"Oh say can you see?" began the US's prescient national anthem ("The Star Spangled Banner"). The US's National Security Agency (NSA) answers 'we see pretty damn well,' but the 16-year-old Denver Colorado boy blown up by a drone in Yemen is silent.

Today is the day America's independence is typically celebrated. Until France's shameful refusal to let the President of Bolivia's plane in its airspace, I had thought its revolution had turned out better.

In 2013, a US court sentenced the former CIA agent who exposed CIA torture techniques to prison. 1

In 2012, the Italian Supreme Court upheld earlier convictions of 23 CIA agents for secret rendition and torture. 2

In 2009, a Chilean court convicted a conscript at the bottom of the command chain for torturing and murdering Chilean musician and pro-democracy activist Victor Jara, shortly after the September 11th 1973 US-backed coup which initiated Pinochet's bloody reign: Jara's hands were smashed before he was executed. 3 Late last year, eight former army lieutenants were also charged. 4

1 http://www.prisonplanet.com/whistleblower-john-kiriakou-sentenced-for-exposing-cia-torture.html.

2 http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/cia-agents-sentenced-in-italy-rendition-case-28501912.html.

3 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/28/chile-regime-murder-charge-victor-jara.

4 http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jan/02/chile-victor-jara-widow-asks-for-us-extradition/.


No one exposed the President of the United States. He revealed himself, by proposing a new way to calculate cost-of-living increases for people living on Social Security (fixed-income, pensioners, the old and infirm). His proposal is based on the fact that people do with less during hard times (when, for example, they can no longer afford people food, they will eat cat food).1 Those at the bottom of the economic ladder will be squeezed to finance continued tax cuts for those making between $250,000 and $400,000/year.

1 http://www.alternet.org/economy/explaining-pure-cruelty-obamas-gimmick-chained-cpi-simple-language.

Happy birthday, Bradley Manning! Your 26th year begins in confinement: may it end in freedom!! Your existence illuminates our world.

I'm not optimistic about the second term of a President so preoccupied with House Republicans over a nonexistent "fiscal cliff" that he lets the climate talks in Doha fail. I'm downright aghast that the US Department of Justice fined HSBC $1.9 billion for laundering drug cartel money (the bank made $38 billion over the past 2 years 2): Three amigos working hand-in-glove to for mutually assured profit.*

*The US "war on drugs" (wod) justifies its existence--of course by generating hysteria--and by number of arrests, which are, increasingly, of young women of color for simple possession of small amount of usually just marijuana.3 Applications for continued funding of the wod doubtless do not mention that these women become part of the prison-industrial labor pool. Nor do such applications mention that, without the wod, the bottom line of Mexican drug cartels would shrink about a third, i.e., the US wod generates profit for the cartels. Nor do wod refunding applications mention the human carnage perpetrated by the drug cartels on the peoples of Mexico. Another fact subsequent refunding applications will not mention is that in November 2012 two US states legalized marijuana for recreational use.

1 http://www.politico.com/morningenergy/.

2 http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-12-13&val=825059&cat=finance.

3 http://www.wpaonline.org/institute/hardhit/part1.htm#wc.

These are indeed ironic days. The CIA's policy of "total information awareness" has bagged a general, its director, who resigned after an investigation of his gmails revealed an amorous affair with his biographer. The US Republican Party is making its last stand in the US House of Representatives, whose senior committee chairs are all old white men. In the more demographically diverse US population at large, crime rates have dropped, but incarceration rates have quintupled.

Obama was declared winner of the November 6th US presidential election with the majority of the electoral college vote (332 compared to Romney's 206) and the majority of the popular vote (51 to Romney's 48%). Obama won 93% of the tallied African-American votes (Romney, 6%); 71% of tallied Hispanic votes (Romney, 27%); 60% of tallied youth votes (Romney, 36%); and 55% of tallied women's votes (Romney, 44%).

Nothing has changed; if Romney'd won they wouldn't be better (probably worse). Formally, nothing will change until 1/20/2013 when Obama will again pledge to defend the US Constitution. You'd think that someone whose nom de guerre could be "war criminal" would make human rights an important part of his second term. But the President does not seem preoccupied with making amends for his first term. Indeed, his agenda seems the same as before the election.

1 http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719; http://news.discovery.com/earth/world-bank-warns-4-degree-warming-121119.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1. .

2 http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2012/02/index.htm; http://www.primeeconomics.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/IMF-and-end-of-austerity.pdf.

"Where is my country? Where does it lie?" asked Nellie Wong in a 1984 poem.1 I've been asking myself that second question lately, as the 2012 US presidential election is nearly here.

Where does my country lie? The unfortunate fact is anywhere its major party presidential candidates speak. The current US President's biggest lie was his oath of office: when inaugurated, he swore to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and to the best of his ability "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." He belied his oath by subsequently signing the "National Defense Reauthorization Act," which stripped US citizens of their Constitutional civil rights (a more benign interpretation is that "the best of his ability" wasn't nearly good enough). Stripping said citizens of said rights is a de facto violation of said Constitution.

In addition to this BIG lie are other lies and deeds, like deporting, torturing--but not water boarding--disappearing, and killing people by remote control using aerial drones. And pursuing Julian Assange and countenancing the torture of Bradley Manning. No surprise, the Obama policy is to silence whistleblowers and not prosecute war criminals, let alone corruption.

A record as bad as Obama's suggests a clear-cut campaign strategy, each of his misdeeds a campaign issue. Not so. Obama's opponent, Romney, wants to be worse than Obama is (to, for example, expand the list of acceptable forms of torture to include water boarding). And so his campaign has consisted of one lie after another, petty lies like misquoting Obama or taking something he said out of context. Some in his own party have objected to Romney's lies, which numbered 27 in the first debate alone. 2 As to Romney's stated position, the answer depends on the day the question is asked. Changing your campaign position based, for example, on new incoming data, is rational. Changing it just because you really, really want to be called "president" is not.

Watch the 2 candidates not debate the real issues. 3 The 2 even had a memorandum of understanding about what not to talk about, including the inevitable effect of more drilling and more coal use and fracking.

Green Presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, who was not invited to the debates, was arrested before the second one and handcuffed to a metal chair in a special holding room overseen by a dozen police for 8 hours, only allowed to make 1 call, to her lawyer, who could be of no help as she had no idea how long she would be held.4

We Americans who haven't been purged from the lists of registered voters will have some influence on the election's outcome. Whether the integrity of the count--the tallying of our votes--will be preserved or not, I cannot say. That it can be tampered with is obvious. Those who count the votes decide everything (Joseph Stalin).

Whatever the official outcome of the US presidential election, everyone can be certain that the US will continue on the road to ecocide. And that US imperialism will continue. The differences between the 2 major party candidates, Harvard men both, on major issues is like the difference between coke and pepsi (AdBusters).

Where is my country? In my mind's eye alone, its essence crushed under corporate and imperial imperatives.

That the IMF and the current US President want to integrate Burma into the international community is imho no cause for celebration.5 Since letting "the market" decide--or the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement dictate terms--is folly, Burma is learning economics.6 Burma may decide, or not, that a citizen's dividend7 would further its democratic goals. The country may decide, or not, that certain corporations--like duPont, responsible for the ongoing tragedy of Bhopal---are not welcome within its borders. It is the right of Burma's people to decide, not for some outside corporation to impose.

1 Nellie Wong, Where Does My Country Lie?, The Death of Long Steam Lady, 1984 (Los Angeles: West End Press, 1986), 48-52.

2 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/opinion/krugman-the-secret-of-our-non-success.html, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlgekPB8Kok, http://www.towleroad.com/2012/10/chrysler.html, http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/13275547-romney-lies-grow-as-he-loses-campaign-message-on-obama-economy, http://www.politifact.com/personalities/mitt-romney/statements/byruling/false/, http://www.thenation.com/blog/170623/romneys-seven-biggest-debate-lies, http://www.politicususa.com/paul-krugman-takes-flamethrower-romneys-lies-economy.html.

3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g6Vj058tXQ, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjVABCcAgYY, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tecohezcA78.

4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojj8pk2pXg0.

5 http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/15915.

6 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-01/nobel-prize-winner-teaches-economics-to-laureate.html.

7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen's_dividend.