Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* STATE OF FEAR
How our government is trying to scare us into submitting to corporate dominance
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig
Shannon McLeish of Florida is a 45-year-old married mother of two young children. She is a homeowner, a taxpayer and a safe driver. She votes in every election. She attends a Unitarian Universalist church on Sundays. She is also, like nearly all who have a relationship with the Occupy movement in the United States, being monitored by the federal government. She knows this because when she read FBI documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through the Freedom of Information Act, she was startled to see a redaction that could only be referring to her. McLeish’s story is the story of hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps more—whose lives are being invaded by the state. It is the story of a security and surveillance apparatus—overseen by the executive branch under Barack Obama—that has empowered the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to silence the voices and obstruct the activity of citizens who question corporate power.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, said in a written statement about the released files: “This production [of information], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protesters organizing with the Occupy movement. These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
The FBI documents are not only a chilling example of how widespread this surveillance and obstruction has become, they are an explicit warning by the security services to all who consider dissent. Anyone who defies corporate power, even if he or she is nonviolent and acting within constitutional rights, is a suspect. These documents are part of the plan to make us fearful, compliant and disempowered. They mark, I suspect, a government attempt to end peaceful mass protests by responding with repression to the grievances of Americans. When the corporate-financed group FreedomWorks bused in goons to disrupt Democratic candidates’ town hall meetings about the federal health care legislation in August 2009, Eric Zuesse of the Business Insider notes, “there was no FBI surveillance of those corporate-organized disruptions of legitimate democratic processes. There also were no subsequent FreedomWorks applications for Freedom of Information Act releases of FBI files regarding such surveillance being used against them—because there was no such FBI campaign against them.” […]
* THE HOAX OF ENTITLEMENT REFORM
By Robert Reich
It has become accepted economic wisdom, uttered with deadpan certainty by policy pundits and budget scolds on both sides of the aisle, that the only way to get control over America’s looming deficits is to “reform entitlements.”
But the accepted wisdom is wrong.
Start with the statistics Republicans trot out at the slightest provocation — federal budget data showing a huge spike in direct payments to individuals since the start of 2009, shooting up by almost $600 billion, a 32 percent increase. […]
* TAX AVOIDANCE ON THE RISE: IT’S TWICE THE AMOUNT OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
By Paul Buchheit, CommonDreams
Three trillion dollars a year. That’s how much the wealthiest Americans avoid through the system of subsidies and schemes and sweet deals that deprive middle-class workers of their earned benefits. That’s three times more than the deficit. That’s enough for a full-time job for every middle-class household in America. Here are the distressing details:
1. Tax Expenditures: $1.25 trillion
These subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes are estimated to be worth 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion. They largely benefit the richest taxpayers. Business subsidies bring the total to $1.25 trillion.
But there’s so much more.
2. Tax Underpayments: $450 billion
According to the IRS, 17 percent of taxes owed were not paid in 2006, leaving an underpayment of $450 billion. The largest share of that came from underreporting of income.
3. Tax Havens: up to $250 billion
(a) It’s estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed.
(b) 40% of the world’s richest individuals are Americans. That’s $8 to $12 trillion of the total.
(c) The historical annual stock market return is 6%. That’s a return of $480 to $720 billion.
(d) The 20% to 35% tax loss amounts to a minimum of $96 billion, a maximum of $252 billion. […]
* AMERICA’S CRAZIEST SHERIFF SENDS VIGILANTES TO ARIZONA SCHOOLS
By Annie-Rose Strasser, ThinkProgress
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will begin sending armed “posses” to patrol around Arizona schools today, in response to the shooting less than a month ago at Sandy Hook elementary school.
Arpaio made a name for himself by abusing the civil rights of undocumented immigrants — and for detaining a six year old undocumented child. Now he’s heeding the NRA’s advice that every school needs a “guy with a gun” and is sending out volunteers “with questionable pasts” to guard students:
Arizona’s 3TV reports that Arpaio’s volunteer force is comprised of around 3,000 members, some of which have criminal pasts.
According to CBS5, Arpaio’s office has provided a list of more than 50 schools in unincorporated Maricopa County that will be patrolled by the posses, which are in charge of providing all of their own weapons and equipment. The volunteers will not actually be posted on school campuses, but will instead monitor the areas around the facilities.[…]
* NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER AND HIS TERROR DRONES
The United States has fully embraced the killing of more innocents than “enemies”, with pin point accuracy. First we focused on “terrorist” targets on the Most Wanted list. Few US citizens complained. Next we installed the now popular Drone Warfare.
The technology has already spread throughout the world and is being used for domestic surveillance right here in the land of the free, home of the fearful. No, that was not your neighbor’s remote controlled helicopter you saw hovering over your yard yesterday. Israel has used them and almost every ‘modern’ nation has them in their arsenal including Russia and China. The USA just announced they will be supplying South Korea with surveillance drones. Amnesty International reports that Drones aren’t just an Afghanistan-Pakistani treat. American drones have taken lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. Meaningful public review of this most secretive of government programs is long overdue. We don’t need a new rule book; we just need the existing rules — international human rights and humanitarian law — to be applied.
“Over the last four years the use of drones has become increasingly more permissive. Lethal strikes are no longer restricted to “high-value targets,” and the high number of casualties of innocent children, first responders and bystanders has become acceptable to American Society. The corporate owned media uses phrases like “collateral damage” to gloss over the unintended loss of human life. Guilt, not innocence, is the apparent presumption. 32% of Americans polled believe it is acceptable to knowingly kill children to eliminate a key target in the war on terror.” […]
* DEMOCRACY, TERRORISM AND THE SECRET STATE
By Makinde Adeyinka, Global Research
You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, unknown people far from any political game. The reason was quite simple – to force the people to turn to the state for greater security.” – Vincenzo Vinciguerra
The nature, necessity and scope of the miscellany of powers exercised by the state over the nation is in one sense arguably as contentious in the contemporary circumstances of the Western world as it was in the distant pre-democratic medieval past.
In his work Della Ragion di Stato (The Reason of State), which was completed in 1589, the Italian thinker Giovanni Botero argued against the underpinning philosophical amorality espoused by Niccolo Machiavelli in Il Principe (The Prince), a political treatise centred on the ways and methods of the manipulation of the levers of the power by a ruler in an organised state.
The thrust of Machiavelli’s seminal piece was that virtually any action taken by a ruler to preserve and promote the stability and the prosperity of his domain was inherently justifiable. Thus, the employment of violence, murder, deception and cruelty toward achieving these ends were not ignoble in so far as the ends justified the means. […]
* 2012 – ANOTHER YEAR OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
By Eirene, A Place Called Space
[…] ‘Why do people feel helpless?’ wonders Sampat Pal Devi, founder of the Gulabi Gang. ‘If their rights are denied to them, all they’ve got to do is raise their voices’.
The Gulabi Gang was formed as a response to domestic and sexual violence and caste-based discrimination. Some of their achievements so far: they’ve stopped child marriages; they’ve beaten up men who perpetrate domestic violence; they forced the police to register crimes against Untouchables; they hijacked trucks full of food that were to be sold by corrupt officials. They are extremely effective and popular partly due to the fact that they openly defy abuses of male power.[…]