Jun 022012



By Medea Benjamin, OR Books / Book Excerpt

Excerpt From “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control”: 

The overwhelming US dominance in the use of drones is coming to an end. By 2011, American officials were already publicly fretting that the technology they have spent decades and billions of dollars developing is beginning to fall into the hands of other nations, friends and foes alike.

“From Desert Storm to the present, the US and its allies have had relatively exclusive access to sophisticated precision-strike technologies,” Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III remarked at a June 2011 conference in Washington on the future of war. Over the next decade or two, he said, “that technology will be increasingly possessed by other nations… thereby creating challenges for our ability to project power to distant parts of the globe.”

Indeed, Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, noted that an arms race spurred by the widespread use of unmanned aerial vehicles by the US government to assassinate its perceived enemies is already well under way. Over fifty countries have the technology and many of them—including Israel, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Iran, the United Kingdom, and France—either have or are seeking weaponized drones.

Some of these countries do not just possess the technology; they are already using it. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/9519-medea-benjamin-on-how-drones-may-be-used-against-us-citizens-soon



By Bob Sullivan, MSNBC

The video is chilling, but it’s also a sign of the times.

“Your First Amendment rights can be terminated,” yells the Chicago police officer, caught on video right before arresting two journalists outside a Chicago hospital.  One, an NBC News photographer, was led away in handcuffs essentially for taking pictures in a public place.  He was released only minutes later, but the damage was done. Chicago cops suffered an embarrassing “caught on tape” moment, and civil rights experts who say cops are unfairly cracking down on citizens with cameras had their iconic moment.

Tales of reporters, protestors and citizen journalists being threatened or arrested for filming law enforcement officials during disputes are on the rise, critics say, with Occupy Wall Street protests a lightning rod for these incidents. The National Press Photographers Association claims it has documented 70 such arrests since September and, in May, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to focus attention on the issue. […]

READ / VIDEO @ http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/01/11998060-first-amendment-rights-can-be-terminated-when-cops-cameras-dont-mix?lite



Source: ACLU

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. Learn more >>

When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.

When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).

Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).

Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.

Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.

Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass. […]

READ @ http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers



By Lee Fang, Republic Report

Republic Report attended a conference for “entrepreneurs” and small businesses today on Capitol Hill hosted by Congressman Tim Scott (R-SC). Although it was advertised as a lively discussion about economic policy, we witnessed staffers for Scott violently grabbing the mic from the only reporter who asked a critical question during the forum.

Mike Elk, a journalist for In These Times magazine, was called on during the question and answer portion of a morning panel to ask David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, about his efforts to bust labor unions at a Honeywell-owned uranium plant. Elk asked Cote, who earlier in the event boasted about his company’s profit margins, about his labor practices and the recent news that a poorly trained worker used to replaced Honeywell’s organized workforce had allowed a release of radioactive gas. But before he could finish his question, a man in a suit working for the event repeatedly grabbed the microphone away from Elk. Watch the video here: […]

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.republicreport.org/2012/mike-elk-honeywell/



Source: RT

From disorganised slackers to terrorists – the Occupy movement has seen its media image go from bad to worse over its nine months of existence. Protesters now even face accusations that they pose a threat not just to Corporate America, but to the country as a whole. But activists say it’s all just scaremongering to stifle the movement.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feNsw8r196M&feature=player_embedded



Editor’s note: The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011” on Friday. Following is the full text:

Source: China Daily

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 on May 24, 2012. As in previous years, the reports are full of over-critical remarks on the human rights situation in nearly 200 countries and regions as well as distortions and accusations concerning the human rights cause in China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and kept silent about it. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the United States to people across the world and urge the United States to face up to its own doings.


On life, property and personal security

The United States has mighty strength in human, financial and material resources to exert effective control over violent crimes. However, its society is chronically suffering from violent crimes, and its citizens’ lives, properties and personal security are in lack of proper protection. […]

READ @ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-05/26/content_15392452.htm?bsh_bid=97885369



By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

The Senate is closer to renewing controversial measures that critics say would allow the emails and phone calls of U.S. citizens to be monitored without a warrant. The Select Committee on Intelligence has voted to extend controversial amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that were set to expire at the end of this year. We speak with Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued over the U.S. government’s surveillance practices, saying agencies would be able to tap their communications with clients and sources overseas. We’re also joined by William Binney, who served in the National Security Agency for nearly 40 years, including a stint as technical director of its World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, Binney has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” “This is a continuation of the mindless legislation that our Congress has been putting out just to justify what they’ve been doing for a decade or more,” Binney says. “Instead of living up to their oath of office [and] defend the Constitution, they’ve decided to violate the civil liberties and the rights of all U.S. citizens.” The Senate is also set to vote soon on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — a bill opposed by many civil liberties and privacy groups.

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

May 152012



By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Noam Chomsky says the Occupy movement has helped rebuild class solidarity and communities of mutual support on a level unseen since the time of the Great Depression. “The Occupy movement spontaneously created something that doesn’t really exist in the country: Communities of mutual support, cooperation, open spaces for discussion … people doing things and helping each other,” Chomsky says. “That’s very much missing. There [has been] massive propaganda going on for a century, that you really shouldn’t care about anyone else, just yourself … To rebuild [class solidarity] — even in small pieces of society — can become very important, can change the conception of how society ought to function.” Chomsky also gives his assessment of President Obama, whom he says has attacked civil liberties in a way that “goes beyond George W. Bush.”

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9lCidkSR6D8



By Richard Rozoff, StopNATO 


‘US will use heavy-handed tactics to curb NATO protesters’

Thousands of peaceful anti-war protesters are expected to face off with armed riot police and sound cannons at the May NATO Summit to be held in Chicago.

Press TV has interviewed Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO in Chicago, about ‘overkill’ preparations by the authorities to counter expected massive popular peaceful demonstrations opposing the upcoming summit of NATO. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: I’d like to get your opinion first of all on the military-style tactics that will be deployed to confront protesters as anti-riot police continue to amass equipment in the days to come.

Rozoff: Yes, you’re raising a good point. We have to keep in mind the nature of the summit that’s going to occur in Chicago on May 20th and 21st. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/peace-versus-war-heavy-handed-tactics-to-curb-nato-protesters/



Source: youtube

Mossad Trained Police Curb US Protests

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ddM982Tgs



By Curtis Balck, NewsTips

By hosting a self-proclaimed “nuclear alliance” like NATO, Chicago is violating the spirit if not the letter of the city’s status as a nuclear free zone, passed unanimously by the City Council in 1986 and signed by Mayor Harold Washington, says Rick Rozoff.

It’s one of dozens of points that came up in several wide-ranging talks with Rozoff, a Chicagoan who for 13 years has edited the Stop NATO blog, almost certainly the most comprehensive source for news and critical analysis of the alliance in the world.

On Thursday, Rozoff and a representative of Iraq Veterans Against the War will take the anti-NATO position in a debate with former Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns and NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary James Appathurai at the Pritzker Military Library. […]

READ @ http://www.newstips.org/2012/05/rick-rozoff-chronicles-natos-endless-wars/



Announcement follows politicians’ failure to form a coalition government despite several rounds of talks

Source: Aljazeera

Greece will hold a new election after politicians failed to form a government, nine days following an inconclusive vote, prolonging a political crisis that pushes it closer to bankruptcy and exit from the euro.

After a third day of failed talks with political leaders on Tuesday, a spokesman for President Karolos Papoulias said the process of seeking a compromise had been declared a failure and a new vote must be held.

He did not immediately give the date for the new vote, but elections rules suggest it will be in mid-June. A caretaker government would be formed on Wednesday, the spokesman said. […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/05/201251513332434853.html



Centre-left-led coalition consolidates control of Germany’s most populous state as support for chancellor’s party falls.

Source: Aljazeera

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have suffered a heavy defeat in regional elections in Germany’s most populous state.

According to preliminary results, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) won 38.9 per cent of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia, a western German state of more than 13 million people, and looked set to form a coalition with the Greens.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) saw their support slide to just 26.3 per cent, down from nearly 35 per cent in 2010, in a state that includes the cities of Cologne and Duesseldorf and the industrial Ruhr region.

“This is not a good evening for Merkel,” Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, said. […]

READ @ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/05/201251322354918822.html



Source: Moyers and Company

FlackCheck.org identifies below 12 recurrent deceptive techniques used in political ads so far in the 2012 campaign season. Keep these in mind when a campaign ad appears on your television screen. And if you’re skeptical of what you see, visit factcheck.org, politifact.com or the Washington Post’s Fact Checker for a truth-audit.

1. Deceptive Audio

The sounds that we hear both contextualize what we see and cue our emotional responses. Consider the impact of a patriotic song, a cheering crowd or a mother’s lullaby. Now replace those sounds with clashing cymbals, a jeering crowd or the cries of a terrified child. By strategically inserting sound, political ad makers manipulate our responses to pictures, particularly those of their favorite candidate and his or her opponent.

Example: ‘Laughing,’ a web video by Governor Jon Huntsman (R), uses deceptive audio to make it appear that Governor Mitt Romney (R) is laughing at his own record.

2. Deceptive Dramatization

The use of dramatized scenes in ads can be a potent tool of deception. Audiences recall pictures more readily than words, and pictures tied to a dramatic narrative have a special power. Because political ad makers know that reporters are less likely to call out inferences invited by visuals, they often construct scripts containing accurate words but misleading imagery.

Example: ‘America the Beautiful,’ a web video by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, uses deceptive dramatization to attack the healthcare plan proposed by Paul Ryan (R). […]

READ and VIDEOS @ http://billmoyers.com/content/patterns-of-ad-deception/



Don’t waste any more time or energy on the presidential election than it takes to get to your polling station and pull a lever for a third-party candidate — just enough to register your obstruction and defiance — and then get back out onto the street. That is where the question of real power is being decided.

By Chris Hedges, OpEdNews

In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations” is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class. The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.

Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability — keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits — ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.

A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process — Gamer’s “patron-client” networks. It requires the establishment of new mechanisms of governance to distribute wealth and protect resources, to curtail corporate power, to cope with the destruction of the ecosystem and to foster the common good. But we must first recognize ourselves as colonial subjects. We must accept that we have no effective voice in the way we are governed. We must accept the hollowness of electoral politics, the futility of our political theater, and we must destroy the corporate structure itself. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=150326



By Zaid Jilani, Republic Report

[…] The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a powerful corporate front group that works to pass Big Business-written laws in state legislatures. Following the outcry over the group pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws, at least fifteen major corporations, foundations, and other organizations have decided to end their funding commitments to ALEC. […]

[…] I called NACSA to confirm that they still maintain their membership in ALEC. This is the response a NACSA official gave me:

>NACSA’s goal is to advance excellence in charter schools; we promote high standards, fair treatment of students, public transparency, and fiscal responsibility by charter schools. To that end, NACSA works with a variety of policymakers and organizations on both sides of the aisle to address charter school issues. NACSA has worked with Democrats for Education Reform, the Progressive Policy Institute, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Aspen Institute, ALEC, and the National Governors Association, among many others, to impact charter school policy and practice.

I followed up to ask if NACSA was currently an ALEC member. NACSA gave me no response. NACSA’s coordination with the group proves that taxpayer money is being used to finance ALEC’s radical agenda. Everything from funding voter suppression laws to crushing unions. In light of this revelation, NACSA should seriously reconsider its membership in ALEC. And if NACSA chooses to stay a part of ALEC, the school districts and state departments of education should seriously reconsider their membership in the organization. […]

READ @ http://www.republicreport.org/2012/charter-schools-taxpayer-money-alec/



By Max Rivlin-Nadler, Salon

From Paris in 1871 to Prague in 1968 to Cairo in 2011 and eventually the streets of New York City, cities have long been a hotbed of radical movements. Over the decades, urban protests have been spurred by everything from unemployment and food shortages to privatization and corruption. But were they also caused by the geography of the cities themselves? The question has particular resonance this week, as Occupy prepares for a series of large May 1 protests in cities around the country.

Geographer and social theorist David Harvey, the distinguished professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and one of the 20 most cited humanities scholars of all time, has spent his career exploring how cities organize themselves, and when they do, what their achievements are. His new book, “Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution,” dissects the effects of free-market financial policy on urban life, the crippling debt of middle- and low-income Americans and how runaway development has destroyed a common space for all city dwellers.

Beginning with the question, How do we organize a whole city? Harvey looks at how the current credit crisis had its root in urban development, and how this development has made any political organizing in American cities virtually impossible in the past 20 years. Harvey is at the forefront of the movement for “the right to the city,” the idea that citizens should have a say in how their cities are developed and organized. Drawing inspiration from the Paris Commune of 1871, where the entire city of Paris overthrew the aristocracy to seize power, Harvey outlines where cities have organized, or could or should organize, themselves in more sane, inclusive ways.

Salon spoke with Harvey about Occupy Wall Street, the destructiveness of Bloomberg’s development of New York City, and making the city more after our heart’s desire. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/04/28/urban_revolution_is_coming/singleton/



Chile’s supreme court has halted construction on the Rio Cuervo hydroelectric project in the country’s remote and pristine Patagonia region, after accepting an appeal from environmental groups.

Source: CIREM Foundation

The court’s decision on Friday ran counter to a recommendation by a regional environmental review commission to give the green light to the project, developed by a joint venture of Australia’s Origin Energy and Xstrata Copper.

The Rio Cuervo project is part of a larger plan to build three dams with a total capacity of 1,000 megawatts in the area around Aysen.

Environmental groups filed a petition against the scheme, saying it will wreak havoc in the region’s unspoiled wilderness.

Chile’s high court accepted the appeal and ruled the environmental review board had ignored a recommendation from the national geology and mining service to reject a soil survey done by the joint venture, known as Energia Austral.

The court ordered that a new soil survey be carried out before a new vote on approval of the project. […]

READ @ http://phys.org/news/2012-05-chile-supreme-court-halts-patagonia.html



Source: youtube

Maj. Gen. Albert N. Stubblebine (US Army ret) Personal Fukushima Estimate of Situation.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UJIEZvX4PZI



Source: youtube

Scientific and citizen forum on radiation Dr. Busby 12.05.2012 Geneva, Switzerland.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y03PnzlT2ZA&feature=player_embedded

RELATED VIDEOS @ http://enenews.com/we-are-living-through-the-worst-public-health-scandal-in-history-60-million-developed-cancer-from-nuclear-weapons-tests-video



By Yoko Kubuta and Scott DiSavino, Reuters

One of the reactors at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has a hole in its main vessel following a meltdown of fuel rods, leading to a leakage of radioactive water, its operator said on Thursday.

The disclosure by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) (9501.T) is the latest indication that the disaster was worse than previously disclosed, making it more difficult to stabilize the plant.

The discovery of the leak provides new insight into the sequence of events that triggered a partial meltdown of the uranium fuel in the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima after the plant was struck by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, officials said.

The battle to bring Fukushima under control has been complicated by repeated leaks of radioactive water, threatening both the Pacific Ocean and nearby groundwater. […]

READ @ http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/12/japan-nuclear-reactor-idUSL3E7GC2JQ20110512

Apr 202012



Source: Hellas Frappe

We here at hellasfrappe have often said that the rich in Greece only get richer… and the poor only get poorer and we are not kidding! According to reports, while our government asked us to tighten our austerity belts for the good of the economy, they suddenly became very wealthy. How wealthy you ask? Well… according to a new scandal that is about to explode in the next few days from German reporters (who are presently investigating the matter) several MPs became so rich that they have been buying up a storm of properties all over the Greek capital with funds that cannot be explained!

According to a report in kourdistoportocali the scandal claims that top-level ministers suddenly gained enormous amounts of wealth during the 2009-2011 period in the backdrop of a bankrupt country. Was this because they wanted to challenge the posh lifestyle of their confident Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who incidentally lived like a king… but is now presently rotting away in some jail cell after being charged with money laundering? Or is it because they want to “launder” this sudden wealth? […]

READ @ http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2012/04/new-scandal-germans-set-to-expose-mps.html



By Mary Bottari, Truthout

[…] ALEC’s Race to the Bottom in Wages for American Workers

The “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act” would repeal and then ban local “living wage” ordinances like the ones in some 140 cities that provide a higher minimum for city workers/contractors — enough to maintain a safe, decent standard of living in a community. Similarly, the ALEC “Starting (Minimum) Wage Repeal Act” would preempt the ability of localities to pay a minimum wage higher than the federal level. Some 22 states allow starting wages, but ALEC objects to the policy as an “unfunded mandate.”

The ALEC “Prevailing Wage Repeal Act” would get rid of all state prevailing wage laws that give workers engaged in public works contracts a regional, average salary in an attempt to prevent contractors from entering into a race to the bottom in worker wages to win contract bids.

Not satisfied by pulling down workers’ wages in every imaginable domestic scenario, ALEC also supports a radical free trade agenda that pits U.S. workers against foreign workers making a fraction of their wage and facilitates the off-shoring of U.S. jobs. From China Free Trade in 2000 to Korea Free Trade today, ALEC has supported shipping jobs overseas.

Where is the bottom in ALEC’s race to the bottom? Why, prison labor of course. ALEC promotes the privatization of prisons and prison industries that do not have to abide by minimum wage rules. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8625-hang-onto-that-paycheck-alec-sharpens-focus-on-jobs



By Laura Bolt, The Nation

On the morning of November 17, UC Davis students participating in a peaceful protest of rising tuition costs, in solidarity with the Occupy movement, were informed that they were to remove their tents from the quad on which they had been camping. The protesters had spent only one night there, but the university said the encampment was a health and safety violation. The students’ first instinct was to engage in a dialogue with the university; students requested that the administration cite the standards they were violating, but by that afternoon no details had been provided to them, so the students decided to continue to “occupy the quad.”

That occupation, however, did not last long. At around 3 pm, police in riot gear arrived on campus, threatening to “shoot” students who refused to leave. As students were pulled up from the ground at random, their hands violently tied behind them, twenty-five students remained peacefully seated in the center of the quad. A crowd of onlookers began to accumulate. In a scene that would go viral, thanks to cell phone videos, officers stepped within a few feet of the seated protesters, shook cans of pepper spray—“like cans of aerosol paint,” according to the students’ complaint—and doused the protesters. UC Davis student David Buscho described the experience as “absurdly painful…we were in a state of collective shock.”

Now that the shock has worn off, nineteen of these students, supported by the ACLU of Northern California, are fighting back with a lawsuit filed against UC Davis administration and officials that alleges that its actions violated the students’ First Amendment rights. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Mark Merin, believes that the police had no right to get involved in the protest, asserting that the “right of general assembly is enshrined in the constitution and should not be interfered with by police.” […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/167390/occupy-and-right-protest



By Brad Hicks, The Infamous Brad

[…] Chief Spicuzza “thought she made it clear” more than once that no riot gear was to be worn and no clubs or pepper sprayers were to be carried. What Lieutenant Pike said back to her, each time, was, “Well, I hear you say that you don’t want us to, but we’re going to.” And they did, including that now-infamous Mk-9 military-grade riot-control pepper sprayer that he used. Oh, funny thing about that particular model of pepper-sprayer? It’s illegal for California cops to possess or use. It turns out that the relevant law only permits the use of up to Mk-4 pepper sprayers. The consultants were unable to find out who authorized the purchase and carrying, but every cop they asked said, “So what? It’s just like the Mk-4 except that it has a higher capacity.” Uh, no. It’s also much, much higher pressure, and specifically designed not to be sprayed directly at any one person, only at crowds, and only from at least six feet away. The manufacturer says so. The person in charge of training California police in pepper spray says that as far as he knows, no California cop has ever received training, from his office or from the manufacturer, in how to safely use a Mk-9 sprayer, presumably because it’s illegal. But Officer Nameless, when he wrote the action plan for these arrests, included all pepper-spray equipment in the equipment list, both the paint-ball rifle pepper balls and the Mk-9 riot-control sprayers.

The students set up their tents on a Thursday night. Chancellor Katehi ordered the cops to (a) only involve campus police, because she didn’t trust the local cops not to be excessively brutal, and (b) get them out of here by 3 AM Thursday night. Chief Spicuzza had to tell her that that wasn’t physically possible, they couldn’t get enough backup officers from other UC campuses on that short notice, it was going to have to be Friday night at 3 AM. Chancellor Katehi said “no can do,” that they had to be out of there before sunset Friday night, so that the camp wasn’t joined by drunken and stoned Friday night partiers that would endanger the camp and even further endanger cops trying to deal with them — arguably an entirely reasonable objection. So she ordered Chief Spicuzza to get them out of there by 3 PM Friday afternoon. Chief Spicuzza “was under the impression” (oh, look, there’s that phrase again) that she made it clear to the Chancellor that for one thing, it couldn’t be safely done, at 3:00 PM the protesters and passers-by would way outnumber her officers, and for another, it couldn’t be legally done, because there was no way to legally arrest someone for “overnight camping” in the middle of the afternoon. Nobody else who was in that meeting thinks she made that clear, only that she made it clear that she didn’t want to do it but couldn’t explain why not. Still, when she gave the order to Lieutenant Pike, he very definitely did raise the same objections, clearly and unambiguously, backed up by multiple witnesses, who all agree that Chief Spicuzza told him, “This was decided above my level, do it anyway.”

So, there’s Lieutenant Pike. (Who, by the way, for obvious legal reasons since he’s still being investigated by internal affairs and, last I heard, still being sued by his victims, refused to be interviewed by the consultants, so everything we know about his side of this comes from what he told other people and what he wrote in his reports.) As far as he’s concerned, he’s been given an illegal and impossible order: take 40 or so officers – unarmed and unarmored officers – into an angry crowd of 300 to 400 people who aren’t doing anything illegal and make that crowd go away without using any force or getting any of your officers injured. For reasons Stanley Milgram could explain, it does not occur to Lieutenant Pike to disobey this order, so instead, he does the best he can, using his own judgement to decide which parts of his orders and which parts of the law to ignore. Unsurprisingly, it goes badly. Backed into a corner by an angry crowd (which has, by the way, demonstrably left him room to retreat, even with his prisoners, contrary to what he says in his report) that is confronting him with evidence that he is the law-breaker here, not them, he snaps. And rather than take it out on the more-powerful people who put him in this situation, he takes it out on the powerless and peaceful people in front of him, using a high-pressure hose to pump five gallons of capsacin spray into the eyes and mouths of the dozen or twenty people in front of him … and he would have used more if he’d had it, he only stopped when he did, halfway through his third pass down the line, because the sprayer emptied. When he gets back to the station, Chief Spicuzza (who has no idea what’s just happened) congratulates him in front of half the department for how well he just did. And now, as far as he’s concerned, he’s being hung out to dry. We’re apparently supposed to ignore the fact that multiple video sources contradict almost everything about his after-incident report because apparently, in his opinion, he was only following orders. […]

READ @ http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/459368.html



Source: AP

Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action.

The girl’s family demanded Tuesday that this central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren’t treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by being put in a cell at the police station.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School, Macon television station WMAZ-TV (http://on.wmaz.com/HPb7nr ) reported. Police said the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. […]

READ @ http://news.yahoo.com/police-handcuff-ga-kindergartner-tantrum-112459850.html



By Stephen D. Foster Jr., Addicting Information

[…] The Ryan Budget is tremendously dangerous to our way of life and our economy and health care. Among the things the Paul Ryan Budget does includes:

• An average tax cut of $150,000 per individual for the wealthiest Americans. The budget also extends the unpopular Bush Tax Cuts which will give away $3 trillion dollars in revenues to the oil industry, Wall Street, and several other corporations and wealthy Americans. According to the Center for American Progress, “The only way to pay for such huge tax cuts for the 1 percent is to make the 99 percent pick up the tab.” That means the middle class, the poor, children, and seniors would sacrifice more so that rich people and corporations can have more wealth to hide overseas.

• The plan would wipe out Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. Medicare would become a coupon program in which seniors would receive a voucher to buy a private plan that may not cover the kind of medical care seniors need. Anything the voucher doesn’t cover would have to be paid for out of pocket. Coverage would not be guaranteed, meaning grandma and grandpa are on their own. The Republican budget also eliminates over $1 trillion of Medicaid funding, so low-incomes children, pregnant women, senior citizens and the disabled would be denying coverage. That’s about 60 million Americans that Republicans are throwing under the bus.

• The Ryan Budget keeps billions of dollars of subsidies for the oil industry and Wall Street and doesn’t close tax loopholes either. It also repeals reforms passed in the wake of the financial meltdown that would help prevent a repeat of the Great Recession.

Education and infrastructure are also affected. Under the Ryan Budget, education funding would be slashed by nearly 50 percent and infrastructure slashed by 24 percent. That means Republicans don’t care about educating the American people, and without education Americans will be less likely to get good paying jobs. And because of serious cuts to infrastructure, bridges, highways, rail lines, and clean energy production will all be allowed to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the rest of the developed world will continue to have better and more efficient infrastructures that are more efficient and better for business. […]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/04/18/house-republicans-pass-destructive-ryan-budget-for-second-time/



A museum in Italy has started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts which it says have left cultural institutions out of pocket.

Source: BBC

Antonio Manfredi, of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, set fire to the first painting on Tuesday.

“Our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference,” he said.

The work was by French artist Severine Bourguignon, who was in favour of the protest and watched it online.

“The survival of the museum is such an important cause that it justifies the despicable, and painful, act of destroying a work of art,” she told the BBC.

“My work burned slowly, with a sinister crackle. It cost me a lot, but I have no other means of protesting against the loss of this institution.”

Mr Manfredi plans to burn three paintings a week from now on, in a protest he has dubbed “Art War”. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17754129



Source: RT

Art is the latest victim of the EU’s debt crisis. A director of an Italian museum is burning works from around the world in protest at the government’s harsh austerity measures. With the permission of the artists, he’s promised to destroy three pieces a week until the government listens to what he has to say. Patrick Young, Executive Director of investment firm DV Advisors says although Italy’s art protest should be treated as a joke, the problems it highlights are very serious.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHj1ChIb9X8



A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

By Carey Gillam, Scientific America

A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and Monsanto Co. are among several global chemical and seed companies racing to roll out combinations of genetically altered crops and new herbicides designed to work with the crops as a way to counter rapidly spreading herbicide-resistant weeds that are choking millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Dow and Monsanto say the new chemical combinations and new crops that tolerate those chemicals are badly needed by corn, soybean and cotton farmers as weeds increasingly resist treatments of the most commonly used herbicide – glyphosate-based Roundup.

“They (farmers) need this new technology,” said Dow AgroScience Joe Vertin, global business leader for Dow’s new herbicide-protected crops called “Enlist.”

But critics say key ingredients in these new herbicides – 2,4-D for Dow and dicamba for Monsanto – already are in use in the marketplace and have proved damaging to “non-target” fields because they are hard to keep on target. Wind, heat and humidity can move the chemical particles miles down the road, damaging gardens, crops, trees. Many farms have suffered significant damage in recent years even though the chemicals are currently sprayed under tight restrictions. […]

READ @ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=farm-group-seeks-us-halt-on-dangero&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20120419



By David Swanson, Let’s Try Democracy

Dahr Jamail has covered the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico for two years.  He reports on massive environmental and economic damage and on oil continuing to enter these damaged waters.  Jamail is based in Doha, Qatar working as an Online News Producer for Al Jazeera English. His stories have also been published with Inter Press Service, Truthout, The Nation, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the Independent.  He’s been awarded the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His website is http://dahrjamail.net

READ and AUDIO @ http://davidswanson.org/node/3648



By Antonia Juhasz, The Nation

[…] As information about the settlement negotiations comes to light, several critical issues are not being adequately addressed—including the human health crisis brought on by the disaster.

Many people whose health was adversely affected by the spill would be excluded. The Medical Benefits Settlement covers about 90,000 people who are qualifying cleanup workers (out of an estimated 140,000) and 110,000 coastal residents living within one-half to one mile of the coast (out of a coastal population of 21 million). Although it would cover “certain respiratory, gastrointestinal, eye, skin and neurophysiological” conditions, it excludes mental health and a host of physical ailments, including cancers, birth defects, developmental disorders and neurological disorders including dementia.

The proposed settlement provides a health outreach program and twenty-one years of health monitoring—but not healthcare. If “nonspecified” ailments occur in this time frame, the patient must sue BP and prove causality to receive a settlement. Accepting the settlement also means forgoing the right to sue BP for punitive damages. BP estimates its total remaining liability for individuals and businesses at $7.8 billion—a lowball figure for many reasons, and much less than would be necessary if large numbers of people do suffer cancers and other chronic diseases as a result of the spill. […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/167461/investigation-two-years-after-bp-spill-hidden-health-crisis-festers



Source: youtube

It’s almost two years since BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, scientists say they have found deformities among seafood and a great decline in the numbers of marine life. Dahr Jamail reports from New Orleans.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VVyPiV5xdY&feature=player_embedded

RELATED ARTICLE @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/18-1

RELATED ARTICLE @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155032



Source: youtube

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, local residents and clean-up workers say they have developed serious illnesses.

Those affected blame a combination of the five million barrels of oil spilled by BP and cleaning chemicals. Though some have settled with the British company, there are still several pending class-action lawsuits by plaintiffs who say the spill caused their illness.

Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports from Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FXxFFH3mM8

Apr 102012



By William Blum

Putting Syria into some perspective

The Holy Triumvirate — The United States, NATO, and the European Union — or an approved segment thereof, can usually get what they want. They wanted Saddam Hussein out, and soon he was swinging from a rope. They wanted the Taliban ousted from power, and, using overwhelming force, that was achieved rather quickly. They wanted Moammar Gaddafi’s rule to come to an end, and before very long he suffered a horrible death. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was democratically elected, but this black man who didn’t know his place was sent into distant exile by the United States and France in 2004. Iraq and Libya were the two most modern, educated and secular states in the Middle East; now all four of these countries could qualify as failed states.

These are some of the examples from the past decade of how the Holy Triumvirate recognizes no higher power and believes, literally, that they can do whatever they want in the world, to whomever they want, for as long as they want, and call it whatever they want, like “humanitarian intervention”. The 19th- and 20th-century colonialist-imperialist mentality is alive and well in the West.

Next on their agenda: the removal of Bashar al-Assad of Syria. As with Gaddafi, the ground is being laid with continual news reports — from CNN to al Jazeera — of Assad’s alleged barbarity, presented as both uncompromising and unprovoked. After months of this media onslaught who can doubt that what’s happening in Syria is yet another of those cherished Arab Spring “popular uprisings” against a “brutal dictator” who must be overthrown? And that the Assad government is overwhelmingly the cause of the violence. […]

READ @ http://killinghope.org/bblum6/aer104.html



Source: RT News

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4IySuIhU3E&feature=share



Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3fDTj1lRM



Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pONziL6fR4o&feature=uploademail



Source: youtube




Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zpgr9Ysa7AE



By Marcus Bensasson and Charles Penty, Bloomberg

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stepped up efforts to reassure investors he can bring the country’s deficit under control as his government fights to avoid becoming the fourth euro-area member to require a bailout.

Rajoy met with his health and education ministers yesterday to discuss cuts of more than 10 billion euros ($13 billion as the government reiterated its pledge to reduce the deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product next year. That includes plans to accelerate the sale of stakes in lenders under government administration, according to an e-mailed statement.

Spanish bond yields rose today, after surging the most since January last week amid investors’ concern that Rajoy’s government may join Greece, Ireland and Portugal in requesting an international rescue. Spain’s premier spoke on April 4 of “extreme difficulty” as the country barely covered its minimum target at a debt auction. [..]

READ @ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/04/10/bloomberg_articlesM27VR607SXKX01-M294H.DTL



By Mark Cassello, HuffPo

Although some, like Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, hoped a brutal Chicago winter would chill the fiery passion of demonstrators, a recent visit to the organization’s new headquarters reveals that Occupy Chicago is stronger, smarter and more nimble than it was last fall. Relentless pressure from the city, including hundreds of arrests and the onset of winter, left observers with the mistaken impression that Chicago’s branch of the Occupy Movement had been effectively quashed. This impression could not be more wrong. A confluence of events will make Chicago the national and perhaps worldwide hub of the Occupy Movement through the spring. Welcome to the Chicago Spring. […]

READ @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-cassello/occupy-chicago-spring_b_1390164.html?ref=chicago



By Pat Garofalo, ThinkProgress

Last year, Citizens for Tax Justice found that 30 major corporations had made billions of dollars in profits while paying no federal income tax between 2008 and 2010. Today, CTJ updated that report to reflect the 2011 tax bill of those 30 companies, and 26 of them have still managed to pay absolutely nothing over that four year period:

26 of the 30 companies continued to enjoy negative federal income tax rates. That means they still made more money after tax than before tax over the four years! […]




By Julie Creswell, NYTimes

[…] The $26.3 billion Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System has more than 46 percent of its assets in riskier alternatives, including nearly 400 private equity, venture capital and real estate funds.

The system paid about $1.35 billion in management fees in the last five years and reported a five-year annualized return of 3.6 percent. That is below the 8 percent target needed to meet its financing requirements, and it also lags behind a 4.9 percent median return among public pension systems.

In Georgia, the $14.4 billion municipal retirement system, which is prohibited by state law from investing in alternative investments, has earned 5.3 percent annually over the same time frame and paid about $54 million total in fees. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/business/pension-funds-making-alternative-bets-struggle-to-keep-up.html?_r=1&hp



Source: RT News

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM_tWOrL9Zk



By Adam Le, Alternet

Would the world be better off without religion? That was the topic of a recent debate in the NYU Intelligence Squared series. One of the audience questions concerned the enormous wealth hoarded by churches, which Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza defended as follows:

I think in the case of the Vatican, the wealth of the Vatican is in priceless treasures, tapestries, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, art. Now, let’s remember… it was popes, the Medici popes and so on, who commissioned those paintings. If it wasn’t for Catholicism, we wouldn’t have the Sistine Chapel.

This was the only line of the night that got boos from the audience. It’s easy to see why, since D’Souza was clearly trying hard to overlook the obvious reply: The reason it was the church that commissioned those artworks, and not some other buyer, is because the church had all the money! The great composers, painters and sculptors of the Renaissance worked for whomever could afford to pay them, which is why they often ended up working for the church even when they were notorious freethinkers, as in the case of Giuseppe Verdi. If it wasn’t for Catholicism, we might not have the Sistine Chapel, but it’s a near-certainty that we’d have different artworks, equally majestic and famous, by the same artists. As Richard Dawkins has suggested, wouldn’t you love to hear Beethoven’s “Evolution Symphony”? […]

READ @ http://churchandstate.org.uk/2011/12/how-we-all-pay-for-the-huge-tax-privileges-granted-to-religion-its-time-to-tax-the-church/



By Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica

Can a farmer commit patent infringement just by planting soybeans he bought on the open market? This week, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on the question. The Court is pondering an appeals court decision saying that such planting can, in fact, infringe patents.

In 1994, the agricultural giant Monsanto obtained a patent covering a line of “Roundup Ready” crops that had been genetically modified to resist Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides. This genetic modification is hereditary, so future generations of seeds are also “Roundup Ready.” Farmers had only to save a portion of their crop for re-planting the next season, and they wouldn’t need to purchase new seed from Monsanto every year. The company didn’t want to be in the business of making a one-time sale, so when Monsanto sold “Roundup Ready” soybeans to farmers, it required them to sign a licensing agreement promising not to re-plant future generations of seeds. […]

READ @ http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/arstechnica-agriculture-patents/



By Nicholas D. Kristof, NYTimes

Let’s hope you’re not reading this column while munching on a chicken sandwich.

That’s because my topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.

“We were kind of floored,” said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future.  “It’s unbelievable what we found.” […]

READ @ http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/food/big-ag-doesnt-advertise-the-chemicals-it-stuffs-into-animals.html#.T4Mr1GgJI1s.facebook



Source: youtube




By Anne Elizabeth Moore, Truthout

About a year ago, record numbers of garment laborers in factories across Cambodia – which exports 70 percent of the garments manufactured there to the US – were reported to be suddenly and mysteriously falling to the ground, unconscious. Hundreds at a time – sometimes less, although sometimes more. Workers at many scenes reported foul smells, difficulty breathing. Halting investigations took place at select plants by various parties involved: government officials; labor unions; human rights groups; business associations; monitoring organizations; and, weirdly, the international big-name brands that sell the clothes being made. A consortium of factors was considered: hypoglycemia, the direct result of workers not eating enough; minor factory infractions that managers promised to address immediately; a common cold outbreak emanating from Canada; overwork; mass hysteria; workers partying too hard over the weekend; and spiritual possession. In the end, no single cause was named for the nationwide epidemic. Besides a 5$ “health bonus” for qualifying workers, no sweeping policy changes were offered to keep the incidents from continuing.

It seemed to be just more bad luck for Cambodia, a nation still coming to terms with five decades spent surviving a record tonnage of American bombs, the Khmer Rouge, a generation of civil war, a legacy of corruption and endemic poverty. But bad luck doesn’t account for around 3,000 workers reportedly losing consciousness in 17 separate mass-fainting incidents at 12 of the country’s 300 registered garment factories.

The real bad luck for Cambodia – and ethical apparel consumers, particularly in the US, where 70 percent of the goods produced are sold – is that thousands of workers falling ill on the job isn’t enough to catch the fashion industry’s attention. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8307-the-fashion-industrys-perfect-storm-collapsing-workers-and-hyperactive-buyers

Mar 292012



Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yn4vwR6J7K0 



Polls say only 30% of the employed will take part on Friday, but it will also be what the Occupy movement calls an ‘invisible’ strike

By Katharine Alinger, The Guardian

Spain is about to experience huge austerity cuts that may prove explosive. On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is set to announce what even he describes as a “very, very austere budget” to reduce the deficit. According to El País, the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland or Portugal: “There is no comparable adjustment in [our] economic history,” says the paper.

As a result of this and recent changes to labour laws, only four months after the new conservative government took power, Spain’s two largest unions have called for a general strike on the day before the budget announcement.

On top of €15bn cuts already announced in December, it is estimated Rajoy will cut about another €40bn. Many are expecting drastic cuts to health and education, not least the financial markets, who are waiting to see whether Rajoy will deliver what they require. This is on top of existing cuts to social spending, wage freezes for public employees, and privatisations, in a context where 40 home evictions a day are taking place across the country.

Response to this austerity has already been fierce. Hundreds of thousands protested across the country in February against labour law changes described by the unions as “the most regressive in the history of the [Spanish] democracy”. Thursday’s general strike will be much larger, seeing hundreds of planes grounded, public transport on a skeleton service, manufacturing at a virtual standstill, and even fresh bread from the bakeries in scant supply.


Many have been instrumental in continuing struggles around the Spanish state against what have already been drastic cuts. For instance, the “iaiaflautas” are retirees and grandparents who occupy bank lobbies against bailouts, buses against price hikes, and health departments against cutbacks. Their name is a play on the “perroflautas“, Spanish slang for crusty, to show how impossible it is to stereotype those taking part in protests as typical activists.

Meanwhile in Valencia, one of the worst-hit regions, students and schoolchildren took part in recent protests against government cuts that had left their schools without adequate heating, many sitting in blankets in classrooms during the cold. The protests were brutally repressed. The sight of schoolkids being arrested by police galvanised a whole wave of solidarity protests around the country from outraged citizens.

These are only the most visible actions. All over the country small groups of determined everyday acts of resistance are taking place, like the villages where people blockade the highway weekly because their emergency clinic is closing down.


READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/27/spain-general-strike-99-per-cent




Souce: The Slog

“But Lucas my dear, if you run out of poor people, you can always steal from the sick”

The illegally denied default of Greece entered a dramatic new phase this afternoon with the revelation by mainstream Greek public health website Health News that, shortly before midnight on March 8th – the eve of Greece’s psi completion on Friday March 9th – on average 70% of public utility funds in varous large, interest-bearing accounts at the Bank of Greece were raided. These included most of the State’s regional hospital budgets, various universities and (it is alleged) at least one utility company.

The shortfalls came to light late last week and this morning as various hospital purchasing cheques in particular began to bounce. The monies – estimated by one source to total some 1.4 billion euros – appear to have been used to pay off the tiny minority of private sovereign creditors who, under the original terms of their bond purchase, were entitled come what may to full payment of the bond’s yield entitlement.

Setting aside the amoral audacity of this act, it does yet again raise the issue of a Greece so utterly lacking in any real funds in the real world, that to pay off a minute proportion of the bondholders it had to resort to such a desperate measure. […]

READ @ http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/exclusive-greek-government-robbed-public-institutions-to-complete-bond-swap/



Source: Hellasfrappe

The German national channel “ARD” (“Allgemeine Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands”), recently revealed how, with close cooperation from a certain select Greeks, Germany committed massive fraud against a whole nation of people and was able to profit some 45 billion euros from the euro crisis, on the back of Greeks! ARD airs the confession of the German head of EFSF, Klaus Regling, in an interview with news magazine FOCUS on this very subject. According to the German head of the Fund, Germany, has not suffered at all from the current debt crisis and instead has recorded significant gains which he notes are expected to multiply over time. This, according to Regklingk, is because Germany is not directly lending Greece, but is rather gaining on the interest rates from the loans which are greater than those by which it borrows from.


“The rescue operations have not cost Germans. The image that funds (to Greece) flowed into a bottomless pit was wrong. There are no gifts and no permanent financial transfers. On the contrary, Germany has profited from the crisis, because a lot of capital flowed into the country (Germany).”

Germany has only given 15.2 billion euros (according to formal data from the German government), a sum that does not in any way compare with what it has benefited from in keeping Greece “under fire”. One economic analyst in the video also says that Germany’s profits were so great because it is able to lend money to other nations with similar debt problems because it is able to borrow at lesser interest rates. This difference allowed the German Republic to gain some 45 billion euros from the crisis, and it is expected that this sum will rise to 65 billion. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2012/03/germany-caused-greek-crisis-to-win-big.html#.T3M-_HJQ-EY.facebook



By Panagiotis Sotiris, CounterFIre

Independence Day (25 March) parades in Greece have been traditionally a day of celebration, not of protest. A national holiday to commemorate the beginning of the popular insurrection against Ottoman rule in 1821 that led to Greece’s independence, they are associated with watching the armed forces march along with school children, since in most cities we also have school parades. Moreover, for most people of the Left they always seemed like a remnant of an authoritarian past when these official displays of nationalism and militarism were part of the rituals of power.

However, in the past two years parades have become venues for protest against the policies of austerity and reduced sovereignty imposed by the EU-IMF-ECB Troika. The traditional presence of representatives of authority in such parades and celebrations, such as local members of parliament, government ministers or high ranking officials, and mayors made them an easy target for protest, especially in a period of intense and prolonged struggles. This has been particularly evident in provincial Greece, where members of parliament and aspiring local politicians have faced many forms of protest in the past years.

But the protests and demonstrations during parades are not simply opportunities to directly express anger and frustration against politicians. They are also a way to re-appropriate a collective memory of struggle and resistance. The 1821 Greek Revolution, itself with a strong popular – democratic element, is still being viewed as a successful example of victorious collective resistance against oppressors. The same goes for the 28 October parades, designed to commemorate Greece’s entering WWII that bring all the memories of the antifascist resistance during the German occupation. This was more than evident in Thessaloniki on 28 October 2011 when the military parade was interrupted by protesters, forcing the President of the Republic to leave the scene and the parade to be cancelled. Apart from the powerful image of protesters linking current struggles to a long memory of struggle, it is also important to note that it was exactly this cancelling of the military parade that was then seen as an example of the inability of the PASOK government to actually govern, thus making stronger the sense of the open political crisis. […]

READ @ http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/international/15659-greece-the-parades-of-anger



Source: Max Keiser, RT

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=584L7TQgWOw



Hundreds to visit the city this week to figure out logistics of May summit

By Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of NATO staffers are visiting Chicago this week to scope out the city in advance of the May 20-21 meetings for the security alliance, according to the city’s host committee.

Word of the visit came as a Chicago delegation, including members of the host committee, returned from NATO headquarters in Brussels.

As many as 800 personnel from NATO and its 28 member countries will arrive in Chicago to become more familiar with the layout of the city and the McCormick Place convention center as they plan the logistics of the summit. Some were to arrive as early as Sunday, with others coming midweek, summit planners said. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-nato-summit-delegation-visit-0326-20120326,0,3446788.story



Source: C-Span

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ougHdwR8PhI



By Nick Pinto, Village Voice

Almost from the moment Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from their camp in Zuccotti Park last November, observers have speculated whether the movement was finished, or if it would somehow rebound in the spring.

Dedicated Occupy activists dismissed the possibility that the movement had already run its course and promised an “American Spring,” kicking off a new season of activism with May Day events coordinated across the country.

As it turns out, spring came early.

A March 17 rally downtown was originally conceived as a low-key way to mark the sixth anniversary of the movement, but as has happened so many times already in Occupy’s history, police overreaction transformed the event into something more than it would have been on its own.

The NYPD responded with a chilling and disproportionate show of force, once again evicting the protesters from the 24-hour park and arresting scores of them with a level of violence Occupy veterans said they hadn’t seen before.

Many of those who weren’t arrested marched north that night, inaugurating a new camp in Union Square. In response, police have taken to barricading and garrisoning that park at midnight, prompting a nightly standoff with protesters. […]

READ @ http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-03-28/news/occupy-spring-may-day/



By Margot Adler, NPR

Groups within the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to overhaul the banking system and even dream of creating a new kind of bank.

Occupy isn’t in the headlines so much these days, but work continues behind the scenes. The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meets weekly in different places. Members are older than some might think — in their 30s, 40s and 50s — and many work or formerly worked in the financial industry.

“We have almost no consensus opinion, except that the system is not working,” says Cathy O’Neil, who often facilitates the group that is working on legislation and regulation to reform the financial system. “A lot of these people are from finance or have a background in law or SEC regulation. There’s lots of people from banks and hedge funds.” […]

READ and AUDIO @ http://www.npr.org/2012/03/27/149443425/alternative-banking-groups-aid-occupy-movement



Souce: Thom Hartmann

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QEUpjt02so&feature=player_embedded



Source: The Economic Collapse

What would you do if you came across someone on the street that had not had anything to eat for several days?  Would you give that person some food?  Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live.  Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America.  Other cities that have not banned it outright have put so many requirements on those that want to feed the homeless (acquiring expensive permits, taking food preparation courses, etc.) that feeding the homeless has become “out of reach” for most average people.  Some cities are doing these things because they are concerned about the “health risks” of the food being distributed by ordinary “do-gooders”.  Other cities are passing these laws because they do not want homeless people congregating in city centers where they know that they will be fed.  But at a time when poverty and government dependence are soaring to unprecedented levels, is it really a good idea to ban people from helping those that are hurting?

This is just another example that shows that our country is being taken over by control freaks.  There seems to be this idea out there that it is the job of the government to take care of everyone and that nobody else should even try.

But do we really want to have a nation where you have to get the permission of the government before you do good to your fellow man?

It isn’t as if the government has “rescued” these homeless people.  Homeless shelters all over the nation are turning people away each night because they have no more room.  There are many homeless people that are lucky just to make it through each night alive during the winter.

Sometimes a well-timed sandwich or a cup of warm soup can make a world of difference for a homeless person.  But many U.S. cities have decided that feeding the homeless is such a threat that they had better devote law enforcement resources to making sure that it doesn’t happen.

This is so twisted.  In America today, you need a “permit” to do almost anything.  We are supposed to be a land of liberty and freedom, but these days government bureaucrats have turned our rights into “privileges” that they can revoke at any time.

The following are some of the major U.S. cities that have attempted to ban feeding the homeless. […]

READ @ http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/feeding-the-homeless-banned-in-major-cities-all-over-america



Source: The War Room, Current TV


The justices turn hostile in the health care case: “I wasn’t quite sure which constitution they were referring to in all of this, because it certainly wasn’t the U.S. constitution,” says Ian Millhiser, of the Center for American Progress, who was troubled by the Supreme Court’s questions to the Department of Justice. Millhiser’s argument is simple: Congress can regulate commerce, and the health care law regulates a sixth of the economy, so it’s commerce.

VIDEO @ http://current.com/shows/the-war-room/videos/the-justices-turn-hostile-during-the-second-day-of-the-health-care-case



Source: The People’s View

Maybe you missed it, but Justice Scalia today said that letting the uninsured die is a better idea than making it an individual responsibility for those who can afford it to buy health insurance.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was explaining to Justice Scalia that the individual responsibility provision (aka “the mandate”) is justified given the fact that the uninsured can show up in emergency rooms and get care regardless of ability (or willingness) to pay, shifting the cost to other participants of the market in the form of higher insurance premiums. Scalia, undeterred, dropped the GOP baseline:

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. It’s because you’re going — in the health care market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why — you know?

GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I can’t imagine that that — that the Commerce Clause would –would forbid Congress from taking into account this deeply embedded social norm.

JUSTICE SCALIA: You — you could do it.

Don’t obligate yourself to that? […]

READ @ http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2012/03/justice-scalia-let-them-die.html



By Amanda Peterson Beadle

During the last day of Supreme Court hearings about the Affordable Care Act, the justices covered whether or not the entire law could stand if the individual mandate was struck down and the law’s expansion of Medicaid. But Justice Antonin Scalia seemed surprised that someone would have expected the justices to read the text of the health care reform law before the hearings:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.) And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one? […]

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/special/2012/03/28/454099/scalia-says-court-cant-be-bothered-to-read-obamacare-you-really-want-us-to-go-through-these-2700-pages/

Mar 242012



By Paul Street, CounterPunch

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


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

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



Source: youtube

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



Source: youtube

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



Source: Al Arabiya News

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

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

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

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

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

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



Source: youtube

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

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



Source: EuroNews

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



Source: RT NEWS

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



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

By Mark Ames, Consortiumnews

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

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

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


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

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

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

Mar 232012



By Mark Cassello, Leftist Indignation

[…] The Chicago Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

By Natasha Lennard, Salon

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

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

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



Source: youtube

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

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



Source: Democracy Now!

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

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



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

By Alexander Higgens

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

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



By Kevin Featherstone, UK Guardian

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



By Alex Newman, New American

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

By John Henley, UK Guardian

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

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

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

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

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



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

By John Henley, UK Guardian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Source: youtube

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

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



By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

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

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

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



Source: youtube

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

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

Mar 212012


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

By Alexander Higgins

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



Source: youtube

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




By Gregory Patin, Examiner

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

U.S. Media Reports

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


The Pajhwok Afghan News reported on March 15 that:

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

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

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

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

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

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



Source: DownWithTyranny

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

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

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

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



By Travis Waldron, Think Progress

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

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

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

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



By nyceve, Daily Kos

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Sarah Jaffe, Alterned

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

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



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

By Bruce Judson, National Memo

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

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

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

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

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



Source: youtube

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



By Common Dreams Staff

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

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

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

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



Source: CBS News

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s food police have struck again!

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

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

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

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

Mar 202012



By David Heinzmann, Chicago Tribune

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

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

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

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



Source: youtube

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

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



By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

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

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

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

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



By Dennis Loo, OpEdNews

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Sharyl Attkisson, CBS

There are 468 congressional campaigns going on right now.

That means a lot of serious fundraising.

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Barbara Ehrenreich, Asia Times

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

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

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


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

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



By Lauren Feeney, AlterNet

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

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

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



By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

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

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



By Caitlin Ginley, Center for Public Integrity

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Sara Jerving, PR Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Cora Currier, ProPublica

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

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

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

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

750,000: foreclosed homeowners expected to qualify.

$2,000: estimated average payout.

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

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

Mar 192012



By War on Error, Daily Kos

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


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



Souce: youtube

NYPD marks OWS anniversary with violent crackdown and arrests

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

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

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

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

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

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



Source: Steven Macchia @ www.TheDailyOccupier.Net

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



Source: youtube

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

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



By Kenneth Schortgen Jr, Informatio Clearing House

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

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

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

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

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



By Charles Davis, Aljazeera

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

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

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

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



By Lee Moran, Mail Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Rady Ananda, Global Research

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Stan Lehman, AP

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

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

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

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