Mar 282012
 

 

* BANK OF AMERICA IS A RAGING HURRICANE OF THEFT AND FRAUD

By Matt Taibbi, OccupyWallStreet

There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America.

The first is that it’s corrupt. This bank has systematically defrauded almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of wiped-out retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake.

The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging. Bank of America is not just a private company that systematically steals from American citizens: it’s a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business. In fact, without the continued generosity of us taxpayers, and the extraordinary indulgence of our regulators and elected officials, this company long ago would have been swallowed up by scandal, mismanagement, prosecution and litigation, and gone out of business. It would have been liquidated and its component parts sold off, perhaps into a series of smaller regional businesses that would have more respect for the law, and be more responsive to their customers. […]

READ @ http://fthebanks.org/matt-taibbi-on-bank-of-america/

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* RADIATION ‘FATALLY HIGH’ AT JAPAN REACTOR

Examination of containment chamber of tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant’s number 2 reactor reveals extensive damage.

Source: Aljazeera

[…] The data collected on Tuesday showed the damage from the disaster is so severe that the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant. The process is expected to last decades.

The other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse shape. The number 2 reactor is the only one officials have been able to closely examine so far.

‘Dangerously high’ radiation

Tuesday’s examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber. Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel had breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor. […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/03/2012328112051435937.html

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* GULF FISHERIES IN DECLINE AFTER OIL DISASTER

Nearly two years after BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and scientists say things are getting worse

By Dahr Jamail, Aljazeera

[…] Poynot said that many people, even some of his employees, continue to be afraid to eat seafood from the Gulf, for fear of contamination by BP’s oil and dispersants.

“It’s hard to believe the impact of the spill,” Poynot added. “I have heard that some folks are still catching tar balls in their crab traps.”

Apparently, the fact that the State of Louisiana received $18m from BP for the Louisiana Seafood Safety Plan to test seafood, water and soil from across the coast is not helping to assuage fears.

Keith Ladner, a third-generation seafood processor in Bay St Louis, Mississippi, has it even worse.

“I’m worried about the entire seafood industry of the Gulf being on the way out,” Ladner told Al Jazeera in Biloxi, Mississippi. “We have taken constant hits like Katrina, the economy, and now BP. I’m now unsure how many of us will come back from this.”

Ladner reiterated what Al Jazeera has been hearing from fishermen, seafood processors and distributors all along the coast – that there has been a two-thirds drop in brown shrimp production, and white shrimp season was basically non-existent.

“The only brown and white shrimp we see now are from Texas or western Louisiana, where the oil didn’t impact directly,” he said. “And for oysters, Mississippi’s oyster reefs have been closed since the spill started. I have not purchased one single sack of oysters since the spill, and I won’t eat any from this area.” […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/03/20123571723894800.html

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* DOMINICAN JUDGE SENDS 4 SUSPECTED ANONYMOUS HACKERS TO JAIL FOR 3 MONTHS; NO CHARGES FILED

Source: AP

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — A judge in the Dominican Republic has ordered four suspected members of the loose-knit Anonymous hacker movement held in jail for three months during an investigation of their activities.

No charges have been filed, but the Dominican legal system allows for preventive detention. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/dominican-judge-sends-4-suspected-anonymous-hackers-to-jail-for-3-months-no-charges-filed/2012/03/27/gIQAjHT8eS_story.html

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* OBAMACARE’S SUPREME COURT DISASTER

By Adam Serwer, MotherJones

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. should be grateful to the Supreme Court for refusing to allow cameras in the courtroom, because his defense of Obamacare on Tuesday may go down as one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the court.

Stepping up to the podium, Verrilli stammered as he began his argument. He coughed, he cleared his throat, he took a drink of water. And that was before he even finished the first part of his argument. Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s—and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy. […]

READ @ http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/03/obamacare-supreme-court-disaster

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* REPEAL THE  “STAND YOUR GROUND” LAWS

By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

[…] The Florida law took effect in 2005. Five years later, the Tampa Bay Times said that reports of justifiable homicide across the state had tripled. The newspaper found cases in which the protection of Stand Your Ground had been invoked by persons who felt — perhaps with good reason, perhaps not — that they faced imminent attack in their homes. Those incidents were at least in keeping with the intent of the legislation. But the paper also found the law being used to excuse violence committed during fights at house parties, disputes between neighbors and disagreements in public parks.

“Gangsters are using this law to have gunfights,” Tallahassee state’s attorney Willie Meggs told the Times.

Following Florida’s lead, about 20 states have enacted similar legislation. I doubt you will be surprised to hear that the National Rifle Association has lobbied hard to get these dangerous and unnecessary statutes approved.

These laws encourage hotheads to go into potential confrontations with loaded firearms. They give permission to shoot first and ask questions later. This may be good for gun manufacturers, funeral homes and the NRA, but it’s tragic for justice in America. [...]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8139-repeal-the-stand-your-ground-laws

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* THE MODERN DAY GILDED AGE – IN 2012 TOP ONE PERCENT CAPTURED OVER HALF OF ALL IN COME GAINS. FROM EARLY 2009 THE S&P 500 IS UP 109 PERCENT BUT HOME PRICES ARE AT NEW LOWS FALLING ALMOST 34 PERCENT

Source: MyBudget360

Most Americans derive their net worth from the equity built up in their homes.  This has been the case for many decades.  As the stock market races upwards to stratospheric highs it is hard for many average Americans to understand why it is that economically they are stuck in the same place.  New tax data reveals that Americans are living in a modern day Gilded Age.  The massive income inequality has only been exacerbated in the recent grand recession.  Many Americans with a per capita annual wage of $25,000 have a hard time saving any sizeable amount of money once the cost of living is extracted from their income.  This trend has only continued and IRS tax data reveals that the gap between middle class and wealthy is only getting bigger.  This is why even in spite of a stunning stock market run, we have a record 46,000,000 Americans receiving food assistance and working class families are seeing very little growth in their real wages. […]

READ and CHARTS @ http://www.mybudget360.com/top-1-percent-wealth-gains-in-2010-top-wage-earner-growth/

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* GREECE’S FRINGE PARTIES SURGE AMID BAILOUT IRE

By Alkman Granitsas and Marcus Walker, The Wall Street Journal

ATHENS—Weeks after agreeing to an agonizing bailout deal with Europe, Greece is splintering politically ahead of national elections, raising the risk that it won’t be able to make the economic sacrifices still needed to keep it in the euro.

The election, not yet scheduled but expected in April or May, is shaping up as a public revolt against Greece’s political establishment, which has backed the austerity policies that are the price of financial life support from Europe and the International Monetary Fund. Mainstream politicians are increasingly painted as leading Greece into a debt trap, then impoverishing it in trying to escape.

As a result, Greece’s major parties, which have promised Europe they will enact yet another round of deep public-spending cuts by summer, are struggling for support.

Half the electorate plans to vote for radical opposition groups, ranging from Soviet-style Communists to anti-immigrant neo-Nazis, according to recent opinion polls. That could lead to growing political instability even if the established parties cling to power, undermining Greece’s ability to enact the drastic spending cuts and economic overhauls its creditors demanded. […]

READ @ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304177104577305691587114600.html

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* ROUGH JUSTICE: UK PROTESTER ALMOST KILLED BY COPS FACES JAIL

Source: RT

A British student who suffered a near-fatal blow to the head in police clashes during a student demo – is on trial himself for the violence. Alfie Meadows and 50 others ended up in hospital after the fighting during protests over tuition fees. He could be jailed for 5 years if convicted but, as Ivor Bennett explains, his supporters want to see the police face justice over brutality.

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzY7KQA2EsQ&feature=player_embedded

Mar 262012
 

 

* WHY DO WE PROTEST THE NATO SUMMIT?

By Buddy Bell, Truthout

After the end of World War II, a group of nations in the north Atlantic established NATO to impede Russian influence over the reconstruction of Europe and to facilitate their own. The economic blueprint begun under the Marshall Plan and continued with NATO saw European member countries shift their energy dependency from coal to oil at a time when the U.S. was the world’s leading oil producer, supplying more than a third of worldwide production from within its own (today, greatly oil-depleted) borders. A couple of decades earlier, the U.S. had already wrested from Britain effective control over vast petroleum reserves in Venezuela. This arrangement ensured that U.S. oil companies stood to make a fortune, setting a high price to fulfill Western Europe’s manufactured demand.

After the Cold War ended, the U.S. rebranded NATO and extended its mandate as a defender of liberty in regions beyond the north Atlantic. Seeing military action as a suitable solution to various global conflicts, it has had the effect of sowing discord and violence instead of alleviating these problems.

In Kosovo, NATO claimed that bombing the countryside would stop Yugoslav forces from invading homes and practicing summary executions of the Kosovars. Instead, Belgrade’s atrocities at ground level “kicked into high gear,” as was widely predicted by international aid workers, described in the Washington Post as “the only remaining brake on Yugoslav troops” and who were forced to leave their host villages when NATO commenced aerial bombing. Two years later, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia would issue an indictment against Slobodan Milosevic on 17 Kosovo-related war crimes, 16 of which happened after NATO’s entry into the conflict. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8079-why-do-we-protest-the-nato-summit?

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* SOLIDARITY VERSUS AUSTERITY: A REPORT FROM THE GREECE SOLIDARITY DELEGATION

Tansy Hoskins reports on her experiences on the trade union solidarity delegation to Greece organised by the Coalition of Resistance and the People’s Charter.

By Tansy Hoskins, Coalition of Resistance

Athens is a city of lit fuses. Graffiti covers buildings, pavements and statues like an angry rash. Burnt out and boarded up buildings are dotted around the city. Tension is palpable as people await the next demonstration, the next riot and the elections in April.

However, the crisis in Greece has gone beyond something that an election or a riot can resolve. It runs deeper than the question of who should sit in parliament, of how the debt should be paid off, or if it should be repaid at all. The crisis is now about the very fabric of society, of who should have control and for whose benefit society is run.

The 45,000 homeless people in Athens – many of whom spent a frozen winter sleeping in caves – are testimony to the total failure of capitalism to provide a decent standard of living. The loss of healthcare and unaffordable food prices means people are literally struggling to stay alive.

At the same time Athens still has its luxury shops, hotels and restaurants. There are multi-national corporations feasting on whatever the parliament decides to add to its corrupt garage sale of national assets.

But amongst the chaos and the poverty – and abandoned by traditional power structures – people have been taking control of their lives and communities. They face the huge opposition of international capital and all its manifestations but they have no choice – it is do or die.[…]

READ @ http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/03/solidarity-versus-austerity-a-report-from-the-greece-solidarity-delegation/

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* ABOUT BOROUME

Source: Boroume

“WE CAN”

“Boroume” or  “We Can”, is a voluntary initiative  that fights food waste and that coordinates the daily donation of surplus food to orphanages, soup kitchens, old age homes and other welfare institutions. Seeing the paradox that 1 in 11 citizens in the Attica region are struggling to secure enough food to feed themselves whilst at the same time tonnes of  good food is being thrown away everyday by restaurants, hotels, bakeries  and other food points, we decided to do something about it.

How we work

We work closely with welfare institutions, social workers in municipalities  and soup kitchens all over Greece in order to learn about their daily needs.  Everday we ensure that food from eateries, bakeries, fast food shops, restaurants and other companies gets donated to the above organisations. We do not stock or transport food, but make sure that it gets picked up directly by those who need it most. Our aim is for the food to be donated within the same neighborhood in order to strengthen the ties between people living in the same area.

In addition to the above:

  • we assist companies that want to donate food in  Corporate Social Responsibility programmes
  • we give personal advice to people who are in need of food and help them secure food on a daily basis
  • we hold food drives in schools
  • we work with hotels in the Attica region to help provide welfare institutions with necessary equipment as well as food […]

READ @ http://www.boroume.gr/english/

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* COLLECTIVE KITCHEN – ATHENS, GREECE

Source: EL CHEF

This is a video of direct action by El Chef the Che Gourmet and stands as a shining example of how a few people can make a positive difference when they take their power and use it to empower the community.

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/6tqg73j

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* MONSANTO, A HALF-CENTURY OF HEALTH SCANDALS

By Soren Seelow, Le Monde

Original article published in Le Monde - Translation by Siv O’Neall, Axis of Logic

The giant U.S. agribusiness Monsanto was found guilty on Monday Feb. 13, after being sued by a small farmer from Charente who had been poisoned by a herbicide. This event is a first in France. On the scale of the history of the one-hundred-year-old multinational, this sentence constitutes just one more episode in an already long record of court procedures.

PCBs, Agent Orange, dioxin, GMO, Aspartame, growth hormones, herbicides (Lasso and Roundup) … a number of products that have made the fortune of Monsanto, have been marred by health scandals and trials sometimes leading to their prohibition. But nothing has so far hindered the irresistible rise of this former chemical giant who converted back to biogenetics and has mastered the art of lobbying. Portrait of a multinational multi-recidivist. […]

READhttp://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=147725

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* THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO – FULL LENGTH FILM

There’s nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it — it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world. The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the “revolving door”. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market. Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rml_k005tsU

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* TOKYO SOIL SAMPLES WOULD BE CONSIDERED NUCLEAR WASTE IN THE US

By Fairewinds Energy Education

VIDEO @ http://vimeo.com/38995781

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* ARE THE GOP JUSTICES POLITICAL HACKS?

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews

[…] For instance, in a Nov. 8, 2011, legal opinion affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, conservative U.S. Appeals Court senior judge Laurence Silberman recognized this legal reality (even though he might not politically like “Obamacare”).

Silberman, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan but a serious constitutional scholar, explained how the law – including its most controversial feature, the individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance coverage – fits with the Commerce Clause.

“We look first to the text of the Constitution,” Silberman wrote in his opinion. “Article I, § 8, cl. 3, states: ‘The Congress shall have Power . . . To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.’ (Emphasis added by Silberman).

“At the time the Constitution was fashioned, to ‘regulate’ meant, as it does now, ‘[t]o adjust by rule or method,’ as well as ‘[t]o direct.’ To ‘direct,’ in turn, included ‘[t]o prescribe certain measure[s]; to mark out a certain course,’ and ‘[t]o order; to command.’

“In other words, to ‘regulate’ can mean to require action, and nothing in the definition appears to limit that power only to those already active in relation to an interstate market. Nor was the term ‘commerce’ limited to only existing commerce. There is therefore no textual support for appellants’ argument” that mandating the purchase of health insurance is unconstitutional.

Silberman’s last point bears repeating: There is “no textual support” in the Constitution for people challenging the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. […]

READ @ http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/25/are-the-gop-justices-political-hacks/

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* A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF WHAT LEGITIMATE AND NON-LEGITIMATE (ODIOUS) DEBT ARE

Source: youtube

Une vidéo très pédagogique sur la question de la dette publique, réalisée par Joris Clerté, Clémentine Autain, Cédric Durand, Razmig Keucheyan et Stéphane Lavignotte.

Translation and Subtitles by SnakeArbusto, it-just-keeps-getting-better

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPKkphMQSPo&context=C4c2a8b9ADvjVQa1PpcFMbHfiFoEU9wluGHxV9WYW9tWkkieLMUj8=

Mar 242012
 

 

* WON’T YOU PLEASE COME TO CHICAGO?

By Paul Street, CounterPunch

[…] What was Emmanuel thinking when in December 2010 he set Chicago up for an epic protest gathering? Here are my best guesses on the inner workings of “Rahmbo’s” egomaniacal brain at the time. Knowing that he’d probably be the new (post- Richard M. Daley) Kim Jong-Il of Chicago by 2012, he hoped that hosting two large international gatherings at the same time would burnish his civic strongman image while fulfilling his local commercial and corporate sponsors’ lust (foiled when Copenhagen turned down the city’s Olympics bid) to have Chicago’s new “global city” status acknowledged. He figured that economic justice and anti-austerity protest was a European and poor-nation phenomenon that would not pose serious risks in U.S. in the age of the great, fake-progressive pacifier Barack Obama. He figured that meaningful antiwar protest was also dead in the Obama era.  At the same time, he relished the prospect of crushing any protests that might emerge with an iron, militarized-policing fist and he looked forward to the likelihood of being able to use standard security concerns connected with the hosting of great power elite gatherings to deepen his capacity for repressing local citizens and workers. He did not know that the Obama pacification bubble would finally pop (three years after the bursting of the financial bubble) for many of the president’s former supporters and give rise in 2011 to a significant American popular upsurge against the wealthy Few and against economic inequality and its political consequences.

[…]

My feeling is that protest-minded radicals and progressives should still come to Chicago anyway to honor the legacy of Haymarket by protesting the G8 in absentia and NATO, Boeing, the Obama presidency/campaign, and the corporate Democratic Party in non-absentia. Leading Chicago activist Andy Thayer says that “NATO is, frankly, the de facto military arm of G-8 and anybody who’s upset with G-8 should be upset with NATO.” Things are a little trickier than that (since NATO target Russia is a G8 member) but Thayer is right to suggest that the war party and the money party are two wings of the same global state-capitalist bird of prey.  They are joined together on the back of the rapacious global vulture that is American Empire and Inequality, Inc. […]

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/23/wont-you-still-please-come-to-chicago/

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* #OWS MARCH FROM ZUCCOTTI PARK TO WALL STREET

Source: youtube

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

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* POLICE THREATEN TO SHOOT CITIZENS AT PROTEST MARCH 23, 2012 – OAKLAND

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6L7bC2-6AM

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* ABOUT 300,000 QUEBEC STUDENTS PROTEST TUITION HIKE

Source: Al Arabiya News

Tens of thousands of students protested Thursday against a 75 percent tuition hike at universities in Canada’s mostly French-speaking Quebec province, bringing downtown Montreal to a standstill.

“We want to study, not go into debt,” shouted the demonstrators, who converged on the metropolis from across the province, packing a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) stretch of the city’s main streets.

Since mid-February, nearly 300,000 students have boycotted classes, blocked bridges and held smaller protests around the province against the government’s plan to raise tuition by $1,625 over the next five years.

The fees will still be significantly lower than in other Canadian provinces and U.S. states, but higher than in many European countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Neighboring Ontario province currently charges the highest tuition in Canada, starting at $6,640 annually, compared to Quebec’s current fee of $2,200. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/03/23/202593.html

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* MONTREAL: MANIF NATIONALE ETUDIANTE 22 MARS 2012

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9CgD442YFRQ

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDTlyos3_LM

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* PORTUGUESE WALK OUT OVER GOVERNMENT CUTS

Source: EuroNews

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaHdY_a8kWI

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* WHILE BERNANKE GOES TO COLLEGE, DOES IT LOOK LIKE CORZINE MAY FINALLY BE HEADED FOR JAIL? 

Source: RT NEWS

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWYgYZpQPh4

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* THE 1% DOCTRINE FOR THE 99%

Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

By Mark Ames, Consortiumnews

[…] “If a company’s capital intensity doesn’t increase, profit per employee is a pretty good proxy for the return on intangibles. The hallmark of financial performance in today’s digital age is an expanded ability to earn ‘rents’ from intangibles. Profit per employee is one measure of those rents. If a company boosts its profit per employee without increasing its capital intensity, management will increase its rents.”

Extracting rent from “employees” as a business strategy: This is supposed to be the language of feudalism, not modern advanced capitalism — and yet this is the cutting edge in 21st century capitalist thinking, unashamed and unvarnished:

“One way to improve a company’s profit per employee is simply to shed low-profit employees. But if they generate profit greater than the cost of the capital used to support their work, shedding them actually reduces the creation of wealth.”

[…]

This is the language of plutocratic capitalism, a brutal system totally incompatible with democracy and antithetical to republican government and civilization. It is the language of misery, and misery is what “the 1 percent” is promising “the 99 percent” for years to come, in ever-greater doses.

READ @ http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/21/the-1-percents-doctrine-for-the-99-percent/

@ http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/21/the-1-percents-doctrine-for-the-99-percent/

Mar 232012
 

 

* OCCUPY CHICAGO READY FOR A SPRING OF DISCONTENT

By Mark Cassello, Leftist Indignation

[…] The Chicago Spring

Occupy the Midwest Regional Conference
The Chicago Spring began at the first ever Occupy the Midwest Regional Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This event ran from March 15-18, 2012 and brought together all of the occupations from throughout Midwest to share skills, network, and plan regional and national days of action. The conference commemorates the six-month anniversary of the Occupy Movement and began at 10:00 am on March 15, 2012 beneath the famed Gateway Arch. The organizers of the conference selected this site for its symbolic importance: the creation of the Gateway Arch displaced low-income residents after the city appropriated real estate for the project. Apart from meetings, a series of actions targeted Bank of America, Monsanto, and others during the conference.

Chicago Spring Kickoff
On Saturday, April 7, 2012 Occupy Chicago will host a series of events throughout the city with the support of various community and labor groups with which it is allied. In the morning, different occupations, unions, and community groups will hold actions in their neighborhoods or around their areas of interest. At 1:15 pm, the groups will converge at Jackson and LaSalle and then march to Grant Park where they will host a giant potluck dinner in the evening. This event will showcase the growing connections between Occupy Chicago and various other community and labor groups throughout the city; it is the debut of the post-winter alliances.

May Day, International Workers’ Day
On May 1, 2012, Occupy Chicago will join labor and immigrant rights groups for a massive action that they hope will reach or exceed the levels of participation witnessed in 2006. By all indications, May 2012 is ripe for large-scale civil unrest by labor and immigrant rights groups. Last year marked the largest assault on the rights of organized labor in the past thirty years. Republican governors such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Mitch Daniels in Indiana pushed through legislation that erodes workers’ rights to organize and to collectively bargain. The immigrant community was also under attack in 2011. States implemented harsh policies against undocumented individuals and made little effort to punish corporations who exploit these same individuals for profit. Controversial anti-immigration measures passed in Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. In addition, the Obama administration deported a record number of individuals while the remaining Republican presidential candidates’ stepped up inflammatory rhetoric against “illegal immigrants.” This antagonism unifies the Latino community and makes a backlash from the fastest growing segment of America’s population inevitable.

NATO / G8 Protests
Chicago will host the NATO summit on May 20-21. Occupy Chicago plans to elevate the struggles of its constituent communities to the national stage with help from its national and international supporters. On Saturday, May 19, 2012, Occupy Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) will host a day of actions. An opening rally is scheduled for noon at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.). Later, a large permitted march will make the 2.5-mile journey from Daley Plaza along State Street across to Michigan Avenue and then wind down to McCormick Place.

According to a statement on the CANG8 blog, the demonstrators will march in May during the NATO meeting to deliver an anti-war message: “Jobs, Housing, Healthcare, Education, Pensions, and the Environment: Not War!” Occupy Chicago anticipates that tens of thousands will be in the streets that day for a family friendly rally and march that CANG8 states will bring “cries so loud they will be heard in Camp David and across the globe.” These demonstrators claim they will “fight for our future, and speak out against the wars and their cutbacks are designed to benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99% of the world.”

Occupy Chicago has roundly criticized the priorities of Mayor Emanuel who has dwelled on the largely symbolic importance of hosting the NATO event while ignoring the literal needs of the city: “He’s bringing this monstrosity to our city and none of us want the G8/NATO here. It’s going to hurt business, burden the already cash-strapped city, and disrupt the lives of everyday Chicagoans in a way that may keep them from earning their paycheck, getting transportation to their job, or picking their kids up from school.” […]

READ @ http://markcassello.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/chicagospring/

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* CHICAGO NATO PROTEST HIT WITH RED TAPE

Will Rahm Emanuel’s bureaucratic maneuvers shut down NATO protests?

By Natasha Lennard, Salon

When the White House announced that the G-8 this coming May would be moved out of Chicago to the president’s sequestered retreat at Camp David, protesters planning to hit the Windy City streets celebrated the move as a victory: It seemed the mere prospect of their presence, with numbers expected in the tens of thousands, had run the G-8 out of town.

Plus the NATO summit, planned for mid-May in Chicago, would still be occasion for massive protests in the city. But, adding to obstacles posed by a host of strict new rules for protests introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Occupy groups and allies planning mass anti-NATO street actions are running up against reams of red tape. While the city granted a parade permit for a group planning to march during the proposed G-8 summit, a request by the very same group to move the parade back one day to coincide instead with the NATO summit has been denied. According to the Chicago Tribune, city officials cited “a lack of police officers as well as other security and logistics complications” because of the first day of the NATO summit as the reason for the permit rejection. The presence of 5,000 NATO delegates will put the city on lockdown; a mass march that day, they suggest, would overwhelm security and transport resources. The original request for a permit the day before was approved, a Law Department spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times, because the G-8 is significantly smaller than NATO. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/03/20/chicago_nato_protests_hit_with_red_tape/singleton/

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* M22 NYPD TRIES TO INCITE RIOTS AT OWS UNION SQUARE

Source: youtube

TOP COMMENT: Just like when they keep screaming “stop resisting” while they pile on top of you with10 guys.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1kMs93nM_M&amp

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* REPORTER MATT TAIBBI SAYS FRAUD AND BAILOUTS ARE THE SECRETS TO BANK OF AMERICA’S SUCCESS

Source: Democracy Now!

In his new article, “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail,” Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi chronicles the remarkable history of the rise of Bank of America — an institution he says has defrauded “everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed.” Taibbi describes how the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly propped up the financial institution, which received a $45 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008. Bank of America has also received billions in what could be described as shadow bailouts. The bank now owns more than 12 percent of the nation’s bank deposits and 17 percent of all home mortgages.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKmz1vCuNQk

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* US TAXPAYERS COMMENCE BAILING OUT ECB WITH GREECE AS AIN INTERMEDIARY

The US Taxpayer is unknowingly funding  the bailout of more banks in Europe and Greece through the International Monetary Fund.

By Alexander Higgens

Over the past few month we have made it expressly clear that as part of its bailout of European banks, all Greek “bailout” funding in the form of super senior first lien debt funded by the Troika (since the Greek balance sheet now has 7 distinct debt classes), which counts the IMF among its backers, which in turn means you, US taxpayers, will go to European banks and most importantly, that most undercapitalized hedge fund of all, the ECB, LLC. Said funding has now officially commenced. There are those Greeks who may read the following headline from Reuters with delight “Greece receives first tranche of new bailout aid”, at least until they get to the following part: “Greece has received the first 7.5 billion euros of aid from its new EU/IMF bailout, with the bulk of the payment going to repay bonds held by the euro zone’s central banks, government officials said on Tuesday.” So while the Greek may particularly care that not only will they not see much if any of the actual bailout cash, and in fact will soon have to start using their gold to fill the capital shortfall as reported here, we are curious what the response will be from US taxpayers, who are on the hook for about 17% of IMF funding, as the money starts trickling in, however not for some old-fashioned concepts such as stimulating jobs, but simply to indirectly, with Greece as a conduit, bailout Europe’s insolvent central banks. […]

READ @ http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/21/taxpayers-commence-bailing-ecb-greece-intermediary-102071/

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* ARE THE EUROPEAN BANKS SAVING GREECE OR SAVING THEMSELVES?

By Kevin Featherstone, UK Guardian

Who is rescued by the bailouts of the European debt crisis? The question won’t go away. Last week, Greece was granted a second bailout in order to avoid a catastrophic disorderly default. Few observers believe it will be enough to avoid the need for a third bailout, at least in the medium term. This week, the story of the euro crisis has shifted to Portugal as expectations rise on the financial markets that she too will need a second bailout. It wasn’t supposed to be like this: Greece’s first bailout almost two years ago was to be a one-off; more recently, EU leaders have repeatedly insisted that there would be no repeat of its second package. Once again, they appear King Canute-like: whatever their claims, they cannot turn back the waves of scepticism from the markets.

The Greek banks – vital to the provision of new investment in an economy facing a sixth year of continuous recession – have certainly not been “rescued”. The haircuts on the Greek debt of 53%, imposed in the name of PSI (private sector involvement), have severely damaged them, but this is compounded by their losses of about a further 20% on the new bonds they were forced to accept. The banks now face large-scale nationalisation. So, a sector that has only in the last two decades been freed to operate as private institutions and has shown a vibrancy for growth and foreign takeovers unmatched in other parts of the Greek economy, is now to be returned to the hands of a political class lambasted for its lack of economic discipline. How this might be a stimulus to a more competitive economy is decidedly unclear.

[…]

The problem is in how Greece is being rescued. The bailouts have increasingly shifted to the imposition of severe cuts across the board. In the past two years, Greece has implemented a reduction of its budget deficit unprecedented not only in the EU, but in the entire OECD area. But the new terms insist on the sacking of 15,000 public servants each year for the next 10 years. The number has been arrived at purely from the budget constraint.

I know from my own involvement with Greek policymaking in the area of research policy that the bailout constraint is being imposed as a series of short-term fixes, eschewing efforts at long-term planning.

Crucially, there is no steer or stimulus here as to how the Greek system should be remodelled in order to shift to a better path of development. The obsession is with the budget balance, not with selectivity or design. The political effect at home is to create a simplistic divide between those for or against austerity, rather than leading a substantive debate on real structural reforms.

With such a charge, the EU and IMF representatives – composing the troika overseeing the Greek bailout – march into ministerial offices on a weekly basis to check that the targets are being met. These second- or third-level officials bask in their unprecedented authority. Stories abound of them walking into meetings with senior ministers, discarding the niceties of a polite greeting, and shouting straightaway, “So, what have you achieved, then?” Young bureaucrats from Brussels lead meetings with ministers ostentatiously giving scant attention to the oral reports offered to them, as they turn sideways and play with their BlackBerrys. In the name of “Europe”, a neocolonial arrogance underscores the fixation with the budget accounts. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/22/greece-european-banks-eurozone

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* GREEKS ADOPT ALTERNATIVE CURRENCIES AS ECONOMY IMPLODES

By Alex Newman, New American

[…] The TEM system works by allowing people in the community to set up an account on an online network, connecting them with others in the area with various needs and a wide array of services to offer. Users also receive a sort of booklet allowing them to essentially write “checks” to pay for goods and services.

A real market where people can meet to trade in TEMS is also a key component of the emerging network. And efforts are currently underway to establish a daily market in an unused building for locals to engage in commerce using their system.

Babysitters, farmers, teachers, electricians, barbers, bakers, computer technicians, opticians, veterinarians, and more are all represented. Most traders accept both euros and TEMs, or some combination of the two.

Member accounts start with zero TEMs, although users are allowed to borrow up to 300 units if they agree to repay it over a certain time period. And to prevent “hoarding,” the system’s managers explained, no user is allowed to have over 1,200 units of the currency.

“It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist Bernhardt Koppold, an active member of the Volos network, told the UK Guardian. “It’s also a way of showing practical solidarity — of building relationships.”

Dozens of other users expressed similar sentiments about their budding system. Co-founders of the TEMs network also explained that if the crisis were to spiral further into the realm of cataclysm, the alternative-currency system could help take up the slack — ensuring that a functioning economy would allow people to continue trading for survival. […]

READ @ http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-mainmenu-26/europe-mainmenu-35/11265-greeks-adopt-alternative-currencies-as-economy-implodes

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* GREECE ON THE BREADLINE: CASHLESS CURRENCY TAKES OFF

A determination to ‘move beyond anger to creativity’ is driving a strong barter economy in some places

By John Henley, UK Guardian

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy: beware), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work – repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light – for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people’s accounts.

“It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” said Bernhardt Koppold, a German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist in Volos who is an active member of the network. “It’s also a way of showing practical solidarity – of building relationships.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/16/greece-on-breadline-cashless-currency?newsfeed=true

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* GREECE ON THE BREADLINE: HOW LEFTOVERS BECAME A MEAL

Jon Henley visits Boroume which puts restaurants with unsold food at the end of each day in touch with soup kitchens 

By John Henley, UK Guardian

It used to annoy Xenia Papastavrou, the way Greek tavernas always give you loads of bread, way more bread than you can eat. She started taking it home, just to avoid the waste. Then one night last year a waiter suggested she might as well take all that day’s leftover bread away with her, and she had an idea.

“I thought, there must be lots of other restaurants in this situation, too,” Papastavrou said. “And I was sure none of them knew where they could usefully give it. And at the same time, I knew there were many, many welfare organisations in this crisis that were spending good money on buying fresh bread. It just needed someone to put the two together.”

Boroume – it means “we can” in Greek – was born last May in Papastavrou’s living room. “I went first to the two bakeries nearest my home, and they were only too delighted to help,” she said. “An average bakery could have as much as 30kg of unsold bread at the end of the day. I told a soup kitchen three minutes away, and they couldn’t believe their luck.”

A volunteer at Athens’ Food Bank, Papastavrou promptly put her masters degree on hold and enlisted the help of friends to build a web platform on which companies with any kind of fresh surplus food could offer it, and welfare groups that needed it could accept. She started talking about the idea on Facebook and Twitter, and one of Greece‘s biggest newspapers, Kathimerini, wrote about it.

In under a year, the organisation has grown fast. Venetis, the country’s largest chain of bakeries with more than 50 outlets, is one of 70 Boroume donors that now include the Athens Attica Hotel Association, fast-food chains, grocers and multinationals like IKEA. Private families around the country also donate, as do Greeks from the diaspora in Canada, Australia and the US.

A network of some 400 welfare organisations, from old people’s homes and orphanages to drop-in centres for the homeless and church, voluntary and municipal soup kitchens, takes up the donations. Astonishingly, one in 11 residents of greater Athens – some 400,000 people – now visits a soup kitchen daily.

The group’s Facebook page has 5,000 friends. A team of 15 volunteers man the website and phones, putting donors in touch with nearby recipients – to save time and resources, Boroume limits its role to that of intermediary. “We just put them in touch,” said Papastavrou. “After that, they can deal directly with each other.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2012/mar/14/greece-breadline-leftovers-dinner

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* BRADLEY MANNING HEARING DAY 2 

Source: youtube

It is day two of the latest Bradley Manning hearing at Fort Meade. The whole thing wrapped in about 25 minutes. However we did learn the fate of the motion filed by Coombs yesterday. The judge ruled against the defense’s motion to gain access to classification authorities. She said she’s quite happy with the way authorities have determined who the defense can and cannot use as a witness. She said the government did a bang up job during the Article 32 hearing back in December, and if they did their job then, then she just blindly trusts that they’ve done their job this time around too.

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXqnwNq-jX8&feature=uploademail

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* 2 U.S. JUDGES PLEAD GUILTY TO SELLING CHILDREN TO PRIVATE PRISONS

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Penn. Judges Plead Guilty To Taking Bribes For Placing Youths in Privately Owned Jails 1 of 2

An unprecedented case of judicial corruption is unfolding in Pennsylvania. Several hundred families have filed a class-action lawsuit against two former judges whove pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for placing youths in privately owned jails. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are said to have received $2.6 million for ensuring juvenile suspects were jailed in prisons operated by the companies PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. Some of the youths were jailed over the objections of their probation officers. An estimated 5,000 juveniles have been sentenced by Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2002. We speak to two youths sentenced by Ciavarella and to Bob Schwartz of the Juvenile Law Center.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4q7p3ME95E&feature=share

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* DON’T TALK TO POLICE

Source: youtube

A law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6wXkI4t7nuc

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/

Mar 212012
 

* WAR ZONE IN CANADA – POLICE SHOOTING EXPLOSIVES AT STUDENTS’ HEADS

In a scene resembling a war zone, Montreal police fire explosives, tear gas canisters and other weapons directly at the heads of student protestors.

By Alexander Higgins

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEOS @ http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/16/war-zone-canada-police-shooting-explosives-students-heads-97821/

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* POLICE BRUTALITY – ZUCCOTTI PARK MARCH 17 #OWS

Source: youtube

NYC, March 17: the NYPD violently cleared Zuccotti Park, ending celebrations of Occupy’s six month anniversary.

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiDP0-E7Vtc&feature=share

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* AFGHAN MASSACRE: REPORTS IN U.S. AND OVERSEAS MEDIA VASTLY DIFFERENT

By Gregory Patin, Examiner

In the early morning hours of March 11 in the volatile Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, 16 Afghan civilians, 9 of them children, were shot or stabbed to death by at least one American soldier. Some of the bodies were burned. While both U.S. media and overseas media reports agree on that, the reports vary widely concerning information beyond those basic facts.

U.S. Media Reports

Every major U.S. network, cable and print media outlet report that the killings were done by a single U.S. soldier who left a small combat outpost and walked into two nearby villages. After a six-day blackout of public information about the shooter, he was identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales of the 3rd Stryker Brigade based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. A surveillance video was produced that shows Bales surrendering to guards at the base in Afghanistan. No need to quote sources or post links – all of the above is common knowledge to anyone following the story in the U.S. The reports echo President Obama’s statement on March 12: “It appeared you had a lone gunman who acted on his own.”

[…]

The Pajhwok Afghan News reported on March 15 that:

A parliamentary probe team…spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders, survivors and collecting evidences (sic) at the site in Panjwai district. [Lawmaker] Hamizai Lali told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings. “We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” he said.

He added the attack lasted one hour involving two groups of American soldiers in the middle of the night on Sunday. “The villages are one and a half kilometre from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups.”

The parliamentary probe report was picked up by many foreign media outlets, including IRIB in Iran, Russia Today, DeMorgen.be in Belgium, Mondoweiss in Israel and Reuters UK edition. DeMorgen.be quoted Karzai saying “According to our people, the act is not performed by a single man and it was a conscious and deliberate act.”

Tabish Qayyum, an editor for a Pakistani publication called The Fortress, writes on the PakNationalists blog:

According to live accounts and eyewitnesses, multiple weapon sounds were heard, including pistols and machine gun bursts simultaneously. The houses attacked are at least two miles apart. It is not possible for a single gunman to kill and burn people in one house and then run several kilometers to do the same thing again without being resisted and overpowered. […]

READ @ http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-madison/afghan-massacre-reports-u-s-and-foreign-media-vastly-different

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* ANOTHER ONE PERCENT – DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE JOINED ALEC

Source: DownWithTyranny

There probably isn’t a more serious institutional threat to democracy in America than the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

It’s basically a right-wing Republican organization working diligently to take away the rights of ordinary working people to implement the one-percent agenda. But there are a few reactionary Democrats who have been involved as well– maybe 1%. The only congressional Democrats with ALEC ties I could find are Joe Manchin (WV), Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Ed Perlmutter (CO), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), and Kurt Shrader (Blue Dog-OR). And there are no Democratic governors toiling along with Jan Brewer (AZ), Terry Branstad (IA), John Kasich (OH), Bob McDonnell (VA) and Scott Walker (WI) to implement the ALEC agenda. The only Democrats on the ALEC board of directors are state Senator Steve Faris (AR) and ex-Rep. Dolores Mertz (IA).

Most states don’t have any Democrats from their state legislatures in ALEC. Basically they’re Republican political clubs. Many states will have one or two Democrats in a toiletful of Republicans. Like Wyoming, for example. There are 24 state reps and 11 senators who are ALEC members. Only one, state Sen. John Hastert, is a Democrat. And then there are a few states– Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas– with a half dozen or more Democrats have joined up. Interestingly, one Kentucky state Rep. Robert Damron, was a member and then quit last year saying he no longer attends ALEC meetings because ALEC has “become, in the last few years, so partisan… The last meeting I went to, they spent all their time bashing Democrats. I don’t particularly care for an organization that’s so partisan.” On the other hand, Gov. Rick Perry (who’s gotten between two and three million dollars from ALEC) was a member back when he was a Democratic state rep. And there’s extreme right former state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who the DCCC has been trying to elect to Congress, who was not just a member of ALEC– the only one in the West Virginia legislature– but also West Virginia’s state chairman! […]

READ @ http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2012/03/another-one-percent-democratic.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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* PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET INCLUDES $3 TRILLION GIVEAWAY TO CORPORATIONS, THE RICH

By Travis Waldron, Think Progress

The budget unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) this morning includes substantial changes to the American tax code, both for corporations and individuals. Ryan’s tax plan shrinks the number of income tax brackets from six to two, with marginal tax rates set at 10 percent and 25 percent. He repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), slices the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and repeals all of the health care taxes contained in the Affordable Care Act. It also repeals the repatriation tax on profits corporations earn overseas then bring back to the United States.

In all, those tax breaks amount to a $3 trillion giveaway to the richest Americans and corporations, according to the Tax Policy Center. Repealing the repatriation tax would add roughly $130 billion to that.

This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Ryan insisted that the plan would generate the same amount of revenue as the government currently receives. In true Ryan form, though, he wouldn’t say how: […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/20/448057/paul-ryan-claims-to-maintain-revenue-in-budget-that-gives-away-3-trillion-to-corporations-and-the-wealthy/

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* UNAFFORDABLE CO-PAYS AND DEDUCTIBLES, DEATH BY A MILLION CUTS FOR INSURED AMERICANS

By nyceve, Daily Kos

If we had  a functioning healthcare system, sick people would be able to access care and healthy people would not fear the financial consequences of illness.

We’re told by politicians from both political parties that we Americans need to take personal responsibility and buy private, for-profit health insurance. We need to buy this junk insurance when we’re healthy and pray we never need to use it.

Pray indeed.A cancer diagnosis even for someone with insurance, is a battle for your life, and a battle to avoid bankruptcy.  Because skyrocketing copays and deductibles put so much of the financial burden on the shoulders of patients, sick people are having to decide treatment plans based on cost, not what may be most medically efficacious.

We live in a country where healthcare is a privilege of the affluent, and for those who still have  employer provided coverage. But employer coverage, long the backbone of the U.S. healthcare system, is unraveling at a frightening pace.

Paul Krugman has a link this morning to an explosive report on the declining number of Americans with employer health coverage. […]

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/18/1075489/-Unaffordable-co-pays-and-deductibles-death-by-a-million-cuts-for-insured-Americans

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* DARRELL ISSA HOLDS ANOTHER ALL-MALE PANEL IN BROOKLYN, THIS TIME ON FORECLOSURES’ GETS MIC-CHECKED

By Sarah Jaffe, Alterned

Immediately after the gavel, activists mic-checked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) at a Congressional hearing in Brooklyn, one of the communities hardest hit by housing crisis. Mimi Pierre-Johnson from New York Communities for Change speaks here.

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/864639/darrell_issa_holds_another_all-male_panel_in_brooklyn%2C_this_time_on_foreclosures%3B_gets_mic-checked/

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* BRINGING JUSTICE TO FELON BANKERS, IN SEVEN EASY STEPS

New evidence points to illegal behavior. Prosecution is the only way to keep that behavior from continuing.

By Bruce Judson, National Memo

It’s now a near certainty that Wall Street executives committed felonies.

The recently released audits of robo-mortgage activities by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) details shocking behavior at the five banks constituting the Federal Housing Administration’s largest mortgage servicers. At Wells Fargo, management quashed a midlevel manager’s study of the foreclosure process as negative results began to emerge, and it gave an individual whose last job had been in a pizza restaurant the title of “vice-president of loan documentation” to facilitate robo-mortgage signing. Bank of America evaluated employees on the volume of foreclosure affidavits produced. JP Morgan Chase gave individuals titles such as “vice-president of Chase Home” where “the titles were given by Chase for the sole purpose of allowing individuals to sign documents and came with no other duties or authority.” Citigroup and Ally similarly engaged in seemingly illegal practices.

Under federal law, the knowing filing of a false affidavit with the court is a felony offense of perjury, punishable by a prison term of up to five years. An individual violates laws against perjury whether he or she personally appears in court and swears to a false statement or provides the court with a false affidavit. Individual states have their own perjury laws, which were undoubtedly violated as well. The HUD report also suggests that individual banks may be guilty of obstruction of justice and the criminal violation of the False Claims Act for filing insurance claims without following HUD requirements.

Since the start of the financial crisis, federal and state officials have been struggling to change Wall Street behavior. To date, every effort has failed miserably, and the weak enforcement provisions of the robo-mortgage settlement are unlikely to meaningfully change this dynamic. Government officials have also relied, with a very few exceptions, entirely on civil enforcement when criminal laws appear to have been egregiously violated. […]

READ @ http://www.nationalmemo.com/article/seven-day-plan-finally-hold-wall-street-accountable

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* HOW GOLDMAN SACHS HELPED MASK GREECE’S DEBT

Source: youtube

VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07-hA9DW-Po

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* EXECUTIVES FROM CHEVRON, TRANSOCEAN HELD IN BRAZIL 

By Common Dreams Staff

Brazil has barred 17 executives from Chevron and Transocean from leaving the country while an investigation over charges for an oil spill is underway.

A Brazilian federal judge has required the executives to submit their passports to police within 24 hours.

Chevron is facing a lawsuit over an oil spill in November off Brazil’s Atlantic coast. And yesterday Brazil said it spotted oil near same offshore field. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/03/18-1

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* MICHAEL BLOOMBERG STRIKE AGAIN: NEW YORK CITY BANS FOOD DONATIONS TO THE HOMELESS

Source: CBS News

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s food police have struck again!

Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Glenn Richter arrived at a West Side synagogue on Monday to collect surplus bagels — fresh nutritious bagels — to donate to the poor. However, under a new edict from Bloomberg’s food police he can no longer donate the food to city homeless shelters.

It’s the “no bagels for you” edict. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/03/19/bloomberg-strikes-again-nyc-bans-food-donations-to-the-homeless/

Mar 202012
 

 

* CHICAGO OFFICIALS DENY PERMIT FOR MAY 20 NATO PROTEST MARCH

By David Heinzmann, Chicago Tribune

After approving a parade permit for a group protesting the G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago, the city has denied an identical application by the same group seeking to move their parade one day later in the wake of the White House’s decision to move the G-8 conference.

The demonstrators asked to move their march from Saturday, May 19, after word came that the G-8 meeting scheduled to start that day had been moved by President Barack Obama to Camp David. The protesters filed a permit that was identical to the one the city approved for Saturday, except the date of protest was moved to Sunday, May 20, when the NATO meeting is set to start.

But this time the city rejected the request, citing a lack of police officers as well as other security and logistics complications from the very summit the demonstrators are seeking to protest. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-chicago-officials-deny-permit-for-may-20-nato-protest-march-20120319,0,6729053.story

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* RAHM NEW TRIER TOAST CRASH 2012

Source: youtube

At a recent event, Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanual, received an award from New Trier High School. Protesters took the opportunity to toast his ‘accomplishments’ of closing health clinics, schools, eliminating jobs and ignoring the poor, denying resources to schools, including 160 schools without libraries / librarians. In a demonstration of  his own blatant hypocrisy, Rahm hollowly defended the protesters by citing the First Amendment. This event was attended by about 250 people and raised $68,000.00. The cost of attendance was $150.00 per plate.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsPbvsC4AT0&feature=player_embedded

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* 5 FREEDOM-KILLING TACTICS POLICE WILL USE TO CRACK DOWN ON PROTESTS IN 2012

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

The First Amendment right to assemble and protest is going to get a black eye in 2012—as it has every time there has been an upsurge in America’s social justice movements.

Already in city after city, protesters and civil rights lawyers are troubled by proposed and newly enacted anti-protest rules, many of which are likely to be found unconstitutional if they have their day in court. In the meantime mayors, police and in some cases federal agencies are making detailed plans to thwart protests at local and national events.

In many cities, ordinances aimed at Occupy protesters are emerging to restrict protests and anything resembling camping on sidewalks, streets and parks. New fees are being drawn up to discourage large demonstrations. Anti-leafleting and postering rules are also muzzling people trying to spread the word about events. And all of that is being shepherded with a new pretext for using paramilitary tactics, replacing last year’s “health and safety” excuse for sweeping away Occupy sites with the rationale of protecting “national security” in a presidential election year. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/154577

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* IS VOTING A SOLUTION?

By Dennis Loo, OpEdNews

Is the solution more democracy and how do elections fit into that picture since this session’s title is “Is Voting a Solution?” “How do we get there from here?” would be another way of putting this question.

A basic disagreement exists within the Left between those who argue that elections are important for the Left to participate in — usually lesser evilism – and those who argue that elections are not the avenue for the Left. I belong in the latter camp and devote a chapter to this question and related issues that I discuss in depth – democratic theory in particular – in my book Globalization and the Demolition of Society. In that chapter I critique key tenets of democratic theory and show why the failure of democracy to be realized in actual practice is not a matter of a good theory that somehow isn’t being lived up to in practice. The problem is not a disengaged citizenry, an overly powerful corporate world, or a media that is not independent enough. Instead the problem grows out of the “shortcomings of democratic theory itself and the underlying material conditions that produce democratic theory and that make representative democracies a sham for real popular participation” (p. 259).

I’m going to focus on just two areas in my remarks because of the limits of time.

1) Putting energy, even if it’s secondary to what you mainly do, into elections to support the so-called lesser evil or even a great candidate from a third party, is a serious mistake and based on an incorrect understanding of how political power is actually exercised, which brings me to my second point,

2) Elections do not determine public policy in this system. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=147372

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* GOP FRESHMAN, BIG-BUCKS DONORS HOBNOB AT RESORT

By Sharyl Attkisson, CBS

There are 468 congressional campaigns going on right now.

That means a lot of serious fundraising.

Much of it is behind closed doors, except on a recent weekend at a South Florida resort, where CBS News got an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes.

It was the first Campaign 2012 fundraiser for a group of freshmen Republicans. All face tough, well-financed races against Democrats, and need to come up with big dollars to buy TV time. They get that by wooing special interests willing to pay a lot of money for special access.

In 2010, many freshmen Republicans were swept into Congress on the promise of doing things differently.

But fast-forward to 2012, and the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla. — an exclusive seaside resort and home to 54 holes of championship golf and a private marina full of luxury yachts.

That’s where we caught up with a select group of Republican freshmen, engaged in business as usual. But they didn’t come alone. They invited big campaign donors and lobbyists to join them – for a price. And we secretly sent our cameras along for a unique inside look at their first joint fundraiser, where special interests got the kind of access ordinary Americans can only dream of: on the golf course; over drinks at the resort bar; at a private beach lagoon. […]

READ and VIDEOhttp://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505267_162-57398637/gop-freshmen-big-bucks-donors-hobnob-at-resort/

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* REDISCOVERING POVERTY

By Barbara Ehrenreich, Asia Times

It has been exactly 50 years since Americans, or at least the non-poor among them, “discovered” poverty, thanks to Michael Harrington’s engaging book The Other America. If this discovery now seems a little overstated, like Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America, it was because the poor, according to Harrington, were so “hidden” and “invisible” that it took a crusading left-wing journalist to ferret them out.

Harrington’s book jolted a nation that then prided itself on its classlessness and even fretted about the spirit-sapping effects of “too much affluence”. He estimated that one-quarter of the population lived in poverty – inner-city blacks, Appalachian whites, farm workers, and elderly Americans among them. We could no longer boast, as president Richard Nixon had done in his “kitchen debate” with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow just three years earlier, about the splendors of US capitalism.

At the same time that it delivered its gut punch, The Other America also offered a view of poverty that seemed designed to comfort the already comfortable. The poor were different from the rest of us, it argued, radically different, and not just in the sense that they were deprived, disadvantaged, poorly housed, or poorly fed. They felt different, too, thought differently, and pursued lifestyles characterized by shortsightedness and intemperance. Harrington wrote, “There is … a language of the poor, a psychology of the poor, a world view of the poor. To be impoverished is to be an internal alien, to grow up in a culture that is radically different from the one that dominates the society.”

[...]

Fifty years later, a new discovery of poverty is long overdue. This time, we’ll have to take account not only of stereotypical skid-row residents and Appalachians, but of foreclosed-upon suburbanites, laid-off tech workers, and America’s ever-growing army of the “working poor”. And if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.The ruse – if you could call it that – worked. Michael Harrington wasn’t red-baited into obscurity. In fact, his book became a best-seller and an inspiration for president Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty”. But he had fatally botched the “discovery” of poverty. What affluent Americans found in his book, and in all the crude conservative diatribes that followed it, was not the poor, but a flattering new way to think about themselves – disciplined, law-abiding, sober and focused. In other words, not poor.

READ @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NC17Dj04.html

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* AMERICA’S ‘INEXCUSABLE’ INDIFFERENCE TO EXTREME POVERTY — FRANCES FOX PIVEN SPEAKS

By Lauren Feeney, AlterNet

An interview with Frances Fox Piven, a political scientist and activist whose writings on poverty, welfare rights, and protest movements have infuriated the Right.

Frances Fox Piven is a political scientist and activist who has been writing about poverty, welfare rights and protest movements for nearly half a century. The Nation, where Piven has been a long-time contributor, calls her “legendary.” Recently, Piven has become well known to another audience. Since Glenn Beckplaced her at the root of one of his famous chalkboard graphs, accusing her of plotting to “intentionally collapse our economic system,” Piven has been covered throughout the conservative blogosphere. We talked to Piven about rising inequality, poverty, and the condition of the safety net, as well as her sudden and un-intentioned notoriety. […]

READ INTERVIEW @ http://www.alternet.org/economy/154574/_america%27s_‘inexcusable’_indifference_to_extreme_poverty_–_frances_fox_piven_speaks/?page=entire

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* THIS WEEK IN THE WAR ON WORKERS: RICH KIDS GET TO GO TO COLLEGE, POOR KIDS DON’T

By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

In our supposed meritocracy, it isn’t a surprise that kids from high-income families are more likely to graduate from college than kids from low-income families. But, while test scores from eighth grade math are nowhere near the only measure of student merit, it does say a little something about that meritocracy that high-income kids with low eighth grade math scores graduate from college at the same rate as low-income kids with high eighth grade math scores. […]

READ / CHART / VIDEO @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/17/1074775/-This-week-in-the-War-on-Workers-Rich-kids-get-to-go-to-college-poor-kids-don-t

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* GRADING THE NATION: HOW ACCOUNTABLE IS YOUR STATE?

By Caitlin Ginley, Center for Public Integrity

The tales are sadly familiar to even the most casual observer of state politics.

In Georgia, more than 650 government employees accepted gifts from vendors doing business with the state in 2007 and 2008, clearly violating state ethics law. The last time the state issued a penalty on a vendor was 1999.

A North Carolina legislator sponsored and voted on a bill to loosen regulations on billboard construction, even though he co-owned five billboards in the state. When the ethics commission reviewed the case, it found no conflict; after all, the panel reasoned, the legislation would benefit all billboard owners in the state — not just the lawmaker who pushed for the bill.

Tennessee established its ethics commission six years ago, but has yet to issue a single ethics penalty. It’s almost impossible to know whether the oversight is effectively working, because complaints are not made available to the public.

A West Virginia governor borrowed a car from his local dealership to take it for a “test drive.” He kept the car for four years, during which the dealership won millions in state contracts. […]

READ and INTERACTIVE CHART @ http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/03/19/eight-states-get-f-for-corruption.html

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* NEW TOXIC SLUDGE PR AND LOBBYING EFFORT GETS UNDERWAY

By Sara Jerving, PR Watch

A trade association known for using the terms “compost,” “organic,” and “biosolids” to describe sewage sludge is investing in a new public relations campaign to influence policymakers and the public. The US Composting Council (USCC), which was founded by the disposable diaper industry, will be expanding its long-standing efforts to “rebrand” sewage sludge, which is increasingly disposed of on agriculture crops and through garden centers without telling the public that their food is being grown in medical, industrial, and human waste.

Earlier this year, the USCC announced that it hired a PR firm, Colehour + Cohen, to help with the rebranding efforts and that it will also be increasing lobbying efforts.

The word “compost” traditionally has applied to vegetable material and scraps gardeners and farmers collect to re-use on crops and gardens. The USCC uses the term “compost” on an industrial scale to include sewage sludge, as well as other commercial and municipal waste.

The spreading of sewage sludge — which contains numerous toxic substances — on farm fields and gardens has come under increasing fire by citizens concerned about the potential health consequences of this practice. Although the industry claims the practice is cheap and safe, a previous U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey concluded that all sewage sludge contains toxic and hazardous materials, including endocrine disruptors.

As documented in “Toxic Sludge is Good for You,” a book by the founder of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), John Stauber, the sewage sludge industry has attempted to re-brand sewage sludge as “biosolids” since the 1990s. The EPA embraced the new term, and in 1992 used the term “biosolids” for the first time in new regulations that reclassified certain kinds of sewage sludge that were previously designated as hazardous waste, as “Class A” fertilizer. […]

READ @ http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/03/11273/new-toxic-sludge-pr-and-lobbying-effort-gets-underway

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* BREAKING DOWN THE MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT: HOW FAR DOES $26 BILLION GO?

By Cora Currier, ProPublica

The big bank settlement over mortgage servicing abuses was finalized last week, detailing the agreement’s actual terms.

Bank of America, Citigroup, Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) and JPMorgan Chase are on the hook for billions, which will be divvied up among penalties paid to the federal and state governments, direct payments to homeowners wrongfully foreclosed upon, and credits to the banks for providing “consumer relief.” (Read the government’s complaint and the banks’ consent judgment.)

Here’s a breakdown of key settlement numbers, showing where the money is going and how much help it will really provide for homeowners.

$1.4 billion: total direct payments from the settlement to homeowners who were wrongfully foreclosed upon between 2008 and 2011.

750,000: foreclosed homeowners expected to qualify.

$2,000: estimated average payout.

3.8 million: total foreclosures between 2008 and 2011. […]

READ @ http://www.propublica.org/article/breaking-down-the-mortgage-settlement

Mar 192012
 

 

* UPDATE 7x: ZUCCOTTI PARK NYPD BRUTALITY, ALL THE VIDEOS AND INTERVIEW WITH LaGRECA DAY BEFORE ANNIVERSARY

By War on Error, Daily Kos

Let’s start with an RT report on the day before the 6 Month Anniversary Celebration for Occupy Wall Street, Zucotti (Liberty) Park.  The featured guest in this RT report is our very own Jesse LaGreca.  Some great photos as well.  Video is from Youtube Channel MOXNEWSd0tCOM

[…]

READ and VIDEOS @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/18/1075433/-Zucotti-Park-NYPD-Mass-Arrests-Worse-Videos

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* NYPD MARKS #OWS SIX MONTH ANNIVERSARY WITH VIOLENT CRACKDOWN AND ARRESTS

Souce: youtube

NYPD marks OWS anniversary with violent crackdown and arrests

A number of OWS protesters have reportedly been arrested and several injured at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan during celebrations of the movement’s six-month anniversary. Police broke up the peaceful rally that had gathered almost 600 people to OWS’ founding

There have been no confirmed reports on the number of arrests, but eye witnesses report more than a twenty. Police drafted in public buses to carry away the detained.

Demonstrators held their ground there locking arms in solidarity as dozens of police swept through the downtown Manhattan Park.

Several people were injured in the police assault, with three women being taken away in ambulances from the scene.

Many demonstrators accused the police of being unnecessarily aggressive. […]

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-ynaPFo9A7M#!

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* OWS MEDIC HAS HEAD SMASHED INTO WINDOW BY  NYPD

Source: Steven Macchia @ www.TheDailyOccupier.Net

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82l2lxvvi-c

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* RAHM NEW TRIER TOAST CRASH 2012

Source: youtube

Rahm gets an award from New Trier high school and protesters toast his accomplishments of closing health clinics, schools, eliminating jobs and ignoring the poor. He is also toasted for denying resources to schools including 160 schools without libraries / librarians. He talks about the first amendment as he passes laws to eliminate the the people’s right to exercise theirs. This event, attended by about 250 people raised $68,000.00. The cost of attendance $150.00 per plate. He also talks about the great teachers and principals ironic since he just fired 17 schools worth of personnel and turned the schools into AUSL, corporate funded schools that do not work.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsPbvsC4AT0&feature=player_embedded

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* PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER ALLOWING FOR CONTROL OVER ALL U.S. RESOURCES

By Kenneth Schortgen Jr, Informatio Clearing House

On March 16th, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in 1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of war or emergency.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production, transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the auspices of national defense and national security.  The order is not limited to wartime implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and control of resources in peacetime determinations.

Section 101.  Purpose.  This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the “Act”).

(b)  assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel; – White House  […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30852.htm

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* FORECLOSING ON THE COMMONS

By Charles Davis, Aljazeera

If you want to make a lot of money in a less than honest way, the way to do so lies not in stealing purses or cars. No, the secret to getting rich and staying that way is by controlling the commons: control the land and natural resources, with a few armed guards or the world’s only superpower backing your claim, and one can charge a hefty fee for the necessities of life.

Best of all, many will believe your exploitation is benevolent, thankful just to get an adjustable-rate mortgage to a lot of land that was their rightful inheritance just as much as any other human being, but which has fallen into the hands of property profiteers.

Call it feudalism, corporatism or the American way: the rich elite in the US have turned economic exploitation into something of an art. The top one per cent in the United States now control a quarter of the nation’s wealth, double the unhealthy share they held 25 years ago. But while their ability to control legislatures and presidents is impressive, the propertied elite may have let greed get the best of them. In their quest to redistribute wealth from the labouring classes to the idle ones, they have been a bit too successful: the exploited are waking up. […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/201231313940444494.html

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* IS GREECE BECOMING A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY? HIV, MALARIA, AND TB RATES SOAR AS HEALTH SERVICES ARE SLASHED BY SAVAGE CUTS

By Lee Moran, Mail Online

Savage cuts to the Greek health service have seen the country’s HIV and Tuberculosis rates soar – sparking fears it is becoming a third world nation.

Aid agencies said the cutting of hospital budgets by an astonishing 40 per cent had also led to a sharp rise in the number of citizens being diagnosed with Malaria.

In the south, they said, it is reaching near endemic levels not seen since 1970s.

The scrapping of needle exchange services has seen the number of HIV and Aids sufferers in central Athens rise by 1,250 per cent in 2011 alone.

There are more prostitutes on the streets selling their bodies to make ends meet, while heroin addicts are finding it harder to come by anti-retroviral treatments.

There is also the first instances ever of the two illnesses being transmitted between mother and child – something usually equated with sub-Saharan Africa and not Europe.

Médecins sans Frontières Greece’s Reveka Papadopoulos said the health service cuts, which saw widespread job losses, were putting social services ‘under very severe strain’

She added: ‘If not in a state of breakdown. What we are seeing are very clear indicators of a system that cannot cope’. She said the 40 per cent cuts were on top of a 24 per cent increase in 2011 in demand for medical services.

This, she said, was ‘largely because people could simply no longer afford private healthcare. The entire system is deteriorating’. […]

READ @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115992/Is-Greece-world-country-HIV-Malaria-TB-rates-soar-health-services-slashed-savage-cuts.html

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* FRANCE BANS GM CORN AMID MASS US PROTEST AGAINST MONSANTO

By Rady Ananda, Global Research

Amid mass US protests against Monsanto in mid-March, France imposed a temporary moratorium on the planting of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, MON810.

“Due to the proximity of the planting season,” said Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire along with Francois Fillon, Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development, in a press release on Friday, authorities “decided to take a precautionary measure to temporarily prohibit the cultivation of maize MON810 on the national territory to protect the environment.”

­All prior plantings of MON810, trade name YieldGard, become illegal on March 20.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto announced in January that it would not sell genetically modified corn in France due to public opposition.

A growing list of human health and environmental hazards from GM crops has raised concern over bioengineered food and feed, including a literally explosive growth of a “new” microbe on pig manure: […]

READ and PHOTOShttp://www.blacklistednews.com/France_Bans_GM_Corn_Amid_Mass_US_Protests_against_Monsanto/18505/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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* BRAZIL TO FILE CHARGES AGAINST CHEVRON  EXECUTIVES

By Stan Lehman, AP

Brazilian prosecutors said Saturday they will file criminal charges against 17 executives of Chevron Corp. and drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. for a new oil leak near the offshore well where at least 110,000 gallons (about 416,000 liters) spilled late last year.

Those targeted include George Buck, chief operating officer for Chevron’s Brazilian division, federal prosecutors’ spokesman Marcelo del Negri said by telephone.

He said prosecutors would file the charges including “environmental crimes” in a federal court next week, but he did not provide further details. […]

READ @ http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/brazil-file-charges-chevron-executives-15945293#.T2eKSHiLHkd

Mar 182012
 

 

* SCORES ARRESTED AS THE POLICE CLEAR ZUCCOTTI PARK

By Colin Moynihan, NYTimes

1:09 a.m. | Updated Scores of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on Saturday night as police officers swept Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and closed it.

Dozens of demonstrators sat down and locked arms as officers moved in about 11:30 p.m. The protesters chanted “we are not afraid” as the police began pulling people from the crowd, one by one, and leading them out of the park in handcuffs.

The operation occurred after hundreds of people had gathered in the financial district to observe the founding of Occupy Wall Street six months ago. Earlier, protesters had embarked upon a winding march, after which police officers made initial arrests of about a dozen people near the park.

By 11:30 p.m., as police officers massed on Broadway, a commander announced that the park was closed. Those inside shouted back that the park was obliged through an agreement with the city to remain open. The commander then announced that anyone who remained inside would be arrested and charged with trespassing. […]

READ and PHOTOS @ http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/arrests-made-as-protesters-mark-occupy-wall-streets-six-month-anniversary/?hp

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* ‘OCCUPY’ PROTESTERS RETURN TO NEW YORK’S ZUCCOTTI PARK

Source: youtube

Occupy Wall Street protesters clash with police in New York as they mark the movement’s six-month anniversary in Zuccotti Park.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RnxFYUHcfY

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* EXECUTIVE ORDER — NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS

Source: The White House

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

PART I  –  PURPOSE, POLICY, AND IMPLEMENTATION

Section 101.  Purpose.  This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the “Act”).

Sec. 102.  Policy.  The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.  The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness.  The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.

Sec. 103.  General Functions.  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall: […]

READ @ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

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* THE NSA IS BUILDING THE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST SPY CENTER ( WATCH WHAT YOU SAY)

By James Bamford, WIRED

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol. […]

READ @ http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

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* MATT TAIBBI “THE ‘STRESS TEST’ IS AN OFFICIAL ENDORSEMENT OF WIDESPREAD BANKING FRAUD

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVcfN2sRtFE

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* FREE BRADLEY MANNING

Source: www.judithehrlich.org

Bradley Manning’s hearing at Ft. Meade, near Baltimore began this morning. He was accused of aiding al-Qaeda by leaking documents to WikiLeaks. A recent UN report found Bradley Manning was subject to torture in detention at Quantico Base. Birgitta Jonsdottir has nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his backers are coming under increasing scrutiny, berkeley supporters took their message to the freeway!! Above, Daniel Ellsberg reads Manning’s chat logs while Birgitta Jonsdottir holds a birthday party for Manning in front of the US Embassy, marking his second birthday spent in detention, more importantly, in solitary confinement!

We say, It is not a crime to blow the whistle on war crimes.

Free Bradley Manning!

READwww.judithehrlich.org
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* UP TO 20 US TROOPS EXECUTED PANJWAI MASSACRE PROBE

By Bashir Ahmad Naadimon, Pajhwok Afghan News

A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday’s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province.

The probing delegation includes lawmakers Hamidzai Lali, Abdul Rahim Ayubi, Shakiba Hashimi, Syed Mohammad Akhund and Bismillah Afghanmal, all representing Kandahar province at the Wolesi Jirga and Abdul Latif Padram, a lawmaker from northern Badakhshan province, Mirbat Mangal, Khost province, Muhammad Sarwar Usmani, Farah province.

The team spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders, survivors and collecting evidences at the site in Panjwai district.

Hamizai Lali told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings. […]

READ @ http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2012/03/15/20-us-troops-executed-panjwai-massacre-probe

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pOQMFaiXa5g#!

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* CORN INSECTICIDE LINKED TO GREAT DIE-OFF OF BENEFICIAL HONEYBEES

By OccupyMonsanto

New research has linked springtime die-offs of honeybees critical for pollinating food crops — part of the mysterious malady called colony collapse disorder — with technology for planting corn coated with insecticides. The study, published in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, appears on the eve of spring planting seasons in some parts of Europe where farmers use the technology and widespread deaths of honeybees have occurred in the past.

In the study, Andrea Tapparo and colleagues explain that seeds coated with so-called neonicotinoid insecticides went into wide use in Europe in the late 1990s. The insecticides are among the most widely used in the world, popular because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have lower toxicity for other animals. Almost immediately, beekeepers observed large die-offs of bees that seemed to coincide with mid-March to May corn planting. Scientists thought this might be due to particles of insecticide made airborne by the pneumatic drilling machines used for planting. These machines forcefully suck seeds in and expel a burst of air containing high concentrations of particles of the insecticide coating. In an effort to make the pneumatic drilling method safer, the scientists tested different types of insecticide coatings and seeding methods.

They found, however, that all of the variations in seed coatings and planting methods killed honeybees that flew through the emission cloud of the seeding machine. One machine modified with a deflector to send the insecticide-laced air downwards still caused the death of more than 200 bees foraging in the field. The authors suggest that future work on this problem should focus on a way to prevent the seeds from fragmenting inside the pneumatic drilling machines. […]

READ @ http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/18/corn-insecticide-linked-to-great-die-off-of-beneficial-honeybees/

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* THE POWER OF RECALLS IN WISCONSIN

By John Nichols, The Nation

With Wisconsin recall elections looming against four Republican state senators—as well as Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch—the state’s politics was thrown for another loop Friday when a targeted senator up and quit.

State Senator Pam Galloway, a Tea Party favorite and one of Walker’s steadiest backers in the legislature, announced her immediate resignation from the legislature and her decision not to contest the recall election.

The move had dramatic repercussions:

1. Republicans have lost the complete control of state government that allowed the governor to advance an austerity agenda that was defined by attacks on unions and deep cuts in public education and public services funding—along with the harshest voter ID law in the nation, a rigidly partisan redistricting of legislative districts and what critics complain has been a battering of the state’s open-government tradition.

2. State Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, (brother of Assembly Speaker Jeff) a Walker ally who is targeted for recall, has lost his position as the dominant player in the legislature. He now must enter into a power-sharing agreement with minority leader Mark Miller, a progressive Democrats who led a historic walkout by his caucus during last year’s struggle over Walker’s labor law changes. Committee assignments will be redone to reflect what is now a 16-16 split in the Senate. […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/blog/166872/power-recalls-wisconsin

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* AARP BACK IN BED WITH EFFORT TO CUT SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE

By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Wow, the AARPmag-glass_10x10.gif must be taking lessons from the Democratic Party, that you can afford sell out your putative base if you do the bidding of really big moneyed interests.

In case you missed this saga (it wasn’t one we posted on till now) in June last year, AARP’s board approved supporting Social Securitymag-glass_10x10.gif cuts. That followed a multi million dollar ad campaign against the very same stance. They planned to sell the future of old people living off dog food to the membership via a series of town hall meetings.

The backlash from the membership led to the purge of the policy chief John Rother, who was made a scapegoat.

The latest development, reported in the Huffington Post, shows the housecleaning didn’t go far enough. AARP members need to demand resignation of all directors who are behind this scheme, which is probably all of them. Protests at their homes might be necessary to rein in an board which is so insistently defying its members wishes and interests.

And to add insult to injury, the AARP plans a “listening tour” which is of course not at all about listening but selling a “Grand Bargain” which is more Newspeak, in this case the idea of a budget deal that includes retirement program cuts. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/03/aarp-back-in-bed-with-effort-to-cut-social-security-and-medicare.html

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* SPAIN’S JOBLESS UNITE FOR SOLUTIONS AND SURVIVAL

Unemployed people’s movements and associations in Spain are proposing alternatives to official job seeking channels, in the midst of an economic crisis that so far has left more than five million people out of work.

By Ignes Benitez, Global Issues

‘Everything has come to nothing and I’m setting out on a fresh path,’ José del Moral, a telecommunications engineer who has been out of work for a year and who joined the Movimiento Desempleados (MOVIDES – Unemployed Movement), a not-for-profit organisation that encourages self-employment, told IPS.

MOVIDES ‘is not a protest movement, but a search for alternatives,’ the movement’s main organiser, Fernando Matas, told IPS.

The organisation based in this southern Spanish city encourages the unemployed to team up in groups to create and run business projects.

In Spain the unemployment rate is a record 24.3 percent, the highest in the European Union. But among young people, the jobless rate is almost 50 percent. […]

READ @ http://www.globalissues.org/news/2012/03/16/13040

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* THE POWER OF WORDS

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU

Mar 172012
 

 

* BANK OF AMERICA: TOO CROOKED TO FAIL

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

[…] All the government bailouts succeeded in doing was to make the bank even more prone to catastrophic failure – and now that catastrophe might finally be at hand. Bank of America’s share price has plunged into the single digits, and the bank faces battles in courtrooms all over America to avoid paying back the hundreds of billions it stole from everyone in sight. Its credit rating, already downgraded to a few rungs above junk status, could plummet with the next bad analyst report, causing a frenzied rush to the exits by creditors, investors and stockholders – an institutional run on the bank.

They’re in deep trouble, but they won’t die, because our current president, like the last one, apparently believes it’s better to project a false image of financial soundness than to allow one of our oligarchic banks to collapse under the weight of its own corruption. Last year, the Federal Reserve allowed Bank of America to move a huge portfolio of dangerous bets into a side of the company that happens to be FDIC-insured, putting all of us on the hook for as much as $55 trillion in irresponsible gambles. Then, in February, the Justice Department’s so-called foreclosure settlement, which will supposedly provide $26 billion in relief for ripped-off homeowners, actually rewarded the bank with a legal waiver that will allow it to escape untold billions in lawsuits. And this month the Fed will release the results of its annual stress test, in which the bank will once again be permitted to perpetuate its fiction of solvency by grossly overrating the mountains of toxic loans on its books. At this point, the rescue effort is so sweeping and elaborate that it goes far beyond simply gouging the tax dollars of millions of struggling families, many of whom have already been ripped off by the bank – it’s making the government, and by extension all of us, full-blown accomplices to the fraud.

Anyone who wants to know what the Occupy Wall Street protests are all about need only look at the way Bank of America does business. It comes down to this: These guys are some of the very biggest assholes on Earth. They lie, cheat and steal as reflexively as addicts, they laugh at people who are suffering and don’t have money, they pay themselves huge salaries with money stolen from old people and taxpayers – and on top of it all, they completely suck at banking. And yet the state won’t let them go out of business, no matter how much they deserve it, and it won’t slap them in jail, no matter what crimes they commit. That makes them not bankers or capitalists, but a class of person that was never supposed to exist in America: royalty.

Self-appointed royalty, it’s true – but just as dumb and inbred as the real thing, and every bit as expensive to support. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314

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* GREECE ON THE BREADLINE: ‘WE’VE WATCHED OUR FUTURES GO UP IN SMOKE’

Jon Henley hears from unemployed professionals wondering if there is anything in the country to keep them there

Crushed ambitions

First, two young professionals describe their disheartening circumstances: Ioanna Panagioto is a volunteer at Radiobubble, a community web radio station based in a buzzing cafe where I met a number of activists the other night. She lived in London for five years until 2008, doing an MA in marketing communications and working for Debenhams. “Since coming back to Greece I’ve had two short temporary contracts. I’ve been unemployed since July 2010 and have sent 300 CVs with no luck (including for positions in a warehouse or on a shopfloor). In the meantime I’ve managed to earn some cash by doing random odd jobs, but it’s devastating and disheartening when you’re unemployed because you’re forced to live with your parents, unable to make plans for the future. Having said that, I guess it must have been a shock for my generation – I am 32 – as we were raised with a career mindset, and now since everything has turned upside down we are working merely to survive. I would be lying if I said I am not considering leaving Greece again. Meanwhile, though, I look after the English section of Radiobubble News, which aims to communicate abroad what mainstream media would not cover, or give enough attention to – stories like the police making 60 preventive detentions before the big demonstration last month. We do live blogs on general strikes or demos, weekly news round-ups and breaking news. The live blogs include only verified information reported on twitter with the #rbnews hashtag. We have 25 Radiobubble contributors, and 50 other twitter users whose credibility has been tested. Our live blog on the three days of anti-austerity protests back in February got 15,000 hits, coming mostly from Spain, Italy, France and the UK.”

John Matzavrakos, who was educated in Britain, says young aspiring professionals in Greece – the 24-30 year-old age group, of which he is a part, have watched their futures go up in smoke. “I am 27 years old, and the co-founder of a web services company registered in the Netherlands (it would make more sense to have opened it here in Greece, but with the bureaucracy, red tape and corruption, it couldn’t be done.) This has been a part-time endeavour so far, but since my full-time employer filed for administration and liquidation a couple of months ago, we are planning to turn it into a full-time operation – and migrate in the process. Many of my friends and acquaintances, while young, are relatively successful in their jobs. Most were paid fairly well for Greek pre-crisis standards, at €1,500 a month or thereabouts, as I was before my employer collapsed. However, even those who are still employed would rather take the plunge and get out of here. They know that if their employer “suggests” they accept a €900 or less salary, there won’t be any argument against it. I’m not speaking on behalf of ‘lost students’ or ‘desperate pensioners’. I won’t mince my words here: the category where people I know fit in – aspiring professionals – has absolutely nothing to keep it in Greece. And this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of our times, not whether inflated pensions will be reduced, but this. It’s the crux of the matter.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2012/mar/14/greece-breadline-series-young-people-futures

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* ZAKYNTHOS MAYOR IS THE LATEST TARGET OF YOGURT THROWERS

By Makis Papasimakopoulos, Athens News

The yoghurt kamikazes just don’t seem like letting up, the latest “yoghurted” politician being Zakynthos mayor Stavros Bozikis, on Thursday.

The incident took place at the meeting of the island’s local council, which was attended by a large number of local residents and entrepreneurs.

According to a large number of local businessmen and citizens, the way the council goes about calculating local taxation is wrong and is based on inadequate aerial photographs of the island. The images are being used to define the amount of land each resident owns, but the results continue to contain a large number of miscalculations, leading to over taxation, charged through electricity bills.

A re-establishment of the land calculating method was demanded and with tempers flaring rapidly at the local council, the yoghurting incident was not far behind.

Bozikis, who was also pelted with eggs, did not reply to demands and the situation on the island remains volatile.

The latest “yoghurting” incident is now added to an ever growing list of similar occurrences, as attacks on politicians with dairy products seem to be becoming a protest method of choice for the Greek public. […]

READ @ http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/1/54134

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* M31 MOVIE – EUROPEAN DAY OF ACTION AGAINST CAPITALISM

By M31 Moviecrew

Europe is in a continuous state of upheaval. For months now, its credit- and sovereign debt crises have been escalating. A number of hectic European Union (EU) summits have introduced emergency measures to rescue capitalism. Should the­se measures fail, governments and the media assure us, collapse, recession and mass poverty would be the result. This apocalyptic rhetoric paves the way for even more neoliberal reforms whose social impact will be felt for decades to come – if we don‘t resist. Throughout the crisis, we were told that capitalism needed to be reined in, and that banks and corporations would have to carry some of the burden they, too, had created. What is happening now is the exact opposite: The EU, its member states and other European countries are intensifying competition and introducing devastating public austerity programs to secure private profits. In doing so, however, they are reproducing the destructive logic of capitalism. The existence of crises, widespread powerlessness and poverty, contrasted by private, i.e. exclusive wealth, are inherent elements of capitalism. Let’s get organized for a better society!

VIDEO @ http://vimeo.com/38600136

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* NOW WE KNOW WHT SCOTT OLSEN WAS SHOT WITH 

By jpmassar, Daily Kos

A few weeks ago an intrepid reporter put the pieces together and figured out who most likely tossed the flash bang grenade at Scott Olsen and his rescuers as he lay wounded on the streets of Oakland.

Now another piece of the puzzle has emerged. Mark Martel, Scott Olsen’s attorney, has been reported as stating

Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen was hit in the head with a bean bag round during an Occupy Oakland protest last fall…

…the Oakland Police Department had given him ((Martel)) the information a couple of weeks ago, but had not stated explicitly whether it was an Oakland police officer who fired the round.

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/15/1074549/-Now-We-Know-What-Scott-Olsen-Was-Shot-With-

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* MORE THAN 200 ARRESTS IN MONTREAL RIOT

By Brian Daly, QMI Agency

MONTREAL – The city’s police chief says cops have to toe the line between protecting freedom of assembly while keeping the public order in cases like Thursday’s protest that turned violent.

The anti-police brutality protest has been held in the city every year since 1997 and has degenerated into violence for several years in a row, including Thursday when hooligans attacked police officers and ordinary citizens while ransacking downtown stores.

“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Montreal Police Chief Marc Parent told a news conference on Friday.

“We have to find the right time to intervene. All messages in our democracy have the right to be heard. There are always people who will take advantage of these situations to break, pillage, damage private property and also to damage police equipment.”

Riot police were deployed around downtown prior to the start of a late-afternoon march that included masked members of the anarchist Black Bloc, a group that routinely provokes police in the city and elsewhere.

The crowd swelled to 1,000 people and the rally was declared illegal around 6:30 p.m. […]

READ @ http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2012/03/16/19510906.html

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* SCIENTISTS WARN EPA OVER MONSANTO’S GMO CROP FAILURE, DANGERS

By Anthony Gucciardi, Truth Theory

A group of scientists is calling for major federal action in order to deal with the threat posed by Monsanto’s GMO crops, now petitioning the EPA to address the issue head on. The group of 22 academic corn experts are drawing attention to the immense failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, which is developing mutated and resistant insects as a result of its widespread usage. Corn is critical not only as a food staple, but is heavily used in ethanol production, animal feed, and much more. As GM corn becomes the norm, currently taking over 94 percent of the supply, these scientists are seriously concerned about the future of corn production.

Joseph Spencer is one outspoken member of the group, a corn entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, part of the University of Illinois. Spencer states that what is happening is no surprise, instead it is something that needs to be addressed. Warning the EPA over the dangers, the experts sent a letter on March 5th to the agency explaining their worries regarding long-term corn production prospects in light of GMO crops failures. Specifically, the experts are worried about the lack of protection presented by GMO crops against rootworms.

The EPA has already acknowledged that Monsanto’s GMO crops are creating resistant rootworms, which are now ravaging the GMO crops as they mutate to the biopesticide used known as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). The EPA found that the resistant rootworms, which are evolving to resist the insecticide,  are currently found Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. After the EPA evaluated documented cases of severe crop damage as well as reports from entomologists, the EPA stated “Monsanto’s program for monitoring suspected cases of resistance is ‘inadequate’”. […]

READ @ http://truththeory.com/2012/03/15/scientists-warn-epa-over-monsantos-gmo-crop-failures-dangers/

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* THE NSA IS BUILDING THE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST SPY CENTER (WATCH WHAT YOU SAY)

By James Bamford, Wired

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol. […]

READ @ http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

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* RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS, EXPLAINED

Anti-union laws are spreading to new states. But do voters know what right-to-work really means? 

By Nicole Pasulka, Mother Jones

On Wednesday the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a right-to-work law, returning the issue to Democratic Gov. John Lynch’s desk for the second time in two years. The bane of organized labor for over half a century, right-to-work laws regained momentum in the United States after Republicans won historically sweeping victories on the state level in the 2010 midterm elections. In February, Indiana became the first state in a decade—and the first Rust Belt state—to enact one of the laws.

Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, has said that right-to-work proponents are waging a “war on workers,” and Martin Luther King Jr. called right-to-work a “false slogan” and said the laws “rob us of our civil rights and job rights.” But proponents of the laws believe they’re necessary for the growth of manufacturing and business that can bolster states’ weak economies. A lack of nationwide right-to-work legislation, they argue, has resulted in “abuses of workers’ human rights and civil liberties.”

So what is a right-to-work law, anyway?

The basics

No American worker can be forced to join a union. But most unions push companies to agree to contracts that require all workers, whether they’re in the union or not, to pay dues to the union for negotiating with management. State right-to-work laws make these sorts of contracts illegal, meaning that workers in unionized businesses can benefit from the terms of a union contract without paying union dues. (Under federal law, unions must represent all workers covered by a contract, even if some of those workers are not members of the union and do not pay for the union’s representation.)

Unions are fighting the expansion of these laws, which currently apply in 23 US states. A coalition of lawmakers, manufacturers, tea partiers, and big conservative think tanks want to see them passed in the rest of the US. […]

READ @ http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/what-are-right-to-work-laws