Feb 062013
 

 

DRINKING WITH MÉLENCHON

“O my God / am I here all alone?”

Iddhis Bing

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

I want to tell you a story. Yes, I know, 99GetSmart is not exactly a story teller’s site – although we could debate that – but I am going to tell it because it illumines a few dark corners that can not only bear the light, but that could be useful to those who are engaged in airing and publicizing what Ed Dorn once called Heavy Business in the White World, while attempting to aide those who are on the receiving end of the World’s Big Stick.

If I do that, I have to pass up the chance to talk about the untold juicy morsels that flew across the desk in the last few days, viz., in cash-strapped, austeritarian Spain, where the priest’s favorite altar boy, Mariano Rajoy, is in power, it has just now been discovered that party of which he is the head, the Partido Popular, keeps two set of organizational books, and in the second and more compelling one, they have parked 22 million Euros in a Swiss bank account. For what purpose? This seems to me worth investigating for any number of reasons (how it got out, the persons involved, how badly it will damage the PP, etc.) Maybe the Partido Popular is just planning ahead and when Austerity collapses, as it inevitably will, the upper echelons will flee to Switzerland and retire on their savings. Plus there is news from Greece, where Blackwater, the security firm close to the Bush mafia, will now be protecting the Greek parliament from the rabble.

But instead I am going to tell you a story, a bit of old news, because I think it reveals a little bit about the current state of things. It’s just too damn good to pass up.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a French politician, a long-time Socialist close to François Mitterand, who eventually split with the Socialist Party because he could not tolerate their drift towards the center, and formed the Front de Gauche. The F de G ran seriously for the first time in 2012′s presidential race and then in the legislative elections in June. Mélenchon ended up doing very poorly, scoring 11.4% of the vote (in contrast to Marine le Pen’s 17.3%) for a variety of reasons that if you try to explain it, becomes a kind of Rohrsach Test of your feelings about French politics: it was his first national campaign, the party was new, everyone was sick of Sarkozy so they coalesced around the one candidate who offended almost no one and had a chance to win, François Hollande, and who did. There are many other possibilities, none of which explain the dreaded Le Pen’s 17% share of the electorate.

You could argue that a large swath of the French electorate might say that Mélenchon, his quick verbal repartee and aggressive, unashamed leftwing take on issues appeals to them but they would never actually go into the voting booth and pull the lever for the man.

Now I read what Mélenchon writes and have published a translation of an interview with the man, and I find him smart, energetic, straight-on – even when, during the course of an interview it looks like his eyes are about to pop out of his head. Does he wake up angry in the morning? Is that a problem for you? Maybe we need a few more angry people around. The man engages with individuals when he meets them, he is committed to social revolution (yes, he dares to use the word from time to time), and he has provided the best ongoing criticism of Hollande’s presidency over the last six months. The French elect a monarch and give him five years to prove he deserves the kingdom. If not, off with his head. Mélenchon keeps the blade sharp.

OK, since I am not a Protestant and believe neither in purity of motive nor even in the desirability of a pure outcome, I find the following story vastly instructive and even infuriating – but not for the reasons you think. Revealing, certainly, because it tells us a little bit about our current politicians and about us.

It’s a true story, I have it direct from the horse’s mouth, that is to say, one of the participants – the man who found himself with Melénchon’s hands aimed at his throat. The story had a little play in the French press but never a whisper of it among the English speakers so, you read it here first. The photojournalist is Guillaume Binet and the journalist who accompanied him is Marion Mourgue. The story is old and it’s still good.

My friend works in politics, knows Mélenchon, has photographed and spoken with him on several occasions. And he also knows that Mélenchon had, in 2010, characterized the UMP politico and then-Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux in the following words: “C’est sa tête qui est un terrain vague, à cet homme-là. Il n’y a rien dedans: des mauvaises herbes, des pensées névrosées, la peur de l’étranger, la haine de tout le monde. Pour dire autant de bêtises et s’y prendre aussi mal.”

To wit: “The man’s head is a vacant lot. There’s nothing inside it except weeds, neurotic thoughts, fear of foreigners, hatred for everyone. Just talking about it is bad for you.”

Strasbourg. The European Parliament building, the 26th of October. 1:30 in the afternoon, after a vote on the budget. Binet is passing through with Mourgue and in crossing the ground floor, takes a short cut through the bar.

And there at the bar, sharing a glass of champagne with none other than Brice Hortefeux on a beautiful autumn day in Strasbourg, is Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The only customers at that hour.

Binet walks on. He does not take out his camera, he does not play the paparazzi, he does not do anything more than gently poke his friend in the ribs with his elbow.

This is an interesting scene. From my own, limited point of view, I’m not sure I want politicians to talk to each other. Every time they communicate it’s a conspiracy against the people. Maybe they should be kept in isolation, or some sort of public pillory. Of course, I also believe in the moderate application of the guillotine for pols. (Every other week?) But there’s no law against talking.

And what happens next? Mélenchon charges my friend, who let it be observed, enjoys a rather strong height advantage over Jean-Luc, as well being twenty years younger. But – ah, champagne, the great equalizer. Mélenchon decides to go for broke and screaming that he knows this piece of shit journalist is going to make a story out of the fact that he, the one and only Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is drinking with a prominent right wing pol in the Parliament bar. He charges Binet, yelling “Mais racontez-le donc, hein ! Jean-Luc Mélenchon et Brice Hortefeux qui discutent ensemble, ah ça vous plaît, hein, ça vous amuse !” (“Go ahead and tell the story, so what! Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Brice Hortefeux talking together, you really like it, ha! You think it’s amusing!”) Clearly, Mélenchon shares my opinion of what happens when politicians get together for a chat.

He gets his hands up around my friend’s neck and maybe he starts to squeeze but Mr. Vacant Lot Hortefeux comes to the rescue and slipping his arms around Mélenchon, pulls him off. Upshot? A brief media flurry and for the next several months Mélenchon regards the photo-journalist – who did not do his job, that is to say, took no photos before, during or after, they did not tweet the incident – with a withering contempt and a refusal to talk.

A rich scene, no? Maybe not Shakespeare but still compelling. In a perverse way I admire Mélenchon for being so explicit about his relation to the press, for making the point irrefutably clear that the press and the politicians have completely different interests. If M. makes it to the Palais Elysée one day, maybe he’ll put a boxing ring in the back yard.

I told this story last night to a mixed crowd of French and Americans and the response was, stupefaction on the part of the Americans, who hardly know who Mélenchon is and disbelief on the part of the French – that takes some doing. A few denied that it was even possible. “Never! Mélenchon hates Hortefuex, he would never drink champagne with him….!” Hence, this scene, which can be viewed from so many angles, becomes the Rohrsach test mentioned earlier.

I want to argue that this incident, based on your knowledge of Melénchon and your partiality or aversion to left-wing politics, reveals your regard for politicians as a class.

Because that is what they are – a class with a specific function. In the U.S. it is obligatory to believe in a politician, to believe that this or that self-motivated hustler is going to fix things. He is going to change things – even when it is obvious that the politician, as a member of a class, has absolutely no interest in the vague wave of change that he constantly alludes to in his speeches. His goal, if he has one, is to readjust the status quo ever so slightly in favor of his pals. But that doesn’t stop large numbers of people from falling in love with a politician, and the true believer stays in love after all evidence of infidelity is in. One stays in love with a politician after they have betrayed – by necessity – everything they said to get elected, and go on betraying until their last day in office. (I can’t help but remember Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich on his very last day as president. But that boyo offers such rich, copious evidence of betrayal, one hardly knows where to begin.) Reagan, Clinton, Obama – recent American history offers such splendid examples of betrayal. The great advantage possessed by the Bush dynasty is that they never betrayed anyone – they simply and brazenly acted on the interests of their monied class, and never apologized for it.

This is the moment when you, dear reader, leap out of your chair and accuse me of being a cynic. Maybe you even hurl your glass at me – because I have dared to tell you that most love is not love, and in any case, the mere act of believing in a politician of whatever stripe is tantamount to asking to be betrayed.  Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Most journalists make the same mistake, and are, in effect, in one camp or another. Melénchon knew this – he simply chose the wrong target, and made an enemy when he didn’t have to. Which may help explain his 11.4% of the vote.

Politicians occupy a very small portion of the political bandwidth, and the untiring obsession with what they are doing or saying obscures a simple fact: their power derives, not wholly but substantially, from the people from whom they stole it. If people really and truly stopped waiting for politicians to deliver a fraction of what they say they will… the jig would be up. The obsession with politicians makes it endlessly easy for us to avoid looking closely at what the people are doing and making a critique of that. It is the blind trance of our love affair, the demise of a republic.

Meanwhile, Greece, whose government is as close to a protection racket as can be imagined, has just announced a deal with the notorious American firm Blackwater, to provide “security” – from the people. Drones will in all likelihood be patrolling the skies over the Parthenon very soon. But if the Greeks stopped paying attention to their governors, if they stopped waiting to see how Syriza does in the next election, if they decided to take back a bit of the power they have so recklessly given away… ?

None of which should be construed as that lowly seconal, advice, to the Greek people but taken for exactly what it is: the description of a predicament. Criticism never solves anything. It isn’t meant to. It’s meant to break the silence about an intolerable situation. That’s enough, but it will have a tough time with Americans, who want instant solutions to intractable problems. And meanwhile half of Paris dreams of living in New York and the world pines for American solutions that after 200 years have yet to arrive.

The politicians have their hands around all of our throats, while we, ever patient, persist in believing that this is their tortured form of love, and if we just wait awhile, they will come to their senses and set things aright. Who is the cynic in this equation?

Iddhis Bing

Dec 172012
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* AUSTERITY EXPLAINED: A POCKET GUIDE TO THE EU CRISIS

By Collettivo Prezzemolo, ROARmag

TNI-Pocket-Guide

By blaming the crisis on public spending, politicians’ and bankers’ only solution was to impose austerity. This has predictably worsened the debt crisis.

Excerpt via the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam.

“We are punishing the innocent through austerity, and we are rewarding the guilty because the banks are continuing to receive huge privileges and subsidies from our governments. That is why we must defeat this austerity treaty, and all the measures that come with it unless we want Europe to be retrograded to, shall we say, the 19th century.”

Susan George, President of the Board of the Transnational Institute, author of Whose Crisis, Whose Future?

Austerity measures have never worked, and have led growth to collapse across the EU. Greece witnessed its battered economy shrinking by 6.2% in the second quarter of 2012, and is forecast to enter its sixth straight year of recession in 2013. Austerity means less national income from taxation, reducing governments’ capacity to pay back spiraling debts, leading to even higher debts. […]

Download the full ‘EU Crisis Pocket Guide via the Transnational Institute.

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2012/12/transnational-institute-eu-crisis-pocket-guide/

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* THE INSUFFERABLE HUMAN DRAMA OF EVICTIONS IN SPAIN

By Jerome Roos, ROARmag

Juana-Madrid-04

With 500 families being evicted in Spain every day, foreclosures have become a source of great suffering. But luckily, there are still those who resist.

Throughout this crisis, there has always been a certain alienating quality to the pronouncements of European leaders and technocrats. Sometimes one is led to wonder if these people are actually talking about the same continent — or the same universe, for that matter. Just today, for instance, the European Central Bank announced that “the eurozone is starting to heal.” Indeed, the major weakness the central bankers could detect from the commanding heights of their glass-and-steel tower in downtown Frankfurt was “falling bank profits.”

But this morning, huddled together with activists and independent journalists in a small apartment in Madrid, the eurozone seemed to be far from healing. Together with Santiago Carrión from the Associated Whistleblowing Press, we were there because the Platform for those Affected by their Mortgage (PAH), which runs the Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) campaign, had called on the city’s indignados to protect Juana Madrid and her two daughters of 21 and 17, who were about to be evicted from their humble home in the poor neighborhood of Orcasur. The atmosphere, of course, was tense.

The living room was full of people, most of them photographers, while outside the first chants of activists could be heard as people prepared to physically block the entrance to the apartment. Nervously dragging on her cigarette, Juana’s baggy and dark-ringed eyes said it all: this was a woman on the verge of a breakdown. Her voice was calm and subdued, but her facial expression exuded despair. “We have nowhere to go,” Juana’s 21-year-old daughter Isa told us in the kitchen. “If they evict us today we will end up on the street tonight.”

Sadly, the story of Juana and her daughters is by no means an exception. Ever since the start of the crisis in late 2008, over 350.000 families have been evicted from their homes. According to government figures, Spain currently faces a staggering wave of 500 evictions per day — 150 of them in Madrid alone. The vast majority of these involve families whose main breadwinner lost his or her job in the recession and who have inadvertently fallen behind on their mortgage payments to the bank. At 25.02%, Spain’s unemployment rate is the highest in the developed world, higher even than in the U.S. at the peak of the Great Depression. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2012/12/spain-evictions-suicide-bankia-rajoy/

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* POVERTY AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION RISING IN GREECE

By Leonidas Oikonomakis, ROARmag

Greece-poverty

[…] In Greece, we know well who is paying for the crisis. A good question to ask would be: who gains? Apart from Greece’s private creditors, could it be the multinational corporations, which are now swooping in to benefit from the country’s dramatically reduced labor rights and privatization schemes? Again, I will give you an example that I recently read in the press. Kostis Hatzidakis, the Minister of Development, announced proudly that Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch multinational consumer goods company, will from now on produce 110 of its products that it used to produce abroad, in Greece. He also mentioned that this will boost employment and that his government wants to create a business-friendly environment in Greece in order to attract “investments” for “development”.

What Hatzidakis did not mention are the conditions under which the future employees of Unilever — and whatever other multinational decides to “invest” in Greece bringing its production facilities or, maybe, buying its state owned enterprises — will have to work. Let me present them to you: Unilever’s Greek employees will be paid slave salaries (586 euros is the minimum wage today, down from 751 euros before the crisis, while for young workers under the age of 25 it stands at 510 euros: below the poverty threshold!). They will only have minimum labor rights. They will have to work 6 and maybe 7 days a week. They will only have a minimum of 11 hours rest before getting back to work (from 13 that it was so far). And they will be extremely easy to fire without compensation — as the government effectively rid itself of pesky labor rights. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2012/12/poverty-and-social-exclusion-rising-in-greece/

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* SPECIAL REPORT: GREECE’S TRIANGLE OF POWER

By Stephen Grey and Dina Kyrakidou, Reuters

In late 2011 the Greek finance minister made an impassioned plea for help to rescue his country from financial ruin.

“We need a national collective effort: all of us have to carry the burden together,” announced Evangelos Venizelos, who has since become leader of the socialist party PASOK. “We need something that will be fair and socially acceptable.”

It was meant to be a call to arms; it ended up highlighting a key weakness in Greece‘s attempts to reform.

Venizelos’ idea was a new tax on property, levied via electricity bills to make it hard to dodge. The public were furious and the press echoed the outrage, labeling the tax ‘haratsi’ after a hated levy the Ottomans once imposed on Greeks. The name stuck and George Papandreou, then prime minister, felt compelled to plead with voters: “Let’s all lose something so that we don’t lose everything.”

But not everyone would lose under the tax. Two months ago an electricity industry insider revealed that some of the biggest businesses in the land, including media groups, were paying less than half the full rate, or not paying the tax at all. Nikos Fotopoulos, a union leader at power company PPC, claimed they had been given exemptions. […]

READ @ http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/17/us-greece-media-idUKBRE8BG0CF20121217

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* TAIBBI, SPITZER FUME OVER HSBC SETTLEMENT

Source: Eliot Spitzer’s Viewpoint

VIDEO @ http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/matt-taibbi-on-hsbc-settlement-i-think-even-people-on-wall-street-were-blown-away-by-the-result/

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* NOAM CHOMSKY: US INTELLECTUAL CLASS IS MORALLY DEGENERATE

By Noam Chomsky and Eric Baily, InformationClearingHouse

Eric Bailey: The last four years have seen significant changes in American federal policy in regards to human rights. One of the few examples of cooperation between the Democratic and Republican parties over the last four years has been the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. This bill has given the United States military the power to arrest American citizens, indefinitely, without charge, trial, or any other form of due process of law and the Obama administration has and continues to fight a legal battle in federal court to prevent that law from being declared unconstitutional. Obama authorized the assassination of three American citizens, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, admittedly all members of Al Qaeda — all without judicial review.

Additionally, the Guantanamo Bay prison remains open, the Patriot Act has been extended and the TSA has expanded at breakneck speeds. What is your take on America’s human rights record over the past four years and can you contrast Obama’s policies with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush?

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s policies have been approximately the same as Bush’s, though there have been some slight differences, but that’s not a great surprise. The Democrats supported Bush’s policies. There were some objections on mostly partisan grounds, but for the most part, they supported his policies and it’s not surprising that they have continued to do so. In some respects Obama has gone even beyond Bush. The NDAA, which you mentioned, was not initiated by Obama (when it passed Congress, he said he didn’t approve of it and wouldn’t implement it), but he nevertheless did sign it into law and did not veto it. It was pushed through by hawks, including Joe Lieberman and others.

In fact, there hasn’t been that much of a change. The worst part of the NDAA is that it codified — or put into law — what had already been a regular practice. The practices hadn’t been significantly different. The one part that received public attention is what you mentioned, the part that permits the indefinite detention of American citizens, but why permit the indefinite detention of anybody? It’s a gross violation of fundamental human rights and civil law, going all the way back to the Magna Carta in the 13th century, so it’s a very severe attack on elementary civil rights, both under Bush and under Obama. It’s bipartisan! […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33336.htm

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* ANOTHER GOLDMAN CREATURE GIVEN VITAL GOVERNMENT POST

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Big news yesterday in the United Kingdom, where the citizenry surveyed its domestic banking system and discovered that it couldn’t find a single person trustworthy enough to put in the top job at the Bank of England. So they went to Canada and stole that country’s central banker, Mark Carney, who just happens to be a former Goldman, Sachs executive – he was once Goldman’s managing director of investment banking.

Carney’s appointment may be seen as an admission that the British banking sector is now so tainted, only an outsider can be trusted to govern them. Almost all of the major English banks have been dinged by ugly scandals. The LIBOR mess, in which banks have been caught messing around with global interest rates for a variety of sordid reasons, has most infamously implicated Barclays, but the Royal Bank of Scotland is also a cooperator in those investigations.[…]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/another-goldman-creature-given-vital-government-post-20121206

Jun 012012
 

 

* A REMINDER ABOUT WIKILEAKS 

As the risk intensifies that Assange may be prosecuted for his journalism, it is vital to remember what’s at stake

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

“Just in time to spoil the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn’t: indict a media organization. . . . Charging Julian Assange with ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as ‘conspiracy to commit journalism‘” — James Goodale, General Counsel of The New York Times during its Pentagon Papers fight with the Nixon administration, writing in The Daily Beast, June 12, 2011.

* * * * *

When, many years ago, I first read about the Nixon administration’s infamous break-in to the office of Daniel Ellberg’s psychiatrist as a means to discredit the Pentagon Papers leak, I was baffled by the motivation. The Pentagon Papers revealed systematic lying on the part of the U.S. Government to the American public about the Vietnam War. Why, I wondered with a not insubstantial amount of naïveté, would public revelations about Ellsberg’s personality and psyche have any impact on how those leaks were perceived?

But the answer to that is obvious, as Nixon well knew: by demonizing Ellsberg personally, even those inclined to defend the leak would be reluctant to be associated with him. If Ellsberg became associated in the public mind not with his noble exposure of government lies but rather with “strange” psychological drives or bizarre sexual fantasies — the sort of thing one is supposed to reveal to one’s psychoanalyst — then he would become a figure of derision, an embarrassment, and nobody would want anything to do with him for fear of having his foibles reflect negatively on them. You smear the messenger, and the message is smeared along with him — or, just as good, the message is forgotten and the messenger is abandoned to whatever punishments are doled out.

This has been exactly the strategy used to ward off support for Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning, with one difference: leaving aside Joe Biden, who denounced Assange as a “high-tech terrorist,” this time the role of Nixonian henchmen is played by establishment-defending or Obama-loyal media figures rather than the administration itself. The New York Times — led by John Burns and Bill Keller — has continuously obsessed on Assange’s alleged personality flaws while all but ignoring the vital disclosures about the U.S. Government for which he is partially responsible (Keller, the son of a Chevron CEO, wrote an article infamously complaining that Assange’s socks were “filthy” and that he “smelled”). […]

READ http://www.salon.com/2012/05/31/a_reminder_about_wikileaks/singleton/

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* WITH GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT ON ASSANGE CASE, BRADLEY MANNING MARKS 2 YEARS BEHIND BARS

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

This week marks two years since U.S. Army private Bradley Manning was detained on allegations of leaking classified documents to the online whistleblower WikiLeaks. Manning faces up to life imprisonment in a military trial set to begin in September. “It’s important to remember that what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done … was an act of incredible mobility, bringing immense amounts of transparency to the U.S. government and its war actions, ones that are usually shrouded in complete secrecy,” says Salon.com blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald who has been following the case closely.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOKTkRoui2Q&feature=player_embedded

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* NUMBER OF THE DAY: $3 MILLION – WHAT CHICAGO PAID TO DEFENDED CPD REPEATERS AGAINST ALLEGED ILLEGAL SEARCHES

By Yana Kunichoff, The Chicago Reporter

In a list of police misconduct, such as extended detention, malicious prosecution, false arrest and excessive force, illegal search may be among one of the lighter offenses. But it’s still an expensive one.

The city paid more than $3 million in settlements for 51 illegal searches by repeaters – the 1 percent of the Chicago Police Department who have two or more misconduct lawsuits against them. The exact cost between January 2009 and November 2011: a whopping $3.3 million.

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from illegal searches, and a 1961 Supreme Court decision ruled that evidence found in an illegal search and seizure cannot be used in a case. But police departments in cities including New York and Chicago continue to deal with claims of illegal searches, often of minority communities. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-muckrakers/2012/05/number-of-the-day-3-million-what-chicago-paid-to-defended-cpd-repeaters-against-alleged-illegal-searches/

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QUEBEC STUDENT MOVEMENT GROWS WITH POPULAR SUPPORT

Source: The Real News

People from Montreal’s communities bang pots and pans to show support as students broaden demands.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDf5Du7zV_k&feature=player_embedded

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* GREXIT? SPEXIT? LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

By Edward Hugh, Foreign Policy

One thing we’ve learned as the euro crisis has unfolded is that the enthusiasm of experts in London and New York for offering advice to the struggling countries on Europe’s periphery is matched only by their passion for awkward neologisms. The world was just getting used to “Grexit” (Get it? A Greekexit from the euro!) when “Spexit” began to rear its ugly head in the financial press.

Naturally, the events of recent days have brought Spain back to the forefront of the debt crisis, generating insecurity about the reliability of the official fiscal deficit numbers, the validity of central bank statistics, and new numbers showing capital flight reaching alarming levels. Only this week, Spain announced that the central bank governor, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoñez, will be leaving early as part of a government effort to restore its credibility. Some are now anticipating that Spain’s exit from the eurozone will come before Greece’s departure.

I would hope that those clamoring for these countries to go their own way are at least better intentioned than they are informed, since normally they exhibit a singular lack of understanding about how political systems in southern and eastern Europe actually work. […]

READhttp://experts.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/31/grexit_spexit_let_s_call_the_whole_thing_off

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* GREECE, SERBIA DEFY NEW WORLD ORDER

By Pyotr Iskenderov, Strategic Culture

It became clear when the dust settled after the recent elections in Greece and in Serbia that two epicenters of resistance to aggressive globalism continue to exist in Europe. The US and the EU with all their might neither succeeded in coercing the new cohort of Greek politicians into a deal that would establish a government ready to bow to the EU and the IMF nor managed to help Boris Tadic, long believed to be the front-runner, regain presidency in Serbia. In fact, the impression is that we have just witnessed a domino effect, with the determination demonstrated by the Greeks, especially by the leaders of the rising new nationalist and patriotic movements, causing Serbs to look for alternatives to the scenarios prescribed to their country by the West. Originally, Tadic polled a share of the vote 16% bigger than what forecasters gave to his nationalist rival T. Nikolic, but the advantage melted down hours ahead of the runoff, and the latter convincingly defeated the former. At the moment, there are serious reasons to take a closer look at the social and political dynamics which unravels in Greece regardless of the preferences expressed by the Brussels bureaucracy and the financial elites.

The May 6 snap elections in Greece highlighted an unprecedented decline of public support for the traditional heavyweights of the Greek political scene – the right New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) which only won 18.85% and 13.18% of the vote. In other words, this year the two combined got less than a third of the total, in contrast to the 2009 elections in which the figure was 77%. The second-largest share of the vote – 16.76% – was claimed by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

For a few days following the ballots count, there seemed to be absolute confidence in European capitals that the Greek parties would eventually negotiate a coalition and the arrangement imposed on Greece in late 2011 by the EU and the IMF – financial infusions for consent to a crippling austerity package – would not be called into question. European parliament speaker Martin Schulz bluntly dictated that “the negotiations to form a government in Athens should have as a target the honoring of the country’s obligations towards the European Union” [1]. German diplomacy chief Guido Westerwelle made an even stronger statement: “we expect the formation of prudence government in Greece, with a clear European orientation”. When it became clear that the first round of attempts to put together a government coalition in Greece failed, he added that the agreements between the EU and Greece must remain untouched and that this would not be a subject for further discussions [2].  […]

READ @ http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/06/01/greece-serbia-defy-new-world-order.html

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* MIKE SHEDLOCK ON THE SPEXIT, THE GREXIT AND RUNNING FRO THE EUROZONE EXIT

Source: RT News

Welcome to Capital Account. A slew of bad news out of Europe, as Irish voters today attempt to exercise their sovereignty and cast their ballots in a referendum on Europe’s fiscal consolidation treaty. Meanwhile, European central banker Mario Draghi made it clear he’s fed up with national sovereignty. The ECB says europe needs new tools to fight bank runs and Draghi says the lesson from Spain’s Bankia was that the supervision of eurozone banks should rest with a central authority, not national regulators. Isn’t that what we have in the US now with the Federal Reserve? How’s that working out?

And speaking of Spain, will we see a SPEXIT before a GREXIT? Mike Mish Shedlock is here to talk about why that could be the case. Mish says that the sooner Spain sees the light and gets out of the Euro that is strangling it, the better off Spain will be. The same goes for Greece, and possibly a slew of other nations in the Eurozone.

And last but not least, back in the US, GDP was revised downwards from 2.2 to 1.9 percent. At the same time, borrowing costs for the United States are at 60-year lows for the 10-year government bond. So what gives? Are the Hyperinflationists right, or is the market proving the Deflationists’ argument? Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s attempt to build an industry of battery-makers for electric cars is sputtering. Subsidized firms are struggling; they don’t have many customers. They are operating way below capacity. This is according to the Wall Street Journal. So what was the problem? Government grants were linked to production calendars and not to market demand. So is this a great example of what happens when government picks winners and losers? Or is there a role for Uncle Sam in alternative energy?

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=K-pAlzPmiNM

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* BANK OF AMERICA REACHES A NEW LOW IN SCUMBAGGERY

By Justin Rosario, Addicting Info

It’s like a bank heist in reverse, Via Mother Jones:

Bank of America, which last fall announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers, is about to go on a hiring spree—overseas.

America’s second-largest bank is relocating its business-support operations to the Philippines, according to a high-ranking Filipino government official recently quoted in the Filipino press. The move, which includes a portion of the bank’s customer service unit, comes less than three years after Bank of America received a $45 billion federal bailout.

BoA continues to spit in the face of the country that kept its bloated ass afloat when it got in over its head. Will it lower its fees now that it’s saving all that money by utilizing dirt cheap labor?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course not! It’ll just go to pad the bonuses of the CEO and other executives! […]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/05/30/bank/

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* KILLINGS, CANCER, CORRUPTION AND AZERBAIJAN: EUROVISION IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF BP?

By Greg Palast

Will “Beyond Petroleum” oil giant BP pick the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest today in Baku, Azerbaijan? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised.

When I was arrested by the military police of Azerbaijan during my investigation of BP for Channel 4′s Dispatches in 2010, one of the cops who surrounded our crew in the desert told us, with great pride:

“BP drives this country.”

Indeed it does.

In 1992, the newly independent former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan elected a kindly Muslim Professor, Abulfaz Elchibey, as President.

But the voters had made an error: Elchibey refused to give BP an exclusive contract to drill the nation’s massive Caspian Sea fields as the company wished. In 1993, with the assistance and, reportedly, guns provided by MI6, Elchibey was overthrown by the nation’s former Soviet KGB boss, Heydar Aliyev.

Within three months, Aliyev handed BP a sweetheart deal, called “The Contract of the Century”, to take Azerbaijan’s Caspian oil.

The way to the no-bid deal for BP was “greased”, to use the term applied by former BP operative Leslie Abrahams, with several million dollars in illicit payments and weekends with lap dancers in London for Azeri officials. I asked Abrahams, who was ordered by BP to provide military intelligence to MI6, whether he understood that he was paying “bribes on behalf of BP and the British government” – he replied, “absolutely, yes”.

When asked, BP would not directly deny paying bribes.

The company told us, tantalisingly, that:

“While there were some facts in [Abrahams] account that were accurate, we do not recognise most of it and regarded it as fantasy.”

Since BP has taken control of Azerbaijan’s oil, the nation has become fabulously wealthy – at least for those close to the Aliyev family and BP.

And they eat well. The daughters of the new President, Ilham Aliyev (son of Heydar), picked up the tab for dinner in London for a half dozen of their friends. It came to £300,000 (excluding tip and VAT).

According to Robert Ebel, the CIA’s former oil intelligence chief, the whereabouts of $140 million in BP and other oil industry payments are “totally unknown”.

This week, Eurovision Song Contest viewers will be treated to the images of the ancient city of Baku where the Silk Road streets are filled with Maseratis and Bentleys. The Bentley dealership, and much of the capital, is owned by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, the “Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World”.

That’s official, the vote was taken by Esquire Magazine. (She’s actually the twelfth “Sexiest Woman in the World”, but the other eleven, infidels all, can be ignored here.)
(Photo above with husband Ilham).

I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the title: her fashion model face has been created at great expense by “so much plastic surgery”, according to the US State Department Manning/WikiLeaks cables, that Lady Mehriban “appears unable to show a full range of facial expression.”

But when I left the Old City and its Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana stores and headed off to Sangachal, the town where BP’s terminal operates, I found a nation heading full speed into the 14th century…

Baku, once the world’s leading manufacturer of oil drilling equipment, is now one of the world’s leading centers of oil-toxin cancers. Walking along the main street of Sangachal, the aptly nicknamed, “Terminal Town”, was like doing the rounds in a cancer ward.

The local shoemaker, Elmar Mamonov – who hasn’t sold a shoe in two years – told me:

“This one’s daughter has breast cancer; there, Rasul had a brain tumor. Cancers we had never seen. His funeral was last week.”

Azlan, afraid to give his last name, paid to have a cancerous lung cut out, because employer BP wouldn’t pay. He says the oil company fired him after he could not keep up with his work.

And there was Shala Tageva, a schoolteacher, who has ovarian cancer. She needs treatment soon, but how to pay for it, Mamonov can’t imagine. Shala is Mamonov’s wife.

Suddenly, Mamonov stopped himself.

“If I am arrested, you will help me, yes?”

Sorry, sir, not in the Islamic Republic of BP.

Oil, their main industry, has seen employment drop about 90 per cent according to journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Her father, the former oil production minister, was fired by Aliyev when the minister suggested bribery was behind the destruction of the industry, bribes which allegedly allowed BP to avoid “local content” laws that would have saved those jobs.

Throughout the nation, we heard the same refrain: nostalgia for the old days of freedom and prosperity under Soviet rule; under BP rule, the people’s health, income and freedoms have decayed rapidly, as pollution has turned their Caspian fisheries into a dead, chemical toilet.

But Azeris are well entertained. The massive expenditure for the Eurovision Song Contest follows the government’s spending of $1 million for an Elton John concert during a depression.

Today, only one in seven dollars of GDP is paid in salaries (versus four of five dollars in the US and UK). Where have the billions gone? No one dare look for it, nor the source of the First Lady’s wealth. The last journalist who asked about the funds, Elmar Huseynov, was gunned down in his home. A journalist who questioned what happened to Huseynov was jailed. No third journalist is investigating what happened to the first two.

Azerbaijan is, nominally, a democracy. Indeed, the First Lady won a convincing election to Parliament (as did every other candidate supporting her husband’s regime – there was not a single member of the opposition elected). But it doesn’t, in the end, matter who is voted in, as long as “BP drives”.

Within hours of our arrest, my crew and I were released by the Deputy Chief of the Security Ministry: Imprisoning a Channel 4 reporter would have been an embarrassment for BP. But our witnesses to BP’s horrific drilling practices didn’t do so well. One made it out of the country, but others disappeared.

When you watch the Euro-warblers compete this Saturday, just remember that in Azerbaijan, the winners are already chosen: BP and the family of the Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World. And that’s not a pretty sight.

——–

Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast.

Here’s a clip from my interactive book

Greg Palast’s book on BP, “Vultures’ Picnic: A Tale of Oil, High-Finance and Investigative Reporting”, will be released in Britain on June 26th; click here for tickets and details of the launch event at ULU (the University of London Union) on June 26th..

You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.

READ / PHOTOS @ http://www.gregpalast.com/killings-cancer-corruption-and-azerbaijan-eurovision-in-the-islamic-republic-of-bp/

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* DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL, FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DECLARES

By Robert Barnes, Washington Post

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term.

The unanimous decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston was a big win for President Obama, who recently said he supported states allowing gay men and lesbians to marry.

His administration last year said it would no longer defend the 1996 law, which limits federal recognition of marriage to those between a man and a woman. The law thus denies a host of federal benefits, such as filing joint tax returns or receiving survivor benefits, to same-sex couples who were married in states that allow such unions. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/defense-of-marriage-act-unconstitutional-federal-appeals-court-declares/2012/05/31/gJQAHDxO4U_story.html

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* THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT’S CRUSADE AGAINST GAYS IS FAR SCARIER THAN YOU THINK

The money available to the Christian right is solidifying institutions — from right-wing universities to media outlets — that propagate a culture of hate.

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet

The sentencing of Dharun Ravi for the hateful abuse that may have driven his gay roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide, or Barack Obama’s public acceptance of gay marriage, prevents many of us from seeing that life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is getting worse—much worse.

No one understands this better than the gay activist and pastor Mel White. White, along with his husband and partner of 30 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization committed to using nonviolent resistance to end religion-based oppression. White and hundreds of Soulforce volunteers protest outside megachurches that preach hatred and bigotry in the name of religion. White travels to communities where young gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people have committed suicide. He holds memorial services for them in front of the church doors. He accuses the pastors of these churches of murder. His books “Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America” and “Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tell Us to Deny Gay Equality,” are two of the most important works that examine the innate cruelty and proto-fascism of the Christian right. White, more than perhaps any other preacher in the country, has pulled young men and women back from the brink of despair, from succumbing to the tragic fate of Tyler Clementi. And White is scared.

“What kind of environment creates a Dharun Ravi who would carry out that kind of bullying, as well as a kid like Tyler who would become a victim of that kind of bullying?” White asked when I reached him by phone at his home in Long Beach, Calif. “It is society. At its heart it is the church. The churches should be convicted, not just Ravi. He’s just an extension of the hatred that people feel about this threat, this gay threat. Pope Benedict XVI should be on trial. Richard Land from the Southern Baptists should be on trial. Religious leaders, Protestant and Catholic, should be on trial. They made this happen, but too few Americans make the connection.” […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155633

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* WTF: SOFA, CISPA, FISA

Source: RT

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was under debate on Thursday. US lawmakers discussed whether or not the bill’s overseas surveillance power should be renewed. FISA is one of several pieces of legislation that are targeting Internet freedoms for Americans and it gives the government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Rob Beschizza, managing editor for BoingBoing.com, gives us his take on Internet freedom.

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

May 052012
 

Posted by artister, OPN

There will be no social progress if not from and for all

Note: This video shows pics mostly from Spain as it tries to describe the beginning of the “Spanish Revolution” that started on May 15th 2011 (the map shows the tweets sent between the different cities during that month) and its continuation to other countries as well as we were inspired by the “arab spring”

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfcz1WZmsqs

Apr 142012
 

 

* NAVAL COMMANDER STANDS TRIAL FOR TELLING SUPER COMMITTEE TO END THE WARS AND TAX THE RICH 

By Michael Levitin, Truthout

Consider the story of Leah Bolger, the latest American hero up on trial:

She is a young female artist in the Midwest. She joins the Navy at 22, is made commander and serves two decades as an anti-submarine warfare specialist. After retiring she joins Veterans for Peace and becomes the organization’s first female president. Then, in October of 2011, she commits the crime of interrupting a public congressional hearing of the Super Committee to deliver a message from the 99 percent: End the wars and tax the rich to fix the deficit.

Because of her 45-second transgression, Commander Bolger now faces a court trial this Thursday morning, April 12, where she could receive a maximum jail sentence of six months. Bolger, 54, intends to plead guilty and use her court appearance to draw the connection between America’s deficit debacle and the three-quarters-of-a-trillion-dollar defense budget we, as voting taxpayers, spend as a base-mark for failed and unending military ventures overseas.

Bolger has no illusions about what Americans are up against: a corporate-run military machine that she says “is so big and complicated and intertwined with the government and Congress and the media that I don’t know where you can start unraveling the knot.” […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8488-naval-commander-stands-trial-for-telling-super-committee-to-end-the-wars

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* FIX INCOME INEQUALITY WITH $10 MILLION LOANS FOR EVERYONE!

By Sheila Blair (Former FDIC Chairwoman), Washington Post

[…] Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on. The more adventuresome can buy 10-year Greek debt at 21 percent, for an annual income of $2.1 million. Or if Greece is a little too risky for you, go with Portugal, at about 12 percent, or $1.2 million dollars a year. (No sense in getting greedy.)

Think of what we can do with all that money. We can pay off our underwater mortgages and replenish our retirement accounts without spending one day schlepping into the office. With a few quick keystrokes, we’ll be golden for the next 10 years. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fix-income-inequality-with-10-million-loans-for-everyone/2012/04/13/gIQATUQAFT_story.html

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* ICELAND FORGIVES MORTGAGE DEBT OF ITS POPULATION

Source: youtube

The government of Iceland has forgiven the mortgage debt for much of its population. This nation chose a very different way of stopping the crisis from the rest of European countries. It decided to hear the requests of the population and to put politicians and bankers on the bench of the accused three years after their financial excesses would sank one of the most prosperous economies in 2008.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyxzg58JkYI

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* DEBT CRISIS PLOTTED TO DELIVER THE EURO TO THE IMF

Source: The Daily Bell

Spanish bailout ‘impossible’ for eurozone, says prime minister Mariano Rajoy … The eurozone is not equipped to bail out Spain, the country’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy has admitted, as global traders continued to punish the nation’s stocks and bonds. Mr Rajoy said it was “not possible to rescue Spain” but insisted his country did not need a Greek-style international bail-out anyway …Christine Lagarde, the boss of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also warned that Europe’s rescue mechanisms were not enough to restore confidence to global markets but said the IMF could provide a “global firewall”. Speaking in Washington on Thursday, Ms Lagarde, who is seeking to raise $500bn (£313.4bn) in extra funds for the IMF from the G20, warned risks to the global economy “remain high; the situation fragile”. “We need a broader approach – and a stronger global firewall – if we are to push back this crisis. The IMF can help. But to be as effective as possible, we need to increase our resources.” – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: What is needed is a global currency.

Free-Market Analysis: We’ve long since come to the conclusion that the EU‘s sovereign crisis is a manufactured one. This article supports such a conclusion, in our view.

One has to keep in mind the artificiality of the current economic construct. The economy of the world is run via monopoly fiat/paper money printed by central banks. It is this system that has seemingly crashed half of the world’s economy and is well on the way to delivering China into the same situation.

If China’s economy folds – and it seems well on the way – there will likely be a global depression. The elites, in our view, are preparing to offer up the International Monetary Funds’ SDRs as an alternate currency. The IMF is increasingly active as the “lender of last resort” throughout the world (see article excerpt above).

The EU crisis itself, as we have often pointed out, started when certain poorer countries were given large amounts of money by Brussels to “equalize” the economy. These funds were supposed to allow the bureaucracies to address native imbalances and create fiscal health.

Of course, this money was nothing but a kind of bribe. The elites of the given nation pocketed the funds and then made sure their countries entered the EU. After this occurred, further lending took place via the elite’s top, European commercial banks. […]

READ @ http://www.thedailybell.com/3789/Debt-Crisis-Plotted-to-Deliver-the-Euro-to-the-IMF

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* BRAVE NEW BANK? BRICS MOOT DROPPING DOLLAR, IMF

Source: RT

The BRICS summit has wrapped up in India. Creating an alternative global lender and stepping away from the dollar as a reserve currency were among their main objectives. RT also spoke to Dr Sreeram Chaulia, who is a Vice Dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs. He believes institutions like the IMF and the World Bank have outlived their uselfulness.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vg9qvYwQHg

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* 97% OWNED – PREVIEWS

By Jerome Roos, RoarMag

PREVIEW 1

PREVIEW 2

As Greece and the Euro once more stumble towards inevitable disaster it’s time to stop asking “those that got us into this mess, to get us out”.

For too long documentary makers have followed suit, chasing big ticket interviews whilst failing to ask the simple question “How is money created and who benefits”.

97% Owned is the documentary that broke ranks to investigate this ever changing system, to answer those simple questions, for it is the monetary system that provides the foundations for international dominance and national control.

Fresh thinking, new ideas and answers to these simple questions are squeezed into this 3hr expose.

97% owned is from the creative team behind Generation OS13: The New Culture of resistance, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY4VZr8Ox94) continuing the distinctive ‘tour de force’ style and artistic interpretation. Due for release April 2012.

READ and VIDEO @ http://roarmag.org/2012/03/97-percent-owned-queue-politely-teaser/

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* GREECE: SOLIDARITY WITH THE NO TAV MOVEMENT FROM CORFU

Source: ContraInfo

In the evening of April 10th, 2012, an initiative of comrades from social centres/squats on Corfu held a gathering in Georgaki Square in solidarity with the NO TAV movement, including related screenings from the ongoing struggle, distribution of counter-informative texts and a banner.

If you ask why the NO TAV movement in Italy concerns us, one reason is the obvious similarities with the Greek reality. In Italy (Monti) as in Greece (Papademos) the prime ministers are appointed bankers. In both countries they want us to believe the same lies about ‘development’ being a ‘benefit to society’. Their ‘development’, whether it’s the TAV or the wind turbines on Mount Pantokrator on Corfu, is always trampling upon local populations’ lives and nature, and only the Capital benefits from all this. This type of construction and mining works are undertaken in favor of big contractors who ‘happen to be’ the Mafia in Italy, and national contracting companies in Greece, such as those of Bobolas.

In both countries the corporate media play the same role, always favoring each owner and boss; slandering and distorting every social struggle; dividing protesters into ‘violent’ and ‘peaceful’; trying to turn public opinion against every resistance movement, and projecting the one and only truth, that of police and each contractor. […]

Development is not for the peoples but for Mafiosi and bosses.
Strength, comrades! We learn from your fight!

READ @ http://en.contrainfo.espiv.net/2012/04/14/greece-solidarity-with-the-no-tav-movement-from-corfu/

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* FUKUSHIMA DAI-ICHI NO. 4: AN EARTHQUAKE BEFORE SPENT FUEL RODS ARE MOVED TO SAFE STORAGE WOULD BE ”THE END

By Lambert Strether, Naked Capitalism

This clip from TV Asahi is a lucid explanation of the biggest ongoing news story in the world today: The catastrophic consequences if an earthquake strikes the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 power plant before its spent fuel rods are moved to safe storage place, a process that will not even begin until December 2013, and could take years. It aired March 8, 2012 on “Morning Bird,” a mainstream Japanese news and information TV program. […]

NOTE Click the CC button at bottom right to show English subtitles!

READ / VIDEO / TRANSCRIPTS @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/04/fukushima-dai-ichi-no-4-an-earthquake-before-spent-fuel-rods-are-moved-to-safe-storage-would-be-the-end.html

Apr 112012
 

Source: FLO6x8 – acciones

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72jYiDLKa1k&feature=like-suggest

Flamenco flashmob by flo6x8 inside a bank in Sevilla, Spain to protest against the finacial system.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough FLAMENCO FLASH MOBS!

BRAVO flo6x8!

RELATED POST:

‘THIS IS NOT A CRISIS, IT IS CALLED CAPITALISM – CATALAN RUMBA: http://99getsmart.com/?p=3076

Apr 102012
 

 

* THE ANTI-EMPIRE REPORT

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

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* OUTLAW OCCUPY: US SET TO STRANGLE PROTESTS WITH JAIL THREATS 

Source: RT News

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

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* GREEK RESISTANCE

Source: youtube

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

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* YOGURT ATTACK DURING LIVE TV NEWS SHOW (GREECE)

Source: youtube

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

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* MALAGA CON GRECIA

Source: youtube

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvLqJy223D4&feature=youtu.be

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* ‘THIS IS NOT A CRISIS, IT IS CALLED CAPITALISM – CATALAN RUMBA 

Source: youtube

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

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* SPAIN CONFRONTS CRISIS THREAT AS RAJOY STEPS UP BUDGET CUTS

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

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* OCCUPY CHICAGO READY FOR A SPRING OF DISCONTENT

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

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* 25 MAJOR CORPORATIONS PAID NO TAXES FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS

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! […]

READhttp://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/04/09/460519/major-corporations-no-taxes-four-year/

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* PENSIONS FIND RISKIER FUNDS FAIL TO PAY OFF

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

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* THE FEDERAL RESERVE IS A PRIVATE BANKING CARTEL

Source: RT News

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

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* HOW WE ALL PAY FOR THE HUGE TAX PRIVILEGES GRANTED TO RELIGION – IT’S TIME TO TAX THE CHURCH

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/

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* SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS GM CROP PATENT CASE

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/

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* FOOD BIG AG DOESN’T ADVERTISE THE CHEMICAL IT STUFFS INTO ANIMALS

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

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* JOHN PILGER – THE NEW RULERS OF THE WORLD

Source: youtube

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3WbztsqScw

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* THE FASHION INDUSTRY’S PERFECT STORM: COLLAPSING WORKERS AND HYPERACTIVE BUYERS

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

Apr 062012
 

 

* GREEK UNREST AFTER PENSIONER SUICIDE BESIDE PARLIAMENT 

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTvxpX3U8rw

PHOTOS @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17621939

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* GREEK POLICE ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS

By Anthony Verias, OccupiedGreece

Now I should be writing about the tragic suicide of an elderly man yesterday in Syntagma Square and the (mostly) peaceful gathering that followed that night to pay respects.

Unfortunately the Greek Gestapo had plans of ruining a somber vigil with candles and flowers. The first incident occurred when mourners went to place a candle at the tomb of the unknown soldier, police responded with tear gas.

This, however, was not the most shocking event of the night. That occurred when police were able to surround a female photographer and violently beat her to the ground. There were also reports of at least one other journalist being attacked. […]

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEOS @ http://occupiedgreece.blogspot.com/2012/04/greek-police-attack-female-journalist.html

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* UPD: GREEK POLICE BEATS JOURNALISTS AND PHOTO-REPORTERS

Source: Keep Talking Greece

UPDATE: The President of Greek Photo-Reporters Union, Marios Lolos is set to undergo brain surgery due to injury he suffered after beaten by riot police. According to the Photo Union,  Marios Lolos was submitted to the hospital with  “with traumatic brain injury caused by baton (fractured skull-impressed), injury which requires surgical intervention!” The PhotoUnion asks for the support of foreign associations and other bodies.

For second consequent day riot police attacked journalists and photo-reporters covering the protest outside the Greek parliament. Riot police was adamant in not allowing anyone coming close to the Greek Parliament and started to push, kick and punches protesters, even journalists and photo reporters covering the second commemoration day for retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas who committed suicide on Wednesday morning.

Video: Tension, Camera Goes Out…

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEOS @ http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2012/04/05/greek-police-beats-journalists-photo-reporters/

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* WHY SPAIN’S NOW THREATENING TO DRAG DOWN EUROPE

By Brad Plumer, Washington Post

[…] Why is Spain in so much trouble? The country is still mired in what the Financial Times’ Gavyn Davies calls “the austerity trap.” Last year, the country was supposed to whittle its budget deficit down from 9.3 percent of GDP to around 6 percent. Spain whiffed on that goal by a lot — its final deficit ended up being about 8.5 percent of GDP. In part that’s because economic growth was so poor, and in part it’s because regional governments were hesitant to cut spending sharply enough to hit the targets. (Madrid has only limited control over the provinces in this regard.)

So this time around, Spain’s Conservative government is promising an even stricter austerity plan, vowing to reduce the deficit from 8.5 percent of GDP down to 5.3 percent by the end of the year. Yet this sort of sharp budget-cutting could kneecap Spain’s growth even further. Keep in mind that the country’s unemployment rate already sits at a staggering 23 percent. A deeper contraction could, in turn, cause Spain’s housing and banking sectors to deteriorate further. So it’s not surprising that financial markets are nervous about lending Spain more money: The country’s borrowing costs have soared, with 10-year yields now at 5.75 percent, the highest level in 2012. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/why-spains-now-threatening-to-drag-down-europe/2012/04/05/gIQA66XSxS_blog.html

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* THE MEMO BUSH TRIED TO DESTROY

A document advising the Bush administration against torture has resurfaced, despite his best efforts to hide it

By Jordan Michael Smith, Salon

In February of 2006, Philip Zelikow, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices (though he employed the infamous obfuscation of “enhanced interrogation techniques”). The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived in the State Department’s bowels and was declassified yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.

The memo argues that the Convention Against Torture, and the Constitution’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, do indeed apply to the CIA’s use of “waterboard[ing], walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement.” Zelikow further wrote in the memo that “we are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here, even when the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.” According to the memo, the techniques are legally prohibited, even if there is a compelling state interest to justify them, since they should be considered cruel and unusual punishment and “shock the conscience.”

Chillingly, the memo notes that “corrective techniques, such as slaps,” may be legally sustained, as might be “[C]ontrol conditions, such as nudity, sleep deprivation, and liquid diets…depending on the circumstances and details of how these techniques are used.” However much distress Zelikow’s memo caused the White House, it was not an ACLU briefing paper. […]

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

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* BANKERS FORM SUPER PAC FOR ‘SURGICAL’ STRIKE AT INDUSTRY’S ENEMIES

Frustrated by a lack of political power and fed up with blindly donating to politicians who consistently vote against the industry’s interests, a handful of leaders are determined to shake things up.

By Barbara A. Rehm, AmericanBanker

[…] “Congress isn’t afraid of bankers,” adds Roger Beverage, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. “They don’t think we’ll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception.”

Unlike traditional banking PACs, which target hundreds of House and Senate races, the SuperPAC instead is focusing on making a big difference in just a handful of close elections.

SuperPACs are the latest campaign finance innovation, made possible by two 2010 court decisions. They are officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees” because they are not allowed to coordinate their activities with candidates. SuperPACs are attractive because there are no limits on contributions or expenditures.

With a regular political action committee, like the American Bankers Association’s BankPAC, an individual may donate no more than $5,000 a year. Then the PAC may contribute up to $10,000 to any one candidate in an election cycle — $5,000 for the primary and another $5,000 for the general election. […]

[…] “BankPAC is much broader and covers lots of different candidates. This is much more surgical,” Packard says. “If someone says I am going to give your opponent $5,000 or $10,000, you might say, ‘Yea, okay.’ But if you say the bankers are going to put in $100,000 or $500,000 or $1 million into your opponent’s campaign, that starts to draw some attention.[…]

READ @ http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/177_66/SuperPAC-banking-Howard-Headless–Friends-of-Traditional-Banking-1048138-1.html?zkPrintable=1&nopagination=1

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* ANTI-CHOICE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SHIELDS THREATEN TO PERMANENTLY ALTER MEDICAL CARE FOR WOMEN

By Jessica Mason Pieklo, Reality Check

Among the new restrictions appearing in anti-choice bills nationwide, it is the medical malpractice liability shields that have the potential to alter, perhaps permanently, women’s relationship with the civil justice system.

In both Kansas and Arizona measures are advancing that exempt doctors from medical malpractice suits should they withhold medical information in order to prevent a woman from having an abortion. These bills also shield doctors from malpractice claims if a woman suffers an injury from a pregnancy as a result of information withheld from her to prevent an abortion. Georgia just snuck a liability shield into their 20-week abortion ban. We can expect more to follow.

Proponents of these “wrongful birth” bills argue they are necessary to stem the tide of lawsuits like one in Oregon where parents sued for costs related to the care of their daughter who was born with Down’s Syndrome. In that case the parents argued that the medical professionals were negligent in conducting the genetic testing, and that had they known their daughter would be born with a disability, they would have had an abortion.

[…]

In practice this means that instead of an objective inquiry into the medical treatment and advice given to a pregnant woman based on what the profession as a whole considers competent medical treatment, the individual beliefs of the doctor will determine if advice given or care rendered was reasonable. In legal terms that changes the inquiry from objective to subjective meaning; there is no real basis to judge conduct against. It will no longer matter what a doctor’s peers believe to be considered good medical care: it will only matter if that particular doctor thought the care would avoid an abortion.

Furthermore, that inquiry won’t be focused on advice given or care rendered in the scope of protecting the health and life of the mother, but instead on decisions and care motivated solely to perpetuate a pregnancy. This erases the mother as primary patient to at best, a secondary consideration. What the medical community considers to be competent advice and care will cease to be relevant as the only concern will be: did this individual doctor make this individual decision based on his or her individual desire to prevent an abortion? In no other area of tort law do we allow this. And for good reason. […]

READ @ http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/04/02/medical-malpractice-shields-threaten-to-permanently-alter-medical-care-women

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* HOW THE U.S. USES SEXUAL HUMILIATION AS A POLITICAL TOOL TO CONTROL THE MASSES

Believe me, you don’t want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. And yet, it’s exactly what is happening. History shows that the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations.

By Naomi Wolf, Guardian UK

In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the “trespass bill”, which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. These criminalizations of being human follow, of course, the mini-uprising of the Occupy movement.

Is American strip-searching benign? The man who had brought the initial suit, Albert Florence, described having been told to “turn around. Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.” He said he felt humiliated: “It made me feel like less of a man.”

In surreal reasoning, justice Anthony Kennedy explained that this ruling is necessary because the 9/11 bomber could have been stopped for speeding. How would strip searching him have prevented the attack? Did justice Kennedy imagine that plans to blow up the twin towers had been concealed in a body cavity? In still more bizarre non-logic, his and the other justices’ decision rests on concerns about weapons and contraband in prison systems. But people under arrest – that is, who are not yet convicted – haven’t been introduced into a prison population. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/apr/05/us-sexual-humiliation-political-control

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* THE BULLY BACKLASH: HOW THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT IS ATTACKING EFFORTS TO HELP KIDS 

Even as states and schools try to put in place anti-bullying policies, the Christian right is mobilizing to undo them.

By Katherine Stewart, AlterNet

For four years at his Tennessee high school, Jacob Rogers was bullied for being gay. He repeatedly appealed to school administrators for help, but didn’t get much. Around Thanksgiving of last year, it got so bad that he quit going to school. In early December, not long after turning 18, he killed himself. Jacob, who lived with his grandmother, left her with passwords to his phone and email accounts, so that she and investigators might understand why he chose to take his own life.

In the recently released film Bully, filmmaker Lee Hirsch reminds us just how much cruelty young people are capable of displaying toward one another. The documentary records the grief and the determination of the parents of Ty, a boy who committed suicide at the age of 11, as they fight to change the system that served their son so poorly. It follows Alex, who faces daily torment on the school bus. And it tells the story of Kelby, a one-time star athlete in Tuttle, Oklahoma, who comes out as a lesbian – only to be kicked out of the school sports team amid an outpouring of hate.

Thirteen million children are bullied every year, says Hirsch. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately “40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullyingat some point during their school careers.” Suicides like Jacob’s take place somewhere in America every single month. According to a Yale University study, children who are bullied are two to nine times more likely to end their own lives. Kids are bullied for all sorts of reasons: for being fat, shy, poor, rich and for no reason at all, although everyone familiar with the phenomenon knows that sexual orientation is a common excuse. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/story/154863/the_bully_backlash:_how_the_christian_right_is_attacking_efforts_to_help_kids?page=entire