Dec 022016
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

1019309274

What can go wrong?

That he may not be “qualified” is unimportant.

That he’s never held a government or elected position is unimportant.

That on a personal level he may be a shmuck is unimportant.

What counts to me mainly at this early stage is that he – as opposed to dear Hillary – is unlikely to start a war against Russia. His questioning of the absolute sacredness of NATO, calling it “obsolete”, and his meeting with Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, an outspoken critic of US regime-change policy, specifically Syria, are encouraging signs.

Even more so is his appointment of General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser. Flynn dined last year in Moscow with Vladimir Putin at a gala celebrating RT (Russia Today), the Russian state’s English-language, leftist-leaning TV channel. Flynn now carries the stigma in the American media as an individual who does not see Russia or Putin as the devil. It is truly remarkable how nonchalantly American journalists can look upon the possibility of a war with Russia, even a nuclear war.

(I can now expect a barrage of emails from my excessively politically-correct readers about Flynn’s alleged anti-Islam side. But that, even if true, is irrelevant to this discussion of avoiding a war with Russia.)

I think American influence under Trump could also inspire a solution to the bloody Russia-Ukraine crisis, which is the result of the US overthrow of the democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014 to further advance the US/NATO surrounding of Russia; after which he could end the US-imposed sanctions against Russia, which hardly anyone in Europe benefits from or wants; and then – finally! – an end to the embargo against Cuba. What a day for celebration that will be! Too bad that Fidel won’t be around to enjoy it.

We may have other days of celebration if Trump pardons or in some other manner frees Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and/or Edward Snowden. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton would do this, but I think there’s at least a chance with the Donald. And those three heroes may now enjoy feeling at least a modicum of hope. Picture a meeting of them all together on some future marvelous day with you watching it on a video.

Trump will also probably not hold back on military actions against radical Islam because of any fear of being called anti-Islam. He’s repulsed enough by ISIS to want to destroy them, something that can’t always be said about Mr. Obama.

International trade deals, written by corporate lawyers for the benefit of their bosses, with little concern about the rest of us, may have rougher sailing in the Trump White House than is usually the case with such deals.

The mainstream critics of Trump foreign policy should be embarrassed, even humbled, by what they supported in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Instead, what bothers them about the president-elect is his lack of desire to make the rest of the world in America’s image. He appears rather to be more concerned with the world not making America in its image.

In the latest chapter of Alice in Trumpland he now says that he does not plan to prosecute Hillary Clinton, that he has an “open mind” about a climate-change accord from which he had vowed to withdraw the United States, and that he’s no longer certain that torturing terrorism suspects is a good idea. So whatever fears you may have about certain of his expressed weird policies … just wait … they may fall by the wayside just as easily; although I still think that on a personal level he’s a [two-syllable word: first syllable is a synonym for a donkey; second syllable means “an opening”]

Trump’s apparently deep-seated need for approval may continue to succumb poorly to widespread criticism and protests. Poor little Donald … so powerful … yet so vulnerable.

The Trump dilemma, as well as the whole Hillary Clinton mess, could have probably been avoided if Bernie Sanders had been nominated. That large historical “if” is almost on a par with the Democrats choosing Harry Truman to replace Henry Wallace in 1944 as the ailing Roosevelt’s vice-president. Truman brought us a charming little thing called the Cold War, which in turn gave us McCarthyism. But Wallace, like Sanders, was just a little too damn leftist for the refined Democratic Party bosses.

State-owned media: The good, the bad, and the ugly

On November 16, at a State Department press briefing, department spokesperson John Kirby was having one of his frequent adversarial dialogues with Gayane Chichakyan, a reporter for RT (Russia Today); this time concerning US charges of Russia bombing hospitals in Syria and blocking the UN from delivering aid to the trapped population. When Chichakyan asked for some detail about these charges, Kirby replied: “Why don’t you ask your defense ministry?”

GK: Do you – can you give any specific information on when Russia or the Syrian Government blocked the UN from delivering aid? Just any specific information.

KIRBY: There hasn’t been any aid delivered in the last month.

GK: And you believe it was blocked exclusively by Russia and the Syrian Government?

KIRBY: There’s no question in our mind that the obstruction is coming from the regime and from Russia. No question at all.

MATTHEW LEE (Associated Press): Let me –- hold on, just let me say: Please be careful about saying “your defense minister” and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of us are, so it’s -– she’s asking pointed questions, but they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned -– from a state-owned –

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet, Matt.

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet that’s not independent.

LEE: The questions that she’s asking are not out of line.

KIRBY: I didn’t say the questions were out of line.

……

KIRBY: I’m sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.

One has to wonder if State Department spokesperson Kirby knows that in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking about RT, declared: “The Russians have opened an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”

I also wonder how Mr. Kirby deals with reporters from the BBC, a STATE-OWNED television and radio entity in the UK, broadcasting in the US and all around the world.

Or the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, described by Wikipedia as follows: “The corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas … and is well regarded for quality and reliability as well as for offering educational and cultural programming that the commercial sector would be unlikely to supply on its own.”

There’s also Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty (Central/Eastern Europe), and Radio Marti (Cuba); all (US) state-owned, none “independent”, but all deemed worthy enough by the United States to feed to the world.

And let’s not forget what Americans have at home: PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio), which would have a near-impossible time surviving without large federal government grants. How independent does this leave them? Has either broadcaster ever unequivocally opposed a modern American war? There’s good reason NPR has long been known as National Pentagon Radio. But it’s part of American media’s ideology to pretend that it doesn’t have any ideology.

As to the non-state American media … There are about 1400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe (February 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”. Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the US mainstream media?

In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent”.

If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to US foreign policy?

Soviet observation: “The only difference between your propaganda and our propaganda is that you believe yours.”

On November 25, the Washington Post ran an article entitled: “Research ties ‘fake news’ to Russia.” It’s all about how sources in Russia are flooding American media and the Internet with phoney stories designed as “part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders”.

“The sophistication of the Russian tactics,” the article says, “may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on ‘fake news’.”

The Post states that the Russian tactics included “penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.” (Heretofore this had been credited to Wikileaks.)

The story is simply bursting with anti-Russian references:

  • An online magazine header – “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
  • “the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
  • “more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”
  • “stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”
  • “The Russian campaign during this election season … worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.”
  • “Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience”
  • “They use our technologies and values against us to sow doubt. It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.”
  • “Russian propaganda operations also worked to promote the ‘Brexit’ departure of Britain from the European Union.”
  • “Some of these stories originated with RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports.”
  • “a variety of other false stories — fake reports of a coup launched at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and stories about how the United States was going to conduct a military attack and blame it on Russia”

A former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is quoted saying he was “struck by the overt support that Sputnik expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the #CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.” McFaul said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening opponents and critics. “They don’t try to win the argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.” [Cynicism? Heavens! What will those Moscow fascists/communists think of next?]

The Post did, however, include the following: “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message. What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination. In the new Cold War the political spectrum in the mainstream media runs the gamut from A to B.

Cuba, Fidel, Socialism … Hasta la victoria siempre!

The most frequent comment I’ve read in the mainstream media concerning Fidel Castro’s death is that he was a “dictator”; almost every heading bore that word. Since the 1959 revolution, the American mainstream media has routinely referred to Cuba as a dictatorship. But just what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?

No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is (see the preceding essays), if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?

Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries. The Cuban president is chosen by the parliament, The National Assembly of People’s Power. Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since all candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have private corporations to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.

Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. Did we need the latest example of this travesty of democracy to convince us to finally get rid of it? If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?

Is Cuba a dictatorship because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement of five years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.

Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.

 

Jan 212015
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

EvilYanks

After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.

Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?

In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not 1, leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.

In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.

In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.

And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.

However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!

Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders”. 2 Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.

On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis Charlie … Nous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.

No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.

Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 3

And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. 4

I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:

“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?

“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”

Dumb and Dumber

Remember Arseniy Yatsenuk? The Ukrainian whom US State Department officials adopted as one of their own in early 2014 and guided into the position of Prime Minister so he could lead the Ukrainian Forces of Good against Russia in the new Cold War?

In an interview on German television on January 7, 2015 Yatsenuk allowed the following words to cross his lips: “We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. We will not allow that, and nobody has the right to rewrite the results of World War Two”.  5

The Ukrainian Forces of Good, it should be kept in mind, also include several neo-Nazis in high government positions and many more partaking in the fight against Ukrainian pro-Russians in the south-east of the country. Last June, Yatsenuk referred to these pro-Russians as “sub-humans” 6, directly equivalent to the Nazi term “untermenschen”.

So the next time you shake your head at some stupid remark made by a member of the US government, try to find some consolation in the thought that high American officials are not necessarily the dumbest, except of course in their choice of who is worthy of being one of the empire’s partners.

The type of rally held in Paris this month to condemn an act of terror by jihadists could as well have been held for the victims of Odessa in Ukraine last May. The same neo-Nazi types referred to above took time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Russians, Communists and Jews, and burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded … Try and find a single American mainstream media entity that has made even a slightly serious attempt to capture the horror. You would have to go to the Russian station in Washington, DC, RT.com, search “Odessa fire” for many stories, images and videos. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the 2 May 2014 Odessa clashes.

If the American people were forced to watch, listen, and read all the stories of neo-Nazi behavior in Ukraine the past few years, I think they – yes, even the American people and their less-than-intellectual Congressional representatives – would start to wonder why their government was so closely allied with such people. The United States may even go to war with Russia on the side of such people.

L’Occident n’est pas Charlie pour Odessa. Il n’y a pas de défilé à Paris pour Odessa.

Some thoughts about this thing called ideology

Norman Finkelstein, the fiery American critic of Israel, was interviewed recently by Paul Jay on The Real News Network. Finkelstein related how he had been a Maoist in his youth and had been devastated by the exposure and downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976 in China. “It came out there was just an awful lot of corruption. The people who we thought were absolutely selfless were very self-absorbed. And it was clear. The overthrow of the Gang of Four had huge popular support.”

Many other Maoists were torn apart by the event. “Everything was overthrown overnight, the whole Maoist system, which we thought [were] new socialist men, they all believed in putting self second, fighting self. And then overnight the whole thing was reversed.”

“You know, many people think it was McCarthy that destroyed the Communist Party,” Finkelstein continued. “That’s absolutely not true. You know, when you were a communist back then, you had the inner strength to withstand McCarthyism, because it was the cause. What destroyed the Communist Party was Khrushchev’s speech,” a reference to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 exposure of the crimes of Joseph Stalin and his dictatorial rule.

Although I was old enough, and interested enough, to be influenced by the Chinese and Russian revolutions, I was not. I remained an admirer of capitalism and a good loyal anti-communist. It was the war in Vietnam that was my Gang of Four and my Nikita Khrushchev. Day after day during 1964 and early 1965 I followed the news carefully, catching up on the day’s statistics of American firepower, bombing sorties, and body counts. I was filled with patriotic pride at our massive power to shape history. Words like those of Winston Churchill, upon America’s entry into the Second World War, came easily to mind again – “England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations would live.” Then, one day – a day like any other day – it suddenly and inexplicably hit me. In those villages with the strange names there were people under those falling bombs, people running in total desperation from that god-awful machine-gun strafing.

This pattern took hold. The news reports would stir in me a self-righteous satisfaction that we were teaching those damn commies that they couldn’t get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. The very next moment I would be struck by a wave of repulsion at the horror of it all. Eventually, the repulsion won out over the patriotic pride, never to go back to where I had been; but dooming me to experience the despair of American foreign policy again and again, decade after decade. 7

The human brain is an amazing organ. It keeps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, from before you leave the womb, right up until the day you find nationalism. And that day can come very early. Here’s a recent headline from the Washington Post: “In the United States the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”

Oh, my mistake. It actually said “In N. Korea the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.” 8

Let Cuba Live! The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba

On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.

The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)

The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.

However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died. 9 That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.

The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.

Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.

There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.

The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.

To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11. 10

Notes

  1. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
  2. Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
  3. Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001
  4. The Independent (London), April 24, 1999
  5. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over)
  6. CNN, June 15, 2014
  7. See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3
  8. Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6
  9. William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 30, for a capsule summary of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare against Havana.
  10. For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29
Feb 232014
 

El análisis de James Petras

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“Hay dos ejemplos en el tratamiento con oposiciones violentas. El caso de (Salvador) Allende en Chile, que toleró la oposición violenta hasta que dieron el golpe de Estado; y la otra es la respuesta de Fidel Castro en Cuba frente a los ataques violentos, que terminó quebrando la espalda al terrorismo y consolidó la revolución”, recordó el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras al analizar en CX36 (*) lo que está pasando en Venezuela. En ese sentido dijo que “o se rompe la cabeza de esta oposición para permitir la democracia o peligra que pase en Venezuela lo que pasó en Chile y otros países democráticos, que toleraron demasiado. Y las consecuencias de un golpe en Venezuela son terroríficas, porque lo que llaman fascistas van a lanzar una purga masiva y sangrienta. Yo prefiero 300 terroristas encarcelados que 30.000 militantes y pobres muertos”. En la oportunidad, Petras también analizó el fracaso de las negociaciones por la paz en Siria, la visita del presidente François Hollande a Estados Unidos y el creciente apoyo al levantamiento del bloqueo estadounidense a Cuba. A continuación transcribimos el análisis que Usted puede escuchar aquí: http://www.ivoox.com/james-petras-pide-carcel-para-leopoldo-lopez-por-audios-mp3_rf_2841456_1.html

Héctor Vicente: Estamos en contacto con el compañero Profesor y Sociólogo James Petras. Buenas tardes, ¿cómo está?

James Petras: Estamos muy bien.

HV: Hoy queríamos comenzar con la situación en Venezuela. Hoy, se reunió aquí en Montevideo la Mesa Directiva del Parlasur (Parlamento del Mercosur); y allí el presidente uruguayo José Mujica dijo que “hay un caldo de cultivo muy embromado en Venezuela” y la declaración aprobada lamenta “la escalada de violencia que se desató en el país” y exhortan al diálogo para terminar con la violencia. ¿Quçe reflexión le merecen estas declaraciones?

JP: Bueno, el diálogo siempre es buena idea siempre que los interlocutores de la oposición dejen la violencia y los esfuerzos de provocar un golpe de Estado. Hay una oposición que funciona dentro de la Constitución, respeta la Ley y el proceso político, y uno puede pensar en el diálogo con ellos, para ver como tranquilizar el país y resolver algunos problemas.

Pero cuando tratas con terroristas que actúan con cócteles molotov, que queman edificios y patrulleros, es el momento de aplicar la Ley. Es el momento de encarcelar a los violentos a los terroristas.

En ese sentido,  Mujica tiene que tomar en cuenta con quién va a dialogar, porque si en Uruguay empieza un sector de la derecha a quemar los campos de cultivos, si entran al Palacio de gobierno tirando cócteles molotov, estoy seguro que él va a llamar al ejército o la policía, para encarcelar a los terroristas.

Entonces podríamos decir que Mujica tiene –como siempre- la mitad de la verdad y la racionalidad, cuando pide al gobierno que abra un diálogo con la oposición. Pero, hay que distinguir entre oposición constitucional y oposición terrorista.

HV: En las últimas horas el gobierno venezolano denunció con pruebas concretas la injerencia de Estados Unidos en su país y expulsó a tres funcionarios diplomáticos de la Embajada de EE.UU. en Caracas.

JP: Este, es un acto con bases fundamentales, porque los acusados han funcionado en las universidades como asesores y financistas del sector más violento de los manifestantes. No funcionan como diplomáticos, están funcionando como asesores del terrorismo.

El hecho de que Washington de forma abierta y descarada esté interviniendo en marchas y protestas es una clara razón para expulsarlos. Por eso creo que Washington quería provocar la expulsión, ellos están buscando volver a romper las relaciones con Venezuela porque están en la onda del golpe, y quieren tener en ese caso un campo abierto de colaboración con los terroristas.

En el mismo momento que las expulsiones estaban en camino, el Secretario de Estado norteamericano, el canciller John Kerry, salió a defender a Leopoldo López que es el cabecilla del grupo opositor más violento, “Voluntad popular” se llama. Este grupo estaba incitando a tomar el control de las calles  e incitaba a la violencia, abiertamente declararon que van a tumbar al gobierno y a eliminar los procesos electorales.

La  próxima etapa es mañana martes,  para cuando este señor Leopoldo López está convocando a una marcha para entregarse a las autoridades. Pero este es otro pretexto. Porque él quiere tener respaldo en las calles en el momento en que se entregue.

El señor Leopoldo López es un doble entreguista: primero se entregó a Washington y ahora quiere poner frente a los violentos su entrega al gobierno venezolano para provocar más violencia. Esta forma de entregarse, culminando una marcha, me parece una enorme provocación, porque él quiere presentarse como mártir con respaldo popular.

Es una maniobra muy peligrosa de este señor, que es un agente violento de los peores sectores de los representantes de Estados Unidos. Leopoldo López es un terrorista con ningún antecedente democrático, es un personaje que busca la provocación y mañana actos de violencia, en el momento que Washington aumenta la tensión. Washington está lanzando una campaña en este momento considerando a Leopoldo López como un líder de la oposición, es un pretexto que debemos desenmascarar. Mañanas martes es un día decisivo para los violentos y los norteamericanos.

HV: Campaña que se desarrolla en las calles y también en los medios de difusión, porque han denunciado también desde el gobierno de Venezuela la tergiversación, la manipulación mediática, incluso utilizando fotos trucadas.

JP: Si, el gobierno debe intervenir en los medios. Ningún gobierno puede tolerar medios de comunicación fomentando abierta y descaradamente el terrorismo. Ningún gobierno, europeo, norteamericano, de ningún lado, podría tolerar medios vinculados a poderes subversivos –internos y externos- y que están en la primera línea para incitar un golpe de Estado.

Deben intervenir los medios en seguida y deben encarcelar a López antes de la marcha y no después cuando ya movilizó a toda la canallada en Caracas.

HV: Se publicó una encuesta realizada por Atlantic Council que revela que el 57% de los estadounidenses está a favor de normalizar las relaciones con Cuba y se afirma que en el Capitolio, hay un grupo bipartidista que está trabajando en revisar esta política hacia Cuba e impulsar políticas que alivien el bloqueo.

JP: Bueno, quiero sumar otro hecho trascendente, que es una encuesta realizada en Florida donde reside la mayoría de los habitantes de origen cubano, de ella surgió que el 62% está a favor de abrir relaciones con Cuba.

Es decir, la justificación utilizada por muchos comentaristas respecto a que el lobby de exiliados cubanos es la razón de la política hostil contra Cuba; ya no es así. Ahora, incluso la gran mayoría de los exiliados cubanos está a favor de entablar el relacionamiento con Cuba, entonces quedan con esa posición los Obama, los derechistas de la Casa Blanca y en sectores de ultraderecha, con la minoría de cubanos extremistas.

Quiero enfatizar que para muchos cubanos en Florida, es muy importante tener acceso a Cuba por las oportunidades para negocios, viajes, relaciones familiares, son muy fuertes. Únicamente un residuo derechista queda en la oposición, la nueva generación quiere volver y conocer el país; los hombres de negocios quieren volver a formar asociaciones con empresas cubanas; sectores norteamericanos que tienen interés de mejorar relaciones con América Latina también están a favor; diplomáticos que entienden que la política norteamericana queda en minoría de 3 contra 190 países también buscan terminar con el bloqueo. Pero el principal obstáculo en este momento es la Casa Blanca y el señor ultra reaccionario, Barack Obama.

HV: En ese marco, se supo que los ministros de Exteriores de la Unión Europea mandaran a la Comisión para que negocie un acuerdo político con el Gobierno de Raúl Castro.

JP: Es parte de la ola europea, de los hombres de negocios, los sectores mínimamente democráticos, que entienden que el bloque es ilegal, contraproducente, que hay cambios en Cuba hacia mejores perspectivas para los inversionistas, para el funcionamiento del mercado, de apertura política. O sea, un conjunto de factores para los sectores más iluminados que hacen que sea un momento de insertarse.

Ahora, la idea no es exactamente altruista, no podemos decir que es progresista. Ellos quieren ahora mejorar las relaciones para influir en el proceso de apertura del mercado, quieren aprovechar la introducción de inversiones privadas para ver si pueden utilizarlas para cambiar el régimen.

Del otro lado, el gobierno cubano les dice bienvenidas a las nuevas relaciones, porque ellos tienen confianza en el respaldo popular para limitar los cambios en el marco socialista.

En todo caso, nosotros subrayamos otro factor. La Casa Blanca de Washington queda desnuda, ni sus aliados más cercanos en Europa como Francia, Alemania e Inglaterra, están dispuestos a mantener la política actual. Otra vez podemos decir que Obama queda otra vez aislado con su política intransigente.

Otra cosa más. Una de las razones por las que Washington no está tomando en cuenta las mayorías a favor de las relaciones con Cuba; porque está preparando el golpe en Venezuela y sabe que Cuba es  el mejor defensor de Venezuela y su proceso democrático. Entonces no quieren mejorar las relaciones con Cuba al mismo tiempo que están tratando de derrocar al gobierno venezolano, quieren mantener a Cuba a la distancia para facilitar su intromisión en Venezuela.

Esa es la razón. Vinculan a Cuba con Venezuela y por eso, como están confrontando a Venezuela no quieren mejorar la situación con Cuba.

HV: El primer ministro israelí viene a América Latina; Benjamin Netanyahu  anunció que visitará México y Colombia.

JP: Hace tiempo que Israel está asesorando los Escuadrones de la Muerte en Colombia. Agentes del Mossad entrenaron a los paramilitares, hay confesiones de ex agentes del Mosasad que estuvieron muchos años en Colombia trabajando con el ejército y los paramilitares, e introduciendo nuevos sistemas tecnológicos para ubicar a los guerrilleros y los insurgentes.  Es normal que Colombia sea una parada muy importante.

Ahora en México también los sionistas tienen mucho poder. Recuerdo que hace unos años, cuando era columnista del periódico La Jornada, y cuando escribí un artículo criticando a Israel y a los sionistas como influyentes, los editores del periódico supuestamente progresista me avisaron que eso no podían publicar sobre el sionismo; incluso movilizaron columnistas supuestamente progresistas para criticarme. Y en poco tiempo con algunas provocaciones, terminaron mi columna.

Cuando averigüé con otras personas porqué terminaron mi columna me entré que el embajador de Israel tenía acceso a la editora del periódico.

HV: ¡Se terminó la libertad de prensa!

JP: Bueno, es todo relativo.

Los israelitas tienen un acceso incluso en los sectores progresistas de la prensa en México. Es un indicador del poder que ejercen los sionistas en México.

HV: Y además se recuerda que Israel fue invitado como observador en la Alianza del Pacífico.

JP: Si, es normal, porque ellos buscan entrar a todos los mercados para vender armas. Es uno de los principales exportadores de armas en el mundo especialmente un pequeño país que se especializa en drones y otros instrumentos de guerra. Entonces siempre buscan nuevos mercados.

Le agrego una cosa curiosa. Israel que siempre está al lado de Estados Unidos, es uno de los tres países que apoya el bloque a Cuba, no lo cumple. Israel tiene inversiones y comercio con Cuba a pesar de tomar posiciones junto a Washington a favor del bloque.

HV: El presidente francés François Hollande visita Estados Unidos, recibió un muy buen trato y firmó con Barack Obama una alianza para actuar en Siria y en Irán.

JP: Si, Hollande es de tradición francesa de social imperialismo. No hay que olvidarse de que los llamados socialistas franceses que estaban involucrados en los gobiernos coloniales de Indochina y Vietnam, por muchos años, destruyendo aldeas y quemando pueblos. Estuvieron en Argelia por muchos años tratando de destruir el Movimiento de Liberación Nacional; cuando los socialistas dejaron de gobernar llegó (Charles) De Gaulle al poder, firmaron el acuerdo para liberar Argelia.

Hay que tomar en cuenta que el socialismo francés tiene una larga historia de apoyar el colonialismo, el imperialismo; y este gobierno de Hollande no es una excepción: está en por lo menos cuatro guerras, en dos está activamente con tropas; en África esta involucrado en Libia; está involucrado en Siria.

Hollande es un guerrerista de la misma tanda que Obama, por eso tienen mucho en común, son masacradotes, intervencionistas. Y cuando uno habla de esto debe tomar en cuenta que en Francia, la popularidad de Hollande ha caído al 20%, es decir que el 80% rechaza su gobierno ; es un indicio de que cuanto menos apoyo interno, más abrazos con sus socios externos para mantener el régimen. Pero las guerras externas están con poco apoyo interno y ese es el dilema que tiene hoy Hollande.

Cuanto más busca abrazarse a Washington, menos apoyo interno tiene. No se si va a terminar su Presidencia en esta situación.

HV: Incluso Francia fue el primer país en sumarse cuando Obama dijo que había que intervenir en Siria.

JP: Si, no sólo sumarse, sino que después lo criticaron cuando no tiró las bombas. Es decir, los socialistas franceses quedaron a la derecha del Congreso norteamericano, cuando los congresistas norteamericanos incluso el Parlamento inglés rechazaron un nuevo bombardeo, esta vez a Siria, los franceses seguían apoyando un ataque frontal militar de los países de la OTAN.

HV: Se logró fijar una reunión entre las dos Coreas para el 20 y el 25 de febrero; algo que hace mucho no se daba.

JP: Hace muchos años que no se da, las dos Coreas tiene mucho en común, los pueblos coreanos sienten una unidad nacional, cultural y familiar más allá de las diferencias ideológicas y políticas. Lo que esta frenando esta reconciliación son las bases militares norteamericanas. Y cada vez que las naciones se acercan, Washington lanza ejercicios provocativos contra Corea del Norte para perjudicar ese acercamiento.

Corea del Norte está a favor de entablar negociaciones para terminar el bloqueo, la división, y cada vez que se pronuncian a favor Washington busca alguna provocación, como poner los barcos de guerra en la frontera marítima o cualquier otro tipo de provocación.

Si Estados Unidos dejara de presionar a Corea del Sur, por lo menos se darían los primeros pasos hacia una negociación satisfactoria.

HV: Bueno, como siempre le pedimos nos comente en qué temas está trabajando Usted en estos días.

JP: Bueno, el único  tema que nos queda porque estoy trabajando en la situación de Venezuela, que ya hemos tocado; pero el otro tema es el fracaso de las reuniones en Ginebra entre el gobierno de Siria y la oposición.

Los medios de comunicación en el mundo occidental culparon al gobierno de Bashar Al Assad del fracaso, pero si uno analiza cuidadosamente, se podría decir que la principal razón por el fracaso es que la oposición primero no está unida, incluso tumbaron al general del supuesto ejército opositor; están fragmentados en docenas de grupos y hay un auge de los terroristas de Al Qaeda, en consecuencia no tienen una línea coherente.

En segundo lugar, Washington no quiere una solución, busca continuar la guerra y tumbar al gobierno, lo mismo que Arabia Saudita.

Entonces cuando el gobierno sirio ofrece terminar con la violencia, permitir un cese al fuego, la oposición no puede aceptar porque no controla las propias fuerzas y en segundo lugar, ellos simplemente están negociando para tumbar al gobierno. Y eso no se puede negociar.

Se pueden tomar medidas preliminares, crear un ambiente para una elección.

El gobierno de Siria tiene una posición muy correcta, dice que la oposición ni las presiones externas pueden imponer un gobierno porque al final de cuentas es una decisión de los sirios, y una decisión de los sirios puede darse cuando haya fin de la violencia y el país esté en condiciones de presentar candidatos libremente y así decidir quién va a gobernar, a partir de proceso electorales.

HV: Es como lo que hablábamos antes de Venezuela, uno no puede sentarse a negociar con alguien que tiene una granda en la mano y con la disposición de agredir en cualquier momento.

JP: Es absurdo. Yo creo que el gobierno  de Maduro debe actuar con más energía. Es imposible pensar que terroristas de este alcance podrían funcionar en cualquier país democrático. Yo no conozco ningún gobernante que pueda permitir cócteles molotov y considerarlos oposición pacífica democrática. Es la gran mentira de Washington, la gran mentira de la BBC del New York Times, llamarla oposición pacífica democrática.

Creo que es demasiada light la respuesta de Nicolás Maduro, demasiado tolerante. Debemos recordar que hay dos ejemplos en el tratamiento con oposiciones violentas. El caso de (Salvador) Allende en Chile, que toleró la oposición violenta hasta que dieron el golpe de Estado; y la otra es la respuesta de Fidel Castro en Cuba frente a los ataques violentos, que terminó quebrando la espalda al terrorismo y consolidó la revolución.

Creo lo mismo, o se rompe la cabeza de esta oposición para permitir la democracia o peligra que pase en Venezuela lo que pasó en Chile y otros países democráticos, que toleraron demasiado. Y las consecuencias de un golpe en Venezuela son terroríficas, porque lo que llaman fascistas van a lanzar una purga masiva y sangrienta. Yo prefiero 300 terroristas encarcelados que 30.000 militantes y pobres muertos.

HV: Mañana es un día clave por lo que suceda en esa marcha.

JP: Si, creo que podemos esperar ver  un teatro de violencia, la entrega de López es simplemente el detonante para la confrontación. Ellos quieren ver sangre en las calles para una escalada violenta. Creo que estamos a la puerta de una gran confrontación.

HV: Petras le mando un gran abrazo, muchas gracias y nos encontramos el lunes.

JP: Un abrazo y saludo a la audiencia.

(*) Por encontrarse en California, hasta el 25 de febrero el Análisis de James Petras que se emite en vivo los lunes en CX36, sale a las 15:30 horas (local). Escúchelo en vivo en el 1250AM del dial uruguayo o por www.radio36.com.uy

Mar 222012
 

 

* FINALLY COMPETITIVE! PART-TIME JOBS IN GREECE FOR JUST 255 EURO GROSS

Source: KeepTalkingGreece

You happen to be in Greece and fortune bless you with a part time job? If you’re under 25 years old… you’d better stay home. All you can earn working 4 hours per day, 20 hours per week, 80 hours per month will give you just 255 euro gross. Net salary it is estimated a little lower than 200 euro. As much as your daddy can give you or your granny before her pension was cut. If you are over 25, you can get the amazing amount of 299 euro per month – gross. This applies to young professionals without previous work experience. And they are many. According to official statistics one out of two young Greeks under 25 are jobless. Unemployment in Greece is estimated at 20+%. The data for 2011 have not been released yet.

In a much better situation are employees with work experience of more than 9 years. A part-time job will give them 380 euro gross per month if they are over 25. If they are under 25 and have 3+ years working experience, they’ll go home with less than 280 euro.

These wages are formed after the decreases of 22% and 32% in the private sector.

The lawmakers (earning more than 5,000 euro per month) have decided so after the Troika’s pressure to increase ‘competitiveness’ in Greece. The wages cuts are valid retrospective from February 14. Employers can cut their employees’ wages even without their consent. […]

READ @ http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2012/03/21/finally-competitive-part-time-jobs-in-greece-for-just-255-eur-gross/

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* GREEK REGIME’S OFFICIALS ENJOY BIG SALARY INCREASES

Source: StopCartel

At this moment, when the Greek people have been victimized and are experiencing unprecedented conditions of poverty – while salaries of the ordinary citizens are being slashed left, right and centre -ministerial advisors and consultants can expect a pay rises of up to 26 percent, under measures announced on Wednesday!

Under the new pay scale, a minister’s head advisor with a higher degree will see his or her monthly salary increase from 1,691 to 2,271 euros. Overall, the increases will cost the exchequer 2.1m a year.

The above development constitutes a further challenge for the unemployed people,the pensioners, the homeless citizens and the employees in the public and private sector and it is more than certain that this news will trigger further social reaction and turmoil against the leading caste of the country in the coming period. […]

READ @ http://www.stopcartel.net/2012/03/15/POLITICS/Greek_regime’s_officials_enjoy_big_salaries_increases../1139.html

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* AMERICA’S DECLINE SINCE THE WTO

By James Moreland, Economy In Crisis

On January 1, 1995, the U.S. government joined the World Trade Organization. Unfortunately for our nation’s workforce, the WTO is run by multinationalists. It is a self-serving and undemocratic organization that operates outside of our control. Our constitution states that all treaties made under the authority of the United States become supreme law of the land. When our government signed this treaty, it effectively sold away a piece of our sovereignty. Because we have made this mistake, the bylaws of the WTO now supersede and negate those of our very Constitution.

Our laws, regulations and administrative procedures must now conform to the WTO treaty – making it the highest law and the highest court ruling over the United States, with no input from the American people. This most often ends up in an unjustifiably negative result for our country.

One of the biggest damaging contributors to come about as a direct result of the WTO was the entrance of China in 2001. According to the Economic Policy Institute, trade with China since then has resulted in the loss of over 3.1 million American jobs. Those fortunate enough to retain their jobs witnessed their annual earnings decrease by roughly $1,400. American workers are put in direct competition with one another as more and more employers look to offshore production to nations with lower wage rates.

Jobs losses have affected both white and blue-collar sectors of the economy. Over that time we have lost:

  • Over 600,000 (627,700) jobs in computer and electronic products,
  • Roughly 150,000 (150,200) in apparel and accessories,
  • More than 130,000 (136,900) in miscellaneous manufactured goods,
  • Over 150,000 (153,300) in administrative support services,
  • And nearly 140,000 (139,000) in professional, scientific and technical services. […]

READ @ http://economyincrisis.org/content/wtos-disastrous-effects

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* THE U.S. AND LATIN AMERICA DRIFT APART OVER CUBA

By Nil Nikandrov, Strategic Cultural Foundation

The slogan of the VI Summit of the Americas which will convene in Cartagena de Indias (Columbia) on April 14-15 – «Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity» – is intended to sound optimistic. At the forum, leaders of 34 countries of the Western Hemisphere plan to discuss an integration and regional cooperation agenda which, as they hope, will help them achieve their loudly stated goals of overcoming poverty and social inequality, maintaining security, and ensuring wide access to advanced technologies.

As before, Washington made sure that no invitation on the occasion was sent to Havana. US President Obama, Vice President J. Biden, and Secretary of State H. Clinton rolled out a standard grievances list – the suppression of free speech and public protests, the communist party’s dictate, and the imprisonment of dissenters in Cuba – to justify shutting the country out of the summit, while a number of US congressmen threatened to boycott it in case Raul Castro shows up. Thus the US diplomacy made a thinly disguised attempt to intimidate the ALBA leaders who felt very strong about their Cuban peer joining them at the forum.

Last February, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez expressed resolute opposition to the policy of isolating Havana and, citing the SELAC summit which condemned the inhumane US blockade of Cuba, warned that the US position prompted outrage across Latin America. In fact, the US pressure led ALBA countries to consider shunning the forum in response. For example, Bolivian president Evo Morales said the US conduct was undemocratic, discriminatory, and even racist as Cuba drives progressive change in the region and just one country – the US – should not be allowed to impose its approaches on the whole Latin America. […]

READ @ http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/03/22/the-us-and-latin-america-drift-apart-over-cuba.html

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* THE DALLAS FED IS CALLING FOR THE IMMEDIATE BREAKUP OF LARGE BANKS

By Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider

[…] Here’s the full letter from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, generally known as one of the most hawkish and conservative Fed Presidents.

Letter from the President:

If you are running one of the “too-big- to-fail” (TBTF) banks—alternatively known as “systemically important financial institutions,” or SIFIs—I doubt you are going to like what you read in this annual report essay written by Harvey Rosenblum, the head of the Dallas Fed’s Research Department, a highly regarded Federal Reserve veteran of 40 years and the former president of the National Association for Business Economics.

Memory fades with the passage of time. Yet it is important to recall that it was in recog- nition of the precarious position in which the TBTF banks and SIFIs placed our economy in 2008 that the U.S. Congress passed into law the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd–Frank). While the act established a number of new macroprudential features to help promote financial stability, its overarching purpose, as stated unambiguously in its preamble, is ending TBTF.

However, Dodd–Frank does not eradi- cate TBTF. Indeed, it is our view at the Dallas Fed that it may actually perpetuate an already dangerous trend of increasing banking industry concentration. More than half of banking industry assets are on the books of just five institutions. The top 10 banks now account for 61 percent of commercial banking assets, substantially more than the 26 percent of only 20 years ago; their combined assets equate to half of our nation’s GDP. Further, as Rosenblum argues in his essay, there are signs that Dodd– Frank’s complexity and opaqueness may evenbe working against the economic recovery. In addition to remaining a lingering threat to financial stability, these megabanks signifi- cantly hamper the Federal Reserve’s ability to properly conduct monetary policy. […]

READ @ http://www.businessinsider.com/dallas-fed-calls-for-breakup-of-big-banks-2012-3#ixzz1plgWWQ7l

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* ANOTHER HIDDEN BAILOUT: HELPING WALL STREET COLLECT YOUR RENT

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Here’s yet another form of hidden bailout the federal government doles out to our big banks, without the public having much of a clue.

This is from the WSJ this morning:

Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are lining up to become landlords to cash-strapped Americans by bidding on pools of foreclosed properties being sold by Fannie Mae…

While the current approach of selling homes one-by-one has its own high costs and is sometimes inefficient, selling properties in bulk to large investors could require Fannie Mae to sell at a big discount, leading to larger initial costs.

In con artistry parlance, they call this the “reload.” That’s when you hit the same mark twice – typically with a second scam designed to “fix” the damage caused by the first scam. Someone robs your house, then comes by the next day and sells you a fancy alarm system, that’s the reload. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/another-hidden-bailout-helping-wall-street-collect-your-rent-20120319

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* FAULT LINES – HISTORY OF AN OCCUPATION

Source: Aljazeera

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4VLYGfGDZg&feature=player_embedded

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* MAYOR’S OFFICE BUYS 8513 MORE FACE SHIELDS FOR NATO SUMMIT

By Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is buying 8,513 more face shields for Chicago Police officers at a cost of $757,657 — and demanding delivery in time for the May 20-21 NATO summit — to give every officer on the street a shield that fits over a gas mask and prevents them from being blinded by liquids thrown by protesters.

The supplemental purchase from Colorado-based Super Seer Corp. brings to $954,118 the amount of money spent to purchase 11,570 face shields twice as thick as the old ones with a larger surface and air-tight seal to keep liquids out.

The new contract was piggybacked onto an existing Fairfax County, Va. award with a third-distributor to expedite delivery. It makes it clear the Chicago Police Department is not scaling back its protest preparations even though President Barack Obama has shifted the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.

“It’s an urgent thing. They want ’em by May 15th. Their intent is to outfit all of the officers Chicago Police have with the new face shield for the NATO summit,” said Super Seer President Steve Smith, who is hiring a dozen employees to “ramp up” production. […]

READ @ http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/11443023-418/mayors-office-buys-8513-more-face-shields-nato-summit.html

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* ARGUMENT RECAP: NEW POWER FOR SECRET SERVICE

By Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog

With almost all of the Supreme Court Justices fretting openly about not fettering the Secret Service as it protects the President and Vice President, the government’s key protective agency appeared Wednesday on its way toward a new shield against being sued when it arrests someone it deems to be a threat.   The only question that seemed to be open in the one-hour argument was whether such a curb on lawsuits would be extended widely to police everywhere, when they are trying to keep control of a situation where people — in a crowd or alone — are saying controversial things that may seem threatening.

The technical issue before the Court was whether the Justices will allow a citizen to file a lawsuit claiming that a Secret Service agent arrested that individual in retaliation for speaking out against government policy, if they had some other reason to make the arrest anyway.  But the hearing quickly centered on the protective work that the Secret Service does for the government’s top officials, and the Justices began expressing concern about forcing those officers to think about whether they might face a damages lawsuit depending upon how they carry out that task.

Although the Court would be told, later in the argument, that this concern was misplaced, because there have not been very many claims in court of “retaliatory arrests” for exercising First Amendment rights, that did not seem to divert the Court from worrying over getting in the way of the White House security detail.  Justice Stephen G. Breyer repeatedly expressed anguish over the risks that confront high officials (himself the recent target of a house invasion by a robber), and told the Secret Service agents early in the argument that “you make a strong case” for legal immunity for agents when they make arrests of protesting individuals. […]

READ @ http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/03/argument-recap-new-power-for-secret-service/#more-141217

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* DISCUSSING THE MOTIVES OF THE AFGHAN SHOOTER

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

[…] There is, quite obviously, a desperate need to believe that when an American engages in acts of violence of this type (meaning: as a deviation from formal American policy), there must be some underlying mental or emotional cause that makes it sensible, something other than an act of pure hatred or Evil. When a Muslim engages in acts of violence against Americans, there is an equally desperate need to believe the opposite: that this is yet another manifestation of inscrutable hatred and Evil, and any discussion of any other causes must be prohibited and ignored. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/03/19/discussing_the_motives_of_the_afghan_shooter/singleton/