Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* LOCAL FIGHTS AGAINST AUSTERITY ARE GROWING ACROSS THE U.S.
By Mark Vorpahl, Occupy.com
Between sequestration, with its damaging impact on workers and the economy, and the billions of dollars in cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other necessary social programs that President Obama is pushing, it is evident that the economic policies of both major parties are not intended to promote a recovery for working people.
You cannot lift up a nation’s economy while slashing away at its consumers’ pocketbooks. In order to justify their defiance of this elementary law, both Republicans and Democrats start talking the language of “austerity,” that is, the notion that economic policy must be guided by reducing budgetary deficits first and foremost, and that workers exclusively must be made to pay the cost.
Policies associated with austerity include the cutting of public programs, privatizing existing government assets, mass layoffs of public workers and wage freezes for those who remain, union busting in the public sector and the revising of labor laws to further enhance the power of employers at the expense of employees.
Enforcing these policies during a recession prevents a recovery. Economic theory predicts this and history demonstrates it. Why, then, would the politicians promote austerity? Because these policies assure that the 1% will be let off the hook from paying their fair share of taxes that help subsidize the social safety net, and will have vast pools of public capital opened up for their private investment.
Why worry about the overall economy when the real power brokers from the corporations and banks are making out just fine with austerity? The message seems clear: As long as Wall Street is enjoying the “recovery,” no one else gets to. Wall Street has used its vast wealth to lobby politicians for policies that are in its interests. In order for working people to climb out of the recession, they will have to organize in order to create their own power base. […]
* NEW YORK’S ZONING BAN MOVEMENT FRACKS BIG GAS
By Ellen Cantarow, Truthout
On Thursday, May 2, New York State’s Appellate Court upheld the right of two townships – the Tompkins County town of Dryden and the Otsego County town of Middlefield – to use their zoning laws to ban gas drilling. This includes high-volume hydraulic fracturing, during which millions of gallons of sand-and-chemical-laced water are propelled into deep shale rock to force out the methane it contains. Last week’s decision defeated corporate challenges to the state’s constitutional home rule provision, under which local ordinances trump state laws.
If you haven’t been following New York State’s astonishing grassroots battle against fracking, the foregoing may seem humdrum. But in fact it represents a victory wrenched by unknown grassroots activists from giants of the fossil-fuel industry. While the corporations defeated in last week’s judgment are only two in number, the entire industry has had its eyes on New York State, which has become the epicenter of an international struggle against unconventional gas. (By “unconventional gas” I mean not only the drilling method, but the vast infrastructure that is metastasizing from hundreds of thousands of fracking wells into America’s rural countrysides.)
For decades, the mightiest industries in corporate history have lusted for the methane in the Marcellus Shale, the huge rocky sprawl that ripples far beneath New York and three contiguous East Coast states. Unlike Pennsylvania, where drilling began as early as 2005, New York passed a moratorium on fracking in 2009 (it holds to date). Under that umbrella, tiny groups of organizers in Otsego County, about 80 miles southeast of Syracuse on Otsego Lake, and Dryden, 100 miles west of Otsego near Ithaca, began eyeing zoning as a way of banning gas drilling. Even if the moratorium were lifted, bans on drilling within townships could halt the industry at the grass roots.
New York has a history of legendary movements, from abolition and women’s suffrage in the 19th century to Occupy in the twenty-first. Its environmental campaigns have included the watershed Storm King Mountain case, in which activists defeated Con Edison’s plan to carve a giant facility into the face of that Hudson River landmark. The decision established the right of anyone to litigate on behalf of the environment.
Today, that activist legacy is evident in the state’s grassroots anti-fracking insurgency, spearheaded by the zoning drives. New York’s fractivists defy all distinctions of political affiliation and social background. Everyone, after all, needs clean air and water – Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers; farmers and doctors, lawyers, nurses, physicists, accountants and teachers. “I have never seen [an environmental movement] spread with such wildfire as this,” says Robert Boyle, a legendary environmental activist and journalist who was central in the Storm King case and founded Riverkeeper, the prototype for all later river-guardian organizations. “It took me 13 or 14 years to get the first Riverkeeper going. Fracking isn’t like that. It’s like lighting a train of powder.” […]
* WHY AMERICA FELL SO FAR … SO FAST
Source: Washington’s Blog
All Empires Crash Soon After They Reach Their Peak
Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” And because I love my country, I frequently criticize America’s shortcomings in the hopes of making her better.
But the truth is that the United States is not unusual … it is just like all other empires which have hit their peak and then quickly crashed.
We noted in 2008:
Political insider and veteran reporter Kevin Phillips has documented that every major empire over the past several hundred years has undergone a predictable cycle of collapse, usually within 10 to 20 years of its peak power.
The indications are always the same:
– The financialization of the economy, moving from manufacturing to speculation;
– Very high levels of debt;
– Extreme economic inequality;
– And costly military overreaching.
We wrote in 2009:
In 2000, America was described as the sole remaining superpower – or even the world’s “hyperpower”. Now we’re in real trouble (at the very least, you have to admit that we’re losing power and wealth in comparison with China).
How did it happen so fast?
How Empires Fall
Paul Farrel provides a bigger-picture analysis, quoting Jared Diamond and Marc Faber.
Diamond’s book’s, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, studies the collapse of civilizations throughout history, and finds:
Civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power…
One of the choices has depended on the courage to practice long-term thinking, and to make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems have become perceptible but before they reach crisis proportions
And PhD economist Faber states:
How [am I] so sure about this final collapse?
Of all the questions I have about the future, this is the easiest one to answer. Once a society becomes successful it becomes arrogant, righteous, overconfident, corrupt, and decadent … overspends … costly wars … wealth inequity and social tensions increase; and society enters a secular decline.
[Quoting 18th century Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler:] The average life span of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years progressing from “bondage to spiritual faith … to great courage … to liberty … to abundance … to selfishness … to complacency … to apathy … to dependence and … back into bondage”
[Where is America in the cycle?] It is most unlikely that Western societies, and especially the U.S., will be an exception to this typical “society cycle.” … The U.S. is somewhere between the phase where it moves “from complacency to apathy” and “from apathy to dependence.”
In other words, America’s rapid fall is not really that novel after all. […]
* IT’S TIME TO SHINE A LIGHT ON THE POVERTY CREATION INDUSTRY
By Alnoor Ladha, Joe Brewer and Martin Kirk, Occupy.com
It’s about time we called out the great myth that is mass poverty, as if it were a natural part of some universal moral order. Such thinking is both profoundly untrue and disastrously misleading.
Poverty is human-made. It is created – knowingly and with scientific efficiency – by a vastly sophisticated industry that includes private companies, think tanks, media outlets, government policies, and more. This “Poverty Creation Industry” is about the least talked about feature of our global economy and yet it is perhaps the greatest market force in the modern world. Until we acknowledge this startling truth, progress towards global prosperity and sustainability will fall far short of what is possible.
This isn’t to suggest that there’s a dark, smoky room somewhere in which a small cabal plots to cause immeasurable misery just because they can. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. In truth, it happens in big boardrooms and political conferences, where people create rules and execute strategies to “maximize self-interest” as economists say, by extracting wealth from others. This is largely driven by a maniacal focus on short-term profit or advantage while ignoring one of its primary effects – the impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people. Willful ignorance, though, as any legal scholar will tell you, is no defense in law. It’s about time we applied the same standard to our economic rules and realities. […]
* VISUALIZING THE WORLD’S TAX HAVENS
By Tyler Durden, zerohedge
Image compliments of Online Accounting Degrees
* GREEK UNEMPLOYMENT HITS NEW RECORD HIGH, YOUTH JOBLESS RISED BY 5% IN ONE MONTH TO 64.2%
By Tyler Durden, zerohedge
The Greek economic depressionary catastrophe continues to merrily chug along. Hours ago, Greek Elstat reported that February unemployment rose to a new record high of 27.0%, with the January number revised from 27.2% to 26.7%, up from 21.9% in February 2012, and almost as if unlike the Greek BLS is not even trying to fudge numbers anymore and wants to show a deteriorating situation (or, as it was called in the Old Normal – “reality”).
That said, if the numbers were indeed gamed, the Greek statistical bureau had person-level detail: “The number of employed amounted to 3,568,186 persons. ?he number of unemployed amounted to 1,320,189 while the number of inactive to 3,358,649…. The number of employed decreased by 270,766 persons compared with February 2012 (a 7.1% rate of decrease) and by 28,650 persons compared with January 2013 (a 0.8% rate of decrease). Unemployed increased by 245,021 persons (a 22.8% rate of increase) compared with February 2012 and by 11,663 persons compared with January 2013 (a 0.9% rate of increase).”
Looking at the Shadow economy, the number of people who are inactive, or “neither worked neither looked for a job”, hit 3,358,649. This number is just shy of the total people employed, meaning in 2-3 months, the Greek shadow economy will be greater than the official, taxed-one. A gender breakdown shows that females have never had it worse with 31% unemployment, compared to 24.1% for men.
But the most stunning number was the number of unemployed Greek youths (15-24), which hit a record 64.2%, the highest number on record, and a mindblowing 5% increase from the 59.3% youth unemployment reported in January, and a 10% increase from a year ago (and compared to 16.9% in neighboring Turkey). […]
* PEOPLE UNITED AGAINST THE TROIKA
Source: People United Against the Troika
On the 1st of June we come together, people in solidarity and in struggle against austerity and the troika, and demand a political and economical change for the future. People United Against The Troika!
Each one of us, in each country, in each city, in each household, feels the measures and policies which anihilates democracy and the rights conquered over decades. These measures have triggered massive unemployment throughout Europe, privatize anything that can be profitable and render any kind of sovereignty, either popular, social or economical, a joke. All this has been made under the constant propaganda of “foreign aid”. It is urgent that we join forces for the strong fight we have ahead.
To all citizens, with or without party, with or without a job, with or without hope, we call: join up! Rise up! To all political organizations, social movements, unions, parties, colectives, informal groups, we call: join up! Rise up!
Let us give them a 1st of June which will never be forgot!
* CHILE VIOLENCE: TEARGAS, WATER CANNONS USED AGAINST STUDENTS
Clashes broke out in the Chilean capital Santiago on Wednesday at a student demonstration to demand free education. Water cannons were used against the protesters when they bombarded police with a hail of stones. According to police, around 37-thousand people took part in the event, but organizers put the total much higher at 80-thousand – READ MORE: http://on.rt.com/hh7k58
Footage by RT’s RUPTLY video agency
* FREE THE NATO 3!