Obama’s Second Term Agenda Falls Short on Addressing U.S. Economic Inequality, XL Pipeline Protest, and 10 years After the World’s largest Demonstration

President Obama’s State of the Union address, delivered before Congress and the nation on Feb. 12, laid out priorities for his second term agenda. Prominent among Obama’s proposals was his call to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour, while indexing future increases to inflation. The minimum wage had not been raised since 2009. While conservative opponents assert any increase in the minimum wage will force small businesses to reduce hiring, there are many studies that contradict this view

On Feb. 17, tens of thousands of Americans – and a contingent of Canadians – rallied on the national mall in Washington, D.C. to demand that President Obama veto the government permit needed by TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across the international border that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The rally, dubbed as the largest climate change protest in U.S. history, was organized by the Sierra Club and 350.org. The extraction of tar sands oil in northern Canada – much of it on indigenous lands occupied by what are called First Nations – has already destroyed large areas of the land, poisoning both water and air. That’s likely the cause of new and more frequent occurrences of cancer and respiratory ailments among both humans and animals that live there. The spirited two-and-a-half hour rally in Washington featured a dozen speakers, including Van Jones, who worked briefly in the Obama White House as special adviser on Green Jobs. He now works with the group Rebuild the Dream. Here is his short, but powerful speech.

Ten years ago a growing number of people across the globe were becoming more and more concerned about then President George W. Bush’s escalating public threats  to go to war with Saddam Hussein, over the alleged danger posed by Iraq’s stockpile of  “weapons of mass destruction.” Those grave accusations, coupled with vague charges that Hussein’s government was somehow linked with the 9/11 attacks against the U.S., two years earlier, laid the groundwork to attract public support for President Bush’s decision to launch an invasion of Iraq on March 19th 2003.


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