Mar 242014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Captain Jose Guillen Araque,  of the Venezuelan National Guard, recently gave President Maduro a book on the rise of Nazism, warning that “fascism has to be defeated before it’s too late”!  In retaliation for his prophetic warning, the patriotic young captain was shot by a US-backed assassin on the streets of Marcay in the state of Aragua on March 16, 2014.  This raised the number of Venezuelan soldiers and police killed since the fascist uprising to 29.  The killing of a prominent, patriotic officer on a major street in a provincial capital is one more indication that the Venezuelan fascists are on the move, confident of their support from Washington and from a broad swath of the Venezuelan upper and middle class.  They constitute a minority of the electorate and they have no illusions about taking power via constitutional and democratic means.

Captain Guillen Araque had stepped forward to remind President Maduro that the road to power for Nazi and fascist totalitarian groups has been littered with the corpses of well-meaning democrats and social democrats throughout contemporary history because of their failure to use their constitutional powers to crush the enemies of democracy.

The History of the rise of Fascism under Democracies

The term “fascist” in Venezuela is appropriately applied to the organized violent political groups currently engaged in mass terror in a campaign to destabilize and overthrow the democratically-elected Bolivarian government.  Academic purist might argue that the Venezuelan fascists lack the racist and nationalist ideology of their German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese predecessors.   While true, it is also irrelevant.  The Venezuelan brand of fascism is highly dependent on, and acts as a proxy for, US imperialism and their Colombian warlord allies.  In one sense however, Venezuelan fascism’s racism is directed against its multiracial African-Amerindian Venezuelan working and peasant classes – as demonstrated by their vitriolic racism against the deceased President Hugo Chavez.  The essential connection with earlier fascist movements is found in its (1) profound class hostility to the popular majority; (2) its visceral hatred of the Chavista Socialist Party, winner of 18 of the last 19 elections; (3) its resort to the armed seizure of power by a minority acting on behalf of the domestic and US imperial ruling classes; (4) its intention to destroy the very democratic institutions and procedures which it exploits in order to gain political space; (5) its targeting of working class institutions – communal councils, neighborhood associations, public health and dental clinics, public schools, transport, subsidized food stores, political meeting places, public credit unions, trade union organizations and peasant co-operatives; (6)  and its support of capitalist banks, huge commercial landed  estates and manufacturing firms.

In Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Chile, fascist movements also began as small terrorist groups, who gained the financial backing of the capitalist elite because of their violence against working class organizations and democratic institutions and recruited primarily among middle class university students, elite professionals (especially doctors) and active and retired higher military officers – united in their hostility to the democratic order.

Tragically and all too often, democratic leaders, operating within a constitutional government, tended to regard fascists as “just another party”, refusing or unwilling to crush the armed thugs, who combined terror in the streets with elections to gain state power.  Constitutionalist democrats have failed or were unwilling to see the political, civilian arm of the Nazis as part and parcel of one organic totalitarian enemy; so they negotiated and debated endlessly with elite fascists who meanwhile destroyed the economy while terrorists pounded away at the political and social foundations of the democratic state.  The democrats refused to send out their multi-million mass supporters to face the fascist hordes.  Worse, they even prided themselves on jailing their own supporters, police and soldiers, who had been accused of using ‘excessive force’ in their confrontation with fascist street thugs.  Thus the fascists easily moved from the streets to state power.  The elected democrats were so concerned about criticism from the international and capitalist media, elite critics and self-appointed ‘human rights’ organizations, that they facilitated the takeover by fascists.  The people’s right to the armed defense of their democracy had been subordinated to the pretext of upholding ‘democratic norms’ - norms that any bourgeois state under assault would have rejected!  Constitutional democrats failed to recognize how drastically politics had changed.  They were no longer dealing with a parliamentary opposition preparing for the next election; they were confronted with armed terrorists and saboteurs committed to armed struggle and the seizure of political power by any means – including violent coups-d’états.

In the lexicon of fascism, democratic conciliation is a weakness, a vulnerability and an open invitation to escalate violence; ‘peace and love’ and ‘human rights’ slogans are to be exploited;  calls for ‘negotiations’ are preambles for surrender; and ‘agreements’ preludes to capitulation.

To the terrorists, the democratic politicians who warn about a “threat of fascism” while acting as if they were engaged in ‘parliamentary skirmishes’, become an open target for violent attack.

This is how the fascists came to power, in Germany, Italy and Chile, while the constitutionalist democrats, to the last, refused to arm the millions of organized workers who could have throttled the fascists and saved democracy and preserved their own lives.

Fascism in Venezuela: A Mortal Threat Today

The martyred hero, Captain Guillen Araque’s warning of an imminent fascist danger in Venezuela has a powerful substantive basis.  While the overt terrorist violence ebbs and flows, the underlying structural basis of fascism in the economy and society remains intact.  The subterranean organizations, financing and organizing the flow of arms to fascists-in-waiting remain in place.

The political leaders of the opposition are playing a duplicitous game, constantly moving from legal forms of protest to sub-rosa complicity with the armed terrorists.  There is no doubt that in any fascist putsch, the political oligarchs will emerge as the real rulers – and will share power with the leaders of the fascist organizations.  In the meantime, their ‘respectability’ provides political cover; their ‘human rights’ campaigns to free incarcerated street thugs and arsonists earn ‘international media support’ while serving as ‘intermediaries’ between the open US funding agencies,  and the clandestine terrorist underground.

In measuring the scope and depth of the fascist danger, it is a mistake to simply count the number of bombers, arsonists and snipers, without including the logistical, back-up and peripheral support groups and institutional backers who sustain the overt actors,

To ‘defeat fascism before it is too late’, the government must realistically assess the resources, organization and operational code of the fascist command and reject the overly sanguine and ‘upbeat’ pronouncements emanating from some ministers, advisers and legislators.

First, the fascists are not simply a small band confined to pounding on pots and attacking municipal workers in the upper-middle class neighborhoods of Caracas for the benefit of the international and corporate media.  The fascists are organized on a national basis; their members are active throughout the country.

They target vital institutions and infrastructure in numerous strategic locations.

Their strategy is centrally-controlled,  their operations are decentralized.

The fascists are an organized force; their financing, arming and actions are planned.  Their demonstrations are not ‘spontaneous’, locally-organized actions, responding to government ‘repression’ as depicted in the bourgeois and imperial media.

The fascists bring together different cross currents of violent groups, frequently combining ideologically-driven right-wing professionals, large-scale smuggling gangs and drug traffickers (especially in border regions), paramilitary groups, mercenaries and known felons.  These are the ‘frontline fascists’, financed by major currency speculators, protected by elected local officials, offered ‘sanctuary’ by real estate investors and high-level university bureaucrats.

The fascists are both ‘nationals’ and internationals:  They include locally paid thugs and students from upper-middle class families;  paramilitary Colombian soldiers, professional mercenaries of all sorts, ‘contract killers’ from US ‘security’ outfits and clandestine US Special Forces Operatives; and fascist ‘internationalists’ recruited from Miami, Central America, Latin America and Europe.

The organized terrorists have two strategic sanctuaries for launching their violent operations – Bogota and Miami, where prominent political leaders, like ex-President Alvaro Uribe and US Congressional leaders provide political support.

The convergence of highly lucrative criminal economic activity  and political terrorism presents a formidable double threat to the stability of the Venezuelan economy and the security of the state . . .  Criminals and terrorists find a common home under the US political tent, designed to overthrow Venezuela’s democratic government and crush the Bolivarian revolution of the Venezuelan people.

The backward and forward inter-linkages between criminals and terrorists inside and outside the country, between  Washington senior policymakers, street drug pushers and contraband ‘camels’, provides the international elite mouthpieces and the  muscle for street fighters and snipers.

Terrorist targets are not chosen at ‘random’; they are not products of an enraged citizenry protesting social and economic inequities.  The carefully chosen targets of terrorism are the strategic programs which sustain the democratic administration; first and foremost the mass social institutions forming the base of the government.  This explains why terrorists bomb health clinics for the poor, public schools and centers for adult education in the barrios, the state subsidized food stores and the public transport system.  These are part of the vast, popular welfare system set up by the Bolivarian government. They are key building blocks in securing massive voter support in 18 out of the last 19 elections and popular power in the streets and communities.  By destroying the social welfare infrastructure, the terrorists hope to break the social bonds between people and government.

Terrorists target the legitimate national security system: Namely, the police, National Guard, judges, public prosecutors and other authorities in charge of safeguarding citizens.  The assassinations, violent attacks and threats against public officials, the  fire-bombing of public buildings and public transport are designed to create a climate of fear and to demonstrate that the state is weak and incapable of protecting the everyday life of its citizens.  The terrorists want to project an image of ‘dual power’ by seizing public spaces and blocking normal commerce… and by ‘governing the streets through the gun’.  Above all the terrorists want to demobilize and curtail popular counter-demonstrations by blocking streets and sniping at activists engaged in political activity in contested neighborhoods.  The terrorists know they can count on their ‘legal’ political opposition allies to provide them with a mass base via public demonstrations, which can serve as a shield for violent assaults and a pretext for greater sabotage.

Conclusion

Fascism, namely armed terrorism directed at violently overthrowing a democratic government, is a real and immediate threat in Venezuela.  The day-to-day, ups and downs of street fighting and arson are not an adequate measure of the threat.  As we have noted, the in-depth structural and organizational supports underlying the rise and growth of fascism are far more important.  The challenge in Venezuela is to cut-off the economic and political basis of fascism.  Unfortunately, up until recently the government has been overly sensitive to hostile criticism from overseas and domestic elites who rush to defend fascists – in the name of “democratic freedom”.  The government of Venezuela has enormous resources at its disposal to root out the fascist threat.  Even if firm action causes an outcry from overseas liberal friends, most pro-democracy advocates believe it is incumbent upon the government to act against those opposition officials who continue to incite armed rebellion.

Most recently, there have been clear signs that the Venezuelan government, with its powerful democratic and constitutional mandate, is moving with awareness of the fascist danger and will act with determination to stamp it out in the streets and in the suites.

The National Assembly has voted to strip Congresswoman Corina Machado of her immunity as a deputy in the National Assembly so she can be prosecuted for inciting violence.  The President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello has presented detailed documentary evidence of her role in organizing and promoting armed rebellion.  Several opposition mayors, actively involved in promoting and protecting snipers, street thugs and arsonists, have been charged and arrested.

The majority of Venezuelans confronted by the rising tide of fascist violence  support the punishment of these high officials engaged in or supporting sabotage.  Without firm action, Venezuelan intelligence agencies as well as the average citizen agree that these ‘opposition’ politicos will continue to promote violence and provide sanctuary for paramilitary assassins.

The government has realized that they are engaged in a real war, planned by a centralized leadership and executed by decentralized operatives.  Legislative leaders are coming to grips with the political psychology of fascism, which interprets Presidential offers of political conciliation and judicial leniency as weakness to be exploited by further violence.

The most significant advance toward stopping the fascist threat lies in the government’s recognition of the links between the parliamentary and business elite and the fascist terrorists:  financial speculators, smugglers and big-time hoarders of food and other essential commodities are all part and parcel of the same fascist drive for power together with the terrorists who bomb public food markets and attack the trucks transporting food to the poor neighborhoods.  One revolutionary worker said to me after a street skirmish: “Por la razon y la fuerza no pasaran!”(Through reason and force they will be defeated)…

Nov 132013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* IT’S BUSINESS THAT REALLY RULES US NOW

Lobbying is the least of it: corporate interests have captured the entire democratic process. No wonder so many have given up on politics

By George Monbiot, The Guardian

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It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in Britain.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source. On Monday, for instance, the Guardian revealed that the government’s subsidy system for gas-burning power stations is being designed by an executive from the Dublin-based company ESB International, who has been seconded into the Department of Energy. What does ESB do? Oh, it builds gas-burning power stations.

On the same day we learned that a government minister, Nick Boles, has privately assured the gambling company Ladbrokes that it needn’t worry about attempts by local authorities to stop the spread of betting shops. His new law will prevent councils from taking action. […]

READ @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/11/business-rules-lobbying-corporate-interests?CMP=fb_gu

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* BANKOCRACY: FROM THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC TO MARIO DRAGHI AND GOLDMAN SACHS

By Eric Toussaint, CADTM

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From the 12th century to the beginning of the 14th, the Knights Templar, present in much of Europe, had become the bankers for the powerful and had taken part in the financing of several crusades. At the beginning of the 14th century, they were the main creditors of the King of France, Philip the Fair. Faced with a debt burden that was straining his resources, Philip the Fair eliminated both his creditors and his debt by demonising the Knights Templar, accusing them of many crimes |1|. Their Order was outlawed, the leaders executed and its assets seized. Its army (fifteen thousand men, including one thousand five hundred knights), its patrimony and its credits to rulers failed to protect it from the power of a State set on eliminating its main creditor.

During the same era (11th – 14th centuries) Venetian bankers were also financing the Crusades and lending money to the powerful of Europe, but they manoeuvred much more deftly than the Knights Templar. In Venice, they took control of the State by founding the Venetian Republic. They financed the transformation of the Venetian city-state into a veritable empire including Cyprus, Euboea (Negroponte) and Crete. They made use of a clever strategy to gain lasting wealth and guarantee reimbursement of their credits: they decided to drive the Venetian state into debt towards the banks they owned. They were the ones who set the terms of the loan contracts, as they were at once bank owners and rulers of the State.

While Philip the Fair had an interest in physically ridding himself of his creditors to be free from the debt burden, the Venetian State reimbursed the debt to bankers in cash. The latter came up with the idea of creating public debt titles that could circulate between banks. This was a step towards the establishment of financial markets |2|. This type of loan is the precursor to the major form of State debt as we know it in the 21st century.

Today, seven centuries after Philip the Fair crushed the Knights Templar, the bankers of Europe, just like their Venetian or Genovese forebears, clearly have nothing to fear from governments. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/Nouvelle-traduction-Bancocratie-de

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* PONZI AUSTERITY: A DEFINITION AND AN EXAMPLE

By Yanis Varoufakis, yanisvaroufakis.eu

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For a while now I have been arguing that Europe’s policies for reducing the public debts of fiscally stressed member-states can be described as a Ponzi austerity scheme. In this post I attempt precisely to define ‘Ponzi austerity’.

Ponzi growth

Standard Ponzi schemes are based on a sleight of hand that creates the appearance of a fund whose value grows faster than the value that has come into it. In reality the opposite is true, as the scheme’s operator usually helps himself to some of the incoming capital while the scheme is not managing to create new capital with which to replenish these ‘leakages’, let alone pay the returns it promises. The appearances of growth that does not really exist is, of course, the lure that brings into the scheme new participants whose capital is utilised by the Ponzi scheme’s operator to maintain the facade of genuine growth.

Ponzi austerity

Ponzi austerity is the inverse of Ponzi growth. Whereas in standard Ponzi (growth) schemes the lure is the promise of a growing fund, in the case of Ponzi austerity the attraction to bankrupted participants is the promise of reducing their debt, so as to liberate them from insolvency, through a combination of ‘belt tightening’, austerity measures and new loans that provide the bankrupt with necessary funds for repaying maturing debts (e.g. bonds). As it is impossible to escape insolvency in this manner, Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted. But to attract this capital, the Ponzi austerity’s operators must do their utmost to maintain the façade of genuine debt reduction.

Ponzi austerity’s inventor: The Eurozone’s great and good

Ponzi growth has been around for yonks. But it took the collective wisdom of Europe’s great and good to create the first Ponzi austerity scheme. The Greek, Portuguese, Irish, Spanish and Cypriot loan agreements were the first ever examples of such a scheme. Bankrupted states, in a death embrace with bankrupted banking sectors, were forced to take in ever-increasing capital inflows (from the IMF, from the ECB, from the EFSF-ESM, shortly under the ECB’s OMT threat) on condition of belt-tightening austerity. As the scheme progresses, more capital is coming into it, debt-to-GDP ratios actually grow (just as in Ponzi growth schemes the value of the total fund is depleted) and, therefore, even more outside capital has to be brought in in order to maintain the pretense. […]

READ @ http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2013/11/08/ponzi-austerity-a-definition-and-an-example/

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* A FULL-FRONTAL ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES

We are in the dark about treaty that would let rapacious companies subvert our laws, rights and national sovereignty.

By George Monbiot, The Guardian

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Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don’t either. Mind you, I spent 10 minutes looking for my watch the other day before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn’t there? After all that agonising over whether or not we should stay in the European Union, the government wouldn’t cede our sovereignty to some shadowy, undemocratic body without consulting us. Would it?

The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/full-frontal-assault-democracy-europe-and-united-states?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

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* ENOUGHNESS: RESTORING BALANCE TO THE ECONOMY

Source: firstpeoples

How we see the world determines how we act. Western thought sees us at war with each other over resources. Indigenous philosophy, we are all related as individuals in balance with nature. Watch ENOUGHNESS: Resorting Balance to the Economy and learn more at www.FirstPeoples.org. Share on Facebook and Twitter using #ENOUGHNESS.

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPVrr44KHI

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* HOW ECONOMIC GROWTH HAS BECOME ANTI-LIFE

An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development

By Vandana Shiva, CommonDreams

'Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine'. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

‘Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine’. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.

The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.

Thus nature’s amazing cycles of renewal of water and nutrients are defined into nonproduction. The peasants of the world,who provide 72% of the food, do not produce; women who farm or do most of the housework do not fit this paradigm of growth either. A living forest does not contribute to growth, but when trees are cut down and sold as timber, we have growth. Healthy societies and communities do not contribute to growth, but disease creates growth through, for example, the sale of patented medicine.

Water available as a commons shared freely and protected by all provides for all. However, it does not create growth. But when Coca-Cola sets up a plant, mines the water and fills plastic bottles with it, the economy grows. But this growth is based on creating poverty – both for nature and local communities. Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine. Women are forced to walk longer distances looking for drinking water. In the village of Plachimada in Kerala, when the walk for water became 10 kms, local tribal woman Mayilamma said enough is enough. We cannot walk further; the Coca-Cola plant must shut down. The movement that the women started eventually led to the closure of the plant.

In the same vein, evolution has gifted us the seed. Farmers have selected, bred, and diversified it – it is the basis of food production. A seed that renews itself and multiplies produces seeds for the next season, as well as food. However, farmer-bred and farmer-saved seeds are not seen as contributing to growth. It creates and renews life, but it doesn’t lead to profits. Growth begins when seeds are modified, patented and genetically locked, leading to farmers being forced to buy more every season.

Nature is impoverished, biodiversity is eroded and a free, open resource is transformed into a patented commodity. Buying seeds every year is a recipe for debt for India’s poor peasants. And ever since seed monopolies have been established, farmers debt has increased. More than 270,000 farmers caught in a debt trap in India have committed suicide since 1995. […]

READ @ https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/01-2

Aug 062013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE UNITED STATES IS AWASH IN PUBLIC STUPIDITY, AND CRITICAL THOUGHT IS UNDER ASSAULT

By Henry A. Giroux, GreanvillePost

George Bush: The media and political class are openly trying to rehabilitate this grotesque war criminal’s image, while the population barely notices.

George W. Bush: The media and political class are openly trying to rehabilitate this grotesque war criminal’s image, while the population barely notices.

America has become amnesiac – a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed.  Politicians such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich along with talking heads such as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter are not the problem, they are symptomatic of a much more disturbing assault on critical thought, if not rational thinking itself.  Under a neoliberal regime, the language of authority, power and command is divorced from ethics, social responsibility, critical analysis and social costs.

These anti-public intellectuals are part of a disimagination machine that solidifies the power of the rich and the structures of the military-industrial-surveillance-academic complex by presenting the ideologies, institutions and relations of the powerful as commonsense.[1] [2] For instance, the historical legacies of resistance to racism, militarism, privatization and panoptical surveillance have long been forgotten and made invisible in the current assumption that Americans now live in a democratic, post-racial society. The cheerleaders for neoliberalism work hard to  normalize dominant institutions and relations of power through a vocabulary and public pedagogy that create market-driven subjects, modes of consciousness, and ways of understanding the world that promote accommodation, quietism and passivity.  Social solidarities are torn apart, furthering the retreat into orbits of the private that undermine those spaces that nurture non-commodified knowledge, values, critical exchange and civic literacy. The pedagogy of authoritarianism is alive and well in the United States, and its repression of public memory takes place not only through the screen culture and institutional apparatuses of conformity, but is also reproduced through a culture of fear and a carceral state that imprisons more people than any other country in the world.[2] [3] What many commentators have missed in the ongoing attack on Edward Snowden is not that he uncovered information that made clear how corrupt and intrusive the American government has become – how willing it is to engage in vast crimes against the American public. His real “crime” is that he demonstrated how knowledge can be used to empower people, to get them to think as critically engaged citizens rather than assume that knowledge and education are merely about the learning of skills – a reductive concept that substitutes training for education and reinforces the flight from reason and the goose-stepping reflexes of an authoritarian mindset.[3]  [4]

Since the late1970s, there has been an intensification in the United States, Canada and Europe of neoliberal modes of governance, ideology and policies – a historical period in which the foundations for democratic public spheres have been dismantled. Schools, public radio, the media and other critical cultural apparatuses have been under siege, viewed as dangerous to a market-driven society that considers critical thought, dialogue, and civic engagement a threat to its basic values, ideologies, and structures of power. This was the beginning of an historical era in which the discourse of democracy, public values, and the common good came crashing to the ground. Margaret Thatcher in Britain and soon after Ronald Reagan in the United States – both hard-line advocates of market fundamentalism – announced that there was no such thing as society and that government was the problem not the solution. Democracy and the political process were all but sacrificed to the power of corporations and the emerging financial service industries, just as hope was appropriated as an advertisement for the whitewashed world, a culture whose capacity to critique oppressive social practices was greatly diminished. Large social movements fragmented into isolated pockets of resistance mostly organized around a form of identity politics that largely ignored a much-needed conversation about the attack on the social and the broader issues affecting society such as the growing inequality in wealth, power and income. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2013/07/26/the-united-states-is-awash-in-public-stupidity-and-critical-thought-is-under-assault/

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* GLENN GREENWALD SLAMS NSA BACKER REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER OVER ABC INTERVIEW, DEFENSE INDUSTRY TIES

Source: DemocracyNow!

On Sunday, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss his latest article, “Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA.” After speaking with him, the host, Martha Raddatz, asked House Intelligence Committee member Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger to respond to his report. Democracy Now! gets reaction from Greenwald to the claims made by Ruppersberger.

The full interview with Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now!:

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d0R_jSP8GLM

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* U.S. DIRECTS AGENTS TO COVER UP PROGRAM USED TO INVESTIGATE AMERICANS

By John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke, Reuters

A slide from a presentation about a secretive information-sharing program run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division (SOD) is seen in this undated photo.Credit: Reuters/John Shiffman

A slide from a presentation about a secretive information-sharing program run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division (SOD) is seen in this undated photo.Credit: Reuters/John Shiffman

 

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers. […]

READ @ http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/05/us-dea-sod-idUSBRE97409R20130805

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* BILL BLACK: IS IT LEGAL MALPRACTICE TO FAIL TO GET HOLDER TO  PROMISE NOT TO TORTURE YOUR CLIENT?

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posed from New Economic Perspectives

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One of the things I never expected to read was a promise by any United States official that a potential defendant in a criminal prosecution by our federal courts “will not be tortured.”

The idea that the Attorney General of the United States of America would send such a letter to the representative of a foreign government, particularly Russia under the leadership of a former KGB official, was so preposterous that I thought the first news report I read about Attorney General Holder’s letter concerning Edward Snowden was satire. The joke, however, was on me. The Obama and Bush administrations have so disgraced the reputation of the United States’ criminal justice system that we are forced to promise KGB alums that we will not torture our own citizens if Russia extradites them for prosecution.

The standard joke that came to mind when I read Holder’s letter was the bartender who brings out glasses to three customers and asks “which of you ordered his whiskey in a clean glass?” We take it for granted that no restaurant or bar will knowingly serve us our drinks in a dirty glass. I always took it for granted that no U.S. attorney general would knowingly allow a criminal suspect in U.S. custody to be the victim of torture, raped, branded, or a host of other forms of brutality. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/bill-black-is-it-legal-malpractice-to-fail-to-get-holder-to-promise-not-to-torture-your-client.html

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* PLUTOCRACY AND CORRUPTION: HARMING THE AVERAGE U.S. CITIZEN

By Margaret Elkis, EconomyInCrisis

In today’s society, plutocracy and political corruption go hand in hand, especially in Washington.

 

President Slickmo

President Slickmo

Simply put, plutocracy is a government ruled controlled by wealthy individuals. It is no secret that wealth buys power, and that is exactly what we are seeing today. Unfortunately, with wealth and power often comes corruption. Author J.R. Martin stated in chapter nine of his book, Selling U.S. Out, that political scandal and corruption are not new. They have always existed. Indeed, all one has to do is read the news to learn of the corruption and greed taking place between the big players of our government:

  • political parties: Republicans and Democrats
  • lobbyists and overpaid consultants
  • the mainstream media

Over the past forty years, power, money and greed have corrupted our elected government officials at every level. What’s most alarming is that the blatant corruption has been tolerated and accepted by the American people. Unfortunately, members of both parties act as if their jobs are nothing more than a big political game. They’re so focused on insulting the other side and getting their own agendas passed that they forget they’re supposed to be working for the U.S. public.

As J.R. Martin writes:

“Neither party represents the interests of the American people since both are controlled by foreign and domestic corporations and special interest groups that provide the majority of their funding…both parties practice dishonest, divisive politics aimed at dividing and manipulating public opinion instead of seeking to build an honest national consensus on important issues confronting our nation.” […]

READ @ http://economyincrisis.org/content/plutocracy-corruption-harming-the-average-u-s-citizen

Jun 152013
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

YES WE SCAN!

YES WE SCAN!

Introduction

The exposure of the Obama regime’s use of the National Security Agency to secretly spy on the communications of hundreds of millions of US and overseas citizens has provoked world-wide denunciations.  In the United States, despite widespread mass media coverage and the opposition of civil liberties organizations, there has not been any mass protest.   Congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as top judges, approved of the unprecedented domestic spy program..  Even worse, when the pervasive spy operations were revealed, top Senate and Congressional leaders repeated their endorsement of each and every intrusion into all electronic and written communication involving American citizens.  President Obama and his Attorney General Holder openly and forcefully defended the NSA’s  the universal spy operations.

The issues raised by this vast secret police apparatus and its penetration into and control over civil society, infringing on the citizens freedom of expression, go far beyond mere ‘violations of privacy’, as raised by many legal experts.

Most civil libertarians focus on the violations of individual rights, constitutional guarantees and the citizen’s privacy rights.  These are important legal issues and the critics are right in raising them.   However, these constitutional–legal critiques do not go far enough; they fail to raise even more fundamental issues; they avoid basic political questions.

Why has such a massive police-state apparatus and universal spying become so central to the ruling regime?  Why has the entire executive, legislative and judicial leadership come out in public for such a blatant repudiation of all constitutional guarantees?  Why do elected leaders defend universal political espionage against the citizenry?  What kind of politics requires a police state?  What kind of long-term, large scale domestic and foreign policies are illegal and unconstitutional as to require the building of a vast network of domestic spies and a hundred billion dollar corporate-state techno-espionage infrastructure in a time of budget ‘austerity’ with the slashing of social programs?

The second set of questions arises from the use of the espionage data.  So far most critics have questioned the existence of massive state espionage but have avoided the vital issue of what measures are taken by the spymasters once they target individuals, groups, movements?  The essential question is:  What reprisals and sanctions follow from the ‘information’ that is collected, classified and made operational by these massive domestic spy networks?  Now that the ‘secret’ of all-encompassing, state political spying has entered public discussion, the next step should be to reveal the secret operations that follow against those targeted by the spymasters as a ‘risk to national security’.

The Politics behind the Police State

The fundamental reason for the conversion of the state into a gigantic spy apparatus is the nature of deeply destructive domestic and foreign policies which the government has so forcefully pursued.  The vast expansion of the police state apparatus is not a response to the terror attack of 9/11.  The geometrical growth of spies, secret police budgets, and the vast intrusion into all citizen communications coincides with the wars across the globe.  The decisions to militarize US global policy requires vast budgetary re-allocation , slashing social spending to fund empire-building; shredding public health and social security to bailout  Wall Street.  These are policies which greatly enhance profits for bankers and corporations while imposing regressive taxes on wage and salaried workers

Prolonged and extended wars abroad have been funded at the expense of citizens’ welfare at home.  This policy had led to declining living standards for many tens of millions of citizens and rising dissatisfaction.  The potential of social resistance as evidenced by the brief “Occupy Wall Street” movement which was endorsed by over 80% of the population.  The positive response alarmed the state and led to an escalation of police state measures.  Mass spying is designed to identify the citizens who oppose both imperial wars and the destruction of domestic welfare; labeling them as ‘security threats’ is a means of controlling them through the use of arbitrary police powers.  The expansion of the President’s war powers has been accompanied by the growth and scope of the state spy apparatus:  the more the President orders overseas drone attacks, the greater the number of his military interventions, the greater the need for the political elite surrounding the President to increase its policing of citizens in anticipation of a popular backlash.  In this context, the policy of mass spying is taken as ‘pre-emptive action’.  The greater the police state operations, the greater the fear and insecurity among dissident citizens and activists.

The assault on the living standards of working and middle class Americans in order to fund the endless series of wars, and not the so-called ‘war on terror’, is the reason  the state has developed massive cyber warfare against the US citizenry.  The issue is not only a question of a violation of individual privacy: it is fundamentally an issue of state infringement of the collective rights of organized citizens to freely engage in public opposition to regressive socio-economic policies and question the empire.  The proliferation of permanent bureaucratic institutions, with over a million security ‘data collectors’, is accompanied by tens of thousands of ‘field operators’, analysts  and inquisitors acting arbitrarily to designate dissident citizens as ‘security risks’ and imposing reprisals according to the political needs of their ruling political bosses.  The police state apparatus has its own rules of self-protection and self-perpetuation; it has its own linkages and may occasionally compete with the Pentagon.  The police state links up with and protects the masters of Wall Street and the propagandists of the mass media – even as it (must) spy on them!

The police state is an instrument of the Executive Branch acting as a vehicle for its arbitrary prerogative powers.  However on administrative matters, it possesses a degree of ‘autonomy’ to target dissident behavior.  What is clear is the high degree of cohesion, vertical discipline and mutual defense, up and down the hierarchy.  The fact that one whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, emerged from the hundreds of thousands of citizen spies is the exception, the lone whistle blower, which proves the rule:  There are fewer defectors to be found among the million-member US spy network than in all the Mafia families in Europe and North America.

The domestic spy apparatus operates with impunity because of its network of powerful domestic and overseas allies.  The entire bi-partisan Congressional leadership is privy to and complicit with its operations. Related branches of government, like the Internal Revenue Service, cooperate in providing information and pursuing targeted political groups and individuals.  Israel is a key overseas ally of the National Security Agency, as has been documented in the Israeli press (Haaretz, June 8, 2013).  Two Israeli high tech firms (Verint and Narus) with ties to the Israeli secret police (MOSSAD), have provided the spy software for the  NSA and this, of course, has opened a window for Israeli spying in the US against Americans opposed to the Zionist state.  The writer and critic, Steve Lendman points out that Israeli spymasters via their software “front companies” have long had the ability to ‘steal proprietary commercial and industrial data” with impunity .  And because of the power and influence of the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish organizations, Justice Department officials have ordered dozens of Israeli espionage cases to be dropped. The tight Israeli ties to the US spy apparatus serves to prevent deeper scrutiny into its operation and political goals – at a very high price in terms of the security of US citizens.  In recent years two incidents stand out:  Israeli security ‘experts’ were contracted to advise the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security in their investigation and  ‘Stasi-like’ repression of government critics and environmental activists (compared to ‘al Queda terrorists’ by the Israelis) – the discovery of which forced the resignation of OHS Director James Powers in 2010.    In 2003, New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevy appointed his lover, an Israeli government operative and former IDF officer, to head that state’s ‘Homeland Security Department and later resigned, denouncing the Israeli, Golan Cipel, for blackmail in late 2004.  These examples are a small sample illustrating the depth and scope of Israeli police state tactics intersecting in US domestic repression.

The Political and Economic Consequences of the Spy State

The denunciations of the mass spy operations are a positive step, as far as they go.  But equally important is the question of what follows from the act of spying?  We now know that hundreds of millions of Americans are being spied on by the state.  We know that mass spying is official policy of the Executive and is approved by Congressional leaders.  But we have only fragmented information on the repressive measures resulting from the investigations of “suspect individuals”.  We can assume that there is a division of labor among data collectors, data analysts and field operatives following up “risky individuals and groups”, based on the internal criteria known only to the secret police.  The key spy operatives are those who devise and apply the criteria for designating someone as a “security risk”.  Individuals and groups who express critical views of domestic and foreign policy are “a risk”; those who act to protest are a “higher risk”;  those who travel to conflict regions are presumed to be in the “highest risk” category, even if they have violated no law.  The question of the lawfulness of a citizen’s views and actions does not enter into the spymasters’ equation; nor do any questions regarding the lawfulness of the acts committed by the spies against citizens.  The criteria defining a security risk supersede any constitutional considerations and safeguards.

We know from a large number of published cases that lawful critics, illegally spied upon, have subsequently been arrested,  tried and jailed – their lives and those of their friends and family members shattered.  We know that hundreds of homes, workplaces and offices of suspects have been raided in ‘fishing expeditions’.  We know that family members, associates, neighbors, clients, and employers of “suspects” have been interrogated, pressured and intimidated.  Above all, we know that tens of millions of law abiding citizens, critical of domestic economic and overseas war policies, have been censored by the very real fear of the massive operations carried out by the police state. In this atmosphere of intimidation, any critical conversation or word spoken in any context or relayed via the media can be interpreted by nameless, faceless spies as a “security threat” – and one’s name can enter into the ever growing secret lists of “potential terrorists”.  The very presence and dimensions of the police state is intimidating.  While there are citizens who would claim that the police state is necessary to protect them from terrorists – But how many others  feel compelled to embrace their state terrorists just to fend off any suspicion, hoping to stay off the growing lists?  How many critical-minded Americans now fear the state and will never voice in public what they whisper at home?

The bigger the secret police, the greater its operations.  The more regressive  domestic economic policy,  the greater the fear and loathing of the political elite.

Even as President Obama and his Democratic and Republican partners boast and bluster about their police state and its effective “security function”, the vast majority of Americans are becoming aware that fear instilled at home serves the interest of waging imperial wars abroad; that cowardice in the face of police state threats only encourages further cuts in their living standards.   When will they learn that exposing spying is only the beginning of a solution? When will they recognize that ending the police state is essential to dismantling the costly empire and creating a safe, secure and prosperous America?

Feb 092013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W64jUEz2uXE#!

The Network of Information and Solidarity for Antifascist and Anti-repressive Action in Greece presents:

A documentary film on Golden Dawn, its promotion by the media, its co-operation with greek police and the struggle against fascism in Greece.

VERSION FRANCAISE: HELAS POUR NOUShttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1x2FJ…

For more information on Greece:

http://99getsmart.com/category/greece-2/

http://a-place-called-space.blogspot.gr

http://stopcartelnews.blogspot.gr

Feb 012013
 

Posted by Elena Tiniakou, 99GetSmart

The Greek Public Power Corporation is cutting the electricity supply to 30,000 homes and businesses each month due to unpaid bills.

VIDEO @ http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xx4t3d_power-cuts-a-daily-reality-in-greece_news?start=4

Jan 072013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

The Greek Crisis : The Real Causes and possible solutions which are hidden from the public is a documentary that was produced in Greece at the end of 2011 and the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister George Papandreou.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZc6oD0WfW8&feature=share