* URGENT CALL TO ACTION AGAINST THE NDAA
Source: New York City General Assembly
Call To Action Against the NDAA
A call has been put out to let our government know the people will not tolerate any more attacks on our rights!
January 3rd will be a spontaneous show of people power in reaction to Obama’s treasonous signing of the National Defense Authorization Act. Not only does this act violate our first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth amendments, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but this Act was signed quietly this past New Years Eve violating what little trust remained between the people and their established government. We see what’s happening here, and we will not stand for it.
Tentative Schedule for Day of Action
7:30 am and all day – OWS solidarity with the New York State Nurses Association Strike at St. Lukes and Roosevelt Hospital at 1111 Amsterdam Ave and 112th Street and 1000 10th Ave and 59th Street, respectively
12 pm – Press Conference at NYPL at Bryant Park
2 pm – Office Demonstration at Senator Gillibrand’s office at 780 3rd Ave.
3 pm – Office Demonstration at Senator Schumer’s office at 757 3rd Ave.
4 pm – Rally up at Rockefeller Plaza
5 pm – Flash check about NDAA in Grand Central for commuters
After that we plan to march up 5th ave to do a demo tour of 1 percent homes
**above subject to change at on short notice, stay tuned!
Please Help Spread the Word and Please Help Fight Back.
Participate in the Media Bomb As Well:
#J3 #occupyjustice #opblackout
For help adding these events to your Google Calendar for easy viewing, saving, and printing, check out the step-by-step guide here. [...]
* FINAL CURTAIN: OBAMA SIGNS INDEFINITE DETENTION OF CITIZENS INTO LAW AS FINAL ACT OF 2011
By Jonathan Turley
[…] Obama insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. As discussed earlier, the White House told citizens that the President would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. That spin ended after sponsor Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House and insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision.
The latest claim is even more insulting. You do not “support our troops” by denying the principles for which they are fighting. They are not fighting to consolidate authoritarian powers in the President. The “American way of life” is defined by our Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights. Moreover, the insistence that you do not intend to use authoritarian powers does not alter the fact that you just signed an authoritarian measure. It is not the use but the right to use such powers that defines authoritarian systems.
The almost complete failure of the mainstream media to cover this issue is shocking. Many reporters have bought into the spin of the Obama Administration as they did the spin over torture by the Bush Administration. Even today reporters refuse to call waterboarding torture despite the long line of cases and experts defining waterboarding as torture for decades. On the NDAA, reporters continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true. The Administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review. Moreover, most experts agree that such indefinite detention of citizens violates the Constitution.
There are also those who continue the long-standing effort to excuse Obama’s horrific record on civil liberties by either blaming others or the times. One successful myth is that there is an exception for citizens. The White House is saying that changes to the law made it unnecessary to veto the legislation. That spin is facially ridiculous. The changes were the inclusion of some meaningless rhetoric after key amendments protecting citizens were defeated. The provision merely states that nothing in the provisions could be construed to alter Americans’ legal rights. Since the Senate clearly views citizens are not just subject to indefinite detention but even execution without a trial, the change offers nothing but rhetoric to hide the harsh reality.
Obama could have refused to sign the bill and the Congress would have rushed to fund the troops. Instead, as confirmed by Sen. Levin, the White House conducted a misinformation campaign to secure this power while portraying Obama as some type of reluctant absolute ruler, or as Obama maintains a reluctant president with dictatorial powers.
Most Democratic members joined their Republican colleagues in voting for this unAmerican measure.
For civil libertarians, the NDAA is our Mayan moment. 2012 is when the nation embraced authoritarian powers with little more than a pause between rounds of drinks. […]
* FROM NOW ON … OUR BIGGEST MISTAKE IS BELIEVING WE ARE FREE
By Bob Alexander, OpEdNews
By signing this perversion, Constitutional professor Barack Obama has put himself above the Constitution. From now on the President of the United States is a king. We have to depend upon his noblesse oblige to keep us out of the gulag.
On December 17, 2007 Senator Christopher Dodd spoke on the Senate floor against George W. Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping and telecom company amnesty compromise …
“Clear, first-hand whistleblower documentary evidence [states] that for year on end every e-mail, every text message, and every phone call … hundreds of millions of private, domestic communications … have been copied in their entirety by AT&T and knowingly diverted wholesale … into a secret room controlled exclusively by the NSA.”
Then Senator Barack Obama announced he supported the amnesty “compromise” saying …
“So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives — and the liberty — of the American people.”
I didn’t want George W. Bush, Barack Obama, or any future president of the United States to “carefully monitor the program.” I wanted a president who would stop the wiretapping program, restore the Fourth Amendment, and protect the Constitution of the United States. That’s his goddamned job. But that’s not the president I got for Christmas in 2008. The eavesdropping on every call, text, fax or email hasn’t stopped. It’s just being “carefully monitored.”
Fast forward to December 31, 2011 when Reader Supported News editor Marc Ash wrote…
“President Obama today signed the highly controversial Defense Spending Bill. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with its so-called Homeland Battlefield provisions, allows, according to many legal scholars, the indefinite detention of US citizens by the US military. What is most striking is a lengthy signing statement by Obama, in which he maintains his reservations about the Homeland Battlefield provisions, saying, ‘I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.’ His defense of civil liberties in the signing statement was passionate. Nonetheless, at the same moment, he signed the bill into law.”
So as of now … anyone … anywhere … can be detained indefinitely by order of the President of the United States. Obama said. “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” But what he just signed says he can. We just have to trust him … and all future presidents from now on. Florida Democratic representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she’ll be working with other Democrats to repeal the Homeland Battlefield provisions as soon as Congress reconvenes. Good luck with that one. What are the chances a Republican-controlled house will repeal provisions it had already passed in a 283 to 136 vote?
If the provisions are not repealed, or if the president changes his mind and decides to use the law he signed … then any of us could end up like Al-Jazeera journalist Sami Al-Hajj. He was arrested in Pakistan on December 15, 2001 and detained at Guantánamo for over six years. According to documents published by Wikileaks, the government wanted Al-Hajj “to provide information on the al-Jazeera News Network’s training program, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations.” He was beaten, sexually assaulted … and released without charge on May 1, 2008.
We are all now officially … small prey animals. We have the same rights a field mouse has against a hawk. Prey animals can’t get a lawyer or a trial. Prey animals get eaten.
So let’s kick off The New Year with what we know about The Late Great United States.
War criminals are immune from prosecution.
The president can declare martial law by declaring a public emergency and this public emergency can be anything he says it is.
The president can scoop up U.S. citizens and detain them forever if he wants to because Habeas Corpus is now a memory.
* WHY DO CONSERVATIVES HATE AMERICANS?
By David Atkins, Hullabaloo
Given the Right’s recent lurch toward Ayn Rand-style Objectivism, it seems that an intelligent journalist would put the following facts together:
- The new mainstream in conservatism maintains that the poor are only poor because of laziness and lack of initiative.
It’s not exactly a leap in logic to point out that mainstream conservatism now maintains that 80% of Americans are simply ungrateful, lazy bastards who need tough love to do better.
In that context, trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare makes sense for them. But shouldn’t someone start asking, then, why conservatives have such contempt for the vast majority of Americans, and their work ethic? It’s not a hard question to ask. The politics of it may be controversial, but the logic isn’t.
* IRAN AND HISTORICAL FORGETTING
By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening
[…] History also suggests that if Iran were to design and manufacture a nuclear weapon, there is no evidence they would be crazy enough to use one preemptively in a world full of nations with vastly superior nuclear arsenals and delivery systems. The fact the Iranian President may spout hatred of the United States and Israel is not evidence; just listen to the identical hatred spouted here in the US and in Israel about the Iranians. Iran would seem to have a lot to live for; suicide is not a trait they exhibit.
This has certainly been the case with North Korea, another regime we pillory with charges of insanity. It has a number of nuclear weapons it could deliver to South Korea easily. Why aren’t we threatening North Korea with bombings? Why are we instead offering them shipments of food?
Because the real reason Iran is in the sights of the United States and, especially, Israel is clear. As a tax-paying American citizen who did his small part to make the unnecessary historic debacle known as the Vietnam War what it was, I submit the problem is that both the United States and Israel operate on mythic fuel that deludes their citizens into believing they are exceptional and the chosen people, respectfully. They have been hoodwinked by politicos and holy men with inadequate and distorted historical thinking into believing Iran is the devil inherent intent on menacing the poor, innocent West.
This irrational, mythic bunk is how we tend to see the rest of the world, and it has gotten so out of hand these days that instead of questioning the utility of these myths our political and cultural leaders actually nurture and reinforce them, making the situation even worse. And since the mainstream media and both political parties are complicit, the smart American voter who might on his or her own see the utility of breaking this doomed cycle is presented with no political choice at all.
Sure, one of the candidates will be better than the other on something (for this reason, I always vote), but when it comes to the really big issues of Militarism and the growth of Police State Tyranny, there’s no choice at all. The American citizen is stuck on a runaway train.
Because he doesn’t play by this book, former Member of British Parliament George Galloway has the temerity to ask, “What has Iran ever done to us?” On a recent radio show Galloway debated a caller who gave the middle-brow line about the need to attack Iran. Galloway pointed out that Iranians are very capable and sophisticated and that they will take a strategic bombing campaign as a declaration of war and act accordingly by retaliating against us with bombs wherever and whenever they can.
People who think a strategic bombing attack on Iran will be like the Israeli attack on Saddam’s plant back in the 1980s or the Israeli attack on a Syrian plant a couple years ago are delusional. Galloway says it clearly: “If we bomb Iran, Iran will bomb us back.” The listener absurdly responds by saying that’s why we need to bomb them. Galloway throws up his hands: “There are people listening to this who will not know whether to laugh or cry.” The listener doesn’t grasp any of the history and is operating purely on fear and the delusion that somehow bombing Iran will lessen the danger that nation poses to the United States, Israel and the West. It’s like never having heard of the concepts of overconfidence and unforeseen consequences. I’m a member of Veterans For Peace and we like to say, “Wars are easy to start but very difficult to stop.” So the idea is to not start them and to work out problems another way. […]
* AS US-IRAN THREAT EXCHANGE CONTINUES, PAKISTAN DETAINS THREE IRANIAN BORDER GUARDS
By Jim White, emptywheel
Iran and the US continued to exchange threats over the long holiday weekend. On Saturday night, Barack Obama signed the NDAA, which put into place the ability to enact strong sanctions on banking institutions involved in the sale of Iranian oil. Substantial flexibility is built into the legislation to allow the US to exempt various players in the oil market, so it is still quite uncertain how the sanctions will be implemented. As the video here shows, Iran also test-fired two types of missiles over the weekend prior to the ending of the ten days of naval war games. However, the threats have not ceased, as Iran has now issued a vague warning to the US not to bring the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, which exited the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, back into the Gulf.
With all of these events taking place, it would be easy to overlook a strange incident on the Iran-Pakistan border on Sunday. Both Iran and Pakistan now say that Pakistan has detained three Iranian border guards who crossed into Pakistan. The guards shot two men who were in a car they were chasing, and one of the men died. The shooting victims are Pakistani nationals.
One of the most detailed accounts appears in the Washington Post via AP:
Pakistani authorities have yet to decide what to do with three Iranian border guards who they say crossed into southwestern Pakistan while chasing after smugglers and killed one them, a government official said Monday.
The incident occurred Sunday in the Mazah Sar area of Baluchistan province, a desolate, unpopulated region where the border is not clearly marked.
Aalam Farez, a senior government official in Washuk district, where Mazah Sar is located, said the Iranians admitted to inadvertently crossing into Pakistan. But, he said, they claimed the two people they shot — one of whom died — were bystanders and that the people they were chasing escaped.
After the shooting, Pakistani border personnel chased the Iranians back across the border and detained them, Pakistani officials have said. They also seized the surviving gunshot victim and determined both of those who had been shot were petty smugglers.
The Express Tribune (via AFP) adds significant background on the region where this event took place:
The Iranians reached Mazan Sar Mashkail, in Washuk district, three kilometres (1.8miles) inside Pakistan where they opened fire on a vehicle they were chasing, according to officials in Balochistan.
“All three personnel of Iranian border security force were taken into custody for their penetration inside Pakistan and killing a Pakistani national on our soil”, Saeed Ahmad Jamali, Deputy Commissioner of Washuk district told AFP.
Mazan Sar Mashkail is around 600 kilometres southwest of Quetta, the main town of insurgency hit Baluchistan province, which borders Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province.
Iranian embassy officials in Islamabad were unavailable for comment late Sunday but Iran in the past has blamed a Sunni extremist group, called Jundallah, for launching attacks inside Pakistan [sic] from Sistan-Balochistan.
Jundallah says it is fighting Tehran’s Shiite rule to secure rights for Sunni Balochis who form a significant population in Sistan-Balochistan, which borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Significantly, this AFP article makes no mention of smuggling, so the smuggling characterization appears only in the AP article, which Mehr News cites in its confirmation of the event. And despite the AP article not mentioning Jundallah, it is possible that both stories are correct, since in addition to its terrorism role, Jundallah also has been accused of drug smuggling. (It seems likely that the AFP article meant to say that Iran has blamed Jundallah for attacks inside Iran rather than Pakistan. Jundallah has claimed responsibility for several attacks, see below.)
The potential involvement of Jundallah is highly significant, as evidence has been presented that the Bush administration provided training and financial support. From ABC in 2007:
A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News. The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran. It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.
The article went on to describe the group’s leader (who was subsequently caught and executed by Iran) as “part drug smuggler.
The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.
One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support. […]
* FAKING IT: HOW THE MEDIA MANIPULATES THE WORLD INTO WAR
SOURCES AND TRANSCRIPT: http://www.corbettreport.com/?p=3588
As the drums of war begin to beat once again in Iran, Syria, the South China Sea, and other potential hotspots and flashpoints around the globe, concerned citizens are asking how a world so sick of bloodshed and a population so tired of conflict could be led to this spot once again.
To understand this seeming paradox, we must first understand the centuries-long history of how media has been used to whip the nation into wartime frenzy, dehumanize the supposed enemies, and even to manipulate the public into believing in causes for war that, decades later, were admitted to be completely fictitious.
The term “yellow journalism” was coined to describe the type of sensationalistic, scandal-driven, and often erroneous style of reporting popularized by newspapers like William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. In one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon, Hearst’s papers widely trumpeted the sinking of the Maine as the work of the Spanish. Whipped into an anti-Spanish frenzy by a daily torrent of stories depicting Spanish forces’ alleged torture and rape of Cubans, and pushed over the edge by the Maine incident, the public welcomed the beginning of the US-Spanish war. Although it is now widely believed that the explosion on the Maine was due to a fire in one of its coal bunkers, the initial lurid reports of Spanish involvement stuck and the nation was led into war.
In many ways, the phrase infamously attributed to Hearst in reply to his illustrator “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” apocryphal as the story may be, nevertheless perfectly encodes the method by which the public would be led to war time and again through the decades.
The US was drawn into World War I by the sinking of the Lusitania, a British ocean liner carrying American passengers that was torpedoed by German U-boats off the coast of Ireland, killing over 1,000 of its passengers. What the public was not informed about at the time, of course, was that just one week before the incident, then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had written to the President of the Board of Trade that it was “most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hopes especially of embroiling the United States with Germany.” Nor did reports of the attack announce that the ship was carrying rifle ammunition and other military supplies. Instead, reports once again emphasized that the attack was an out-of-the-blue strike by a maniacal enemy, and the public was led into the war.
The US involvement in World War II was likewise the result of deliberate disinformation. Although the Honolulu Advertiser had even predicted the attack on Pearl Harbor days in advance, the Japanese Naval codes had already been deciphered by that time, and that even Henry Stimson, the US Secretary of War, had noted in his diary the week before that he had discussed in a meeting with Roosevelt “how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves,” the public were still led to believe that the Pearl Harbor attack had been completely unforeseen. Just last month, a newly-declassified memo emerged showing that FDR had been warned of an impending Japanese attack on Hawaii just three days before the events at Pearl Harbor, yet the history books still portray Pearl Harbor as an example of a surprise attack.
In August 1964, the public was told that the North Vietnamese had attacked a US Destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin on two separate occasions. The attacks were portrayed as a clear example of “communist aggression” and a resolution was soon passed in Congress authorizing President Johnson to begin deploying US forces in Vietnam. In 2005, an internal NSA study was released concluding that the second attack in fact never took place. In effect, 60000 American servicemen and as many as three million Vietnamese, let alone as many as 500,000 Cambodians and Laotians, lost their lives because of an incident that did not occur anywhere but in the imagination of the Johnson administration and the pages of the American media.
In 1991, the world was introduced to the emotional story of Nayirah, a Kuwaiti girl who testified about the atrocities committed by Iraqi forces in Kuwait.
What the world was never told was that the incident had in fact been the work of a public relations firm, Hill and Knowltown, and the girl had actually been the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Once again, the public was whipped into a frenzy of hatred for the Hussein regime, not for the documented atrocities that it had actually committed on segments of its own population with weapons supplied to them by the United States itself, but on the basis of an imaginary story told to the public via their televisions, orchestrated by a pr firm.
In the lead-up to the war on Iraq, the American media infamously took the lead in framing the debate about the Iraqi government’s weapons of mass destruction NOT as a question of whether or not they even existed, but as a question of where they had been hidden and what should be done to disarm them. The New York Times led the way with Judith Miller‘s now infamous reporting on the Iraqi WMD story, now known to have been based on false information from untrustworthy sources, but the rest of the media fell into line with the NBC Nightly News asking “what precise threat Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction pose to America”, and Time debating whether Hussein was “making a good-faith effort to disarm Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” Reports about chemical weapons stashes were reported on before they were confirmed, although headlines boldly asserted their existence as indisputable fact. We now know that in fact the stockpiles did not exist, and the administration premeditatedly lied the country into yet another war, but the most intense opposition the Bush administration ever received over this documented war crime was some polite correction on the Sunday political talk show circuit.
Remarkably, the public at large has seemingly learned nothing from all of these documented historical manipulations. If anything, the media has become even bolder in its attempts to manipulate the public’s perceptions, perhaps emboldened by the fact that so few in the audience seem willing to question the picture that is being painted for them on the evening news.
Later that year, CNN aired footage of a bombed out Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, falsely labeling it as footage of Gori, which they said had been attacked by the Russians.
In 2009, the BBC showed a cropped image of a rally in Iran which they claimed was a crowd of protesters who assembled to show their opposition to the Iranian government. An uncropped version of the same photograph displayed on the LA Times’ website, however, revealed that the photo in fact came from a rally in support of Ahmedinejad.
In August of 2011, the BBC ran footage of what they claimed was a celebration in Tripoli’s Green Square. When sharp-eyed viewers noticed that the flags in the footage were in fact Indian flags, the BBC was forced to admit that they had “accidentally” broadcast footage from India instead of Tripoli.
Also that month, CNN reported on a story from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming that eight infants in incubators had died in a hospital in Hama when Syrian authorities cut off power in the area. Some news sites even carried pictures of the infants. The images were later admitted to have been taken in Egypt and no evidence has ever emerged to back up the accusations.
As breathtaking as all of these lies, manipulations and so-called “mistakes” are, they in and of themselves don’t represent the only functions of the media for the war machine. Now, the US government is taking the lead in becoming more and more directly involved with the shaping of the media message on war propaganda, and the general public is becoming even more ensnared in a false picture of the world through the Pentagon’s own lens.
In 2005, the Bush White House admitted to producing videos that were designed to look like news reports from legitimate independent journalists, and then feeding those reports to media outlets as prepackaged material ready to air on the evening news. When the Government Accountability Office ruled that these fake news reports in fact constituted illegal covert propaganda, the White House simply issued a memo declaring the practice to be legal.
In April 2008, the New York Times revealed a secret US Department of Defense program that was launched in 2002 and involved using retired military officers to implant Pentagon talking points in the media. The officers were presented as “independent analysts” on talk shows and news programs, although they had been specially briefed beforehand by the Pentagon. In December of 2011, the DoD’s own Inspector General released a report concluding that the program was in perfect compliance with government policies and regulations.
Earlier this year, it was revealed the the US government had contracted with HBGary Federal to develop software that create fake social media accounts in order to steer public opinion and promote propaganda on popular websites. The federal contract for the software sourced back to the MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
As the vehicle through which information from the outside world is captured, sorted, edited and transmitted into our homes, the mass media has the huge responsibility of shaping and informing our understanding of events to which we don’t have first-hand access. This is an awesome responsibility in even the most ideal conditions, with diligent reporters guided by trustworthy editors doing their level best to report the most important news in the most straightforward way.
But in a media landscape where a handful of companies own virtually all of the print, radio and television media in each nation, the only recourse the public has is to turn away from the mainstream media altogether. And that is precisely what is happening.
As study after study and report after report has shown, the death of the old media has accelerated in recent years, with more and more people abandoning newspapers and now even television as their main source of news. Instead, the public is increasingly turning toward online sources for their news and information, something that is necessarily worrying for the war machine itself, a system that can only truly flourish when the propaganda arm is held under monopolistic control.
But as citizens turn away from the New York Times and toward independent websites, many run and maintained by citizen journalists and amateur editors, the system that has consolidated its control over the minds of the public for generations seems to finally be showing signs that it may not be invincible.
Surely this is not to say that online media is impervious to the defects that have made the traditional media so unreliable. Quite the contrary. But the difference is that online, there is still for the time being relative freedom of choice at the individual level. While internet freedom exists, individual readers and viewers don’t have to take the word of any website or pundit or commentator on any issue. They can check the source documentation themselves, except, perhaps not coincidentally, on the websites of the traditional media bastions, which tend not to link source material and documentation in their articles.
Hence the SOPA Act, Protect IP, the US government’s attempts to seize websites at the domain name level, and all of the other concerted attacks we have seen on internet freedoms in recent years.
Because ultimately, an informed and engaged public is far less likely to go along with wars waged for power and profit. And as the public becomes better informed about the very issues that the media has tried to lie to them about for so long, they realize that the answer to all of the mainstream media’s war cheerleading and blatant manipulation is perhaps simpler than we ever suspected: All we have to do is turn them off.
* HAITI AFTER THE QUAKE
By Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas, CounterPunch
Haiti, a close neighbor of the US with over nine million people, was devastated by earthquake on January 12, 2010. Hundreds of thousands were killed and many more wounded.
The UN estimated international donors gave Haiti over $1.6 billion in relief aid since the earthquake (about $155 per Haitian) and over $2 billion in recovery aid (about $173 per Haitian) over the last two years.
Yet Haiti looks like the earthquake happened two months ago, not two years. Over half a million people remain homeless in hundreds of informal camps, most of the tons of debris from destroyed buildings still lays where it fell, and cholera, a preventable disease, was introduced into the country and is now an epidemic killing thousands and sickening hundreds of thousands more.
It turns out that almost none of the money that the general public thought was going to Haiti actually went directly to Haiti. The international community chose to bypass the Haitian people, Haitian non-governmental organizations and the government of Haiti. Funds were instead diverted to other governments, international NGOs, and private companies.
Despite this near total lack of control of the money by Haitians, if history is an indication, it is quite likely that the failures will ultimately be blamed on the Haitians themselves in a “blame the victim” reaction.
Haitians ask the same question as many around the world “Where did the money go?”
Here are seven places where the earthquake money did and did not go.
One. The largest single recipient of US earthquake money was the US government. The same holds true for donations by other countries.
Right after the earthquake, the US allocated $379 million in aid and sent in 5000 troops. The Associated Press discovered that of the $379 million in initial US money promised for Haiti, most was not really money going directly, or in some cases even indirectly, to Haiti. They documented in January 2010 that thirty three cents of each of these US dollars for Haiti was actually given directly back to the US to reimburse ourselves for sending in our military. Forty two cents of each dollar went to private and public non-governmental organizations like Save the Children, the UN World Food Program and the Pan American Health Organization. Hardly any went directly to Haitians or their government.
The overall $1.6 billion allocated for relief by the US was spent much the same way according to an August 2010 report by the US Congressional Research Office: $655 million was reimbursed to the Department of Defense; $220 million to Department of Health and Human Services to provide grants to individual US states to cover services for Haitian evacuees; $350 million to USAID disaster assistance; $150 million to the US Department of Agriculture for emergency food assistance; $15 million to the Department of Homeland Security for immigration fees, and so on.
International assistance followed the same pattern. The UN Special Envoy for Haiti reported that of the $2.4 billion in humanitarian funding, 34 percent was provided back to the donor’s own civil and military entities for disaster response, 28 percent was given to UN agencies and non-governmental agencies (NGOs) for specific UN projects, 26 percent was given to private contractors and other NGOs, 6 percent was provided as in-kind services to recipients, 5 percent to the international and national Red Cross societies, 1 percent was provided to the government of Haiti, four tenths of one percent of the funds went to Haitian NGOs.
Two. Only 1 percent of the money went to the Haitian government.
Less than a penny of each dollar of US aid went to the government of Haiti, according to the Associated Press. The same is true with other international donors. The Haitian government was completely bypassed in the relief effort by the US and the international community. […]
* BofA INITIATES NEW LOAN SHARKING PROGRAM – EXCUSE ME, RATE HIKES – FOR SMALL BUSINESS
By Susie Madrak, Crooks and Liars
Remember when we floated banks all that money so they could lend to small businesses, and instead they used it to pay bonuses and shore up their profits? Ah, good times! Now Bank of America has decided to jack up small business owners by boosting their interest rates to payday-loan-type levels in order to build their “core” business:
Bank of America Corp., under pressure to raise capital and cut risks, is severing lines of credit to some small-business owners who have used them to stay afloat.
The Charlotte, N.C., bank is demanding that these customers pay off their credit line balances all at once instead of making monthly payments. If they can’t pay in full, they are being offered new repayment plans for as long as five years, but with far higher interest rates than their original credit lines had.
Business owners complain that BofA’s credit squeeze is abrupt and could strain their small companies and even put them out of business. The credit cutoff is coming at a time when the California economy can’t seem to catch a break, and bucks what the financial industry says is a new trend of easing standards on business loans.
One such customer, Babak Zahabizadeh, was told in a letter that the $96,000 debt carried by his Burbank messenger service must be repaid Jan. 25. A loan officer offered multiple alternatives over the phone that Zahabizadeh called unaffordable, including paying off the debt at 12% interest over two years. That’s about $4,500 a month, nearly 10 times his current interest-only payment.
Zahabizadeh, known as Bobby Zahabi to his customers, said he has cut the staff of his Messengers & Distribution Inc. to 80 from 200 to nurse his business through tough times.
“I was like, ‘Dude, you’re calling a guy who’s barely surviving!’ ” he said. “My final word was that I can double my payment — but not triple or quadruple it. I told them if they apply too much pressure they’re going to push me into bankruptcy.”
The capped credit lines stem from a corporate overhaul launched by Brian Moynihan, who became Bank of America’s chief executive in 2010. He promised to address losses caused by loose lending and rapid expansion by reining in risks and shedding investments deemed non-core.
BofA spokesman Jefferson George said a “very small percentage” of small-business customers have been affected by the changes. He would not provide exact numbers except to say it wasn’t in the hundreds of thousands. Some of the affected businesses had been customers of other banks that Bank of America acquired, but most were BofA customers from the start, George said.
“These changes were explained in letters to customers, and they were necessary for Bank of America to continue prudent lending to viable businesses across the U.S.,” he said.