Dec 162013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


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 @—————————————————————–


By Michael Arria, VICE


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. […]




By Jerome Roos, RoarMag


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.” […]




By Conor, Friedersdorf, The Atlantic


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.” […]



Dec 112013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


Source: youtube




Source: ScriptoniteDaily


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. […]




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


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. […]




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

By Mehdi Hasan, NewStatesman


[…] 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. […]




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 […]




“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


Dec 022013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


By Catherine J. Frompovich, Activist Post


CONSEQUENTLY, in the interest of future world order, peace, and tranquility, it was decided to privately wage a quiet war against the American public with an ultimate objective of permanently shifting the natural and social energy (wealth) of the undisciplined and irresponsible many into the hands of the self-disciplined, responsible, and worthy few. [1] Energy Section [Emphasis added]

The above paragraph, along with hundreds of similar philosophical ideas, comes from a document that had its ‘conception’ after the end of World War II, and which was to become the playbook for what United States of America citizens apparently are experiencing today.

This is what it was – and is – all about:

In conclusion, the objective of economic research, as conducted by the magnates of capital (banking) and the industries of commodities (goods) and services, is the establishment of an economy which is totally predictable and manipulatable. [1] Energy Section [Emphasis added]

The last word “manipulatable” apparently is referring to the economy being capable of being manipulated. If nothing more, that paragraph sets the guidelines for the economic downturn the USA has experienced and from which it seems not to be recovering, nor will it ever recover, if the controllers and other “worthy few” have their say and way. Now, doesn’t it all make sense? Oh, how we have been played like a fiddle that’s never had the tune up it so badly needs! […]




By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet


This is an excerpt from the just released 2nd edition of Noam Chomsky’s OCCUPY: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarityedited by Greg Ruggiero and published by Zuccotti Park Press. Chris Steele interviews Chomsky.

An article that recently came out in Rolling Stone, titled “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail,” by Matt Taibbi, asserts that the government is afraid to prosecute powerful bankers, such as those running HSBC. Taibbi says that there’s “an arrestable class and an unarrestable class.”  What is your view on the current state of class war in the U.S.?

Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

We don’t use the term “working class” here because it’s a taboo term. You’re supposed to say “middle class,” because it helps diminish the understanding that there’s a class war going on.

It’s true that there was a one-sided class war, and that’s because the other side hadn’t chosen to participate, so the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers—would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn’t engage the general class structure. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Canada has a national health program and the United States doesn’t. The same unions on the other side of the border were calling for health care for everybody. Here they were calling for health care for themselves and they got it. Of course, it’s a compact with corporations that the corporations can break anytime they want, and by the 1970s they were planning to break it and we’ve seen what has happened since.

This is just one part of a long and continuing class war against working people and the poor. It’s a war that is conducted by a highly class-conscious business leadership, and it’s one of the reasons for the unusual history of the U.S. labor movement. In the U.S., organized labor has been repeatedly and extensively crushed, and has endured a very violent history as compared with other countries. […]




Source: youtube

The oligarchy would rather annul the right of the bottom 90 percent to live than to annul the money owed to them. They’d rather strip the planet and shrink the population than give up their claims. That’s the political fight of the 21st century.





Zealots for neoliberalism have created a humanitarian tragedy across the continent. It is our destiny to fight back

By Alexis Tsipras, The Guardian

Young people during a general strike in Greece last November. 'Europe needs an anti-austerity and anti-recession front.' Photograph: Menelaos Mich/Demotix/Corbis

Young people during a general strike in Greece last November. ‘Europe needs an anti-austerity and anti-recession front.’ Photograph: Menelaos Mich/Demotix/Corbis

More than 1,000 young people a day are joining the ranks of Europe‘s unemployed. In the past four years the army of jobless people across the continent has grown by more than 10 million.

In Greece, despite the government’s claim that austerity has been a success, the 2014 budget imposes new public spending cuts and more job losses. The economic and humanitarian catastrophe is unprecedented in peacetime: 27% unemployment, 60% youth unemployment, a 25% shrinking of GDP, 40% reduction in family income. And, even after relentless pain, the debt-to-GDP ratio is almost 180%. It was only 120% in 2010 when the first austerity measures were imposed.

But, the human tragedy is not limited to Greece. Wages across Europe have been slashed and the welfare state scaled back at a rate unprecedented in the postwar era. Millions are struggling to pay their mortgages, electricity bills or medical and student debts. Europe’s humanitarian crisis is unlike anything experienced in 60 years, with 120 million people enduring conditions of extreme difficulty, according to the Red Cross. This is not a natural phenomenon, but is, to use Nelson Mandela’s words, “manmade” poverty.

Zealots for neoliberalism have turned ordinary people’s lives upside down. Their structural adjustment policies serve a model of economic governance that transfers risk on to the shoulders of ordinary workers and the young. But the response of EU and national leaders is hopeless. The main EU policy initiative on youth unemployment (“youth guarantee”) amounts, for example, to just €6bn or 0.6% of the EU budget for 2014-2020. Austerity, work precarity and the dynamics of the markets undermine the ability of low- and middle-wage earners to make a decent living. Household debt is extremely high in the Netherlands and Malta (almost 220% of GDP), while in Portugal, Spain and Italy many businesses are trapped in a spiral of debt. […]




The strength of radical movements lies in their variety

By Biola Jeje, In These Times


When a strong wave hits land, the wave doesn’t necessarily disappear. The waves crash into the earth, erode some of what is there, and leave something behind for the next wave. Occupy was one of these waves. It came, it crashed, and then it left. Occupy wasn’t the revolution, it was a popular uprising that showed the rest of the world we could resist the way globalized capitalism disenfranchises people on their own soil.

I would challenge us to look past Occupy and see what is going on around us. Occupy may not be active, but movements that center on the experiences of people of color, women and immigrants are huge right now. We would be remiss to think of Occupy as the sole movement in the United States. To do so would be to eclipse all the work that is currently going on around the school-to-prison pipeline, immigration, women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ struggles.

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis stood for 13 hours to filibuster a bill that would severely limit a woman’s right to choose in the state of Texas, and then ran for governor. The Dreamers risked deportation by crossing the border into Mexico and then trying to get back in by crossing it again. The Dream Defenders, who occupied the Florida capitol for 30 days after the devastating Trayvon Martin, are now going after Stand Your Ground laws. This summer, students and labor groups faced down the CEO of Sallie Mae and demanded the company do something to alleviate the student loan crisis, and then forced Sallie Mae to reverse its decision to join ALEC. Finally, low-wage workers at fast food chains across the country are demanding $15 an hour and the right to unionize. […]


Nov 282013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


By ilargi, TheAutomaticEarth


Well, if you thought you’d seen all the madness and absurdity that could possibly come out of the financial system by now, you are definitely being caught on the wrong flat foot as we speak. And there can be no doubt that much more of this will be revealed as we go along. Jamie Dimon renting Buckingham Palace to celebrate his $13 billion settlement with US regulators is just the beginning, though it’s a pretty clear statement of just how untouchable too big to fail policies have made Wall Street and the City feel. And they don’t feel that way for nothing, in every sense of the word, count on it.

A Labour spokesman said this about the party at the Palace, which included appearances by the Royal Philharmonic and the English National Ballet: ““There is also the fact that this should be a special place. This is the home of the Queen. Where is it all going to end?“ Well, sir, maybe it’s time to wake up, because the new kings and queens of the world have taken over. And they intend to be loud and proud about it, like any group of conquerors throughout history ever did.

Fine dining for Dimon at the Palace raises concerns of commercialisation

It must have been a welcome spot of light relief for Jamie Dimon. Only days after he finally agreed to a $13 billion settlement with US mortgage regulators, the boss of JPMorgan – and dozens of his corporate clients – were sitting back amid the splendour of Buckingham Palace, enjoying a fine dinner and performances by the Royal Philharmonic and the English National Ballet.

The event, hosted by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, reflects growing enthusiasm by the Royal Family to use its premises to promote business interests. But it also risks stoking criticism over its apparent commercialisation and its intimacy with business.

The JPMorgan event on October 30, had a guestlist that included up to 100 corporate and political heavyweights, ranging from Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, to Indian industrialist Ratan Tata. Also present was Tony Blair, the former prime minister who chairs JPMorgan’s “international council” of senior advisers.

That’s one sign that there’s been a takeover and a change of guards. The story coming out over the weekend about Royal Bank of Scotland – RBS – is another. And the “Royal” label in its name starts to sound mighty cynical. RBS is now being accused of pushing healthy client businesses into bankruptcy, so it could take over their assets for pennies on the pound. There’s one little detail that should make this even more preposterous: RBS is 81% government owned. […]




By John Olen, Economy In Crisis


President Obama believes the old ways of negotiating trade agreements are no longer good enough. Despite the United States operating for years with normal trade negotiations, the president is now asking for Fast-Track Trade Authority to push new agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through Congress. This is the same process used to push through disastrous trade agreements with South Korea (KORUS), Colombia and Panama, which have been very damaging for the United States.

The agreements President Obama wants to push are likely to take the worst aspects of our old agreements and apply them to even more competitor countries. This administration has set a goal of doubling exports, but completely ignores our trade balance. Increasing exports alone is not good enough. Past agreements have proven that even if exports increase, scores of jobs are lost due to a flood of cheap imports that put American companies out of business or force them to outsource their manufacturing to compete.

Why should we believe new trade agreements will be any different? They will have all the damaging aspects of past agreements, and access to our economy will be extended to even more low-wage, low-regulation countries that can ship their cheap goods into our country, tariff- and duty-free. They may be even more damaging than past agreements, but we can’t know for certain because the negotiations have been taking place in secret and the details of the proposed agreements have been nearly impossible for members of congress to discover, let alone the general public. It is shameful that Wikileaks has provided more information about these proposed agreements than our own government has. […]




By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt


“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.  ”Control food and you control the people.”

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

Profits Before Populations

According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.

Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.

The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.

Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.

A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis. […]




Will seeing just how far we’ve fallen behind other countries, across almost all measures of health, finally motivate change?

By Grace Rubenstein, The Atlantic

The U.S. is the heaviest nation in the world.

The U.S. is the heaviest nation in the world.

We’ve known for years that Americans tend to be overweight and sedentary, and that our health care system, despite being the priciest in the world, produces some less-than-plum results. Health nerds who closely follow the news may even have known that we live shorter lives than people in other rich nations, and that infants in the U.S. die from various causes at far higher rates.

allcauseBut a fresh report, out Wednesday, tapped vast stores of data to compare the health of affluent nations and delivered a worrisome new message: Americans’ health is even worse than we thought, ranking below 16 other developed nations.

“The news is that this is across the lifespan, and regardless of income,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was not an author of the study. “A lot of people thought it was underserved populations that were driving the statistics — the poor, the uninsured. They still are a big part of our challenge, but the fact that even if you’re fairly well-to-do you still have these problems shatters that myth.”

The question is: Will it make a difference? […]




By Arjun Walia, Activist Post

We are doing our part to try and spread the word about GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) but we’re not the only ones. Multiple public figures, scientists and researchers have been speaking out about GMOs for a number of years. For example, not long ago a former Canadian Government Scientist at Agriculture Canada, Dr. Thierry Vrain (one of many) spoke out against GMOs.

Another prominent public figure, geneticist David Suzuki, has been a long-time advocate against GMOs, and has been speaking out about how they can be hazardous to human health as well as the environment. Below, I’ve provided a video example of Suzuki explaining why he feels the way he does about GMOs. Public figures with a wide audience can have a great impact on the consciousness of the masses, they are great ‘tools’ for waking up more people to the reality that GMOs can be harmful to human health as well as the environment. It’s time to pay attention, do your own research and to question what you’ve been told. We can no longer trust branches of the government that deal with food and health, we must not take their word for it; it’s better if you actually look into it yourself rather than blindly believing what your are told.

It doesn’t seem to be much of a debate anymore; it’s clear that GMOs can indeed be harmful to human health. There is a reason why a majority of countries around the world have permanently banned GMOs, so what’s taking North America so long? One reason might be the fact that biotech corporations like Monsanto seem to be above the government and influence policy, but thankfully these things are changing. Big Island, Hawaii has recently banned all GMO products and bio-tech company products. Various bills calling for moratorium on GE food include Vermont, North Dakota, Boulder, Colorado, San Francisco and more.

This large movement against GMOs is not based on belief — multiple researchers and scientists all around the world have shown that GMOs can be harmful. Here is a study that shows how Bt toxins found in Monsanto crops can be damaging to red blood cells, and potentially cause leukemia. Here is another one that shows how GMO animal feed caused severe stomach inflammation and enlarged uteri in pigs. There have been multiple studies linking GMOs to cancer, and a range of other diseases. Scientists all over the world have come together to show their support for the ban of GMOs. […]


Nov 242013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


By Tyler Durden, zerohedge


Before it became a conspiracy fact, the traditional response to all suggestions of a massive Libor/FX/commodity/mortgage rigging cartel was a simple if stupid one: too many people are involved and so it can never be contained. As it turns out not only can it be contained, but when the interests of the “conspiracy” participants are alligned, it can continue for decades. Naturally, the same applies for the pinnacle of the global wealth pyramid: the world’s billionaires and their plan of wealth preservation and accumulation.

Not only have the world’s richest been the biggest beneficiaries of the monetary and fiscal policies since 2009, with the current 2170 global billionaires representing a 60% increase since 2009 according to UBS, but their consolidated net worth has more than doubled from $3.1 trillion in 2009 to $6.5 trillion now. At the same time, the net worth of the “bottom 90%” of the world’s not so lucky population, has declined. Yet, somehow, the Fed is still revered.

Naturally, as in global financial conspiracies, the question arises: is it possible that instead of representing the interests of the general population, what the central banks simply do is follow the instructions of a far smaller cabal, that of the world’s uber wealthy?

In case there is any confusion, the above is a rhetorical question. It goes without saying that what the world’s largest wealth accumulators want above all else, is to preserve a status quo that allows their capital-based wealth to increase as fast and as much as possible in a regime of reflating asset prices, while keeping the bulk of the world’s population distracted, entertained, and collecting their daily welfare check. […]




The philosopher on the violence we wage abroad, the income inequality we face at home and where we go from here

By Catherine Komp, Truthout

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

This is an excerpt from the just released 2nd edition of Noam Chomsky’s “Occupy: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity,” published by Zuccotti Park Press. Reprinted from with permission.

Free Speech Radio News producer Catherine Komp interviews Noam Chomsky.

Noam Chomsky is amongst the world’s most cited living scholars. Voted the “world’s top public intellectual” in 2005, he is perhaps best known as a critic of all forms of social control and a relentless advocate for community-centered approaches to democracy and freedom. Over the last several decades, Chomsky has championed a wide range of dissident actions, organizations and social movements. In this excerpt from the just-released expanded edition of the Zuccotti Park Press book, “Occupy: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity,” Chomsky speaks with Free Speech Radio News about media control, fear, indoctrination and the importance of solidarity.

Catherine Komp: It’s been twenty-five years since the publication of your and Edward Herman’s acclaimed book “Manufacturing Consent.” How much do you think has changed with the propaganda model, and where do you see it playing out most prominently today?

Noam Chomsky: Well, ten years ago we had a re-edition and we talked about some of the changes. One change is that we were too narrow. There are a number of filters that determine the framework of reporting, and one of the filters was too narrow. Instead of “anti-communism,” which was too narrow, it should have been “fear of the concocted enemy.” So yes, it could be anti-communism—most of that is concocted. So take Cuba again. It’s hard to believe, but for the Pentagon, Cuba was listed as one of the military threats to the United States until a couple of years ago. This is so ludicrous; you don’t even know whether to laugh or cry. It’s as if the Soviet Union had listed Luxembourg as a threat to its security. But here it kind of passes.

The United States is a very frightened country. And there are all kinds of things concocted for you to be frightened about. So that should have been the filter, and [there were] a few other things, but I think it’s basically the same.

There is change. Free Speech Radio didn’t exist when we wrote the book, and there are somethings on the Internet which break the bonds, as do independent work and things like the book I was just talking about when we came in, Jeremy Scahill’s “Dirty Wars,” which is a fantastic piece of investigative reporting on the ground of what actually happens in the countries where we’re carrying out these terror campaigns. And there’s a lot of talk about drones, but not much about the fact that they are terror weapons. […]




By Margaret Elkis, Economy In Crisis

Many may not be aware that the United States has become subservient to a biased, undemocratic organization bent on usurping our sovereignty and trampling on our freedoms. It’s known as the World Trade Organization (WTO).


The WTO is an organization of 153 nations that limits America’s ability to act in its own best interest. The corporate agenda of the organization has destroyed the American economy, allowing multi-nationalists to exploit the world’s cheap resources and put America out of work and out of business.

But what exactly does it mean to be a member of the WTO?

For starters it means the United States has no larger vote than a smaller country, such as Grenada (Article IX, p. 5). Even more alarming is that the WTO has come to represent the most efficient form of colonization the world has ever seen – reaping all the benefits with no downsides of occupation.

Furthermore, the WTO routinely trumps U.S. laws and conventions with its rulings. According to former trade representative Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. is one of the most sued nations in the WTO, and loses 9 out of every 10 cases brought against it! […]




By driftglass

The New York Times tells a sadly familiar story:

It has been a painful slide. A five-year spell of unemployment has slowly scrubbed away nearly every vestige of Ms. Barrington-Ward’s middle-class life. She is a 53-year-old college graduate who worked steadily for three decades. She is now broke and homeless.

 Ms. Barrington-Ward describes it as “my journey through hell.” She was laid off from an administrative position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008; she had earned about $50,000 that year. With the recession spurring employers to dump hundreds of thousands of workers a month and the unemployment rate climbing to the double digits, she found that no matter the number of résumés she sent out — she stopped counting in the thousands — she could not find work.

“I’ve been turned down from McDonald’s because I was told I was too articulate,” she says. “I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn’t speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was ‘too pretty.’ I’ve also been told point-blank to my face, ‘We don’t hire the unemployed.’ And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.”

For Ms. Barrington-Ward, joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists see it the same way, concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans.

The long-term jobless, after all, tend to be in poorer health, and to have higher rates of suicide and strained family relations. Even the children of the long-term unemployed see lower earnings down the road.

The consequences are grave for the country, too: lost production, increased social spending, decreased tax revenue and slower growth. Policy makers and academics are now asking whether an improving economy might absorb those workers in time to prevent long-term economic damage.

“I don’t think we know the answer,” said Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “But right now, I think everybody’s worst fears are coming true, as far as we can tell.”

Soon after we first talked in October, Ms. Barrington-Ward left her sister’s house in Ohio, where she had crashed for six weeks, and went back to Boston and filed her bankruptcy paperwork. She contacted a headhunter. “I’ve got to get a job,” she said. “I just have to.” She had two job interviews lined up and her fingers crossed.

Long-term joblessness — the kind that Ms. Barrington-Ward and about four million others are experiencing — is now one of the defining realities of the American work force. […]




Source: youtube


Nov 212013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


In today’s society, plutocracy and political corruption go hand in hand, especially in Washington.

By Margaret Elkis, EconomyInCrisis


Simply put, plutocracy is a government ruled controlled by wealthy individuals. It is no secret that wealth buys power, and that is exactly what we are seeing today. Unfortunately, with wealth and power often comes corruption. Author J.R. Martin stated in chapter nine of his book, Selling U.S. Out, that political scandal and corruption are not new. They have always existed. Indeed, all one has to do is read the news to learn of the corruption and greed taking place between the big players of our government:

  • political parties: Republicans and Democrats
  • lobbyists and overpaid consultants
  • the mainstream media

Over the past forty years, power, money and greed have corrupted our elected government officials at every level. What’s most alarming is that the blatant corruption has been tolerated and accepted by the American people. Unfortunately, members of both parties act as if their jobs are nothing more than a big political game. They’re so focused on insulting the other side and getting their own agendas passed that they forget they’re supposed to be working for the U.S. public.

As J.R. Martin writes:

“Neither party represents the interests of the American people since both are controlled by foreign and domestic corporations and special interest groups that provide the majority of their funding…both parties practice dishonest, divisive politics aimed at dividing and manipulating public opinion instead of seeking to build an honest national consensus on important issues confronting our nation.” […]




By Michael Snyder, TheEconomicCollapse


According to a whistleblower that has recently come forward, Census employees have been faking and manipulating U.S. employment numbers for years.  In fact, it is being alleged that this manipulation was a significant reason for why the official unemployment rate dipped sharply just before the last presidential election.  What you are about to read is incredibly disturbing.  The numbers that the American people depend upon to make important decisions are being faked.  But should we be surprised by this?  After all, Barack Obama has been caught telling dozens of major lies over the past five years.  At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of his mouth.  And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us.  Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years.  Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust.

The whistleblower that I mentioned above has been speaking to John Crudele of the New York Post.  In his new article entitled “Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report“, he says that the huge decline in the unemployment rate in September 2012 was “manipulated”…

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated. […]




By Eric Toussaint, CADTM


The crisis that started in the United States in 2007-2008, hit the European Union head on in 2008, and has been causing major problems in the eurozone since 2010. |2| Banks from the strongest European countries are responsible for spreading this plague from the United States to Europe, because they had invested massively in structured financial products. It is important to explain why this crisis has struck the European Union and the eurozone harder than the United States.

18 of the 28 countries in the European Union share a common currency, the euro. |3| The population of the EU is about 500 million people, |4| about half the population of China, Africa, or India, 2/3 of Latin America, and 50% more than the USA.

There are major differences between countries in the European Union. Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and Austria are the most highly industrialised and powerful countries in the EU. 11 countries are from the ex-Eastern European bloc (3 Baltic Republics — Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia; Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, which were part of the Soviet bloc, and Slovenia and Croatia, which were part of Yugoslavia). Finally, come Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Cyprus, which have been brutalised by the eurozone crisis.

Large private corporations are taking advantage of wage discrepancies

Wage discrepancies are very significant: the minimum wage in Bulgaria (in 2013, the gross monthly salary is 156 euros) is less than one tenth of what it is in countries like France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. |5| Wage discrepancies within European Union countries can also be very significant. In Germany, 7.5 million employees earn a paltry monthly salary of 400 euros, whereas the normal monthly salary in Germany is more than 1200 euros (there is no national legal minimum wage in Germany).

This discrepancy enables major European corporations, particularly German industrial corporations to be very competitive, because they outsource part of their production to countries like Bulgaria, Romania or to other Central and Eastern European countries, and then transport the parts back to Germany where they are assembled into final products. Finally, they export within the EU or to the global market after having cut the cost of wages to the bone. To top it all off, they pay no import/export taxes within the EU. […]




The recent decision by the Irish government to cut jobseekers’ allowance for under-25s is just the latest in a series of discriminatory policies against young people that have been introduced in Europe in the last few years.

By James Higgins, CafeBabel


It’s not easy to be young in Europe these days, particularly if you are among the 5.5 million young people in the EU that are unemployed. With the scourge of youth unemployment constantly in the headlines, and increasing demands for concerted action, governments are hitting back. But instead of focusing all their energy on the labour market inequalities, financial corruption, greed and cronyism that created and exacerbated the crisis, some are hitting back at the young people themselves.

Like it or lump it

On 16 October the Irish government announced that it would reduce jobseekers’ allowance for new entrants aged under-25 to €100 per week as part of its budget for 2014. People aged 25 will also get a reduced rate of €144, and only those aged 26 and upwards will get the full jobseekers’ rate of €188. In the Dáil (Irish parliament) some of the opposition parties and independents expressed concern at these measures, which smack of discrimination. Thankfully parliamentarians on the government benches explained that they wanted to ‘incentivise’ youth employment, and save young people from lying around watching flat-screen TVs all day. To make such a comment about any another age group would be unthinkable, but it seems that young people are fair game.

The National Youth Council of Ireland have labelled the cuts “disproportionate and unfair” and have warned that they will create further hardship for young jobseekers and accelerate the number of young people emigrating from the country. Shortly after the budget was announced, youth campaigners formed a mock airport queue outside the Irish parliament to compel the government to reverse the decision, but the protests fell on deaf ears. Young people would have to like it or lump it. […]




Source: ScriptoniteDaily


Every  year, tax avoidance costs the continent of Africa lost revenues of $63bn a year.  This is more than Africa receives in overseas development aid – and enough to deliver the UN Millennium Goals of universal primary education, universal healthcare, and upgrade Africa’s entire road network.  Instead, banks are helping to spirit this money into offshore tax havens.  Barclays Bank is the largest retail bank in Africa, and today ActionAid is launching a campaign to tell Barclays to clean up its act on tax havens.

Why is Africa so Poor?

Africa suffers extreme poverty, and by some measures things are getting worse.  Between 1990 and 2011, the number of new born babies dying rose from 1 million to 1.1million a year, and the number of hungry people rose from 175 million to 239 million.

Much of this poverty and destitution is as a result of the myth of development.  Western creditor nations (mostly ex-colonial) extended credit to African nations in the name of ‘development’, after the Second World War.  In reality, it was merely to keep a surplus of petro-dollars making more money from the interest on loan payments, than in savings accounts during a time of high inflations (which would wipe the value).  Later, when the interest rates became unpayable – the creditor nations offered ‘bridging loans’ often to despots, with extraordinary interest rates and conditions attached. These loans were called ‘Structural Adjustment Programmes’ and administered through the IMF.  This became know as the Debt Trap – and once you understand the Debt Trap, you immediately see the concept of ‘development’ as a myth.  The West is not helping to develop Africa, Africa is helping to develop the West.

This comment from Martin Griffiths in International Relations: The Key Concepts summerises the issue perfectly:

“Between 1982 and 1990 $927bn was advanced to debtor states, but $1,345bn were remitted in debt service alone. The debtor states began the 1990’s 60% more in debt than they were in 1982. Sub-Saharan Africa’s debt more than doubled in this period.  When the issue of debt forgiveness is raised, Western banks have argued that it would create what economists call ‘moral hazard’ – failing to honour debts would simply encourage poor states to keep borrowing in the expectation that they would never have to repay their debts.  On the other hand, some commentators argue that moral hazard should cut both ways.  Over borrowing is over lending, and creditors should pay their fair share of the costs of mistakes made in the 70’s.

By 1997 Third World Debt totalled over $2.2trn.  The same year $250bn was repaid in interest and loan principal. The debt trap represents a continuing humanitarian disaster for some 700 million of the world poorest people.  During the last decade, the world’s most heavily indebted continent, Africa, has experienced falling life expectancies, falling incomes, falling investment levels and rising infant and maternal mortality rates” (Griffiths, 2008) […]


Nov 202013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart



If you still are confused why the U.S. economy is completely stuck in the mud, look no further than the parasites of Washington D.C

Ever since I started writing about what is happening in the world around me, my primary theme has been that the root cancer at the core of the U.S., and indeed global economy, is cronyism and an absence of the rule of law when it comes to oligarchs. In the U.S., this cronyism is best described as an insidious relationship between large multi-national corporations and big government to funnel all of the wealth and resources of the nation to themselves at the expense of everyone else. In a genuine free market defined by heightened competition and governed by an equal application of the rule of law to all, the 0.1% does not aggregate all of a nation’s wealth. This sort of thing only happens in crony capitalism, which is basically nothing more than complete and total insider deals to aggregate newly created money into the hands of the few.

The following profile of Washington D.C.’s so-called “boom” from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pretty much tells you all you need to know. While I think the tone of the article is absurd considering this is no “economic boom,” but merely parasitic wealth extraction on a unprecedented scale, it is still quite telling. It is no coincidence that as D.C. has grown wealthier, the nation has become much, much poorer. Key excerpts below:

The avalanche of cash that made Washington rich in the last decade has transformed the culture of a once staid capital and created a new wave of well-heeled insiders.

The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. They are the entrepreneurs attracted to the capital by its aura of prosperity and its super-educated workforce. They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom.

At the same time, big companies realized that a few million spent shaping legislation could produce windfall profits. They nearly doubled the cash they poured into the capital. […]




By Michael Snyder, Activist Postz


How many lies can one president tell and still retain any credibility?

What you are about to see is absolutely astounding. It is a long list of important promises that Barack Obama has broken since he has been president. If he had only told a few lies, perhaps the American people would be willing to overlook that.

After all, pretty much all of our politicians our liars. Unfortunately, many of the lies that Obama has told appear to have been quite cold-hearted in nature. For example, Barack Obama repeatedly made the promise that “you will be able to keep your health care plan” under Obamacare. But now we are learning that he knew that this was a lie all along. Not only that, the Democrats in Congress knew that this was a lie all along too. In fact, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, said the following when she was asked about Obama’s promise to the American people recently: “He should’ve just been specific. No, we all knew.” You can see video of her making this statement right here. The truth is that they all knew that millions upon millions of Americans would lose their current health care policies under Obamacare. They deliberately lied just so that they could get the law passed.

And of course this is far from the only major lie that Obama has told in recent years. The following is a list of 23 famous Obama quotes that turned out to be broken promises or cold-hearted lies…

#1 “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

#2 “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.” [...]




By Pamela Duncan, Irish Times

Bernadette McAliskey speaking at the Marzism 2013 at the Teachers Club, Parenell Square, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Bernadette McAliskey speaking at the Marzism 2013 at the Teachers Club, Parenell Square, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

[…] Migration myths

“This is our narrative: that we leave our country and in leaving it we have enriched every society to which we have gone. So is the logic, therefore, not that the people coming to our society will bring that diversity, that skill, that new dynamic and perspective that would enrich our society?” she said.

“The best thing we could do on this very small island, North and South, is commit ourselves to end racism in this generation and if we did you would never hear immigration controls mentioned again.”

Ms McAliskey said racism needed to be challenged.

“It was the same when we had to take on anti-feminist, anti-women language, you have to challenge it wherever it is. You have to ask people to explain themselves.”

She said racism needed to be addressed through education in the same way as we educated children on bullying.




By Andrew Kreig, News From Underground

Roger Shuler, blogger @ Legal Schnauzer, indefinitely detained in Alabama.

Roger Shuler, blogger @ Legal Schnauzer, indefinitely detained in Alabama on bogus charges.

Alabama authorities paraded a shackled liberal pundit into court to denounce him Nov. 14 for recent news coverage about his jailing. Then defendant Roger Shuler was forced to defend his writing while bound and without a lawyer.

Shuler is a 56-year-old commentator jailed on contempt of court charges Oct. 23 arising out of a libel suit. He published columns alleging a sex scandal involving Robert Riley, Jr., a wealthy, politically powerful GOP attorney whose father served two terms as Alabama’s governor.

Nov. 19 Update:  Shuler, who writes under the name Legal Schnauzer, remained jailed indefinitely without bond. His wife provided two mind-boggling accounts of his hearing, most notably in Nov. 14 Court Hearing in Legal Schnauzer First Amendment Case Results in “Final Order.” In it, she relates that the judge has decided the libel case with essentially no input from the defendant and has vowed to keep him in jail forever unless he arranges destruction of what the judge determined were false news reports. More details are below.

Shuler reports on Deep South legal affairs via his Legal Schnauzer blog, whose columns are sometimes widely republished on other progressive sites.

He often breaks stories about ordinary litigants unfairly treated in the courts. Also, he writes about financial corruption involving taxpayer dollars, illicit sex among conspirators and their minions, and cover-ups that are intended to uphold the family values image regarded as especially necessary for election success in his region.

Shuler’s most frequent targets are Republicans in the legal and political system. But he has repeatedly pilloried at least two of his state’s major Democrats. One was former Congressman and gubernatorial nominee Artur Davis. Another was former U.S. Attorney Douglas Jones, who was co-counsel with Riley in leading a class action that won a $700 million fraud judgment. […]




By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon / Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon / Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last week, I ran a quick post in this space (“Chase’s Twitter Gambit Devolves into All-Time PR Fiasco“) on the epic Twitter fail that was JP Morgan Chase’s planned #AskJPM online Q&A. For those who missed it, this was that outstanding Too-Big-To-Fail marketing idea where Chase expected readers to tweet in in search of career advice – only to take a massive faceplant as Twitter exploded with profane, abusive and in many cases inspiringly funny “questions.” (“Would you rather negotiate with 1 horse-sized Eric Holder, or 100 duck-sized Eric Holders?” was my favorite.)

As an afterthought, I asked readers to send in haikus on the theme of Chase’s PR gambit. To the author of the best poem I promised a Jamie Dimon “Greedy Bastard” t-shirt. I honestly didn’t expect so many outstanding submissions. There were so many good ones, in fact, that in the end I couldn’t settle on just one winner – there will be two, in the end. But before I get to those, I should give props to some very honorable mentions.

First, all praise is due to those who actually honored the literary spirit of the haiku. Many of us less-civilized Americans, myself included, just went straight for a crude 17-syllable dick joke and didn’t bother with the form too much. The one I put on Twitter read as follows:

Ask Chase anything!
Public replies: blow us, you
Cheap gangster fuckwads.




Source: youtube


Nov 192013

El análisis de James Petras, 99GetSmart


“Siento un gran aprecio por todos los oyentes, tanto a los uruguayos en Uruguay como a los que están en otro país. Es un gran honor, tener audiencia interesada en los temas del día, temas políticos que afectan al mundo, la paz y la guerra, la prosperidad y la explotación, debemos seguir acompañando los intereses de nuestros oyentes”, dijo James Petras

“Michelle Bachelet ganó solo con el 23% del electorado, es decir el 46% de los que votaron. Creo que esto significa la falta de confianza que -particularmente los jóvenes y los trabajadores- tienen por lo que hizo la señora Bachelet en su primer gobierno, que no fue otra cosa que gobernar más o menos conforme con todo el proyecto neoliberal que su coalición, la Concertación, apoyó por 20 años”, sostuvo este lunes 18 de noviembre el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras, en su columna de análisis de la coyuntura internacional por CX36 (*).  Al respecto agregó que “Chile es el país de la región en que las grandes empresas consiguen más lucro que en cualquier otro país” y que el resultado de las elecciones del domingo son “una expresión de la concentración de la riqueza y de las desigualdades en Chile, pese a que pasaron gobiernos democristianos, socialistas y ahora se juntaron con el Partido Comunista que consiguió uno o dos Diputados”. Además actualizó la situación en Venezuela y cuestionó el papel de François Hollande intentando sabotear las conversaciones de occidente con Irán. A continuación transcribimos este análisis, que Usted puede escuchar/descargar en el siguiente link:

Efrain Chury Iribarne: Buenos días Petras, bienvenido a los micrófonos de la 36. ¿Cómo está?

James Petras: Estamos muy bien, con un día de primavera pese a estar el otoño.

EChI: Bien.

Nos gustaría comenzar con un análisis de las elecciones en Chile, que se realizaron ayer.

JP: Si y es un resultado que debemos analizar muy de cerca, porque la tasa de abstención fue de prácticamente un 50%, con la particularidad de haber sido especialmente alto entre el electorado joven.

Por esta razón, Michelle Bachelet ganó solo con el 23% del electorado, es decir el 46% de los que votaron.

Esto significa la falta de confianza que -particularmente los jóvenes y los trabajadores- tienen por lo que hizo la señora Bachelet en su primer gobierno, que no fue otra cosa que gobernar más o menos conforme con todo el proyecto neoliberal que su coalición, la Concertación, apoyó por 20 años.

Es decir, Chile tiene el peor sistema de pensiones, es el peor sistema de Educación particularmente en Educación Superior; tiene el más costoso sistema de Salud; entonces las estimaciones de muchos expertos chilenos y su modelo, no están de acuerdo con las experiencias de la gran mayoría del pueblo chileno.

Chile es el país de la región en que las grandes empresas consiguen más lucro que en cualquier otro país. Fíjate que en Chile el año pasado cobraron 25.000 millones de lucro, que es más de lo que recibieron en Brasil, que es 10 veces más grande. Es una expresión de la concentración de la riqueza y de las desigualdades en Chile, pese a que pasaron gobiernos democristianos, socialistas y ahora se juntaron con el Partido Comunista que consiguió uno o dos Diputados.

No debemos tomar en cuenta lo que dicen los candidatos, las consignas que utilizan, y la figura de Bachelet no representa para muchos chilenos una alternativa. Y por eso tienen que ir a segunda vuelta, donde probablemente gane por amplia mayoría entre los que voten. El voto de protesta, el voto de rechazo es la inmensa mayoría en el país y eso hay que anotarlo, porque no encuentran en  las alternativas pequeñas o grandes, una voz que refleje sus intereses.

Hay que enfatizar entonces que Chile es el país con las peores desigualdades; el país con la Educación Superior más costosa y de menor calidad, porque es una empresa.Allá cualquiera puede montar con alguna inversión, un edificio, algunas salas, una Universidad y cobrar miles de dólares.Por eso muchos jóvenes no pueden terminar sus estudios, porque no pueden cumplir con el pago del cupón. Y este es el sector más perjudicado  por los socialistas y democristianos, ni hablar de la derecha.

Después de la elección de Bachelet, a pesar de tener algún comunista en el Congreso, van a encontrar excusas para no hacer cosas.Dirán que no tienen super mayoría en el Senado, que la reforma constitucional es prioridad a pesar de no tener suficiente apoyo para aprobar cambios. Es decir, inventarán mil excusas para seguir haciendo lo mismo del pasado.

Soy muy pesimista de lo que pueda surgir de esta elección, porque los que más necesitan encuentran en esta alternativa pocos reflejos de sus intereses.

EChI: Hay una noticia que dice: “Israel recibe con los brazos abiertos al presidente francés François Hollande, por su desempeño de papel perjudicial en la última ronda de diálogos entre Irán y el Grupo 5+1, sobre el programa nuclear que tuvo lugar en Ginebra, Suiza”.

JP: Es como un patrón que recibe a su sirviente, porque cuando abrió la boca Hollande repitió como un papagayo las cuatro condiciones de (Benjamín) Netanyahu y la ultra racista derechista israelí.

Es imposible separar a Hollande de Netanyahu, están vinculados ideológica y políticamente, es un sionista recién convertido a la política de ultranza. Dice que Irán no debe tener uranio enriquecido, en ninguna parte del país; pero el señor Hollande no dijo ni una palabra de las armas nucleares que tiene Israel, que por cierto tiene más de 400 bombas y misiles nucleares. Pero quiere eliminar  las grandes empresas que elaboran energía nuclear, quiere eliminar el derecho que tiene todo el mundo de enriquecer uranio; quiere desmantelar las reservas iraníes; y quiere una inspección 24 horas siete días a la semana de todas las instalaciones. Entonces, él sabe concientemente que estas demandas son para sabotear las negociaciones y provocar la guerra.

Pero Hollande es un irresponsable, más allá de ser un vendido, corrupto, que no ha hecho nada para la sociedad francesa, sin embargo tiene la presunción de poder dictar la política a un país soberano.

Visita es una expresión de la gran vergüenza que representa Hollande y Francia. No veo ninguna protesta de los izquierdistas franceses ante esta visita, que representa la entrega de la independencia francesa al poder sionista. Por eso, creo que no tendrá ningún efecto lo que él dice porque los iraníes no van a aceptar estas condiciones y lo sabe Hollande, pero quiere ser el mal muchacho en estas negociaciones.

No creo que tenga éxito, porque las condiciones son tan extremas que nadie puede aceptarlas, incluso los otros países europeos, pero sí puede sabotear las reuniones, que salen por consenso y sólo necesitas un boludo como Hollande para perjudicar todo el proceso.

EChI: Los Hermanos Musulmanes de Egipto, han llamado en las últimas horas al diálogo a todos los grupos involucrados, para salir de la crisis creada en el país tras el derrocamiento de Mohamed Mursi.

JP: Lo que está pasando es que la dictadura militar está consolidando su poder. Han controlado los medios, el poder Legislativo, el poder Judicial, han aplastado a los grupos opositores, la mayoría de la Hermandad, han encarcelado a todos los líderes, han censurado a la prensa; entonces, en ese contexto va a dejar que algunos grupos críticos funcionen dentro de los límites muy estrechos, porque busca ahora consolidar las relaciones con el Fondo Monetario y los países occidentales.

Sigue toda la maquinaria represiva, van aseguir con el proceso judicial contra los líderes electos, y van a permitir una pequeña apertura como una fachada para seguir la dictadura y consolidar un poder que podría mantenerse en el poder por muchos años.

Y Rusia está allá buscando aprovechar alguna discrepancia que  existe entre Egipto y Washington, pero que son menores.Por lo que simplemente está allá no para mejorar las condiciones democráticas sino para mejorar las relaciones diplomáticas y comerciales, con el nuevo liderazgo consolidado.

Rusia en este contexto no busca apoyar las fuerzas democráticas, ellos  descuentan un posible nuevo levantamiento, el resurgimiento del poder electoral islámico.Entonces es un tipo de política que se llama ‘real politic’.Simplemente diciendo que la dictadura busca ampliar relaciones, Rusia busca entrar otra vez en Egipto y hay una combinación entre la dictadura con Rusia, como han buscado y conseguido un acomodo con los Estados Unidos y Europa.

Es la falta de fuerzas activas ahora frente a la represión, que deciden los gobernantes aceptar el status quo.

ECHI: Bien, como siempre los minutos finales quedan para hablar de los temas que han ocupado tu interés.

JP: Bueno, hay varios.

Uno es muy preocupante lo que está pasando en Venezuela con las elecciones, más o menos dentro de tres semanas. La oposición sigue su campaña tratando de perjudicar la economía par fomentar el descontento. Y lo que tienen a su favor no es ninguna propuesta positiva, ninguna alternativa que pueda mejorar las condiciones en Venezuela, pero buscan de todas formas arruinar el proyecto gubernamental. Y las medidas de (Nicolás) Maduro, intervienen en las empresas para vender la mercancía a precio justo, han tenido algún efecto: encarcelaron a un centenar de hombres de negocios que aprovechan las circunstancias para cosechar ganancias de más de 1000%. Productos que compran a 20 pesos los venden a dos mil pesos, cosas exorbitantes, para provocar la escasez y la  inflación.

Ahora, el gran peligro para la elección de los socialistas es que la inflación siga alta. Es un peligro, porque en mi experiencia  yo anoto que cuando hay altas tasas de inflación, más del 30% siempre perjudican al que está gobernando. Porque la inflación es la forma de deteriorar el poder de consumo de las grandes mayorías que no tienen mecanismos de compensación es la base principal del gobierno, los que serán más perjudicados.

Al final de cuentas, el problema estratégico es que el proyecto de combinar la regulación estatal con el capitalismo; el capitalismo con el bienestar social; muestra todas sus debilidades, porque en determinado momento los capitalistas controlan la producción y distribución, utilizando eso políticamente perjudican la posibilidad de que el gobierno consiga la estabilidad.

Y el gobierno ha lanzado campañas de limpieza contra la corrupción, otro factor influyente en las elecciones, porque hay alcaldes y gobernadores que no han cumplido una buena tarea. Y la derecha está aprovechando esta brecha entre el discurso oficial y la práctica de algunos sectores para condenar al gobierno y eso puede beneficiar a algunos candidatos.

El resultado será muy estrecho y tal vez la derecha gane algunas ciudades importantes, aunque no creo que consiga la mayoría de las alcaldías. Las elecciones municipales terminarán como un empate, entre las fuerzas gubernamentales y la oposición. Pero de todos modos muestra un camino abierto, con la intervención estatal contra la corrupción y la especulación; creo que es un buen camino si pueden profundizarlo y ampliarlo.

En este marco, los sindicatos venezolanos deben  ampliar su visión, sólo buscan mejor salario sin organizar las grandes masas, sin tomar en cuenta una política que pueda ampliar el papel social del Estado en la gestión. Hasta ahora el sindicalismo tiene mucha retórica radical, pero es poco efectivo para aglutinar mayorías para relanzar el proyecto de Chávez. Es algo que debemos tomar en cuenta.

Otro tema que quiero comentar es sobre una noticia que tenemos sobre como los Servicios Secretos británicos vigilan los viajes de diplomáticos extranjeros. Hace poco encontré un libro que se llama “Dial M for Murdoch” (de Tom Watson y Martin Hickman) sobre el gran capitalista, Rupert Murdoch, dueño de más de trescientas empresas noticiosas, algo escandaloso. Bien, este Murdoch tenía en su planilla de pagos a toda la policía de Scotland Yard.

Ese imaginario que tenemos en el exterior sobre Scotland Yard como una policía eficiente, honesta, etc., es totalmente falsa. Toda la administración de Justicia en Inglaterra era corrupta, estaba pagada por este grupo editorial, el grupo Murdoch, que  utilizaba estos contactos para que los policías les entreguen noticias, escándalos, de cualquier persona, vidas íntimas, entrando en los teléfonos, los faxes, las computadoras, etc.; con la colaboración activa de la policía al más alto nivel, por más de 35 años, supervisores de policás de Scotland Yard recibiendo 50.000 dólares por algún ítem de noticias, como escándalos de un parlamentario involucrado en cocaína o por acostarse con su secretaria; grandes titulares y una diversión que impactaba a siete millones de lectores, la gran mayoría de las clases populares. Fíjate, este Murdoch llenando la cabeza de las grandes masas inglesas con esta basura, y esta basura en la cabeza no permite que la clase obrera pueda funcionar como clase, porque están metidos en escándalos de actores, futbolistas, etc.

Eso explica, en parte, porqué hay injusticia en Inglaterra, por la corrupción de la policía por un lado. Por otro lado, la corrupción de la mentalidad popular con esta basura de noticias, que también tiene un gran impacto en desviar la atención y  limitar cualquier acción  contra las medidas de austeridad. Esto explica en parte, porque en el mundo anglosajón –tanto Inglaterra como Estados Unidos- la clase obrera perjudicada no actúa.

EChI: Muy bien Petras. Te leo un mensaje que llega desde Estados Unidos, es de Raúl, es pintor, y dice que siempre está atento para escuchar a James Petras en la 36 por  Internet y que además, vive en la misma región que Petras a quien le manda un saludo.

JP: Bueno, muchas gracias. Siento un gran aprecio por todos los oyentes, tanto a los uruguayos en Uruguay como a los que están en otro país. Es un gran honor, tener audiencia interesada en los temas del día, temas políticos que afectan al mundo, la paz y la guerra, la prosperidad y la explotación, debemos seguir acompañando los intereses de nuestros oyentes.

EChI: Muy bien, gracias por todo. Te mandamos un abrazo, hasta el lunes.

JP: Un abrazo. Chau.

Nov 182013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


By Tom Burghardt, Global Research


Back in the 1990s, security researchers and privacy watchdogs were alarmed by government demands that hardware and software firms build “backdoors” into their products, the millions of personal computers and cell phones propelling communication flows along the now-quaint “information superhighway.”

Never mind that the same factory-installed kit that allowed secret state agencies to troll through private communications also served as a discrete portal for criminal gangs to loot your bank account or steal your identity.

To make matters worse, instead of the accountability promised the American people by Congress in the wake of the Watergate scandal, successive US administrations have worked assiduously to erect an impenetrable secrecy regime backstopped by secret laws overseen by secret courts which operate on the basis of secret administrative subpoenas, latter day lettres de cachet.

But now that all their dirty secrets are popping out of Edward Snowden’s “bottomless briefcase,” we also know the “Crypto Wars” of the 1990s never ended.

Documents published by The Guardian and The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency “actively engages the US and IT industries” and has “broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.”

“Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards,” The Guardian disclosed, along with “the use of supercomputers to break encryption with ‘brute force’, and–the most closely guarded secret of all–collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.” […]




Source: youtube




Source: youtube

Someone at JP Morgan said, “Let’s ask the American public what they’d like to say to one of our top bankers on Twitter.” Turns out that wasn’t such a great idea. The tweets generated from #AskJPM range from funny to down-right nasty. So someone at CNBC said, “Let’s have award-winning actor, Stacy Keach…the voice from American Greed read them verbatim.” Almost a brilliant idea. Then they had the good sense to add me… the blue puppet. And BOOM now it’s brilliant.




Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is currently in a prison hospital in Siberia; here she and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek meet in an extraordinary exchange of letters

By Slavoj Žižek, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, The Guardian

We are the children of Dionysus, sailing in a barrel and not ­recognising any authority' … Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot writing to Slavoj Žižek. Photograph: David Levene/AFP/Getty/Guardian

We are the children of Dionysus, sailing in a barrel and not ­recognising any authority’ … Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot writing to Slavoj Žižek. Photograph: David Levene/AFP/Getty/Guardian

2 January 2013

Dear Nadezhda,

I hope you have been able to organise your life in prison around small rituals that make it tolerable, and that you have time to read. Here are my thoughts on your predicament.

John Jay Chapman, an American political essayist, wrote this about radicals in 1900: “They are really always saying the same thing. They don’t change; everybody else changes. They are accused of the most incompatible crimes, of egoism and a mania for power, indifference to the fate of their cause, fanaticism, triviality, lack of humour, buffoonery and irreverence. But they sound a certain note. Hence the great practical power of persistent radicals. To all appearance, nobody follows them, yet everyone believes them. They hold a tuning-fork and sound A, and everybody knows it really is A, though the time-honoured pitch is G flat.” Isn’t this a good description of the effect of Pussy Riot performances? In spite of all accusations, you sound a certain note. It may appear that people do not follow you, but secretly, they believe you, they know you are telling the truth, or, even more, you are standing for truth.

But what is this truth? Why are the reactions to Pussy Riot performances so violent, not only in Russia? All hearts were beating for you as long as you were perceived as just another version of the liberal-democratic protest against the authoritarian state. The moment it became clear that you rejected global capitalism, reporting on Pussy Riot became much more ambiguous. What is so disturbing about Pussy Riot to the liberal gaze is that you make visible the hidden continuity between Stalinism and contemporary global capitalism. […]




Source: youtube




By Jerome Roos, RoarMag

On Thursday, tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets to commemorate the 1973 student uprising that eventually toppled the US-backed military junta.


Photos kindly provided by Sam Cossar-Gilbert of Take the Square


Nov 132013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


Lobbying is the least of it: corporate interests have captured the entire democratic process. No wonder so many have given up on politics

By George Monbiot, The Guardian


It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in Britain.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source. On Monday, for instance, the Guardian revealed that the government’s subsidy system for gas-burning power stations is being designed by an executive from the Dublin-based company ESB International, who has been seconded into the Department of Energy. What does ESB do? Oh, it builds gas-burning power stations.

On the same day we learned that a government minister, Nick Boles, has privately assured the gambling company Ladbrokes that it needn’t worry about attempts by local authorities to stop the spread of betting shops. His new law will prevent councils from taking action. […]




By Eric Toussaint, CADTM


From the 12th century to the beginning of the 14th, the Knights Templar, present in much of Europe, had become the bankers for the powerful and had taken part in the financing of several crusades. At the beginning of the 14th century, they were the main creditors of the King of France, Philip the Fair. Faced with a debt burden that was straining his resources, Philip the Fair eliminated both his creditors and his debt by demonising the Knights Templar, accusing them of many crimes |1|. Their Order was outlawed, the leaders executed and its assets seized. Its army (fifteen thousand men, including one thousand five hundred knights), its patrimony and its credits to rulers failed to protect it from the power of a State set on eliminating its main creditor.

During the same era (11th – 14th centuries) Venetian bankers were also financing the Crusades and lending money to the powerful of Europe, but they manoeuvred much more deftly than the Knights Templar. In Venice, they took control of the State by founding the Venetian Republic. They financed the transformation of the Venetian city-state into a veritable empire including Cyprus, Euboea (Negroponte) and Crete. They made use of a clever strategy to gain lasting wealth and guarantee reimbursement of their credits: they decided to drive the Venetian state into debt towards the banks they owned. They were the ones who set the terms of the loan contracts, as they were at once bank owners and rulers of the State.

While Philip the Fair had an interest in physically ridding himself of his creditors to be free from the debt burden, the Venetian State reimbursed the debt to bankers in cash. The latter came up with the idea of creating public debt titles that could circulate between banks. This was a step towards the establishment of financial markets |2|. This type of loan is the precursor to the major form of State debt as we know it in the 21st century.

Today, seven centuries after Philip the Fair crushed the Knights Templar, the bankers of Europe, just like their Venetian or Genovese forebears, clearly have nothing to fear from governments. […]




By Yanis Varoufakis,


For a while now I have been arguing that Europe’s policies for reducing the public debts of fiscally stressed member-states can be described as a Ponzi austerity scheme. In this post I attempt precisely to define ‘Ponzi austerity’.

Ponzi growth

Standard Ponzi schemes are based on a sleight of hand that creates the appearance of a fund whose value grows faster than the value that has come into it. In reality the opposite is true, as the scheme’s operator usually helps himself to some of the incoming capital while the scheme is not managing to create new capital with which to replenish these ‘leakages’, let alone pay the returns it promises. The appearances of growth that does not really exist is, of course, the lure that brings into the scheme new participants whose capital is utilised by the Ponzi scheme’s operator to maintain the facade of genuine growth.

Ponzi austerity

Ponzi austerity is the inverse of Ponzi growth. Whereas in standard Ponzi (growth) schemes the lure is the promise of a growing fund, in the case of Ponzi austerity the attraction to bankrupted participants is the promise of reducing their debt, so as to liberate them from insolvency, through a combination of ‘belt tightening’, austerity measures and new loans that provide the bankrupt with necessary funds for repaying maturing debts (e.g. bonds). As it is impossible to escape insolvency in this manner, Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted. But to attract this capital, the Ponzi austerity’s operators must do their utmost to maintain the façade of genuine debt reduction.

Ponzi austerity’s inventor: The Eurozone’s great and good

Ponzi growth has been around for yonks. But it took the collective wisdom of Europe’s great and good to create the first Ponzi austerity scheme. The Greek, Portuguese, Irish, Spanish and Cypriot loan agreements were the first ever examples of such a scheme. Bankrupted states, in a death embrace with bankrupted banking sectors, were forced to take in ever-increasing capital inflows (from the IMF, from the ECB, from the EFSF-ESM, shortly under the ECB’s OMT threat) on condition of belt-tightening austerity. As the scheme progresses, more capital is coming into it, debt-to-GDP ratios actually grow (just as in Ponzi growth schemes the value of the total fund is depleted) and, therefore, even more outside capital has to be brought in in order to maintain the pretense. […]




We are in the dark about treaty that would let rapacious companies subvert our laws, rights and national sovereignty.

By George Monbiot, The Guardian


Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don’t either. Mind you, I spent 10 minutes looking for my watch the other day before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn’t there? After all that agonising over whether or not we should stay in the European Union, the government wouldn’t cede our sovereignty to some shadowy, undemocratic body without consulting us. Would it?

The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet. […]




Source: firstpeoples

How we see the world determines how we act. Western thought sees us at war with each other over resources. Indigenous philosophy, we are all related as individuals in balance with nature. Watch ENOUGHNESS: Resorting Balance to the Economy and learn more at Share on Facebook and Twitter using #ENOUGHNESS.




An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development

By Vandana Shiva, CommonDreams

'Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine'. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

‘Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine’. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.

The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.

Thus nature’s amazing cycles of renewal of water and nutrients are defined into nonproduction. The peasants of the world,who provide 72% of the food, do not produce; women who farm or do most of the housework do not fit this paradigm of growth either. A living forest does not contribute to growth, but when trees are cut down and sold as timber, we have growth. Healthy societies and communities do not contribute to growth, but disease creates growth through, for example, the sale of patented medicine.

Water available as a commons shared freely and protected by all provides for all. However, it does not create growth. But when Coca-Cola sets up a plant, mines the water and fills plastic bottles with it, the economy grows. But this growth is based on creating poverty – both for nature and local communities. Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine. Women are forced to walk longer distances looking for drinking water. In the village of Plachimada in Kerala, when the walk for water became 10 kms, local tribal woman Mayilamma said enough is enough. We cannot walk further; the Coca-Cola plant must shut down. The movement that the women started eventually led to the closure of the plant.

In the same vein, evolution has gifted us the seed. Farmers have selected, bred, and diversified it – it is the basis of food production. A seed that renews itself and multiplies produces seeds for the next season, as well as food. However, farmer-bred and farmer-saved seeds are not seen as contributing to growth. It creates and renews life, but it doesn’t lead to profits. Growth begins when seeds are modified, patented and genetically locked, leading to farmers being forced to buy more every season.

Nature is impoverished, biodiversity is eroded and a free, open resource is transformed into a patented commodity. Buying seeds every year is a recipe for debt for India’s poor peasants. And ever since seed monopolies have been established, farmers debt has increased. More than 270,000 farmers caught in a debt trap in India have committed suicide since 1995. […]