Friday, June 29, 2012

Former High DOD Official Warns Against Attacking Iran

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

“A unilateral preventive attack” on Iran by the United States would be viewed by many countries “as a breach of international law,” a former high American Defense Department official has warned his country.

“Given the high costs and inherent uncertainties of a strike, the United States should not rush to use force until all other options have been exhausted and the Iranian threat is not just growing but imminent,” writes Colin Kahl, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East during the 2009-11 period.

Writing in the March/April issue of “Foreign Affairs,” Kahl points out the Iranians “have not taken” any of the steps “which would signal that (Iran) had decided to build a bomb.”

A New Standard for Oxymoronic Newspeak

If there was an ongoing contest in the art of self-contradicting newspeak, a quote from a U.S. military official during the Vietnam War would be the reigning victor for most of the modern era. In describing the decision to ignore the prospect of civilian casualties and vaporize a Vietnamese village, that unnamed official famously told Peter Arnett of the Associated Press that “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

Epitomizing the futility, immorality and nihilism of that era-defining war, the line has achieved true aphorism status—employed to describe any political endeavor that is, well…futile, immoral and nihilistic.

But now, ever so suddenly, the Vietnam quote has been dethroned by an even more oxymoronic line—one that perfectly summarizes the zeitgeist of the post-9/11 era. As Wired’s Spencer Ackerman reports, “Surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency [because] it would violate your privacy to say so.”

In a letter to senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall, the agency wrote: “[A] review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court: ‘Obamacare’ Constitutional

by Becket Adams
The Blaze

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that President Obama’s landmark healthcare bill, including the controversial “individual mandate,” is constitutional by a 5-4 majority.

“The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter [because] there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power,” SCOTUS Blog reports. “The bottom line: the entire ACA [Affordable Care Act] is upheld, with the exception that the federal government‘s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.”

The court’s decision comes as a major defeat to those who have fought against the healthcare overhaul since before President Obama signed it into law in 2010. U.S. citizens are still legally required to purchase insurance via the federal government and the bill’s expansion of Medicaid, although now limited, still stands. This means roughly 30 million uninsured low-income Americans are still eligible for coverage through the bill’s expansion of the state-run entitlement program.

However, if it’s any consolation, the court also ruled that the Commerce Clause does not give the government the authority to compel Americans to purchase a product. So at least there‘s there’s that, right?

The American People Are Angry

by Bernie Sanders

The American people are angry.  They are angry that they are being forced to live through the worst recession in our lifetimes -- with sky-high unemployment, with millions of people losing their homes and their life savings.  They are angry that they will not have a decent retirement, that they can't afford to send their children to college, that they can't afford health insurance and that, in some cases, they can't even buy the food they need to adequately feed their families. 

They are angry because they know that this recession was not caused by the middle class and working families of this country. It was not caused by the teachers, firefighters and police officers and their unions who are under attack all over the country. It was not caused by construction workers, factory workers, nurses or childcare workers. 

This recession was caused by the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street.  And, what makes people furious is that Wall Street still has not learned its lessons.  Instead of investing in the job-creating productive economy providing affordable loans to small and medium-size businesses, the CEOs of the largest financial institutions in this country have created the largest gambling casino in the history of the world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Do We Have a Right to Internet Privacy or an Obligation to Disclosure?

by S. Paul Forrest
Many in America are speaking of how the right to privacy is being assaulted by FaceBook and other social media sites who have agreed to allow the monitoring of their users’ posts by government agencies.  Though these actions do stir the mind of anyone wishing our nation was more just and our freedoms weren’t being ripped apart one by one by nationalistic paranoia and religious revivalism, if one spends a moment to consider the issue in full, a few questions arise that beg to be answered: Do we actually have a right to privacy in a public forum and should fight to protect said freedom or should we be willingly allowing and supporting the efforts of our government to watch us for the sake of National Security?

These questions came to mind after reading a post on my own FaceBook page concerning a petition drive entitled, Tell the ITU: The Internet Belongs to Us.  The petition asks that we all stand against the International Telecommunications Union’s plan to control the internet. These plans reportedly include “giving countries full control over the information and communication infrastructure within their state” and “license to inspect private e-mail”.  Fees have also been suggested which “would limit our ability to access sites like Google and FaceBook.” The site asks readers to sign the petition to stop the Union from controlling our avenues of communication.  Whether it would help in any way to sign said petition is a matter for conjecture but the issue is disturbing, nonetheless.

Excluding Outsiders or Coming Together for The Common Good: What's the True Meaning of Patriotism?

by Robert Reich

Recently I publicly debated a regressive Republican who said Arizona and every other state should use whatever means necessary to keep out illegal immigrants. He also wants English to be spoken in every classroom in the nation, and the pledge of allegiance recited every morning. “We have to preserve and protect America,” he said. “That’s the meaning of patriotism.”

To my debating partner and other regressives, patriotism is about securing the nation from outsiders eager to overrun us. That’s why they also want to restore every dollar of the $500 billion in defense cuts scheduled to start in January. 
Yet many of these same regressives have no interest in preserving or protecting our system of government. To the contrary, they show every sign of wanting to be rid of it.

In fact, regressives in Congress have substituted partisanship for patriotism, placing party loyalty above loyalty to America.

The Price of Inequality

Interview with Joe Stiglitz
by Jared Bernstein

Joe Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate economist, is uniquely qualified to explain how the economy really works, or more precisely, how and why it’s working far better for the top 1 percent than the bottom 99 percent.  That’s the topic of his new book The Price of Inequality. 

The book is a model of clarity, but that's just one of its virtues. Another is how Stiglitz frames the problem; he doesn’t start from a place of "vast inequality is a fact of life in our free-market system, and that's as it should be." He starts from a much more interesting, and frankly, humane place: "This is happening. Why? Is it a good thing? Is it the market functioning smoothly or is someone taking advantage of their power? Above all: Is society better or worse off?

I recently asked Joe a few questions about his new book.  

Oh Yes, The Poor

A poem by Hal O'Leary

We are the reason we should fear the poor?
The distribution system isn't fair.
Is poverty a thing we can ignore?
When just a few demand the lion's share.

The distribution system isn't fair,
Excessive greed above breeds hate below.
When just a few demand the lions share,
The pressure builds, and one day it will blow.

Excessive greed above breeds hate below,
It spreads and it cannot be wished away.
The pressure builds and one day it will blow,
And when it does, there will be hell to pay.

It spreads and it cannot be wished away.
The level of the misery will rise,
And when it does, there will be hell to pay.
It's consequence should come as no surprise.

The level of the misery will rise.
Is poverty a thing we can ignore?
It's consequence should come as no surprise.
We are the reason. We should fear the poor

Hal’s poem was recently published in the Anthology, THE COMING STORM by Sleeping Cat Books.

Hal O'Leary is an 85 year old veteran of WWII who, having spent his life in theatre, and as a Secular Humanist, believes that it is only throught the arts that we are afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible.

Hal was recently inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame and is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University. His favorite quote is from Goethe. "I build my house on nothing, therefore the whole world is mine."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Supreme Court: More Elections for Sale

by John Nichols

The US Supreme Court may still retain some familiarity with the Constitution when it comes to deciding the nuances of cases involving immigration policy and lifetime incarceration. But when it comes to handing off control of American democracy to corporations, the Court continues to reject the intents of the founders and more than a century of case law to assure that CEOs are in charge.

Make no mistake, this is not a “free speech” or “freedom of association” stance by the Court’s Republican majority. That majority is narrowing the range of debate. It is picking winners. To turn a phrase from the old union song, this Court majority has decided which side it is on.

The same Court that in January 2010 ruled with the Citizens United decision that corporations can spend freely in federal elections—enjoying the same avenues of expression as human beings—on Monday ruled that states no longer have the ability to guard against what historically has been seen as political corruption and the buying of elections.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Obama's War on Democracy

by Stephen Lendman

In June 2009, Obama orchestrated Honduran President Manuel Zelaya's ouster. A US supported fascist despot replaced him. 

For good reason, Honduras is called the murder capital of the world. Independent journalists are killed. So are protesters for democratic change. 

After its calamitous January 2010 earthquake, Obama militarized Haiti, plundered it freely, opposed Jean-Bertrand Aristide's return, orchestrated the nation's rigged elections, and prohibited the emergence of democracy.

On September 30, 2010, his attempt to oust Ecuador's Rafael Correa failed. Coup plotters shut down airports, blocked highways, burned tires, and roughed up the president.

They also took over an airbase, parliament, and Quito streets. They acted on the pretext of a law restructuring police benefits. Ignored was that Correa doubled their wages. 

Obama's fingerprints were all over the scheme to oust a business-friendly leader who fell short of a neoliberal perfection. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

New NSA docs contradict 9/11 claims

by Jordan Michael Smith

Over 120 CIA documents concerning 9/11, Osama bin Laden and counterterrorism were published today for the first time, having been newly declassified and released to the National Security Archive. The documents were released after the NSA pored through the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission and sent Freedom of Information Act requests.

The material contains much new information about the hunt before and after 9/11 for bin Laden, the development of the drone campaign in AfPak, and al-Qaida’s relationship with America’s ally, Pakistan. Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Monsanto Crop Bans by Courts Would Be Reversed in Bill

S.Paul Note:  If there is any question left to the infiltration of Corporate money into our Governmental chaos, they should be answered with this farce of representation

by Jack Kakey

A House of Representatives committee voted to let farmers grow genetically modified crops developed by Monsanto Co. (MON) and its competitors during legal appeals of the approval process.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to permit modified crops to be planted and sold into the food supply after the agency’s approvals have been invalidated by a court, under a provision in the fiscal 2013 agriculture spending bill approved by the House Appropriations committee today.

The one-paragraph provision in the the 90-page bill would circumvent legal obstacles that have slowed commercialization of engineered crops, sometimes for years, benefiting Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company. Planting would be permitted until USDA completes any analysis required by a judge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Predictions in Chalmers Johnson Book About U.S. Coming To Pass

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

Few books of our time are proving to be as prophetic as Chalmers Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire,” published in 2004 by Henry Holt & Co. Its description of  the impact of the Pentagon’s war machine on our civil liberties and economy today appears largely to be right on the mark.

A best-selling author and President of the Japan Policy Research Institute, Johnson wrote eight years ago that four “sorrows” would be “certain” to be inflicted upon us and that their cumulative impact would “guarantee that the United States will cease to bear any resemblance to the country once outlined in our Constitution.”  Those predictions have come true.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FBI Terror Plot: How the Government Is Destroying the Lives of Innocent People

by Petra Bartosiewicz
The FBI is using informants to stir up fake terror plots, destroying lives in the process.
It wasn't long after he met the man called Shareef that Khalifa Al-Akili began to sense he was being set up. Within days of their seemingly chance meeting, Shareef was offering to drive Akili, a 34-year-old Muslim living in East Liberty, Pennsylvania, to the local mosque for prayers. Shareef told Akili he was "all about fighting" and "had a lot of resources at his disposal." But when Shareef began to probe Akili about his views on jihad and asked him if he could obtain a gun, Akili grew nervous. "I begin to try to avoid him, but would still see him due to the fact that he lived two minutes' walking distance from my apartment," Akili said later. In January of this year, Shareef showed up with a "brother" who called himself Mohammed and was keen to meet Akili. Mohammed told Akili that he was a businessman from Pakistan involved in jihad. "He kept attempting to talk about the fighting going on in Afghanistan, which I clearly felt was an attempt to get me to talk about my views," Akili recalled. "I had a feeling that I had just played out a part in some Hollywood movie where I had just been introduced to the leader of a terrorist sleeper cell."

Thousands March Silently to Protest NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Policies

by Verena Dobnik

Thousands of protesters from civil rights groups walked down New York City's
Fifth Avenue
in total silence Sunday, marching in defiance of "stop-and-frisk" tactics employed by city police.

The quiet was interrupted only by the tapping of feet on the pavement and birds chirping as protesters strode along Central Park from Harlem to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's town house on the Upper East Side.

For almost 30 city blocks, the march moved slowly and silently. Then, as they moved past Bloomberg's home, the crowd erupted in protest chants. The house on
East 79th Street
, off Fifth, was blocked by police barricades.

"We've got to fight back, we can't be silent!" a group of activists shouted as the march wound down, with a lineup of buses waiting to take protesters away.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Sociopathic Party Prepares to Take Total Control of the U.S. Government

by Michael Payne

America, a nation that has been in a severe state of regression and decline over the past decade, is approaching yet another obstacle to its ability to recover. That obstacle and a great threat to this nation, the Sociopathic Party, is a growing movement that has evolved from the corrupted Republican Party. It is relentlessly pursuing its main objective; to take complete control of the U.S. government.

Why exactly does this Sociopathic Party represent such a great danger to America? What is it about its members and its agenda that is so threatening? To answer this question we need to list some of the most pertinent characteristics of a sociopath and see just how they fit the members of this deranged political movement. And by this exercise we will also prove how these sociopaths and the Republicans are one and the same.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who’s Not Putting Americans Back to Work

by Bill Boyarsky

“The American people want action on jobs,
and the House is listening to 
the American people.” 
~John Boener 12/02/2011
The Federal Reserve report on Americans’ finances documents the terrible damage the Great Recession has inflicted on the nation, a toll that has been clear to its victims since the collapse began. The report’s dry language doesn’t begin to describe how bad things really are, and it stops short of blaming those who perpetuate the misery.

In pursuing this story since 2007, I and other journalists have seen foreclosed homes and visited unemployment offices, free food distributions, community health centers and mental health counselors. Former donors were now coming to free health clinics and food banks to get help themselves, an experience that will be forever remembered by their families. Lost homes, jobs and hopes are the legacy of this period.

The presidential campaign doesn’t reflect the urgency the situation demands. Republican Mitt Romney has nothing to offer except blaming President Barack Obama and joining with House Republicans in opposing presidential initiatives. Obama has some solutions, but doesn’t know how to sell them. The president had a chance last week when disappointing employment figures came out. Unfortunately at his news conference Friday, he reminded me of a bored university economics professor lecturing to an equally bored freshman class, not the nation’s leader who is in real danger of losing his office.

Rio+20 Earth summit: Scientists call for action on population

by Jonathan Watts

Data from World Bank
The Rio+20 Earth summit must take decisive action on population and consumption regardless of political taboos or it will struggle to tackle the alarming decline of the global environment, the world's leading scientific academies warned on Thursday.

Rich countries need to reduce or radically transform unsustainable lifestyles, while greater efforts should be made to provide contraception to those who want it in the developing world, the coalition of 105 institutions, including the Royal Society, urged in a joint report.

It's a wake-up call for negotiators meeting in Rio for the UN conference on sustainable development.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How Drones Help Al Qaeda


“DEAR OBAMA, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda,” a Yemeni lawyer warned on Twitter last month. President Obama should keep this message in mind before ordering more drone strikes like Wednesday’s, which local officials saykilled 27 people, or the May 15 strike that killed at least eight Yemeni civilians.

Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair. Robert Grenier, the former head of the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, has warned that the American drone program in Yemen risks turning the country into a safe haven for Al Qaeda like the tribal areas of Pakistan — “the Arabian equivalent of Waziristan.”

Anti-Americanism is far less prevalent in Yemen than in Pakistan. But rather than winning the hearts and minds of Yemeni civilians, America is alienating them by killing their relatives and friends. Indeed, the drone program is leading to the Talibanization of vast tribal areas and the radicalization of people who could otherwise be America’s allies in the fight against terrorism in Yemen.

Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN

Original broadcast from:  The Progressive

S. Paul note: 

The Republican Party of these United States and its representatives would like nothing more than to rid our land of voting rights.  They now stand en masse, as a representation of all that is wrong with America.  They are an example of what happens when greed, religion, nationalism and fear combine to create policy.  Despite their vehement proclamations of “patriotic action”, they stand for nothing that is truly American but rather, all of which we originally rebelled against England for: Oligarchy, taxation without representation and the ridding of any care for those who are not among their treasured numbers; those who do not support them, 100%.

If you doubt this claim, research what the Party and their media affiliates did to destroy ACORN, an association that in 2008 assisted in the voter registration of 400,000 black and Latino voters.  They also helped the poor who would not have otherwise afforded homes, secure loans from banks. They also had a major role in fair wage actions for workers who otherwise would have been paid an above poverty salary.  The right wing wave of propagandistic slander banded together to shut this agency down with false claims of their role in the housing crisis, voter fraud and big government coercion.  John Atlas has written a fascinating book on what happened to ACORN and how the Right wing stopped at nothing to destroy it and the work it was doing for the poor. 

The following is a podcast I had the privilege to listen to on with John Atlas, which explains the destruction of ACORN at the hands of the powers which will stop at nothing to disenfranchise We the People so they alone have power over of lives now and in the future.  


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

War or Revolution Every 75 Years. It's Time Again.

When Charles Dickens wrote "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" to begin "A Tale of Two Cities," he compared the years of the French Revolution to his own "present period." Both were wracked with inequality. But he couldn't have known that 75 years later inequality would cause the Great Depression. Or that 75 years after that, in our own present period, extreme inequality would return for a fourth time, to impact a much greater number of people. He probably didn't know that the cycles of history seem to drag the developed world into desperate times about every 75 years, and then seek relief through war or revolution.

It's that time again.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way. -- CHARLES DICKENS --Three cycles (225 years) ago, in the years before the French Revolution, inequality was at one of its highest points ever. While it's estimated that the top 10% of the population took almost half the income, as they do today, the Gini Coefficient was between .52 and .59, higher than the current U.S. figure of .47. The French Revolution began a surge toward equality that lasted well into the 19th century.

Monday, June 11, 2012

America’s Abusive Relationship with their Government

by S. Paul Forrest

If you missed the discussion on - 06-11-12 - at Breaking Taboo - - 7:00 PM EST - You can listen to it HERE.

Abusive relationships are often tragic.  Any person who enters into one is typically unaware of the perils which will soon follow.  Once the abuse begins, many resolve to remain in the relationship in order to avoid trouble whilst others try to escape only to meet a punishing hand for having tried to do so.  Oftentimes, those in these types of relationships cling to an ideal of a lover who will one day return to them; the person they first fell in love with and trusted: They can not admit an abusive relationship exists for they want only to hang onto the idea of a love that once brought happiness and security to their lives, innately resisting the idea that the relationship they were once so enamored with has turned into a nightmare.  It seems that Americans of late have come to exist within such a relationship. Their abuser though, is not a lover or a spouse but rather, their government; that entity they once trusted to look over their safety but which now has turned into a fiend and only wants to further imprison them; to cost them everything if they attempt to challenge or escape from the abuse.

It is deeply engrained within our psyche to love our Nation and by proxy, our government that nary a soul seems to want to admit there is a problem.  The propagandistic mechanisms used to keep us from speaking out against the abuse are everywhere.  The media tells us to question the government is anti-patriotic.  They slander Occupy Wall Street, calling the participants rabble while others who protest, they call traitorous.  The government itself perpetuates the problem by passing laws to watch us; to subconsciously and at times, actively threaten us with losing everything so we will remain in the relationship; so we will remain under its control. Those afraid of this backlash keep convincing themselves that the love and trust will once again be justified so continue to ignore the problem.

If any doubt of this abuse remains in the minds of Americans today, all they have to do is look around. Look at the case of Bradley Manning who dared show the world the villainous ways of our war machine or the Occupy protestors who are treated like criminals for daring to confront their abusers.  Look at how the protestors at Chicago’s NATO summit were violently treated and how the preparations for the Republican Convention in Tampa are progressing with the installation of cameras, the enlistment of thousands of police officers and the creation of “event zones” to silence the abused.  They say admitting your problem is the first step toward recovery so it would follow that admitting there is a problem with our current governmental system would be a step toward recovering from its oppressive nature.  It is unfortunate though, how few dare take that first step.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Truth About Tar Sands

Tar Sands 101

The Tar Sands "Gigaproject" is the largest industrial project in human history and likely also the most destructive. The tar sands mining procedure releases at least three times the CO2 emissions as regular oil production and is slated to become the single largest industrial contributor in North America to Climate Change.

The tar sands are already slated to be the cause of up to the second fastest rate of deforestation on the planet behind the Amazon Rainforest Basin. Currently approved projects will see 3 million barrels of tar sands mock crude produced daily by 2018; for each barrel of oil up to as high as five barrels of water are used.

Human health in many communities has seriously taken a turn for the worse with many causes alleged to be from tar sands production. Tar sands production has led to many serious social issues throughout Alberta, from housing crises to the vast expansion of temporary foreign worker programs that racialize and exploit so-called non-citizens. Infrastructure from pipelines to refineries to super tanker oil traffic on the seas crosses the continent in all directions to allthree major oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

The mock oil produced primarily is consumed in the United States and helps to subsidize continued wars of aggression against other oil producing nations such as Iraq, Venezuela and Iran.

.Obama Increases Pakistan Drone Strikes as Relations Sour

by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

President Barack Obama has ordered a sharp increase in drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan in recent months, anticipating the CIA may soon need to halt such operations in Pakistan’s territory, two U.S. officials said.

His decision reflects mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes -- mirrored by Pakistani grievances with the U.S. -- that have soured relations and weakened security cooperation. The U.S. is withholding at least $3 billion in reimbursements for counterinsurgency operations and security-related funding, according to congressional aides and Pakistani officials.

“We are reaching the limits of our patience, and for that reason it’s extremely important that Pakistan take action” to crack down on armed groups based there that attack American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday in Kabul.

In more than a dozen interviews, diplomats from both nations say they are trying to repair rifts that have sent relations to the lowest point in two decades, while military and intelligence officials are less sanguine about building trust. At stake are billions of dollars in U.S. funding for an ally in financial crisis, and American influence with a nuclear-armed power as U.S. forces pull out of neighboring Afghanistan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Resistance to NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Comes to D.C. as Lawmakers, Groups Urge Justice Dept. Probe

Dozens of New York lawmakers and several advocacy groups are convening on Capitol Hill today to call on the Justice Department to investigate the New York City Police Department’s controversial "stop-and-frisk" policies. Last year the NYPD stopped, frisked and interrogated people nearly 700,000 times — mostly black and Latino men. In all, there were more stops of young African-American men than the total population of that group in the city. "This is not about criminals. This is about a generation that’s been criminalized, targeted and brutalized by the police," says organizer Jamel Mims, a victim of stop-and-frisk.

It’s One Person, One Vote, Not 1 Percent, One Vote

The failed effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is widely seen as a crisis for the labor movement, and a pivotal moment in the 2012 U.S. presidential-election season. Walker launched a controversial effort to roll back the power of Wisconsin’s public employee unions, and the unions pushed back, aided by strong, grass-roots solidarity from many sectors. This week, the unions lost. Central to Walker’s win was a massive infusion of campaign cash, saturating the Badger state with months of political advertising. His win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.

In February 2011, the newly elected Walker, a former Milwaukee county executive, rolled out a plan to strip public employees of their collective-bargaining rights, a platform he had not run on.  The backlash was historic. Tens of thousands marched on the Wisconsin Capitol, eventually occupying it. Walker threatened to call out the National Guard. The numbers grew. Despite Walker’s strategy to “divide and conquer” the unions (a phrase he was overheard saying in a recorded conversation with a billionaire donor), the police and firefighters unions, whose bargaining rights he had strategically left intact, came out in support of the occupation. Across the world, the occupation of
Tahrir Square
in Egypt was in full swing, with signs in English and Arabic expressing solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lost and Forgotten Americans of 2012

As the austerity budget crisis continues to plague diverse Euro countries, American voters may breathe a sigh of relief that even with an economy that remains sluggish, the harsh level of austerity cuts being proposed in Greece and Spain and elsewhere have not happened here. At least that's what conventional wisdom espoused by those who have not suffered from the 2008 financial collapse or experienced the $1 trillion budget cuts in 2011 would have you believe.

As the early weeks of the presidential campaign have shown, the American electorate can expect a mind-numbing election season devoid of a real debate on real issues offering real solutions for millions of desperate citizens living on the edge, confronting the daily hopelessness of an utter catastrophe, abandoned by a government that once claimed to be 'Of, By and For the People". Lost in the shuffle of birth certificates or whether a private equity multi-millionaire is qualified to be president more than a community organizer is any discussion of the impacts on the upcoming second round of $1.2 trillion budget cuts.

In addition, with little substantive disagreement on most international affairs, any real discussion of U.S. foreign policy objectives will be virtually non-existent as the killing of Osama bin Laden is accepted as the crown jewel of foreign policy achievement.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Wipe Israel Off Map" Statement Gross Distortion of What Iranian Leader Said

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

The inflammatory statement that Israel should be "wiped off the map" attributed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "was never made" by him, a distinguished Canadian economist says in a recently released book entitled: Towards A World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War.

To begin with, says Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa, the words were not those of Ahmadinejad when he uttered them on October 25, 2005.

Rather, he was quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini, and the point of Khomeini’s thrust was not to wipe Israel, the nation, "off the map", but to change the Israeli regime, which is far different. "The rumor was fabricated by the American media with a view to discrediting Iran’s head of state and providing a justification for waging an all-out war on Iran," Chossudovsky writes.

Examining the actual quote word by word, Ahmadinejad said in Farsi:
"Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad."

Readers will recognize the word "rezhim-e" which translates into English as "regime" and will note that the word "Israel" does not appear in the quotation. What Ahmadinejad did use was the specific phrase "rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods" which is a reference to "the regime occupying Jerusalem."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Collapse At Hand

by Paul Craig Roberts

Ever since the beginning of the financial crisis and quantitative easing, the question has been before us: How can the Federal Reserve maintain zero interest rates for banks and negative real interest rates for savers and bond holders when the US government is adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt every year via its budget deficits? Not long ago the Fed announced that it was going to continue this policy for another 2 or 3 years. Indeed, the Fed is locked into the policy. Without the artificially low interest rates, the debt service on the national debt would be so large that it would raise questions about the US Treasury’s credit rating and the viability of the dollar, and the trillions of dollars in Interest Rate Swaps and other derivatives would come unglued.

In other words, financial deregulation leading to Wall Street’s gambles, the US government’s decision to bail out the banks and to keep them afloat, and the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy have put the economic future of the US and its currency in an untenable and dangerous position. It will not be possible to continue to flood the bond markets with $1.5 trillion in new issues each year when the interest rate on the bonds is less than the rate of inflation. Everyone who purchases a Treasury bond is purchasing a depreciating asset. Moreover, the capital risk of investing in Treasuries is very high. The low interest rate means that the price paid for the bond is very high. A rise in interest rates, which must come sooner or later, will collapse the price of the bonds and inflict capital losses on bond holders, both domestic and foreign.

The question is: when is sooner or later? The purpose of this article is to examine that question.

Let us begin by answering the question: how has such an untenable policy managed to last this long?

America's Rank Hypocrisy -- Why Is it Only an "Atrocity" When Other Countries Do It?

by Noam Chomsky

In his penetrating study “Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights,” international affairs scholar James Peck observes, “In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us” – whoever “us” is.

Almost any moment in history yields innumerable illustrations. Let’s keep to the past few weeks.

On May 10, the Summer Olympics were inaugurated at the Greek birthplace of the ancient games. A few days before, virtually unnoticed, the government of Vietnam addressed a letter to the International Olympic Committee expressing the “profound concerns of the Government and people of Viet Nam about the decision of IOC to accept the Dow Chemical Company as a global partner sponsoring the Olympic Movement.”

Dow provided the chemicals that Washington used from 1961 onward to destroy crops and forests in South Vietnam, drenching the country with Agent Orange.

These poisons contain dioxin, one of the most lethal carcinogens known, affecting millions of Vietnamese and many U.S. soldiers. To this day in Vietnam, aborted fetuses and deformed infants are very likely the effects of these crimes – though, in light of Washington’s refusal to investigate, we have only the studies of Vietnamese scientists and independent analysts.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Florida Will Defy Order to Stop Purging Voter List

by Chris McGreal

Florida's Governor Rick Scott (R)
Justice department warns that the practice of removing voters is illegal under federal law as Democrats call it discrimination.

Florida says it will defy an order from the US justice department to stop purging its voter roll of people the state claims may not be American citizens.

The justice department has warned that the practice, which critics describe as "voter suppression" by Florida's Republican administration aimed at stripping the ballot from people more likely to support Democrats, is illegal under federal laws.

It has given the state until Wednesday to agree to halt the purge, something officials in Florida say they have no intention of doing.

Federal authorities say that the state is obliged to get justice department approval for changes to its voting laws under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was introduced to end practices that prevented African Americans from exercising their democratic right in many southern states.