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State of the Union: A bankrupt ruling class talking to itself

From World Socialist Web Site - January 30

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech was a cynical propaganda piece, filled with fraudulent claims and promises that no one, least of all his audience at the US Capitol, believes in the slightest.

The annual address has long since become an ossified ritual, a kind of national pep rally into which social and political reality seldom intrudes.

With Obama’s speech Tuesday night one had more than ever the sense of the president as chief representative of the financial aristocracy that rules America, speaking to a house filled with millionaire congress members and bought-and-paid-for representatives of big business.

It has more and more come to resemble a political echo chamber, in which the ruling establishment celebrates and talks to itself in utter indifference to the needs and concerns of the country’s working people, the overwhelming majority of the population.

The danger of war in Asia

From World Socialist Web Site - January 29

An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”

The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.

Obama’s legacy

From World Socialist Web Site - January 28

This evening, Barack Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address, an annual political tradition that over the years has become a hollow ritual, with little or no relationship between the president’s words and the actual state of American society. This year will be no different.

In the days leading up to this year’s address, administration officials have dampened expectations of significant initiatives. Instead, the speech will propose a series of minor measures aimed at shaping the “narrative” of the Obama presidency. According to a New York Times analysis over the weekend, Obama has “come to feel acutely the limits on his power,” but sees the State of the Union address as “a critical opportunity to drive an agenda that may yet shape his legacy.”

Defend Edward Snowden!

From World Socialist Web Site - January 27

In an interview Sunday with the German television network ARD, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden warned that US “government officials want to kill me.”

“These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower," Snowden said.

Snowden’s warning that the US government wants him dead to suppress his revelations of illegal NSA spying must be taken with the utmost seriousness. It raises the urgency of developing a mass movement to defend him and oppose the destruction of democratic rights.

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