Sunday, March 22, 2009

Without Video Tibet Resistance Ignored

For a brief period of time the plight of the Tibetan people was in the minds of humanity. But without video they've been once again relegated to non-relevance. The media in the West only cares about an issue if there are pictures. So it doesn't matter how many people are slaughtered (witness Rwanda, Zimbabwe, the AIDS plague, Darfur, etc.,etc.):

Police arrested nearly 100 monks after hundreds of Tibetans attacked a police station and government officials in northwestern China, state media reported.

All but two of the 95 arrested Sunday were monks, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The Tibetans were arrested for their involvement in a violent protest Saturday apparently triggered by the disappearance of a Tibetan who escaped from police custody in Qinghai province, Xinhua said.

A Tibetan exile said the protest involved as many as 2,000 people and was sparked by the apparent suicide of a monk under investigation for unfurling a Tibetan flag.

Barack Obama on 60 Minutes: Transcript (3-22-09)

Read the full transcript. Excerpt below:

"Were you surprised by the intensity of the reaction, and the hostility from the AIG bonus debacle?" 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft asked.

"I wasn't surprised by it. Our team wasn't surprised by it. The one thing that I've tried to emphasize, though, throughout this week, and will continue to try to emphasize during the course of the next several months as we dig ourselves out of this economic hole that we're in, we can't govern outta anger. We've got to try to make good decisions based on the facts in order to put people back to work, to get credit flowing again. And I'm not gonna be distracted by what's happening day to day. I've gotta stay focused on making sure that we're getting this economy moving again," President Obama replied.

The president ordered Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to use every legal means to recover the bonus money from AIG. If it is not repaid, it will be deducted from the company's next bailout payment. The House decided to extract its own revenge by passing a bill that would impose a tax of up to 90 percent on the AIG bonuses and on the bonuses of anyone making more than $250,000 a year who works for a financial institution receiving more than $5 billion in bailout funds.

"I mean you're a constitutional law professor," Kroft remarked. "You think this bill's constitutional?"

"Well, I think that as a general proposition, you don't wanna be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals. You wanna pass laws that have some broad applicability. And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna use the tax code to punish people," the president replied. "I think that you've got an pretty egregious situation here that people are understandably upset about. And so let's see if there are ways of doing this that are both legal, that are constitutional, that upholds our basic principles of fairness, but don't hamper us from getting the banking system back on track."

"You've got a piece of legislation that could affect tens of thousands of people. Some of these people probably had nothing to do with the financial crisis. And some of them probably deserve the bonuses that they got," Kroft said. "I mean is that fair?"

"Well, that's why we're gonna have to take a look at this legislation carefully. Clearly, the AIG folks gettin' those bonuses didn't make sense. And one of the things that I have to do is to communicate to Wall Street that, given the current crisis that we're in, they can't expect help from taxpayers but they enjoy all the benefits that they enjoyed before the crisis happened. You get a sense that, in some institutions, that has not sunk in; that you can't go back to the old way of doing business, certainly not on the taxpayers' dime," Obama said. "Now the flip side is that Main Street has to understand, unless we get these banks moving again, then we can't get this economy to recover. And we don't wanna cut off our nose to spite our face."

"Your Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has been under a lot of pressure this week. And there have been people in Congress calling for his head. …Have there been discussions in the White House about replacing him?" Kroft asked.

"No," Obama said.

Asked if Geithner had volunteered or asked whether to step down, Obama told Kroft, "No. And he shouldn't. And if he were to come to me, I'd say, 'Sorry, Buddy. You've still got the job.' But look, he's got a lot of stuff on his plate. And he is doing a terrific job. And I take responsibility for not, I think, having given him as much help as he needs."

Obama says Geithner is not only responsible for the banks, the bailouts and the automobile industry, he also has to make sure the money is being spent wisely and report to Congress. Yet nearly a dozen high level Treasury department jobs remain unfilled and Geithner still has no deputy. Two people under consideration for the post withdrew their names after going through the vetting process.

"You know, this whole confirmation process, as I mentioned earlier has gotten pretty tough. It's been always tough. It's gotten tougher in the age of 24/7 news cycles. And a lot of people who we think are about to serve in the administration and Treasury suddenly say, 'Well, you know what? I don't wanna go through some of the scrutiny, embarrassment, in addition to taking huge cuts in pay,'" Obama explained.

"Have you offered some of these high level positions [in] the Treasury to people who would have turned them down?" Kroft asked.

"Absolutely. Yeah. And not because people didn't wanna serve. I think that people just felt that, you know, that the process has gotten very onerous," Obama said.

"Your Treasury secretary's plan, Geithner's plan, and your plan really for solving the banking crisis was met with very, very, very tepid response. A lot of people said they didn't understand it. A lot of people said it didn't have any, enough details to solve the problem. I know you're coming out with something next week on this. But these criticisms were coming from people like Warren Buffett, people who had supported you, and you had counted as being your…," Kroft said.

"And Warren still does support me. But I think that understand Warren's also a big player in the financial markets who's a major owner of Wells Fargo. And so he's got a perspective from the perspective of somebody who is part-owner of a bank. You've got members of Congress who've got a different perspective. Which is, 'We don't wanna spend any more taxpayer money.' You've got a whole host of players, all of whom may have a completely different solution. Right?" Obama said.