* 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. […]
* OUTLAW OCCUPY: US SET TO STRANGLE PROTESTS WITH JAIL THREATS
Source: RT News
* GREEK RESISTANCE
* YOGURT ATTACK DURING LIVE TV NEWS SHOW (GREECE)
* MALAGA CON GRECIA
* ‘THIS IS NOT A CRISIS, IT IS CALLED CAPITALISM – CATALAN RUMBA
* 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. [..]
* 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. […]
* 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! […]
* 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. […]
* THE FEDERAL RESERVE IS A PRIVATE BANKING CARTEL
Source: RT News
* 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”? […]
* 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. […]
* 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.” […]
* JOHN PILGER – THE NEW RULERS OF THE WORLD
* 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. […]