Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THE AGE OF AUTHORITARIANISM: GOVERNMENT OF THE POLITICIANS, BY THE MILITARY FOR THE CORPORATIONS
By John W. Whitehead, LewRockwell
“[F]orce alone cannot make us safe. We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the well-spring of extremism, a perpetual war – through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.” ~ Barack Obama, May 23, 2013
President Obama’s declaration that “America is at a crossroads” in the fight against terror, a fight that is increasingly turning inwards, setting its sights on homegrown extremists, should give every American pause.
We have indeed reached a crossroads. History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a militaristic state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom. Certainly, this is a time when government officials operate off their own inscrutable, self-serving playbook with little in the way of checks and balances, while American citizens are subjected to all manner of indignities and violations with little hope of defending themselves. We have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age, let’s call it the age of authoritarianism.
Even with its constantly shifting terrain, this topsy-turvy travesty of law and government has become America’s new normal. Don’t believe me? Let me take you on a brief guided tour, but prepare yourself: the landscape is particularly disheartening to anyone who remembers what America used to be. […]
* EURO CRISIS: BETWEEN THE STREETS AND THE TRADING FLOORS
By Jerome Roos, Roarmag
Between the Streets and the Trading Floors:
Popular Resistance and the Structural Power of Financial Capital in the European Debt Crisis
Jérôme E. Roos
European University Institute
Paper to be presented at the Fourth Annual IIPPE Conference:
‘Political Economy, Activism and Alternative Economic Strategies’
International Institute of Social Studies
The Hague, July 9-11, 2013
“The citizens will revolt against the dictatorship of the markets.”
~ Jean-Pierre Jouyet, President of the Financial Markets Authority in France
On June 28, 2011, as Greek lawmakers prepared to vote on an austerity memorandum demanded by the European Union and IMF, hundreds of thousands of outraged Greeks descended upon Syntagma Square to defend their livelihoods and contest the vote. With the country grinding to a halt in the first 48-hour strike since the fall of the military junta, and with the activists at Syntagma – who had already held Athens’ central square occupied for over a month – announcing their intention to encircle parliament and prevent the vote from taking place, international creditors and national authorities braced themselves for the worst. For two days, as police battled mostly unarmed protesters with inordinate amounts of asphyxiating gas, both the Greek people and global financial markets held their breath. A no-vote risked plunging Greece into a disorderly state of default, potentially unleashing a negative spiral of market panic that could culminate into a catastrophic collapse of the Eurozone. A yes-vote, by contrast, would condemn the Greek people to years, if not decades, of devastating austerity measures. As lawmakers voted and the square in front of parliament descended into chaos, sending echoes of Argentina’s 2001 default through the financial community, the fate of both Greece and global financial markets now seemed to hang in the balance. One of the two would have to give. As BBC Newsnight editor Paul Mason summarized the situation, “Syntagma Square had become the front-line of the global financial system,” (2013:99).
Eventually, the creditors won. The austerity memorandum was passed. EU leaders and global financial markets let out a sigh of relief. Unlike Argentina, Greece would continue to service its debts to foreign bondholders. But for those who experienced the state crackdown from up close, the dramatic events of June 28-29 in Athens raised a number of profound questions. How could the democratically elected representatives of a center-left party (PASOK) that claimed to represent working people turn so resolutely against their own constituency? How could a supposedly democratic state ever become so unresponsive to the needs of its own people, so violent towards peacefully protesting citizens, and so submissive to the demands of foreign creditors? And, perhaps the most puzzling question of all, how could a group of unarmed citizens peaceably assembled in a leafy square in a small peripheral country whose GDP constitutes a mere 2 percent of the Eurozone total ever come to be considered an existential threat to the monetary union, let alone the global financial system? Clearly, these questions force analysts of the crisis to confront the fundamentally contested concept of power. In fact, it seems that in June 2011, Syntagma briefly became the principal battleground in a global power struggle that has come to define the neoliberal era; a struggle that has already been playing out across much of the developing world for the past three decades but that has only recently penetrated into what was once the First World. It is the struggle of the people against the banks; of debtors against creditors – of the streets against the trading floors.
This paper concerns itself with this power struggle as it continues to unfold in the ongoing European debt crisis. Rather than pursuing an in-depth empirical investigation of the crisis itself, however, the paper instead aims to revive the contributions of a number of critical theorists in political economy in an attempt to provide an alternative conceptual framework for understanding the growing power of global finance over nation states, and the way in which these changing power relations at the transnational level are transforming predominant forms of political activism and social struggle within nation states. Most importantly, it argues that the ability to withhold much-needed credit endows private investors with a form of structural power over elected officials, allowing them to discipline government behavior without having to resort to direct political pressure. To expand on the ideas developed by Charles Lindblom, today’s globalized financial markets have come to resemble a prison – an automatic disciplinary mechanism that “is not dependent on conspiracy or intention to punish” (Lindblom 1982:237). With the capitalist state trapped in this global debtors’ prison, and with a generation of neoliberal technocrats now seeking to internalize the dictates of market discipline into the state apparatus, European citizens have become ever more aware of the limits to state-oriented forms of political activism (Holloway 2013). In other words, the way in which the ongoing European debt crisis is being managed has given rise to a widespread crisis of representation and a concerted move towards more autonomous forms of popular resistance that reject the political system altogether and seek to maintain living standards and bring about social change through direct action, mutual aid and prefigurative politics instead (Hardt and Negri 2011; Graeber 2011a). […]
* SOME MONEY LAUNDERERS ARE “MORE EQUAL” THAN OTHERS
By Mike, LibertyBlitzkrieg
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
– George Orwell’s Animal Farm
It’s been many, many years since I read George Orwell’s Animal Farm, but the message conveyed in it will remain with me forever. The book is many things, but more than anything else, it is a portrayal and critique of human nature and the political systems that we create. For those that need a refresher, or have not read the book, here’s the basic plot.
There’s a farm headed by a Mr. Jones, who drinks so much he becomes unable to take care of the farm and feed the animals. Over time, the animals (in particular the pigs), decide human beings are parasites and the pigs lead a revolt and run Mr. Jones off the property. They change the farm’s name from Manor Farm to Animal Farm and create a list of 7 commandments. They are:
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.
Rather quickly, the pigs assume leadership over the farm and one pig in particular, Napoleon, consolidates power after running his primary competitor off the property. It goes downhill from here fast. The pigs start to walk on two legs, drink alcohol and sleep in beds, amongst other things. Understanding that their new lifestyle in in direct contrast with their original seven commandments, they simply decide to make some adjustments. The adjustments are:
- No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
- No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
- No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
Rather quickly, even these adjustments becoming too binding for the glutinous and power hungry pig oligarch class. They decide to just condense everything down to one commandment: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
The above process is one for the ages, a process that has been reenacted time and time again by our species over the millennia. It is exactly what is happening in these United States right now.
The reason I spend so much time on the Constitution and civil liberties these days is because I can see the above unfolding right before my eyes. I also see an opportunity to stop it before it reaches its final, most destructive stage. Whether it’s the Department of Justice turning journalism into a criminal act, the IRS going after political enemies, or our Noble Peace Prize winning President droning thousands of innocent men, women and children all over the world with flying robots, the oligarch class in this country is dismantling the Bill of Rights one amendment at a time. […]
* THOUSANDS OF ANTI-CAPITALISTS BLOCK ACCESS TO EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK IN FRANKFORT
The entrance of the ECB is blocked by over 3,000 ‘Blockupy’ protestors in a march against austerity. ‘Blockupy’ has announced the coalition has “reached its first goal” of the day.
Blockupy spokesman Ani Diesselmann announced, “The blockade is standing. The business of the ECB is successfully disrupted.”
The ECB spokesman told The Guardian that the Blockupy protests have not disturbed day to day operations at the bank, but would not specify how many bankers had turned up to work.
Blockupy’s official website has live updates and invites participation:
“We call up everyone to join our protests.”
Anti-capitalist protestors have taken to the streets the financial heart of Frankfurt a day ahead of Europe-wide gatherings planned for June 1 to protest leaders handling of the three-year euro debt crisis.
Next they plan to siege Deutsche Bank at 10:30am (8:30 GMT) local time and then move on to the Frankfurt National Airport.
The crowd, estimated at 2,500 by local authorities, is clutching signs demanding ‘humanity before profit’. […]
READ / VIDEO @ http://rt.com/news/protest-austerity-troika-frankfurt-042/
* TURKISH POLICE BREAK UP ‘OCCUPY TAKSIM PARK’ PROTEST IN ISTANBUL
* TURKISH POLICE USE SUBWAY STATION LIKE “HITLER’S GAS CHAMBERS”
* TAKSIM GEZI PARK PROTESTERS SPEAK UP ON POLICE RAID
By Nilay Vardar, Bianet
Police raided Taksim Gezi Park early morning, casting tear gas bombs and allegedly burning tents of protestors who were staying overnight to stop the planned the project to turn the park into a shopping mall.
Speaking up after the police intervention in Taksim Gezi Park early morning, protestors reiterated that they were “here and not going anywhere”.
Following the police intervention at 5 am, protestors set up their tents again. The group received several politicians so far, including Peace and Democracy Party deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Republican People’s Party deputy chairperson Gürsel Tekin and deputy Umut Oran.
Due to an intervention made by deputy Önder, bulldozers are yet to start their engines. However, police detained Cenk Levi, who is in charge of Greenpeace’s energy campaign. Hazar Berk Büyüktunca, a protestor who hugged a tree, became subjected to police violence and got hospitalized.
“It was hard to see anything”
A witness who spent the night in the park said:
“We were sleeping. Patrollers shouted that police was coming. We didn’t know what to do. We just at on the floor and held each other by arms. Then police casted tear gas bombs at us. Even though I had a gas mask, it was unbearable. I walked almost 70 meters without seeing anytning. We all headed towards Şişli afterwards. After pushing us out, they casted more tear gas bombs from above. Then they just came closer. Police tanks were also spraying water at everybody. It went on around 45 minutes like that. We saw a black smoke from far away. Undercover police burnt out tents.”
“Police burnt our tents”
In a statement, Mücella Yapıcı from Chamber of Architects denied allegations that protestors burnt their tents themselves.
”Dear top official [PM Erdoğan] has ruled yesterday. He said: ‘I decided and it will be removed’. And then came the intervention at 5 am – the time of morning prayer – with tear gas bombs. It violated all sorts of jurisdiction, including the holy book he believed. Let him know well that we are here and determined. This is not only a park, this is where this country takes a breath. Come and join us your breath with ours.” (NV/BM)
The protests are expected to maintain throughout the day with different activities.
Video: Bimen Zartar
READ / VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbfiSBl1JPQ
* HALF A MILLION BRITONS USING FOOD BANKS. WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY IS THIS BECOMING
By John Harris, Guardian
Let’s not mess about: a skyrocketing number of people simply cannot afford to eat, thanks to deliberate government policy
Let no one say we didn’t see it coming. Half a million people are now accustomed to using food banks, and according to a report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty, the UK is now facing “destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale”. Whether this news will achieve the impact it deserves is currently unclear: it doesn’t quite feel like it, which only underlines how inured the media seems to have become to rising poverty, and how easily the government seems to be getting off the hook. Yet the facts are obvious enough: “Food aid” is something firmly built into our national life, the supposed safety net of social security is getting more threadbare by the month – and the question demands to be asked, not for reasons of melodrama, but hard political fact: what kind of country is Britain becoming?
According the Trussell Trust, the UK’s single biggest organiser of food banks, in 2011-12, the number of people who received at least three days’ emergency food was around 130,000. Their own informational material says that in 2012-13, “food banks fed 346,992 people nationwide”, and of those who received help, “126,889 were children”. Now comes this latest report, and the skyrocketing numbers speak for themselves – as does the mess of factors behind them, and the responsibility of the coalition for pushing up the demand – no, need – for food banks so drastically. While we’re here, it may also be worth cutting through the kind of officialspeak used to deal with such things: even the term “food bank” occasionally seems designed to obscure what’s actually afoot, which is simple enough. So, let’s not mess about: a skyrocketing number of people simply cannot afford to eat, and they have been put in that predicament thanks to deliberate government policy. […]
* THE UNITED STATES OF ALEC
Source: Bill Moyers
READ / VIDEO @ http://billmoyers.com/2013/05/30/alec-update/
* THE U.S. AND THE EURO-CRISIS: LESSONS FROM A COMPARISON
By Mark Weisbrot, AljazeeraThe eurozone recession is now the longest on record for the single currency area, according to official statistics released last week, as the economy shrank again in the first quarter of this year. A comparison with the US economy may shed some light on how such a profound economic failure can occur in high-income, highly-educated countries in the 21st century.
While the US economy is still weak and vulnerable, the record 12.1 percent unemployment in the eurozone is still a lot worse than our 7.5 percent here. The most victimised countries like Spain and Greece have unemployment of about 27 percent.
The contrast between the US and Europe is all the more striking because Europe has much stronger labour unions, social democratic parties, and a more developed welfare state. Yet the eurozone has implemented policies far to the right of the US government, causing needless suffering for millions more people. How does this happen? The answers have little to do with a “debt crisis” but everything to do with macroeconomic policy, ideology, and – perhaps most importantly – democracy. As such these questions are relevant not only to the populations of both of these economic superpowers, but to most of the world. […]
* WAKE UP CITIZENS OF THE WORLD