Jan 112012



By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker

William Daley wiki photo

When Bill Daley was growing up in Chicago, he watched his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, fight bare knuckle for control of Democratic national politics from the living room of their South Side bungalow. (“Dick Daley is the ballgame,” as Bobby Kennedy put it.) Once it was time for his son, Richard M., to elbow into the family business, Bill ran campaigns through races in which people stuffed and stole so many votes that it “was like a Fellini movie,” Bill said later. Even when they lost, Chicago politics was bloody: In ’83, Richard ended up brawling on the floor of a toy store with a guy who blamed him for splitting the white vote. “The guy’s punching him, and his son Patrick’s there screaming, ‘Hit him, Dad!’” Bill recalled.

So when a Daley concludes that the political atmosphere is poisoned, that’s saying something. As a predictor of bipartisan coöperation, Bill Daley’s resignation as White House chief of staff is as auspicious as watching the canary quit and tiptoe out of the coal mine. […]

READ @ http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/evanosnos/2012/01/daleys-ominous-departure.html



By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Photo @ wiki / Jacob Lew

When President Obama last January announced the departure of Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff, many liberals were furious that his replacement was the Midwest Chairman of JP Morgan and Boeing Director William Daley, who was also an opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a critic of Obama’s health care bill as too leftist. As but one example, Rachel Maddow harshly condemned the choice, noting Daley was a hedge fund manager and “business lobbyist” and “is known for pushing Democrats toward business interests”; said “liberals are banging their heads against the wall as they try to comprehend this choice”; and then sardonically observed: “mmm – a banker and a lobbyist: smells like change.”

Yesterday, the White House announced Daley’s departure — he will now co-chair Obama’s re-election campaign, which basically means raising huge amounts of money from his Wall Street friends — and unveiled his replacement as Chief of Staff: Jacob Lew. In 2010, Lew became head of the Office of Management and Budget when Peter Orszag left and then, a couple months later, accepted a multi-million dollar position as a high-level Citigroup official. Lew has spent many years in various government positions, but he has his own substantial ties to Citigroup. Here is what Lew was doing in 2008 at the time the financial crisis exploded, as detailed by an excellent Huffington Post report from last year:

[Lew] oversaw a Citigroup unit that profited off the housing collapse and financial crisis by investing in a hedge fund king who correctly predicted the eventual subprime meltdown and now finds himself involved in the center of the U.S. government’s fraud case against Goldman Sachs. . . .

[I]t is his few years at Citi — in particular the one year he spent at its then-$54 billion proprietary trading, hedge fund and private equity unit — that’s likely to raise the most eyebrows in the coming weeks as Lew faces a Senate confirmation hearing.

Especially his unit’s investments in a hedge fund that bet on the housing market to collapse — a reality suffered by millions of American homeowners. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/10/the_new_wh_chief_of_staff_and_citigroup/singleton/



By Mike Lofgren, Truthout

It was in 1993 during Congressional deliberation over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican members of Congress who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. I distinctly remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris and Tokyo than with their own fellow American citizens.”

That was just the beginning of the period when the realities of outsourced manufacturing, financialization of the economy and growing income disparity started to seep into the public consciousness, so at the time it seemed like a striking and novel statement.

At the end of the cold war, many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation state. Some looked at the demise of the Soviet Union and foresaw the territorial state breaking up into statelets of different ethnic, religious or economic compositions. This happened in the Balkans, former Czechoslovakia and Sudan. Others, like Chuck Spinney, predicted a weakening of the state due to the rise of fourth-generation warfare and the inability of national armies to adapt to it. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan lend credence to that theory. There have been hundreds of books about globalization and how it would break down borders. But I am unaware of a well-developed theory from that time about how the super-rich and the corporations they run would secede from the nation state.

I do not mean secession in terms of physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens occasionally.(i) It means a withdrawal into enclaves, a sort of internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well-being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension – and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call, who cares about Medicare? […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/have-super-rich-seceded-united-states/1326127151



Source: CBS / AP

NEW YORK – Barricades surrounding a park that served as a camp for Occupy Wall Street protesters were removed Tuesday, allowing protesters to stream back in.

The atmosphere was celebratory but calm on Tuesday evening as about 300 protesters began filling New York City’s Zuccotti Park a couple of hours after the barricades were taken down and a day after a complaint about the barricades was filed with the city. Protesters milled around, eating lasagna on paper plates and playing chess.

Security guards who were previously guarding the barricades stood off to the side, along with a handful of police officers. It was a minor victory for the protesters, who have complained about financial inequality in demonstrations that gained traction across the globe.

“Word spread pretty quickly, and we ran down here,” demonstrator Lauren DiGioia said. “It’s hard to remember what it was like before the barricades were put up.” […]

READ @ http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57356673/occupy-wall-street-returns-to-zuccotti-park/



Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6nChYs5nYXM



Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH5ItJmc9CQ&feature=share



By Aricka Flowers, Progress Illinois

Much anticipation is swirling around the upcoming G8 and NATO summits as city officials, law enforcement and protesters have already begun gearing up for the events planned for May. Yesterday, Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy the South Side issued a citywide call to action against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance imposing harsher fines and rules for protests and demonstrations. The call to action is set to last until January 18, when the plan is expected to go up for city council vote.

The two Occupy groups also sent a letter to Chicago aldermen voicing concerns about the proposal they are calling the “Sit Down and Shut Up Ordinance.” Meanwhile, law enforcement appears to be preparing for a battle.

The letter, sent all 50 of Chicago’s aldermen, accuses the mayor’s plan of being an “attack on public protests” that will have far-reaching effects well beyond the summits planned for May:

As you are no doubt aware, Mayor Emanuel sponsored this ordinance and has promoted it in the media as a “temporary” measure aimed at controlling protesters during specified events taking place later this year. As you’ve surely read, the Mayor has since been forced to retract his claim that these changes were ever meant to be temporary. Another blatant inconsistency is that the ordinance applies to the entire city, while the NATO and G8 summits occur only downtown. Other inconsistencies in the presentation of this ordinance are similarly problematic.

Given what the ordinance actually says, it cannot be construed as an effort to protect the integrity of G8 and NATO conferences. This measure is a permanent attack on public protest in the City of Chicago. The consequences of this attack will be far reaching, and will be felt by protesters throughout the city, most of whom will never have any connection to the protests associated with these events.

On the Occupy Chicago web site, the movement also details how Emanuel’s proposal could play out, if passed, and muffle the voices of protesters:

  • Raising fines for “resisting arrest” up to $1000. “Resisting arrest” in Chicago does include passively going limp, so no more passive resistance.
  • Close all public spaces overnight. Sorry homeless, go sleep in the water. No occupations, no physical presence wherever an officer can get  at you. Your home is probably next.
  • Need a permit to even gather on the sidewalk. No picketing, no union activities, no soap-boxing, no walking on the sidewalk to avoid getting arrested holding a public space.
  • Head of police can deputize anyone he wants, in a no-bid contracting process. This means we’ll be facing a bunch of untrained rent-a-cops armed with tazers and pepper spray, payed for with our tax dollars. No-bid promotes cronyism, so some friends of Rahm will no doubt be providing the straw deputies. Rahm is empowered to hire at-will, with no input from City Council (aldermen).
  • City gets to dictate what kind of gear (loudspeakers, drums, etc) you can bring, and you may face fines or arrest if you deviate on what they allow. Requires you file a week in advance for a permit.
  • Protest organizers must make themselves liable for any damages, and have to reimburse city for police-incitement to violence.
  • All-around making protest permits much harder to get, pretty much guaranteeing that anyone with a job and a family will not have time to organize or protest for their rights. The amount of red-tape to cut through will be quadrupled, and this kind of bureaucracy forces activists to have their own bureaucracies. Pretty hard to do when you’re a volunteer movement with no money or full-time staff.
  • Protests restricted to 8am-10pm. Going after hours may get you arrested. […]

READ @ http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2012/01/10/occupy-pushes-back-against-protest-ordinance-law-enforcement-preps-fig



By David Swanson, War Is A Crime

Feel free to reply with why these particular gun-toting intimidators are not “soldiers” but then read the story and think about it:

Training exercise startles locals

The Daily Commercial:

MILLARD K. IVES | Staff Writer

It may have looked like they were ready for war or some deranged person looking for his late Social Security benefits.

But it was only Federal Protective Service officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who were conducting a random training operation early Tuesday morning when they surprisingly showed up at the Social Security Administration office in downtown Leesburg.

With their blue and white SUVs circled around the Main Street office, at least one official was posted on the door with a semiautomatic rifle, randomly checking identifications. And other officers, some with K-9s, sifted through the building.

“I thought someone was upset about not getting there check,” said Laura Kelly, who took a friend to the office on Tuesday.

According to one Homeland official in the Washington, D.C. office, Operation Shield. is an effort that uses routine, unannounced visits by FPS inspectors to test the effectiveness of contract guards, or protective security officers — “detecting the presence of unauthorized persons and potentially disruptive or dangerous activities.”

Part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FPS is the federal law enforcement agency that provides integrated security and law enforcement services to over 9,000 federally-owned and leased buildings, facilities, properties and other assets.

Officers on the scene would not speak to the press and by noon they were gone. But Thomas Milligan, district manager for the Social Security Administration office, said while the visit came as a surprise, the office was ready. He added the officers checked videos, security measures, alarm system and more.

“It was to make sure security measures are in place and properly followed,” Milligan said. […]

READ @ http://warisacrime.org/content/soldiers-automatic-weapons-checking-ids-social-security-office-florida-more-freedom-they-hat



By Chuck Goudie, ABC News

(CHICAGO) (WLS) — The start of the two world government summits in Chicago is a little more than four months away. In this Intelligence Report: Evidence that police and protesters are both preparing for the G8 and NATO summits.

The back-to-back G8 summit and NATO meeting has been designated a national security event, which means the Secret Service has overarching jurisdiction.

But much of the street action will be under the command of Chicago Police and Illinois State Police, who have put out some photos showing their preparations.

At a long-closed hotel complex in northwest suburban Arlington Heights, Illinois State Police conducted what they called a large-scale training exercise. The training there, just before Christmas, was by members of the State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team. Video of the secret exercise obtained by the I-Team shows officers moving through drills that included the disarming of multiple improvised explosive devices and arresting the suspects.

In providing details of the training, state police officials specifically cited this May’s G8 and NATO summits. The drills also involved officers from the secretary of state’s bomb squad, National Guard’s Civil Support Team and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news%2Fiteam&id=8496624



Source: The Associated Press

DES MOINES — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it will close nearly 260 offices nationwide, a move that won praise for cutting costs but raised concerns about the possible effect on food safety.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the goal was to save $150 million a year in the department’s $145 billion budget. About $90 million had already been saved by reducing travel and supplies, and the closings were expected to save another $60 million, he said.

The plan calls for 259 offices, labs and other facilities to be closed, affecting the USDA headquarters in Washington and operations in 46 states. Seven foreign offices also will be closed.

Some of the closings had been previously announced. The USDA said last year it would shut down 10 agricultural research stations, including the only one in Alaska, where scientists were seeking ways to use the vast waste generated by the largest wild fishery in the nation to make everything from gel caps to fish meal for livestock feed.

Other parts of the announcement were a surprise. Andrew Lorenz, deputy district manager for the Food Safety and Inspection Service in Minneapolis, learned that his office would be closed, along with those in Madison, Wis., and Lawrence, Kan.

“They wiped out the entire Midwest,” said Lorenz, whose office handles all federal inspections of meat, poultry and egg products in Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming. […]

READ @ http://www.omaha.com/article/20120110/NEWS01/701109921/0#usda-to-close-259-offices



By Tom Laskawy, Grist

Did a recent scientific study just change the way we should think about the safety of genetically modified foods? According to Ari Levaux at the Atlantic, the answer is a resounding yes.

The study in question, performed by researchers at China’s Nanjing University and published in the journal Cell Research, found that a form of genetic material — called microRNA — from conventional rice survived the human digestive process and proceeded to affect cholesterol function in humans.

Levaux argues that this new study “reveals a pathway by which genetically modified (GM) foods might influence human health” which should cause us to completely revisit the question of GM crops’ safety. And he’s right to be alarmed, just a little off on the reasoning.

Let’s take a closer look at how this study applies to current GM technology, shall we?

I would argue that several studies have already suggested that existing GM foods might present a health risk. For example, this study in The International Journal of Biological Sciences found evidence that Monsanto’s Bt corn causes organ damage in lab animals. Then there’s this one which showed that GM soybeans can alter mice on the cellular level — an indication that genetically modified material survives digestion and is active in animals that consume it.

Of course, advocates of genetically modified foods will observe that the phenomenon of genetic transfer through consumption applies to all plants and that GM foods are therefore “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. As Levaux explains at length, this concept of substantial equivalence has been used by the biotech industry as well as our government to push GM foods through safety testing with minimal scrutiny. What’s Monsanto’s defense of all this? On its website, the company claims:

There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods … DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard … So long as the introduced protein is determined to be safe, food from GM crops determined to be substantially equivalent is not expected to pose any health risks. […]

READ @ http://www.grist.org/industrial-agriculture/2012-01-10-new-research-next-generation-of-gmos-could-be-dangerous



By Diana Olick, CNBC

The Obama administration, in conjunction with federal regulators and led by the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is very close to announcing a pilot program to sell government-owned foreclosures in bulk to investors as rentals, according to administration officials.

There currently are about a quarter of a million foreclosed properties on the books of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and millions more are coming.

The foreclosure processing delays of last year created a mammoth backlog of properties yet to be processed, which are just now being re-started. One of the initiatives of this program is for the federal government to be in the position to mitigate and manage any new wave of foreclosures, sources say.

Late-stage delinquencies still in the pipeline number close to two million, according to a new report from Lender Processing Services. Foreclosure starts outnumber foreclosure sales by two to one and “the trend toward fewer loans becoming delinquent, which dominated 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, appears to have halted,” according to LPS.


A number of institutional investors have shown appetite and interest in bulk REO deals, according to officials, but the plan has to incorporate ways to help facilitate financing. That has been one of the biggest roadblocks to deals already in the works between hedge funds and the major banks. Sources close to these private bank negotiations say there is plenty of cash to buy properties, but building out a management structure for the rentals is pricey, and some investors are finding the math doesn’t add up to make it worth their while. […]

READ @ http://www.cnbc.com/id/45925851



Source: The Crunk Feminist Collective

New Gingrich has repeatedly referred to President Obama as “The Food Stamp” President while contrasting that with his own aims to become “The Paycheck” President.

Ron Paul, in an attempt to beat unruly logic into submission, has tried to convince us that “entitlements” are not “rights.”  In an effort to dispute affirmative action and minority rights he equates such “entitlements” with the “entitlements” that big businesses get from big government, thus causing the word itself to lose any precision it might have had. This of course is in addition to his refusal to clearly address his connection to several blatantly racist comments on publications bearing his name.

Rick Santorum, descendant of Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” rhetoric, told a room of mostly white voters in Iowa that he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

Mitt Romney holds as one of his campaign slogans that he vows to, “Keep America American.”

Rick Perry, in a stunning move of political originality, asserts that our President is a socialist. With the word “socialist” serving as a catch-all for a whole host of undesirable traits and policies, including, but not limited to, disrespect for the 10th Amendment’s protection of states’ rights.

With one primary down and another coming up in New Hampshire tomorrow, it has become difficult to avoid the spectacle that is the quest for a Republican candidate for President. A spectacle made such by a cohort of candidates that stubbornly refuses to winnow, casting us all into the Party’s frantic search for a standard-bearer.

And so it begins in earnest: the contest within the Republican Party to dig up its next contender. Let’s start at the beginning, though. Elections are about politics. They are condensed, hyper-charged and frantic attempts to remove people from positions of power, or by other to hold on to those positions or newly acquire them. To do this they need to convince us that they deserve these positions of leadership. […]

READ @ http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/the-power-of-words-racially-coded-political-rhetoric/



Source: youtube.com

From the archives:

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

Jan 022012



Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4McrdRm21rk



By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Media coverage of the Arab Spring somehow depicted the U.S. as sympathetic to and supportive of the democratic protesters notwithstanding the nation’s decades-long financial and military support for most of the targeted despots. That’s because a central staple of American domestic propaganda about its foreign policy is that the nation is “pro-democracy” — that’s the banner under which Americans wars are typically prettified — even though “democracy” in this regard really means “a government which serves American interests regardless of how their power is acquired,” while “despot” means “a government which defies American orders even if they’re democratically elected.”

It’s always preferable when pretenses of this sort are dropped — the ugly truth is better than pretty lies — and the events in the Arab world have forced the explicit relinquishment of this pro-democracy conceit. That’s because one of the prime aims of America’s support for Arab dictators has been to ensure that the actual views and beliefs of those nations’ populations remain suppressed, because those views are often so antithetical to the perceived national interests of the U.S. government. The last thing the U.S. government has wanted (or wants now) is actual democracy in the Arab world, in large part because democracy will enable the populations’ beliefs — driven by high levels of anti-American sentiment and opposition to Israeli actions – to be empowered rather than ignored.

So acute is this contradiction — between professed support for Arab democracy and the fear of what it will produce — that America’s Foreign Policy Community is now dropping the pro-freedom charade and talking openly (albeit euphemistically) about the need to oppose Arab democracy. Here is Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a very typical member of the National Security priesthood, writing on Friday in The New York Times about Egyptian elections (via As’ad AbuKhali):

Many in Israel and America, and even some in Egypt, fear that the elections will produce an Islamist-led government that will tear up the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, turn hostile to the United States, openly support Hamas and transform Egypt into a theocracy that oppresses women, Christians and secular Muslims. They see little prospect for more liberal voices to prevail, and view military dictatorship as a preferable outcome.

American interests, however, call for a different outcome, one that finds a balance — however uneasy — between the military authorities and Egypt’s new politicians. We do not want any one side to vanquish or silence the other. And with lopsided early election results, it is especially important that the outcome not drive away Egypt’s educated liberal elite, whose economic connections and know-how will be vital for attracting investment and creating jobs.

Our instinct is to search for the clarity we saw in last winter’s televised celebrations. However, what Egyptians, and Americans, need is something murkier — not a victory, but an accommodation.

I love this passage both for its candor and for what it lamely attempts to obfuscate. Why should “American interests” determine the type of government Egypt has? That it should is simply embedded as an implicit, unstated assumption in Alterman’s advocacy. That’s because the right of the U.S. to dictate how other nations are governed is one of the central, unchallenged precepts of the American Foreign Policy Community’s dogma and it thus needs no defense or even explicit acknowledgment. It simply is. It’s an inherent imperial right.

But Alterman here is expressly admitting the reality that most media accounts ignore: that the U.S. does not, in fact, want democracy in Egypt. It fears it. That’s because public opinion polls show overwhelming opposition among the Egyptian populace to the policies which the U.S. (for better or worse) wants to foist on that country: animus toward Iran, preservation of the peace agreement with Israel, ongoing indifference to the plight of the Palestinians, and subservience to U.S. goals. Indeed, according to the 2011 Pew finding, “nearly eight-in-ten Egyptians have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S.” That tracks opinion in the Arab world generally, where the two nations perceived as the biggest threat are — by far — the U.S. and Israel (not Iran), and the three most admired foreign leaders are Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, followed by Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinijad.

But even more significant is Egyptian public opinion specifically on the issue of greatest concern for American (and Israeli) foreign policy officials: a nuclear Iran. A 2010 Brookings/University of Maryland/Zogby poll found vast, overwhelming Egyptian support for the view that Iran has the right to have a nuclear weapon, and for the view that a nuclear Iran would be a net positive for the region. That, too, tracks general public opinion in the Arab world, which supports Iran’s right to have nuclear weapons. In light of these facts, does anyone believe that the U.S. government and its pool of experts that exist to justify what it does — the Foreign Policy Community — have even a slight interest in actual democracy in Egypt specifically or the Arab world generally?

Of course not. As Noam Chomsky put it recently: “The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world” because “if public opinion were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it.” […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/02/end_of_the_pro_democracy_pretense/singleton/



By Richard (RJ) Eskow, Nation of Change

h/t SnakeArbusto

Our lives are defined by invisible wars, wars whose theater of combat is the human imagination. These economic and political wars are waged year in and year out, decade after decade, century after century.

Words are the weapons of choice in these wars, and the corporate-backed radical right adds new ones to its arsenal every year. This year was no different. From “entitlement reform” to “triggers,” the corporate oligarchs couched their aggression in decoy language that made it possible for Democrats as well as Republicans to launch them on an unsuspecting public.

But something was different this year. This was the year that the people came up with some words of their own, outside the corporate- and billionaire-funded think tanks of conservatism. For the first time in many years, the right-wing warriors of language ran into heavy resistance. That’s an important development that should be celebrated — and repeated.

War of the Words

The corporatists own the Republican Party, and large swathes of the Democratic Party too. Most Americans disagree with their ambitions, but they’ve been so good at designing and using these linguistic weapons that the public hasn’t had a chance. Major media journalists have used these words as mantras, while too many Democrats have embraced them for their own selfish purposes.

That’s why they keep winning so many battles, no matter who’s in power.

Some people make the mistake of underestimating the importance of these wars, because they’re fought with words and not actions. But people’s actions are shaped by what they believe, and what they believe is shaped by words.

Nobody understands that better than the corporate interests and their minions. That’s why Newt Gingrich wrote a political memo in 1996 entitled, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”

Now there’s a word that should strike fear in the heart: “Control.”


For the past five decades our national dialogue — and therefore our thinking — has been warped by the use of words as weapons of economic war. From “death tax” to “job creators,” the public has been saturated with prefabricated words and phrases that reshape the thinking of millions of people in an Orwellian way.

Teachers, police, bus drivers and firefighters became “special interests” while mega-corporations became “people” who were being “deprived of their rights.” The values that had inspired all of our nation’s leaders for a century, Republican and Democratic, were suddenly “radical,” “extremist” and “treasonous.”

And rather than resist, Democratic leaders like the Clintons and Barack Obama chose to embrace too many of these inversions in order to serve their own ambitions, a Faustian bargain with terrible implications. (And as it turns out, not a very good way to pursue their own ambitions either — unless you have an Internet bubble or housing bubble to sustain the illusion that “centrism” works.)

There are times when compromise is needed. But you don’t need to reinforce your enemy’s false ideas in order to compromise. With every Democratic concession to corporate-designed Orwellianisms the struggle to create a more effective society suffers another defeat.

Weapons of 2011

The language factories of the Right have been working overtime over the last couple of years to destroy public faith in Social Security and Medicare, destroy the government’s ability to stimulate the economy when it’s needed most, and absolve our political leaders of responsibility for their own actions.

What were the Right’s favorite word-weapons of 2011? Here are a few of the big ones:

“Entitlement Reform:” This phrase is used over and over to describe proposals that would “reform” nothing, but instead would gut the highly popular programs that support seniors and the disabled — Social Security and Medicare. The use of the word “entitlement,” along with the formulation that seniors who collect money from a program they’ve contributed to all their lives are “greedy geezers,” is designed to persuade the public that an elderly woman living on $800 per month is a social parasite – but the hedge fund manager who pays 15% tax rate on his billions is not.

It made some people uncomfortable when we wrote that “Entitlement reform” is a euphemism for letting old people die, but we cited extensive studies that support exactly that conclusion. […]

READ @ http://www.nationofchange.org/2011-year-resistance-conservatism-s-war-words-1325429170



By Ralph Lopez, War Is A Crime

Buried by the television news media but visible on Youtube, at least three days in a row of protests over NDAA law allowing indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial have taken place recently, with at least 11 arrests confirmed so far.

Fox News reported on its website:

WASHINGTON –  Several Occupy D.C. protesters will likely face charges after they were arrested in a protest outside the White House.

U.S. Park Police say 11 protesters were arrested Monday night because they ignored police orders to leave the grounds. The protesters included some Occupy D.C. participants, though it wasn’t immediately clear if all those arrested were part of the Occupy movement.

The group was protesting a defense funding bill that would allow the president to detain people indefinitely if they are suspected of terrorist activities.

The Youtube poster of the below video says in the upload information:

Protesters out in front of the white house for the 3rd night in a row. NO news coverage. Arrests taking place every night, 11 last night, 7 tonight so far.

In the video the Occupy Wall Street protesters (this can be determined by use of the “human microphone”) demand Obama veto the bill, as the video was taken before Obama signed it last week.

Language in the NDAA is intended to allow defenders to argue that the provisions do not apply to American citizens, language which Rep. Justin Amash (D-MI) called “carefully crafted to mislead the public.”

The deceptions center around Sections 1021 and 1022.  Section 1021 says in substance:

“Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force …to detain…A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda…or associated forces…including any person who has…directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces…The disposition of a person…may include…Detention under the law of war…without trial until the end of the hostilities…”

This is the language from the final House-Senate Conference Committee report (HR 1540 Conference), which is the language that was passed by the Senate after being passed by the House, on Dec. 15, Bill of Rights Day in an 86 – 14 vote.


24 (a) IN GENERAL.—Congress affirms that the author-
25 ity of the President to use all necessary and appropriate
1 force
pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military
2 Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes
3 the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States
4 to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b))
5 pending disposition under the law of war.

6 (b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under
7 this section is any person as follows:

8 (1) A person who planned, authorized, com-
9 mitted, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred
10 on September 11, 2001, or harbored those respon-
11 sible for those attacks.

12 (2) A person who was a part of or substantially
13 supported al-Qaeda,
the Taliban, or associated forces
14 that are engaged in hostilities against the United
15 States or its coalition partners, including any person
16 who has
committed a belligerent act or has directly
17 supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy
18 forces.

20 position of a person
under the law of war as described
21 in subsection (a) may include the following:

22 (1) Detention under the law of war without
23 trial until the end of the hostilities
authorized by the
24 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Rep. Tom McClintock opposed the bill on the House floor saying it:

specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” — whatever that means.

Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know.

“Substantial support” of an “associated force” may imply citizens engaged in innocuous, First Amendment activities.  Direct support of such hostilities in aid of enemy forces may be construed as free speech opposition to U.S. government policies, aid to civilians, or acts of civil disobedience.

All accusations of who is “Al Qaeda” rest solely on the word of the government, with no witnesses, evidence, or any other form of due process required.

Section 1021 also reads: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law.” But “existing law,” in the words of Sen. Lindsey Graham a key mover of the bill, refers to Padilla v. Rumsfeld in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the government’s claim of authority to hold Americans arrested on American soil indefinitely.


(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody
under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

However, although the section says it is not “required” that US citizens be held in military detention, it is nevertheless “allowed.” […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://warisacrime.org/content/arrests-white-house-over-ndaa-military-detention-americans-occupy-wall-street-joins-fight



Translated from the Portuguese version by: Lisa Karpova

U.S. lawmakers officially authorized its army to take up so-called “kinetic military actions,” nothing more than a sad method of literally saying “war” in a manner that is a gross understatement. As always in these cases, the announcement came with no fanfare, but quietly, in a short paragraph that includes the military budget for 2012. It may be much more insidious, but not clearer.

The military budget, which approved the classification of the law, states: “Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the potential for and, under specific directions, can perform offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our nation, partners and other interests, in accordance with the principles and legal systems that the Department defines for the kinetic action potential, inclusive within armed conflict and the resolution of the powers of war.”

Intentionally obscure, the text above mentions “kinetic capabilities” and “principles and legal systems.” If someone does not remember, the U.S. military intervention in Libya, in the war that sought the downfall of Gaddafi, they said it was not a “war” but a “kinetic military action.”

And why call it kinetic action, and not war? Because the U.S. president has to ask Congress permission to declare war, he has get their authorization for that. This has not occurred with respect to Libya.

Due to the “between the lines” authorization of the above document, the U.S. president and his commander of the Army now have a free way to declare, also, a war on the Internet where they will operate without the need to follow any principles or legal systems that require permission from Congress.

There are also other obscure terms, for example, what do they consider an “offensive action”? Although not specified, the Pentagon’s strategy for “security on the Internet,” is another nice euphemism. They have been occupied in trying to define the meaning of this offensive for months.

It is worth explaining that “offensive actions” may include the release of viruses of all kinds, the destruction of services and the ability to invade the energy control systems in other countries, disabling their power grids and generating complete blackouts.

We stress the fact that the actions “may include” because there are no precedents in relation to net cyber war or war, and these actions can expect to receive similar responses, as with real warfare attacks, keeping in view everything that has been pointed out as offensive in this text

This threat of war is precipitated by cyber-paranoia, prophesying all sorts of cyber-apocalypse scenarios and other cyber-deception to promote fear.

There is no record of any attacks from hackers that have put anyone in real danger, not even at risk, it is “highly dependent on Internet infrastructure

READ @ http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/terror/28-12-2011/120094-Pentagon_gets_green_light_for_Internet_war-0/



“Right now, the United States is militarily engaged in one form or another in almost 100 countries.”

Source: AlterNet

Editor’s note: This is a transcript of a conversation between members of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Noam Chomsky, which took place on September 21, 2011. Each question was asked in Dari and translated by Hakim.

Hakim: Thank you, Professor Chomsky, for speaking to us. We are speaking from the highlands of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, and we wanted to start off by thanking you sincerely for the guidance and wisdom that you have consistently given through your teaching and speeches in many places. We want to start off with a question from Faiz.

Faiz: In an article by Ahmad Rashid in the New York Times recently, he said that “after 10 years, it should be clear that the war in this region cannot be won purely by military force….Pakistanis desperately need a new narrative…but where is the leadership to tell this story as it should be told? The military gets away with its antiquated thinking because nobody is offering an alternative, and without an alternative, nothing will improve for a long time.”

Do you think there is any leadership in the world today that can propose an alternative non-military solution for Afghanistan, and if not, where or from whom would this leadership come from?

Noam Chomsky: I think it is well understood among the military leadership and also the political leadership in the United States and its allies, that they cannot achieve a military solution of the kind that they want. This is putting aside the question of whether that goal was ever justified; now, put that aside. Just in their terms, they know perfectly well they cannot achieve a military solution.

Is there an alternative political force that could work toward some sort of political settlement? Well, you know, that actually the major force that would be effective in bringing about that aim is popular opinion. The public is already very strongly opposed to the war and has been for a long time, but that has not translated itself into an active, committed, dedicated popular movement that is seeking to change policy. And that’s what has to be done here.

My own feeling is that the most important consequence of the very significant peace efforts that are underway inside Afghanistan might well be to stimulate popular movements in the West through just people-to-people contact, which would help impose pressures on the United States, and particularly Britain, to end the military phase of this conflict and move toward what ought to be done: peaceful settlement and honest, realistic economic development.

Abdulai: Dr. Ramazon Bashardost told the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers once that the people of Afghanistan have no choice because all available options in Afghanistan are bad. So, Afghans have no choice but to choose the least bad of the bad options. In this situation, some Afghans, and in particular many in Kabul, feel that the least bad option is to have the U.S. coalition forces remain in Afghanistan.

Do you think that the continued presence of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan is the least bad option? If not, what are the possible truly good options for ordinary Afghans?

Chomsky: I agree that there don’t appear to be any good options, and that we therefore regrettably have to try to seek the least bad of the bad options. Now, that judgment has to be made by Afghans. You’re on the scene. You’re the people who live with the consequences. You are the people who have the right and responsibility to make these delicate and unfortunate choices. I have my own opinion, but it doesn’t carry any weight. What matters are your opinions.

My opinion is that as long as the military forces are there now, they will probably increase the tensions and undermine the possibilities for a longer term settlement. I think that’s been the record of the past 10 years largely, and that’s the record in other places as well—in Iraq, for example. So, my feeling is that a phased withdrawal of the kind that’s actually contemplated may well be the least bad of the bad options, but combined with other efforts. It’s not enough to just withdraw troops. There have to be alternatives put in place.

One of them, for example, which has repeatedly been recommended, is regional cooperation among the regional powers. That would of course include Pakistan, Iran, India, the countries to the north, all of which, together with Afghan representatives among them, might be able to hammer out a development program that would be meaningful and cooperate in implementing it, shifting the focus of activities from killing to reconstructing and building. But the core of issues are going to have to be settled internal to Afghanistan. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/world/153471/noam_chomsky_on_the_us-afghan_strategic_partnership%3A_%27part_of_a_global_program_of_world_militarization’/



By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

[…] It seems Jim O’Neill, the head of Goldman’s Asset Management department, is predicting that the United States stock market may go up “15 to 20 percent.” O’Neill apparently believes Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve will resort to another round of money-printing, and finally green-light the long-awaited “Qe3,” or third round of “Quantitative Easing.”

The QE programs involve the Fed printing hundreds of billions of dollars and pumping them into the marketplace, where they ostensibly stimulate the economy (although recent experience tells us that the money mostly ends up being swallowed by the financial services industry – but that’s another subject for another time). Anyway, Bernanke declined to go ahead with a third QE program in late 2011, but O’Neill apparently thinks we’ll get it in 2012. From Bloomberg:

“If QE2 doesn’t work, then we’ll get QE3,” said O’Neill, who was named chairman of the money manager in September after working as the co-head of global economics research and chief currency economist at New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. since 1995. There’s a “good chance” the S&P 500 will rise 15 percent to 20 percent in the next 12 months, he said.

O’Neill added that he thought a 20 percent bump would be “relatively straightforward” for the U.S. S&P.

Goldman is building an impressive resume of sweepingly bullish predictions that later on, in retrospect, look more like signals to investors that they should run screaming in the opposite direction. A good example might be May of 2008, when Goldman boldly predicted that oil would go to $200 a barrel; oil would go on to peak at $147 less than two months later and crash to the floor soon after.

O’Neill himself famously coined the infamous “BRIC” term (Brazil, Russia, India and China), urging investors to throw their money at those emerging markets, arguing that those markets would eclipse the U.S. and Japan as the world’s biggest economies by 2050. Mutual fund investors responded by pouring $70 billion into BRIC over the last decade, but that run looks over now, as $15 billion flowed out of BRIC funds in this past year alone, and some analysts are predicting a $20 percent drop this year. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/goldmans-latest-boiler-room-stock-america-20120102



By Paul Krugman, NYTimes

In 2011, as in 2010, America was in a technical recovery but continued to suffer from disastrously high unemployment. And through most of 2011, as in 2010, almost all the conversation in Washington was about something else: the allegedly urgent issue of reducing the budget deficit.

This misplaced focus said a lot about our political culture, in particular about how disconnected Congress is from the suffering of ordinary Americans. But it also revealed something else: when people in D.C. talk about deficits and debt, by and large they have no idea what they’re talking about — and the people who talk the most understand the least.

Perhaps most obviously, the economic “experts” on whom much of Congress relies have been repeatedly, utterly wrong about the short-run effects of budget deficits. People who get their economic analysis from the likes of the Heritage Foundation have been waiting ever since President Obama took office for budget deficits to send interest rates soaring. Any day now!

And while they’ve been waiting, those rates have dropped to historical lows. You might think that this would make politicians question their choice of experts — that is, you might think that if you didn’t know anything about our postmodern, fact-free politics. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/opinion/krugman-nobody-understands-debt.html



By Costas Papachlimintzos, Athens News

Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see,” Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, is thought to have said. This statement couldn’t be more fitting to what has been said and written for Greece this past year.

A quick overview of 2011 brings up the so-called predictions and grandiose statements made on crucial issues regarding the Greek crisis that later on proved to be hugely contradictory.

Since the beginning of the year, a great number of analysts, bankers and academics have stated that a Greek bankruptcy is inevitable and imminent, but the Greek state has not yet defaulted on its debt.

An even greater number have spoken against debt restructuring, while several top members of the Greek government denied that such an issue was even being discussed. Nevertheless, the July 21 EU summit concluded that, for the first time in the eurozone, a haircut would be imposed on the sovereign bonds of a member state.

Greek politicians have made several other major assertions that have never materialised. The most notable examples are the commitment of Prime Minister George Papandreou that national elections would be held in 2013, as well as his call for a referendum on the new bailout deal.

Impressive u-turns were also made by the European Central Bank, which did not cut the lifeline to Greece, and by the country’s creditors, who are about to accept far greater losses as part of the so-called private sector involvement (PSI) in the Greek rescue plan.

If there is one lesson to be learnt from 2011, it is that the political and economic landscape in Greece and the eurozone is changing so rapidly that any prediction on future developments will most likely be overturned, sometimes as soon as the very next day.

Bankruptcy now!

GREECE’s imminent bankruptcy was one of the favoured prophecies of pundits and financial institutions alike throughout 2011.

In September, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) predicted that Greece will experience a hard default in December, a move it said would trigger “violent contagion” in global markets.

In a note to clients, RBS European rates strategist Harvinder Sian said Greece will default on, or around, the IMF’s December 11 review of its fiscal reforms. As reported by Investment Week, the note pointed to the country’s inability to implement reforms, over-ambitious austerity targets, an absence of further compromise from the IMF and EU, as well as the growing difficulty of Greece’s parliament passing laws. Sian called the December 11 review “a pivotal one”.

Privatisations galore

On March 11, eurozone leaders extended Greece’s EU loan maturity from 3 to 7½ years and reduced the interest rate by 100 basis points. In return, Papandreou pledged a renewed privatisation programme worth 50 billion euros, an amount to be raised by 2015, in order to write down part of the massive public debt. The aim for 2011 was to collect the little matter of at least 5 billion by year-end.

Delays in setting up the privatisation fund and the plunging stock market values on the Athens bourse soon forced the government to reduce the target to 4 billion euros. And by the end of December, Greece had collected only a paltry 392 million euros – the proceeds of selling off a 10 percent stake in Hellenic Telecommunications (OTE) to Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.

Truth be told, it came as no surprise to the European Commission, which conceded in its fifth review of the economic adjustment programme for this country that the targets for privatisation proceeds would be missed.

Echoing similar sentiments, the IMF’s Greek debt sustainability analysis of October 21 estimated that by 2020 total privatisation proceeds would amount to 46 billion euros, instead of the 66 billion assumed in the programme – ie the original 50bn target, plus an additional 16bn raised from the sale of additional assets created by bank recapitalisation.

Read my lips: No restructuring 

Statements by Greek and EU officials against the restructuring of Greece’s public debt proved way off the mark. On April 28, Servaz Deruz, the European Union’s voice within the so-called troika, argued that restructuring would have dire consequences. He added that such a move wouldn’t offer much by way of easing the country’s debt burden. Nor was he short of support in this assertion. Antonio Borges, the head of the IMF’s European department, and Greek central banker Yiorgos Provopoulos also said that a restructuring could have catastrophic results.

On May 2, Finance Minister Yiorgos Papakonstantinou categorically ruled out debt restructuring, adding that he just “expressed the hope” that the EU and IMF would agree to extending bailout loan repayments. A few weeks later, Prime Minister George Papandreou and senior ECB officials added that Greece must avoid debt restructuring and push on with budget cuts and privatisations to overcome its debt crisis.

Most emphatic of all was European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet, who said that Greece must avoid any form of restructuring in tackling its debt crisis.

“We are not in favour of restructuring,” he said. On being pushed by reporters, he added: “I am not embarking on a dialogue with a particular minister here … No credit event, no selective default.”

Trichet added on July 14 that the ECB would have to intervene if Greece was given a default investment rating. “If a country defaults, we will no longer be able to accept its defaulted government bonds as normal eligible collateral,” he said in an interview with Financial Times Deutschland.

On July 21, the restructuring of the Greek debt was signed, sealed and delivered by eurozone leaders.

Poll dancing

“National elections will be held in 2013 as scheduled” was the refrain of the Papandreou government for many months, as the opposition parties and much of the press were pushing for snap elections.

Papandreou himself was emphatic on May 27, ahead of a meeting of party leaders chaired by President Karolos Papoulias, stressing: “I will state categorically that national elections will be held in 2013.” He added: “That is when we will be judged, when we will all be judged.”

On October 31, in a bid to stifle tacit calls for snap elections, Papandreou said his government intended to use the two remaining years of its mandate to implement its commitments.

So rapidly did events unfold that not only was Lucas Papademos sworn in as the head of an interim three-party government on November 11, but a deal was also struck between Pasok and New Democracy that national elections would be held on 19 February 2012 or soon thereafter.

The referendum that never was

“We trust citizens, we believe in their judgement, we believe in their decision” was how Papandreou presented to Pasok MPs, on October 31, his now infamous decision to call a national referendum on the latest EU bailout package. Papandreou also explained that he was calling a vote of confidence to secure the support for his policies for the remainder of his four-year term.

Speaking to his parliamentary group, Papandreou said it was the time for citizens “to reply responsibly: Do they want us to implement it or reject it?” He added that he had faith in people to make the right decision. “Let each person decide for his country and for himself,” he declared, adding confidently that the referendum would be held in a few weeks’ time.

What followed was an outpouring of anger and consternation both at home and abroad, with people fearful that a ‘no’ vote would send the country spinning into a whirlpool of disorderly default. Two days later, he called off the referendum and agreed to step down as prime minister.

‘Just a 21 percent trim’

In eurospeak, the EU leaders’ statement after the July 21 summit went something like this: “The financial sector has indicated its willingness to support Greece on a voluntary basis through a menu of options further strengthening overall sustainability. The net contribution of the private sector is estimated at 37 billion euros.”

In simple terms, it meant that the process for a 21 percent haircut of Greek debt had been started.

However, on October 3, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU was now reassessing the extent of the private sector’s role in the planned second package for Greece. “As far as the PSI [private sector initiative] is concerned, we have to take into account the fact that we have experienced changes since the decisions we took on the July 21, so we are considering technical revisions,” he told reporters.

The idea gathered pace a month later, when French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said the extent of private sector involvement in bailing out Greece may need to be re-examined after the volatility on financial markets over the summer. The comments marked a public acknowledgment from France – which up until then had argued that an agreement by eurozone heads of state on July 21 should be applied in full – that further participation from private sector creditors may be required as Greece‘s financial crisis deepens. “Given what’s happened over the last three months, we should perhaps look at the extent of the private sector involvement,” Baroin said on French radio station RTL.

Under the new deal struck at the eurozone summit of October 28, the writedown to be suffered by private holders of Greek debt was set at 50 percent. […]

READ @ http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13476/51931



Source: youtube.com 

h/t Dan Bellini

Occupy Princeton (www.occupyprinceton.net) students mic-check a JP Morgan-Chase Treasury Services info session on December 7, 2011. This is the first direct action taken up by Occupy Princeton – more to come. Full Script below:

“Princeton’s motto is:

In the nation’s service and service of all nations
JP Morgan-Chase, your actions violate our motto
Your predatory lending practices helped crash our economy
We’ve bailed out your executives’ bonuses
You’ve evicted struggling homeowners while taking their tax money
You support mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia
which destroys our ecological future
In light of these actions,
we protest the campus culture
that whitewashes the crooked dealings of Wall Street
as a prestigious career path.
We are here today
as a voice for the 99%
shut out by a system that punishes them
just for being born without privilege.
What we need is not a university for the 1%,
but a university “In the Nation’s Service,
and in the Service of All Nations.”

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ0J_HUsRaI&feature=youtu.be

Dec 312011


By Abraham Ritchie, HuffPo

h/t Jagoff Publishing @ http://thejagoff.com/

Pasted Graphic.tiff

Western Exhibitions’ “Heads on Poles” exhibit. Photo courtesy ArtSlant Chicago.

As 2011 winds to an end, we reached out to some of Chicago’s experts in style, music, art and more to share some of their favorite places, people and things of the year. Already this week, Pete Zimmerman of CHIRP Radio and The Steve Dahl Show rounded up his favorite Chicago bands, albums and songs of 2011. Thursday, Refinery 29’s Chicago Editor Shani Silver shared the local shops and designers she admired this year, while the crew at Chicago Theater Beat revealed their picks for the city’s best plays of the year.

Below, ArtSlant Chicago Editor Abraham Ritchie shares his picks for the top contemporary art exhibits, galleries and other highlights from the year in contemporary art.

2011 was a solid year for art in Chicago, with quality art appearing in all areas of the city consistently throughout the year. The galleries in the 119 North Peoria Street building, threewalls, Western Exhibitions and Golden Age, were consistently strong all year and deserve a special nod, as they will get below. Steps away from Peoria Street, 65GRAND had excellent exhibitions particularly in painting and, unexpectedly, the monochrome. Though we had to bid goodbye as some of our favorite galleries closed this year: Golden Age, Walsh Gallery and Noble and Superior Projects, the city’s continued artistic and intellectual vitality assures us new visions are already emerging. Promising galleries like Ebersmoore, Chicago Urban Art Society and Alderman Exhibitions have taken part in the annual migration to bigger and better spaces. Going into 2012, there are many reasons to be optimistic. […]

READ @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/best-chicago-art-of-2011-_n_1175382.html?ref=chica



Source: Mother Jones


Though gerrymandering is nearly as old as the Republic—its namesake was early 19th century Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced “Gary,” if you please)—it’s never really been a hot-button issue for voters. Gerrymandering seeks to change that with an entertaining yet outraged look at the odd practice of letting politicians pick their voters. Just consider the case of Barack Obama, who got a major career boost when he helped redraw the boundaries of his mostly black Illinois state Senate district so it represented white liberals.

A bipartisan cast of talking heads, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Howard Dean, make the case for reform. But Gerrymandering walks the boundary between documentary and political ad: Just as I received a review DVD at work, I also received a copy at home—mailed to me and other Golden State voters by the backers of a redistricting reform proposition. —Dave Gilson

The Stinking Ship

One night in August 2006, a tanker chartered by Trafigura, a British oil trader, anchored off the Ivory Coast and illegally unloaded 500 tons of toxic waste into Abidjan’s landfills. The pungent, blistering sludge killed 16 and hospitalized more than 100,000. Director Bagassi Koura’s short documentary skillfully chronicles how Trafigura dodged environmental regulations to save a mere $300,000, only to spend millions trying to cover up its responsibility.

What makes The Stinking Ship so heartbreaking are the stories of the people still living with the effects of the “Ivorian Chernobyl,” which has yet to be fully cleaned up. A community leader laments, “When it rains or it’s windy, frankly we can’t live in the village. The stench reaches far beyond it. We are walking dead.” —Titania Kumeh

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Morgan Spurlock downed a month of McDonald’s for our fast-food sins in his notorious 2004 film Super Size Me. Now he’s aiming to show us how ad-soaked our lives have become by financing an entire doc about the ubiquity of product placement using—what else?—product placement. The title is no joke; Spurlock pitches POM the naming rights on camera. From then on, he is shown imbibing only the pomegranate beverage, while other drink brands are visibly blurred out. He flies exclusively on JetBlue, wears Merrell shoes (giving a pair to Ralph Nader), and drives Mini Coopers. His contracts obligate him to interview anti-commercialization advocate Susan Linn at a Sheetz gas station, and to stay at a Hyatt when he travels to São Paolo to cover the city’s outdoor ad ban.

While amusing as a meta-commercial packaged as an inquiry into artistic integrity, the film inevitably feels like a stunt. The slyest touch may be that amid the hawking and well-worn revelations about advertising, the biggest sell is for the amiable Spurlock as the genre’s reigning goofball tour guide. All that’s missing is the obligatory survey question: Are you more or less likely to purchase this brand in the future? —Robert Abele


COMPLETE LIST w/ VIDEOS @ http://motherjones.com/media/2011/12/best-documentary-films-of-year



By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Vanity Fair

Forget monetary policy. Re-examining the cause of the Great Depression—the revolution in agriculture that threw millions out of work—the author argues that the U.S. is now facing and must manage a similar shift in the “real” economy, from industry to service, or risk a tragic replay of 80 years ago.

It has now been almost five years since the bursting of the housing bubble, and four years since the onset of the recession. There are 6.6 million fewer jobs in the United States than there were four years ago. Some 23 million Americans who would like to work full-time cannot get a job. Almost half of those who are unemployed have been unemployed long-term. Wages are falling—the real income of a typical American household is now below the level it was in 1997.

We knew the crisis was serious back in 2008. And we thought we knew who the “bad guys” were—the nation’s big banks, which through cynical lending and reckless gambling had brought the U.S. to the brink of ruin. The Bush and Obama administrations justified a bailout on the grounds that only if the banks were handed money without limit—and without conditions—could the economy recover. We did this not because we loved the banks but because (we were told) we couldn’t do without the lending that they made possible. Many, especially in the financial sector, argued that strong, resolute, and generous action to save not just the banks but the bankers, their shareholders, and their creditors would return the economy to where it had been before the crisis. In the meantime, a short-term stimulus, moderate in size, would suffice to tide the economy over until the banks could be restored to health.

The banks got their bailout. Some of the money went to bonuses. Little of it went to lending. And the economy didn’t really recover—output is barely greater than it was before the crisis, and the job situation is bleak. The diagnosis of our condition and the prescription that followed from it were incorrect. First, it was wrong to think that the bankers would mend their ways—that they would start to lend, if only they were treated nicely enough. We were told, in effect: “Don’t put conditions on the banks to require them to restructure the mortgages or to behave more honestly in their foreclosures. Don’t force them to use the money to lend. Such conditions will upset our delicate markets.” In the end, bank managers looked out for themselves and did what they are accustomed to doing.

Even when we fully repair the banking system, we’ll still be in deep trouble—because we were already in deep trouble. That seeming golden age of 2007 was far from a paradise. Yes, America had many things about which it could be proud. Companies in the information-technology field were at the leading edge of a revolution. But incomes for most working Americans still hadn’t returned to their levels prior to the previous recession. The American standard of living was sustained only by rising debt—debt so large that the U.S. savings rate had dropped to near zero. And “zero” doesn’t really tell the story. Because the rich have always been able to save a significant percentage of their income, putting them in the positive column, an average rate of close to zero means that everyone else must be in negative numbers. (Here’s the reality: in the years leading up to the recession, according to research done by my Columbia University colleague Bruce Greenwald, the bottom 80 percent of the American population had been spending around 110 percent of its income.) What made this level of indebtedness possible was the housing bubble, which Alan Greenspan and then Ben Bernanke, chairmen of the Federal Reserve Board, helped to engineer through low interest rates and nonregulation—not even using the regulatory tools they had. As we now know, this enabled banks to lend and households to borrow on the basis of assets whose value was determined in part by mass delusion. […]

READ @ http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/01/stiglitz-depression-201201



By David Swanson, War Is A Crime

I cannot stress sufficiently that we will best move Congress toward peace and justice by keeping it at arm’s length and pressuring it without self-censorship, compromise, or entanglement with one or the other of its two branches: the Democratic or Republican. We are engaged in a long-term campaign to undo a plutocratic war state. Moving that campaign forward in the general culture is more important than which criminal enterprise has a majority of seats: the Democratic or Republican.

But it will be advantageous to us to have as many individuals with some nerve and a core of human decency occupying seats in Congress — perhaps as many as three or four of them if we are lucky. While only a mass movement will move the mass of corporate shills on Capitol Hill, it cannot hurt to have a few people there who are seriously on our side, people who understand where we are coming from without being taught, people who can communicate in front of a camera, people who are willing to step out alone and lead, and people capable of organizing others to join them.

Most elections pair up lesser and greater evils, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. But some handful of elections, especially primaries, include actually good candidates. I understand the presidential obsession. We’ve given presidents royal powers, so it matters that we show resistance to each would-be king by backing someone who would conceivably give those powers back, such as Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein. And I understand local action. But most localities don’t offer anything, and most general elections have already been decided by the gerrymanderers. If you must focus on elections, why not look to the few places that could make a real difference?

The best voice the peace movement has had in elected Washington in recent years has been Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He’s pushed the rest of the House of Misrepresentatives to places it had no desire to go. If we lose his voice in Washington, we will be taking a serious step backward. The point is not that we need elected officials to tell us what we want. The point is that only the very rarest of elected officials ever listen to what we want. Kucinich is one of them. The Ohio legislature has combined Kucinich’s district with Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s. These two Democratic incumbents will compete in one primary. That Kaptur is not the worst member of Congress we’ve ever seen, that she has in fact been remarkably good on occasion, does not alter the pressing need to keep a voice for peace in official Washington. […]

READ @ http://warisacrime.org/content/infiltrating-congress



By Washington’s Blog

Extremists on Both the Right and the Left Like Tyranny

Lou Rockwell notes:

The most definitive study on fascism written in [the first half of the 20th century] was As We Go Marching by John T. Flynn. Flynn was a journalist and scholar of a liberal spirit who had written a number of best-selling books in the 1920s. He could probably be put in the progressive camp in the 1920s.


In reviewing the history of the rise of fascism, Flynn wrote:

One of the most baffling phenomena of fascism is the almost incredible collaboration between men of the extreme Right and the extreme Left in its creation.


If you think about it, right-wing statism is of a different color, cast, and tone from left-wing statism. Each is designed to appeal to a different set of voters with different interests and values.

These divisions, however, are not strict, and we’ve already seen how a left-wing socialist program can adapt itself and become a right-wing fascist program with very little substantive change other than its marketing program [or vice versa].

How Can Supposed “Right” and “Left” Wing People Both Be for Tyranny?

The short answer, of course, is that tyrannical interests may wear different masks, but it is just a dog-and-pony show meant to distract us into artificial “teams”.

George W. Bush cracked down on constitutional liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and due process.

Obama has done the same … and has cracked down even harder.

Both Bush and Obama are waging brutal, unnecessary and insanely expensive wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Indeed, these wars were planned before either Bush or Obama. Both Democratic and Republican leaders are servants to the military-industrial complex, and they both accept the wholly-debunked myth that war is good for the economy (and see this).

Both Bush and Obama have both allowed crony capitalism to flourish. How can this be, when they are from such different sides of the aisle?

Because “fascism” (on the right), Soviet style “socialism” (on the left) and crony capitalism (a more modern, Western term) are all the exact same thing economically. They are all about an unholy alliance between a handful of corrupt, banana republic style government leaders and giant companies run amok.

Tyranny is a bipartisan disease. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/12/tyranny-is-a-bipartisan-disease.html


* We Request to Inform You that You Inform Us We Killed Another Drone Target

By Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel

I want to follow-up on Jim’s latest drone post–and go back to Greg Miller’s article on drones–to look at the the approval process. A lot of readers of Miller’s article noted this passage, revealing that JSOC continues to avoid the kind of (minimal) oversight that CIA gets.

There is no comparable requirement in Title 10, and the Senate Armed Services Committee can go days before learning the details of JSOC strikes.

But read the whole passage in context.

Within 24 hours of every CIA drone strike, a classified fax machine lights up in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spitting out a report on the location, target and result.

The outdated procedure reflects the agency’s effort to comply with Title 50 requirements that Congress be provided with timely, written notification of covert action overseas. There is no comparable requirement in Title 10, and the Senate Armed Services Committee can go days before learning the details of JSOC strikes.

Neither panel is in position to compare the CIA and JSOC kill lists or even arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the rules by which each is assembled.

The senior administration official said the gap is inadvertent. “It’s certainly not something where the goal is to evade oversight,” the official said. A senior Senate aide involved in reviewing military drone strikes said that the blind spot reflects a failure by Congress to adapt but that “we will eventually catch up.”

The disclosure of these operations is generally limited to relevant committees in the House and Senate and sometimes only to their leaders. Those briefed must abide by restrictions that prevent them from discussing what they have learned with those who lack the requisite security clearances. The vast majority of lawmakers receives scant information about the administration’s drone program.

In addition to the long-standing problem of JSOC avoiding oversight (and, implicitly, that this notice apparently comes after the fact, when CIA sends a fax over, which is a little late for the Intelligence Committees to weigh in, IMO), Miller lays out the following:

  • No one–not the intelligence committees or even the Gang of Four–gets enough insight into the drone programs to understand how JSOC’s practices differ from CIA’s (this is consistent with what the Gang of Four said about Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing, given that they said they never saw the kill lists)
  • As is typical, the intelligence committee overseers can’t share information from briefings with their colleagues not read into the program (this is how the Bush Administration gutted intelligence committee oversight of the torture and illegal wiretap programs)

But don’t worry, a senior Administration official says, this time, this secrecy is not designed specifically to avoid oversight.

Apparently, this SAO’s interlocutors don’t agree, because the WSJ’s Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman have a similar story out today, just three days after Miller’s, quoting “current and former administration, military and congressional officials” complaining about oversight gaps.

While few U.S. lawmakers question the effectiveness of the targeted killing campaigns, some top lawmakers complain about what they see as excessive White House secrecy about how targets are chosen and how the administration justified the killings, particularly of American citizens.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, has been publicly and privately pressing the Justice Department to let his committee review the secret memorandum prepared by Justice Department lawyers that endorsed the legality of killing U.S. citizens abroad.

Similar qualms have come from members of the House and Senate armed services committees, who have also sought more information in particular about the CIA’s drone program (they have some oversight over the drones run by the Defense Department).

We’ve seen this movie already. The refusal to release OLC opinions to DOJ’s oversight committee(s); the use of committee jurisdictional oddities to avoid oversight; the appeal to secrecy. All of this comes directly from the Bush script on hiding illegal programs from Congress.

And yet all of the people presumably bitching–folks like Pat Leahy, Carl Levin, John McCain, Buck McKeon, and Adam Smith presumably–just passed language leaving the Administration’s authority to use deadly force while pretending to try to detain American citizens with a drone intact.

Hey Congress! With Bush you were usually most successful forcing more transparency by refusing to pass legislation until you got that transparency. Maybe you should have tried that here?

In any case, Obama’s anonymous leakers poo poo the entire notion of functional Congressional oversight. […]

READ @ http://www.emptywheel.net/2011/12/30/we-request-to-inform-you-that-you-inform-us-we-killed-another-drone-target/



By Paul Rosenberg, Aljazeera

Pasted Graphic 3.tiff

The US has yet to come to terms with its biggest pack of lies of the last decade, the pack of lies on which the Iraq War was based, which left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, and the entire nation shattered. [GALLO/GETTY]

Last week, in an act of profound deception, the American “fact-checking” organisation, PolitiFact, chose a true statement as its “Lie of the Year”. The pseudo-lie?  “[House] Republicans voted to end Medicare”, as part of the GOP’s “Ryan Plan” last April. The reality? As the Wall Street Journal’s Naftali Bendavid wrote at the time, in a preview of the votethat Democrats would then cite to justify their claims:The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the healthcare bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a programme that directly pays those bills. Mr Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the programme’s soaring costs.

There is a potential lie-of-the-year in that paragraph. It’s just not the one that PolitiFact thinks it found.

The real lie is the claim that Ryan’s plan “is necessary because of the programme’s soaring costs”. In fact, the problem isn’t Medicare per se, it’s the entire cost structure of American medicine as a whole, which is roughly twice the per capita cost of healthcare spending in other advanced countries – even those that have 50 per cent more people aged 65+ than the US has.

The reason for that cost structure is non-competitive private oligopolies – insurance companies, drug companies, hospital chains, etc., – in sharp contrast to other countries with their government-run systems of various different kinds. There’s another name for these oligopolies -they are the cash cows of the one per cent. Paul Ryan is their man, and PolitiFact is part of their protection system.

Indeed, as Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson explained just over a year ago, in their paper “A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession”, all of the US long-term federal debt is due to just three oligopoly sectors: the military-industrial complex (the backbone of empire, with bases all around the world and almost half the world’s military spending), the medical-industrial complex (with twice the per capita costs of other systems), and the financial sector (which has recently cost trillions of dollars in lost wealth and economic activity).

All three of these are enormous cash cows for the onr per cent, and equally enormous cost-centres for the 99 per cent. Without the costs imposed by lack of competition, regulation and accountability in these sectors, the US would have no long-term debt problem. We would be paying it down, rather than running it up. […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/12/2011122994027989871.html



Source: RT 

h/t SnakeArbusto

Police in Cairo have today raided 17 civil society organizations as the country’s military rulers seek to find out exactly who has been funding the Egyptian revolution.

­As several of the pro-democracy and human rights groups were at the forefront of the revolution that swept through the country last January, Egyptian authorities have become increasingly interested in the foreign funding many of these groups receive.

At least three of the human rights groups targeted in Thursday’s operation, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House, and the International Republican Institute (IRI), are based in the US.

“Security forces who said they were from the public prosecutor are raiding our offices as we speak. They are grabbing all the papers and laptops as well,” said one person working at NDI, who gave her name as Rawda, told Reuters.

The Washington-based IRI, which has served as an election monitor in Egypt’s ongoing parliamentary elections, reacted harshly to the raids.

“IRI has been working with Egyptians since 2005; it is ironic that even during the Mubarak era IRI was not subjected to such aggressive action,” a statement by the group read, Al Arabiya reports.

­US reaction

The campaign has drawn immediate response from the United States. The State Department has characterized the raids as “inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation” that the two countries have had over years and urged Egyptian authorities to immediately halt their “harassment” of NGOs.

It has also made it clear that America could review its US $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt. The spokeswoman for the State Department, Victoria Nuland, has indicated that these payments may not be sanctioned by the Congress if Egyptian government does not reverse the situation.

“We do have a number of new reporting and transparency requirements on funding to Egypt that we have to make to Congress,” Nuland said. “The Egyptian government is well aware of that and it certainly needs to be aware of that in the context of how quickly this issue gets resolved.”

Meanwhile, 28 Egyptian rights groups came up with a joint statement on Friday accusing the country’s ruling military council of using “Hosni Mubarak-era repressive tools” in waging an “unprecedented campaign” against pro-democracy organizations, AP reports. The statement says the attacks herald a wider clampdown to target leaders of the uprising and are aimed at “liquidating” those behind the revolution.

READ and VIDEOS @ http://rt.com/news/egypt-police-raid-ngo-953/



By Karl Rusnak, Economy In Crisis

The World Trade Organization (WTO) was allegedly intended to benefit all of its members by increasing economic activity, but the reality has been quite different. The WTO has been a boon to multinational corporations, but has worked against the best interest of average citizens, particularly in the United States. According to Public Citizen, the WTO has ruled against the U.S. in 100 percent of the cases where a complaint was brought against a U.S. public interest law.

A major example of this occurred earlier this year when the WTO ruled against the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTC) of 2009, saying that it violated WTO rules. The law was intended to help combat teenage smoking by banning flavored cigarettes. There is considerable evidence that flavored cigarettes were targeted at younger potential smokers, which contributed to many young people developing lifelong addictions. It is no secret that cigarette smoking is a health hazard, and this measure was clearly intended as a public health measure, not a trade related measure.

Despite this fact, Indonesia filed a complaint with the WTO alleging that FSPTC represented an illegal barrier to trade. The complaint alleged that the ban on flavored cigarettes was “discriminatory and unnecessary.” Indonesia had  been the primary exporter of clove cigarettes to the United States before they were banned by this new law. Indonesia argued that because menthol cigarettes were still allowed under the law, the ban on other flavored cigarettes was discriminatory. This argument falls flat because the decision to continue to sell menthol and regular cigarettes was based on the fact that many older adults utilize these products, whereas the flavored cigarettes are almost exclusively used by young adults and new smokers. […]

READ @ http://economyincrisis.org/content/wto-consistently-rules-against-the-public-interest



By Stephen Merrill, Information Clearing House

Is Iran truly a country so bent on murdering innocent Americans it embraces its own nuclear annihilation, unlike any other nation now or previously, utter, complete defeat at war?

This is the claim made by the pro-warfare wing of the Republicrat Party, seven out of eight candidates seeking the Republican nomination for President. It is a given within this frightened circle that Iranians are willing to commit mass suicide as a people just to make a negative point about the freedoms enjoyed in the United States.

The warfare candidates in their many words on the subject betray little personal knowledge of Iranian history or proclivities. The main evidence cited in favor of a US military attack on Iran is the rants of the staged showman of the mullah empire, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Even he has never stated that Iran is willing to die as a nation just to launch one nuclear attack of its own on Israel or the United States. With an impoverished economy, a strong protest movement, no known weapons of mass destruction and no direct capacity to deliver a nuclear missile even close to Tel Aviv, Iran seems an odd nation for the West to be so frightened of. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30111.htm

Dec 262011



By Stephen Lendman, OpEdNews

[…] After winning the most sweeping non-incumbent victory in over 50 years, he broke every major promise made, imposed austerity when stimulus is needed, escalated imperial wars, and hardened repression to curb popular anger.

James Petras calls him “the perfect incarnation of Melville’s Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to war.”

He spurns human need, rule of law principles, other democratic values, and right over wrong. Supporters expecting change in year four or a second term are delusional and misguided. In fact, his worst policies lie ahead.

Obamanomics: Waging War on American Workers

In April 2011, Obama announced $4 trillion in largely social spending budget cuts over the next 12 years. In December 2010, with Democrats controlling both Houses, he extended Bush’s super-rich tax cuts after saying he’d end them.

He also agreed to $38 billion in vital social services cuts after promising to preserve them. They include:

  • $3.5 billion from Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding;
  • $2.2 billion from nonprofit health insurance cooperatives;
  • $600 million from community healthcare centers;
  • $1 billion from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other disease prevention programs;
  • $1.6 billion from EPA’s clean/safe drinking water and other projects;
  • $950 million from community development grants;
  • $504 million from nutrition aid for poor Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
  • $500 million from education programs;
  • $390 million from home heating subsidies to the poor, as well as $2.5 billion for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) announced in February;
  • $350 million from labor programs, including grants for community service jobs for seniors;
  • other social service cuts;
  • $786 million from FEMA first-responder funding;
  • $407 million from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs;
  • $260 million from National Institutes of Health (NIH) medical research;
  • $127 million from the National Park Service; and
  • billions less for public infrastructure and transportation spending, while increasing war appropriations by multiples more, including for conquering and controlling Libya.

Moreover, Obama agreed to more draconian FY 2012 cuts and corporate tax breaks as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling before reaching its mid-May limit. More as well over the next 12 years, including:

  • $4 trillion overall;
  • $770 billion from education, environmental, transportation, and other infrastructure cuts, as well as lower wages and benefits for federal workers when they need more, not less;
  • $480 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, besides another $1 trillion from Obamacare;
  • $360 billion from mandated domestic programs, including food stamps, home heating assistance, income for the poor and disabled, federal pension insurance, and farm subsidies; and
  • $400 billion from military-related spending from unneeded weapons, as well as healthcare and other benefits for active service members and veterans.

Priority Pentagon items remain untouched to assure annual budget increases, generous supplemental add-ons, and secret open-checkbook intelligence allocations for numerous nefarious purposes.

As a result, people needs are on the chopping block for elimination to satisfy the insatiable appetites of Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and America’s super-rich. Obama’s fully on board.

Eliminating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Public Pensions

Political Washington hard-liners want them ended to transfer maximum public and private wealth to the recipients explained above.

Claims about Social Security and Medicare going broke are duplicitous. In fact, both programs are sound when responsibly administered. Nonetheless, they’re on the chopping block for elimination, beginning with benefit cuts, then privatizations to let corporate crooks profit at the expense of beneficiaries.

Obama tasked two deficit hawks for the job. They head his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRF) – former Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff. They’re part of an 18-member team of like-minded members.

They recommended sharp tax reductions for business and super-rich elites. They also want deep Medicare cuts, co-pay increases, Social Security’s retirement age raised, and lower cost-of-living increases among other draconian proposals harming ordinary people enormously.

They’re coming and much more under bipartisan agreement to slash trillions of dollars from domestic spending over the next decade.

By law, automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years will start in 2013. They’re to be equally divided between defense and domestic programs.

In fact, expect sustained military spending at the expense of gutting America’s social contract. Either way, lost purchasing power means less spending, fewer jobs, and greater public anger than today’s high levels.

In fact, deficit cutting is secondary. Key is protecting corporate handouts and Bush era tax cuts, as well as expanding them for business and upper-bracket earners.

Obama supports making ordinary Americans and seniors bear the burden so corporations and rich folks are spared. As usual, he talks tough, then caves, no matter the harm and injustice caused. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=143291



By William I. Robinson, Aljazeera

 As the crisis of global capitalism spirals out of control, the powers that be in the global system appear to be adrift and unable to propose viable solutions. From the slaughter of dozens of young protesters by the army in Egypt to the brutal repression of the Occupy movement in the United States, and the water cannons brandished by the militarised police in Chile against students and workers, states and ruling classes are unable to hold back the tide of worldwide popular rebellion and must resort to ever more generalised repression.

Simply put, the immense structural inequalities of the global political economy can no longer be contained through consensual mechanisms of social control. The ruling classes have lost legitimacy; we are witnessing a breakdown of ruling-class hegemony on a world scale.

To understand what is happening in this second decade of the new century we need to see the big picture in historic and structural context. Global elites had hoped and expected that the “Great Depression” that began with the mortgage crisis and the collapse of the global financial system in 2008 would be a cyclical downturn that could be resolved through state-sponsored bailouts and stimulus packages. But it has become clear that this is a structural crisis. Cyclical crises are on-going episodes in the capitalist system, occurring and about once a decade and usually last 18 months to two years. There were world recessions in the early 1980s, the early 1990s, and the early 21st century.

Structural crises are deeper; their resolution requires a fundamental restructuring of the system. Earlier world structural crises of the 1890s, the 1930s and the 1970s were resolved through a reorganisation of the system that produced new models of capitalism. “Resolved” does not mean that the problems faced by a majority of humanity under capitalism were resolved but that the reorganisation of the capitalist system in each case overcame the constraints to a resumption of capital accumulation on a world scale. The crisis of the 1890s was resolved in the cores of world capitalism through the export of capital and a new round of imperialist expansion. The Great Depression of the 1930s was resolved through the turn to variants of social democracy in both the North and the South – welfare, populist, or developmentalist capitalism that involved redistribution, the creation of public sectors, and state regulation of the market. […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/11/20111130121556567265.html



By Tony Cartalucci, Global Research

dupe n.

1. An easily deceived person.

2. A person who functions as the tool of another person or power.

               tr.v. duped, dup·ing, dupes To deceive (an unwary person).

December 24, 2011 – In January of 2011, we were told that “spontaneous,” “indigenous” uprising had begun sweeping North Africa and the Middle East in what was hailed as the “Arab Spring.” It would be almost four months before the corporate-media would admit that the US had been behind the uprisings and that they were anything but “spontaneous,” or “indigenous.” In an April 2011 article published by the New York Times titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” it was stated:

“A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.”

The article would also add, regarding the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

“The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department. “

It is hardly a speculative theory then, that the uprisings were part of an immense geopolitical campaign conceived in the West and carried out through its proxies with the assistance of disingenuous foundations, organizations, and the stable of NGOs they maintain throughout the world. As we will see, preparations for the “Arab Spring” and the global campaign that is now encroaching on both Russia and China, as predicted in February 2011’s “The Middle East & then the World,” began not as unrest had already begun, but years before the first “fist” was raised, and within seminar rooms in D.C. and New York, US-funded training facilities in Serbia, and camps held in neighboring countries, not within the Arab World itself. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28343



By Keith Goetzman, UTNE Reader

Did the United States poison tens of thousands of its own soldiers in Iraq with fumes from burning toxic trash? Before you consider it an outlandish suggestion, I suggest you read J. Malcolm Garcia’s moving account in the Oxford American of two American soldiers who made it back from their tours of duty having escaped insurgents’ shells, bullets, and improvised explosive devices—only to die slow, torturous deaths from the effects of garbage torched in open pits by the U.S. military.

Personal stories like those of Billy McKenna and Kevin Wilkins may only become more common in coming years, according to Garcia, since the U.S. military operated at least 23 burn pits in Iraq before combat operations ended this year, including a notoriously noxious one that often literally cast a pall over Balad Air Base.

“The burn pit at Balad consumed about 250 tons of waste a day,” he writes, “exposing 25,000 U.S. military personnel and thousands of contractors to toxic fumes.”

Garcia’s immersive narrative is a humanizing look into a slowly unfolding story that has been reported in bits and pieces for a few years, but hasn’t entirely sunken into the national consciousness, perhaps in part because it runs so counter to a reflexively patriotic, military-booster mindset: We wouldn’t have harmed our own soldiers, would we?

It just so turns out that we probably did. Writes Garcia:

The Veterans Administration states on its own webpage that chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metals, aluminum, unexploded ordnance, munitions, and petroleum products among other toxic waste are destroyed in burn pits. Possible side effects, the department notes, “may affect the skin, eyes, respiration, kidneys, liver, nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, peripheral nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract.”

The issue first came to public light in 2008 when the Military Times reported on the use of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, spurring Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) to request a probe by the General Accounting Office.

The GAO looked into it and warned in 2010 that the burn pits violated laws designed to keep service members safe. Pressure mounted on legislators to take up the cause, and despite a general lack of public outrage, the campaign has finally had an effect: Both Missouri Republican Sen. Tom Akin and a bipartisan group of eight senators last month introduced identical bills that would create a registry for service members affected by health problems from burn pit exposure. […]

READ @ http://www.utne.com/Wild-Green/Toxic-Trash-Pits-Take-Toll-on-U.S.-Soldiers.aspx



By Paul Krugman, NYTimes

[…] So, naturally, Republicans are furious. But before I get to the politics, let’s talk about what a good thing the E.P.A. just did.

As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result.

Hat makers no longer use mercury (and who wears hats these days?), but a lot of mercury gets into the atmosphere from old coal-burning power plants that lack modern pollution controls. From there it gets into the water, where microbes turn it into methylmercury, which builds up in fish. And what happens then? The E.P.A. explains: “Methylmercury exposure is a particular concern for women of childbearing age, unborn babies and young children, because studies have linked high levels of methylmercury to damage to the developing nervous system, which can impair children’s ability to think and learn.”

That sort of sounds like something we should regulate, doesn’t it?

The new rules would also have the effect of reducing fine particle pollution, which is a known source of many health problems, from asthma to heart attacks. In fact, the benefits of reduced fine particle pollution account for most of the quantifiable gains from the new rules. The key word here is “quantifiable”: E.P.A.’s cost-benefit analysis only considers one benefit of mercury regulation, the reduced loss in future wages for children whose I.Q.’s are damaged by eating fish caught by freshwater anglers. There are without doubt many other benefits to cutting mercury emissions, but at this point the agency doesn’t know how to put a dollar figure on those benefits.

Even so, the payoff to the new rules is huge: up to $90 billion a year in benefits compared with around $10 billion a year of costs in the form of slightly higher electricity prices. This is, as David Roberts of Grist says, a very big deal.

And it’s a deal Republicans very much want to kill. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/26/opinion/krugman-springtime-for-toxics.html?_r=2&ref=opinion



By Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel

The CIA announced in September it was going to review a narrow aspect of the way CIA officers set up NYPD’s domestic spying agency in the wake of 9/11. As I pointed out then, the investigation was scoped to ignore key parts of the NYPD’s program.

The NYPD program is, by all appearances, a massive ethnic profiling operation that hasn’t been all that effectiveat finding potential terrorists. DOJ ought to be conducting this investigation as a potential civil rights violation.

But instead, CIA will conduct the investigation, meaning the chances the public will know the result are slimmer even than if DOJ conducted it.


So is CIA particularly worried? Both James Clapper and the CIA flack appear to be narrowly parsing the potential problem: whether or not there are CIA officers on the streets of NY, whether they are investigating domestically as opposed to overseas (remember, the NYPD is sticking its nose into overseas investigations, too).

And, surprise surprise! CIA’s Inspector General just announced that it found no problem in its narrowly scoped investigation.

The agency’s inspector general concluded that no laws were broken and there was “no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted ‘domestic spying’,” CIA spokesman Preston Golson said.


David Buckley, the CIA’s inspector general, completed his review in late October. It’s not clear if his report opens the door for other municipal police departments nationwide to work closely with the CIA in the war on terror.

Let the ineffective, wasteful domestic spying continue then, I guess! […]

READ @ http://www.emptywheel.net/2011/12/24/cia-no-big-deal-that-we-trained-nypd-to-conduct-domestic-spying/



By Washington’s Blog

Art is in the brilliant video from ovaria; following are the independently verifiable facts that the “99%” are embezzled by the “1%” for over a trillion of our dollars every year.

How does the 1% do this?

They purchased corporate media to cover their assets, that’s how.

This article shows how the Federal Reserve System causes the opposite of their stated goals. This is, obviously, criminal fraud. Upon your basic economics education, I invite you to embrace the power of calling what the 1% does as CRIMES. When the 99% recognize the 1% as CRIMINALS and demand arrests and prosecutions, we’ve won.

My Open proposal for US Revolution: end unlawful wars, parasitic economics is my strongest work to explain and document these CRIMES.

My Occupy This: US History exposes the 1%’s crimes then and now is my strongest work to explain and document that criminal Wars of Aggression and looting have been central in US policies for over 150 years. History’s purpose is to recognize patterns of behavior in the present.

May 2012 be the best year yet for us all, and may that be ongoingly true each new year for all beings on this beautiful and so far dominated planet.

I admonish and invite the criminals among the 1% to reclaim their heart, their love, and stand with 100% of humanity, and 100% of themselves. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/



source: youtube.com (h/t Jerry Boyle)

Special thanks to Lance Robbins (the awesome street drummer)

Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out!
16 million to his banker friends
That’s what he’s all abou-out!
Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out
Fines and fees and job layoffs
Cutting workers till they shou-out!

You’ll be a one term Mayor
Cause the people who you serve
Don’t think that you really care
About their jobs at all (no, no, no!)
We’ll occupy all day
and we’ll occupy all night
Until you change your way
We won’t give up our fight!

Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out!
16 million to his banker friends
That’s what he’s all abou-out!
Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out
Fines and fees and job layoffs
Cutting workers till they shou-out!

The Mayor’s only friends
Line his pockets full of cash
He’ll sell out city piece by piece
Till we’re left with only ash (cough, cough, cough)
We are here to say ENOUGH
That we just won’t take no more
When Rahm tries to take your job
Just tell him: there’s the door!

Occupy, Occupy
Occupy in your heart!
People fighting for their human rights
Can never be torn apa-art
Occupy, Occupy
Occupy in your heart
Join us against these budget cuts
And the Mayor will fall apart!

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PXXJufcojg



source: youtube.com (h/t Jerry Boyle)

Be grateful for what you have, some people are doing time for a chance to be an American in the 21st Century. La lucha sigue hermanos y hermanas. Citizen Me: The Forgotten Class (2012) Documentary Film


VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4zjK_72uLs&sns=fb

Nov 292011



By Adam Lempel, The Bloody Cross Roads

They keep trying, but they keep failing.  The elites are doing everything in their power to crush the revolution.  But they will continue to fail.  Every time they crack down we just get bigger.

After Bloomberg launched a most vicious, illegal and egregious raid on Liberty Square, we bounced right back.  I spent all Tuesday at the park, and at first it was depressing.  Seeing the police occupying Zuccotti Park in blatant contempt of a preliminary judicial ruling was tough.  But I saw someone holding a sign thanking Bloomberg for being the best propaganda vehicle for our revolution.  He was dead silent as he brandished his message, clearly tired, but steadfast in demeanor.

I walked up to him in the hopes of finding inspiration.  I introduced myself, saying I appreciate his optimism but cannot find a reason to be optimistic myself; “I’ve been here since day one but feel really down; can you tell me why I should be hopeful?” I asked.  A big smile lit his face up, brimming with exuberance and assurance.  He said his name is Murdoch.

“Dude, I’m thirty six.  I’ve been doing activism for years.  But I gave up a while ago.  It seemed hopeless.  But OWS has brought me back into the fight.  You guys give me hope.  We can’t fail.  You know why?  Because we’ve already got people talking.  After only two months, we’ve gotten people to start talking about issues they never discuss in ways they never have before—inequality, democracy, empire, etc.  It’s not supposed to be easy.  The Revolution upon which this country was founded wasn’t easy.  Civil rights wasn’t easy.  Universal suffrage wasn’t easy.  And that’s because change comes through struggle.  That’s the only way.  But we’re gonna win this man.”

That night, OWS hosted its largest General Assembly yet.  Thousands flocked to the park in spite of or perhaps because of the draconian police presence.  We had been punched in the gut, but not knocked out.  We shared stories from that morning’s horrors.  And we moved on, planning our next step as a group, true to our democratic principles. […]

READ @ http://thebloodycrossroads.com/551/occupy-wall-street-is-here-to-stay/



By Zeus Yamouyiannis, Ph.D, Of Two Minds

We hold this to be self-evident: When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy.

Today I present an important guest essay by long-time contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis, who suggests that when debt is essentially fraudulent, then debt forgiveness is both the logical and the only remedy. In case you missed his previous analyses on oftwominds.com, I list some of Zeus’s previous essays at the end of the entry.


Finally serious economists are considering a position I have been maintaining and writing about since the 2008 financial meltdown. Whatever its name— erasure, repudiation, abolishment, cancellation, jubilee—debt forgiveness, will have to eventually emerge forefront in global efforts to solve an ongoing systemic financial crisis.

“On a grand scale the only way to erase counterfeit money and (counterfeit) assets of hundreds of trillions of dollars is to erase the debts associated with those fake assets. (Let me underscore again, these are not “toxic” assets, they are fake assets.)… Forgiveness in general, and forgiveness of debt in particular, stand as virtues if they free us up to acknowledge, address, and learn from our culpability, start anew, and create forward.” ( The Big Squeeze, Part 3: The Quiet Rebellion: Civil Disobedience, Local Markets, and Debt Erasure (January 29, 2011)

Debt forgiveness, therefore, accomplishes two important things. It eliminates the increasing and outsized portion of productive enterprise to pay off unproductive obligations, and it clears the ground for new opportunities, new thinking, invention, and entrepreneurialism. This is why the ability to declare bankruptcy is so essential in the pursuit of both happiness and innovation.

Currently we are mired in a “new normal” and calls for “austerity” which are nothing more than the delusional efforts of a status quo to avoid the consequences of its own error and fraud and to profit evermore. So bedazzled by the false wealth created by debt multiplication and its concomitant fantasy of ever-higher returns, this status quo continues to be stupidly amazed that people are not spending and that the economy is not picking up. But how could it be otherwise?

Productive wealth has been trapped in a web of parasitic theft, counterfeiting, liability evasion, non-regulation, and prosecutorial non-accountability. All the fundamental attributes of a functioning exchange economy have been warped to reward creative criminals. I spoke extensively about this in my posts from 2008. ( Imaginary Worth, Empire of Debt: How Modern Finance Created Its Own Downfall (October 15, 2008) […]

READ @ http://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept11/Zeus-debt-forgiveness-9-11.html



By Zeus Yamouyiannis, Ph.D, Of Two Minds


1) Debt that cannot (vs. “will not”) be practically paid is not a debt in its classical sense. It’s a default. Whether or not people want to recognize this reality is another issue. We recognize that a law that cannot be enforced is not really a law in any practical sense, so why are we dragging our feet with debt? Greece cannot pay its debt by any rational formula. It is already in default. Extending and pretending does not materially change this fact, it only delays recognition of the stark, enduring reality.

2) Debt based in fraudulent lending is also not true debt in any meaningful sense, since the loan along with its obligations originated from something (private fiat) that had no valid authority or exchange value to begin with. Much of the current worldwide debt simply stems from lending based in fraud numbering in the hundreds of trillions of dollars by institutions who did not have adequate collateral (i.e. held insufficient capital reserves, engaged in mark-to-fantasy accounting of their assets, assigned real value to fake assets like credit default swaps, etc.). A lending body cannot give effectively nothing to someone (claiming it is something) and legitimately expect to get something real back.

3) When debt systems are flooded with fraudulent currencies and claims, it is not true that someone, either the borrower or lender, will have to pay the “false value”-backed debt. You are not legally allowed to profit from crime nor legally obligated to support crime. This precludes the payment of many of the debts currently in circulation. In committing wide-scale control fraud, major financial institutions have broken laws. The laws they have broken are enforceable; they just have yet to be enforced.

However, even with successful prosecution, bankruptcy proceedings, and nationalization/receivership of offending institutions, we are left with a practical problem: Real currency has been mixed with fake currency, real debt with fake debt. Chains of title and claims to property have been so forged, electronically registered, diced up, and distorted as to make it difficult to sort valid ownership from invalid. When real money has been high-jacked and “disappeared” as with Bernie Madoff, what can be done to address this? These will be points of discussion later in this article series.

4) The mathematics of debt, even without fraud, would require periodic forgiveness or at least abatement. There must be ways for debts to be adjusted to contingencies. Economies, like families, go through good and bad times. Debt obligations are constructed as if there are only good times. Basically, the only way to pay off a debt is to outrun it in a time of relative stability. Even in eras of surplus, debt takes a big bite out productive effort, but it quickly becomes consuming as one gets behind in payments and as more and more of the fruits of effort must go to servicing debt.

At that point, loans become chains that tie people to mediocre jobs and underwater houses and no longer engines of mobile growth. Debt forgiveness recognizes this contingency and facilitates liberty, productivity, and global quality of life as the more salient indicators of vital economies. Policies and contracts ultimately must be in the interests of people’s well-being for them to be legitimate. Conversely, when debt is ring-fenced from contingency as with student loans, it will be become inherently corrupt and unjust.

5) In any rearrangement of the debt system, productivity and stakeholdership should be rewarded and parasitism should be punished. It’s easy to forget that people used to go to a banking agent to get a loan to grow their net financial worth through productive enterprise. In such a relationship the bank gained a stake in your success, not your misfortune. If we are serious about rewarding well-applied effort, then it would make sense to peg debt and debt obligations to the productivity growth curve of an enterprise or domestic product. Lending institutions, then, would essentially buy a longer term stake in the success of enterprises it funds, exert a due diligence proportional to its interest, and both benefit from and share the burden of inevitable rises and falls in growth.

In the housing-bubble debacle the incentives were exactly opposite. Irresponsibility was rewarded precisely because banks could sell off fraudulently documented loans as quickly as they could be signed. In late capitalism, bank support for productivity has been converted into support for exploitation and victimization, using repayment shortfalls to repossess assets from borrowers even though the bank loans were drawn from “money” backed by counterfeit assets. That has to be reversed—real money for real enterprise backed by real assets.

6) Things go down and not always up. “New era” rhetoric where financial gravity is suspended is a dangerous delusion. When we realize this simple fact and combine it with rewarding productivity and stakeholdership, we realize that our revenues and values will fluctuate dependent upon demand, environmental limits, and a host of other factors, some within our control and some not. Fighting this empirical fact, on the other hand, creates damaging and unsustainable living. Why not tie notions of prosperity and economic organization to optimizing our productivity, by identifying and working within the changing conditions, not distorting those conditions by taking on debt-credit to be paid by later generations?

7) The living shall not be beholden to the dead. When an individual person dies with debts, what can be collected from their remaining assets is collected and the rest is written off. Yet the opposite occurs with generational debt. Irresponsible borrowing by past generations is foisted on succeeding generations. The sins of the forefathers are preserved with interest to gouge the quality of life of younger people who neither decided upon nor benefited from irresponsible borrowing.

Certainly, we now see scorched-earth class warfare of the 1% against everyone else, but we are ignoring an even more profound unintended warfare by an entire generation of post-WWII world citizens against the wellness and interests of its own children. How could such a destructive myopia so thoroughly pervade society and bring us this critical historical inflection point? This will be examined in the next part.

READ @ http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2011/11/unleashing-future-advancing-prosperity.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+google%2FRzFQ+%28oftwominds%29



By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Was absolutely mesmerized last night watching the viral video of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying. It was totally amazing, simultaneously one of most depressing and inspiring things I’ve seen in many years.

To recap for those who haven’t seen it: police in paramilitary gear line up in front of a group of Occupy protesters peacefully assembled on a quad pathway. Completely unprovoked, police decide to douse the whole group of sitting protesters with pepper spray. There is crying and chaos and panic, but the wheezing protesters sit resolutely in place and refuse to move despite the assault.

Finally, in what to me is the most amazing part, the protesters gather together and move forward shouting “Shame On You! Shame On You!” over and over again. You can literally see the painful truth of those words cutting the resolve of the policemen and forcing them backwards.

Glenn Greenwald’s post at Salon says this far better than I can, but there are undeniable conclusions one can draw from this incident. The main thing is that the frenzied dissolution of due process and individual rights that took took place under George Bush’s watch, and continued uncorrected even when supposed liberal constitutional lawyer Barack Obama took office, has now come full circle and become an important element to the newer political controversy involving domestic/financial corruption and economic injustice.

As Glenn points out, when we militarized our society in response to the global terrorist threat, we created a new psychological atmosphere in which the use of force and military technology became a favored method for dealing with dissent of any kind. As Glenn writes:

The U.S. Government — in the name of Terrorism — has aggressively para-militarized the nation’s domestic police forces by lavishing them with countless military-style weapons and other war-like technologies, training them in war-zone military tactics, and generally imposing a war mentality on them. Arming domestic police forces with para-military weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil… It’s a very small step to go from supporting the abuse of defenseless detainees (including one’s fellow citizens) to supporting the pepper-spraying and tasering of non-violent political protesters. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/uc-davis-pepper-spray-incident-reveals-weakness-up-top-20111122#ixzz1f31486jZ



By Brad Friedman, BradBlog

[…] In the video interview, Olsen displays a remarkable memory of the events of the night — particularly given the bloodied, apparent state of shock he was seen in as he was carried off by fellow demonstrators shouting “Medic! Medic!” in video tapes of the incident.

As seen in the interview, he also now has trouble with his speech, thanks to the damage sustained to the left frontal lobe of his brain, according to David Id, who posted the interview on Monday at the East Bay Indy Media website.

Olsen tells Id that his condition has been improving. We’d say remarkably so, given the injury he sustained just over one month ago, which sent him to the hospital in critical condition with a fractured skull and a swelling brain in the early morning hours of October 26th.

His indomitable spirit, evidenced throughout the short interview in which he offers a message to police, politicians and demonstrators alike, is remarkable as well, as he is seen smiling while responding to each of Id’s questions, explaining what he recalls of that night in the moments both before and after he was shot…

“I took a step back and I walked across the right a little bit. I had my phone out. I was texting something to a friend of mine and next thing I know I’m down and on the ground and there are people above me who are trying to help me,” he says.

The responders trying to help him were momentarily waylaid as one of the law enforcement officials hurled an explosive canister amongst them as they were attempting to render aid, in another apparent violation of the Oakland PD Training Bulletin [PDF] created as part of the federal consent decree issued following similarly inappropriate behavior by the department in 2003 and 2005.

“They ended up carrying me away,” Olsen says about his fellow demonstrators. “I didn’t want them to. I wanted to get up and stay there, pick up my bag, but they carried me away.”

“They asked me my name several times and I couldn’t answer them. I couldn’t answer what — I don’t know if I couldn’t recall the answer or if I couldn’t spit it out. But that’s when I knew, yeah, okay, it’s time to go. Time to let them take care of me.”

Olsen’s failure to respond to those carrying him away — as he is seen bleeding from the head with his eyes wide open — is one of the more startling moments of the video taken the night he was shot. [That video, along with his Sunday interview, both follow at the end of this article.]

Asked to explain why he had come to join the demonstration that night, he says he received a call that people were needed in support of Occupy Oakland after the eviction from Oscar Grant Plaza that morning. He says when he was hit he was “standing up for our rights to exist here, with a veteran who was there with me, and all the people who were there. We were attacked and I ended up in the hospital that night.”

His friend was navy veteran Joshua Shepherd who, he says, he met via Iraq Veterans Against the War after moving to the Bay Area. Shepherd is seen in a remarkable piece of video tape, standing without a gas mask amidst rising clouds of CS gas, holding a VeteransforPeace.org flag in one hand and clutching an open copy of the U.S. Constitution in the other, as he stood stone still, staring at the law enforcement agents on the other side of the barricade they’d created at 14th and Broadway that night. […]

READ AND VIDEO @ http://www.bradblog.com/?p=8960



By Vicki Needham, The Hill

A top House Democrat is calling for a hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following a report that the central bank secretly committed more than $7 trillion to save banks during the financial crisis.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (Md.) sent a letter on Monday to panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) requesting the committee look into how banks “benefitted from trillions of dollars in previously undisclosed government loans provided at below-market rates.”

“Many Americans are struggling to understand why banks deserve such preferential treatment while millions of homeowners are being denied assistance and are at increasing risk of foreclosure,” Cummings said.


The request comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report that said the Fed secretly committed more than $7 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the nation’s top financial institutions, and that these banks “reaped an estimated $13 billion of income” on the below-market rates.

“Unfortunately, officials from many of these financial institutions declined to comment about these loans, including officials from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley,” Cummings writes.

Information about the loans was withheld from Congress as lawmakers debated and passed the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, Cummings said. Banks also failed to disclose the information to their shareholders.


This “secret financing helped America’s biggest financial firms get bigger and go on to pay employees as much as they did at the height of the housing bubble,” according to economists cited in the report.




By Richard Teitelbaum, Bloomberg

[…] After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” — a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.

Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said.

The fund manager says he was shocked that Paulson would furnish such specific information — to his mind, leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information. […]

READ @ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-29/how-henry-paulson-gave-hedge-funds-advance-word-of-2008-fannie-mae-rescue.html