Week warned, "British socialism seems a closer threat than Russian communism."

Obama's Great Illusion

By Yvonne Ridley

I wonder how many of you have woken up to the fact that America's latest leader is really a political Houdini ... an illusionist on a presidential scale.

Infront of our very eyes he has morphed from a gentle intellectual, and strong defender of human rights into a war-mongering bully who sponsors targetted assassinations and orders pre-emptive strikes with casual ease.

It took George W. Bush years before he dared to unveil his true intentions and invade Iraq, displacing three million people in a war which cost the lives of thousands of US soldiers and the slaughter of countless civilians.

Whereas the smooth-talking Obama has achieved the same in just a few months since he arrived in The White House by launching an illegal war on Pakistan ... but he's using someone else's army instead of his own.

He is twice as clever as the previous White House incumbent and far, far more deadly. Obama is quite possibly one of the world's most skillful manipulators and his greatest illusion so far is fooling the public as well as the media.

While blatantly using Pakistan's army as a cheap source of military labour he holds the country's leader Asif Ali Zadari in suspended animation, trapped helplessly in an almost hypnotic state, induced by the promise of millions of dollars and the support of the world's biggest military machine.

Of course we must lay some blame at Zadari's feet for allowing himself to be used like a magician's assistant instead of acting with the dignity and honour his office, country and people demand.

Obama is far more lethal than his predecessor - and yet his transformation from Mr Nice Guy to something more sinister seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the world's watching media which appears to be intoxicated by the powerful charisma emanating from his rich, but smooth seductive tones.

He has already reneged on promises over closing down Guantanamo, ending military tribunals and releasing to the public the entire archive of shame which captured the torture and abuse of the previous administration's War on Terror in video and film from 2001 onwards.

Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee remarked recently over one of his u-turns: "President Obama has recently granted immunity to CIA agents ... if the desire to get at what went wrong is so blatantly covered up under cover of "national security concerns", there will be no end to this. And once again, the warmongers will get away with another odious and criminal cover-up".

He has the power to make Guantanamo's vile prison disappear and for a few glorious weeks human rights activists across the world waited with baited breath for the cages of Cuba, Bagram and elsewhere to fly open.

Just how difficult is it for the media to dip into their own archives and remind Obama about the pledges he made on the campaign trail and hold him to account? His first promise on the White House website was that his administration would be the most transparent in US history. Sadly these grand statements have not been followed through.

But this journalistic amnesia is all too convenient - what happened to his determination to bring home all combat troops from Iraq within 18 months?

Is there no journalist from the White House lobby prepared to remind him of how he said during televised presidential debates that getting Usama bin Ladin was "our biggest national security priority"?

The Darker Brother