Apr 222012
 

* CHICAGO SUMMIT: NATO TO COMPLETE DOMINATION OF ARAB WORLD

By Richard Rozoff, StopNATO

[…] Regarding transformations in the Arab world over the past fifteen months in relation to NATO, the net result is that the U.S.-dominated military alliance is poised to gain one new adjunct, Libya, with Syria targeted as the next. Lebanon is another prospect for the Mediterranean Dialogue after Libya and Syria, which if it occurs will convert the entire Mediterranean basin into NATO territory. Similarly, if the West and its Arab monarch allies can arrange for the installation of compliant regimes in Iraq and Yemen (perhaps royal pretenders to complete the pattern), NATO can acquire two additional Istanbul Cooperation Initiative cohorts as well. The alliance identifies Iraq as a partner state and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq was instrumental in building the nation’s new armed forces from scratch, training everyone from the top officer corps to oil police.

In respect to the remaining Arabic-speaking countries, since at least 2005 leading American and NATO officials have promoted the deployment of NATO forces to Palestine in the event of, or as a precondition for, a peace deal with Israel. Last August Palestine’s Ma’an News Agency reported that “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting US Congressmen on Thursday that the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under US command…” […]

[…] NATO and its allies in the (expanding) Gulf Cooperation Council are reversing 60 years of Arab independence and nonalignment, of pan-Arabism and of republican and socialist models of development in Arab nations in an effort to subordinate the 350,000,000 inhabitants of the Arab world to their regional and global agendas.

READ @ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/chicago-summit-nato-to-complete-domination-of-arab-world/

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* “DRACHMA CLAUSES” FOR GREECE’S EXIT FROM THE EUROZONE

Source: Testosterone Pit

The largest banks in Greece—National, Alpha, Eurobank, and Piraeus—reported €28.2 billion in losses for the year 2011. Almost 13% of GDP! It included the bond swap that had saddled private-sector bondholders with a 74% loss. But no worries. Rescue funds were already lined up at the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, which had received €25 billion in bonds from the European Financial Stability Facility the day before—part of the second bailout package of €130 billion that the Troika of the ECB, IMF, and EU had orchestrated. The banks, not the Greeks themselves, are getting bailed out. The big money is rolling in—and the ever wily Greek political elite have figured it out. Read…. They’re Not Even Trying Anymore.

But “solidarity of the union has its limits,” said even soft-spoken Jens Weidmann, President of the Bundesbank on Saturday. “That’s why we linked the aid to conditions….”

A whole litany of them. And they have caused riots in the streets. But if they aren’t met, the bailout will stop. That’s the threat. A leaked report by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso includes a 15% cut in private sector wages and an overhaul of the system for collective bargaining—both of which will go over very well in Greece. It also calls for privatization of public gas and electric utilities, comprehensive reform of the tax system, reform of the pension system, including “fighting fraud in disability pensions,” and a “radical” overhaul of public procurement which is inefficient and costly.

And corrupt: former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was thrown into the hoosegow just before the Orthodox Easter weekend, having been accused of extensive defense procurement fraud and money laundering that he’d conducted for years via a network of people and off-shore companies. Corruption on all levels haunts Greece. In the Corruption Perception Index, Greece is in 80th place, sharing that position with the likes of El Salvador. It is worse than China whose corruption is legendary. It is in last place within the Eurozone. But something unexpected happened. For this astonishing change in a society that hasn’t seen a glimmer of improvement in years, read….  In Greece, even Corruption Is in a Depression […]

READ @ http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2012/4/21/drachma-clauses-for-greeces-exit-from-the-eurozone.html

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* THE FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS UNDERWAY

By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge

Update: according to Belgian Le Soir, first exit polls show that Hollande is not surprisingly ahead, with 27% of the vote, 25.5% for Sarkozy, 16% for Marine Le Pen, and 13% for Jean-Luc Melenchon. More or less just as expected, and setting the stage for the runoff round which will be Hollande’s to lose.

As of 8 am CET, polls are open in the first round of the French presidential elections where voters are expected to trim the playing field of ten to just two candidates, incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy and his socialist challenger Francois Hollande, who will then face off in a May 6 runoff, where as of now Hollande is expected to have a comfortable lead and take over the presidency as the disgruntled French take their revenge for an economy that is contracting, an unemployment rate that keeps rising (see enclosed) despite promises to the contrary, and as their to “express a distaste for a president who has come to be seen as flashy following his highly publicized marriage to supermodel Carla Bruni early in his term, occasional rude outbursts in public and his chumminess with rich executives.

France is struggling with feeble economic growth, a gaping trade deficit, 10 percent unemployment and strained public finances that prompted ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to cut the country’s triple-A credit rating in January.” In a major shift for the country, Hollande would become France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterand, who beat incumbent Valery Giscard-d’Estaing in 1981. As Reuters reports, “Hollande, 57, promises less drastic spending cuts than Sarkozy and wants higher taxes on the wealthy to fund state-aided job creation, in particular a 75 percent upper tax rate on income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million).” The Buffett Rule may have failed in the US but La Loi de Buffett is alive and well in soon to be uber-socialist France. Yet it is not so much Hollande’s domestic policies, as his international ones, especially vis-a-vis the European Fiscal Treaty, Germany, and most importantly the ECB, that roiled markets last week, causing French CDS to spike to the widest since January. In other news, goodbye Merkozy, hello Horkel as the power center shifts yet again to a new source of uncertainty and potential contagion. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/french-presidential-elections-are-underway

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* WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS WIDESPREAD BRIBERY BY WALMART IN MEXICO

By Pat Garofalo, Think Progress

One former executive told the Times about how Walmart employees brought envelopes of cash to government officials in Mexico in order to boost the company’s expansion:

 The Times examination included more than 15 hours of interviews with the former executive, Sergio Cicero Zapata, who resigned from Wal-Mart de Mexico in 2004 after nearly a decade in the company’s real estate department.

In the interviews, Mr. Cicero recounted how he had helped organize years of payoffs. He described personally dispatching two trusted outside lawyers to deliver envelopes of cash to government officials. They targeted mayors and city council members, obscure urban planners, low-level bureaucrats who issued permits — anyone with the power to thwart Wal-Mart’s growth. The bribes, he said, bought zoning approvals, reductions in environmental impact fees and the allegiance of neighborhood leaders.[…]

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/04/22/468913/walmart-whistleblower-mexico/

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* THE BIG SWINDLE AND A FOG OF DEBT – HIDING THE UNEMPLOYED IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE AND THREE YEARS OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY EQUATES TO 11.5 MORE AMERICANS ON FOOD STAMPS

Source: My Budget 360

A large part of our recovery is running on public relations trickery and smoke and mirrors debt machinery.  Let me explain what I mean by this since on the surface we have been out of a recession since the summer of 2009.  Government debt is soaring and public debt in certain sectors is flying off the charts.  Take for example food stamp usage and student loan debt.  These payments typically rise during tough times as would be expected.  So you would conclude that being in year three of this so-called recovery that costs for both of these sectors would be retreating.  You would be absolutely wrong in this Alice and Wonderland debt world.  The student debt market has become a predatory landmine for prospective students and continues to grow like a wild fungus.  Food stamp usage is expected to be high deep into 2014.  Can you call it a recovery by using accounting magic that actually hides the continuing deterioration of the middle class?

How is it a recovery when 15 percent of the population is receiving food assistance just to stay afloat?  But examine the chart carefully.  When the recession officially ended in 2009 there were 35 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, three years later and deep into a recovery we have 46.5 million Americans receiving food stamps!  In other words, food stamp usage has increased by more than 32 percent during the recovery.  Since when does a recovery involve increasing the amount of Americans on food stamps? […]

READ and CHARTS @ http://www.mybudget360.com/big-financial-swindle-fog-of-debt-student-loans-food-stamp-usage-costs-2012-trend/#more-3933

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* SENATOR CHURCH’S PROPHETIC WARNING

Source: Washington’s Blog

Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” into the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975:

“Th[e National Security Agency's]  capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.  [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

Now, the NSA is building a $2 billion dollar facility in Utah which will use the world’s most powerful supercomputer to monitor virtually all phone calls, emails, internet usage, purchases and rentals, break all encryption, and then store everyone’s data permanently.

The former head of the program for the NSA recently held his thumb and forefinger close together, and said:

We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state. […]

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/6ou3avz

Apr 042012
 

 

* GREECE PLANS TO DETAIN SOME MIGRANTS ‘INDEFINITELY’

Amnesty attacks plan to base detention of illegal migrants and asylum-seekers on public health risk

Source: AP in Athens

[…] Last week the government launched police roundups of illegal immigrants in Athens, with hundreds of people being subjected daily to street stops by police.

Authorities are also planning to convert 30 former military sites to serve as detention centres, each housing 1,000 people.

“Under the proposed amendments, the law will foresee the right to detain non-nationals – whether they have applied for political asylum or not – if they pose a risk to public health,” the authors of the bill submitted late on Monday wrote. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/03/greece-detain-migrants-indefinitely

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* BRITAIN’S POLICE ARE AT WAR WITH THE PEOPLE

Police officers are increasingly trained to see the community as the enemy. They’ve forgotten that they are there to serve us

By David Gilbertson, Guardian UK

[…] Confrontational – yet frightened and defensive – officers are nowadays trained to see the public as a threat to their very existence. Preventive patrolling has been abandoned – notwithstanding the soothing and wholly false spin of the Met, which continually we still have “bobbies on the beat”. Few such officers have been deployed for at least 10 years, and their barely visible replacement – comprised largely of police community support officers, are but a pale imitation of what people expect and deserve.

From Stephen Lawrence to Mark Duggan; from the kettling of peaceful protesters, to the riots of last year; from the manifest incompetence of the first phone-hacking inquiry to allegations of corruption at the Leveson inquiry – a path has been beaten towards the edge of a precipice, and it is time for those concerned about the vital role of policing to challenge what is happening. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/01/britains-police-at-war-with-people?newsfeed=true

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* OBAMA GIVES GREEN LIGHT FOR PUNISHING SANCTIONS ON IRAN 

By Bill Van Auken, Information Clearing House

President Barack Obama has issued the green light for punishing new US economic sanctions directed at forcing the Iranian government to submit to Western pressure over its nuclear program by starving the country of oil revenues.

These new sanctions, which go into effect on June 28, aim to impose a warlike blockade of the Iranian economy by penalizing any government or private entity that carries out financial transactions with the country’s central bank.

Western Europe is preparing its own new sanctions, which are to include a European embargo on Iranian oil purchases, beginning in July.

The official memorandum authorizing the US sanctions affirmed, as required by the legislation creating them, that given existing oil supplies internationally, “the market can continue to accommodate” the cutting off of petroleum from Iran. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30971.htm

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* ‘WE WILL MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD’: CHICAGO WAR REGISTER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST NATO

By Sarah Lazare and David Van Dam, CommonDreams

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from across the country will march in protest against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit meeting in Chicago on Sunday, May 20th and attempt to return their Global War on Terror military medals to NATO’s generals. A call to action released by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) declares, “We were awarded these medals for serving in the Global War on Terror, a war based on lies and failed polices.” Veterans say they will march to ”demand that NATO immediately end the occupation of Afghanistan and relating economic and social injustices, bring U.S. war dollars home to fund our communities, and acknowledge the rights and humanity of all who are affected by these wars.” […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/03-0

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* RAHM EMANUEL HAS A PROBLEM WITH DEMOCRACY

By Rice Perlstein, Rolling Stone

Rahm Emanuel insists it’s no biggie. Yes, when it was announced last summer that Chicago would host unprecedented back-to-back summits in May of 2012 of the G8 and NATO, the new mayor raved about his “opportunity to showcase what is great about the greatest city in the greatest country.” And yes, when President Obama abruptly announced last month that the G8 would instead take place at Camp David, after the city had already committed millions of dollars for preparations, he gave his chief of staff one hour’s notice. But Rahm generously said he took “at face value” his former boss’s explanation that the presidential retreat in rustic Maryland would provide a more “intimate” setting for the leaders of the world’s eight largest economies. No embarrassment at all.

Here in Chicago, of course, no one believes a word of it. Cartoonist Jack Higgins of the Sun-Times nailed the prevailing view with not one but two burlesques of Rahm’s humiliation: In the first, a tall jug-eared black man hands a paper reading “No G8 in Chicago” to a little man run over by a presidential limousine: “Sorry I didn’t run into you sooner, Rahm,” the caption reads; in the other, a runtish Rahm is handed a note reading “Sorry Rahm no G8.” It’s tied to a giant screw rammed straight through him from behind – a merciless reference to the White House’s frequent avowals, when Emanuel decamped to Chicago, that they would “have Rahm’s back.”

So: Poor Rahm? Not so much. I’d argue that his humbling has been good for the city, and not just because the event would have been a riotous disaster. It’s also good because it’s been clarifying, having flushed out for the public something that reporters covering City Hall have known all along: Rahm Emanuel is no friend of democracy. […]

READhttp://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/why-rahm-emanuel-hates-democracy-20120403

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* SUPREME COURT RULING ALLOWS STRIP-SEARCH FOR ANY OFFENSE

By Adam Liptak, NYTimes

[…] Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the four dissenters, said the strip-searches the majority allowed were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so.

Justice Breyer said that the Fourth Amendment should be understood to bar strip-searches of people arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence, unless officials had a reasonable suspicion that they were carrying contraband.

[…]

According to opinions in the lower courts, people may be strip-searched after arrests for violating a leash law, driving without a license and failing to pay child support. Citing examples from briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer wrote that people have been subjected to “the humiliation of a visual strip-search” after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.

A nun was strip-searched, he wrote, after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/us/justices-approve-strip-searches-for-any-offense.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all%3Fsrc%3Dtp&smid=fb-share

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* FORGET SOPA, YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS CYBER SECURITY BILL 

By Mike Masnick, TechDirt

While most folks are looking elsewhere, it appears that Congress is trying to see if it can sneak an absolutely awful “cybersecurity” bill through Congress. We’ve discussed how there’s been some fighting on the Senate side concerning which cybersecurity bill to support, but there’s a similar battle going on in the House, and it appears that the Rogers-Ruppersberger bill, known as CISPA (for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) or HR 3523 is winning out, with a planned attempt to move it through Congress later this month. The bill is awful — and yet has somehow already gained over 100 sponsors. In an attempt to pretend that this isn’t a “SOPA-like” problem, the supporters of this bill are highlighting the fact that Facebook, Microsoft and TechAmerica are supporting this bill.

[…]

As CDT warned when this bill first came out, it’s way too broad and overreaching:

However, the bill goes much further, permitting ISPs to funnel private communications and related information back to the government without adequate privacy protections and controls. The bill does not specify which agencies ISPs could disclose customer data to, but the structure and incentives in the bill raise a very real possibility that the National Security Agency or the DOD’s Cybercommand would be the primary recipient.

READ @ http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120402/04425118325/forget-sopa-you-should-be-worried-about-this-cybersecurity-bill.shtml

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* THE STUDENT LOAN CRISIS – FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE

By Michael Winship, Bill Moyers

Our eyes widened last week when we saw this headline on the website SmartMoney.com: “Student Loans on Rise – for Kindergarten.”

Annamaria Andriotis wrote, “It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten.”

“Though data is scarce, private school experts and the small number of lenders who provide loans for kindergarten through 12th grade say pre-college loans are becoming more popular. Your Tuition Solution, one of the largest lenders in this space, says demand for the upcoming year is already up: This month, the total dollar amount of loans families requested rose 10% compared to a year ago; at that pace, the company expects its total funding to rise to $20 million for 2012-13. Separately, First Marblehead, which exited the market in 2008, reentered last year as demand for loans began to rise.” […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/linkframe.php?linkid=148245

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* UNDERSTANDING THE SLAVE MENTALITY

By Brandon Smith, Alt-Market

In the initial stages of nearly every recorded tyranny, the saucer eyed dumbstruck masses exhibit astonishing and masterful skill when denying reality.  The facts behind their dire circumstances and of their antagonistic government become a source of cynical psychological gameplay rather than a source of legitimate concern.  Their desperate need to maintain their normalcy bias creates a memory and observation vacuum in which all that runs counter to their false assumptions and preconceptions disappears forever.  It is as if they truly cannot see the color of the sky, or the boot on their face.  The concrete world of truth becomes a dream, an illusion that can be heeded or completely ignored depending on one’s mood.  For them, life is a constant struggle of dissociation, where the tangible is NOT welcome…

This is the problem that we in the Liberty Movement deal with most often in our writings and films.  Our confrontation with willful ignorance has been epic, even by far reaching historical standards.  The gains in social awareness have been substantial, and yet the obstacles are incredible.  Unprecedented.  As an activist trend, we have an almost obsessive drive to draw back the curtain so that the public has at least the opportunity to see what is on the other side.  Unfortunately, there is another danger that must be taken into account…

It is one thing to bear witness to the rejection of truth in our time and the oblivious attitudes of many towards the growth of totalitarianism.  Eventually, though, a second phase in the development of oligarchy arises.  I am speaking of the point at which tyranny becomes so blatant that the skeptics have to acknowledge its existence, but after doing so, they choose to rationalize it as necessary.  Yes, there are many in this world that will laugh at the prospect of the Orwellian nightmare only to happily embrace it when it arrives in full color. […]

READ @ http://www.alt-market.com/articles/670-understanding-the-slave-mentality