Jun 302013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* TROUBLE IN PARADISE

Source: LRB

Slavoj Žižek on the protests in Turkey and Greece

In his early writings, Marx described the German situation as one in which the only answer to particular problems was the universal solution: global revolution. This is a succinct expression of the difference between a reformist and a revolutionary period: in a reformist period, global revolution remains a dream which, if it does anything, merely lends weight to attempts to change things locally; in a revolutionary period, it becomes clear that nothing will improve without radical global change. In this purely formal sense, 1990 was a revolutionary year: it was plain that partial reforms of the Communist states would not do the job and that a total break was needed to resolve even such everyday problems as making sure there was enough for people to eat.

Where do we stand today with respect to this difference? Are the problems and protests of the last few years signs of an approaching global crisis, or are they just minor obstacles that can be dealt with by means of local interventions? The most remarkable thing about the eruptions is that they are taking place not only, or even primarily, at the weak points in the system, but in places which were until now perceived as success stories. We know why people are protesting in Greece or Spain; but why is there trouble in such prosperous or fast-developing countries as Turkey, Sweden or Brazil? With hindsight, we might see the Khomeini revolution of 1979 as the original ‘trouble in paradise’, given that it happened in a country that was on the fast-track of pro-Western modernisation, and the West’s staunchest ally in the region. Maybe there is something wrong with our notion of paradise.

Before the current wave of protests, Turkey was hot: the very model of a state able to combine a thriving liberal economy with moderate Islamism, fit for Europe, a welcome contrast to the more ‘European’ Greece, caught in an ideological quagmire and bent on economic self-destruction. True, there were ominous signs here and there (Turkey’s denial of the Armenian holocaust; the arrests of journalists; the unresolved status of the Kurds; calls for a greater Turkey which would resuscitate the tradition of the Ottoman Empire; the occasional imposition of religious laws), but these were dismissed as small stains that should not be allowed to taint the overall picture.

Then the Taksim Square protests exploded. Everyone knows that the planned transformation of a park that borders on Taksim Square in central Istanbul into a shopping centre was not what the protests were ‘really about’, and that a much deeper unease was gaining strength. The same was true of the protests in Brazil in mid-June: what triggered those was a small rise in the cost of public transport, but they went on even after the measure was revoked. Here too the protests had exploded in a country which – according to the media, at least – was enjoying an economic boom and had every reason to feel confident about the future. In this case the protests were apparently supported by the president, Dilma Rousseff, who declared herself delighted by them. […]

READ @ http://www.lrb.co.uk/2013/06/28/slavoj-zizek/trouble-in-paradise

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* GREEK BAIL-OUT: 77% WENT INTO THE FINANCIAL SECTOR\

Source: Justice for Greece

Attac investigation shows: EU crisis management policy saves banks, not the general population.

Attac investigation shows: EU crisis management policy saves banks, not the general population.

Since March 2010, the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have applied 23 tranches comprising €206,9 billion to the so-called “Greek bail-out”. They have however provided hardly any documentation on the exact usage of those huge amounts of public funds. ATTAC Austria has therefore put up an investigation on the issue: At least 77% of the bail-out money can directly or indirectly be attributed to the financial sector.
The results in detail:

  • €58,2 billion (28,13%) were used to recapitalise Greek banks – instead of restructuring the too big and moribund sector in a sustainable way and letting the banks’ owners pay for their losses.
  • €101,331 billion (48,98%) went to creditors of the Greek state. €55,44 billion of these were used to repay maturing government bonds – instead of letting the creditors bear the risk for which they had received interest payments before. Another €34,6 billion served as incentive to make creditors agree to the so-called “haircut” in March 2012. €11,3 billion were used in a debt buyback in December 2012, when the Greek state bought back almost worthless bonds from its creditors.
  • €43,7 billion (22,46%) went into the national budget or couldn’t be definitively attributed.
  • €0,9 billion (0,43%) were used as Greek contribution to the new bail-out fund ESM.

“The goal of the political elites is not the rescue of the Greek population but the rescue of the financial sector”, Lisa Mittendrein of ATTAC concludes. “They used hundreds of billions of public money to save banks and other financial players – and especially their owners – from the financial crisis they caused.” […]

READ @ http://justiceforgreece.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/greek-bail-out-77-went-into-the-financial-sector/

LINKS: German version , Greek version

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* CAN SOUTHERN EUROPE KEEP THE SHOW ON THE ROAD?

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge

88119478-broken-euro_0

Three of the most important crisis hit countries in Southern Europe – Italy, Greece and Portugal – have been seeking to make progress under coalition Governments, representing a delicate balance of domestic political forces. In some ways they have been surprisingly successful; the pressure to avoid a more generalised crisis of confidence has pushed traditional opponents to cooperate in the interests of self-preservation. Recent events, as JPMorgan notes, have highlighted some of the existing fragilities however, and serve as a useful reminder that stability is far from guaranteed. In addition, the wounds inflicted by recent political battles may have a cumulative impact, weakening the commitment to cooperation in Government over the medium-term. This invites two questions; can they keep the show on the road, and for how long? The wear and tear of governing has created a series of cumulative pressures, which look a lot like the proverbial straws on the camels back. As JPMorgan concludes, at some point one of them is likely to cause a break (our instinct tells us risks are probably highest in Italy).

Via JPMorgan’s Alex White,

  • Political developments in the South are making life more difficult for the region’s Governments
  • In Greece, the new Government has a slim majority, and little margin for error
  • In Italy, ongoing legal pressure on Berlusconi is making cooperation in Government more difficult
  • The cumulative impact of coalition tensions could be unmanageable in the long-term
  • Near-term however, we are unlikely to see enough pressure to trigger a Government failure

Greece: A difficult new world

Developments in Greece over the past ten days have disappointed. Prime Minister Samaras chose to take a significant political gamble this month in closing ERT, the state broadcaster. This was an opportunity to push symbolic change and could have led to more political space for reform (see our note of June 14th). The gamble didn’t pay off, Samaras has been forced to row back on most of his original policy, in addition to losing one of his coalition partners – the small left-wing party, DIMAR. The Prime Minister has just unveiled a new Cabinet comprising ND and PASOK Ministers, which will hold a slim majority (153 seats in the 300 seat parliament). In effect, this will become Greece’s fourth Government in less than 2 years.

There have been several negatives consequences to the ERT affair, as well as one significant positive. Firstly, and most obviously, the Government now has a much slimmer majority, and can potentially be held hostage by the interests of individual MPs (although it will still be able to count on DIMAR support in some cases). Secondly, the momentum for reform that could have been triggered by a more successful resolution of ERT is likely to be lost; the Government can evidently be forced into concessions on public sector payrolls if resisted robustly enough.

There are significant positives as well. It has become obvious that the main parties will take almost any step to avoid an election, particularly PASOK. The new coalition arrangement effectively makes the two governing parties deeply co-dependent. ND dominates Government but couldn’t win a new election outright, while PASOK needs the oxygen of power to survive as a political force; creating an embrace that looks hard to break. There is a chance that DIMAR’s departure will concentrate minds, and a more coherent programme could potentially result (in effect the spell has been broken, and the two parties can no longer avoid the reality that they will live or fall together). The new Government will find life hard however; Greece is now led by a simple coalition of the two main parties who have governed since 1974, lending credence to opposition critiques of the way the country is managed.

Italy: Path ahead doesn’t look any easier

An Italian court has found against Silvio Berlusconi for the third time this year, ruling that he be disbarred from public office for life as a consequence of the ‘Ruby’ affair. In effect the ruling is even less likely to be implemented than the ones which preceded it, since it has yet to be put to appeal. However, it makes life incrementally more difficult for both sides of Italy’s fissiparous coalition, by reinforcing the polarising effects of Berlusconi’s role in public life. It will provide further support to those within PD (the centre-left) who argue that coalition with Berlusconi is unacceptable. It will also increase discontent within PdL, who see these developments as a politically motivated judicial ‘campaign’ to discredit their leader. In an environment where PdL has not got much of what it wants on major policy issues, this is likely to increase the perception that it is losing ground – which will create problems for the coalition.

These events come against the backdrop of increasing concern about a Government that has yet to deliver any substantive change. The ongoing increase in political distrust makes deadlock over the IMU property tax and other issues incrementally more difficult to overcome. Berlusconi’s problems are unlikely to trigger a new election in the near-term (there would be significant risks for all sides, including PdL). However, both main parties – and individual factions within them – are continuing to weigh up the balance of threats and opportunities inherent in a new campaign (particularly in the context of the recent fade in support for Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement).

Portugal: Positioning ahead of September elections

The Government continues to feel the impact of the political crisis of the last few months; which was triggered by the need to fill the fiscal hole created by the Constitutional Court’s ruling against aspects of the 2013 Budget. Pension measures remain particularly contentious, with the junior coalition party CDS-PP continuing to raise objections about aspects of the Government’s programme. Additional stresses are likely to emerge as the parties position for local elections in September, which will be particularly important for CDS-PP (the party will want to position itself as the restraining force within Government, and is likely to make life increasingly difficult for the Prime Minister). As with PASOK in Greece however, senior figures within the smaller party look to have made a strategic decision that their future lies in claiming credit for the success of the Government, while blocking what they can. The danger lies in the way that this particular balance continues to be delivered over the coming months.

More straws on the camel’s back

We expect all three Governments to survive the rest of the year, with the burden of responsibility for taking any decision that leads towards a broader crisis deterring individual parties from exiting. However, the wear and tear of governing has created a series of cumulative pressures, which look a lot like the proverbial straws on the camels back. At some point one of them is likely to cause a break (our instinct tells us risks are probably highest in Italy).

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/node/475731

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* THE GEZI DIARIES: CAN WE STILL CALL TURKEY CIVILIZED?

By Claire Berlinski, TheTower

taksim-gas-975x320

Some see it as a modern democracy with an Islamic tint, an improving, reforming country. But if you were in Istanbul during the last month and a half, you’d have seen something completely different: a violent, authoritarian, increasingly suppressive and brutal regime. Tales from the Dark Side, Turkish style.

I’ve always been a critic of armchair reporting. But when your armchair is four blocks away from Taksim Square, it has one of the best views of the uproar in Istanbul any diligent reporter could ask for. I’m now able to calculate with great precision the time between the beginning of the screaming, the sound of the shot, and the entry of the gas through my window. It’s two and twelve seconds respectively.

In the past month, Americans have seen violent images from Turkey on their television screens: massive clouds of tear gas, the sound of screams and sirens, lots of Turks looking mad as hell.

What’s it about? Another outburst of Muslim rage? Something about kids camping in a park? Isn’t Turkey supposed to be the model moderate Muslim miracle?

But understanding the explosion of violence pitting demonstrators against Turkey’s authoritarian and increasingly heavy-handed state—and why it surprised so many who should have known better—requires some work. Start by forgetting most of what you’ve been hearing for the past ten years about Turkey. Don’t try to compare it to any other country: not America, not Afghanistan, not Egypt, not Syria, not Iran, not Russia, and certainly not France in 1968—not that the latter would occur to you, but the French press seems crazy for the idea.

Here’s what you need to know, bare-bones: The supposedly secular Turkish Republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk almost a century ago was an authoritarian state, although not a totalitarian one. And yes, Jeanne Kirkpatrick was right, there is a difference. I went behind the Iron Curtain when the Wall was still standing. The USSR was indeed—immediately, visibly, on first sight—an evil empire. The Turkish Republic wasn’t remotely like that; there has never been all-encompassing government enslavement of the citizenry here, nor is there now, and I pray there never will be. But since its emergence after World War I, Turkey has always had weak institutions—and a state that’s strong as an ox. […]

READ @ http://www.thetower.org/article/the-gezi-diaries-erdogans-turkey-goes-medieval/

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* SUPREME COURT BOMBSHELL: NO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT

By Joe Wolverton, ll, J.D., NewAmerican

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The Supreme Court handed down a decision on June 17 that has been ignored by most media outlets, despite its devastating effect on one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Constitution.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that a person no longer has the right to remain silent as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment mandates that no one “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Salinas v. Texas, that part of the Bill of Rights has been excised — and has joined the list of so many other fundamental liberties that now lie on the scrap heap of history.

Here’s a little background of the circumstances of the Salinas case, as told by Slate:

Two brothers were shot at home in Houston. There were no witnesses — only shotgun shell casings left at the scene. Genovevo Salinas had been at a party at that house the night before the shooting, and police invited him down to the station, where they talked for an hour. They did not arrest him or read him his Miranda warnings. Salinas agreed to give the police his shotgun for testing. Then the cops asked whether the gun would match the shells from the scene of the murder. According to the police, Salinas stopped talking, shuffled his feet, bit his lip, and started to tighten up.

At trial, Salinas did not testify, but prosecutors described his reportedly uncomfortable reaction to the question about his shotgun. Salinas argued this violated his Fifth Amendment rights: He had remained silent, and the Supreme Court had previously made clear that prosecutors can’t bring up a defendant’s refusal to answer the state’s questions. This time around, however, Justice Samuel Alito blithely responded that Salinas was “free to leave” and did not assert his right to remain silent. He was silent. But somehow, without a lawyer, and without being told his rights, he should have affirmatively “invoked” his right to not answer questions. Two other justices signed on to Alito’s opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia joined the judgment, but for a different reason; they think Salinas had no rights at all to invoke before his arrest (they also object to Miranda itself). The upshot is another terrible Roberts Court ruling on confessions. In 2010 the court held that a suspect did not sufficiently invoke the right to remain silent when he stubbornly refused to talk, after receiving his Miranda warnings, during two hours of questioning.

Consider the ripple effect of the Salinas decision. Specifically, imagine how this ruling will alter the entire landscape of rights — including Miranda — and how they are applied (or not applied) to those accused of serious crimes. Here’s one potential application singled out by the Atlantic:

You know what’s a much more recent wrinkle to the potential precedent effect of today’s ruling? A case like that of the younger Boston Marathon suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who reportedly sat through 16 hours of questioning before he was read his Miranda rights. Had Tsarnaev, who was recovering from serious injuries at the time, remained silent during questioning without explicitly invoking his Fifth Amendment, prosecutors could, under the Salinas ruling, now use that silence to their advantage.

Guilty or not, suspects in the United States no longer have the right to remain silent. If they remain silent, moreover, that silence will now be interpreted as guilt and will indeed — despite what you see on television court and cop dramas — be used against that person in a court of law. Even, in fact, the highest court in the land.

Another terrifying twist to the Salinas decision is that it imposes on a suspect the necessity of invoking specific language before law enforcement will honor the basic civil liberties of a person who is (or historically, was) innocent until proven guilty.

Justice Breyer recognized how this novel necessity places a nearly insuperable barrier to invoking one’s right to remain silent. Writing for the dissent, Justice Breyer asked, “How can an individual who is not a lawyer know that these particular words [“I expressly invoke the privilege against self incrimination”] are legally magic?” […]

READ @ http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/15787-supreme-court-bombshell-no-right-to-remain-silent

Jun 292013
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Lice protesters against outpost-castles

Lice protesters against outpost-castles

Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

Update from Turkey 28-06-13:

The problem currently facing Turkey that has been the most harmful and has the longest background has been the conflicts with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). A major attempt at a solution had been the “Peace Process” that gave hope to millions across the country. Although the government had taken steps in negotiating a peace process with PKK, mobilizing the wise people across the country and promising peace for future, in the meantime more police “fortresses,” under the name of border outposts (far away from any borderline) have been constructed.

While the people of southeastern cities have been against the fortified police posts, the constructions had been going on throughout the process. There are claims that they were being built because the construction companies that won the tendering belonged to AKP members.

The history of the fortresses is infamous, especially among the Kurdish population and the leftists in the region, as they have been home to several mass graves for dozens of people in the last three decades, as well as occasional “accidental” shootings of people. In 1993, the town of Lice had been completely burned down by counter-terror teams and many people had “disappeared”.

While regional security is something the state needs to supply, when the people of the region do not feel secure with the presence of the state forces it is hardly achievable. As the Uludere massacre still remains to be investigated, and remembering that (as PM Erdogan stated) no soldiers would carry out any operation without his knowledge and on orders of the Minister of Interior, the Lice shootings caused further unease.

18 year-old Medeni Yildirim, killed by a bullet

18 year-old Medeni Yildirim, killed by a bullet in Lice.

When the construction of one such police post was being protested yesterday in Lice/Diyarbakir, national security forces fired on people, and an 18-year-old died and 10 were wounded, with three of them in critical condition. The bullet marks were in the backs of most of the people who were shot with bullets.

The local governor told the press that the security forces only opened fire shooting into the air and that civilians must have shot each other in order to put the blame on soldiers. The mainstream media gave the breaking news with the following headline: “Soldiers open fire in the air, one dead, 5 wounded.” Later on the mainstream media continued to refer to the local Governor’s and state officials’ statements describing the protesters as “terrorists” and saying that they attacked the soldiers.

If this terrible event had happened a month ago, the majority of the people in the west would have taken the word of state officials and mainstream media. Yet this time, the social media played a major role once again and the Gezi protesters mobilized and took to the streets to protest the bullets fired in Lice. While government officials declared this part of a conspiracy to end the peace process, the majority of the people on the streets seemed to have no problem with the Kurdish population in terms of civil peace.

Thousands of people marched till late hours in many western cities and showed their support for the people of Lice, including the nationalist groups that have stopped believing the news from the mainstream media. Even the former “hawks” of the nationalist groups have started using a more peaceful vocabulary. The ethnic Kurdish party BDP had already declared that the Kurds would soon take to the streets to demand acceleration of the peace process and a halt to construction of further military posts. Now it has already naturally joined in with the Gezi protesters in solidarity against state-instigated violence.

Banner reads: We want peace not war.

Banner reads: We want peace not war.

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

PREVIOUS UPDATES: 

Turkey: Justice Remains a Long-Lost Dream @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-justice-remains-a-long-lost-dream/

Turkey: Erdogan Government Subjugates Police and the Courts @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogan-government-subjugates-police-and-the-courts/

Turkey: Another Night of Heavy Crackdowns @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-another-night-of-heavy-crackdowns/

MORE UPDATES @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND DAILY UPDATES ON TURKEY:

OccupyGezi @ https://www.rebelmouse.com/OccupyGezi/

Show Support for Turkey and LIKE and SHARE this Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/Gezisolidarity

FOR DAILY LIVESTREAM UPDATES ON TURKEY AND WORLD EVENTS:

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Jun 282013
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Mesru-Mudafa-268x300

Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

Update from Turkey 27-06-13:

Justice remains a long-lost dream for civilian people in Turkey. As rapists and murderers connected to government are protected, those who complain of injustice experience dawn raids on their homes, detention, torture, and arbitrary violence by the police.

As Gezi protests continue with additional subjects to be protested, such as the killing of Ethem Sarisuluk by police, excessive use of force, and arbitrary violence, government and other related official bodies continue to victimize civilians. Hundreds of people have been detained, dozens arrested during dawn raids across the country. In Izmir alone, more than 160 people have applied to official bodies with complaints of torture by police, while in Antalya there is even a video of 15 policemen beating three youngsters.

There is one special case, of a taxi driver in Istanbul who was beaten violently by several policemen, losing an eye, then thrown into a barricade fire. He could  hardly speak but said that he was simply in the neighborhood, returning home from work, parked his taxi, and police attacked him on the suspicion that he was a protester.

BNsn744CQAIRV5Q.jpg-large

As PM Erdogan, ministers, and other state officials continue to glorify police violence and the methods used against peaceful protesters, people feel insecure when police are around. The arbitrary violence continues to dominate streets, random ID checks, strip searches, and detentions for no apparent reason, or simply for wearing miniskirts/shorts for women.

While harassment becomes an integral part of police violence, nights still see police attacks against peaceful protesters in several cities and detainees still suffer maltreatment. There are people who support this kind of violence, from among AKP lines, ministers, policemen, or simply those who wish to see all protesters gone from their lives.

When people apply to courts to complain of harassment, maltreatment, torture, violence they hear the decision that the policeman who shot Ethem was released and they give up, simply because if the state protects the criminal for killing a civilian, they are scared to imagine what would happen to those who complain of step-before-death experiences.

Currently the most threatened group of people are those who write and distribute the news online, especially in foreign languages. A few days ago the Mayor of Istanbul had called for all social-media users with foreign languages to tell the world that everything is fine and Istanbul is safe now; the very same day PM Erdogan said “The time has come for those who write about Gezi to tell the world of the news.” Currently there are reports of people who have been posting online, writing blogs and microblogs. There is no official ban on any platform, and Twitter has refused to share information with the Turkish government.

However, there are many people who use their real names online and chances are high that they will face trouble for their support for the protests, or simply for journalism. As of this morning, Istanbul general police headquarters declared that they have started investigating all the tweets on the Gezi protests and will soon start action against those found guilty.

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MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

PREVIOUS UPDATES: 

Turkey: Erdogan Government Subjugates Police and the Courts @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogan-government-subjugates-police-and-the-courts/

Turkey: Another Night of Heavy Crackdowns @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-another-night-of-heavy-crackdowns/

Turkish Protesters’ Park-Forums @ http://99getsmart.com/turkish-protesters-park-forums/

Turkey: Erdogan’s Kayseri speech @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-kayseri-speech/

Gezi Park: Civilian Occupation Ends, Police Occupation Begins @ http://99getsmart.com/gezi-park-civilian-occupation-ends-police-occupation-begins/

“Tools of Freedom”: EU Parliament Conference on Events in Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/tools-of-freedom-eu-parliament-conference-on-events-in-turkey/

Turkey: As AKP Aims to Silence International Media, Police Continue to Storm Taksim; Uprising Spreads @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-as-akp-aims-to-silence-intl-media-police-continue-to-storm-taksim-uprising-spreads/

Turkey: Resistance Park @  http://99getsmart.com/turkey-resistance-park/

Turkey: Regime Ignores International Community’s Outrage @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-regime-ignores-international-communitys-outrage/

Turkey: The “Cleaning” of Taksim Square @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-the-cleaning-of-taksim-square/

Turkey: Artists Accused of “Civilian Coup” @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-artists-accused-of-civilian-coup/

Turkey: Erdogan’s Fictitious ‘Reality’ Persists in Speech to Paid ‘Supporters’ @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-fictitious-reality-persists-in-speech-to-paid-supporters/

Green Spaces Keep Shrinking, Boycotts Expand and Police Complain about Working Conditions @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-green-spaces-keep-shrinking-boycotts-expand-and-police-complain-about-working-conditions/

EU-Turkey Conference Minimizes Overt Police Brutality, Erdogan’s Ongoing Hypocricy & the Failure of Turkish Main Stream Media  @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-eu-turkey-conference-minimizes-overt-police-brutality-erdogans-ongoing-hypocricy-the-failure-of-turkish-main-stream-media/

Nightly report from Turkey 07-06-13 @ http://99getsmart.com/nightly-report-from-turkey-07-06-13/

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND DAILY UPDATES ON TURKEY:

Turkey: World Record for Journalists Imprisoned @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-world-record-for-journalists-imprisoned/

OccupyGezi @ https://www.rebelmouse.com/OccupyGezi/

Show Support for Turkey and LIKE and SHARE this Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/Gezisolidarity

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Jun 272013
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

whistleblower_

In the course of his professional life in the world of national security Edward Snowden must have gone through numerous probing interviews, lie detector examinations, and exceedingly detailed background checks, as well as filling out endless forms carefully designed to catch any kind of falsehood or inconsistency. The Washington Post (June 10) reported that “several officials said the CIA will now undoubtedly begin reviewing the process by which Snowden may have been hired, seeking to determine whether there were any missed signs that he might one day betray national secrets.”

Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.

It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance. 1

So what is a poor National Security State to do? Well, they might consider behaving themselves. Stop doing all the terrible things that grieve people like me and Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and so many others. Stop the bombings, the invasions, the endless wars, the torture, the sanctions, the overthrows, the support of dictatorships, the unmitigated support of Israel; stop all the things that make the United States so hated, that create all the anti-American terrorists, that compel the National Security State – in pure self defense – to spy on the entire world.

Eavesdropping on the planet

The above is the title of an essay that I wrote in 2000 that appeared as a chapter in my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Here are some excerpts that may help to put the current revelations surrounding Edward Snowden into perspective …

Can people in the 21st century imagine a greater invasion of privacy on all of earth, in all of history? If so, they merely have to wait for technology to catch up with their imagination.

Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex … satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links … voice, text, images … captured by satellites continuously orbiting the earth, then processed by high-powered computers … if it runs on electromagnetic energy, NSA is there, with high high tech. Twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps billions of messages sucked up each day. No one escapes. Not presidents, prime ministers, the UN Secretary-General, the pope, the Queen of England, embassies, transnational corporation CEOs, friend, foe, your Aunt Lena … if God has a phone, it’s being monitored … maybe your dog isn’t being tapped. The oceans will not protect you. American submarines have been attaching tapping pods to deep underwater cables for decades.

Under a system codenamed ECHELON, launched in the 1970s, the NSA and its junior partners in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada operate a network of massive, highly automated interception stations, covering the globe amongst them. Any of the partners can ask any of the others to intercept its own domestic communications. It can then truthfully say it does not spy on its own citizens.

Apart from specifically-targeted individuals and institutions, the ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting huge quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from the mass of unwanted ones. Every intercepted message – all the embassy cables, the business deals, the sex talk, the birthday greetings – is searched for keywords, which could be anything the searchers think might be of interest. All it takes to flag a communication is for one of the parties to use a couple or so of the key words in the ECHELON “dictionary” – “He lives in a lovely old white house on Bush Street, right near me. I can shoot over there in two minutes.” Within limitations, computers can “listen” to telephone calls and recognize when keywords are spoken. Those calls are extracted and recorded separately, to be listened to in full by humans. The list of specific targets at any given time is undoubtedly wide ranging, at one point including the likes of Amnesty International and Christian Aid.

ECHELON is carried out without official acknowledgment of its existence, let alone any democratic oversight or public or legislative debate as to whether it serves a decent purpose. The extensiveness of the ECHELON global network is a product of decades of intense Cold War activity. Yet with the end of the Cold War, its budget – far from being greatly reduced – was increased, and the network has grown in both power and reach; yet another piece of evidence that the Cold War was not a battle against something called “the international communist conspiracy”.

The European Parliament in the late 1990s began to wake up to this intrusion into the continent’s affairs. The parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee commissioned a report, which appeared in 1998 and recommended a variety of measures for dealing with the increasing power of the technologies of surveillance. It bluntly advised: “The European Parliament should reject proposals from the United States for making private messages via the global communications network [Internet] accessible to US intelligence agencies.” The report denounced Britain’s role as a double-agent, spying on its own European partners.

Despite these concerns the US has continued to expand ECHELON surveillance in Europe, partly because of heightened interest in commercial espionage – to uncover industrial information that would provide American corporations with an advantage over foreign rivals.

German security experts discovered several years ago that ECHELON was engaged in heavy commercial spying in Europe. Victims included such German firms as the wind generator manufacturer Enercon. In 1998, Enercon developed what it thought was a secret invention, enabling it to generate electricity from wind power at a far cheaper rate than before. However, when the company tried to market its invention in the United States, it was confronted by its American rival, Kenetech, which announced that it had already patented a near-identical development. Kenetech then brought a court order against Enercon to ban the sale of its equipment in the US. In a rare public disclosure, an NSA employee, who refused to be named, agreed to appear in silhouette on German television to reveal how he had stolen Enercon’s secrets by tapping the telephone and computer link lines that ran between Enercon’s research laboratory and its production unit some 12 miles away. Detailed plans of the company’s invention were then passed on to Kenetech.

In 1994, Thomson S.A., located in Paris, and Airbus Industrie, based in Blagnac Cedex, France, also lost lucrative contracts, snatched away by American rivals aided by information covertly collected by NSA and CIA. The same agencies also eavesdropped on Japanese representatives during negotiations with the United States in 1995 over auto parts trade.

German industry has complained that it is in a particularly vulnerable position because the government forbids its security services from conducting similar industrial espionage. “German politicians still support the rather naive idea that political allies should not spy on each other’s businesses. The Americans and the British do not have such illusions,” said journalist Udo Ulfkotte, a specialist in European industrial espionage, in 1999.

That same year, Germany demanded that the United States recall three CIA operatives for their activities in Germany involving economic espionage. The news report stated that the Germans “have long been suspicious of the eavesdropping capabilities of the enormous U.S. radar and communications complex at Bad Aibling, near Munich”, which is in fact an NSA intercept station. “The Americans tell us it is used solely to monitor communications by potential enemies, but how can we be entirely sure that they are not picking up pieces of information that we think should remain completely secret?” asked a senior German official. Japanese officials most likely have been told a similar story by Washington about the more than a dozen signals intelligence bases which Japan has allowed to be located on its territory.

In their quest to gain access to more and more private information, the NSA, the FBI, and other components of the US national security establishment have been engaged for years in a campaign to require American telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design their equipment and networks to optimize the authorities’ wiretapping ability. Some industry insiders say they believe that some US machines approved for export contain NSA “back doors” (also called “trap doors”).

The United States has been trying to persuade European Union countries as well to allow it “back-door” access to encryption programs, claiming that this was to serve the needs of law-enforcement agencies. However, a report released by the European Parliament in May 1999 asserted that Washington’s plans for controlling encryption software in Europe had nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with US industrial espionage. The NSA has also dispatched FBI agents on break-in missions to snatch code books from foreign facilities in the United States, and CIA officers to recruit foreign communications clerks abroad and buy their code secrets, according to veteran intelligence officials.

For decades, beginning in the 1950s, the Swiss company Crypto AG sold the world’s most sophisticated and secure encryption technology. The firm staked its reputation and the security concerns of its clients on its neutrality in the Cold War or any other war. The purchasing nations, some 120 of them – including prime US intelligence targets such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia – confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to their embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, and fax. And all the while, because of a secret agreement between the company and NSA, these governments might as well have been hand delivering the messages to Washington, uncoded. For their Crypto AG machines had been rigged before being sold to them, so that when they used them the random encryption key could be automatically and clandestinely transmitted along with the enciphered message. NSA analysts could read the messages as easily as they could the morning newspaper.

In 1986, because of US public statements concerning the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, the Libyans began to suspect that something was rotten with Crypto AG’s machines and switched to another Swiss firm, Gretag Data Systems AG. But it appears that NSA had that base covered as well. In 1992, after a series of suspicious circumstances over the previous few years, Iran came to a conclusion similar to Libya’s, and arrested a Crypto AG employee who was in Iran on a business trip. He was eventually ransomed, but the incident became well known and the scam began to unravel in earnest.

In September 1999 it was revealed that NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” into Windows software, in all versions from 95-OSR2 onwards. An American computer scientist, Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym in North Carolina, had disassembled parts of the Windows instruction code and found the smoking gun – Microsoft’s developers had failed to remove the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for two keys. One was called “KEY”. The other was called “NSAKEY”. Fernandez presented his finding at a conference at which some Windows developers were also in attendance. The developers did not deny that the NSA key was built into their software, but they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users’ knowledge. Fernandez says that NSA’s “back door” in the world’s most commonly used operating system makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.”

In February 2000, it was disclosed that the Strategic Affairs Delegation (DAS), the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry, had prepared a report in 1999 which also asserted that NSA had helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to the DAS report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the [Microsoft] MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” The report stated that there had been a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumors about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” The Pentagon, said the report, was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.

Recent years have seen disclosures that in the countdown to their invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had listened in on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and all the members of the UN Security Council during a period when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.

It’s as if the American national security establishment feels that it has an inalienable right to listen in; as if there had been a constitutional amendment, applicable to the entire world, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the government to intercept the personal communications of anyone.” And the Fourth Amendment had been changed to read: “Persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, except in cases of national security, real or alleged.” 2

The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee

Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.

Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.

Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.

Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.

A common Agency tactic was writing editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.

Wooing the working class came in for special treatment. Labor organizations by the dozen, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them.

In 1975 these revelations were new and shocking; for many readers it was the first hint that American foreign policy was not quite what their high-school textbooks had told them nor what the New York Times had reported.

“As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere, an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British ‘case officer’ operates … All of it … presented with deadly accuracy,” wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, and ardent foe of Agee. (There’s no former CIA officer more hated by members of the intelligence establishment than Agee; no one’s even close; due in part to his traveling to Cuba and having long-term contact with Cuban intelligence.)

In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released.

In 1969, Agee resigned from the CIA (and colleagues who “long ago ceased to believe in what they are doing”).

While on the run from the CIA as he was writing Inside the Company – at times literally running for his life – Agee was expelled from, or refused admittance to, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. (West Germany eventually gave him asylum because his wife was a leading ballerina in the country.) Agee’s account of his period on the run can be found detailed in his book On the Run (1987). It’s an exciting read.

Notes

Jun 262013
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Erdogans-Police-Brutality-in-Turkey

Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

Update from Turkey 25-06-13:

The use of excessive force had drawn reaction from all around the world, to which PM Erdogan had said “The police officers responsible will get their due punishments if they have gone beyond their duties and orders.” Hearing this statement and still very suspicious whether the government was to be trusted or not – as the very same government had promised not to do any of what has been unleashed onto the people –, millions of people started waiting for the investigations. The initial result of the investigations revealed that there was only one police officer who used excessive force, but his name would not be released. The great discontent after this grew much greater after the court decisions of the last few days.

Recently a court case was closed against four military officers who had raped a 13-year-old girl. They received no punishment; the court ruled that “the 13-year-old girl was willing to have intercourse with four men.” Anger against the justice system was triggered with this decision and thousands joined in protests to call for officials to actually abide by the law and serve justice. While during weekend the rape case was still hot, a new day came with a court decision to free the police officer who shot and killed Ethem Sarisuluk. Whereas Ethem’s killer was released, a boy who threw a stone at a policeman in Mersin was given a 92-year prison sentence for “attacking the State” just days ago.

Ethem was shot directly in the head by a police bullet. The court did not care to look for evidence, yet video footage shows how he was killed, and witnesses have described it. The policeman’s statement was “I was being attacked by protesters, they got my armor, my helmet and my baton. I was scared and whatever I did was in self-protection against thte disproportionate violence of protesters.” Hearing these words and considering that the PM had already stated his full support for the police forces, the judges decided to release the policeman on grounds of self-defense.

It is now important to remember what has changed since Erdogan stated that there would be investigations and that those responsible would get their punishment: Thousands of policemen across the country started falling into unrest, and the opinion of a majority of them could be generalized in one sentence: “If you punish us for applying the orders you gave –orders that came with the threat of losing our jobs if we didn’t obey –, then we will join with the protesters.”

The protest of the police forces deepened the police-state attitude of the government, thus leading to even harsher handling of protests and protection of police forces. On Monday, during the graduation ceremony at the police academy, Erdogan gave a speech and addressed the “heroes of our times.” He glorified every police action and defended them against criticisms. Fearing the reaction of 250,000 police in country-wide protests and having to use the military to suppress these protests, Erdogan went so far as to say “my police have written a legend recently, it has epic value. You are the heroes of this country. I will not let anyone touch my police.” The Mayor of Ankara also sent banners saying “We are thankful to our police forces for everything” to the scene where Ethem was killed, glorifying the violence.

The policemen, seeing how they are already protected by the government and will not be punished for any unlawful act they carry out, have already been terrorizing the streets by applying arbitrary violence or unnecessary tension through shows of force, such as directing their rifles at people, asking for ID cards on streets, randomly grabbing people’s bags/purses and checking inside, taking those who protest such actions to police headquarters, etc.

This morning, there were dawn raids against 30 homes. People who participated in the Gezi protests were detained on the grounds of “supporting terrorist activities.” The definition of terrorism seems to have been broadened in Turkey recently… While the state TV TRT has become the government’s propaganda machine, the Mayor of Ankara, Gökcek – infamous for his threats against journalists and hate speech directed at them – stated that CHP (the main opposition party) should be closed down for the sake of democracy, as CHP was a “terrorist” party for supporting the protests. Gökcek continued to state “This is all a global Communist conspiracy to topple AKP, they are supported by England, Germany, Russia, Iran, all around the world; all the world is against AKP and conservatives and democrats.”

It is also important to remember that justice only serves the government when needed and that non-AKP civilians cannot seek it. Whenever there is any kind of criticism towards the government, either the PM himself or another official from the party declares “I have given orders to my judges, they will handle this.” Or each time someone criticizes the Mayor of Ankara, he gets sued. And it’s also important to note PM Erdogan’s remarks about two months ago: “Seeing the support of the popular will, the vote share of 50% that we received, the law should know its place and bow to the national will.” Seeing that there is also now a powerful brake on appeals to the European Court of Human Rights – a major court at the top level slows down the process of using all possible judicial steps in the country –, there is great arrogance from a government that feels it is untouchable by the people.

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

PREVIOUS UPDATES: 

Turkey: Another Night of Heavy Crackdowns @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-another-night-of-heavy-crackdowns/

Turkish Protesters’ Park-Forums @ http://99getsmart.com/turkish-protesters-park-forums/

Turkey: Erdogan’s Kayseri speech @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-kayseri-speech/

Gezi Park: Civilian Occupation Ends, Police Occupation Begins @ http://99getsmart.com/gezi-park-civilian-occupation-ends-police-occupation-begins/

“Tools of Freedom”: EU Parliament Conference on Events in Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/tools-of-freedom-eu-parliament-conference-on-events-in-turkey/

Turkey: As AKP Aims to Silence International Media, Police Continue to Storm Taksim; Uprising Spreads @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-as-akp-aims-to-silence-intl-media-police-continue-to-storm-taksim-uprising-spreads/

Turkey: Resistance Park @  http://99getsmart.com/turkey-resistance-park/

Turkey: Regime Ignores International Community’s Outrage @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-regime-ignores-international-communitys-outrage/

Turkey: The “Cleaning” of Taksim Square @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-the-cleaning-of-taksim-square/

Turkey: Artists Accused of “Civilian Coup” @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-artists-accused-of-civilian-coup/

Turkey: Erdogan’s Fictitious ‘Reality’ Persists in Speech to Paid ‘Supporters’ @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-fictitious-reality-persists-in-speech-to-paid-supporters/

Green Spaces Keep Shrinking, Boycotts Expand and Police Complain about Working Conditions @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-green-spaces-keep-shrinking-boycotts-expand-and-police-complain-about-working-conditions/

EU-Turkey Conference Minimizes Overt Police Brutality, Erdogan’s Ongoing Hypocricy & the Failure of Turkish Main Stream Media  @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-eu-turkey-conference-minimizes-overt-police-brutality-erdogans-ongoing-hypocricy-the-failure-of-turkish-main-stream-media/

Nightly report from Turkey 07-06-13 @ http://99getsmart.com/nightly-report-from-turkey-07-06-13/

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND DAILY UPDATES ON TURKEY:

Turkey: World Record for Journalists Imprisoned @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-world-record-for-journalists-imprisoned/

OccupyGezi @ https://www.rebelmouse.com/OccupyGezi/

Show Support for Turkey and LIKE and SHARE this Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/Gezisolidarity

FOR DAILY LIVESTREAM UPDATES ON TURKEY AND WORLD EVENTS:

Occupy World News Network (OWNN) @ http://www.livestream.com/occupyworldnewsnow

Jun 262013
 

El análisis de James Petras, 99GetSmart

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“Esa coexistencia entre corrupción, enriquecimiento y la incapacidad de atender las exigencias populares queda latente por muchas razones. Por razones de la mistificación de Lula como demagogo populista y después con Rousseff con la esperanza de que ella podría –por lo menos- eliminar la corrupción que estaba fuertemente ubicada en todos los niveles del gobierno y del partido. Sin embargo, se acaba la paciencia, el gobierno involucrado con enormes gastos multimillonarios para la Copa, los juegos olímpicos, etcétera, y la gente no aguanta más”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras al analizar este lunes (*) en CX36, lo que está pasando en Brasil. Además, Petras explicó en que está el ‘caso Snowden’, habló de lo que dejó la reunión del G8 y adelantó un trabajo que está concluyendo sobre la demagogia política en Estados Unidos. Transcribimos este análisis a continuación.

Efrain Chury Iribarne: Estamos saludando con mucho gusto a James Petras que ya está en contacto con CX36.

Tenemos muchos temas hoy, si te parece comenzamos con Brasil que vive una situación de agitación popular realmente fuerte.

Petras: Si es muy importante discutir de Brasil porque tiene implicaciones para todos los países de América Latina que combinan un tipo de populismo con el neoliberalismo.

Hace más de 6 años yo escribí sobre los primeros años de gobierno de Lula enfatizando la continuidad entre su política económica y las expresiones populistas que él articulaba. En realidad, Brasil sigue la política de privatización del enfoque sobre el modelo agro mineral, con enormes proyectos que no tienen nada que ver con las necesidades populares y todo disfrazado bajo una imagen de Lula como amigo de los pobres y los programas supuestamente anti pobreza. Ahora, mientras Brasil acumulaba enormes recursos económicos a partir de los altos precios de los commodities, mucha gente academica pensaba que los programas anti pobreza está levantando mucha gente a la clase media y con el gasto de los consumidores eso formaba un nuevo proyecto progresista. Pero en realidad lo que estaba pasando en Brasil era una enorme concentración de ganancia, una enorme acumulación de riqueza y mucho pasaba directamente a las multinacionales y a las cuentas externas. Hemos visto como en Nueva York, en Florida, en Miami, los brasileños venían comprando departamentos de un millón, dos millones de dólares y nosotros pensábamos que algo de enorme concentración de riqueza venía pasando.

Pero los progresistas, los académicos propagandistas del régimen como Emir Sader decían que realmente Lula -y después Rousseff- formaron un nuevo modelo progresista que combinaba bienestar social con el crecimiento económico. En realidad mientras algunos ingresos aumentaran el estandard  de vida,especialmente  la vida cotidiana, se estaba deteriorando. Es decir que si siempre mirabas el ingreso del pobre aumentó en un 20, 30% en términos nominales, pero los gastos para vivir, las condiciones de vida, los hospitales, el transporte, las escuelas no recibieron las subvenciones. Las subvenciones fueron a tres lados, fueron primero al sector agro mineral que era el motor de crecimiento -exportaciones de minerales, petróleo y agricultura, soja, carne,; por otro lado los enormes gastos en proyectos que beneficiaban los grandes contratistas; y tercero a partir de los contratos en los mega proyectos una enorme explosión de corrupción.

Esa coexistencia entre corrupción, enriquecimiento y la incapacidad de atender las exigencias populares queda latente por muchas razones. Por razones de la mistificación de Lula como demagogo populista y después con Rousseff con la esperanza de que ella podría por lo menos eliminar la corrupción que estaba fuertemente ubicado en todos los niveles del gobierno y del partido.

Sin embargo, se acaba la paciencia, el gobierno involucrado con enormes gastos multimillonarios para la Copa, los juegos olímpicos, la gente no aguanta más. Pero pensar que sólo eran los 20 centavos de aumento por el transporte es una de las cosas más ignorantes y pensar que sólo es en exigencia en los servicios públicos también es falso.

Es el conjunto del sistema, la construcción de una economía, donde toda la riqueza y todas las subvenciones están concentrados en una pequeña elite agro mineral y los banqueros y contratistas que se benefician de este proyecto.

El problema es sistémico, no es por un simple cambio de políticas públicas, es la estructura de poder que está influyendo sobre las políticas de Lula y Rousseff, la estructura que concentra poder en los grandes agro negociosos, dueños de minas como Vale de Doce,  y otras empresas

EChI: ¿Qué le han parecido los resultados de la reunión del Grupo de los 8 que tuvo como centro el problema de Siria?

JP: No resolvieron nada en serio. Porque en realidad los países de Europa y Estados Unidos estaban canalizando armas y dinero, junto con las monarquías del Golfo hacia los terroristas, eso ya lo sabemos. Ahora hay una escalada, armas más pesadas que están entregando a los terroristas.

La clave de la reunión era un fracaso de negociar un trato de libre comercio entre Estados Unidos y Europa.Hay tanta discrepancias sobre diferentes sectores económicos que no quieren abrir el mercado, el conflicto entre Francia y Estados Unidos sobre los medios de comunicación y la independencia cultural, las subvenciones norteamericanas sobre la agricultura, las prohibiciones en Europa contra Monsanto y las químicas que están involucrados en diferentes productos norteamericanos; esto sí fue un enorme fracaso.

El hecho de que llegaran allá y que no pudieran firmar ningún acuerdo sobre la gran crisis europea y el estancamiento norteamericano, es notable. Y tratar de concentrar ahora sobre lo que arreglaron con Siria, me parece una indicación de que son incapaces de superar la crisis económica y simplemente postergaran cualquier decisión para el futuro

EChI: Petras recién mencionabas Monsanto, el otro día recibió un premio muy importante ¿cómo consecuencia de qué recibió ese premio?

JP: No sé sobre el premio que refieres…

Pero Monsanto tiene mucho poder económico, tiene acciones multimillonarias, tienen directores involucrados con todos los sectores económicos, enorme influencia en los medios, en los gobiernos y también con los grandes productores en el campo, entonces es un complejo financiero químico agricultor y siempre pueden conseguir cualquier premio en cualquier contexto.

El hecho es que hay una conciencia cada vez más amplia y profunda del daño que Monsanto produce con los químicos, las fumigaciones y la química en la comida .Y también el hecho que tratan de imponer la semilla transgénica que pueden costar a agricultores pequeños y medianos una enorme pérdida de ingresos y costos.

Yo creo que Monsanto es el principal enemigo de muchos agro ecologistas en este mundo que vivimos. En Europa tiene tanta fuerza que limitan la aplicación de la química de Monsanto. El eje de Monsanto está en Norteamérica, en Estados Unidos, en Canadá, en México, y en Inglaterra también. El problema es que cuando la gente aprende es demasiado tarde y por eso Estados Unidos tiene problema al exportar carne y diferentes granos a muchos países, tratan de decir que es un problema de proteccionismo, cuando es un problema de Salud.

EChI: Pasemos a las denuncias de espionaje, el denominado ‘caso Snowden’. ¿En qué está esto?

JP: Lo que pasa con Edward Snowden, es que las revelaciones que hizo sobre el espionaje tuvo enormes repercusiones en todo el mundo, muestra la proyección del estado policíaco interno hacia todo el mundo. No es simplemente para recopilar información sobre todas las comunicaciones entre todo el mundo, sino utilizándola para arreglar la política norteamericana, consiguen información a través del espionaje que después utilizan en cualquier situación militar, económica, negociaciones, etc.

Más allá de eso, el señor Snowden, por su posición en la CIA y después en la Agencia de seguridad Nacional, consiguió el nombre de muchos agentes y las operaciones que realizan a lo largo y ancho del mundo. Pero de eso no se habla hasta ahora.

Es por eso que Estados Unidos entró en pánico y desesperado para de cualquier manera capturarlo y silenciarlo, ya sea poniéndolo en la cárcel o incluso matarlo. También por eso se puso un alto precio a su captura, amenazando con romper relaciones con los países que le ofrezcan refugio como perseguido político; empezando por China a quien informaron que si no lo entregaba sufriría las consecuencias, ahora lo mismo con Rusia, tratan de presionar para que se lo entreguen. Y Rusia obviamente no va a entregarlo pero tampoco le da el asilo.El asunto pasa a ser  qué país lo acogerá, y surge la idea de América Latina. Se ha comentado que puede ir a Cuba en tránsito a Venezuela o Ecuador. Ahora, el caso es que Cuba está tratando de mejorar sus relaciones con Estados Unidos y Venezuela también, y sabemos que Venezuela no tiene el mejor antecedente en cuanto dar asilo a refugiados, como han entregado personas sospechas de estar con el FARC, que en el pasado entregaron a Colombia. Por tanto queda Ecuador, donde el gobierno de Rafael Correa es muy estable, no tiene el tipo de oposición que existe en Venezuela y además, el gobierno ecuatoriano ha dado refugio a Julián Assange y mantiene sus principios firmemente.

Hay que reconocer que mundialmente e incluso en gran parte de los Estados Unidos, el señor Snowden es un héroe, es una persona que tuvo el valor de denunciar toda la máquina de espionaje y las represalias que el gobierno estadounidense puede tomar a partir de las informaciones que consiguen a través del espionaje.

También descalifica  todas las denuncias del gobierno de Estados Unidos de que está bajo el ciber ataque. Ahora la gente dice ‘qué ridículos (el presidente estadounidense Barack) Obama y (el secretario de Estado, John) Kerry que denuncian todo eso mientras son ellos los más grandes ciber agresores en todo el mundo’.

Por tanto, todo esto ha desprestigiado mucho a los Estados Unidos, ha demostrado que no tiene nada que ver con la defensa de la libertad de Internet ya que es el primer violador y Snowden ha jugado en eso un papel muy importante.

EChI: ¿En qué otro tema está trabajando?

JP: Bueno, estoy terminando un análisis sobre cómo los políticos presidenciables norteamericanos logran ser elegidos. Y hay que ver aquí que lo que importa no es lo sustancial en la política, no es la política económica lo que influye en la campaña electoral. Aquí en Estados Unidos todos los candidatos tratan de adoptar un tipo de populismo de Wall  Street, hablan con un acento populista, un lenguaje populista caminan sin corbata aunque con diferentes estilos.

Por ejemplo, Jimmy Carter habló mucho de los derechos humanos,  de los presos políticos en Argentina o Chile, mientras apoyaba a (Anastasio) Somoza (en Nicaragua); mientras lanzó una agresión junto a los yihadistas en Afganistán, matando a miles de personas y lanzando la segunda guerra fría. Ronald Reagan, tocaba la guitarra y hablaba como un vaquero de los westerns de Hollywood, mientras apoyaba baños de sangre en Guatemala con Ríos Mont. Y Bill Clinton fue a las Iglesias negras, mientras aplicaba recortes federales al Presupuesto eliminando los beneficios sociales a las madres jefas de hogar, lanzó guerras ‘humanitarias’ en Yugoslavia. Y podríamos repetir al gran maestro de toda esta demagogia, que es (Barack) Obama  que promete terminar con las guerras y en cambio las multiplica; y sigue presentándose como el gran libertador negro mientras que fue el que lanzó más guerras y agresiones bélicas contra el pueblo africano que cualquier  otro en el mundo; y el que  multiplicó por cinco a los encarcelados mexicanos que cruzan las fronteras, comparado con lo que hizo George W. Bush.

Entonces, hay que entender que el engaño, lo que nosotros llamamos ‘confidence man’ o sea el engañador, el que defrauda a la gente diciendo una cosa y haciendo lo opuesto; y en ese sentido Obama ha superado a todos los que hemos tenido en los últimos 40 años. Es un maestro de la mistificación. Pero cada vez más la gente entiende que es un fraude, lo que falta ahora es ver como formalizar esta denuncia y desenmascararlo.

EChI: Muy bien Petars, te agradecemos todos estos aportes y nos reencontramos el próximo lunes.

JP: Muchas gracias, un saludo para toda la audiencia.

(*) Escuche en vivo los lunes a las 11:30 horas (hora local) la audición de James Petras por CX36, Radio Centenario desde Montevideo (Uruguay) para todo el mundo a través de www.radio36.com.uy

Jun 252013
 

By Shirley Coenen, 99GetSmart

 University students march in protest in Santiago on June 13, 2013. Photo by Shirley Coenen. Chile, 2013.

University students march in protest in Santiago on June 13, 2013. Photo by Shirley Coenen. Chile, 2013.

Despite the overwhelming discontent among the general public in Chile, President Sebastian Piñera continues to defend the present education model. Piñera believes that education is a consumer good, not a right. At this time, more than three years after the initial protests were sparked, can we look to the Chilean students for a success story?

The protests in this South American nation began in 2011, when Universidad de Chile students took to the streets to demand change from the tax system created in 1981 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, when most of Chile’s educational system was privatized and government support reduced.

The students’ central demand—for free and equitable access to higher education for all Chileans—has yet to be met. In the last few months of Piñera’s presidency and with presidential elections looming on November 19, 2013, the government is under pressure to draft a new constitution.

“The current constitution we have now doesn’t protect the rights of people at all—it’s completely anti-democratic,” said Hernán Moreno Acuña, a high school teacher and president of the largest teachers union in southern Santiago, the capital.

In the last few years the government has made various concessions to the protesters, such as lowering the student interest rate on loans from 5 percent to 2 percent.

Today students from 24 universities and 35 high schools throughout Chile continue to protest for the fundamental transformation of the educational system.

The movement has also drawn attention to the country’s reliance on copper exports. But it seems unlikely that nationalizing the copper industry so that the profits can be used for education will ever happen. Although the Chilean economy is a shining success story compared to other Latin American neighbors, it is almost completely dependent on its export of one commodity. What happens when copper prices falter? Without an education overhaul that fosters the development of Chile’s young people and provides them with the space and resources to thrive and innovate, the Chilean economy will suffer.

Additionally, the protesters have brought attention to the unequal distribution of resources not only in schools but also in the healthcare system and in rural areas of Chile. They have galvanized Chilean citizens and initiated a necessary conversation with the government.

According to the president of the Student Federation of the Universidad de Chile (FECH), Andres Fielbaum, the announcements made by Piñera in his speech in Santiago on May 21, 2013, were not nearly enough to improve the dire state of education.

“Piñera’s words only “reaffirm that for him education is conceived as a business and not a right,” he said. “The only option left for students is to further strengthen their movement.” Fielbaum later announced the “intensification of the protests until the end.”

The 26-year-old mathematics and engineering graduate student said “politicians should not forget that this is an election year and that students will remain a major player when it comes to discussing the project country.”

Michelle Bachelet, the presidential candidate favored to win the election, supports educational reforms. Fielbaum however reminded students, “it is very easy to make promises in an election year.”

Bachelet served as Chile’s former socialist party president (2006-2010) and later was appointed to a United Nations post. She is running as a member of the communist party for the 2013 presidential elections, with approval ratings at an estimated 50 percent.

• This article was produced with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Jun 252013
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Justice in Turkey

Justice in Turkey

Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

Update from Turkey 24-06-13:

The Turkish media have long been suffering from state involvement in the media’s freedom. Over the years Turkish people have heard PM Erdogan call for a boycott of media sources that are critical of his policies, and basically any columnist who evaluated the government’s performance and reflected poorly on the negative outcomes was declared a personal nemesis. Usually these incidents ended with Erdogan asking the media bosses kindly to let those columnists or editors go, which happened to some journalists over the last decade.

Most recently, when the media played along with the government in failing to report on all the events and turned a blind eye to protests, media consumers were enraged and declared the mainstream media unreliable. In the meantime AKP officials also declared the media unreliable, claiming that the penguin documentaries shown during the hottest clashes taking place in Taksim Square were secretly related to a deep civilian coup organization’s secret plans to instigate anger in society and direct people towards social-media platforms where media companies secretly started an anti-AKP campaign which was to start with fights in the streets. The same theory also included another claim – that protesters were doing all kinds of violence while the cameras were off, and then when the media started broadcasting, they would “bend over and whisper swear words into policemen’s ears to get them infuriated,” thus supplying the world media with material.

Over the course of last month, when the Turkish media kept silence or simply propagated the government’s point of view, it was the international media that did not forsake the Turkish protesters. The journalists contributing to international media centers had become somewhat used to receiving words of discontent from both civilians and officials for covering the events taking place in the Southeast Anatolian Kurdish cities before; now they get shunned for reporting about Gezi protests. Several journalists have been targeted by AKP officials over the course of last month, yet today has been witness to a case that goes beyond all others so far: Metropolitan Ankara Mayor Melih Gökcek went so far as to declare Selin Girit of the BBC as a spy for England, a traitor and an enemy of the people.

When Gökcek started a hate campaign on Twitter, it received unprecedented reactions from almost all journalists online. However a great number of AKP supporters have started issuing death threats to Selin and all kinds of accusations have been directed at her.

A counter-campaign immediately started with the help of the Gezi movement, yet the truth campaign unfortunately has no real effect in discouraging thousands of people from hating Selin and believing that she actually is a traitor and a spy. The method of targeting a journalist today closely resembles the case of Hrant Dink in 2006 and his unfortunate murder in the early days of 2007. Back in 2006 when Dink was shown as a target, he was threatened many times. Although in his own words he did not really want to believe that anyone would shoot “a peace dove,” he was murdered in cold blood, breaking Turkey’s own world record for the highest number of journalists murdered.

There are other journalism-related records that Turkey holds at the moment. One of them is the number of imprisoned journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there were 65 journalists in prison in Turkey as of 19 June, 2013. Yet the government officials accuse most of them of terrorism – although it is not difficult to imagine what kind of terrorism they were engaged in when writing articles… The government has also accused several journalists of rape, robbery, and murder; however no names or other details were given about these journalists.

There are many hate campaigns calling for assassination of journalists and media workers, and hate speech seems to have become an integral part of the statist-nationalist supporters’ rhetoric now. Although there is a special hatred against journalists who reflect about events, there is another major campaign being promoted by several radical Islamist newspapers that are infamous for starting campaigns against art galleries, books, artists, exhibitions and all kinds of cultural events, including the celebration of New Year’s Eve. One particular newspaper published an article in which the columnist refers to Memet Ali Alabora and his central position in the Gezi protests since day one. The columnist suggests that when he published a piece back in 1992 he wrote about the danger that Aziz Nesin was in, and in July 1993 a hotel was set on fire by thousands of people while police and military watched. 33 intellectuals were burned alive while several dozen barely escaped with their lives. The same columnists states that today a similar order was given by some dark forces concerning Memet Ali Alabora and that he his life is in danger. Two weeks ago, Alabora had already held a press conference stating that he had been receiving death threats.

One other hate campaign of the day was about the opening LGBT Pride parade in Istanbul. Several Islamist journalists used hate speech to refer to the people that attended the Pride, and continued escalating the arguments over social-media platforms. While they were being as “professional” as possible in their swear words, their readers however went beyond their limits in their definitions, insults, and threats. While these kinds of “freedoms” are acceptable to the government, the freedom to call for an end to violence or simply criticize the government is not among them.

When people question the level of freedom and the restrictions on liberties, the answer usually comes unanimously from the AKP officials that no one can enjoy limitless freedom and if anyone feels that they can, the government is much freer than the individuals. For the people who have been victims of the government’s oppressive methods of handling the protests, lately the biggest freedom was asking the question of who is responsible for all the violence they face on the streets on a daily basis. Today in Erzurum, PM Erdogan answered that question: “They ask who gave the orders. I did, of course. I told the police to clean up the square and park so that my nation can use it.”

There were also other interesting remarks by Erdogan during his speech. He suggested that all of his supporters should hang a Turkish flag on their balconies and windows to show which side they are on in these events, and while restricting his supporters to hang only Turkish flags, he also said that “Those who wish can also hang up the triple-crescent flag of the Ottoman Empire” despite the fact that the triple-crescent flag is currently also being used by the extreme nationalist MHP, and the nationalist leader defies Erdogan’s attempts to lure his supporters into AKP.

Finally the closing words of Erdogan from Erzurum: “One Nation, One State, One Flag, One Language, One Fatherland: Turkey”

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

PREVIOUS UPDATES: 

Turkey: Another Night of Heavy Crackdowns @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-another-night-of-heavy-crackdowns/

Turkish Protesters’ Park-Forums @ http://99getsmart.com/turkish-protesters-park-forums/

Turkey: Erdogan’s Kayseri speech @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-kayseri-speech/

Gezi Park: Civilian Occupation Ends, Police Occupation Begins @ http://99getsmart.com/gezi-park-civilian-occupation-ends-police-occupation-begins/

“Tools of Freedom”: EU Parliament Conference on Events in Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/tools-of-freedom-eu-parliament-conference-on-events-in-turkey/

Turkey: As AKP Aims to Silence International Media, Police Continue to Storm Taksim; Uprising Spreads @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-as-akp-aims-to-silence-intl-media-police-continue-to-storm-taksim-uprising-spreads/

Turkey: Resistance Park @  http://99getsmart.com/turkey-resistance-park/

Turkey: Regime Ignores International Community’s Outrage @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-regime-ignores-international-communitys-outrage/

Turkey: The “Cleaning” of Taksim Square @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-the-cleaning-of-taksim-square/

Turkey: Artists Accused of “Civilian Coup” @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-artists-accused-of-civilian-coup/

Turkey: Erdogan’s Fictitious ‘Reality’ Persists in Speech to Paid ‘Supporters’ @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-fictitious-reality-persists-in-speech-to-paid-supporters/

Green Spaces Keep Shrinking, Boycotts Expand and Police Complain about Working Conditions @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-green-spaces-keep-shrinking-boycotts-expand-and-police-complain-about-working-conditions/

EU-Turkey Conference Minimizes Overt Police Brutality, Erdogan’s Ongoing Hypocricy & the Failure of Turkish Main Stream Media  @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-eu-turkey-conference-minimizes-overt-police-brutality-erdogans-ongoing-hypocricy-the-failure-of-turkish-main-stream-media/

Nightly report from Turkey 07-06-13 @ http://99getsmart.com/nightly-report-from-turkey-07-06-13/

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND DAILY UPDATES ON TURKEY:

OccupyGezi @ https://www.rebelmouse.com/OccupyGezi/

Show Support for Turkey and LIKE and SHARE this Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/Gezisolidarity

FOR DAILY LIVESTREAM UPDATES ON TURKEY AND WORLD EVENTS:

Occupy World News Network (OWNN) @ http://www.livestream.com/occupyworldnewsnow

Jun 242013
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

Barack-Obama-eyes487

Introduction

In an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements – entertaining the people while working for the wealthy.

Every US President has engaged, in one fashion or another, in ‘play acting’ to secure popular approval, neutralize hostility and distract voters from the reactionary substance of their foreign and domestic policies.

Every substantive policy is accompanied by a ‘down home’ folksy message to win public approval.  This happened with President ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s revival of large-scale proxy wars in Afghanistan in the post-Viet Nam War period; Ronald Reagan’s genocidal wars in Central America, George Bush Sr.’s savaging of Iraq in the First Gulf War; ‘Bill’ Clinton’s decimation of social welfare in the US while bombing civilians in Yugoslavia and deregulating Wall Street; George Bush Jr.’s invasion and partition of Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempted coup in Venezuela and massive tax cuts for the rich; and Barack Obama’s staggering bailout of the biggest Wall Street speculators, unprecedented launching of five consecutive wars, and arrest and deportation of millions of immigrant workers.  Each President has elaborated a style in order to ingratiate himself with the public while pursuing his reactionary agenda.

In rhetoric, appearance and in public persona, it is ‘de rigueur’ for US Presidents to present themselves as an ‘everyman’ while committing political actions – including war crimes worthy of prosecution.

Each President, in his ‘play acting’, develops a style suitable to the times.  They constantly strive to overcome the public’s suspicion and potential hostility to their overt and covert policies designed to build empire as domestic conditions  deteriorate.  However, not all play acting is the same:  each President’s ‘populist’ style in defense of oligarchic interests has its characteristic nuances.

The Carter Feint:  ‘Human Rights’ Wars in the Post-Viet Nam War Era

‘Jimmy’ Carter was elected President at a time of the greatest mass anti-war upheaval in US history.  His campaign projected a soft-spoken, conciliatory President from humble roots reaching out to the anti-war electorate and solemnly pledging to uphold human rights against domestic militarists and their overseas despotic allies.  To that end, he appointed a liberal human rights advocate Pat Derian to the State Department and a veteran Cold Warrior, Zbigniew (Zbig) Brzezinski, as National Security Advisor and foreign policy strategist.

Duplicity reared its head immediately:  Carter openly criticized the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua – while privately telling the dictator to ignore the public criticisms and assuring him of continuing US support.[1]  As the Sandinista revolution advanced toward victory, Carter convoked a meeting of Latin American leaders urging them to join in a joint military intervention with the US to ‘save lives’ and to prevent the popular Nicaraguan revolution from taking power and dismantling the dictator’s army.  It soon became clear to the leaders of Latin America that Carter’s mission was a thinly- veiled ‘humanitarian’ version of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ and they declined.  When Carter realized that, without the fig leaf of Latin American participation, a US-led invasion would arouse universal opposition, he abandoned the project.    The political climate would not support a unilateral US invasion so soon after the end of the war in Indochina.

However, Carter soon re-launched the Cold War, reviving military spending and pouring billions of dollars into funding, arming and training tens of thousands of fundamentalist Jihadists from around the world to invade Afghanistan and overthrow its leftist, secular government.

Carter’s policy of re-militarization and launching of large-scale and long-term secret CIA operations in alliance with the most brutal dictators and monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was accompanied by sanctimonious speeches about human rights and token appeals to protect ‘civilians’.  In this regard, Carter became our founding father of the double discourse: a con man that publically condemned the jailing and torture by Pinochet of political opponents in Chile while orchestrating what would become a decade-long blood bath in Afghanistan with millions of victims.

Reagan:  Geniality with Genocide

Up until the ascendancy of Barack Obama, the avuncular President, Ronald Reagan, was acknowledged as the ‘master con-man’, by virtue of his Hollywood acting experience.  Reagan was and remained a disciplined and hardened backer of policies designed to concentrate wealth while smashing unions, even as he entertained the flag-waving hard hat construction workers with his jokes about ‘limousine liberals’ and Cadillac welfare queens.  The knowing wink and clever two-liners were matched by an adaptation of morality tales from his cowboy films.  Reagan, in his role as ‘the righteous sheriff’, backed the mercenary contras as they invaded  Nicaragua and destroyed schools and clinics and the genocidal military dictators in El Salvador and Guatemala who murdered hundreds of thousands of Indians and peasants.  Uncle Reagan’s friendly chats would describe how he had stopped the communist ‘outlaws’ (peasants, workers and Indians) of Central America from flooding across the Rio Grande and invading  California and Texas.  His tales resonated with mass audiences familiar with the racist Hollywood cowboy film version of unshaven Mexican bandits crossing the ‘US’ border.  The clean-shaven, straight-talking, ‘stand-up for America’ President Ronald Reagan was elected and re-elected by a resounding majority in the midst of CIA-backed mujahedeen victories over the government and secular civil structure of Afghanistan, Pentagon- supported Israeli slaughter of Palestinian refugees in their camps in Lebanon and the mass genocide of scores of thousands of indigenous villagers in Guatemala.  When news reports seeped out about the mass graves of poor villagers in Guatemala, Reagan resorted to colloquial language right out of a Hollywood film to defend General Rios Mont:  “He’s getting a bum rap”.  In defending the brutal dictator of Guatemala, Reagan replaced Carter’s sanctimonious phrasing in favor of down-to-earth macho talk of a no-nonsense sheriff.

In substance, both Carter and Reagan were rebuilding the US war machine after the debacle of Viet Nam; they were setting up a global network of client dictators, Muslim fundamentalists and hypocritical Anglo-American humanitarians interventionists.

Bush Senior:  Uni-Polarity and the Ticket to Uncontested Imperial Conquests

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the US and Western Europe re-conquered, pillaged and neo-colonized Eastern Europe.  West Germany annexed East Germany.  And a predator-gangster oligarchy in Russia seized over a trillion dollars of public assets, impoverishing millions and laundered the illicit funds via elaborate banking operations on Wall Street and in London and Tel Aviv.

President George Bush Sr. embraced the doctrine of a unipolar world – free from rival super-power constraints and independent Third World resistance.  ‘Poppy’ Bush believed the US could impose its will by force anywhere and at any time without fear of retaliation.  He believed he was heir to a new imperial order of free markets, free elections and unrestrained plunder.  The first war he would launch would be in the Middle East – the invasion, massive bombing and destruction of Iraq.  It was followed by an unprecedented expansion of NATO bases in the countries of Eastern Europe.  The spread of neo-liberalism led to the naked pillage of public assets throughout Latin American and Eastern Europe.  The Empire ruled the Muslim world through an arc of client dictators from Tunisia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

Bush adopted the persona of the ‘happy warrior’ – the invincible American President who had triumphed over the Evil Empire.  Meanwhile, the domestic economy deteriorated under the enormous costs of the massive military build-up and gave rise to a crisis that hurt the electorate.  Bush’s personal rigidity and lack of theatricality prevented him from playing the con-man – unlike his predecessor, the actor Reagan.  Even as he extolled the prowess of the US military, his career as an ‘insider’ corporate operative and CIA director did not provide him with the demagogic skills necessary for a successful re-election.

While Bush celebrated his overseas victories, he failed to attract a popular following:  His pinched face and wooden upper-crust smile was no match for ‘Cowboy’ Reagan’s street corner geniality or even ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s pious intonations of human rights and Christian values … Deception and demagoguery are crucial elements in a re-election campaign – and so Bush, Sr. gave way for the next Presidential con-man-in-chief, Bill Clinton.

The Clinton-Con:  Black Churches, Welfare Cuts and the Wall Street Warrior

Bill Clinton, like Ronald Reagan, turned out to be a Wall Street populist .With his folksy Arkansas intonations he preached messages of hope in black churches while diligently applying the free-market lessons he had learned from his Wall Street mentors.  Tooting the saxophone and oozing compassion, Clinton told the poor that he could ‘feel their pain’, while inflicting misery on single mothers forced to leave their children and take minimum-wage jobs in order to retain any public assistance.  He joined hands with labor union bosses at Labor Day festivities, while fast-tracking job-killing free-trade treaties (like NAFTA) that devastated the American working class.  Bill Clinton enthusiastically sent bombers over Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities for several weeks, destroying its factories, hospitals, schools, power plants, radio and TV stations and bridges, as well as the Chinese Embassy, in support of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and its separatist war against Belgrade.  Clinton bombed civilians and their vital infrastructure, a war crime in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, to the ecstatic cheers of many Western liberals, progressives, social democrats and not a few Marxists as well as many Jihadists.  On the home front, this self-proclaimed ‘people’s candidate’ ripped to shreds all restraints on banking speculation by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, New Deal legislation enacted to protect against massive banking swindles.  This opened the floodgates to massive financial manipulation, which destroyed the pensions of many millions of workers.[2]

Clinton’s policies laid the groundwork for the information technology and Stock Market crash of 2000-01.  His appointee, Alan Greenspan, created the conditions leading to speculative financial frenzy and subsequent economic crash of 2008.  Bill Clinton’s stand-up comic performances in black churches, his back slapping encounters with labor bureaucrats and his embrace of feminists and others just raised the rhetorical bar for future aspiring Wall Street warlords in the White House.  It would take eight years and the election of Barack Hussein Obama to finally surpass Bill Clinton as Con-Man-In Chief.

Bush Junior:  A Yale Man with a Texas Drawl

President George Bush, Junior’s regime launched two major wars and backed two Israeli assaults on Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza – the world’s largest open-air prison.  He virtually eliminated taxes on billionaires while overseeing the geometrical growth of the domestic police state apparatus; and he unleashed the biggest speculative bubble and crash since the Great Depression.  He lowered the living standards for all Americans except the top 10% of the population – and despite these disasters and despite his lack-luster performance as a con-man, he was re-elected.

His handlers and backers did their best to market their boy:  his Ivy League credentials and New England background was replaced by a transparently phony Texas accent; tinny, whiney sound bites, reminiscent of his father’s, were replaced by a Texas ‘ranchers’ homely drawl.  His ‘just-folks’ grammatical mistakes may have been mocked by the liberals but they resonated deeply with fundamentalist Christians – who would never have recognized the Phillips Exeter Academy-Yale Skull and Bones boy in their Commander-in Chief.  President Bush, Jr. was decked out in the uniform of a ‘Top Gun’ fighter pilot to polish his military credentials tarnished by revelations that the millionaire-playboy had gone AWOL during his service in the National Guard.  His silly ‘Mission Accomplished’ claim that the Iraq war had been won in the first months after the invasion was rudely corrected by the huge outbreak of Iraqi resistance against the occupier.  Bush handed over foreign policymaking, especially pertaining to the Middle East, to a small army of Jewish Zionists, aided and abetted by notorious militarists, like Cheney and Rumsfeld.  Most major political events were handled by his Cabinet thugs – Secretary of State Colin Powell shamelessly fabricated the ‘evidence’ of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in his performance before the United Nations.  Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz invented Afghanistan’s ties to the planners of 9/11.  Cheney and his Zionist troika of Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and ‘Scooter’ Libby trumpeted the ‘global war on terror’ while Michael Chertoff, Michael Mukasey and Stuart Levey conducted a domestic war against the Bill of Rights and US Constitutional freedoms, defending torture, jailing thousands of Muslims, punishing businesses trading with Iran and labeling US opponents of Israel’s war crimes as ‘security threats’.  Bush, Jr. just nodded his approval, letting the “big fellas have a piece of the action”.  With Junior, there was no peace demagoguery just plain talk to plain folks and- “Let the bombs fall and the Capital flow”.  Bush did not have to go preaching to black churches (he had a black Secretary of State and National Security Adviser to do his dirty work without the cant); Bush never claimed that Israel got the ‘bum rap’ when it was charged with genocidal crimes.  Under Bush, Jr., war criminals did not have to ‘sugar-coat’ their crimes.  While occupying the White House, Bush signed off on the multi-trillion-dollar bailout for Wall Street and then just went off to tend his cows and chop wood at the Texas ranch.

Bush’s ‘style’ was a combination of ‘laid back’ and ‘straight forward’:  he simply committed war crimes, protected Wall Street swindles and expanded the police state, without claiming otherwise.  As the endless wars dragged on, as the stock market flopped under its own fraud and manipulation and the increasingly repressive legislation provoked debate, Bush just shrugged his shoulders and finished out his term in office without flourish or fanfare: “Y’all can’t win ‘em all.  Let the next guy try his hand”.

Barack Obama:  The Master of Deceit

From the beginning of his Presidential campaign, Obama demonstrated his proficiency as the master of all cons.  He spoke passionately against torture while consulting with the torturers; he condemned Wall Street speculators while appointing key Street operatives as economic advisers.  He promised a new deal in the Middle East, especially for Palestinians and then appointed a dual citizen, Israeli-US, Rahm Emmanuel (son of an Israeli Irgun terrorist) to be his most intimate Presidential advisor.  Honolulu born and bred, Barack modulated his voice according to the audience, adopting a Baptist minister’s cadence for the black audiences while assuming the professorial tone of an Ivy League lawyer for his Wall Street contributors.  He hob-knobbed with Hollywood celebrities and Silicon billionaires, who bankrolled the fairy tale of his ‘historic breakthrough’ –  the First Afro-American President who would speak for all Americans – nay for the entire world!  Millions of giddy camp followers, white, black, old and young, the trade unionists and community activists alike were willingly deceived.  They had chosen to disregard the fact that Barack Obama’s key advisers were rabid militarists, big bankers, corporate CEO’s, die-hard Zionists and Wall Street manipulators.  Indeed Obama’s supporters were enchanted by the phony rhetoric, the demagogy, the ‘populist style’, and the fake ‘authenticities’.  Here was the man who promised to end the wars, close the torture concentration camp in Guantanamo, bring Wall Street to heel, repeal the Patriot Act and restore the Bill of Rights.  And he was ‘their guy’ – shooting hoops in an urban playground – something Bush had never done!  In truth, Barack Hussein Obama did a lot that Bush never dared to do – he surpassed Bush by far in committing war crimes against humanity – pushing for more military adventures abroad and police state repression at home.  He exceeded by far any President in US history in assuming dictatorial police powers, in waging multiple wars while directing the massive transfer of state revenues to Wall Street bankers.  President Obama, hands down, will be regarded as the greatest con-man President in American history.  The Carters, Reagans and Clintons all pale in comparison:  the enormous gap between style and substance, promise and performance, peace and war, capital and labor has never been greater.

It is President Obama’s hollow eloquence that raised the hopes of millions at home and abroad only to condemn them to an inferno of endless wars.  It is the perversity of his rhetoric which attracts the Latino vote with promises of immigrant citizenship while his policy has been fill detention centers with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and their families.  His soaring rhetoric promising justice for Muslims in Cairo was followed by the bloody bombing of Tripoli, the torture and slaughter of the Libyan patriot President Gadhafi; the broken promises to the Palestinians contrasts with the embrace of the bloody Israeli warlords.  Obama far out-paced President Bush’s drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan, bombings which targeted farmers, whole families and famished orphans in their schools.  Soaring moral and ethical pronouncements accompany Obama’s arming and praising the 40,000 Muslim fundamentalist mercenaries sent to degrade and shatter the secular Syrian state.  The pretexts for mass killing fall from his lips like maggots on a rotten corpse:  his blatant lies about the use of poison gas in Syria as the government in Damascus confronts a foreign mercenary invasion; the lurid tales of fabricated massacres in Benghazi (Libya) and the false claims of stolen elections in Venezuela.  Obama’s rhetoric converts executioners into victims and victims into executioners.

President Barack Obama promised a comprehensive health care overhaul for America and then presented the electorate with a confusing series of obligatory payments for plans designed by for-profit private health insurance companies.  Obama ‘defended social security’ by raising the age of retirement, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of workers in hazardous occupations would die before ever receiving any benefits after a lifetime of obligatory contributions.  Obama solemnly promised to defend Medicare and then proposed to reduce its budget by a trillion dollars over a decade.

Obama claims a presidential prerogative of ‘defending American interests’ by ordering the assassination of whomever his million-member secret police state apparatus designates as a security threat – including American citizens – without trial, without recourse to habeas corpus.

In the White House Rose Garden President Barack Obama strolls arm-in-arm with his wife and children, a family man, true to his promises…  While in Aleppo a young teen, a street vendor, is beheaded before his parents and neighbors by fanatical  ‘freedom-fighters’ praised and supported by the President.  The boy’s alleged crime was blasphemy.  The murdered teen has joined the scores of thousands of Syrians killed and the hundreds of thousands who will join them, as Obama has decided to openly arm the mercenaries.

Casual, open collar, President Obama jokes as he walks and talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the sumptuous estate of a California billionaire, offering friendship and peace – shaking hands for the cameras with a scorpion in his palm.  The smiling Obama has ceaselessly dispatched his envoys to Asia, Latin America, Oceana and Africa to incite claims and conflicts against Beijing.  Obama believes that his own ‘personal magic’ will blind the Chinese to the fact that China is being encircled by US air and maritime bases.  He seems to believe that the Chinese will ignore his efforts to forge US-centered trade pacts which specifically exclude China.

The master ‘confidence-man’ sincerely believes in his power to move and mystify the public, pick the pockets of his adversaries and make his victims believe they have been in the presence of a world-class statesman.   In fact, Obama has been playing the role of a street hustler living off the earnings and lives of his people while handing them over to his corporate bosses and pimps for Israel.

Obama fills internment camps with hundreds of thousands of Latino immigrant workers while promising a ‘roadmap to citizenship’ to the cheers of Mexican-American Democratic Party vote hustlers!

Obama received 95% of the Afro-American votes, while the income gap between blacks and whites widens and unemployment and poverty figures soar.  Obama, the first ‘Afro-American President’, has bombed and intervened in more African countries, backing  mercenary armies in Libya and Somalia and establishing more military bases throughout the black continent than the last five ‘white’ Presidents … So much for the self-proclaimed “historic breakthrough of a Black President ending centuries of racism”.

It’s enough for Obama to appoint other black police state thugs and foreign interventionists, like Eric Holder and Susan Rice, to win the cheers of liberals even as their own security files grow in the data warehouses of the world’s biggest spying agencies.

One cynic, commenting on the long-standing love affair between Obama and white liberals, observed that ‘the more he screws them the better they like him … Even as he marches them off to jail, they would take care to note on his behalf, that the barred  windows have curtains – something Bush would never have allowed.’

Conclusion

For sheer span of broken promises, of systematic lies in pursuit of wars and financial manipulation in the name of peace and social justice, of consistent and bold aggrandizement of executive power over the life and death of US citizens in the name of security, Obama has set the standard of political deception and demagogy far beyond past and probable future US Presidents.

The political context of his ascent to power and his deep links to the military-financial-Zionist networks insured his success as a premier confidence man.

President George Bush, Jr., the cringing, fading war-monger engaged in prolonged, costly wars and facing the collapse of the entire banking and financial sector, provided Candidate Obama with an easy target.  Obama exploited the mass revulsion of the American people, longing for change.  His soaring rhetoric and vacuous promise of ‘change’ attracted millions of young activists … The problem is that in their enthusiasm and blind adherence to ‘identity politics’ with its claims that all ‘blacks’ and ‘women’ are oppressed and therefore guaranteed to promote peace and justice– facilitated Obama’s con-game and political hustle.

Obama, once in office, not only deepened and widened the scope of President Bush, Jr’s wars, massive spy apparatus and corporate profiteering; he bamboozled the vast majority of his liberal-labor supporters in the Democratic Party!  Barack Obama conned the Democratic Party Congressional liberals and they, in turn, conned their constituents into supporting this fraud.

The costs of President Obama’s two-faced policies are enormous:  democracy has given way to a police state openly defended by the President and Congressional leaders; Wall Street’s recovery and corporate profiteering is fast destroying public health and social security.  Barack Obama’s multiple endless wars and interventions are destroying vast cities, infrastructure, entire cultures while and killing and impoverishing millions of people from Libya to Palestine, from Syria to Iran. The economic sanctions against Iran, the provocative encirclement and isolation of China, and the campaign to destabilize Venezuela are the centerpieces of Obama’s ‘pivot to empire’. These policies portend even greater world-shattering catastrophes.

Unmasking the con-man is a first step requiring that we expose the tricks of the con-game.  The politics of deception and demagogy thrives by directing popular attention to style and rhetoric, not substance.  The solemn and pious cant of ‘Jimmy’ Carter distracted from his launch of the rabid Jihadists against the secular administration of Afghanistan. Uncle Ronald Reagan’s geniality and populist TV patter covered-up his blood baths in Central America and mass firing of the unionized air controllers and jailing of union leaders.  ‘Bill’ Clinton’s show of empathy for the poor and embrace of ‘feel-good’ politics neutralized opposition as he bombed Yugoslavia into a  pre-industrial age while his domestic policies kicked vulnerable single mothers from welfare programs. They all paled before the grand con-master Obama, billed as the ‘first black’ President, a community organizer (who disowned his sponsor into the black communities of Chicago, Rev. Wright, for his anti-war, anti-imperial stand) has capitalized on his racial credentials to garner the vote of guilt-ridden, soft-headed liberals and marginalized blacks in order to serve the interests of Wall Street and Israel.

Disarming these con-men and women requires exposing the nature of their demagogic populist styles and focusing on substantive politics.  The decisive criteria need to be class politics that are defined by fundamental class alignments, between capital and labor regarding budgets, income, taxes, social spending, financing and property rights.  ‘Shooting hoops’ in ghetto playgrounds is a con-man’s distraction while his budget cuts close hospitals and schools in black and poor neighborhoods.

The extravaganzas, featuring sports and entertainment celebrities to promote imperial wars, are the ‘con’ to undermine international solidarity for war victims and the unemployed.  President Obama, the confidence man, is still performing while sowing destruction. It’s time for the deceived, the disillusioned and the deprived to stand-up and shout! “We are deceived no more. Its time you were put on trial for Crimes against Humanity!”

[1] Morris Morley: Washington, Somoza and the Sandinistas: State and Regime in US-Nicaraguan Relations 1969-1981, Cambridge 1994

[2] Clinton joined forces with right-wing Republicans in 1999 to facilitate banks engaging in broad speculation with their clients’ money.

Jun 242013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul:

Update from Turkey 23-06-13

Another night of heavy crackdowns took place in Turkey both in Istanbul and in Ankara. As protesters had declared another evening of commemoration for the ones who were killed by police violence, they had announced that everyone would gather in major squares with carnation flowers in their hands and nothing else. There were no flags, no banners, no masks, no homemade medication this time. Thousands approached squares with carnations in their hands and there was a press conference before the ceremony. All those killed during the protests were remembered with their names, including the policeman who fell off a bridge when chasing protesters.

After an hour, police forces started surrounding the people in the square and announced that people had been occupying public space and should leave the square immediately so that police could take over. Irony played a crucial game as police pushed people off the square with water cannons and gas bombs, to “liberate” the square from people for “public” use. The thousands who had filled the square earlier were pushed towards Istiklal Avenue and met there with other thousands who came to the most popular entertainment area and the heart of Istanbul for a Saturday night. When police started shooting rubber bullets, aiming tear-gas canisters at people and watering everyone with TOMAs, clubbers became de-facto protesters and joined in with the resistance in their nice dresses, shiny hats and even some in stilettos.

When there was no violence from civilians, police kept shooting all around and gassed all side streets. Some of the most popularly shot areas were where the local pubs were located and police began their attack “in the name of Allah” like they had started a jihad against protesters. During the night’s events several journalists were dragged by police, but were released when they realized that the cameras were broadcasting live. One RT reporter was deliberately shot by water cannon and CNN’s reporter said he was called “son of a b***h” by undercover policemen for reporting the events. A reporter for one of the four channels that still broadcast events, Halk TV, was silenced by police several times, and eventually her camera’s plug and power supplies were damaged by police. While international and local civilian media were suffering these attacks, the mainstream media reported the events for a few minutes only and stated “the police are dispersing the crowds very peacefully only using water cannons” when their reporters were coughing due to excessive use of gas bombs in the square.

When the people in the square and on Istiklal reacted to police violence and asked “Why are you shooting us? We are all brothers, all citizens of the same country,” the police replied in a very disappointing way, stating “only Muslims are our brothers, not you traitors!” The initial “jihad” chanting and these remarks make it sound like the police are attacking anyone who does not conform to the government’s religious plans, yet the Muslim-Democrats have also been subject to police violence as they were protesting throughout weeks; and especially when they expected police to stop attacking during the Islamic call to prayer minutes in the evening.

While the world awaits PM Erdogan’s restraint or President Gül’s call to end violence, there are only more provocative remarks, filled with the media’s fake stories and biased coverage to anger government supporters and target the protesters who only want a guarantee of democratic rights. While the government is guilty of giving these orders and all state bodies of applying them without hesitation, the opposition parties have a weak stand, as much has been expected of them but almost nothing comes, not even their mere presence to protect civilians with their right to immunity.

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

PREVIOUS UPDATES: 

Turkish Protesters’ Park-Forums @ http://99getsmart.com/turkish-protesters-park-forums/

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EU-Turkey Conference Minimizes Overt Police Brutality, Erdogan’s Ongoing Hypocricy & the Failure of Turkish Main Stream Media  @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-eu-turkey-conference-minimizes-overt-police-brutality-erdogans-ongoing-hypocricy-the-failure-of-turkish-main-stream-media/

Nightly report from Turkey 07-06-13 @ http://99getsmart.com/nightly-report-from-turkey-07-06-13/

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