Apr 022017
 

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

karousos3-1-300x207The transcript of Dialogos Radio’s interview with economist and analyst Dimitris Karousos. This interview aired on our broadcasts for the week of March 22-28, 2017. Find the podcast of this interview here.

MN: Joining us today on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series is economist and economic analyst Dimitris Karousos, who is a member of the political directorate of Greece’s United Popular Front, and who has enjoyed a long career working for financial institutions within and outside of Greece. Mr. Karousos, thank you very much for joining us today.

DK: Thank you for your kind invitation.

MN: Let’s begin by discussing the recent deal that was reached between the Greek government and its European lenders. The Greek government has engaged in a big PR show, portraying this new agreement as one that will not deliver even one euro’s worth of new austerity measures, as a result of the so-called “equivalent measures” that will be adopted. This begs the question, if the net sum of these new measures is zero, then why enact them? And continuing along this line of thinking, what does the new agreement actually entail and mean for Greece?

DK: As we now find ourselves in Oscar season, it is clear that the Oscar for best director should go to the communications team of the Greek government, as their new dogma which claims that 1+1=0 is one of the most absurd things that the Greek people have heard yet. Indeed, “professor” Tsipras, by claiming that 1+1=0, seems to be reinventing the rules of mathematics. In other words, the government is attempting to claim that for every euro of austerity measures and cuts that will be enacted, there will be one euro in equivalent measures to offset those cuts. This, of course, is a blatant lie, because if there indeed will be no impact, these measures would not be needed.

The Greek government is lying, and this can be demonstrated in three ways. First, the troika—meaning the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—is not discussing the possibility of cuts in the special property tax and the value added tax, and indeed is not even allowing these issues to be brought to the negotiating table.

Second, the troika, instead of tax cuts, is insisting on the enactment of the so-called Juncker growth package, named after the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. This package is essentially the European Union’s Partnership Agreement, known as ESPA, but this is not a true replacement because Greece already qualifies for funds from this agreement regardless. Therefore, somebody needs to explain how low wage earners who are now faced with a lower tax-free threshold and will be forced to pay taxes, or how pensioners who will face further cuts to their pensions, will benefit from the European Union’s Partnership Agreement, which in the first place has nothing to do with this group of people, since it is concerns only entrepreneurs and supposedly offsets these cuts.

Third, whatever “equivalent” measures are agreed upon will only begin to be enforced if and only when Greece has fully and successfully enacted new cuts to wages and pensions, as foreseen in the new austerity package with 3.6 billion euro worth of cuts.

MN: The deal which was recently reached foresees the achievement of a primary budget surplus of at least 3.5% of the Greek GDP in 2019, while we are also hearing that Greece’s primary surplus for the month of January surpassed targets. Is this a good thing, however? Are primary surpluses a positive thing for a country like Greece, with the economy in the state that it is in?

DK: Here, we should first make it clear that no economy which has found itself in a similar condition to that of Greece has been able to recover through the enforcement of strict austerity and the pursuit of surpluses.

The economists Barry Eichengreen and Ugo Panizza, in a study of theirs, examined 235 countries and found that there were only 36 cases of countries which were able to maintain, for a five year period on average, a primary budget surplus of at least 3 percent of GDP, representing 15 percent of the total sample. In the same study, they found that there were only 17 cases of countries which, over an average of eight years, maintained a primary budget surplus of at least 3 percent of GDP, representing just 9 percent of total cases. There were only 12 cases of countries which, over a ten year period, maintained a primary budget surplus of at least 3 percent of GDP. It should be noted that Germany, the strongest economy in Europe, was not one of these countries!

In other words, they are asking Greece to achieve something that not even an economy at the level of Germany’s has been able to ever achieve! It should also be added that Eichengreen and Panizza note that extraordinarily strict fiscal policies—austerity in other words—with the goal of achieving a high primary budget surplus, may in fact achieve the opposite results, leading to recession and to political and social turmoil. These policies, in other words, may lead to the opposite outcome from that which is intended.

MN: With this new agreement which has been reached, do you believe that the risk of a so-called Schauble-style Grexit has been averted, or does it remain a distinct possibility? And continuing on that frame of thought, what would this German-proposed Grexit, which would include the imposition of a dual or parallel currency, mean for Greece?

DK: Not only has the threat of a Schauble-style Grexit and the imposition of a dual or parallel currency not been surpassed, but I believe it remains the plan that will be put into place. I believe that the following will happen: once the Greek government completes the so-called “troika review” of its finances with an agreement for new austerity measures totaling 3.2 to 3.6 billion euros, the troika will break up the next installment of so-called “bailout” funds into sub-installments. Once the German elections have occurred, then a fake “crisis” between Greece and its creditors will be orchestrated, and that is when the Schauble plan, named of course after the German finance minister, will be imposed. This plan would entail Grexit and the imposition of a dual or parallel currency within Greece.

The circulation of a dual or parallel currency will mean an even more rapid internal devaluation and will signify the immediate impoverishment of the Greek populace. There will be one currency used for internal transactions, such as the payment of salaries and pensions, while whatever euros are still in circulation will be collected and used towards the payment of the national debt, which will continue to be denominated in euros.

This would be a terrible development for Greece, as this dual or parallel currency will face constant devaluation versus the euro, as it will not be hard currency and nobody will want it. If you go to the greengrocer or the bakery, for instance, they might accept the dual currency at an exchange rate far lower than the official peg set by the government. The black market for euros will flourish and the economic catastrophe will be total and complete. The introduction of what will essentially be an IOU, or script, will not only completely destroy the Greek economy but it will also discredit the idea of a national, domestic currency in the eyes of the populace.

MN: Something which, of course, is not frequently discussed by analysts, journalists, and by the mass media in general is the difference between a dual or parallel currency on the one hand, and a national domestic currency on the other hand. What is the distinction and why is one better than the other?

DK: The differences are as follows. By definition, a parallel or dual currency means that there is a different currency in use for domestic transactions, from that which is used for external transactions. A national or domestic currency, on the other hand, is a currency that is issued by a nationalized central bank, such as the Bank of Greece, which would be completely state-owned. With a domestic currency, Greece would not be borrowing the currency that it will put into circulation, it will instead mint the currency itself. It is a wealth instrument, not a debt instrument. Furthermore, a national or domestic currency means that the state itself, because it mints its own currency, does not borrow it from any other central bank.

MN: Explain for us the steps which Greece could follow in order to undertake an orderly departure from the Eurozone and return to a true domestic currency. How could the various dangers that we keep hearing about, such as the risk of hyperinflation or a catastrophic devaluation of the new currency or a difficulty in importing goods, be averted?

DK: The political party which I am a part of, the United Popular Front, also known as EPAM, has described, in detail, 15 necessary steps which are required in order for a smooth transition to take place to a new national, domestic currency.

Every step in this process is absolutely necessary, and no steps can be skipped, as it will impact the entire transition to a domestic currency. The most important of these steps are as follows:

First, disputing the legality of the debt and declaring an immediate stoppage of payments.

Second, declaring the immediate cancelation of all of the memorandums and associated legislation which completely altered the legal and political status of the Greek state and imposed the troika-led occupation.

Third, departure from the European Union and the Eurozone.

Fourth, the imposition of a national, domestic currency.

Fifth, the nationalization of the Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank.

Sixth, the imposition of capital controls in order to prevent money from leaving the country.

Seventh, the liquidation of Greece’s four major banks, while these banks remain in operation.

Eighth, enacting measures to ensure that transactions are able to take place smoothly during the period of transition to the new currency.

Ninth, ensuring the adequate supply of goods in the marketplace.

Tenth, protecting consumers and vigorously policing the marketplace and the prices of goods.

Eleventh, immediately restoring wages and pensions to pre-memorandum levels.

Finally, implementation of “seisachtheia,” an ancient Greek precedent which refers to the forgiveness of the debts of households, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses.

MN: Let’s tackle these issues one at a time… How has Greece’s membership in the European Union since 1981 and in the Eurozone since 2002 impacted Greece’s productive and industrial capacity? And, as a second part to this question, is there any possibility of Greece’s agricultural or productive or industrial capacity increasing within the European Union and within the Eurozone?

DK: There is absolutely no chance of recovery for the Greek productive sector and Greek industry as long as the country remains within the European Union and the Eurozone, especially when harsh austerity and the memorandums are being imposed. How can industry recover when taxes and pension fund contributions surpass 60 percent of a corporation’s revenue? How can the Greek economy recover when its biggest industry, tourism, is saddled with the highest tax rate in the Mediterranean region? How can the Greek economy recover when there is so much bureaucracy and political uncertainty?

The end result of all of this is that Greece’s competitiveness has dropped to 86th place worldwide, despite all of the austerity measures, the memorandums, the economic “growth” which repeatedly has been promised, and the constant “fiscal adjustment” policies and “reforms” that have been enacted. Despite all of this, Greece now ranks lower in competitiveness than countries such as Namibia, Tajikistan, Albania, and Guatemala.

MN: You have spoken about the balance of goods and services in Greece and about Greece’s foreign currency reserves. What do these statistics show and what would they mean for Greece in terms of a potential departure from the Eurozone and the EU and return to a domestic currency?

DK: There is no possibility that there will be shortages of imported goods, and this is the case because Greece’s balance of goods and services, after so many years of economic depression and as a result of the internal devaluation that has taken place, is close to being balanced. In very simple terms, this means that Greece, from its exports, tourism, and shipping sectors earns all of the necessary foreign currency which it needs to pay for all of its imports. Therefore, it follows that there will be no shortage of imported goods.

In addition, according to the most recent figures available from the Bank of Greece from the third quarter of 2016, the central bank has in its reserves foreign currency totaling approximately 31.5 billion euros. At the same time, Greece’s banking system has, among its assets, a long-term foreign bond portfolio totaling 55.7 billion euro. Together, this totals almost 87 billion euros, which could be used as foreign currency reserves in the immediate aftermath of the departure from the Eurozone. Therefore, it is easy to understand that there is no chance of there being any shortages in the marketplace and that Greece’s needs would be met for several years to come.

MN: There is, of course, also the Greek public debt to contend with. Is this debt sustainable, to begin with? What would you propose regarding dealing with the debt, and what does international law and international legal precedent have to say, with regards to actions Greece could implement regarding its debt?

DK: Very much on purpose, the Greek people have been led to believe that an “unsustainable” debt is one which is very difficult to repay, but which can, at some point and after the enactment of very strict measures, be repaid. This is absolutely false! We have been led to believe this because, first of all, it has been necessary to maintain the hope that Greece, by enforcing these harsh austerity measures, will be able to repay its debt and will, as a result, accept these difficult measures.

In reality, an unsustainable debt is a debt which, no matter what a country does, cannot ever be repaid or even reduced, no matter how many measures are enforced. With mathematical certainty, such a debt will simply increase over time. This is the case in Greece. When Greece received its first so-called “bailout” the public debt was 122 percent of GDP. From 122 percent it increased to 129 percent, then 148 percent, then 170 percent, it has reached 177 percent, and is projected to increase to 188 percent and later 200 percent of GDP if we continue down this path!

The first loan agreement which Greece signed in 2010 and which, it should be stressed, was not ratified by the Greek Parliament, was a product of fraud and coercion. Articles 48 through 52 of the UN’s Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties allow for the cancelation of a treaty or agreement when it is a product of deceit or threats. This would permit Greece, with a written statement delivered to the UN General Assembly via the UN’s Secretary General, to announce to the international community that it is denouncing its illegal public debt.

In addition, the official report of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) which was published on its website on the 7th of March 2014, harshly criticizes the Greek government for its methodical and repeated violations of human rights, and specifically the individual, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of Greece’s people.

MN: In our previous interview, in January 2016, we spoke about the recapitalization of the Greek banking system which had just been completed. In what condition does the Greek banking sector find itself in today? Are we headed to yet another recapitalization, and what would such a development mean?

DK: I would argue that the Greek banking system now finds itself in worse shape than in the beginning of 2016, if we take into consideration something which the mass media and most analysts typically neglect to tell us, namely, that the deferred tax accounts for 40 percent of the equity of Alpha Bank, 71 percent of the equity of the National Bank of Greece, 75 percent of the equity of Eurobank, and 58 percent of the equity of Piraeus Bank. This alone means that a new recapitalization is coming.

Moreover, another negative and indeed tragic aspect is that, from the beginning of this year, 1.5 to 1.7 billion euros’ worth of new high-risk loans have been added to the banking system. These loans include mortgages, consumer loans, and business loans, and 80 percent of these loans have been refinanced.

In addition, 2.7 million loans, totaling almost 100 billion euros, are at the risk of default, as payments towards those loans have not been made in over three months. This is a ticking time bomb for the financial system. While this is happening, the deposits of households and individual depositors in Greece have dipped below 100 billion euro for the first time since 2003!

It is therefore clear to me that we will soon see a new recapitalization of the Greek banking system, totaling 7 to 10 billion euros.

MN: How has the British economy performed ever since the referendum result in favor of Brexit this past summer, and how do you believe the British economy will perform if and when the process of exiting the European Union is completed? Do you believe the widely-held fears of adverse economic impacts will be proven to be correct, or do you believe the opposite will be true?

DK: Even though it is surely too soon to draw a definite conclusion, what we can say from now is that in contrast with the various “Cassandras” who foresaw the total collapse of the economy of Great Britain, what we are seeing is that the British economy grew by 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2016, exceeding expectations.

In fact, the Bank of England once again revised upward its growth projections for the British economy for 2017, raising its projection from 1.4 percent of GDP, initially forecast in November 2016, to a growth rate of almost 2 percent of GDP. The higher projection is largely a result of increased consumer spending, which has occurred despite the fear mongering that the British public faced as a result of the Brexit vote.

Two additional aspects that are important and which should also be noted is the reduction of the public deficit by 400 million Pounds and the increase in average weekly wages of British workers by 2.8 percent on a year-to-year basis.

MN: The new president of the United States, Donald Trump, seems to have taken a position in favor of Brexit and against the Eurozone, displaying an evident preference for reaching bilateral trade agreements with individual countries, rather than large-scale trade deals with the Eurozone as a whole. On a domestic basis, Trump has promised the return of domestic jobs, of factories and corporations and businesses that have left the country. How do you view the economic policies and promises of the Trump administration and what would they mean for the European and global economies?

DK: The turn inward being undertaken by the United States will gradually lead to the repatriation of U.S. dollars. As a result, it is likely that countries whose national debt is in large part denominated in U.S. dollars, as is the case with Turkey, where 65 percent of its debt as a percentage of GDP is in dollars, as well as developing countries whose major public- and privately-owned industries have outstanding loans in U.S. dollars, will face increased difficulties from the upward pressures on the dollar in the international financial markets.

In addition to all of this, we need to take into consideration the ongoing trade battle between the United States and China, and the efforts of the United States to achieve energy autonomy, and in particular, the elimination of dependence on the OPEC nations. This means the replacement of approximately three million barrels of oil per day which are currently imported, replaced by domestic energy sources. It is easy to understand that this will hurt countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in particular.

As for Trump’s domestic economic policy, the jury is still out. We will just have to wait and see.

MN: Well Mr. Karousos, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and for your thoughtful analysis.

DK: Thank you very much for having me.

Mar 102017
 

By Michael Nevradakis99GetSmart

mercouris2-300x201This week on Dialogos Radio, we will be featuring, as part of the Dialogos Interview Seriestwo special interviews!

First, we will have the opportunity to speak with journalist, analyst, and longtime lawyer in the Royal Court of the United Kingdom Alexander Mercouris, co-founder of TheDuran.com. Joining us from London, Mercouris will provide his insights for us on a number of current issues, including the latest actions of the Trump administration, the path towards Brexit in Great Britain, anti-Russia hysteria and the establishment media’s agenda, developments in the Ukraine and Syria, and a view on the Greek government’s latest deal with its creditors and what continued austerity means for Greece.bellows

This interview will be followed up by a special feature with young Greek spoken word artist Dylan Wolfram, who will speak to us about his latest spoken word release, titled “Bellows.” In addition to this interview, we will hear two cuts from Wolfram’s recent spoken word project.

Two great interviews, all this week exclusively on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series!

May 312016
 

By Mihalis Nevradakis99GetSmart

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Greece’s supposedly “leftist” government of so-called “hope” and “change” did it again! It saved Greece once more! Greece can continue living the European nightmare…excuse me, dream, can remain part of the vaunted “European family” and the Eurozone, and the government once again successfully completed “tough” negotiations with its so-called European “Partners,” with a capital P, as Greece’s deferential journalistic class tends to refer to them.

Let’s take a look at this new “success story” of Greece’s government of “hope” and “change.” It is a success story so big that Greece’s already insane value-added tax of 23% will be bumped up to 24% on June 1st. It is a success story so great that the unified property tax which SYRIZA, at one time, called unconstitutional and illegal and which at one time was said to be “temporary,” will now be raised and made permanent. It is a success story so tremendous that Greece’s already paltry pension and social security payments will be slashed further, despite government lies and propaganda to the contrary. Home foreclosures and auctions will resume, without anything but the flimsiest of temporary protections for the poorest homeowners. These foreclosures and auctions will take place electronically instead of in a courthouse, under cover of darkness and without warning. In the meantime, new privatizations are coming, alongside the development of a new super-fund of sorts which will manage essentially all of Greece’s publicly-owned assets and prepare them to be sold off, at bargain basement prices. And unlike most of the people of Greece, the foreign investors who will be snatching up these assets know very well how valuable a land Greece is.

Of course, all of these privatizations, foreclosures, auctions, as well as the bundling and selling of both prime and subprime loans—where have we heard that before?–will be permitted without any transfer tax or any other taxes being levied. Because when we talk about tax evasion, we are supposed to only talk about the “bad,” “lazy,” “spendthrift” Greeks, but never the “good,” “civilized” foreign saviors in suits. And of course, this was agreed to following those aforementioned “tough” negotiations between the Greek government of “hope” and “change” and the lenders. This result had also been predicted, months in advance, by economist, analyst, and member of Greece’s United Popular Front Dimitris Karousos, but was of course ignored by the international media and of course by the trashy, biased English-language editions of Greece’s media outlets.

So what if people’s homes are foreclosed and thousands of households are thrown out onto the streets? So what if heating oil and gas, already insanely taxed, are taxed some more, along with basic goods and staples through direct and indirect taxation? Who cares if the self-employed and small- and mid-sized businesses will be absolutely slaughtered as a result of these new measures that were voted into law and the avalanche of taxes that they will face? Who cares if there is now zero chance of the minimum wage to be restored to the still-low pre-crisis levels, which at one time the SYRIZA government of supposed “hope” and “change” had promised? And of course, all of this does not even take into account the automatic cuts that will be implemented if Greece does not meet the strict fiscal targets imposed by its so-called saviors. Who cares about all of this? We are talking about a success story here! Of course, though, it’s a success story for the lenders—but not for Greece or for the Greek people. But, the European dream is what everyone wanted, right? So here it is, enjoy it!

And since we are talking about what is surely such a huge, unprecedented success, that must explain why the otherwise “revolutionary” and “radical” and “non gullible” and oh so clever Greek people did not take to the streets. After all, Greece remained in Europe, remained in the Euro, people still have cheese from Holland for their sandwiches (if they can afford the 24% tax, that is), so everything is A-OK, right? That must explain why Greece’s notaries called off their strike protesting the new insurance and pension bill, as soon as that very bill was passed, allowing home foreclosures and auctions to resume. That must also explain why Greece’s lawyers, with their own protracted strike, have inconvenienced ordinary Greek people whose cases have, in some cases, been postponed for years—instead of using their legal knowledge to mobilize the population and protest austerity both old and new.

Ah, but I forgot. We had the usual round of stale, old 3 and 4 and 24 hour so-called “work stoppages,” which of course left enough time for Greece’s “labor leaders”–quotations absolutely necessary—to hit up their favorite tavernas to wine and dine. Work stoppages which have been going on for decades and decades and which not once have made the slightest bit of impact other than inconveniencing people’s lives, which might very well be their real objective, instead of any actual change. For instance, we had the workers on the Athens Metro declare a work stoppage beginning at 9 pm on the night the new measures were to be voted into law. This was enough to discourage many people from coming out to protest, not knowing if they’d have a way to return home. With a low turnout of protesters assured, the work stoppage was then lifted at the last minute, just in time for the usual mass exodus from Syntagma Square once the usual dog-and-pony show between the paid agent provocateurs and the riot police which SYRIZA was at one time going to abolish, was underway.

We of course also had the journalists’ strike as well, which of course just coincidentally happened to fall in the days of final debate before the new measures were to be voted upon by Parliament. Of course, the truth here is that even if there was no strike, there would still have been no actual journalism taking place from these so-called journalists and the media outlets they work for. But just try explaining that to grandma and grandpa in the village and to Greece’s suburban neoliberal class, who still actually think they are being informed by the newscasts that they watch.

All of this is okay though, because there is hope! There is light at the end of the tunnel! We have the “savior” Yanis Varoufakis with his stylish pink t-shirts and his so-called “guerilla interviews,” that is, when he isn’t making “spontaneous” (quotations again necessary) appearances at the protests taking place in France or signing autographs in Spain. The same “heroic” Varoufakis who said that the Greek debt would be repaid in perpetuity, who pillaged the Greek public sector’s cash reserves to pay that debt to the IMF, who imposed capital controls, and who agreed to more austerity and who voted for Greece’s corrupt pro-austerity president Prokopis Pavlopoulos. This same “heroic” Varoufakis is now touting the catastrophic idea of a parallel or dual currency system for Greece as a “solution” while millions of minions lap up his every word. He is joined by the “heroic” Zoe Konstantopoulou, who also knew how to vote “yes to everything” when she was part of the SYRIZA government last year and who continued publicly supporting the government even after it sold out the referendum result of July 5th. She, too, is touting the catastrophic parallel or dual currency solution for Greece, as are fascists such as the far-right Giorgos Karatzaferis and “Sir” (quotations necessary once more) Basil Markezinis, son of a junta prime minister, both of whom have been resurrected from the political graveyard recently.

So since Greece has been saved, has remained in Europe and the vaunted Eurozone, and since there are even more “saviors” in the pipeline who will continue to save Greece well into the future, why bother protesting? The couch is nice and comfortable, is it not? And it’s easier to let the television do the thinking for you, lest you hurt your head. The same television which includes public broadcaster ERT, which is now paying private, oligarch-owned network provider DIGEA to transmit its signal digitally. A company owned by the same oligarchs that the oh so leftist SYRIZA government claims it is going to take down. The same government which will supposedly take down these oligarchs by auctioning off a limited number of television licenses to the highest bidder and the deepest pockets, while Greece’s smaller, independent local television stations are dying off, unable to afford to pay DIGEA exorbitant amounts to carry their signal. This is the same government which, unconstitutionally and in violation of European law, has shut down Greece’s National Radio-Television Committee, leaving the broadcasting landscape entirely unregulated. This is the government which claims it is restoring order to the airwaves, and there are still people who slurp up this propaganda.

Of course, television in Greece knows all about telling people horror stories from countries like Venezuela while telling people that the so-called “leftist” Alexis Tsipras wants to turn Greece just like Venezuela. What they won’t say, of course, is that Venezuela is the victim of both international economic warfare through the sharp decline in oil prices, as well as a victim of its own domestic oligarchs and cartels, who are hoarding goods to create severe market shortages in order to undermine the country’s government. What the media in Greece are also not saying is that many of these horror stories also exist in Greece today as well, in a country that is supposedly being “bailed out” and “saved” day after day by its so-called European friends and partners. What these media outlets in Greece know how to say is that Portugal, Ireland, and Cyprus are supposed “success stories” for concluding their own memorandum agreements. What is not said is that the end of the memorandum agreements has not meant the end of harsh austerity, the end of record numbers of home foreclosures and evictions, or the end of mass migration out of these countries.

And while all of this is happening, I hear many in Greece moaning and groaning about why we can’t be more like the French, who we are told are out on the streets in massive numbers to protest their own anti-labor bills. However, few people, if any, think to ask…how were these supposedly spontaneous demonstrations actually organized, with blogs and websites and hashtags and public assemblies? We saw the savior of not just Greece but apparently the whole world Yanis Varoufakis speak to the protesters in France. Who invited him? Who assured his security? Who paid for his travel and lodging? How did this speech get organized in the first place, logistically and otherwise? And how did these supposedly spontaneous demonstrations spontaneously, as we are supposed to believe, spread to 55 cities in Greece and dozens more in Europe, all on the same day and at the same time? Are we supposed to believe that after such a long period of inactivity and hibernation that everyone suddenly decided that they had enough? And in the meantime, what people in Greece are blissfully unaware of is that while they are whining about their own inactivity, the rest of the world mistakenly believes that it the Greeks who are the ones fighting back, while they are the ones staying inactive! Doesn’t anybody have even the slightest curiosity as to how these perceptions are developed and maintained, and by who?

The answer is that no, most people do not question such things. Instead, in Greece, they run off to again vote for criminals and professional liars like those in SYRIZA, while others, through their abstention from the polls, essentially legitimize the victors in this electoral process instead of giving their votes to the dozens of smaller parties and movements which are struggling to exist. Those same people might participate in yet another lame 3 or 4 hour work stoppage, or by maybe taking a walk down to the center of Athens to “protest” by standing around and drinking beer, before running home to catch Greece’s talking heads on TV again. That’s Greece and that’s the majority of the Greek populace today.

Mar 302016
 

By Mihalis Nevradakis99GetSmart

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Dear listeners and friends,

UnknownThis week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature an interview with Despina Kreatsoulas of the Politismos Museum, an online museum of Greek history and culture. Kreatsoulas will speak to us about the idea behind creating an online museum, about the museum’s features and exhibits, and the future plans of the museum. 

Also this week, we will feature our commentary of the weeksegment, discussing issues pertaining to freedom and independence.

All this and more, this week exclusively on Dialogos Radio! For more details, the full Dialogos Radio broadcast schedule, our podcast, our on-demand archives, our articles and written work, and our online radio station Dialogos Radio 24/7, visit http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=6154.

Best,
Dialogos Radio & Media
 
*******************************
 
Αγαπητοί ακροατές και φίλοι,
 
Αυτή την εβδομάδα στο «Διάλογος», παρουσιάζουμε συνέντευξη με τον Θάνο Χίνη, από το διαδικτυακό μουσείο «Πολιτισμός». Θα μας μιλήσει για το μουσείο και για την ιδέα ίδρυσης ενός μουσείου στο διαδίκτυο, για τα εκθέματα που παρουσιάζονται και που ενδέχεται να παρουσιαστούν, και για τα μελλοντικά σχέδια του μουσείου. 
 
Επίσης θα παρουσιάσουμε τον καθιερωμένο μας σχολιασμό, όπου θα μιλήσουμε για θέματα που αφορούν την ελευθερία, την ανεξαρτησία, και την εθνική κυριαρχία.
 
Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες σχετικά με την μετάδοση, το πρόγραμμα μεταδόσεων, το podcast μας, το αρχείο εκπομπών μας, την αρθρογραφία μας, και το διαδικτυακό μας ραδιόφωνο Διάλογος Radio 24/7, μπείτε στο http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=6158.
 
Φιλικά,
Διάλογος Radio & Media
Mar 172016
 

By Mihalis Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

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Dear listeners and friends, 

antti1-1-300x170This week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature a highly interesting and exclusive interview with Antti Pesonen of the Independence Party of Finland. The Independence Party advocates the departure of Finland from the Eurozone and from the European Union and is against Finland joining NATO, and in this week’s interview, Pesonen will discuss the party, its history and its platform, the dire impacts of Eurozone and European Union membership for Finland, the economic crisis that is now impacting the country, the network of European political parties and movements which are against the European Union and the euro, and about other current issues facing Greece and Europe.
 
Also this week, we will feature our commentary of the weeksegment, where we will discuss Zoe Konstantopoulou and her forthcoming political movement. All this, plus some great Greek music, this week only on Dialogos Radio!
 
For more information, our full broadcast schedule, plus our podcasts, archives, articles and written work, Dialogos Radio 24/7 and more, visit http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=6102.
 
Best,
Dialogos Radio & Media
 
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Αγαπητοί ακροατές και φίλοι,
 
Αυτή την εβδομάδα στο «Διάλογος», παρουσιάζουμε μια εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσα και αποκλειστική συνέντευξη με τον Άντι Πεσονέν, πρώην επικεφαλής του Φινλανδικού Κόμματος της Ανεξαρτησίας. Το Κόμμα της Ανεξαρτησίας υποστηρίζει την έξοδο της Φινλανδίας από την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και την Ευρωζώνη και είναι αντίθετο στην ένταξη της χώρας στο ΝΑΤΟ, και στην συνέντευξη που θα παρουσιάσουμε, ο κ. Πεσονέν θα μας μιλήσει για το κόμμα, για το πως ιδρύθηκε και για τις θέσεις του, για τις δυσμενείς επιπτώσεις από την συμμετοχή της Φινλανδίας στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και στην Ευρωζώνη, για την οικονομική κρίση που πλήττει πλέον την χώρα, για το δίκτυο Ευρωπαϊκών κινημάτων που είναι εναντίων του ευρώ και της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, και για την τρέχουσα επικαιρότητα στην Ελλάδα και την Ευρώπη.
 
Επίσης αυτή την εβδομάδα θα παρουσιάσουμε τον καθιερωμένο μας σχολιασμό, όπου θα μιλήσουμε για την Ζωή Κωνσταντοπούλου και το επερχόμενο πολιτικό σχήμα της. Όλα αυτά και πολλά άλλα, αυτή την εβδομάδα αποκλειστικά στο «Διάλογος»!
 
Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, το πλήρες πρόγραμμα μεταδόσεων μας, το αρχείο εκπομπών και συνεντεύξεων μας, την αρθρογραφία μας, και το διαδικτυακό μας ραδιόφωνο Διάλογος Radio 24/7, μπείτε στο http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=6097.
 
Φιλικά,
Διάλογος Radio & Media
May 122013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Video: Alberto Reveron & Amira Bochenska. Thank you for all people that participates, special thanks for music – HK & les Saltimbanks (http://www.saltimbanks.fr).

Links to follow:

Take The Square http://takethesquare.net/
Marcha Bruselas https://www.facebook.com/15mMarchaBru…
Global Change https://www.facebook.com/groups/globa…
Asamblea Virtual https://www.facebook.com/AsambleaVirtual
Spanish Revolution https://www.facebook.com/SpanishRevol…
AcampadaSol https://www.facebook.com/acampadasol?…
AcampadaBcn https://www.facebook.com/Acampadabcn?…

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9JN8RUZxZmA#!

Dec 062011
 

 

* HOW THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT HELPED AMERICANS MOVE BEYOND DENIAL AND DEPRESSION TO ACTION

By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet

While the term liberation psychologyis less commonly known in the United States than in Latin America, the spirit of liberation psychology has been embraced by U.S. Occupy participants.Liberation psychology, unlike mainstream psychology, questions adjustment to the societal status quo, and it energizes oppressed people to resist all injustices. Liberation psychology attempts to discover how demoralized people can regain the energy necessary to take back the power that they had handed over to illegitimate authorities.The Occupy movement has tapped into the energy supply that many oppressed and exploited people ultimately discover. We discover it when we come out of denial that we are a subjugated people. We discover just how energizing it can be to delegitimize oppressive institutions and authorities. And when these oppressive authorities react violently to peaceful resistance, their violence validates their illegitimacy—and provides us with even more energy.

With liberation psychology, we no longer take seriously the elite’s rigged games that had sucked us in and then sucked the energy out of us. We move beyond denial and depression that the U.S. electoral process is a rigged game, an exercise in learned helplessness in which we are given the choice between politicians who will either (1) screw us, or (2) screw us. We begin to engage in other “battlegrounds for democracy.”

Corporate-collaborating journalists, politicians and other lackeys of the elite ask, “What are the goals of the Occupy movement?” They are deaf to the answer no matter how loud we yell. If they did understand, they would then have to stop being lackeys. But their elite bosses do understand that the Occupy movement is a demand for economic fairness—a frightening prospect for the elite. The elite then divide into two camps: (1) throw the demonstrators a bone so they go away, but give them no power; or (2) give them nothing, just destroy them. This is not news to liberation psychologists. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/153269

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* TAKING BACK THE CAPITOL: WHY I’M GOING TO WASHINGTON NEXT WEEK

By Rev. C.J. Hawking

I am one of 300 Chicagoans going to Washington for a three-day convergence of thousands of people from across the country called “Take Back the Capitol.” We will bring the power of the people to bear on Capitol Hill to say that the time has come for Congress to start representing the 99 percent of Americans — We the People — not just the richest 1 percent in the country.

The U.S. House of Representatives, after all, is supposed to be The People’s House. But millions of people are out of work, wages are in steep decline, and income inequality is at its worst since the 1920s. And what is Congress doing in the face of this suffering? Failing to pass a jobs bill that would put people back to work. Meanwhile, Wall Street and K Street exert more influence over our elected representatives than ever.

The time to eliminate corporate dominance over our lives has arrived. Our representatives on Capitol Hill need to be weaned from the seduction of big money from corporate lobbyists and big-time campaign donors. They need to listen to people like Shirley Howard and Jose Tafoya, two Chicagoans also going to Washington next week.

[…]

More than 7,000 people took to the streets on October 10 to protest the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Futures Industry Association during their conventions here, shutting down Michigan Avenue. 2,000 people rallied at Thompson Center Plaza on November 17 before marching to the LaSalle Street Bridge and occupying it for over an hour to oppose cuts to essential services and demand job-creating policies.

As someone who serves on Occupy Chicago’s spiritual affairs committee, I’m also excited that several members of the Occupy movement will be going to DC. The Occupy phenomenon has inspired a healthy and long-overdue conversation about the inhumane disparities in wealth in our society.

It is with this wind at our backs that we embark for Washington. May our voices amplify the 99 percent in the halls of The People’s House.

READ @ http://gapersblock.com/mechanics/2011/12/04/taking-back-the-capitol-why-im-going-to-washington-next-week/

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* FROM OCCUPATION TO “OCCUPY”: THE ISRAELIFICATION OF AMERICAN DOMESTIC SECURITY

By Max Blumenthal, Information Clearing House

In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.

At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.

The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.

“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

[…]

Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”

Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.

PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.

[…]

“Occupy” meets the Occupation

When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.

Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much it will inform police repression of future upsurges of street protest. But already, the Israelification of American law enforcement appears to have intensified police hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, common criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”

“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29892.htm

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* AT LEAST WE KNOW WE’RE FREE

by digby, Hullabaloo

Michael Moore noticed that some people in the Greatest Country The World has Ever Known might be needing a whiff ‘o freedom for themselves. It seems that Governor Scott Walker is putting place some “new rules” as to how and when citizens can exercise the 1st Amendment”

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, these are some of the new policies:

Groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings and apply for those permits at least 72 hours in advance. The policy requires permits for 100 or more people outside the Capitol. The policy does provide some leeway for spontaneous gatherings triggered by unforeseen events.

That’s big of him.

Perhaps you think that’s not a big deal? Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing this isn’t happening in another country or we might have to issue a travel alert:

The Journal-Sentinel quotes several experts on the First Amendment who are skeptical that Walker’s new polices are constitutional. This should not be surprising, since in some respects they are more onerous than those in Brunei — which is ruled by a literal Sultan and has been under martial law since 1962. Nevertheless, even though some aspects of the freedom to assemble are less restricted in Brunei than in Wisconsin, the State Department’s 2010 Human Rights Report criticizes the Sultanate for its polices:

Under the emergency powers, the government significantly restricted the right to assemble. According to the Societies Order, public gatherings of 10 or more persons require a government permit, and police have the authority to stop an unofficial assembly of five or more persons deemed likely to cause a disturbance of the peace.

But then we’re very, very exceptional so those rules could never apply to us.

READ @ http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/

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* THE OBAMA REGIME HAS NO CONSTITUTIONAL SCRUPLES

By Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House

[…] However, on further reflection I conclude that the Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens.  The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it:

Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”

Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights.  These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas.  This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.

By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.

A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion.  The November 17 letter[PDF] to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.

Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29891.htm

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* 20 WAYS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS INTRUDED ON YOUR RIGHTS

By Bill Quigley, AlterNet

The Obama administration has affirmed, continued and expanded almost all of the draconian domestic civil liberties intrusions pioneered under the Bush administration. Here are twenty examples of serious assaults on the domestic rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience that have occurred since the Obama administration has assumed power. Consider these and then decide if there is any fundamental difference between the Bush presidency and the Obama presidency in the area of domestic civil liberties.

Patriot Act

On May 27, 2011, President Obama, over widespread bipartisan objections, approved a Congressional four year extension of controversial parts of the Patriot Act that were set to expire. In March of 2010, Obama signed a similar extension of the Patriot Act for one year. These provisions allow the government, with permission from a special secret court, to seize records without the owner’s knowledge, conduct secret surveillance of suspicious people who have no known ties to terrorist groups and to obtain secret roving wiretaps on people.

Criminalization of Dissent and Militarization of the Police

Anyone who has gone to a peace or justice protest in recent years has seen it – local police have been turned into SWAT teams, and SWAT teams into heavily armored military. Officer Friendly or even Officer Unfriendly has given way to police uniformed like soldiers with SWAT shields, shin guards, heavy vests, military helmets, visors, and vastly increased firepower. Protest police sport ninja turtle-like outfits and are accompanied by helicopters, special tanks, and even sound blasting vehicles first used in Iraq. Wireless fingerprint scanners first used by troops in Iraq are now being utilized by local police departments to check motorists. Facial recognition software introduced in war zones is now being used in Arizona and other jurisdictions. Drones just like the ones used in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan are being used along the Mexican and Canadian borders. These activities continue to expand under the Obama administration.

Wiretaps

Wiretaps for oral, electronic or wire communications, approved by federal and state courts, are at an all-time high. Wiretaps in year 2010 were up 34% from 2009, according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

Criminalization of Speech

Muslims in the US have been targeted by the Obama Department of Justice for inflammatory things they said or published on the internet. First Amendment protection of freedom of speech, most recently stated in a 1969 Supreme Court decision, Brandenberg v Ohio, says the government cannot punish inflammatory speech, even if it advocates violence unless it is likely to incite or produce such action. A Pakistani resident legally living in the US was indicted by the DOJ in September 2011 for uploading a video on YouTube. The DOJ said the video was supportive of terrorists even though nothing on the video called for violence. In July 2011, the DOJ indicted a former Penn State student for going onto websites and suggesting targets and for providing a link to an explosives course already posted on the internet. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/153283

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* JON KYL JUSTIFIES MILITARY DETENTION BY CLAIMING CIA-MILITARY CREDIT FOR FBI INTERROGATIONS

By Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel

In the entire two week debate over the detainee provisions of the Defense Authorization, the champions of military detention offered almost no rationale for it (a pity, then, that the opponents barely explained why it’s such a bad idea), aside from Lindsey Graham repeating endlessly that detainees shouldn’t get lawyers (he never explained how this claim jived with his promise that every detainee would have access to habeas corpus).

One exception is a statement that Jon Kyl submitted to the record but did not read (the statement starts on PDF 5). After reasserting the legality of the detainee provisions under Hamdi, Kyl’s (was it Kyl’s?) statement offered an “explanation” for military detention; I’ve reproduced that part of the statement in full below the line.

Now, the statement doesn’t make any sense. It invokes what it claims were CIA interrogations and treats them as military interrogation; though in fact a number of the interrogations the statement invokes were FBI interrogations.

The statement claims detainees wouldn’t have a lawyer, though the architects of the bill have made it clear (as has SCOTUS) detainees would have access to habeas corpus and therefore (presumably) lawyers.

Perhaps not surprising, the statement also invokes two discredited pieces of propaganda: Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby’s January 9, 2003 Declaration in opposition to granting Jose Padilla habeas corpus and George Bush’s September 6, 2006 speech announcing he was moving 14 high value detainees to Gitmo.

It relies on Jacoby’s statement to argue for the value of a “relationship of dependency,” which seems to no more than a rebranding of Bruce Jessen’s “learned helplessness.” And note, Jacoby’s statement, written six months after DOD took custody of Padilla, spoke of intelligence he might offer prospectively; it doesn’t claim to have gotten any intelligence using this “relationship of dependency.”

And it relies on Bush’s statement to claim that military or CIA interrogations exposed that KSM was Mukhtar and Jose Padilla’s plans, both of which came from Ali Soufan’s FBI interrogation of Zubaydah. It also claims the CIA interrogations yielded Ramzi bin al-Shibh’s location, whereas Soufan, at least, claims that came from an FBI interrogation in Bagram. And it claims CIA’s interrogation of KSM revealed the Liberty Towers plot that had been broken up a year earlier. In other words, Kyl’s argument for why we need military detention consists of repeating discredited propaganda claiming CIA credit for interrogations largely conducted by the FBI. The same FBI officers who will lose their ability to interrogate detainees if and when this bill goes into place.

In short, one of the most comprehensive arguments for why we need military detention instead makes the case for retaining FBI primacy. At the same time, it appears to endorse the “learned helplessness” that ended up making delaying any value to KSM and other detainee interrogations.

Even the champions of military detention offer proof that we’re safer with civilian detention.

What follows is the statement Kyl submitted to the record. […]

READ @ http://www.emptywheel.net/2011/12/05/jon-kyl-justifies-military-detention-by-claiming-cia-military-credit-for-fbi-interrogations/

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* ICELAND’S SPECIAL PROSECUTOR ARRESTS FORMER GLITNIR CEO: MEDIA

By Omar Valdimarsson, Rueters

(Reuters) – Iceland’s special prosecutor arrested the former chief executive of Glitnir Bank on Wednesday and questioned nearly two dozen people related to the collapse of the bank in 2008.

Glitnir Bank was the first of Iceland’s top three commercial banks to collapse three years ago, imploding under the weight of huge debts racked up during years of aggressive expansion.

Special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson said his office had made several arrests on Wednesday — the first for activities related to Glitnir. He told local media that former CEO Larus Welding would be held in custody for up to one week.

“Welding is being held in the interest of the investigation in order to prevent him for influencing other suspects or removing evidence that we’re after,” he was quoted as saying by Morgunbladid.

Hauksson said he had initiated nine new investigations, made several arrests and questioned nearly two dozen people related to the fall of Glitnir.

Inquiries are being made into the purchase of Glitnir’s shares, as well as into loans provided to a number of firms to purchase Glitnir shares. It also investigated a 15 billion Icelandic crown ($126 million) guarantee provided by Glitnir in connection with a share offering in FL Group.

The prosecutor has also been conducting investigations at Kaupthing and Landsbanki. Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir all collapsed in the space of a week during the 2008 crisis.

READ @ http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/30/us-iceland-glitnir-idUSTRE7AT2UX20111130?mid=5465351

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* PROPAGANDASTAN

Why is the Pentagon spending tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars to whitewash the image of Central Asian dictatorships?

By David Trilling, Foreign Policy

When people read a news website, they don’t usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America’s foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight “influence websites” funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy’s rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.

Central Asia Online was created in 2008, a time when Washington’s ability to rely on Pakistan as a partner in the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan was steadily waning. In the search for alternative land routes to supply U.S. troops, Uzbekistan seemed the best option. Nearby Iran was a non-starter, and Uzbekistan’s infrastructure — used by the Soviets to get in and out of Afghanistan during their ill-fated war there — was far superior to that of neighboring Tajikistan. Today, the U.S. military moves massive amounts of cargo across Uzbekistan. By year’s end, the Pentagon hopes to see 75 percent of all non-lethal military supplies arrive in Afghanistan via the so-called Northern Distribution Network, a web of land-based transport routes stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Amu Darya River.

Gas-rich Uzbekistan, the most populous of the formerly Soviet Central Asian republics, has been ruled since before independence in 1991 by strongman President Islam Karimov, who is regularly condemned in the West for running one of the world’s most repressive and corrupt regimes. Freedom House gives Uzbekistan the lowest possible score in its Freedom in the World report, while watchdog groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported on widespread torture and forced child labor. The respected Russian human rights group Memorial says Karimov holds more political prisoners than all other post-Soviet republics combined, often through an “arbitrary interpretation” of the law. The overwhelming majority of those convicted are somehow linked to Islam. Memorial has found that thousands of “Muslims whose activities pose no threat to social order and security are being sentenced on fabricated charges of terrorism and extremism.”

Nonetheless, with Pakistani-American relations at a desperate low, Washington now seems more eager than ever to make overtures to Tashkent. In the past, Karimov has responded to U.S. criticism by threatening to shut down the supply route to Afghanistan. In 2005, after Washington demanded an investigation into the massacre of hundreds of civilians in the eastern city of Andijan, he closed the American airbase at Karshi-Khanabad. So Washington’s expressions of disapproval have given way to praise. In September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautiously commended Tashkent for its “progress” on political freedoms, and, more significantly, President Barack Obama moved to end restrictions on military aid, in place since 2004. Then, during an Oct. 22 visit to Tashkent, Clinton thanked the Uzbek leader in person for his cooperation. A State Department official traveling with her said he believed Karimov wants to leave a democratic legacy for “his kids and his grandchildren.”

Theoretically, with the restrictions lifted, General Dynamics stands to profit. The company has already shown interest in finding clients in Central Asia, hawking its wares at a defense exposition in Kazakhstan last year. This potential self-interest casts an unflattering light on Central Asia Online’s flattering coverage of the region’s calcified dictatorships, especially Uzbekistan. […]

READ @ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/11/21/propagandastan?page=full

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* SUEZ PORT EMPLOYEES REVEALS 21-TON US TEAR GAS ORDER FOR INTERIOR MINISTRY

By AhramOnline

A group of customs employees at the Suez seaport have revealed that the Egyptian Ministry of Interior is in the process of receiving 21 tons of tear gas from the US.

The claim was supported by Medhat Eissa, an activist in the coastal city of Suez, who provided documents he says he obtained from a group of employees at the Suez Canal customs. The employees have been subjected to questioning for their refusal to allow an initial seven ton shipment of the US-made tear gas canisters enter the port.

A group of employees at the Adabiya Seaport in Suez have confirmed, with the documents to prove it, that a three-stage shipment of in total 21 tons of tear gas canisters is on course for the port from the American port of Wilmington.

Employees say the container ship Danica, carrying seven tons of tear-gas canisters made by the American company Combined Systems, has already arrived at the port, with two similar shipments from the same company expected to arrive within the week.

READ @ http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/27956/Egypt/Politics-/Suez-port-employees-reveal-ton-US-tear-gas-order-f.aspx

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* THE RUN UP TO THE NOMINATION OF LUCAS PAPADEMOS

By When the Crisis hit the Fan

Here’s an interesting article with some backstage information on what really happened during the talks before the formation of the Papademos government. It was published yesterday by Dimokratia, a right-wing pro-New Democracy newspaper.

The article is based on the confidential minutes of the talks between the Greek President, Karolos Papoulias, and the leaders of PASOK (George Papandreou), New Democracy (Antonis Samaras) and LAOS (Giorgos Karatzaferis). The conclusion is that Papandreou ended up in suggesting for the seat of the new Prime Minister the same person he was rejecting at the beginning of the talks, having as  a goal to cause the collapse of the talks and put the blame on Samaras.

The first name that was suggested by George Papandreou was that of former New Democracy MP (now independent after her resignation) Elsa Papadimitriou. The reaction of Antonis Samaras, according to the article, was “I will smile in order not to burst into laughter”. Samaras allegedly later said “I realized since the beginning [of the talks] that Papandreou was cheating, trying to lead things into a no way out situation. His goal was to either force me to say Yes to everything or he’d remain as Prime Minister”. According to the article, Papandreou’s tactic was to ridicule the process by suggesting non-relevant names for the seat of Prime Minister in order to cancel the procedure and keep his position. Another Sunday newspaper, Proto Thema, also had an article about the suggestion of Elsa Papadimitriou. Proto Thema journalists Giannis Kourtakis wrote that Samaras’ reaction that day (6/11/11) was “Do we have anything more serious?”

Elsa Papadimitriou at the Parliament (discussion on the 2011 Budget - December 2010)

Here’s a funny trivia to understand why her nomination was so surreal. Elsa Papadimitriou was a member of New Democracy – she quit her party in June 2011 when she also gave a confidence vote to George Papandreou in his crucial Medium-Term Program. She is the daughter of Dimitris Papadimitriou, a politician who belonged to the Centre Union party in the 1960s under George Papandreou (the grandfather). Her father was one of the so-called apostates who, as Konstantinos Mitsotakis, undermined George Papandreou and led to a situation which facilitated the colonels’ coup d’ etat in 1967. Thus, after the dictatorship, Dimitris Papadimitriou joined the New Democracy party together with former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis. However, according to an article of Proto Thema newspaper, Dimitris Papadimitriou had personal ties to George Papandreou (the grandfather). His son, Andreas Papandreou was Elsa Papadimitriou’s professor of Economics when she was studying at Berkeley college in the 1950s. And funnily enough, Elsa spent some nights as a baby sitter for her professor’s children (among which was the recent Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou). According to Proto Thema, George Papandreou came up with the idea of nominating Elsa Papadimitriou after talks with his brother Antrikos Papandreou. So, in a nuttshell, during the recent crucial moments for Greece and for the whole of eurozone, George Papandreou (the grandson) -after consultation with his brother, nominated their former-baby sitter for Prime Minister of the government of national unity. How cute. […]

READ @ http://whenthecrisishitthefan.com/2011/12/06/the-run-up-to-the-nomination-of-lucas-papademos/

Dec 052011
 

 

* WHY I OCCUPY

By Hank Finkel

Here is why I Occupy:

I am sick of

–        Trickle Down

–        Stay the course

–        Endless war

–        Support the troops but screw the vets

–        Privatized profits and socialized losses

–        Corporate welfare

–        Corporate personhood

–        Profits before people

–        Profits before planet

–        Lobbyists

–        Too big to fail

–        Tax cuts for the rich and service cuts for the rest

–        Bailouts for the banks and bank fees for the rest

We watched as American workers have been downsized, outsourced, laid off, medical bankrupted, and foreclosed upon.

We watched worker productivity and profits rise while incomes remained stagnant. We watched this once great nation put a man on the moon and now we are told that we cannot find a viable alternative energy source or a way to make green jobs viable.

We watched the Wall Street Titans, the Masters of the Universe, the 1% bring us to the brink of global financial ruin, then come hat in hand, begging for taxpayer help, before turning around to continue business and bonuses as usual. We have not seen one bankster go to jail, charged with a crime, or threatened with an investigation into possible criminal activity.

We hear “drill, baby, drill” but watch as oil washes upon our shores and entire communities & industries are wiped away. We watch as rain forests are felled, species go extinct, and radioactive material continues to seep into the Pacific Ocean.

They tell our young, if you want to get ahead, borrow money and go to college, but there is no guarantee of a job when you graduate.

We are told that we have the best health care in the world yet we have children, veterans and poor with no access to it. You want death panels? You got em! Every time a bureaucrat in a cubicle in Iowa denies treatment or diagnostic tests.

But most of all, we abhor the way money has polluted our political system preventing us from truly addressing the above grievances. We have awoken to the fact that both political parties have been bought and paid for by Big Business.

We are the young, the old, the workers and the jobless, homeowners and homeless, gay, straight, students, handicapped and able bodied, we are all faiths and we are Atheist. We are of all backgrounds and from many lands. We are men and women, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. We are your friends and neighbors, we are your family, we are the 99% and we will be heard!

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=142285

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* SHOULD THE OCCUPIERS STAY OR GO?

By Rick Salutin. Common Dreams

[…] The 15-M movement began there last May 15. It wasn’t an occupation. It was a protest held in Puerta del Sol square over the economic crisis that became an overnight occupation. Then it was dismantled by authorities, then it turned into a see-saw conflict over whether they would stay or go. A month later, when they finally went, it was by choice. One veteran of 15-M (there are no leaders) said: “It was a strategic move that led to the survival of the movement.” Almost happenstantially they had evolved another preference: to fan out into districts of the city (and elsewhere in Spain) and conduct regular meetings with local residents. These then forwarded proposals to a weekly “assembly” held in the square.

If you wander around Occupy sites, like St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, as I did this week, you often see signs saying, Join Us. It’s hard to imagine many of the people who pass by and warily eye the huddled tents, doing so. The Madrid option in a way is the opposite. It’s: Join Them. Go into your neighborhood, try and talk with your neighbors, different as they may be from you. Listen to them as they talk to you and each other.

This is different from a campaign to simply carry the Occupy message (99 per cent versus 1 per cent, etc.) out to “the people.” Some organizers of the Occupy movements, wrote the New York Times, are heading in that direction: “trying to broaden their influence . . . by deepening their involvement in community groups.” […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/18-3

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* ABOUT THAT BOOT ON YOUR THROAT …

By One Pissed Off Liberal, Daily Kos

All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

George Orwell

All across our nation people are waking up to the brutal fact of outright fascism in America. It’s nothing new to those who have been paying careful attention, but it’s no doubt a shock to many.

I posted a video recently that featured shots of Hillary Clinton and President Obama speaking out forcefully in support of protesters’ rights…in Egypt, juxtaposed with shots of out-of-control police violence being waged on Occupy protesters here in the US. And here there is silence. The hypocrisy is stunning.

For those who’d care to see it, here it is again:

“Hypocrisy has its own elegant symmetry.”

Our ‘leaders’, who have betrayed us all are poised to commit the ultimate betrayal, the final selling out of democracy and the American people.

The Senate has voted to declare the US and all of the world a combat zone and to empower the government to imprison American citizens without charge indefinitely, and to designate anyone considered ‘hostile to the interests of the US’ as enemy combatants. So will we soon see Occupy activists or Kossacks sent to Guantanamo to be tortured and held without charge? Will they be rounding up liberals and putting them in a pen? Will they just start shooting anyone who objects?

Even if President Obama vetoes this blatantly fascist bill, how far to the right is that going to shove the Overton Window? Will we be told to ‘sit down and STFU! Look what almost just happened to you!’ Will we be persuaded to accept the man-behind-the-curtains fascism in preference to the bare naked variety?

We already have cops in the street beating our children. It’s as though we had learned nothing in the last forty years. Please explain to the families of those killed at Kent State in 1970 why we are allowing this to happen. Where is the President calling out for the rights of the American protesters? Where are the demands to cease and desist this horrible violence against the best and brightest of our youth?

Cops in the street beating our children.

They were nowhere to be found when phony leaders were lying us into war. There were no cops or legal authorities anywhere around when innocent people were being systematically tortured by illegitimate and corrupt officials at the head of our government. No cops to stop election theft. No cops to stop rich assholes from buying up our government. No cops to stop Wall Street from looting the world economy. No cops guarding the Treasury.

No. To see any cops in action you need to get some innocent young kids out in the street peacefully and constitutionally (and so very rightly) protesting the wrongdoing at the highest levels of our government and society. You’ll see a million of them then. Bristling with kevlar armor and riot gear. They’ll deploy with rubber bullets, tanks, pepper spray and LRADs if they get a whiff of civil disobedience on the part of the peasantry.

Yes, nothing scares our corrupt and decadent ‘leaders’ like a simple demand for mere justice coming from the unwashed masses.

To the police: lay off the kids you shameless bastards. It takes a mighty and noble warrior to savagely pound on unarmed college kids. Where do you assholes get the fucking nerve? The ones giving you your orders are your enemy as surely as they are mine. You’re working for the wrong side. You need to join us and get on the right side of history. And you will…sooner or later.

The problem with Occupy Wall Street is that they just don’t have a clear message…or so the ignorati are prone to muse. Just mad about being the natural born losers that they are, they oft opine. They would do well to get a bath and then a job says that apex creature of the ignorati glitterati, Newt Gingrich. Oh Newt, no matter how hard we scrub we’ll never be as clean as you (ewww).

Newt of course is a paid liar and corporate prostitute willing to do or say anything for a buck. He sheds wives like a snake sheds its skin, and keeps a rolling diamond account at Tiffany’s because that’s the only way he can get laid. And he’s such a horny old toad that he fucks our country every chance he gets.

Anyone who says that the occupy movement doesn’t have a clear message is either a fool or a liar – and quite possibly both. […]

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/04/1042250/-About-that-boot-on-your-throat-?via=siderec

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* FASCISM IN AMERICA

By Stephen Lendman

[…] In his 2003 article titled, “Fascism Anyone?” political scientist Laurence W. Britt discussed its 14 comment elements, saying:

“These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share some level of similarity.”

In 2003 America, decades earlier, and today, it’s present, worrisome, and growing.

Elements of Police State Fascism

(1) “Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism,” including display flags, lapel pins, and other patriotic nationalist expressions, rally people for a common cause.

(2) “Disdain for the importance of human rights” and civil liberties, believing they hinder ruling elitist power.

(3) “Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause,” shifting blame for failures, “channel(ling) frustration in controlled directions,” and vilifying targeted groups for political advantage.

(4) “The supremacy of the military/avid militarism,” allocating a disproportionate share of national wealth and resources for it.

(5) “Rampant sexism,” viewing women as second-class citizens.

(6) “A controlled mass media,” in public or private hands, promoting power elite policies.

(7) “Obsession with national security,” using it as an instrument of belligerence and oppression.

(8) “Religion and ruling elite tied together,” portraying themselves as military defenders of the nation’s dominant religion at the expense of one or more others, deemed inferior or threatening.

(9) “Power of corporations defended,” for economic power, military production, and social control.

(10) “Power of labor suppressed or eliminated,” leaving political and corporate dominance unchallenged.

(11) “Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts,” because they represent intellectual and academic freedom, subversive to national security and political control.

(12) “Obsession with crime and punishment,” handling them by draconian criminal justice measures and practices.

(13) “Rampant cronyism and corruption,” power elites enriching themselves at the expense of others less fortunate.

(14) “Fraudulent elections,” manipulated for desired results by disenfranchising opposition voters or simply rigging the process.

All these characteristics describe America. It’s a democracy in name only. It’s run by powerful elitists for their own interests at the expense of all others.

In 2010, Noam Chomsky said:

“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio, and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.

At the time, Weimar German “was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy.” How quickly things changed.

In 1928, Nazis got 2% of the vote. In 1930, millions supported them during growing hard times. Moreover, people were tired of favoring powerful interests and ignoring popular grievances. They lurched right for something better.

They succumbed to appeals about “the greatness of the nation, defending it against threats, and carrying out the will of eternal providence.” When workers, farmers, petit bourgeoisie, and Christian groups supported it, “the center very quickly collapsed.”

Echoes of that time “reverberat(e)” today, he stressed. “These are lessons to keep in mind,” especially as enactment of empowering military authorities to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or trial draws near.

Provisions in both House and Senate FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act versions contain authorizing language. If enacted, anyone, including US citizens, accused of present or past association with alleged terrorist groups may be indefinitely detained in military prisons without constitutional protections.

Doing so institutionalizes tyranny. Political Washington’s about to enact it. No one voicing dissent will be safe, including OWS social justice protesters.

Demanding corporatism and democracy for the few be replaced by respecting everyone’s rights equitably may be criminalized. America will have reached rock bottom.

Occupy Wall Street.com says “the only solution is World Revolution” is right because nothing else tried so far worked.

Political Washington wants freedom and resistance destroyed. Preserving them won’t come easily or quickly.

A better world is possible. Going for it is goal one

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=142306

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* 70 YEARS OF LYING ABOUT PEARL HARBOR

By David Swanson, OpEdNews

[…] Why does it matter? Because the legend of Pearl Harbor, re-used on 9-11, is responsible not for the destructive pro-war policies of the 1920s and the 1930s that brought World War II into being, but responsible for the permanent war mentality of the past 70 years, as well as for how World War II was escalated, prolonged, and completed.

“Disturbed in 1942,” wrote Lawrence S. Wittner, “by rumors of Nazi extermination plans, Jessie Wallace Hughan worried that such a policy, which appeared ‘natural, from their pathological point of view,’ might be carried out if World War II continued. ‘It seems that the only way to save thousands and perhaps millions of European Jews from destruction,’ she wrote, ‘would be for our government to broadcast the promise’ of an ‘armistice on condition that the European minorities are not molested any further. . . . It would be very terrible if six months from now we should find that this threat has literally come to pass without our making even a gesture to prevent it.’ When her predictions were fulfilled only too well by 1943, she wrote to the State Department and the New York Times, decrying the fact that ‘two million [Jews] have already died’ and that ‘two million more will be killed by the end of the war.’ Once again she pleaded for the cessation of hostilities, arguing that German military defeats would in turn exact reprisals upon the Jewish scapegoat. ‘Victory will not save them,’ she insisted, ‘for dead men cannot be liberated.'”

Hitler killed millions of Germans, but the allies killed as many or more, Germans ordered into battle by Hitler or Germans in the wrong place when allied bombs fell. And, as Hughan pointed out at the time, the war drove the genocide, just as the vengeful settlement of the previous war a quarter century before had fueled the hostility, the scapegoating, and the rise of Hitlerism. Out of the resistance to war by U.S. conscientious objectors would come, finally, the development of civil resistance to racial segregation in U.S. prisons that later spread to the nation outside the prisons as activists sought to duplicate their victories on a larger scale. But also out of that very worst thing our species has ever done to itself, World War II, would come the permanent military industrial complex. We would extend the power to vote to more and more Americans while, in the cruelest of jokes, transforming voting into an ever more meaningless enterprise. We would paint a fresh coat of glossy pretense on our democracy while hollowing it out from the inside, replacing it with a war machine the likes of which the planet had never seen and may not be able to survive.

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=142300

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* GOP SUPERCOMMITTEE MEMBER ADMITS BUSH TAX CUTS DIDN’T CREATE JOBS, CAN’T EXPLAIN WHY

By Pat Garofalo, Think Progress

Republicans this week filibustered a Democratic plan to extend a soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, objecting to the fact that the extension was paid for by implementing a small surtax on income in excess of $1 million. To justify their objection to taxing the wealthy, Republicans have revived their false claim that taxing the rich amounts to taxing small business owners and job creators.

Bloomberg’s Al Hunt asked Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) — who represented the GOP on the fiscal supercommittee that failed to craft a deficit reduction package — to explain this viewpoint, considering that more jobs were created under the Clinton administration and its higher taxes on the rich than were created following the Bush tax cuts. Upton admitted that “I don’t know specifically the answer to that question,” nonsensically pointing to Friday’s jobs report instead of trying to argue the premise of Hunt’s question:

HUNT: Why under those pre-Bush tax cut tax rates did the economy do so well in the ‘90s? And why under the Bush tax rates, less for the wealthy, to do so poorly in this decade?

UPTON: Well, a couple things. One, spending went up, Al, the wars. I mean, that’s trillions of dollars. And also there was no change in the entitlements. And we also know –

HUNT: But that shouldn’t hurt the economy. That shouldn’t hurt economic growth.

UPTON: Yeah, but that impacts the debt and the deficit.

HUNT: But I’m asking, why did the economy grow a lot? Why were more jobs created in the previous decade under higher taxes than in this decade under lower taxes?

UPTON: I don’t know specifically the answer to that question. I can – I can maybe merit a guess. But, I mean, in large part is because our job – we lost jobs. I mean, look at the jobs report that came out this last week, three-hundred- some-thousand people actually stopped looking for jobs. […]

READ AND VIDEOhttp://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/04/381510/upton-cant-explain-tax-cuts-jobs/

Nov 262011
 

 

* THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT THE CRACKDOWN ON OCCUPY 

By Naomi Wolf

[…] For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.

READ @http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth-about-crackdown-occupy?CMP=twt_gu

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* SENATORS DEMAND THE MILITARY LOCK UP OF AMERICAN CITIZENS IN A ”BATTLEFIELD” THEY DEFINE AS BEING RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW

By ACLU

While nearly all Americans head to family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.

Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a “battlefield” and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.

The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.

I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

The answer on why now is nothing more than election season politics. The White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act are harmful and counterproductive. The White House has even threatened a veto. But Senate politics has propelled this bad legislation to the Senate floor.

But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.

In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendment deletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.

In response to proponents of the indefinite detention legislation who contend that the bill “applies to American citizens and designates the world as the battlefield,” and that the “heart of the issue is whether or not the United States is part of the battlefield,” Sen. Udall disagrees, and says that we can win this fight without worldwide war and worldwide indefinite detention.

The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown. That is an extreme position that will forever change our country.

Now is the time to stop this bad idea. Please urge your senators to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. […]

READ @ http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senators-demand-military-lock-american-citizens-battlefield-they-define-being

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* HERETIC, REBEL, A THING TO FLOUT: THE GREENBACKS REBELLED AGAINST THE POWER OF THE BANKS

By Patrick Murfin

On November 25, 1874 a new political party was born at a convention held inIndianapolis, Indiana.  They called themselves the Independent Party.  In some states they would first appear on the ballot as the National Party.  But within months the new party was widely known as the Greenbacks as they grew at an astonishing rate challenging the entrenched Republican and Democratic Parties.

The Party was formed out of frustration with both major parties as major eastern banking interests demanded that the Federal Government stop issuing paper money and return the issuance of currency to the banks.  Federal paper money, popularly known as greenbacks, had been first issued under Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase to help finance the Civil War.  Inflation had been an inevitable result.

The banks and conservative hard money politicians in both parties, wanted not only to stop the government printing presses, they wanted to require that bills be redeemed inspeciegold.  This would create instant deflation.  But farmers and others who took out loans in inflated dollars would be required to repay the full face value of the loan plus interest in the much more expensive new currency or gold.  This alone would wipe out many farmers and small businesses.  It was also a blow at western mining interestsby demonetizing silver coinage.  Silver coins would continue to circulate, but notes—printed currency—would have to be paid in gold.

The banks got their way with the passage of the Coinage Act of 1873.  Facing ruin, borrowers and their soft money supporters in both parties, organized to challenge the banking oligarch of the Gilded Age.

Within months the new party was established and running under different names in most states.  Although its greatest strength was in the Mid-West and West, it also found support among small farmers in the South, and Northeast.  In fact, with Democrats and Republicans fracturing mainly along the lines of the Civil War, it looked for a time like the Greenbacks were the only truly national party. […]

READ @ http://patrickmurfin.blogspot.com/2011/11/greenbacks-rebelled-against-power-of.html

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* DEMOCRACY OR PLUTOCRACY? A CHART

By Dave Johnson

CHART @ http://www.truth-out.org/democracy-or-plutocracy-chart/1322325227#

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* THE FRUITS OF LIBERATION

By Glenn Greenwald

In Afghanistan — yet again:

Six children were among seven civilians killed in a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Thursday.

Those Afghan government officials claimed that the aircraft were chasing “insurgents” when they fired on the children, but the villagers and the children’s families — as usual— insist that is false:

The victims were members of two families.

Abdul Samad, an uncle of four of the children who were killed, disputed the government’s version of the attack. He said his relatives were working in fields near their village when they were attacked without warning by an aircraft.

His brother-in-law, Mohammad Rahim, 50, had his two sons and three daughters with him. They were between 4 and 12 years old and all were killed, except an 8-year-old daughter who was badly wounded, Mr. Samad said.

“There were no Taliban in the field; this is a baseless allegation that the Taliban were planting mines,” Mr. Samad said. “I have been to the scene and haven’t found a single bit of evidence of bombs or any other weapons. The Americans did a serious crime against innocent children, they will never ever be forgiven.”

I read about the death of these children yesterday and had decided not to write about it because I don’t have anything particularly new to say about it, but then all day, that decision irritated me because it just seems wrong to allow this to go unobserved (and in Southern Afghanistan, “NATO” in the vast majority of cases means: “American”). Whichever version is correct, the U.S. devastated these families forever and ended these children’s lives in a region where even U.S. officials say that there is a grand total of two Al Qaeda leaders and the group is “operationally ineffective.”

What’s particularly notable, I realized, is how we’re trained simply to accept these incidents as though they carry no meaning: we’re just supposed to chalk them up to regrettable accidents (oops), agree that they don’t compel a cessation to the war, and then get back to the glorious fighting. Every time that happens, this just becomes more normalized, less worthy of notice. It’s just like background noise: two families of children wiped out by an American missile (yawn: at least we don’t target them on purpose like those evil Terrorists: we just keep killing them year after year after year without meaning to). It’s acceptable to make arguments that American wars should end because they’re costing too much money or American lives or otherwise harming American strategic interests, but piles of corpses of innocent children are something only the shrill, shallow and unSerious — pacifists! — point to as though they have any meaning in terms of what should be done. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2011/11/25/the_fruits_of_liberation/singleton/

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* OCCUPY MOVES US INTO A NEW ERA

By Linda McQuaig, The Star

[…] “The fact is (the Occupiers) have touched a chord with Canadians and, I’m sure, with Americans,” said Martin. “Look, there’s something fundamentally wrong here . . . For the last hundred years, certainly in North America, every generation has felt it’s going to have a better life than their parents. For the first time, that’s not there.”

Rather than hanging out at malls or zoning out on Facebook, these young people have endured real hardship in the Canadian near-winter to fight for a more inclusive society. Any inconvenience they’ve caused through their peaceful occupation seems minor in comparison to their contribution to the public good.

As lawyers from the Law Union of Ontario point out: “Some inconveniences to local park users is a small price to pay for the larger price being paid by the 99 per cent worldwide in the face of an economic system that privileges the few over the many.”

Are occupations really necessary to draw attention to their cause? Perhaps not. But I’d trust their judgment over mine. After all, they’ve managed to change the public discourse, putting inequality front and centre — something activists and writers, myself included, have failed to accomplish despite decades of trying.

An article last week in the mainstream magazine New York notes that we’re now moving “from the terror era to the income-inequality era.”

Wow. After only two months, the Occupy movement — without backing from billionaires or governments — seems to have moved us into a new era. Not bad for a leaderless group that sleeps in tents and doesn’t even use microphones.

READ @ http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1090458–mcquaig-occupy-moves-us-into-a-new-era