Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THERE IS NO AMERICAN LEFT
By Salvatore Babones, Truthout
In September 2012 Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to break the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) with a bid to privatize Chicago’s public schools. The mayor’s proposal was based on a plan to subject teachers (and schools) to performance measurement based on students’ standardized test scores.
Teachers whose students scored poorly would be fired. Schools whose students scored poorly would be closed. The students would then be farmed out to so-called “charter schools” – for the most part, for-profit institutions run by corporations like Edison Schools, Rocketship, Victory Schools, and Educational Services of America.
The CTU went out on strike with the goal of maintaining public education in Chicago, America’s third largest city. Schools in Philadelphia, America’s fifth largest city, have already been largely privatized, and the state of Texas is currently in the process of privatizing its local public school systems.
Under threat of a court injunction that might force them to return to work without a contract, the CTU ended its strike after just six business days. The negotiated settlement terms included a longer working day (for the same pay), teacher evaluations based 30% on student test scores, and complete mayoral discretion over teacher hiring and firing.
As Reuters reported on September 18, “those were major goals for Emanuel and positive outcomes for any Emanuel financial backers associated with the national education reform movement.” The outcome, however, was widely viewed in the United States as a victory for the teachers, since (amazingly, to most Americans) they retained their pre-strike jobs, salaries, and health insurance benefits.
Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, is a Democrat. […]
* EVERYTHING WE TELL OURSELVES ABOUT AMERICA AND THE WORLD IS WRONG
By Charles Eisenstein, AlterNet
[…] We are like children who have grown out of a story that once enthralled us, aware now that it is only a story.
At the same time, a series of new data points has disrupted the story from the outside. The harnessing of fossil fuels, the miracle of chemicals to transform agriculture, the methods of social engineering and political science to create a more rational and just society – each has fallen far short of its promise, and brought unanticipated consequences that threaten civilization. We just cannot believe anymore that the scientists have everything well in hand. Nor can we believe that the onward march of reason will bring on social utopia.
Today we cannot ignore the intensifying degradation of the biosphere, the malaise of the economic system, the decline in health, or the persistence and indeed growth of global poverty and inequality. We once thought economists would fix poverty, political scientists would fix social injustice, chemists and biologists would fix environmental problems, the power of reason would prevail and we would adopt sane policies. I remember looking at maps of rain forest decline in National Geographic in the early 1980s and feeling both alarm and relief – relief because at least the scientists and everyone who reads National Geographic is aware of the problem now, so something surely will be done.
Nothing was done. Rainforest decline accelerated, along with nearly every other environmental threat that we knew about in 1980. Our Story of the People trundled forward under the momentum of centuries, but with each passing decade the hollowing-out of its core, that started perhaps with the industrial-scale slaughter of World War One, extended further. When I was a child, our system of ideology and mass media still protected that story, but in the last thirty years the incursions of reality have punctured its protective shell and have ruptured its essential infrastructure. We no longer believe our storytellers, our elites. We don’t believe the politicians, we don’t believe the doctors, we don’t believe the professors, we don’t believe the bankers, we don’t believe the technologists. All of them imply that everything is under control, and we know that it is not. We have lost the vision of the future we once had; most people have no vision of the future at all. This is new for our society. Fifty or a hundred years ago, most people agreed on the general outlines of the future. We thought we knew where society was going. Even the Marxists and the capitalists agreed on its basic outlines: a paradise of mechanized leisure and scientifically engineered social harmony, with spirituality either abolished entirely or relegated to a materially inconsequential corner of life that happened mostly on Sundays. Of course there were dissenters from this vision, but this was the general consensus. […]
* MOTHER, SHOULD I TRUST THE GOVERNMENT
Source: Washington’s Blog
[…] The American people have been participants in their very own Milgram experiment being conducted by their government since 9/11. Since the passage of the Patriot Act, the government continues to demand that its citizens increase the voltage in the name of security. Since 2001, the Orwellian measures have included:
- Warrantless domestic surveillance.
- The ability to search telephone calls, emails, financial matters especially involving foreign individuals, and medical records for people who are “suspected” of endangering the country.
- Color coded risk levels designed to keep citizens fearful of non-existent terrorists.
- Pre-emptive invasion of foreign countries.
- Committing U.S. forces to war without a declaration of war by Congress as mandated in the U.S. Constitution.
- Assassination of people on presidential kill lists.
- Extermination of “suspected” enemies by predator drones.
- Camera systems monitoring the movements of Americans in cites and streets across the United States.
- Torture of detainees in camps outside of the United States.
- The authority to indefinitely detain America citizens without trial.
- Executive orders giving the President the ability to unilaterally disregard the U.S. Constitution and take control of private industries.
- Use of drones to monitor the activities of American citizens.
- Allowing the very bankers that destroyed the worldwide economic system to blackmail the American taxpayers into handing them $700 billion.
- Not prosecuting one Wall Street criminal after the largest Ponzi control fraud in the history of the world.
- Cameras and listening devices on public transit and other public locations.
- Military exercises conducted in U.S. cities in order to condition the masses.
- Attempts to control and censor the internet through the introduction of the SOPA bill.
- The use of tragic mass murders by mentally defective young men on psychotropic drugs to disregard the 2nd Amendment and disarm American citizens.
- TSA thugs molesting little old ladies and young children to desensitize citizens to gestapo like tactics and treat them like criminals.
- Government partnering with Facebook, Apple and other corporate entities to monitor, censor, and report the activities of citizens to the authorities.
- The use of public schools to teach children what to think rather than how to think. Thought control is vital to an agenda of keeping the masses fearful and pliable.
- Government agencies (FBI, ATF) creating terrorist plots, luring young dupes into the plots, providing fake explosives, and then announcing with great fanfare they have foiled a terrorist plot.
- “See something, Say something” government media campaign designed to make citizens paranoid and fearful.
Just as Milgram pondered how the German people could follow the orders of those in authority to slaughter millions, one must ponder how the American people have allowed those in power to strip us of our Constitutional freedoms and liberties in the name of safety and security. They have conditioned the masses to passively accept their fate by utilizing fear, authoritarian measures, thought control, and propaganda. Human beings never change. They have been driven by emotions throughout history – fear, greed, love and hate. There will always be psychopathic men who seek wealth, power, glory and control. It happened during the decline of the Roman Empire and it is happening today during the decline of the American Empire.
“A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.” – Tacitus[…]
[…] “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.” – George Orwell – 1984[…]
* U.S. CONGRESS APPROVES TRANSFER OF GUIDED MISSLE WARSHIPS TO TURKEY
By Rick Rozoff, StopNATO
The US House of Representatives has approved a bill seeking permission to give guided missile frigates to Turkey, Thailand and Mexico.
The bill was submitted to and passed by the House of Representatives on Monday. It authorizes President Barack Obama to grant the US military permission to provide guided missile frigates to these three countries.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced the bill to the House on Dec. 11, 2012.
The motion requires Senate approval before it will come into effect. If Obama acts on the motion, Turkey will be given two guided missile frigates, the USS Halyburton (FFG-40) and the USS Thach (FFG-43). […]
* FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND NARCOTICS. IMPUNITY OF THE BANKING GIANTS. NO PROSECUTION OF HSBC
By Tom Burghardt , Global Research
In another shameful decision by the US Department of Justice, earlier this month federal prosecutors reached a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with UK banking giant HSBC, Europe’s largest bank.
Shameful perhaps, but entirely predictable. After all, in an era characterized by economic collapse owing to gross criminality by leading financial actors, policy decisions and the legal environment framing those decisions have been shaped by oligarchs who quite literally have “captured” the state.
Founded in 1865 by flush-with-cash opium merchants after the British Crown seized Hong Kong from China in the aftermath of the First Opium War, HSBC has been a permanent fixture on the radar of US law enforcement and regulatory agencies for more than a decade.
Not that anything so trifling as terrorist financing or global narco-trafficking mattered much to the Obama administration.
As I previously reported, (here, here, here and here), when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued their mammoth 335-page report, “U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History,” we learned that amongst the “services” offered by HSBC subsidiaries and correspondent banks were sweet deals, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, with financial entities with ties to international terrorism and the grisly drug trade. […]
* 8 HUGE CORPORATE HANDOUTS IN THE FISCAL CLIFF BILL
By Matt Stoller, Alternet
Here are the corporate subsidies in the fiscal cliff bill that you may not know about.
Throughout the months of November and December, a steady stream of corporate CEOs flowed in and out of the White House to discuss the impending fiscal cliff. Many of them, such as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, would then publicly come out and talk about how modest increases of tax rates on the wealthy were reasonable in order to deal with the deficit problem. What wasn’t mentioned is what these leaders wanted, which is what’s known as “tax extenders”, or roughly $205B of tax breaks for corporations. With such a banal name, and boring and difficult to read line items in the bill, few political operatives have bothered to pay attention to this part of the bill. But it is critical to understanding what is going on.
The negotiations over the fiscal cliff involve more than the Democrats, Republicans, the middle class and the wealthy. The corporate sector is here in force as well. One of the core shifts in the Reagan era was the convergence of wealthy individuals who wanted to pay less in taxes – many from the growing South – with corporations that wanted tax breaks. Previously, these groups fought over the pie, because the idea of endless deficits did not make sense. Once Reagan figured out how to finance yawning deficits, the GOP was able to wield the corporate sector and the new sun state wealthy into one force, epitomized today by Grover Norquist. What Obama is (sort of) trying to do is split this coalition, and the extenders are the carrot he’s dangling in front of the corporate sector to do it. […]
* GREEK DEBT CRISIS ‘FAR FROM OVER’
By Helena Smith, GuardianUK
Greece’s finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, has said Greece still faces the possibility of bankruptcy. Photograph: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters
In the three years that Greece has been engulfed by the drama of its debt, crises have come and gone. But the next 12 months are likely to be more critical yet with politicians and pundits predicting that 2013 will ultimately define whether Athens remains in the eurozone. For once, Greeks are in accord with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who, adding to the prevailing pessimism, emphasised in her new year address that the worst crisis to ravage Europe since the second world war “is far from over”.
Few doubt that the continent’s most powerful leader had Greece – the country she recently confessed to thinking more about than ever before and not “without a certain inner involvement” – in mind. The uncertainty that has enveloped the nation since the debt drama erupted beneath the Acropolis has not been alleviated by the passage of time.
After five straight years of recession, the eurozone’s weakest link moves into 2013 with an economy set to further contract, unemployment at a record 26%, one in three living on or below the poverty line, and the worst of austerity yet to come. In the runup to Christmas, even the Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, felt fit to admit that despite being the recipient of €240bn in EU and IMF rescue funds – the biggest bailout in global history – Greece could still default on its massive pile of debt, a move that would result automatically in exit from the 17-nation bloc.
“We still face a possible risk of bankruptcy,” he told the FT, adding that Athens’s fate would undoubtedly be determined by the ability of the prime minister, Antonis Samaras’s fragile coalition to survive the unrest that will inevitably erupt with enforcement of cuts worth €9.2bn in the new year alone. […]