Mar 292014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* UN COMMITTEE ISSUES SCATHING REPORT U.S. GOVERNMENTS HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD

Source: Center for Constitutional Rights

GuantanamoBay_large

Today, the UN Human Rights Committee issued highly critical concluding observations on the United States’ compliance with international human rights requirements. CCR had submitted several detailed reports to the committee in advance of its hearings March 13-14, and much of their substance was reflected in both the committee’s questioning and its conclusions.  The committee expressed deep concern over:

  • the U.S. “targeted killing” program;
  • the lack of progress in the closure of Guantánamo, urging the U.S. to expedite the process of transferring detainees out of the prison, including to Yemen, and reiterating its position that the U.S. must end its practice of indefinite detention without charge or trial;
  • the secrecy and lack of accountability around Bush-era abuses, including the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of contractors and high ranking U.S. officials for killings and torture of detainees;
  • the imposition of the death penalty in a racially discriminatory manner and the conditions on death row;
  • reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, and sitting in particular areas, raising concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment;
  • the use of prolonged solitary confinement, particularly for at-risk people and those in pretrial detention, urging the abolition of solitary for people under 18 and for people with serious mental illness, and strict limitations on its use, overall; and
  • the targeting of Muslims by the NYPD, and racial profiling overall (while underlining its support for recent plans to reform the use of stop and frisk). […]

READ @ http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/un-human-rights-committee-highly-critical-of-u.s.-government

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* PUTIN CALLS OBAMA TO “DRAW ATTENTION TO UKRAINE EXTREMISTS”, OBAMA REPLIES WITH REQUEST FOR PUTIN TO PULL OUT

Source: zerohedge

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Moments ago the White House made a fine point of announcing that – for the first time since the Ukraine crisis erupted and led to the unanswered annexation of Crimea by Russia – Putin called the White House first to discuss what was vaguely enough described as “a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine.” However a more detailed read through of what actually happened reveals that there is less here than meets the eye (as a rational person would suspect since any truly good news would have been divulged during market trading hours).

As the Kremlin’s own interpretation of the call between the two leaders discloses, “Vladimir Putin drew Barack Obama’s attention to continued rampage of extremists who are committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents, government authorities and law enforcement agencies in various regions and in Kiev with impunity.”

Here, Putin undoubtedly is focusing on last night’s storming of the parliament by the “Right Sector” neonazis, which initially had been insturmental in the violent Ukraine coup and have now become a huge nuisance to the acting government. Which, as we noted yesterday, meant they suddenly had become Putin’s best friend. Because in bringing attention to their actions, the Kremlin makes it quite clear that the Russian case of neofascists running rampant in Kiev, was in fact at least partially accurate.

Kremlin goes on:

In light of this, the President of Russia suggested examining possible steps the global community can take to help stabilise the situation. The two presidents agreed that specific parameters for this joint work will be discussed by the Russian and US foreign ministers in the near future.

Vladimir Putin also pointed out that Transnistria is essentially experiencing a blockade, which significantly complicate the living conditions for the region’s residents, impeding their movement and normal trade and economic activities. He stressed that Russia stands for the fair and comprehensive settlement of the Transnistria conflict and hopes for effective work in the existing 5+2 negotiation format. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-28/putin-calls-obama-draw-attention-ukraine-extremists-obama-replies-request-putin-pull

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* THE REAL FACE OF UKRAINE’S MAIDAN “DEMOCRATS”

By Ulrich Rippert, wsws.org

Alexander Musytchko

Alexander Musytchko

Two events this week have exposed the propaganda used by the German government and its allies to justify their actions in Ukraine: the death of Alexander Musytchko and a telephone conversation with Yulia Timoschenko, which was intercepted and made public.

Musytchko, coordinator of the fascist Right Sector in western Ukraine, was shot on Monday in a police operation near the west Ukrainian town of Rivne. Reports on his death are contradictory.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov stated that Musytchko, who was wanted for “malicious hooliganism and resisting state forces,” was killed during an exchange of shots with the police when he put up armed resistance to his arrest.

By contrast, Right Sector activists claim that their leader was in fact executed. They said that armed men arrived in two VW buses and forced Musytchko and five others to leave a cafe in Rivne. Behind the cafe, they made sure that Musytchko was not wearing a bulletproof vest and then killed him with two shots in the heart. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/03/28/the-real-face-of-ukraines-maidan-democrats/

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* US SETS EUROPE AND RUSSIA AT WAR

By Finian Cunningham, PressTV

356339_Russia, US, Ukraine, Crimea, EU, rejoin, secession, sanctions-1

When US President Barack Obama embarked on his European tour this week there was the usual sycophantic Western media image of the American leader as a benefactor. Obama, so the story went, was coming to unite and support Europe in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

With tiresome florid speechifying, Obama claimed that the US and Europe have together historically built up institutions of international law and democracy and that the “allies” would now stand together against Russian “brute behavior” just as they had done during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

The facts are the opposite. The US has sought to divide Europe from Russia and sow conflict in Eurasia ever since the end of the Second World War nearly 70 years ago. That is a continuum to the present day. The main objective for Washington is to prevent Europe developing closer relations with Russia. Central to the problem, from the US point of view, is to curb Europe and Russia becoming strategic energy partners. […]

READ @ http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/03/28/356339/us-sets-europe-and-russia-at-war/

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* REGIME CHANGE IN UKRAINE AND THE IMF’s BITTER “ECONOMIC MEDICINE”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, GlobalResearch

Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk meets President Obama at White House, March 2014 (White House photo)

Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk meets President Obama at White House, March 2014 (White House photo)

n the days following the Ukraine coup d’Etat of February 23, leading to the ousting of a duly elected president, Wall Street and the IMF–in liaison with the US Treasury and the European Commission in Brussels– had already set the stage for the outright takeover of Ukraine’s monetary system. The EuroMaidan protests leading up to “regime change” and the formation of an interim government were followed by purges within key ministries and government bodies.

The Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Ihor Sorkin was fired on February 25th and replaced by a new governor: Stepan Kubiv.[right]

Stepan Kubiv is a member of Parliament of the Rightist Batkivshchyna “Fatherland” faction in the Rada led by the acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk (founded by Yulia Tymoshenko in March 1999). He previously headed Kredbank, a Ukrainian financial institution largely owned by EU capital, with some 130 branches throughout Ukraine. Ukraine Central Bank Promises Liquidity To Local Banks, With One Condition, Zero Hedge, February 27, 2014).

Kubic is no ordinary bank executive. He was one of the first field “commandants” of the EuroMaidan riots alongside Andriy Parubiy co-founder of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) and Dimitry Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector Brown Shirts, which now has the status of a political party.

Kubiv was in the Maidan square addressing protesters on February 18, at the very moment when armed Right Sector thugs under the helm of Dmitry Yarosh were raiding the parliament building. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/regime-change-in-ukraine-and-the-imfs-bitter-economic-medicine/5374877

 

Mar 232014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* SPAIN ‘MARCHES FOR DIGNITY’: MASSIVE MARCH AGAINST AUSTERITY

Source: CommonDreams

Massive crowds gather during a protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 22, 2014. Hundreds of thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration, demanding the resignation of the Government and to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Massive crowds gather during a protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 22, 2014. Hundreds of thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration, demanding the resignation of the Government and to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Hundreds of thousands of people have trekked across Spain to protest austerity they claim is destroying their country. Under the banner of “No More Cuts!” the protesters are calling for an end to the Spanish government’s “empty promises.”

Six columns of protesters, some walking; others in trains, cars and buses — each from a different region of Spain — arrived at the outskirts of the city early Saturday before heading for Colon square, carrying banners bearing the slogan M22 or ‘‘Marches for Dignity.’’

By late Saturday afternoon, Madrid’s main boulevard, Paseo del Prado, was completely packed with loud chants against austerity policies and cuts to social programs. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/22-1

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* GREEK PRESIDENCY OF THE EU: THE REALITY BEHIND THE PROMO VIDEO

Source ZIN TV.org

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNRelmEXYT8&feature=player_embedded

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* NEOLIBERALISM AS SOCIAL NECROPHILIA: THE CASE OF GREECE

By Panayota Gounari, AthenianVoice

2014_0321-4

[…]Greece is the most recent and historically unprecedented neoliberal experiment on a global scale. The neoliberal offensive is moving head on in the country and, if Chile “was the laboratory for the early phases, Greece has become the laboratory for an even more fierce implementation.” What we have in place right now in Greece can be best described as the “downsizing of a country” that brings profound changes in its social and economic fabric. Greece’s economy has shrunk by nearly one-third since 2007, and the debt has become unmanageable. Through cut-throat austerity measures, massive privatizations and cuts in the most sensitive sectors of public education and public health, the constant process of de-industrialization and the loss of sovereignty, it looks like “Greece will emerge as a poorer country, with a diminished productive base, with reduced sovereignty, [and] with a political class accustomed to almost neo-colonial forms of supervision.”

I glance through snapshots in the news: grim faces, desperate eyes, angry gazes, frustration, and, most of all, fear. The city of Athens is slowly turning into a cemetery for the living. The transformation of the city, both as a physical and as a symbolic space, is shocking to the eye; as a public space and a habitat for its people, it now gets fragmented into deserted stores “for rent,” broken façades and abandonment apartment windows and balcony doors tightly locked behind iron bars for “extra safety,” carton beds and, along them, homeless people’s possessions: an old dirty blanket, oversized worn out sneakers, plastic flowers, empty water bottles, stale bread. Different parts of the city palpably illustrate a degenerating social fabric, as more Greeks are now joining the ranks of what Zygmunt Bauman has called “human waste”: unemployed, working poor, immigrants, all the outcasts, victims of “economic progress,” preys of rampant neoliberal policies, “casualties,” real victims to what the Greek prime minister has recently called a “success story” on the road to privatization and the wholesale of Greece’s national assets and sovereignty.

Greece is radically and violently transformed into the land field of “wasted lives” in the giant trashcan of global capitalism. Witnessing as I do this novel form of social necrophilia that eats alive every inch of human life, workspace and public space, I cringe at the sound of the words “sacrifice,” “rescue” and making Greece, according to the claims of Greek PM Antonis Samaras, a “success story.” Whose sacrifice and whose rescue? Who succeeds and who loses? Numbers are telling. […]

READ @ http://athenianvoice.wordpress.com/category/articles-in-english/

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* TURKEY SET TO BLOCK YOUTUBE MOMENTARILY, AFTER GOOGLE REFUSES TO YANK CLIPS EXPOSING PRIME MINISTER

Source: zerohedge

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As was reported earlier, the Turkish premier, embroiled in what increasingly appears a career terminating corruption and embezzlement scandal (it is not exactly clear yet just how involved the CIA is in this particular upcoming government overthrow), blocked Turkey’s access to Twitter last night, hours after vowing to “destroy twitter.” The idiocy of this escalation against dissemination of information in the internet age needs no comment. Well maybe one. This is what we said in our post from this morning:

“since Turkey will certainly not stop at just Twitter, here is what is coming next: “Last week, Erdogan said the country could also block Facebook and YouTube.” It now appears that at least half of this threat is about to materialize because moments ago Google just announced that it would not remove a previously uploaded video, one in which Erdogan tells his son to hide money from investigators (one which can be seen here), and which Erdogan demanded be pulled from Google (seemingly unaware that by doing so he simply made sure that everyone saw it). This means that within days, if not hours, Turkey will likely block Google-owned YouTube, if not Google itself.

From the WSJ:

Google Inc. has declined Turkish government requests to remove YouTube videos alleging government corruption, people familiar with the matter said, the latest sign of resistance to a crackdown against social media led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish authorities have in recent weeks asked Google to block the videos from YouTube’s Turkish website, the people familiar with the matter said. But amid a national scandal over corruption allegations, Google refused to comply because it believes the requests to be legally invalid, the people added.

Google’s refusal to remove videos raises the specter that Turkey could move to block access to YouTube within the country, after blocking the microblogging service Twitter Inc. late Thursday night. Both sites have been central conduits for allegations of corruption against Mr. Erdogan’s government and faced public threats of a blackout by Mr. Erdogan. 

Some people within Google had feared a YouTube blackout could be imminent, after the Twitter takedown, the people familiar with the matter said. “We feel an immediate threat,” one of the people said.

Sadly in Erodgan’s berserk regime, this is not only possible but very probable. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-21/turkey-set-block-youtube-momentarily-following-google-refusal-yank-clips-exposing-pr

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* THE NEW COLD WAR “SHIELD”

By Manlio Dinucci, Voltaire

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Washington is making hay of its defeat in Ukraine: it is getting the Europeans to cut themselves off economically from Russia and is already imposing on them the expansion of its missile coverage. While the Western media focus on NATO’s narrative of events (the so-called “military annexation” of Crimea), the Alliance is noiselessly deploying its imperial apparatus.

Vice President Joe Biden’s flash visit to Poland and Estonia to ensure that, in the face of “Russia’s shameless incursion” in Ukraine – a country determined to build “a government for the people” (guaranteed by the neo-Nazis [1] brought to power by the “new Gladio” coup [2] ) – the United States reiterates its unwavering commitment to comply with Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty on “collective defense.” As Ukraine is now a de facto, but not official, member of NATO, there is always “non-Article 5,” urging members to “execute evolving missions not described under Article 5,” which was promoted by the Italian government of Massimo D’Alema during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999, and later also applied to the wars on Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

To help “NATO emerge from this crisis stronger … than ‘ever’,” the United States repledged its commitment to the “missile defense” of Europe. However, by correlating the “missile defense” to the Ukrainian crisis, Joe Biden gave his game away. Washington had persistently maintained that the U.S. “shield” in Europe is not directed against Russia, but against the threat of Iranian missiles. In Moscow, on the contrary, this was always perceived as an attempt to gain a decisive strategic advantage over Russia: the U.S. could hold it under the threat of a nuclear first strike, relying on the ability of the “shield” to neutralize the retaliation effects [3] The new plan launched by President Obama, compared with the previous one, provides for a larger number of missiles lined up on Russia’s doorstep. Since they are under U.S. control, no one can find out whether they are interceptors or nuclear missiles. […]

READ @ http://www.voltairenet.org/article182862.html

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* FROM IRAQ TO UKRAINE: A PATTERN OF DISASTER

By Justin Raimondo, AntiWar.com

gulf_oil_disaster

[…] In Iraq we used “hard power” to install a regime that is not only tyrannical but also hostile to the US. Today in Ukraine we are deploying “soft power” to ensconce a government that will not only be a financial burden for as far as they eye can see, but which may also turn out not to be as “pro-American” as their effusive neocon cheerleaders would have us believe.

The Svoboda party claims to represent all Ukrainians in the region, and openly talks about a “Greater Ukraine” extending into parts of neighboring countries which may indeed have pockets of Ukrainians. The national-ethnic conflicts that have periodically transformed the map of south-central Europe go back a long way. Once this can of worms is opened there is no putting it back.

Quite aside from that, however, I thought I would never live to see the day when the US State Department whitewashed the neo-Nazi views and heritage of a gang of thugs who had seized power in a violent coup d’etat.

In Iraq, Libya, and Syria, US policymakers empowered radical Islamists of one sort or another. That was bad enough. Today, however, in Ukraine they are empowering the heirs of Adolf Hitler.

How is this not a scandal? […]

READ @ http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/03/16/from-iraq-to-ukraine-a-pattern-of-disaster/

Feb 172014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* WORLD BEYOND WAR

Source: youtube

Here are more ways to help move us from war culture to peace culture:

All individuals and organizations, all over the world, are invited to sign a statement in support of ending all war, and to join in the planning of a new movement to be launched on September 21, 2014. This is the statement:

I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.

To sign this, and to get involved in many different ways, individuals should click here and organizations here.

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDiY8p8AAoU

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* GERMANY’S CHOICE: AUTHORITARIANISM OR HEGEMONY?

By Yanis Varoufakis

hegemony

For those of us who grew up under totalitarian regimes, it is noteworthy that Europeans are resorting to a time-honoured tradition: telling jokes as a form of defiance. Here is one: “Why did Europeans agree to form the euro?” “Because”, the joke goes, “the French feared the Germans, the Irish wanted to escape Britain, the Greeks were terrified of Turkey, the Finns wanted to prove they were more European than the other Scandinavians, the Spanish wanted to become more like the French, the Italians wanted to become German, the Dutch and the Austrians had all but become German, the Belgians sought to join both Holland and France, and, finally, the Germans feared… the Germans!”

The genuinely good news is that the Germans no longer fear the Germans. Germany’s elites today are confident in their capacity to fend off authoritarianism from within their nation. They have no qualms, any longer, to speak their minds on Europe but also beyond (e.g. the German refusal to join the US in Iraq or NATO in Libya). This renewed confidence has, thankfully, not been allowed to spill over into jingoism or to foster some ambition to rule over Europe. German elites cherish being thought of as good Europeans and have no interest in ordering the rest of the Europeans around.

Over the past four years, of the Eurozone crisis, the German authorities have made a habit of saying ‘Nein’ again, and again, often to the dismay of Paris, Rome, Madrid, Athens – not to mention Washington and Beijing. They have said no to Eurobonds, no to a proper banking union, no to a European Marshall Plan, no to a New Deal for Europe. Even when they agreed to intervene in the crisis, they did so reluctantly, maximizing in the process the cost of doing that to which they eventually agreed (e.g. setting up of the bailout finds, the Greek debt re-structuring). […]

READ @ http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/02/03/germanys-choice-authoritarianism-or-hegemony/

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* TAKE A STREET AND BUILD A COMMUNITY

Source: TedxTalks

How well do you know your neighbours? Suburban life is often isolating and rarely a true community experience. This is not the case in Hulbert Street.

Shani Graham helped lead a sustainable-living revolution that ultimately resulted in strong neighbourly relationships, the fences pulled down and the establishment of a street festival. In this talk, she explains how it happened.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1WSkXWSJac

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* EUROPE CONSIDERS WHOLESALE SAVINGS CONFISCATION, ENFORCED REDISTRIBUTION

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge

grand-theft-eurozone

At first we thought Reuters had been punk’d in its article titled “EU executive sees personal savings used to plug long-term financing gap” which disclosed the latest leaked proposal by the European Commission, but after several hours without a retraction, we realized that the story is sadly true. Sadly, because everything that we warned about in “There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis” back in September of 2011, and everything that the depositors and citizens of Cyprus had to live through, seems on the verge of going continental. In a nutshell, and in Reuters’ own words, “the savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.” What is left unsaid is that the “usage” will be on a purely involuntary basis, at the discretion of the “union”, and can thus best be described as confiscation.

The source of this stunner is a document seen be Reuters, which describes how the EU is looking for ways to “wean” the 28-country bloc from its heavy reliance on bank financing and find other means of funding small companies, infrastructure projects and other investment. So as Europe finally admits that the ECB has failed to unclog its broken monetary pipelines for the past five years – something we highlight every month (most recently in No Waking From Draghi’s Monetary Nightmare: Eurozone Credit Creation Tumbles To New All Time Low), the commissions report finally admits that “the economic and financial crisis has impaired the ability of the financial sector to channel funds to the real economy, in particular long-term investment.”

The solution? “The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing“, the document said.”

Mobilize, once again, is a more palatable word than, say, confiscate.

And yet this is precisely what Europe is contemplating:

Banks have complained they are hindered from lending to the economy by post-crisis rules forcing them to hold much larger safety cushions of capital and liquidity.

The document said the “appropriateness” of the EU capital and liquidity rules for long-term financing will be reviewed over the next two years, a process likely to be scrutinized in the United States and elsewhere to head off any risk of EU banks gaining an unfair advantage.

But wait: there’s more! […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-12/europe-considers-wholesale-savings-confiscation-enforced-redistribution

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* 19 STATISTICS ABOUT THE DRUGGING OF AMERICA THAT ARE ALMOST TOO CRAZY TO BELIEVE

By Michael Snyder, The American Dream

hypnotized_gir_by_justananimefreak123-d4m50kt

The American people are the most drugged people in the history of the planet.  Illegal drugs get most of the headlines, but the truth is that the number of Americans that are addicted to legal drugs is far greater than the number of Americans that are addicted to illegal drugs.  As you will see below, close to 70 percent of all Americans are currently on at least one prescription drug.  In addition, there are 60 million Americans that “abuse alcohol” and 22 million Americans that use illegal drugs.  What that means is that almost everyone that you meet is going to be on something.  That sounds absolutely crazy but it is true.  We are literally being drugged out of our minds.  In fact, as you will read about below, there are 70 million Americans that are taking “mind-altering drugs” right now.  If it seems like most people cannot think clearly these days, it is because they can’t.  We love our legal drugs and it is getting worse with each passing year.  And considering the fact that big corporations are making tens of billions of dollars peddling their drugs to the rest of us, don’t expect things to change any time soon.  The following are 19 statistics about the drugging of America that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 An astounding 70 million Americans are taking legal mind-altering drugs right now.

#2 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors wrote more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants during 2010.

#3 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs. […]

READ @ http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/19-statistics-about-the-drugging-of-america-that-are-almost-too-crazy-to-believe

DOCUMENTARY: Making a Killing: The Untold Story Of Psychotropic Drugging. Full Documentary Film @ http://99getsmart.com/?p=2930

Feb 012014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* CAPITALISM

By Saliha Bouziane, Art et Création

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgINtiIQaFI

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* US WANTS CONTROL OF AFGHANISTAN’S RESOURCES

By John Robles, StopNATO

OP SLIPPER - MTF-1

Download audio file

The amount of money that the US Government has poured into Afghanistan on non-military aid is approaching $100 billion yet children are starving and the country is completely decimated. The US agencies that are supposed to implement development projects are completely incapable of carrying out their missions due to corruption and a complete lack of oversight. In an interview with the Voice of Russia’s John Robles three time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, who recently completed her twelfth stay in Afghanistan said she would not recommend that US agencies that are supposed to be involved in development work be given the authority or the funds to provide assistance because their abysmal track records. Ms. Kelly believes the reason the US wants to maintain a militarily presence in Afghanistan may be a US interest in controlling the pricing and flow of precious resources found in Afghanistan. When asked whether opium was one of these resources Ms. Kelly agreed that at this point that appears to be true.

This is John Robles. You are listening to part 1 of an interview with Kathy Kelly, the coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is also a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. This is part 1 of an interview in progress.

Robles: Hello! How are you this evening?

Kelly: I’m good, thank you.

Robles: It is a pleasure to be speaking with you. I understand you’ve just returned from Afghanistan and I was wondering if you could tell us about your trip and what is going on with your fight against the drones.

Kelly: Thank you. I returned from Afghanistan about four days ago after having spent a month living in a working class neighborhood in Kabul as a guest of a group called the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

I think this was the twelfth time that I’ve been a guest of these young people. It is a privilege really to be with them. They are young people who want to live together inter-ethnically, they come from Hazara and Pashto and Tajik backgrounds and they share together also a good deal of altruism and had initiated projects that try to be of service to people who are extremely needy. […]

READ @ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/interview-us-wants-control-of-afghanistans-resources/

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* IMPERIAL CONQUEST: AMERICA’S “LONG WAR” AGAINST HUMANITY

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

us-imperialism

The following text was presented  at the Rosa Luxemburg Conference, Berlin, January 11, 2014.

The event was organized by the German daily “junge Welt”.  This year, the Rosa Luxemburg Conference marked the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

In this regard, the history of wars is important because it helps us understand today’s wars.

Our objective is World Peace. Our objective is to criminalize war.

The concept of the Long War is part of US military doctrine since the end of World War II. In many regards, todays wars are a continuation of the Second World War.

Worldwide militarization is also part of a global economic agenda, namely the application of the neoliberal economic policy model which has led to the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

Michel Chossudovsky, Berlin, January 11, 2014

Introduction

The world is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. This “war without borders” is being carried out at the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in World history, which has been conducive to the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

The concept of the “Long War” has characterized US military doctrine since the end of World War II. Worldwide militarization is part of a global economic agenda.

Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the US military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska plays a central role in coordinating military operations.

According to former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consists of a sequence of war theatres:

“[The] five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.” (Democracy Now, 2007) […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/imperial-conquest-americas-long-war-against-humanity/5364215

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* MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE – TRAILER

Source: Arsenal Filmverleih

This documentary features an elite German investment banker as he reveals the bankers’ plans to rule the world. Filmmaker says it’s a frightening megalomaniacal, quasi-religious parallel world

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIUPWWwEclc#t=103

Jan 292014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* IS THE WORLD REBALANCING?

By Yanis Varoufakis

WideModern_Rebalance_062813620x413

Before the Crash of 2008, the dominant view amongst the world’s policy-making elites was that global imbalances were not a problem. The great and the good in Washington and in London, in Paris and in Frankfurt, at Davos and on the golf courses where deals of note are struck, dismissed as economically-illiterate moaning-minnies all those who dared warn against large current account imbalances. Caught up in the soothing fiction of the ‘Great Moderation’, and the toxic fantasy that finance had invented ‘riskless risk’, the powers-that-be were adamant that we were living in a ‘new paradigm’. In this ‘new paradigm’ of their over-excited imagination, risk was being dispersed (through financialisation) from the global financial centres to the rest of the world, net capital was flowing the other way (from the Periphery to the capitalism’s Metropoles), and the result was sustainably unbalanced current and capital accounts. In short, from the gilded perspective of the true believers in some fictional ‘Great Moderation’, untrammelled markets had produced, at a planetary scale, a virtuous, sustainable, and highly lucrative ‘equilibrium imbalance’.

After the Crash of 2008, their tune changed. And it changed even more radically when, two years later, the Eurozone’s never-ending crisis followed suit. Suddenly, it became fashionable to blame, retrospectively, the hitherto benign global imbalances for the crisis. America’s pre-crisis gargantuan current account deficit, amounting to 6% of the planet’s largest national income, as well as China’s 10% of GDP current account surplus, were no longer thought of as innocuous. Similarly, within the Eurozone, Germany’s and Holland’s pre-2008 combined €35 billion-plus current account surplus, juxtaposed against Portugal’s, Greece’s and Spain’s combined current account deficit of €31 billion, metamorphosed from ‘natural’ repercussions of creating a common currency area to sources of local and global instability. In short, the crisis of 2008 turned imbalances from symptoms of the neoliberal ‘Great Moderation’ to the villains of the piece.

Six years have passed since those heady days and it is now clear that the global imbalances are waning. America’s current account deficit has fallen from 6% to less than 3% of GDP while China’s current account surplus has diminished from a breathtaking 10% to a reasonable 2.5%. Even within the long suffering Eurozone, quasi-insolvent nations like Spain and Italy are eliminating their current account deficits, despite the rise and rise of Germany’s surplus. Perused from a planetary perspective, German surpluses and Turkey’s or India’s deficits seem like minor problems that should perhaps be of concern to Europeans or Asians though not to the world at large. From this perspective, the world seems better balanced now than at any time since the 1980s. But is it so? […]

READ @ http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/01/28/is-the-world-re-balancing/

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* THE EUROPEAN PERIPHERY AS A POLITICAL LABORATORY

By Ricardo Campos, roarmag

The austerity imposed on the EU periphery is part of a wider and more ambitious experiment to suspend democracy and commodify all aspects of social life.

The austerity imposed on the EU periphery is part of a wider and more ambitious experiment to suspend democracy and commodify all aspects of social life.

The periphery of the Eurozone has been in the spotlights since 2010, when the Greek government requested a bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (EC) — or the ‘Troika’, as these three powers are collectively known. It has become a familiar story, with Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus eventually following, while Slovenia seems to be next and both Spain and Italy remain under stress. This sovereign debt crisis has been presented from its very start as the mere sum of distinct national macroeconomic performances, with some countries failing to be competitive enough (or, according to a less sophisticated formula, showing themselves to be ‘lazy’) and some governments failing to control the budget deficit appropriately (or, according to a less sophisticated formula, showing themselves to be ‘big spenders’).

The dominant narrative of the political economy of the Eurozone is neither innocent nor accurate and plays a deliberate strategic role. It is rather obvious that the specific economic and social backgrounds of each country — including different intensities of social conflict and forms of resistance — explain the different pace of the austerity measures applied and the capacity of each government to negotiate distinct conditions for loans. But there is no such thing as an independent national context within the Eurozone, as becomes clearer every time a mission of the Troika lands in a country under intervention. The alleged purpose of the policies imposed on these countries — controlling public debt by reforming the state and regaining external competitiveness in order to lower the trade balance deficit — are further from being achieved now than they were before the bailouts. The ECB is now studying how to keep the “adjustment” in these countries beyond the previously agreed schedule, even though all the austerity measures included in its recessive arsenal have been applied. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/01/austerity-europe-neoliberal-laboratory/

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* ESCAPED MARXIST GUERRILLA CHRISTODOULOS XIROS ALARMS GREECE WITH PLEDGE TO RETURN TO ARMS

By Helena Smith, Guardian

Christodoulos Xiros of the 17 November guerrilla group delivering his video message. He escaped from prison less than a month ago. Photograph: AP

Christodoulos Xiros of the 17 November guerrilla group delivering his video message. He escaped from prison less than a month ago. Photograph: AP

A video threat by a member of the disbanded 17 November terror group creates a new crisis for a weakened state

Up close, Christodoulos Xiros does not come across as a menacing man – in many ways he still resembles the soft-spoken craftsman he once was. But this weekend, barely three weeks after absconding from the high-security Korydallos prison in Athens, the dark-eyed 56-year-old, a key member of the defunct 17 November terror group, has struck fear into the hearts of many across crisis-hit Greece.

In the space of five days, panic-stricken authorities have launched the biggest manhunt in modern times, placed a €4m bounty on his head – dead or alive – and thrown a security cordon around the capital not seen since the 2004 Olympics.

On Friday, as European justice ministers gathered in the country that currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, there were sharpshooters on the roofs, sniffer dogs roaming the streets and more than 2,000 riot police outside government offices and hotels.

“I am worried that soon there will be an attack,” said former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, giving voice to the fears stalking Greece after Xiros failed to report to authorities while visiting his family during a nine-day leave from prison earlier this month.

It was 15 days before the self-described “free member of 17 November” re-emerged, with a video message vowing a return to armed action. “It’s time for battle,” Xiros said against a background of images depicting resistance fighters and a second world war communist hero. “I have decided to thunder the guerrilla shotgun against those who stole our lives and sold our dreams for profit.” […]

READ @ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/26/marxist-guerrilla-christodoulos-xiros-17-november-greece

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* ‘ONE BIG PROJECT’: ITALY’S BURGEONING MOVEMENT FOR HOUSING AND INCOME

By Alfredo Mazzamauro, roarmag

In the context of a deepening housing crisis, Italy’s movements are becoming increasingly united in their opposition to neoliberalism and austerity.

In the context of a deepening housing crisis, Italy’s movements are becoming increasingly united in their opposition to neoliberalism and austerity.

If there is one day that can symbolically represent the current struggle against austerity and neoliberalism in Italy it must be the 19th of October 2013 — the day of the General Uprising (“sollevazione generale”) against austerity. On that date, behind a banner that read “Only One Big Project: Income and Houses for Everyone!” around one hundred thousand people took the streets of Rome in what could be considered the most successful demonstration by the Italian social movements since the economic crisis began in 2007.

The demonstration was the last day of a week of struggle structured around four national events. The first was the day of struggle against the environmental devastation caused by capitalism on October 12. The second was the European social strike on October 15, launched during the Hub meeting in Barcelona. The third day was the general strike of the rank-and-file unions with a national demonstration in Rome and many local marches across the country on October 18. The final day was the national demonstration against austerity in Rome on October 19.

This agenda was set up and promoted by the Living in the Crisis Network (“rete abitare nella crisi”) — a network of Italian housing action movements — along with many grassroots movements and autonomous groups such as student movements, rank-and-file unions, precarious workers and migrants following a series of assemblies organized by the No-TAV movement in Val Susa over the last summer. The purpose of the October week of struggle was to bring together in a few big national events all the grassroots movements and the local groups who work every day in their neighborhoods to oppose and resist the neoliberal attempt to make workers and the lower classes pay for the crisis of capitalism. In particular, the October 19 demonstration aimed to make visible the housing emergency which is affecting ever more families and low-income earners in Italy. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/01/italy-movement-housing-income/

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* THE WORKERS’ SCORECARD ON NAFTA

By David Bacon, Truthout

NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO - 05JUNE09 - The settlement of Blanca Navidad, on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S. border.  Blanca Navidad was created by workers looking for land to build a place to live, and is part of a network of radical communities on the border, and throughout Mexico, sympathetic with the Zapatista movement.  Most residents work in the maquiladoras. Photo by David Bacon

NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO – 05 JUNE 09 – The settlement of Blanca Navidad, on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S. border. Blanca Navidad was created by workers looking for land to build a place to live, and is part of a network of radical communities on the border, and throughout Mexico, sympathetic with the Zapatista movement. Most residents work in the maquiladoras. Photo by David Bacon

Sold by its promoters as a migration-preventing device that ultimately would produce more and better-paid jobs in all three countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement has displaced jobs and people, weakened unions and ravaged US cities and rural Mexico. But worker solidarity may prove to be its most important product.

In 1986, a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act created a commission to investigate the causes of Mexican migration to the United States. When it made its report to Congress in 1992, it found, unsurprisingly, that the biggest was poverty. It recommended the negotiation of a free trade agreement, modeled on the one that had been implemented a few years before between the United States and Canada. The commission argued that opening the border to the flow of goods and capital (but not people) would, in the long run, produce jobs and rising income in Mexico, even if, in the short run, it led to some job loss and displacement.

The negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement began within months. When completed, it was sold to the public by its promoters on both sides of the border as a migration-preventing device. During the debate, executives of companies belonging to USA-NAFTA, the agreement’s corporate lobbyist, walked the halls of Congress wearing red, white and blue neckties. They made extravagant claims that US exports to Mexico would account for 100,000 jobs in the agreement’s first year alone.

Some skeptics warned that the agreement would put downward pressure on wages and encourage attacks on unions, because its purpose was to create an environment encouraging investment and free markets. Their warnings were met with another promise – that a parallel labor side agreement would establish a mechanism for protecting workers’ rights.

Twenty years later, workers have a scorecard. The promises of profits from increased investment and freer markets were kept. But the promises of jobs and benefits for working people were not. As the commission predicted, NAFTA did lead to increasing unemployment, displacement and poverty. Workers in all three countries are still living with these devastating consequences, while the predicted long-range benefits never materialized. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21370-the-workers-scorecard-on-naftaf

Jan 212014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE WAR ON THE PLANET

By Kirkpatrick Sale

Climate-change-a-moral-issue1

Some recent evidence in the contest between capitalism and the earth:

In October, the U.S. officially edged past Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, an achievement largely due to the great increase in natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking). Inasmuch as the process puts into the ground (and groundwater) 40 gallons of up to 600 chemicals in every well, no one doubts that it is one of the dirtiest and most polluting industries ever created.

Capitalism 1, Earth 0.

In December, the New England shrimp fishery was officially shut down for at least a year, maybe three, to allow a restoration of vastly depleted shrimp stocks, now at historic lows due to overfishing and warmer waters. Shrimpers made $10 million two years ago, just $1.2 million this year, and it is uncertain if or when the stocks will come back.

Capitalism 2, Earth 0.

According to a UN report in December , climate-change gasses in the atmospthere set a record high in 2012. The U.N. World Meteorological Organization said warming gasses increased 32 per cent 1990 to 2012, with Co2, industrialization’s chief byproduct, accounting for 80 per cent of that. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/01/16/the-war-on-the-planet/

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* TRUTH BEHIND FREEDOM INDUSTRIES BANKRUPTCY

Source: MSNBC

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JykxZxps5Jk

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* FIFTY STATES OF FEAR

By Peter Ludlow, NYTimes

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The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, writing as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, observed that “neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Russell’s point was that irrational fear can propel us into counterproductive activities, ranging from unjust wars and the inhumane treatment of others to more mundane cases like our failure to seize opportunities to improve our everyday lives.

It is hard to dispute Russell’s claim. We all know that fear can impair our judgment. We have passed up opportunities in our personal lives and we have also seen groups and nations do great harm and unravel because of their irrational fears. The 20th century was littered with wars and ethnic cleansings that were propelled in large measure by fear of a neighboring state or political or ethnic group. Given this obvious truth, one might suppose that modern democratic states, with the lessons of history at hand, would seek to minimize fear — or at least minimize its effect on deliberative decision-making in both foreign and domestic policy.

But today the opposite is frequently true. Even democracies founded in the principles of liberty and the common good often take the path of more authoritarian states. They don’t work to minimize fear, but use it to exert control over the populace and serve the government’s principal aim: consolidating power. […]

READ @ http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/fifty-states-of-fear/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&rref=opinion&_r=1&

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* THE WORLD OF SURVEILLANCE, PRIVATE AND PUBLIC

By Phil Ebersole

281106surveillance

Senator Jay Rockefeller is rightly indignant that somebody has compiled lists of rape victims, which are sold to marketing companies for who-knows-what purpose.

But the fact is that we all provide information to private businesses that, when shared, enables them to know all about us. Short of never using a store discount card, never buying anything over the Internet and never using a credit card, there is no realistic way to get around it.

What I worry about is not so much what people in these companies know, or think they know, as what they do with the information. If the information is used by marketing companies to guess what products I might buy, this may be annoying, but it does me no great harm.

If it is turned over to lenders or employers and affects my chances of getting credit or a job, this would be a serious problem.  If it is turned over to government agencies to determine whether I am a potential terrorist or even a troublemaker, this would be an even more serious problem.

Knowledge is power, and there is a lack of balance of power. These people know, or think they know, a lot about me. I ought to be able to know who they are and what they know, or think they know, about me. If my life is an open book to them, I ought to be able to read that book. […]

READ @ http://philebersole.wordpress.com/tag/civil-liberties/

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* VICE MEETS GLENN GREENWALD

Source: VICE

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoCPdLh_FiQ

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* THE BIGGEST THREAT TO DEMOCRACY SINCE WORLD WAR II – AND THEY TRIED TO KEEP IT SECRET

By Mike Sivier, Vox Political

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Editorial comment: TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), is the latest one of the heinous trade agreements that are already destroying the lives of people to enrich the corporations. George Monbiot in the Guardian is speaking freely about this new attempt to make the multinational corporations even more powerful and to take away any possibilities for the people to make themselves heard that might still exist. But where are the other media? Silenced by a down and out publication ban or by self-censorship? Is George Monbiot the only one who manages to speak out in the mass media? We need to hear masses of loud voices fighting tooth and nail against this horrible threat, the last straw in the killing of democracy, the killing of the people. If this latest trade agreement becomes a reality which is currently being negotiated and which is destined exclusively to enrich the corporations that are already rolling in money, then governments will officially be nothing but the puppets of Big Business.  – SON

 

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is bitter pill for anyone to swallow, if they have spent any time defending Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The partnership between the EU and the United States would open America to the kind of free trade deals that have been going on in Europe ever since the original Economic Community was formed – but there is a problem.

It isn’t a problem for businesses; they are in line to get a deal better than anything ever experienced in the world of trade. Citizens and national governments, on the other hand – you, me, and the people who represent us – will be railroaded.

This is because the agreement includes a device called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, which allows corporate entities to sue governments, overruling domestic courts and the will of Parliaments.

In other words, this could be the biggest threat to democracy since World War II. […]

READ @ http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_66339.shtml

 

Jan 162014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* AMERICA IS PLUNGING INTO KAFKA’S NIGHTMARE

By Brandon Smith, Alt-Market

There is a certain level of dishonesty in the common study of history. We look back at the tyrannies of the past, the monstrous governments, the devastating wars and the unimaginable crimes, and we wonder how it could have been possible. How could the people of that particular generation let such atrocities come to pass? Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they protest? Why didn’t they fight back?

We wonder all of this as we absorb the lists of dates, names and actions in books written by other men who memorized other lists of dates, names and actions. We are taught to study and wonder without ever actually applying the lessons of the past to the developments of today. We are conditioned to assert our own narrow spin on yesterday, instead of placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors or recognizing that their struggles remain our struggles. The modern method of viewing history detaches us from it, making it seem distant, alien or surreal.

Perhaps many societies fail to prepare or act in the face of tyranny because they had forgotten their own histories, making the demise of their culture appear so schizophrenic they would not believe what their eyes were telling them.

Often, the only way to grasp the more complete truth of the present is to examine it through the lens of the absurd. Sadly, our Nation, our culture and most of the world around us have become so backward, ugly, feeble and twisted that the only adequate comparison is to the nightmares of surrealists.

When I examine recent U.S. legislation, the exposure of classified documents, and the openly admitted criminality of political leadership, I am consistently reminded of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. […]

[…] In the U.S. today, the kind of establishment terror Kafka imagined is indeed a reality. We are not on the verge of a total surveillance state, we are there. It exists. And if we do not accept that this is our social condition, there may be no historians tomorrow to look back on our era and wonder: “Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they fight back?” […]

[…] The Web cannot be made free or private from within; our courts cannot be made fair and just from within; neither political party can be forced to represent the common man from within; and our government cannot be made honest or transparent from within. To play games of activism within establishment dominated systems is to play make-believe within a surrealist nightmare; a piece of “Alice in Wonderland” political quackery. Like the audience at Josef’s trial, the elites simply laugh at such activists, or feign applause, while continuing forever with the same corruption and the criminal status quo. […]

READ @ http://www.alt-market.com/articles/1939-america-is-plunging-into-kafkas-nightmare

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* THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WATCH MAINSTREAM MEDIA TV NEWS

Source: The Onion

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guaLbl_WmVw&feature=youtu.be

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* TPP: POISON OF LOCAL COMMUNITY RESILIENCE

By Richard Heinberg

DonkeyHotey-Flickr-Carver-TPP-300x300

The past couple of decades of globalization have been a disaster for planetary ecosystems, indigenous peoples, and most middle-class citizens, but a gravy train for big investors, investment bankers, and managers of transnational corporations. This unprecedented expansion of international trade was driven by the convergence of key resources, developments, and inventions: cheap oil, satellite communications, container ships, computerized monitoring of inventories, the flourishing of multinational corporations, the proliferation of liberal trade treaties (including NAFTA), and the emergence of transnational bodies such as the World Trade Organization.

Economists said everyone would eventually benefit, but casualties quickly mounted. Inflation-adjusted wages for American workers stagnated. Manufacturing towns throughout the Northeast and Midwest withered. Meanwhile, China began burning immense amounts of coal to make mountains of toys, furniture, clothing, tools, appliances, and consumer electronics, cloaking its cities in a pall of toxic fumes and driving its greenhouse gas emissions to world record-setting levels. In effect, the United States has been importing cheap consumer goods while exporting jobs and polluting industries. In both China and the US, levels of economic inequality have soared.

Now comes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new trade deal negotiated in secret (only corporations get to contribute to, and look at, the draft language). The point of the Treaty: to double down on globalization at precisely the moment in time when the entire enterprise is beginning to fail as a result of stubbornly high oil prices, worsening climate change impacts (floods, droughts, wildfires), debt deflation, and middle-class fears of losing even more ground. […]

[…] Educate yourself on the issue (see this fact sheet) and let your congressional representatives know what you think by contacting them here. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/15-0

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* FTA EU-MERCOSUR: WHY DO ONLY THE NEGOTIATORS WANT TO SIGN IT?

By Aram Aharonian, CADTM

arton9817-5cffb

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA), under the conditions posed by the European Union (EU) for other countries (such as Colombia and Peru), is totally in contradiction with the goal of independent economic development that governments of Mercosur (the Common Market of the South) have repeatedly put forward, having rejected the proposal of a similar agreement, the ALCA, with the United States in 2005.

Even without designating it as a “Free Trade” agreement, but rather as one of “economic cooperation”, as the European Union has done in other cases, what is proposed is similar, and perhaps even more negative, than many Free Trade Agreements that have encountered strong resistance in Argentina and Venezuela, and important opposition in Brazil.

Among the predicted impacts of a Free Trade Agreement are a significant increase in unemployment, due to the liberalization of trade in industrial and agricultural products, the fall in salaries associated with unemployment; and in addition, a fall in tax revenue, along with serious impacts in the reduction of expenses in health, education and social programmes.

But the most serious problem is in the secrecy with which such public affairs are being conducted. Given the possible consequences for the peoples concerned, these negotiations cannot be left in the hands of a group of “specialists” and the pressures of interest groups or sectarian or biased media. There must be consultation with the people, opening all the conditions to debate, eliminating the levels of confidentiality demanded by European negotiators. There is a need for real transparency. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/FTA-EU-MERCOSUR-Why-do-only-the

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* MAPPING LI(E)BORGATE – PRESENTING THE OCTOPUS IN THE LIBOR-RIGGING SCANDAL

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge

What is the LIBOR?

The Libor manipulation scandal has, as WSJ reports, ensnared at least 17 financial institutions and 22 individuals in a wide-ranging investigation spanning 11 countries and four continents. So far, it has netted at least $5 billion in penalties, with more on the way. The Wall Street Journal has taken the most complete list of allegedly involved parties and mapped an extensive web of 298 reported connections that reveals the depth of the alleged conspiracy from the ‘alleged’ ringleader Tom Hayes and involving practically ever major bank in the world.

Full Interactive “Spider-Web” here.

The alleged ringleader… Tom Hayes…

Former UBS and Citigroup trader, criminally charged with fraud in U.S. and U.K. Pleaded not guilty to U.K. charges; hasn’t entered a plea to U.S. charges. Told WSJ that “this goes much much higher than me.” The institutions and individuals in the web allegedly worked with him to manipulate rates or previously employed him when he was allegedly manipulating rates, according to the U.S. Justice Department, U.K. Serious Fraud Office and people familiar with the investigation. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-01-15/mapping-lieborgate-presenting-octopus-libor-rigging-scandal

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* WIKILEAKS: DEFEATING THE CONSPIRACY OF GOVERNANCE

By Nozomi Hayase, RoarMag

The contagious courage of the whistleblowers — from Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden — is helping to defeat the conspiracy of illegitimate governance. Illustration by Latuff

The contagious courage of the whistleblowers — from Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden — is helping to defeat the conspiracy of illegitimate governance.
Illustration by Latuff

In 2010, ongoing wars and government corruption spread through a fog of apathy. The world appeared to be reaching a tipping point for either global crisis or transformation. In this climate, WikiLeaks emerged into the limelight like a call to the conscience of humanity. Over the last few years, they released secret documents revealing Kenyan government corruption, Iceland’s financial collapse, the criminality of US wars in the Middle East and more. Their very existence and what they revealed called into question the legitimacy of imperial power structures around the world.

Ever since its initial public insurrection, WikiLeaks kept making the headlines. In spite of founder Julian Assange being immobilized — first under house arrest and then confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — the stateless organization has continued to publish documents, shedding light on corruption and abuse of power. One might well have thought the life of this transparency advocacy group would be over after the massive US government retaliation and financial blockades by PayPal, Visa and other US financial giants. Yet, in the year 2013, WikiLeaks showed itself to be resilient and relevant as ever by releasing a secretive draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty and aiding the world’s most wanted whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, in his quest for asylum.

The inception of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing website goes all the way back to late 2006. At that time, Assange wrote a kind of Manifesto called Conspiracy as Governance. In analyzing how corruption and secrecy are tied together, he described how “illegitimate governance is by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries working in collaborative secrecy … to the detriment of a population.” […

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/01/wikileaks-conspiracy-of-governance/

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* GREECE AND THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

By Iddhis Bing, indiegogo

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." - Tom Paine

Most people are unaware of what's going on in Greece. If you have read anything it's on the order of, "Greece is going through economic difficulties while it restructures its economy, forcing it to make painful adjustments."

The reality is far more devastating and has implications for the rest of the world. And yet reliable, in-depth reporting is hard to come by. As an independent journalist, I'm going to Greece to investigate the truth behind the news.

The New York Times said recently that Greece's "blighted economy" was "plunging further towards the Abyss." Public services have been cut in half, unemployment is 30% or worse (3 youths out of 5 under 24 unemployed), suicide is at an all-time high, and an openly Nazi party has 18 seats in the Greek Parliament and rampages through the streets. You didn't read any of that wrong. The IMF and the banks meanwhile demand ever more concessions. All of this passes under the radar of the mainstream media. That's why I'm going to see and write about it.

The Greeks protest on a daily basis, villages wage low-intensity battles against mining operations in the countryside, and those who can choose exile. A new political party is contesting the old dinosaurs in local spring elections and the European Union. It's a serious matter when Nazis are back on the playing field.

Greece, one of Europe's oldest cultures, is its new reality. Even the conservative Katheramini newspaper recently admitted that the country "may cease to be a viable nation state." It's time English-language readers had a chance to see that culture and its current impasse up-close.

Since everything we read about the splendid progress being made in Greece comes courtesy of politicians and the IMF, this writer has decided to report from the other side of the mirror: I'm going to Greece to record the stories of what people are going through, about survival in difficult times, people's reflections on the society they live in, its conflicts and contradictions.

If it can happen in Greece, it can happen where you live. The economic model being imposed on the Greeks is already being exported to other countries in the European Union and has plenty of adherents in the United States.

Right now we have a chance to be participants. But we can only do that if we know what's happening, and for that we need reports from the real world. You can help me get the real story out. You can give a human face to what is happening in Greece. Awareness is power. […]

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/greece-and-the-future-of-the-european-union

Jan 062014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE DANGEROUS RETURN OF WATER PRIVATIZATION

By Maude Barlow and Wenonah Hauter, Utne Reader

It’s time for an integrated, holistic national water policy, including the establishment of a federal water trust fund. Instead we face the cannibalization of our public utilities by private corporations. Photo By Paul Goyette

It’s time for an integrated, holistic national water policy, including the establishment of a federal water trust fund. Instead we face the cannibalization of our public utilities by private corporations. Photo By Paul Goyette

The United States has one of the best public water supply systems in the world. More than 250 million people count on local governments to provide safe drinking water. Over the last 40 years, federal, state, and municipal governments have worked together to improve and protect water resources. The Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act have kept the U.S. on target for preserving rivers, lakes, watersheds, wetlands, natural aquifers, and other sources of fresh water.

Great strides have been made in managing waste water and storm water. More than 90 percent of community water systems in 2012 met all federal health standards. Public water utilities have been a tremendously successful model for the U.S. and continue to keep drinking water safe, accessible, and affordable for all Americans.

It hasn’t always been this way.

During the 1800s, private companies controlled the water systems of several large U.S. cities—to dire effect. Because the companies were more interested in making a profit than providing good service, many poor residents lacked access to water. As a result, cholera outbreaks were common in poor neighborhoods; water pressure was sometimes too low to stop fires, which destroyed both homes and businesses. […]

READ @ http://www.utne.com/politics/water-privatization-zm0z14jfzros.aspx#axzz2nlZyXlKM

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* EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO BAN HEIRLOOM SEEDS – CRIMINALIZE PLANTS NOT REGISTERED WITH GOVERNMENT

By Arjun Walia, Alt-Market

seedling

The European Commission is changing the European Union’s plant legislation, apparently to enhance food safety across the continent. This move has sparked a heavy  opposition from many, saying that the measure will threaten seed diversity and favour large agrochemical businesses. This new law creates new powers to classify and regulate all plant life anywhere in Europe. You can view the entire proposal in the list of sources at the bottom of this article.

The “Plant Reproductive Material Law” regulates all plants. It contains restrictions on vegetables and woodland trees, as well as all other plants of any species. It will be illegal to grow, reproduce, or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been been tested and approved by the government, more specifically the “EU Plant Variety Agency.” This agency will be responsible for making a list of approved plants and an annual fee must also be forwarded to the agency if growers would like to keep what they grow on the list. The new law basically puts the government in charge of all plants and seeds in Europe, and prevents home gardeners from growing their own plants from non-regulated seeds. If they did, they would now be considered criminals.

The draft text of the law has already been changed several times due to a large backlash from gardeners.

This law will immediately stop the professional development of vegetable varieties for home gardeners, organic growers and small scale market farmers. Home gardeners have really different needs – for example they grow by hand, not machine, and can’t or don’t want to use such powerful chemical sprays. There’s no way to register the varieties suitable for home use as they don’t meet the strict criteria of the PLant Variety Agency, which is only concerned about approving the sort of seed used by industrial farmers – Ben Gabel, Director of The Real Seed Catalogue […]

READ @ http://www.alt-market.com/articles/1913-european-commission-to-ban-heirloom-seeds-criminalize-plants-not-registered-with-governm

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* DUMBING AMERICA DOWN

By Susan J. Douglas, In These Times

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Among the many visionary goals of our nation’s right wing—impoverish older people, starve the poor, deny climate change, outlaw abortion and contraception, eliminate healthcare for millions—few are more foundational than defunding education in general and higher education in particular. Public colleges and universities nationwide have seen significant funding cuts over the past five years, and while the recession is usually blamed, the Right keeps the fiscal screws tight by cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Here in Michigan, in Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s first budget, there was a 15 percent cut in state aid to universities and a $1.8 billion tax cut for businesses. This equals a win-win for the Right: Keep the fat cats in your corner, and constrain the opportunity for young people to learn a host of things that might, well, make them interrogate right-wing policies. The Pew Research Center and others have found that lower income and less-educated whites are becoming more likely to vote Republican than Democrat, with 54 percent of those without a college degree identifying as Republican in 2012; only 37 percent identified as Democratic, so the gap is, well, quite wide.

And here’s the ideological bonus: Public universities, clobbered by defunding, raise tuition. Then conservative pundits like S.E. Cupp can scream about the outrageous unaffordability (and elitism, of course) of a college degree and claim that it’s money down a rat hole. As she put it, colleges are “not meeting the demand of manufacturers and employers who want people who can’t just, you know, read Freud and Nietzsche … but who can actually read a business plan.” She’s hardly alone— stories asking “Is College Worth It?” are everywhere now. Few put two and two together: that the government cuts have to be made up somehow.

The recent assaults on the value of a college degree (coupled with the shameful student loan scandal) have borne fruit: According to a College Board and National Journal poll, 46 percent of respondents believe a college degree isn’t necessary for success, while only 37 percent said so in the previous year’s poll. Here is another victory of opinion over fact. Even with the high cost of college, graduates make an average $365,000 more during their lifetimes—after you subtract all the costs of going to school—than their counterparts with only a high school degree. At the University of Michigan, where I teach, a recent calculation showed that after accounting for tuition and fees, a Michigan grad made $901,400 more than a non-college graduate. […]

READ @ http://inthesetimes.com/article/15989/dumbing_america_down/

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* THE RISKS OF TRUSTING THE SNOWDEN STORY

Source: Dig Within

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[…] It was originally reported that the number of documents Snowden had stolen was in the thousands. Today, however, that number is said to be nearly two million. This calls into question Snowden’s early statement, as reported by Greenwald, that he “carefully evaluated every single document… to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest.” The huge, new number also reveals that less than one tenth of one percent of the documents (only about 900) have actually been released to the public.

How could Snowden have “carefully evaluated every single” one of what is now being said to be nearly two million documents? He only worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for a few months. According to NSA Director Keith Alexander, Snowden also worked directly for NSA for twelve months prior to that, which is interesting. But still, that would require carefully evaluating thousands of documents a day during that entire time. Didn’t he have a job apart from that?

Journalist Margie Burns asked some good questions back in June that have not yet been answered. She wondered about the 29-year old Snowden who had been a U.S. Army Special Forces recruit, a covert CIA operative, and an NSA employee in various capacities, all in just a few, short years. Burns asked “How, exactly, did Snowden get his series of NSA jobs? Did he apply through regular channels? Was it through someone he knew? Who recommended him? Who were his references for a string of six-figure, high-level security jobs? Are there any safeguards in place so that red flags go up when a subcontractor jumps from job to job, especially in high-level clearance positions?” […]

READ @ http://digwithin.net/2014/01/01/snowden/

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* THE PERFECT STORM IN TURKEY – CORRUPTION, CONFLICT, CONSPIRACY

By Michael Collins, InformationClearingHouse

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús

The Republic of Turkey is consumed by intense conflict, conspiracy charges, and underlying financial problems that simply won’t go away. A perfect storm is brewing in Turkey.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and supporters are charged with a secret gold-for-oil deal with Iran. The deal, in violation of trade sanctions against Iran, enriched the PM’s ministers and other key supporters involved (including the PM’s son), according to prosecutors. The deal also involved misreporting billions of dollars in trade, which, in turn, resulted in Turkey overstating national income and understating its current account deficit.

A more ominous charge focuses on Erdogan’s open support of a wealthy Saudi known for funding al Qaeda and the PM’s alleged support of Al Qaeda fighters engaged against the Syrian government. Just today, we say this headline: Turkish governor blocks police search on Syria-bound truck reportedly carrying weapons . Erdogan is a strong supporter of the Syrian rebels, assumed recipients of the weapons.

The crisis started on December 17, 2013 when dozens of Erdogan’s close associates were arrested for corruption. The arrests included the CEO of Turkey’s state bank caught with million in euros stuffed in shoeboxes. Charges and arrests continued. Prosecutors and police who handled the case were fired at the behest of the Prime Minister. The Turkish supreme court ruled that the government couldn’t interfere with police investigations through firings and intimidation. Undeterred, Erdogan fired more prosecutors claiming the charges were an attack on the Turkish state. To top it all off, authorities banned reporters from police stations and pressured the media to stop focusing on the scandals. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37298.htm

Dec 162013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE CRIMINALIZATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE

By Chase Madar, MotherJones

Militarized police are now a fact of life nationwide.

Militarized police are now a fact of life nationwide.

From the workplace to our private lives, American society is starting to resemble a police state.

If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.

By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where “the War on Crime” and “the War on Drugs” are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. (All of this is ably reported on journalist Radley Balko’s blog and in his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.) But American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported up-armoring of your local precinct. It’s also the way police power has entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of American life into a police matter.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline

It starts in our schools, where discipline is increasingly outsourced to police personnel. What not long ago would have been seen as normal childhood misbehavior—doodling on a desk, farting in class, a kindergartener’s tantrum—can leave a kid in handcuffs, removed from school, or even booked at the local precinct. Such “criminals” can be as young as seven-year-old Wilson Reyes, a New Yorker who was handcuffed and interrogated under suspicion of stealing five dollars from a classmate. (Turned out he didn’t do it.) […]

READ @ http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_66267.shtml—————————————————————–

* HOW COPS BECAME SOLDIERS: AN INTERVIEW WITH POLICE MILITARIZATION EXPERT RADLEY BALKO

By Michael Arria, VICE

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What happened to friendly neighborhood cops? The drug and terror wars happened. Via Oregon DOT/Flickr

In 2007, journalist Radley Balko told a House subcommittee that one criminologist detected a 1,500% increase in the use of SWAT teams over the last two decades. That’s reflective of a larger trend, fueled by the wars on drugs and terror, of police forces becoming heavily militarized.

Balko, an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and author of the definitive report on paramilitary policing in the United States, has a forthcoming book on the topic, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police ForcesHe was kind enough to answer some questions about how our police turned into soldiers as well as the challenges of large-scale reform.

Motherboard: When did the shift towards militarized police forces begin in America? Is it as simple as saying it began with the War on Drugs or can we detect gradual signs of change when we look back at previous policies?

There’s certainly a lot of overlap between the war on drugs and police militarization. But if we go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two trends developing simultaneously. The first was the development and spread of SWAT teams. Darryl Gates started the first SWAT team in L.A. in 1969. By 1975, there were 500 of them across the country. They were largely a reaction to riots, violent protest groups like the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army, and a couple mass shooting incidents, like the Texas clock tower massacre in 1966.

At the same time, Nixon was declaring an “all-out war on drugs.” He was pushing policies like the no-knock raid, dehumanizing drug users and dealers, and sending federal agents to storm private homes on raids that were really more about headlines and photo-ops than diminishing the supply of illicit drugs.

But for the first decade or so after Gates invented them, SWAT teams were largely only used in emergency situations. There usually needed to be an immediate, deadly threat to send the SWAT guys. It wasn’t until the early 1980s under Reagan that the two trends converged, and we started to see SWAT teams used on an almost daily basis — mostly to serve drug warrants. […]

READ @ http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/police-militarization-an-interview-with-radley-balko

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* THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU OUTLAW PEACEFUL PROTEST

By Jerome Roos, RoarMag

Madrid14D

The banning of peaceful protest from Egypt to Spain is increasingly leaving citizens with no other way to express their opposition but through violence.

When the conservative government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy proposed a new law that would effectively ban protests near state buildings and impose hefty fines of up to 600,000 euros and even jail time on those trying to organize “unlawful” demonstrations via social media, they probably thought they were being clever. Now that the massive street protests that rocked Spain through 2011-’12 appear to have subsided, those in power probably expected the people to just take their Orwellian Citizens’ Security Law and suck it up.

But the people will have none of it. Instead of being cowered into submission, the decentralized coordinating platform of Spain’s powerful social movements immediately coalesced back into action, organizing a major demonstration in front of Congress last night. What happened next may well be a sign of what lies ahead for governments the world over as they seek to slam shut all doors — both institutional and non-institutional — to legitimate opposition and democratic participation. Thousands of protesters descended upon Congress and, as the cops tried to break up the demonstration, attacked them with bricks and bottles and smashed up their police cars.

Last night’s clashes in Madrid are only the latest in a long line of actions and reactions, uprisings and crackdowns, rebellions and repressions. All around the world, a nefarious process is afoot. In many of the countries that experienced dramatic social mobilizations from 2011 onward, terrified elites are now drawing up laws banning the type of street demonstrations that kick-started the Age of the Protester, desperately trying to institutionalize their Thermidorian counter-revolution now that the movements appear to be on the retreat. But everywhere these type of anti-protest legislations are being passed, the attempted closure is only drawing people back into the streets.

In Egypt, when the revolutionary movement suddenly resurfaced last month, the military-controlled government moved swiftly to implement a new law that would effectively ban all unauthorized gatherings of over 10 people. The day after the law was passed activists took to the streets of Cairo to denounce it and the regime responded by attacking and arresting the protesters, subjecting them to torture and sexual assault before dumping a number of them in the desert. Still, activists in Cairo warned that “we will not protest at the whim and convenience of a counter-revolutionary regime,” declaring that “the January 25 Revolution has returned to the streets.” […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2013/12/spain-egypt-law-ban-protest/

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* THE 6,000 PAGE REPORT ON CIA TORTURE HAS NOW BEEN SUPPRESSED FOR 1 YEAR

By Conor, Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

torture5

It cost $40 million to produce, documents serious wrongdoing, and doesn’t threaten national security. Team Obama won’t release it.

One year ago today, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to adopt a 6,000-page report on the CIA rendition, detention, and interrogation program that led to torture. Its contents include details on each prisoner in CIA custody, the conditions of their confinement, whether they were tortured, the intelligence they provided, and the degree to which the CIA lied about its behavior to overseers. Senator Dianne Feinstein declared it one of the most significant oversight efforts in American history, noting that it contains “startling details” and raises “critical questions.” But all these months later, the report is still being suppressed.

The Obama Administration has no valid reason to suppress the report. Its contents do not threaten national security, as evidenced by the fact that numerous figures who normally defer to the national-security state want it released with minor redactions. The most prominent of all is Vice President Joe Biden.

Another is Senator John McCain.

“What I have learned confirms for me what I have always believed and insisted to be true—that the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence,” he said in a statement. “… It is therefore my hope that this Committee will take whatever steps necessary to finalize and declassify this report, so that all Americans can see the record for themselves, which I believe will finally close this painful chapter for our country.” […]

torture1

READ @ http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/the-6-000-page-report-on-cia-torture-has-now-been-suppressed-for-1-year/282318/

Dec 112013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* ARIS CHATZISTEFANOU ON FASCISM

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXZyoL96YlE&feature=youtube_gdata

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* THE SECRET TRADE AGREEMENT ABOUT TO COMPLETE THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF DEMOCRACY

Source: ScriptoniteDaily

C101

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) enshrine the rights of Corporations under International Law, restricting future governments from overturning the changes through fear of costly legal action. They are the largest trade agreements in history, and yet are not open for review, debate or amendment by national parliaments or the public.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The agreement between the US and 11 other Pacific Rim countries representing 40% of global GDP, has been under negotiation for three years.  The US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, and Brunei will shortly be signing up to the TPP, with only a handful of people in each nation aware of the content of the deal.

It was recently revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have been given full access to the agreement, while 600 ‘trade advisors’, those are corporate lobbyists from corporations such as Monsanto, Chevron, Haliburton and Walmart have been granted access.

In fact, if it were not for WikiLeaks, we would still be unaware of the contents of the TPP.  In mid-November, WikiLeaks published a draft chapter of the agreement – and the reasons for secrecy became clear.  This agreement tips the scales in the balance of power between Corporations and the State – tipping them firmly in favour of corporations. […]

READ @ http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2013/12/02/the-secret-trade-agreement-about-to-complete-the-corporate-takeover-of-democracy/

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* YANIS VAROUFAKIS: WHAT EUROPEANS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE CURRENT SITUATION IN GREECE

In an interview with Edward Geelhoed, Varoufakis gives an urgent, sobering picture of the conditions in Greece, which contrasts dramatically with the claims made by Eurozone politicians.

By Yanis Varoufakis, Naked Capitalism

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Some positive sounds are audible from Greece these days. Mostly produced by the government itself, of course, but also by Merkel, by the OECD (along with some negative sounds), by some European officials (while others say they’re ‘impatient’ with Greece). Is Greece slowly recovering?

It takes a passionate disregard for the truth to suggest that Greece is recovering. Investment has fallen by 18% since the dismal levels of 2011/12, credit to non-financial institutions is 20% down from the asphyxiating depths of 2012, poverty has reached record heights, and is still growing, employment is at levels that are best narrated in the style of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, public debt is exceeding the worst expectations of the greatest pessimists, private debt is reaching for the sky at a time when the collateral posted (e.g. house prices) are sinking fast, the government’s tax take is trailing the worst forecasts. The list of woes is endless and the so-called ‘Greek Success Story’, or ‘Greek-covery’, reflects nothing except the determination to reverse the truth, Goebbels-like, by those who insisted on the policies which resulted in this debacle.

The positive sounds refer to the budget surplus, to a small growth (says the gov’t) or just a small recession (says the others) of the economy.

Europeans have a duty to themselves to see through this toxic propaganda. There is no such thing as a Greek budget surplus – not even a primary surplus (i.e. a surplus if we not count loan and interest repayments). If you look at the government’s own accounts, the January to October 2013 balance reveals a primary budget deficit of nearly €6 billion. As for the rumoured primary ‘surplus’ that is ‘around the corner’ this is a projection, a piece of wishful thinking that may, or may not eventuate, next year. As for growth, the Greek economy is still, by the government’s own accounts, shrinking at -4%. The projection of growth of… 0.4% is for 2014. Europeans need to look at this projection in the context of similar projections which, for example, had (at the time of ‘bailout Mk1’) Greece growing by 2012 at a dizzying rate of 2.3%! In truth, 2014 and 2015 will again see the Greek social economy shrink further. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/12/yanis-varoufakis-what-europeans-should-know-about-the-current-situation-in-greece.html#PVflOKm5GH55AKj3.99

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* WHY IT’S MISGUIDED TO TREAT THE EUROZONE CRISIS AS A MORALITY TALE ABOUT “LAZY” SOUTHERNERS

As southern European countries rack up record debts, Helmut Kohl has told friends “Merkel is destroying my Europe”

By Mehdi Hasan, NewStatesman

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[…] It is dangerous, misguided and mendacious, as countless economists from the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to the Financial Times commentator Martin Wolf have pointed out, to treat the eurozone’s ongoing debt crisis as a modern-day morality tale. It isn’t.

Record debts were caused by post-crash bank bailouts and a crisis-induced collapse in tax revenues. Take Spain. That country’s downturn was the result not of excessive government spending or public debt but of the explosion of private debt, particularly in the real estate and banking sectors. Because of the crash, Spain’s public-debt-to-GDP ratio morphed from being one of the lowest in the eurozone to one of the highest.

Overspending didn’t cause the crisis but underspending is exacerbating it. Austerity isn’t working. Don’t take my word for it: a paper published in October by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs revealed how the cumulative cost of fiscal self-flagellation across the eurozone was 6 per cent of GDP between 2011 and 2013. Crucially, the paper also pointed out that the catastrophically contractionary consequences of austerity in the southern debtor countries were “aggravated” by Germany and other northern creditor countries simultaneously cutting spending and raising taxes.

Another reason why we shouldn’t moralise about debt is to avoid the charge of rank hypocrisy. After all, why pick on the Greeks, rather than the Germans? In the years before the crash – for example, from 2003 to 2004 – Germany persistently breached the budget deficit rules laid down in the EU’s growth and stability pact; the then chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, demanded that his country be exempted from any penalties. In 2006, while Spain and Ireland were running budget surpluses, Germany was in deficit. […]

READ @ http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/12/eurozone-crisis-not-a-morality-tale-about-lazy-southerners

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* AUSTERITY HAS ERODED HUMAN RIGHTS, COUNCIL OF EUROPE STUDY SAYS

Human rights watchdog says governments ‘have forgotten about their human rights obligations’

A man searches for food in a rubbish bin in Athens (Photo: Reuters)

A man searches for food in a rubbish bin in Athens (Photo: Reuters)

Governments must respect the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable, the need to ensure access to justice, and the right to equal treatment, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks says

[…] Examples of how human rights have been undermined in Greece according to the Council of Europe include:

1 Job rights Greece and other EU countries are now experiencing depression-level unemployment rates, following a dramatic spike in seasonally adjusted unemployment. As contractionary fiscal policies dampen growth prospects, long-term unemployment is becoming more entrenched, with long-lasting structural implications. In 2012 alone, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) found 13 countries in breach of their duty under Article 1(1) of the revised European Social Charter to pursue full employment policies. The study notes that over half of all young people are officially unemployed in Spain, Portugal and Greece, with little improvement expected until 2016

2 Wage rights A wayward economic recovery and the related weakening of worker protection can lead to work rights being threatened, including the right to fair pay, collective bargaining and health and safety rights. In Spain, for example, the minimum wage is below what the European Social Charter says is necessary to guarantee a decent standard of living. In Greece, the International Labour Organisation has found repeated and extensive interventions into free and voluntary collective bargaining and an “important deficit of social dialogue”

3 Social protection rights Setbacks in the labour market, cuts in social services and regressive tax measures have deepened poverty in Europe. In 2011, the percentage of people in the EU at risk of poverty or social exclusion reached 24.2%

4 Social security rights Under pressure from the increasing demand on social protection programmes due to spiralling unemployment, social security systems have been pushed to the limit. Some governments have opted to “reform” pension systems, increasing the vulnerability of older citizens. In Greece, for example, the European Committee of Social Rights observed that pension reform measures would “risk bringing about a large-scale pauperisation of a significant segment of the population”. It said the government had failed to conduct the minimum level of research and analysis on the effects of the austerity measures

5 Housing rights The right to housing has been compromised as a result of the economic crisis. The housing market crisis at the root of the financial and economic crises coupled with growing unemployment, induced a sharp increase in evictions as a result of non-payment of mortgages, foreclosures and home repossessions in many countries. Since 2007, homelessness has increased in 15 of the 21 countries monitored by national experts. The crisis has been identified as a key driver of expanding homelessness in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK. New groups of homeless have emerged, with homelessness spreading among migrants, young people, women and families

6 Food rights The right to food has been affected by austerity measures when governments have limited food subsidies without adequate safeguards to ensure access to the minimum essential levels. Reduction in the consumption of staple food was reported as the most frequent coping mechanism in central and eastern European countries. Food banks are experiencing record lines in the UK, for example, with cuts to the welfare system the most common reason given

7 Water rights Many people have faced setbacks in their right to water as a result of austerity. As a condition for international assistance from the EC, ECB and IMF, new fees for domestic water use have been introduced in Ireland, for example. Greece has also been told to privatise its publicly owned water monopolies. Plans to privatise public water utilities have been part and parcel of several austerity packages which may threaten the affordability of water and the effective accountability of water suppliers

8 Education rights The right to education has suffered setbacks, primarily due to reductions in education budgets. Investment in education fell in one third of OECD countries between 2009 and 2010 as a result of the economic crisis. Spain cut its education budget by 21.4% between 2011 and 2012, for example, and Estonia by 10% between 2008 and 2009. Cuts in education subsidies and scholarships, school teachers’ salaries and budgeting for schools affect the quality, accessibility and affordability of education and can also result in early school dropouts with long-term effects on the children concerned

9 Health rights Cuts in health-related spending have affected the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health. In Greece, the EC, ECB and IMF have demanded that public spending on health should not exceed 6% of GDP, with a potentially long-term impact on public health. Out-of-pocket fees have increased in many countries despite evidence that the introduction of health co-payment systems is associated with decreased use of health services and worsening health outcomes for both high-risk and low-income patients. Weakened mental health, substance abuse and suicide have been linked with austerity measures. Recent improvements in life expectancies across the region are being compromised due to the crisis

10 Civil and political rights The rights to participate in public affairs and to transparency through the provision of timely, accessible and relevant information have suffered as a result of the crisis. Many governments have speedily drawn up austerity policies side-stepping regular channels of participation and social dialogue on the pretext of a national financial emergency. The executive has often been allotted greater margins of authority to adopt austerity measures without consultation with the legislature, challenging accepted democratic checks and balances. National-level democratic decision making is further thwarted by the fact that deficit caps and other key fiscal rules made at the European intergovernmental level determine spending levels of many national governments, with with little to no participation from those suffering the consequences of cutbacks. The severity of austerity measures alongside the frequent failure to consult with the people affected has provoked large-scale demonstrations especially in Spain, Portugal and Greece […]

READ @ http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.article&id=1656

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* GODFREY BLOOM: THE STATE IS AN INSTITUTION OF THEFT

“It won’t be long before the people storm this chamber and hang you . . . and they’ll be right!

Source: youtube

“I really don’t know how you manage to keep a straight face (addressing the European Parliament) when you’re talking about tax evasion. The whole commision and commision beaurocracy avoid paying their taxes. You don’t pay taxes like citizens pay taxes! You have all sorts of special deals, composite tax rates, high tax threshold, non contributary pension schemes.. You are the biggest tax avoiders in Europe. And here you sit pontificating. Well, the message is getting home to the people of the European Union, you’re going to find that Euro skeptics are coming back in June in ever greater numbers and I can tell you worse, as the people get your number it won’t be long before they storm this chamber and hang you, and they’ll be right.”

~Godfrey Bloom MEP: The State is an Institution of Theft

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBVFpYN0iNo