Feb 162012



Source: Democracy Now!

Today marks the first anniversary of the Wisconsin uprising that erupted after Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. Now, one year later, Walker is in the midst of a recall effort and faces an investigation for campaign corruption. “People have begun to recognize that they shouldn’t just wait for elections,” says John Nichols, who covered the protests for The Nation magazine. “They should go to the streets and challenge political power at the point where that power is taking away their rights, or threatening them in some fundamental way.” Nichols is the author of the new book, “Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street.”

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/user/democracynow?ob=0#p/a/u/1/laZy7GlufFg



#whilewewatch is a gripping look at the media revolution that emerged from Zuccoti Park in New York City to the world. It is the story of how many people came together in the sun and rain, day and night, broke and loaded with energy and hope to get their story out to the world. #OWS has galvanized the world. #whilewewatch is the real inside story of great people who have no fear. They don’t back down from the police, big business or a city government that tried to dismiss them. When regular media paid no attention to this movement they decided to tell the world their story.

Director’s Note:

#WhileWeWatch has been a once in a lifetime filming experience. # OccupyWallSt came out of nowhere with new ideas and created a media revolution. Through ingenuity, guts and resourcefulness #OWS media made main stream media and the world look up and listen. The #OWS created citizens media. With little or no media training, press passes, press releases or money they pumped out their story. With cheap digital cameras, computers. texts, tweets, Facebook. live streams and a newspaper the world knew what happened at Zuccotti park and the streets of New York City.. […]

VIDEO TRAILER @ http://vimeo.com/channels/whilewewatch#32593492



By Felix Salmon, Reuters

One of the saddest aspects of the financialization of the US economy is the way in which America’s best and brightest found themselves working on Wall Street, rather than in jobs which improved the state of the world. Proof of this comes from the absolutely astonishing 325-page comment letter on the Volcker Rule which has been put together by Occupy the SEC; it’s pretty clear, from reading the letter, that the people who wrote it are whip-smart and extremely talented.

Occupy the SEC is the wonky finreg arm of Occupy Wall Street, and its main authors are worth naming and celebrating: Akshat Tewary, Alexis Goldstein, Corley Miller, George Bailey, Caitlin Kline, Elizabeth Friedrich, and Eric Taylor. If you can’t read the whole thing, at least read the introductory comments, on pages 3-6, both for their substance and for the panache of their delivery. A taster:

During the legislative process, the Volcker Rule was woefully enfeebled by the addition of numerous loopholes and exceptions. The banking lobby exerted inordinate influence on Congress and succeeded in diluting the statute, despite the catastrophic failures that bank policies have produced and continue to produce…

The Proposed Rule also evinces a remarkable solicitude for the interests of banking corporations over those of investors, consumers, taxpayers and other human beings. In their Overview of the Proposed Rule, “the Agencies request comment on the potential impacts the proposed approach may have on banking entities and the businesses in which they engage,” but curiously fail to solicit comment on the potential impact on consumers, depositors, or taxpayers. The Administrative Procedure Act requires that, prior to the enactment of a substantive regulation, an agency must give “interested persons” an opportunity to comment. The Agencies seem to have lost sight of the fact that “interested persons” could include human beings, and not just banking corporations. […]

READ @ http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/02/14/occupys-amazing-volcker-rule-letter/





VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otuSamqnF0A&feature=youtu.be



By Noam Chomsky, Truthout

In the years of conscious, self-inflicted decline at home, “losses” continued to mount elsewhere.  In the past decade, for the first time in 500 years, South America has taken successful steps to free itself from western domination, another serious loss. The region has moved towards integration, and has begun to address some of the terrible internal problems of societies ruled by mostly Europeanized elites, tiny islands of extreme wealth in a sea of misery.  They have also rid themselves of all U.S. military bases and of IMF controls.

A newly formed organization, CELAC, includes all countries of the hemisphere apart from the U.S. and Canada.  If it actually functions, that would be another step in American decline, in this case in what has always been regarded as “the backyard.”

Even more serious would be the loss of the MENA countries — Middle East/North Africa — which have been regarded by planners since the 1940s as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” Control of MENA energy reserves would yield “substantial control of the world,” in the words of the influential Roosevelt advisor A.A. Berle.

To be sure, if the projections of a century of U.S. energy independence based on North American energy resources turn out to be realistic, the significance of controlling MENA would decline somewhat, though probably not by much: the main concern has always been control more than access.  However, the likely consequences to the planet’s equilibrium are so ominous that discussion may be largely an academic exercise.

The Arab Spring, another development of historic importance, might portend at least a partial “loss” of MENA.  The US and its allies have tried hard to prevent that outcome — so far, with considerable success.  Their policy towards the popular uprisings has kept closely to the standard guidelines: support the forces most amenable to U.S. influence and control.

Favored dictators are supported as long as they can maintain control (as in the major oil states).  When that is no longer possible, then discard them and try to restore the old regime as fully as possible (as in Tunisia and Egypt).  The general pattern is familiar: Somoza, Marcos, Duvalier, Mobutu, Suharto, and many others.  In one case, Libya, the three traditional imperial powers intervened by force to participate in a rebellion to overthrow a mercurial and unreliable dictator, opening the way, it is expected, to more efficient control over Libya’s rich resources (oil primarily, but also water, of particular interest to French corporations), to a possible base for the U.S. Africa Command (so far restricted to Germany), and to the reversal of growing Chinese penetration.  As far as policy goes, there have been few surprises. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/noam-chomsky-imperial-way/1329329076

ALSO SEE: “Losing” the World: American Decline in Perspective



Source: European Parliament, Strasbourg, 15 February 2012

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W8Ayb8P1LbU



Source: en.contrainfo.espiv.net

People battled with police for over 5 hours in their effort to return to Syntagma. Other people erected big barricades across Korai square on both Stadiou and Panepistimiou streets and fought trying to reach Syntagma or defend themselves from police attacks.

There are various estimations about the number of the people concentrated on the streets and squares of the country. Athens had anything over 500,000 people on the streets, it is not easy to estimate it, but before the attack of the police every street leading to Syntagma and the square were packed, with thousands more coming from the neighbourhoods on foot or by buses and trains. Half an hour before the demo one could see the metro stations and the bus stops full of people waiting to get on a vehicle that would bring them to the centre.

Almost every city saw rallies and mass marches, with Heraklion of Crete, a city that holds a record in the recent wave of suicides, having a 30,000-strong march. Demonstrations all around the country turned violent, with people destroying banks or occupying governmental buildings, e.g. in Volos the branch of Eurobank and the town hall were torched (the latter probably by parastatal thugs), or on Corfu people attacked to the offices of their region’s MPs, trashing them, the town hall of Rhodes was occupied during the demo and still is occupied, to mention but a few of such actions.

In Athens police did several preemptive arrests in the morning hours before the start of the demonstration. Several activists were attacked by police officers in plain clothes and were detained as soon as they came out of their houses, while it was obvious since very early that police wanted to keep people away from the parliament. In there, the new austerity package (an over 600-page document that was given to the MPs 24 hours in advance with the advice to vote for it before Monday morning when the stock markets will open) was being ‘discussed’. […]

READ @ http://www.stopcartel.net/2012/02/15/POLITICS/Athens_is_burning_after_riots_on_February_12th,_2012/1094.html



[The following statement was issued by a group of Greek academics regarding the ongoing crises in Greece.]

Greek society is suffering both from the crisis and the responses to it, which have reached a dead-end. Major social and political institutions that were created with enormous struggles and sacrifices in post-War Greece—social security, the public health care system, public education, public transport, the natural and urban environment, the right to live a safe existence, and various elemental goods and services that underwrite the very existence of an already curtailed and devalued Greek state—are all being utterly dismantled so that Greek society is now dying of asphyxiation.

These dead-end responses rest on the blackmailing dilemma: austerity or bankruptcy? Yet, this is hardly a dilemma. It is rather a negative aggregate of both austerity and bankruptcy. The tri-monthly threat to expel Greece from the Eurozone constitutes an ethical alienation and an economic catastrophe, precisely because it strengthens the profound recession, turning the whole of Europe into an agent of uncertainty, financial instability, and proliferation of the crisis. It is Europe itself that is producing the conditions that make it impossible for Greece to fulfill its debt obligations.

It is becoming clearer every day that the specific political response to the crisis, which culminated in the parliamentary approval of the Second Memorandum, is not a viable process of overcoming the crisis or alleviating the long term pathologies of the Greek political and economic system, but a catastrophic process that deepens already existing terms of social injustice. The crisis is not experienced by those who exploited the state and public interest for decades, but by the most vulnerable social constituencies. We are confronted with an unprecedented initiative of an upwards redistribution of wealth and power that subverts the European social model by exacerbating the most extreme economic and social inequities, while simultaneously empowering the return of nationalism and the intensification of racism and xenophobia.

The falsified use of the notion of “reform” is indicative of the incapacity to overcome the crisis. Even those who did hope that the crisis would signal the opportunity to clean up or radically renovate existing institutions understand now that such imposed “reforms” destroy what is left of the social fabric. The dominant discourse regarding Greece, both within the country and abroad, is moralistic, guilt-ridden, and punitive. Every sort of disagreement or critique is dismissed as “populism”, “unionism”, or “anti-Europeanism”.  […]

READ @ http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4381/from-greece_declaration-for-the-defense-of-society



Source: euronews.net

A court in the French city of Lyon has ruled US pesticides maker Monsanto was responsible for the poisoning of a farmer who had used one of their products on his crops. Paul Francois says he suffered neurological problems including memory loss, headaches and stammering after inhaling Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller in 2004.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EFQWG9FvidU



By Rick Rozoff, StopNATO

The press wires are reporting on intensified fighting in Mali between the nation’s military and ethnic Tuareg rebels of the Azawad National Liberation Movement in the north of the nation.

As the only news agencies with global sweep and the funds and infrastructure to maintain bureaus and correspondents throughout the world are those based in leading member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, BBC News and Deutsche Presse-Agentur – the coverage of ongoing developments in Mali, like those in most every other country, reflects a Western bias and a Western agenda.

Typical headlines on the topic, then, include the following:

“Arms and men out of Libya fortify Mali rebellion” Reuters

President: Tuareg fighters from Libya stoke violence in Mali” CNN

“Colonel Gaddafi armed Tuaregs pound Mali” The Scotsman

“France denounces killings in Mali rebel offensive” Agence France-Presse

“Mali, France Condemn Alleged Tuareg Rebel Atrocities” Voice of America

To reach Mali from Libya is at least a 500-mile journey through Algeria and/or Niger. As the rebels of course don’t have an air force, don’t have military transport aircraft, the above headlines and the propaganda they synopsize imply that Tuareg fighters marched the entire distance from Libya to their homeland in convoys containing heavy weapons through at least one other nation without being detected or deterred by local authorities. And that, moreover, to launch an offensive three months following the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after his convoy was struck by French bombs and a U.S. Hellfire missile last October. But the implication that Algeria and Niger, especially the first, are complicit in the transit of Tuareg fighters and arms from Libya to Mali is ominous in terms of expanding Western accusations – and actions – in the region. […]




By Russ Baker, WhoWhatWhy

[…] Meanwhile, most of the media—even more foul than in their previous foulness, docility and lack of initiative—have dutifully reported the propaganda line that is being handed to them regarding Syria, without any serious effort to raise legitimate doubts. This is just a bunch of normal Syrians, peacefully protesting, and a savage and unconscionable response from their government. The headlines range from the regime torturing children to today’s from CNN, about government troops “shelling randomly.” (The sources, as in Libya, are the murky “opposition” –not the most reliable and neutral of observers.)

What they have trouble saying is this: Yes, the Syrian regime has always been brutal and determined to hold on to power at all costs—just like the Libyan. And the Egyptian and the Saudi and the Bahraini. But only some governments are told by foreign governments that it is time to go. And only some governments face the wrath of the unified diplomatic and covert military/intelligence apparatuses of countries with a stake in the game. Thus, it is impossible to say if the accounts of snipers firing on people in Homs is true—even assuming it is, then who is actually behind this activity, and with what objectives.

As for the violent reaction by—or ascribed to—the Syrian regime (and Qaddafi), well, those are exactly what any authoritarian or totalitarian government would do that does not want to give up power and end up with a sharp instrument up their orifices. Do you believe that the West’s factory, aka China, would do differently? Anyone pay attention to goings-on in Tibet? Even more relevantly, do you believe for a second that the government in the United States or Britain or France would simply abdicate in the face of an armed uprising calling for an entirely different regime—and one supported by foreign powers—without a fight? Just look at the way the American power structure has reacted to a comparatively minor disruption like the Occupy movement. […]

READ @ http://whowhatwhy.com/2012/02/14/but-syriasly-folks/



By Alan Cowell, NYTimes

Besieged by international sanctions over the Iranian nuclear program including a planned oil embargo by Europe, Iran warned six European buyers on Wednesday that it might strike first by immediately cutting them off from Iranian oil.

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency said the threat was conveyed to the ambassadors of Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Greece and Portugal in separate meetings at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran. Officials said in an earlier report by Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite broadcaster, that Iran had already cut supplies to the six countries was inaccurate — but not before word of the Press TV report sent a brief shudder through the global oil market, sending prices up slightly.

“Iran warns Europe it will find other customers for its oil,” the Islamic Republic News Agency said. “European people should know that if Iran changes destinations of the oil it gives to them, the responsibility will rest with the European governments themselves.”

Last month the European Union decided to impose an oil embargo on Iran as of July 1 as part of a coordinated campaign of Western sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to halt its disputed uranium enrichment program, and the Europeans have been making arrangements since then to find other sources. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/world/europe/iran-says-it-will-cut-oil-supplies-to-6-european-nations.html?_r=3&hp



By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

What was the parade of European poodles thinking – that Tehran would just roll over and absorb the European Union’s oil embargo, scheduled to start on July 1?

No wonder Brussels was caught as a Gucci deer in the headlights when the news started to flow that Tehran would pre-empt the move and immediately slap its own embargo of crude oil exports to six European Union countries – deeply in crisis Club Med members Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain plus recession-hit France and the Netherlands.

It took virtually no time for Iran’s Oil Ministry and then the Foreign Ministry to deny it; such a decision, technically, would have to be officially announced by the Supreme National Security Council, which also deals with the nuclear negotiations.

But only the deaf, dumb and blind wouldn’t understand the message; blowback for the ridiculously counter-productive European sanctions/oil embargo package will only plunge vast swathes of Europe further into deep economic pain. […]

READ @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB17Ak04.html

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