Steve Lendman

Mother Theresa: Saint or Satanic?

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Published on the The Greanville Post on March 18, 2016

Mother-Teresa-9

Beatified in 2003 as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta,” she was unjustifiably called “saint of the gutters” for allegedly helping the poorest of the poor.

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Awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for “humanitarian work” and “spiritual inspiration,” her legacy is notably unsaintly.

Instead of caring for the sick and needy, she hobnobbed with the world’s rich, famous and infamous, accepting large donations from dubious sources, including convicted savings & loan crook Charles Keating, Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and other notorious tyrants.

 

 

After a promising beginning that aroused expectations in many quarters, Francis has shown himself to be a conventional Pope, with a lengthening roster of misfires. The fast-track canonization of a sham saint ratifies he is no enemy of the status quo. CC BY-NC-ND by Martin Schulz – EP President

 

 

Her so-called hospitals were human warehouses. Hunger and malnutrition were widespread. Sick and dying patients got little medical care from untrained nuns and other personnel – poor food and mistreatment instead under deplorable unsanitary conditions, conducive to serious illnesses and diseases.

Journalist/documentary filmmaker Donal Macintyre witnessed firsthand what went on. “Rescued” orphans were crammed into tight spaces with “hardly a breath of air between their bare metal bed frames,” he said.

Some children were strapped to beds or otherwise restrained. They had “their mouths gagged open to be given medicine, their hands flaying in distress, visible testimony to the pain they were in.”

“Tiny babies were bound with cloths at feeding time. Rough hands wrenched heads into position” to ingest deplorable food. Horrific mistreatment was commonplace, an affront to human dignity, Macintyre explained.

Cold water substituted for warm and hot. Soap and disinfectants were in short supply. “Workers washed down beds with dirty water and dirty cloths.” Macintyre “witnessed barbaric treatment of the most vulnerable.”

The nun was… a paramount example of the kind of acceptably conservative icon propagated by an elite-dominated culture, a ‘saint’ who uttered not a critical word against social injustice, and maintained cozy relations with the rich, corrupt, and powerful.”—Michael Parenti

Mother Teresa and her staff dispensed inhumane and degrading treatment. She was a sinner, not a saint, traveling the world in luxury, indulging in undeserved celebrity.

Claiming she fed thousands daily in Calcutta, it was scores at most. Alleging her school taught 5,000 children, its enrollment was less than 100.

Saying she had 102 family assistance centers in Calcutta, none existed. During area cholera epidemics and floods, she provided virtually no help for desperate people.

She spent most of her time abroad, jet-setting to Western capitals, enjoying luxuries, mindless of the suffering of sick and needy Calcutta residents she claimed to be helping.

Michael Parenti earlier called her “a paramount example of the kind of acceptably conservative icon propagated by an elite-dominated culture, a ‘saint’ who uttered not a critical word against social injustice, and maintained cozy relations with the rich, corrupt, and powerful.”

“She claimed to be above politics when in fact she was pronouncedly hostile toward any kind of progressive reform.”

Her public persona was one thing, reality entirely different, awarding her sainthood another black mark defining longstanding deplorable Vatican policy.



 

ABOUT STEPHEN LENDMAN
Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.13.00 AMSTEPHEN LENDMAN lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”  ( http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html ) Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama Ups the Stakes in Syria

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on June 15, 2013

barack-obama-liar

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Obama lied. He’s a serial liar. He claims Syria used chemical weapons. His so-called red line was crossed. No verifiable evidence provides proof. Clear facts prove he lied.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry called Obama’s accusations “a caravan of lies” and “fabrications.”
On May 5, Reuters headlined “UN has testimony that Syrian rebels used sarin gas: investigator.”
Geneva-based “UN human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.”
“The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapon.”
Under heavy pressure, UN investigators back-tracked. They about-faced. They recanted. They lied. They claimed no “conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.”
Investigators failed “to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator.”
Clear facts don’t matter. Obama manufactured his own. He twisted reality to fit policy. He replicated a familiar scenario. Doing so reflects another Colin Powell moment.
His infamous February 5, 2003 Security Council speech led to war. It was shameless deception. WMD claims were false. Powell later recanted. It was too late to matter. Iraq was ravaged and destroyed.
Waging war requires reasons to do so. When none exist, they’re invented. At issue is greater intervention in Syria. Lies substitute for truth. Claims about Syria using chemical weapons don’t wash. Repetition gets people to believe them. We’ve seen it all before.
Previous articles explained what bears repeating. Syria is Washington’s war. It was planned years ago. US-enlisted death squads wage it. They’re proxy foot soldiers.
There’s nothing civil about ongoing conflict. Syria was invaded. Internal opposition is largely nonviolent. It wants dialogue, not war.
Washington’s been arming, funding, training and directing insurgents since conflict began. CIA operatives and US special forces are involved.
“Salvador Option” rules apply. They include massacres, torture, other gruesome atrocities, and chemical weapons use blamed on Assad.
At issue is regime change. Washington wants pro-Western puppet leadership replacing Assad. Independent governments aren’t tolerated. Big Lies launch wars. Obama’s heading closer to full-scale US intervention. Libya 2.0 looms.
Alexei Pushkov reacted. He heads Russia’s Duma. It’s the Lower House of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
Obama’s “going the same way” as Bush, he said. “Information about the usage of chemical weapons by Assad is fabricated in the same way as the lie about (Saddam) Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.”
Benjamin Rhodes is White House deputy national security advisor for strategic communication.
“The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he said.
US intelligence determined with “high certainty” that Assad “used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.”
US intelligence determined nothing. Insurgents alone used chemical weapons. Obama knows it. So do other administration officials and congressional members.
Rhodes turned truth on its head. He regurgitated the official lie. He’s paid to do so. Imperial priorities alone matter.
Up to 150 people died, Rhodes said. Obama ruled out US ground forces. He made no decision regarding a no-fly zone. He stopped short of ordering other US intervention.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
“US military planners, responding to a request by the White House to develop options for Syria, recommended the limited no-fly zone along the Syrian border to protect rebels and refugees inside Jordan.”
“The plan would create what one official called a ‘no fighting zone’ that would stretch up to 25 miles into Syrian territory along the Jordanian border, preventing Mr. Assad’s forces from launching attacks against the rebels and refugees and protecting US personnel involved in distributing weapons and providing training.”
“Under this plan, the US. and its allies would enforce the zone using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to US officials.”
“Suffice it to say (that what’s planned) is going to be different in both scope and scale” than previously, said Rhodes.
“We will continue to increase these efforts going forward. I can’t go through an inventory of the type of assistance we are going to provide.”
“It’s going to be substantively different from what we were providing certainly before our initial (chemical weapons) assessment in April.”
“It’s going to be an increase on both the political and the military side. We have a range of contingency plans drawn up.”
Readers can review the full text of Rhodes’ remarks.
Arms shipments will begin. CIA elements will handle them. Agency officials declined comment. On June 17 and 18, G8 leaders meet in Northern Ireland. Syria for sure will be discussed.
Russia prioritizes diplomatic conflict resolution. Obama wants war, not peace. Rogue leaders operate this way. So do Senators John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R. SC). On June 13, they released a joint statement, saying:
“We appreciate the President’s finding that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions. We also agree with the President that this fact must affect US policy toward Syria.”
“The President’s red line has been crossed. US credibility is on the line. Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions.”
“The conflict in Syria has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. The United Nations reported today that the death toll in Syria is approaching 93,000.”
“Hezbollah is all in. Iran is all in. Iraqi militant groups are flowing into Syria to fight for Assad. Russia continues to provide military and diplomatic support.”
“Assad is dramatically increasing his use of airpower against civilians and opposition forces in Syria. A report today stated that Assad’s forces conducted at least 5,000 air-to-ground attacks last month alone.”
“A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the President will take this urgently needed step.”
“But providing arms alone is not sufficient. That alone is not enough to change the military balance of power on the ground against Assad.”
“The President must rally an international coalition to take military actions to degrade Assad’s ability to use airpower and ballistic missiles and to move and resupply his forces around the battlefield by air.”
“This can be done, as we have said many times, using stand-off weapons such as cruise missiles.”
“We cannot afford to delay any longer. Assad is on the offensive with every weapon in his arsenal and with the complete support of his foreign allies. We must take more decisive actions now to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria.”
McCain and Graham are notorious warmongers. They’re war criminals. They support lawless aggression. It’s the supreme crime against peace.
Like Obama officials, they turn truth on its head. They twist reality to fit policies they urge. They recklessly endanger world peace. They threaten humanity. They belong in prison, not high office.
They’re not alone. Likeminded scoundrels infest Washington. They proliferate Big Lies. They spurn fundamental rule of law principles. They do so unapologetically. Imperial priorities alone matter.
America’s heading closer to more war. Obama’s hands already are blood-drenched. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He can’t wait to kill again.
He bears full responsibility for thousands of Syrian deaths. He plans mass-slaughtering more. His agenda reflects death and destruction.
He exceeded the worst of George Bush. His contempt for humanity is palpable. It may not survive his second term. He’s got more than Syria in mind. The road to Tehran runs through Damascus.
Longstanding war plans threaten the Islamic Republic. Millions more lives are at stake.
Washington Post editors urge war on Syria. Stephen Hadley was Bush II National Security Advisor. James Steinberg is former Obama Deputy Secretary of State. Joe Lieberman was US Senator from Connecticut.
On June 13, their Washington Post op-ed headlined “Iran’s nuclear ambitions demand urgent reaction from international community,” saying:
“(T)he world has become numb to Iranian intransigence, a policy that is unlikely to change no matter who wins” Friday’s presidential election.
A “sense of crisis is warranted,” they claimed. Iran “stonewall(s) the international community at the negotiating table.” It’s heading toward “produc(ing) a nuclear weapon.”
“The United States urgently needs to take several steps that will significantly sharpen the choice faced by Iran’s leaders.”
Obama “should signal unequivocally that the United States is prepared to take military action against Iran absent a diplomatic breakthrough.”
“He should publicly announce that it has plans for military action against Iranian nuclear and missile facilities, conduct military exercises in the region in a systematic and sustained way consistent with those plans, deploy US military forces to protect critical assets of our allies in the region and prepare to close down overseas Hezbollah cells and expose Iranian intelligence agents.”
“It is no longer possible to shrug off the ongoing diplomatic impasse with Tehran. The United States and the international community must approach this crisis with the clarity, determination and urgency it demands and deserves.”
Iran threatens no one. It’s nuclear program is peaceful. Washington, European and Israeli official know it. They claim otherwise.
Warmongers infest Washington. Bipartisan scoundrels decide policy. America’s addicted to war. Permanent war is longstanding  policy.
Peace is verboten. Today is the most perilous time in world history. Nations that live by war perish by it. America’s demise may take humanity with it.

Capture the False Flag

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on May 3, 2013

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US Hatched Terror Plots
by Stephen Lendman
Terrorists “R” us. Washington bears full responsibility. Numerous schemes are planned. Some are alleged and foiled. Others involve violent plots. Media scoundrels convict innocent people in the court of public opinion.
Later they’re wrongfully accused and prosecuted. Juries are intimidated to convict. Imprisonment follows. Culprits remain free. One scheme leads to others. Numerous political prisoners fill America’s gulag.
Even The New York Times was candid. At least party so. Most often it’s part of the guilt by accusation chorus. On April 28, 2012, it headlined “Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the FBI,” saying:
“THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed.”
Dozens were foiled just in time. Among others, they include:
  • a fake shoe bomber;
  • fake underwear bomber;
  • fake Times Square bomber;
  • an earlier one there;
  • fake shampoo bombers;
  • fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake mass casualty attacks on New York landmarks;
  • fake Oregon bomber;
  • fake armed forces recruiting station bomber;
  • fake synagogue bombers;
  • fake Chicago Sears Tower bombers;
  • fake FBI and other building bombers;
  • fake National Guard, Fort Dix and Quantico marine base attackers;
  • fake 9/11 bombers;
  • fake Boston bombers; and
  • numerous others.
At issue is enlisting public support for America’s fake war on terror and real ones that follow. FBI operatives are involved. Their “undercover agents and informers (pose) as terrorists,” said The Times.
They entrap innocent victims. They induce, influence or provoke plots that wouldn’t be hatched otherwise. They aid, abet and facilitate them.
Familiar storylines repeat. Many sound more like bad film plots than real ones. Orchestrated stings are used.
US Legal.com calls them “deceptive operation(s) designed to nab criminals. Generally, a law enforcement officer or cooperative member of the public plays a role as criminal partner or potential victim and goes along with a suspect’s actions to gather evidence of the suspect’s wrongdoing.”
They’re derived from the practice of using undercover cops to catch criminals. It means “set(ting) a trap to catch a crook.”
“Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court,” said The Times. Post-9/11, undercover FBI operations became commonplace.
According to ACLU lawyer Mike German:
“Prior to 9/11, it would be very unusual for the FBI to present a crime opportunity that wasn’t in the scope of the activities that a person was already involved in.”
Most terror plots are fake. Some are real. Nearly always terrorists “R” us. False flags describe them. Official reports about Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Bombing left unsaid what happened.
Oklahoma City bombing.org‘s Kevin Caruso described it as follows:
“On April 19, 1995, at 9:02 am local time, a massive truck bomb exploded in front of the (building), killing 168 people (including 19 children) and injuring over 800.”
The building was heavily damaged. So were more than 300 others within a sixteen-block radius. Dozens of cars were destroyed or damaged. The blast was heard up to 30 miles away.
Officials said a rented Ryder truck with around 5,000 pounds of explosives caused it. Within 90 minutes of the incident, Timothy McVeigh was arrested. He was accused of a firearms offense. He spent two days in jail. He then faced bombing charges.
On May 10, Terry Nichols, his alleged accomplice, was apprehended in Kansas. On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed. Nichols received life in prison.
Prosecutors claimed they timed the attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the Waco Mount Carmel Center siege. It began on February 28, 1993. On April 19, it ended in immolation.
It killed 76 Branch Davidians. It was state-sponsored terrorism. Attorney General Janet Reno approved it. No one was held accountable.
Post-Oklahoma City analysis was conducted by accredited explosives experts and professional demolition contractors. They determined that high-grade military explosives and detonators were internally placed.
Elgin Air Force Base’s Armament Wright Laboratory studied the incident. No single truck bomb caused it. Former director/explosives and ordnance expert/(Ret.) Brig. General Benton K. Partin was in charge.
He determined that no single truck bomb caused it. The ANFO truck bomb couldn’t cause steel-reinforced concrete columns to collapse. According to Partin:
“The total incompatibility with a single truck bomb lies in the fact that either some of the columns collapsed that should not have collapsed or some of (them) are still standing that should have collapsed and did not. This is a classic cover-up of immense proportions.”
“To cause the damage pattern that occurred to the Murrah building, there would have to have been demolition charges at several supporting column bases, at locations not accessible from the street, to supplement the truck bomb damage.”
“Indeed, a careful examination of photographs showing the collapsed column bases reveal a failure mode produced by demolition charges and not by a blast from the truck bomb.”
Additional forensic evidence showed other devices were involved. Official reports suppressed what happened. Media scoundrels regurgitated their lies. Doing so subverted truth.
In 1993, Ralph Schoenman asked “Who Bombed the US World Trade Center?” FBI investigators were heading for New York when it happened. “Thousands of people and dozens of agencies here and abroad” got involved.
The alleged culprit was named before “the ink (was) dry on the (official) press release….” Israel had advance knowledge. In 1990, FBI operatives had “advance plans and full documentation of where to find everyone and everything….”
Clinton officials gave Al Qaeda support. Ramzi Yousef and five other Muslims were convicted.
So was Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (“the Blind Sheikh”) wrongfully on charges of seditious conspiracy, solicitation of murder, solicitation of an attack on American military installations, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to bomb in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
His prosecution followed the bombing investigation. He was sentenced to life in prison.
He was a former CIA asset. He was involved in Clinton’s Balkan wars. He recruited and armed Mujahideen fighters for Bosnia.
Today they’re called Al Qaeda. The CIA created them. They’re US assets. They’re used strategically as enemies and allies.
9/11 is the Big Lie of our time. The official story doesn’t wash. Irrefutable facts exposed it. They separated myth from reality. Growing numbers worldwide understand. Perhaps one day everyone will.
In his book titled “9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed,” David Ray Griffin said:
“Getting the 9/11 lie exposed is essential. One obvious reason is simple justice.”
“There also needs to be justice in the sense of punishment for those who engineered this crime.” They include top government, military and CIA officials.
Perhaps they consider themselves patriots. They committed “murder and treason.”
“Many lines of evidence show that 9/11 was an inside job.” Exposing it is vital “for the sake of preventing further crimes against democracy.”
State-sponsored terrorism is policy. Repressive laws target dissent. Imperial wars follow. Fictitious enemies at home and abroad justify them.
Unchallenged global dominance matters most. Humanity may not survive the next onslaught. The threat’s too grave to ignore. Dismissing it comes at our own risk.

Big Brother has ARRIVED!

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steven Lendman Blog on May 1, 2013

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Institutionalized Spying on Americans

Big Brother no longer is fiction. It hasn’t been for some time. It’s official US policy. According to ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program director Barry Steinhardt:

“Given the capabilities of today’s technology, the only thing protecting us from a full-fledged surveillance society are the legal and political institutions we have inherited as Americans.”

“Unfortunately, the September 11 attacks have led some to embrace the fallacy that weakening the Constitution will strengthen America.”

Manufactured national security threats matter more than fundamental freedoms. Domestic spying is institutionalized.

Anyone can be monitored for any reason or none at all. Privacy rights are lost. Patriot Act legislation authorized unchecked government surveillance powers.

Financial, medical and other personal information can be accessed freely. So-called “sneak and peak” searches may be conducted through “delayed notice” warrants, roving wiretaps, email tracking, and Internet and cell phone use.

The FBI, CIA, NSA, and Pentagon spy domestically. So do state and local agencies. Spies “R” us defines US policy. America is a total surveillance society. It’s unsafe to live in. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying. It passed with little debate. On Sunday, December 30, 2012 Obama signed it into law. Doing so largely went unnoticed.

These type disturbing measures usually slip below the radar. Weekends and holiday period enactments conceal blows to freedom. Warrantless spying became law for another five years.

Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization. Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” is sought. Virtually anything qualifies. Vague language is all-embracing.

Months after 9/11, Bush secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans lawlessly. Sweeping surveillance followed without court-approved warrants.

Doing so violates core constitutional protections. Major US telecommunications companies are involved. They have been since 9/11. Things now are worse than then.

On April 29, Russia Today (RT) headlined “Spy, or pay up: FBI-backed bill would fine US firms for refusing wiretaps.” A day earlier Washington Post article was cited.

It headlined “Panel seeks to fine tech companies for noncompliance with wiretap orders,” saying:

“A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Face­book and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur, according to current and former US officials familiar with the effort.”

At issue is alleged FBI concerns about “Internet communications of terrorists and other criminals.”

FBI spying is longstanding. So are other lawless practices. Throughout its history, the agency operated within and outside the law.

J. Edgar Hoover ran it from 1924 – 1972. He waged war on communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, the American Indian Movement, Black Panther Party, and other groups challenging rogue state policies.

He ordered agents to infiltrate, disrupt, sabotage, and destroy them. Anyone advocating ethnic justice and racial emancipation, as well as economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines became vulnerable.

Post-9/11, FBI abuses escalated. Intrusive surveillance tools now target ordinary Americans. Unchecked authority and other abusive practices are widespread. America’s war on terror matters most.

Disturbing tactics include greater physical surveillance, commercial database data retrieval, paid informants infiltrating groups (or targeting individuals) on false pretenses, and letting covert unidentified agents conduct “pretext” interviews for information.

Muslims are America’s target of choice. So are anti-war and social justice activists. A gloves off, no-holds barred approach is followed. Virtually anything is fair game. Innocent people are vulnerable.

The Patriot Act authorized so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). FBI agents take full advantage. They do so by demanding personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.

The FBI wants more. According to the Washington Post, it wants companies failing to heed wiretap orders penalized.

In February 2011, then FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni told House Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee members about a “Going Dark” problem.

She explained the agency’s inability to access comprehensive “communications and related data.” She claimed a “public safety” threat when critical information is missed.

In March 2013, current FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann addressed an American Bar Association discussion. He did so on legal challenges new technologies pose, saying:

“We don’t have the ability to go to court and say, ‘We need a court order to effectuate the intercept.’ Other countries have that. Most people assume that’s what you’re getting when you go to a court.”

Under current law, Internet communications companies can refuse to comply with court-ordered wiretaps. They can claim no practical way to do so.

Proposed legislation would change things. It would force companies to rebuild their capability to allow government monitoring.

Weissmann calls doing so a “top priority.” Proposed legislation is being drafted. It’s an extension of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

It grants federal authorities sweeping surveillance powers. Doing so lets them spy on Americans more intrusively.

CALEA originally applied only to digital telephone networks. It forced telephone companies to redesign their network architectures to make wiretapping easier.

In 2005, online communications were added. Broadband providers had to rebuild their networks accordingly.

At issue was permitting access to Internet “phone calls” through VOIP applications, as well as online “conversations” by instant messaging programs.

Law enforcement wiretapping is longstanding. Existing laws permit tapping phone or online communications regardless of what programs or protocols are used.

Industry largely cooperates. Digital age surveillance is easier than authorities claim. They want greater ease than currently permitted. Expanding CALEA is overkill. Doing so enhances police state powers.

The FBI cites its “tappability principle.” It does so to justify its demands. It claims whatever is legally searchable sometimes should be physically searchable all times.

Applied to phone and Internet communications, it would require designing phones and computers with built-in bugs. Doing so would elevate surveillance powers. Everyone could be spied on at all times. Private communications no longer would exist.

Expanding CALEA is the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps software companies are next. Enhanced legislative authority may force them to create surveillance-ready programs. Doing so may compromise innovation.

Applying phone system rules to software development and online communications assures trouble. What’s longstanding policy for one compromises innovation for the others. It also more greatly undermines freedom.

Police state powers are enhanced. Companies are forced to comply. Under draft legislation, courts could levy fines. Judicial inquiries could impose additional ones. After 90 days, unpaid amounts would double daily.

According to Center for Democracy and Technology senior counsel Greg Nojeim:

“This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs. They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act.”

Former federal prosecutor Michael Sussman added:

“Today, if you’re a tech company that’s created a new and popular way to communicate, it’s only a matter of time before the FBI shows up with a court order to read or hear some conversation.”

“If the data can help solve crimes, the government will be interested.”

In 2010, after its networks were hacked, Google began emails and text messages end-to-end encryption. Facebook followed suit.

Doing so compromises FBI monitoring. Agency officials want enhanced CALEA authorization permitting it.

They claim doing so only extends current law to new technologies. It requires phone and online companies to allow wiretapping.

It’s much more than that. It elevates mass surveillance to a dangerously higher level. It’s another step toward full-blown tyranny.

On April 29, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) headlined “Feds Push for Backdoor Wiretap Capabilities.”

According to CDT Senior Staff Technologist Joe Hall:

“A wiretapping mandate is a vulnerability mandate. The unintended consequences of this proposal are profound.”

“At the very time when the nation is concerned about cybersecurity, the FBI proposal has the potential to make our communications less secure.”

“Once you build a wiretap capability into products and services, the bad guys will find a way to use it.”

CDT President Leslie Harris added:

“What the FBI is proposing sounds benign, but it comes with such onerous penalties that it would force developers to seek pre-approval from the FBI.”

“No one is going to want to face fines that double every day, so they will go to the FBI and work it out in advance, diverting resources, slowing innovation, and resulting in less secure products.”

“The sad irony,” said Hall, “is that this is likely to be ineffective. Building a communications tool today is a homework project for undergraduates.”

“So much is based on open source and can be readily customized. Criminals and other bad actors will simply use homemade communication services based offshore, making them even harder to monitor.”

Media scholar/critic/activist Robert McChesney told Progressive Radio News Hour listeners how Internet freedom has been compromised.

His important new book “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy” explains what should concern everyone.

“The corporate media sector (did) everything in its immense power to limit (its) openness and egalitarianism…., he said.”

“….corporate and state surreptitious monitoring of Internet users” compromises fundamental freedoms.

Doing so is “inimical to much of the democratic potential of digital communication.”

Internet freedom depends on “arrest(ing) the forces that promote inequality, monopoly, hypercommercialism, corruption, depoliticization, and stagnation.”

It requires ending mass surveillance powers. It’s about restoring lost democratic principles. America’s heading the wrong way. It’s perilously close to ending freedom altogether.

Amerika is Detroit

Off  the keyboard of Steve  Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on March 16, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

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America’s economy is sick. It’s getting sicker. Coverup and denial conceal reality. Census data say record numbers of US counties are dying. It’s over one in three.

 
It reflects population shifts and Depression conditions. America’s decline gets little attention.
 
Since 1981, 42 US municipalities declared bankruptcy. Ten did so in the past four years. Expect more to follow. Hard times getting harder assures it.
 
Detroit once symbolized industrial America. Might Motown resembles a ghost town. It’s dying. It nears bankruptcy.
 
Fifty years ago it was America’s fifth largest city. It’s now 18th. In the last decade, half the population left. It’s America’s ghetto. Its neighborhoods are in disrepair. They’re decaying and dying.
 
Half or more working aged residents have no jobs. Those with them have low-pay part-time or temp ones. They don’t pay enough to live on.
 
Poverty is extreme. It’s increasing. Nearly two-thirds of Detroit’s children are impoverished. They’re out of sight and mind.
 
Dozens of schools were closed. More closures are planned. Teachers were fired. Kids aren’t educated. Nearly half the population is functionally illiterate.
 
Public services are eroding en route to eliminating them altogether. One-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles lies vacant or derelict. Heavily blighted areas are increasing.
 
Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant. The median home price is $9,000. Many are much cheaper.
 
Property crime is double the national average. Violent crime is triple. Many areas aren’t safe. Police are unapologetic. Go out at your own risk, they warn.
 
In the last decade, half the force was laid off. So were hundreds of firefighters.
 
More austerity cuts are planned. It’s official policy. On March 1, Governor Rick Synder declared a financial emergency. Appointing a financial czar followed. He named bankruptcy attorney Kevin Orr.
 
He works for Cleveland-based Jones Day. His past experience includes government service. In 1991, he was counsel for the FDIC’s Litigation Section.
 
From summer 1991 – mid-1995, he was assistant general counsel for the Resolution Trust Corporation’s Complex Litigation and Bankruptcy Section.
 
From mid-1995 – February 2000, he was in the US Justice Department’s Executive Office for United States Trustees. From February 2000 – January 2001, he served as Deputy Director.
 
At Jones Day, he’s involved in business restructuring and all aspects of bankruptcy. He played a lead role in Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy.
 
Plants were closed. Jobs were lost. Wages were slashed. So were benefits. Strikes were banned. Detroit’s heading for the same abyss.
 
Claiming no alternative is false. It’s a Big Lie. Making the city’s rich and corporations pay their fair share solves fiscal problems. It’s true across America.
 
Corrupt politicians complicit with corporate bosses want solutions imposed on the backs of ordinary people. They want them bearing the burden.
 
Orr’s now Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). His powers permit canceling union contracts, terminating pension obligations, cutting services, ending others, selling city assets at fire sale prices, and privatizing its operations.
 
Mayor David Bing implemented deep spending cuts earlier. He fired thousands of workers. He outsourced vital services. Profiteers took full advantage. Bing’s got much more in mind.
 
Orr’s in charge. His job is radically restructuring Detroit. Expect the worst ahead. He’ll do it on the backs of ordinary people. He’ll fire city workers, cut wages and benefits, erode vital services, and end others.
 
He’ll hand over Detroit to bankers and other profiteers. Public resources will be plundered. Doing so assures greater crisis conditions. Unemployment will grow. Poverty will increase. Ordinary people will be left high and dry.
 
Public anger followed Orr’s appointment. He’s Black. Opponents call him an “Uncle Tom.” On March 14, they protested outside Cadillac Place. It’s a landmark downtown office complex.
 
Rainbow Push Coalition’s Rev. David Bullock expressed outrage, saying:
 
“They’re going to try to convince me that I should give up my right to vote, and put the city of Detroit in the hands of the same man who said he wasn’t going to pass right-to-work.”
 
“(He’s) the same man who took away the earned income tax credit….the same man (who’s) taxing our pensions. Never, never!”
 
National Action Network’s Rev. Charles Williams II said:
 
“We’re not worried about no Kevin Orr. Uncle Toms ain’t nothing new. We’ve had Uncle Toms for a long time.”
 
Tom Barrow is president of Citizens for Detroit’s Future. He said Michigan’s emergency manager law imposes diktat powers. It was created to oppress. It passed in mid-December.
 
It’s similar to Public Act 4. In November, voters rejected it by statewide referendum. Governor Snyder and legislators ignored them. They have no say.
 
Draconian powers are authorized. They include appointing an EFM, undergoing bankruptcy, accepting state-imposed consent agreement terms, overruling locally elected officials, selling public assets, modifying or terminating contracts, ending pension obligations and more.
 
Orr has diktat powers. What he says goes. Detroit residents are on their own. They’re out of luck. It’s been that way for years. It’s worse now than ever.
 
Neoliberal priorities let vital needs go begging. Money power in private hands assures it.
 
Finance is a new form of warfare. Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished. They’re left out on their own.
 
Corrupt federal, state and local officials arrange things. They do so for greater power and self-enrichment.
 
John McMurtry is a Progressive Radio News Hour regular. His “Cancer Stage of Capitalism” explains. Its new edition expands on what he wrote earlier. He discusses a money sequencing life destroying system.
 
Economies and communities are plundered for profit. Financial bosses are more powerful than standing armies. They take full advantage.
 
Detroit is ground zero. It reflects what’s wrong with America. It exposes predatory capitalism’s failure. It represents the worst of what’s coming.
 
Ordinary people are out of luck. Greater pain and suffering will follow. Democracy’s nowhere in sight. Monied interests matter most.
 
Detroit’s a microcosm of America. It reflects what’s spreading nationwide. It exposes venal priorities. Let ’em eat cake is dogma. Force-fed austerity assures it.
 
America’s criminal class is bipartisan. It conspires with Wall Street crooks. It’s allied with other corporate favorites. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter.
 
Ordinary people are marginalized. They exploited. They’re entirely left out. Their lives are wrecked. They’re deprived of enough to live on. They’re heading for neoserfdom.
 
They’re on their own to fight back. Officials they elected are enemies. Preventing them from getting away with plundering America is top priority. Detroit’s a good place to start.

Impeach Obama: A National Imperative

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on February 11, 2013

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Do it now before it’s too late!

America’s Declaration of Independence states:
 
“(W)hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, (it’s the right of the people, it’s) their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
 
Straightaway as president, Obama violated his sacred trust. He betrayed his constituents. He’s a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. He serves illegitimately.
 
He institutionalized tyranny. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He’s guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.
 
He menaces humanity. He’s heading America for WW III. He wants America’s social contract destroyed. He wants millions impoverished, unemployed, left hungry and homeless. He’s beholden to powerful monied interests that own him.
 
He spurns fundamental civil and human rights. He mocks democratic values. He’s contemptuous of essential needs.
 
Law Professor Francis Boyle is unequivocal. He told Progressive Radio News Hour listeners he should be impeached. He urged House Republicans to so.
 
He’s offering his services pro bono. On December 9, Boyle spoke at the Puerto Rican Summit Conference on Human Rights.
 
US militarism threatens WW III, he said. A century after earlier imperial aggressions, “neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration and the neoliberal Democratic Obama administration are now threatening” global war.
 
He cited his teacher, mentor and friend, Professor Hans Morgenthau. Earlier he warned about “unlimited imperialism.” His seminal book “Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace” discussed it.
 
His cardinal tenet was darkly Hobbesian. He said international law and world organizations are “irrelevant” in conflicts of national interest between nations. Ignore “reality” and perish, he stressed.
 
Imperial priorities are disastrous. They destroy societies and human life. They make it “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
 
No law or justice exists, no sense of right or wrong, no morality. Imperial madness prioritizes war. Absolute power is sought no holds barred.
 
Boyle cited the US Army Field Manual (FM) 27-10 – The Law of Land Warfare. Paragraph 498 says any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law is responsible for it and may be punished.
 
Paragraph 499 defines a war crime. Paragraph 500 refers to a conspiracy, attempts to commit it, and complicity with respect to international crimes.
 
Paragraph 501 says all high level civilian and military officials in any way involved in crimes against peace are personally responsible for war crimes.
 
Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime. Paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state” to absolve them.
 
Obama, other high administration officials, and their subordinates “are responsible for the commission of crimes against peace,” said Boyle.
 
The Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles, other international laws, and FM 27-10 define them.
 
In “international legal terms,” said Boyle, “the United States government” is guilty of “serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany.”
 
US citizens are constitutionally empowered to resist, says Boyle. They’re entitled to challenge their own government. They should “prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate (its) ongoing criminal activities….”
 
“Today’s civil resisters are the sheriffs! The US government officials are the outlaws!”
 
They “disobeyed fundamental principles of international law as well as US criminal law, and thus committed international crimes and US domestic crimes as well as impeachable violations of the United States Constitution.”
 
“The American people must insist upon the impeachment, dismissal, resignation, indictment, conviction, and long-term incarceration of all US government officials guilty of such heinous international and domestic crimes.”
 
Fundamental rule of law principles apply to all US military and civilian personnel. They include top commanders, the Secretary of Defense, his subordinates, CIA and other intelligence officials, as well as the president and vice president of the United States.
 
No one is exempt. Rule of law principles are inviolable. Imperial aggression is lawless. So is extrajudicial killing, torture, and other high crimes.
 
No president should be allowed to get away with them, says Boyle. Lawbreaking demands accountability. Doing so invites intolerable consequences. Disaster awaits.
 
We the People must act. Institutionalized tyranny approaches. It’s a hair’s breath away. Freedom’s on the chopping block for elimination. Humanity may not survive Obama’s second term.
 
Articles of impeachment are essential. Growing calls say so. In August 2011, Veterans for Peace (VFP) urged it. Waging illegal direct and proxy wars were cited.
 
“Therefore Be It Resolved,” said VFP, “that Veterans For Peace call on the US House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.
 
Impeach Obama Campaign.com has a White House Watch page. It urges readers to support impeachment.
 
Another page headlines “NEW ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT.” It states:
 
“ARTICLE OF IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA
 
RESOLVED, That Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following article of impeachment to be exhibited to the Senate:
 
ARTICLE OF IMPEACHMENT EXHIBITED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN THE NAME OF ITSELF AND OF ALL OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AGAINST BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT OF ITS IMPEACHMENT AGAINST HIM FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS IN USURPING THE EXCLUSIVE PREROGATIVE OF CONGRESS TO COMMENCE WAR UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 11 OF THE CONSTITUTION.”
 
Other detailed information followed. Obama violated his oath of office. It mandates he “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
 
He “mock(s) the rule of law.” He “unilaterally” commits aggression. He “endanger(s) the very existence of the Republic” and freedom. He’s guilty of “impeachable high crime(s) and misdemeanor(s).”
 
The UN Charter explains conditions under which waging war is justified.
 
Article 2(3) and Article 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use.
 
Article 51 allows the “right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member….until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”
 
Justifiable self-defense is permissible. Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 prohibit unilaterally threatening use of force not:
 
  • specifically allowed under Article 51;
 
  • authorized by the Security Council; and
 
  • permitted by constitutional and US statute law provisions.
 
Three General Assembly resolutions prohibit non-consensual belligerence:
 
  • the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;
 
  • the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; and
 
  • the 1974 Definition of Aggression.
 
Nuremberg Tribunal’s Justice Robert Jackson called aggressive war “the supreme international crime against peace.” Guilty Nazi war criminals were hanged.
 
The Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 lets Congress alone declare war. December 8, 1941 was the last time. Subsequent wars were illegal. Responsible officials were and are war criminals.
 
The 1973 War Powers Resolution (WPR) limits presidential warmaking powers. It requires consulting with Congress before authorizing troop deployments for extended periods.
 
Section 4(a)(1) requires presidents to inform Congress within 48 hours about deploying troops to areas of ongoing or imminent hostilities.
 
He must explain why they’re sent, constitutional or legislative authority for doing so, estimated duration of involvement, and whatever other information Congress requests.
 
Section 5(b) mandates withdrawal within 60 days plus an additional 30 exit period unless Congress extends the time frame for another 30 days, declares war, or unavoidable circumstances require more time. Unlimited amounts are prohibited.
 
One exception applies. As commander-in-chief, presidents may introduce US forces unilaterally into conflict areas in case of a national emergency if America, its territories, possessions, or military is attacked.
 
Under all circumstances, Congress must be kept fully informed. It has final say. Since passage, presidents exceeded their constitutional and WPR authority.
 
All US wars are illegal. Congress violates its own mandate. Accountability is null and void.
 
The Constitution’s Article 2, Section 4 states:
 
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
 
In 1793, George Washington said:
 
“The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress, therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure.”
 
In 1805, Thomas Jefferson said:
 
“Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war.” Warmaking is “exclusively (for Congress) to yield or deny.”
 
Thomas Paine said:
 
“In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king, and there ought to be no others.”
 
John Jay was America’s first Supreme Court chief justice. He said:
 
“(A)bsolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans.”
 
“These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.”
 
Alexander Hamilton called impeachable offenses those “which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the violation or abuse of some public trust. They are of a nature which with peculiar propriety may be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done to society itself.”
 
James Madison said:
 
“Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.”
 
“War is the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. No nation (can) preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
 
“In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.”
 
In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. They charged actions “subversive of constitutional government.”
 
Obama exceeds the worst of all previous presidents. He’s guilty of multiple high crimes and misdemeanors. Holding him accountable is essential. Do it now before it’s too late. Humanity may not get a second chance.

Whistleblowers & Wall Street’s “Good Hands”

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published originally on the Steve Lendman Blog

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Obama’s War on Whistleblowers

At perhaps the most perilous time in world history, exposing vital truths takes on greater urgency than ever.
 
Freedom in America is endangered. Truth telling and dissent increasingly aren’t tolerate. Whistleblowers are called threats to national security.
 
The ACLU says “leak detection, prevention, and punishment is cause for alarm.”
 
“National security must be protected and properly classified information must be kept safe. However, this cannot be at the expense of a free, open and informed society.”
 
Harry Truman once said:
 
“When even one American – who has done nothing wrong – is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.”
 
The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) is an alliance of whistleblowers. In August 2004, Sibel Edmonds founded it. It’s independent and nonpartisan. She serves as president.
 
Its members include “current or former federal employees or civilians working under contract to the United States who, to their detriment or personal risk, bring to light fraud, waste, and abuse in government operations and agencies when such improprieties compromise the national security of the United States.”
 
The The Government Accountability Project (GAP) “promote(s) government accountability….protect(s) whistleblowers, advanc(es) free speech, and empower(s) citizen activists.”
 
Since 1977, it’s been “the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.”
 
Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) honors those who do so. It’s “dedicated to the belief that a profound sense of citizenship is the only safeguard of democracy and the best defense of our social, economic, and environmental rights. “
 
It “teaches the courage to act for the common good.” Doing so, it believes, “inspire(s) hope in the future.”
 
On January 23, ATWW and GAP honored CIA/anti-torture whistleblower John Kiriakou. “Even if torture works,” he said, “it cannot be tolerated – not in one case, or a thousand, or a million.”
 
“If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable.”
 
“I may have found myself on the wrong side of the government on torture. But I’m on the right side of history.”
 
“There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security. One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture.”
 
More on Kiriakou below. He’s Obama’s latest whistleblower victim. His Justice Department wages war on them more aggressively than all previous administrations combined.
 
Candidate Obama promised transparency, accountability, and reform. Extremist Bush administration policies will end, he said. He called sunlight “the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse.”
 
“We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. (I’ll) strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government.”
 
He said one thing. He did another. As president, he usurped diktat powers. He wages war on truth. He targets whistleblowers. He prioritizes surveillance powers.
 
They include warrantless wiretapping, accessing personal records, monitoring financial transactions, and tracking emails, Internet and cell phone use. It’s done lawlessly to gather secret evidence for prosecutions.
 
In his book “Necessary Secrets,” Gabriel Schoenfeld said he “presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history – even more so than Nixon.”
 
Rhetorically he supports civil liberties and transparency. “Such acts of courage and patriotism….should be encouraged rather than stifled,” he said.
 
At the same time, he betrayed the public trust. He targets free expression and dissent. He pursues police state prosecutions and intimidation.
 
He claims Justice Department immunity from illegal spying suits. He exceeds the worst of all previous administrations.
 
His national security state targets activists, political dissidents, anti-war protestors, Muslims, Latino immigrants, lawyers who defend them, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists.
 
Law Professor Jack Balkin expressed alarm, saying:
 
“We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimation of a national surveillance state.” Obama exceeded the worst of George Bush.
 
Bradley Manning’s persecution is well known. So is targeting Julian Assange. Others get little or less coverage.
 
James Risen was targeted for his book titled “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”
 
In February 2011, former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling was indicted for allegedly providing him classified information. Risen’s book discussed an unidentified firsthand account of extraordinary rendition, torture and other type abuses.
 
He refused to disclose his sources. Obama officials alleged Sterling. He was indicted under Espionage Act of 1917 provisions. Transparency is verboten. Secrecy is official policy. Truth-telling is criminalized.
 
According to Reporters Committee for Freedom executive director Lucy Dalglish:
 
“The message they are sending to everyone is ‘You leak to the media, we will get you.’ “
 
“As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no difference (between Bush and Obama), and (he) seems to be paying more attention to it. This is going to get nasty.”
 
Longtime reporter/author Helen Thomas accused Obama of “controlling the press.”
 
“It’s shocking. It’s really shocking,” she added. “What the hell do they think we are, puppets? They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are the public servants. We pay them.”
 
Waging war on truth-telling is more aggressive now than ever. Former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas Drake was targeted.
 
He was indicted on multiple charges of “willful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements.”
 
Charges alleged he gave Baltimore Sun reporter Sibohan Gorman classified NSA documents. She focused mainly on its “Trailblazer” project. She discussed illegal spying, waste and other abuses.
 
She called the scheme “the biggest boondoggle going on (at the time) in the intelligence community.” She said people have a right to know.
 
Drake’s leaks exposed illegal spying, waste, fraud and abuse. He provided information on a public/private national security surveillance state.
 
He said profiteers are incentivized to hype fears. Doing so benefits their bottom line priorities. Justice Department prosecutors tried to prosecute him. They failed. Charges were dropped. Others aren’t as lucky.
 
Drake, Sterling, Risen, and others like them are heroic. They’re some of America’s best. They prioritize doing the right thing. They know the risks and take them. They’re punished for acting responsibly. Police states operate that way.
 
In April 2012, Obama’s Justice Department headlined “Former CIA Officer John Kiriakou Indicted for Allegedly Disclosing Classified Information, Including Covert Officer’s Identity, to Journalists and Lying to CIA’s Publication Board.”
 
In January 2012, he was initially charged with a criminal complaint. Subsequent counts included violating Espionage Act provisions “for allegedly illegally disclosing national defense information to individuals not authorized to receive it.”
 
Kiriakou formerly headed CIA counterterrorism operations in Pakistan. He was involved in capturing alleged Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. He took no part in torture and abusive interrogation practices.
 
In December 2007, he went public. His book titled “Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror” revealed Agency wrongdoing.
 
He said Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in one month. Doing so is torture, he stressed. He helped expose abusive Agency practices. Official policy prioritizes them.
 
He became Obama’s seventh Espionage Act whistleblower target. Others include Bradley Manning, Drake, Sterling, FBI linguist Shamai Leibowitz, civilian linguist James Hitselberger, and State Department analyst Stephen Kim.
 
They’re in good company.
 
Previous targets included Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) founder Bill Haywood, social justice advocate Emma Goldman, journalist/author/socialist activist John Reed, political activist Max Eastman, civil rights leader Philip Randolph, and Social Democratic Party of America and its successor Socialist Party of America co-founder Victor Berger.
 
On January 25, morning headlines said CIA whistleblower Kariakou got 30 months for disclosing a covert Agency officer’s identity.
 
He’s the first past or present CIA officer facing prison. He’s criminalized for doing the right thing. Torturers stay free.
 
Kariakou potentially faced longterm incarceration. In October, he accepted plea bargain terms.
 
They’re sought and/or accepted for lesser sentences. Innocent victims take them to avoid harsher treatment.
 
Kariakou pled guilty to one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Other Espionage Act charges were dropped.
 
Before sentencing, US District Court Judge Leone Brinkema asked if he had anything to say. He declined. Brinkema added that “Perhaps you have already spoken too much.”
 
Separately, Kiriakou thanked supporters. He came “out of court positive, confident and optimistic,” he said.
 
“I’m headed to prison while the torturers and the lawyers who papered over it and the people who conceived it and the man who destroyed the proof of it, the tapes, will never face justice.”
 
“And that’s the saddest part of the story,” he added. Unconscionable crimes reflect official policy. Police states operate that way.
 
Obama heads the worst of rogue governance. Humanity may not survive another four years.
 
 
Wall Street’s in Good Hands with Mary Jo White

 
On January 24, Obama nominated Mary Jo White as SEC head. “You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo,” he said. Others have different views. More about her below.
 
Washington is Wall Street occupied territory. Regulatory oversight is absent. Earlier New Deal reforms are gone.
 
The Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 followed the Securities Act of 1933. Under the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, it required offers and security sales to be registered. State “blue sky laws” previously governed them.
 
The 1934 law regulated secondary trading of financial securities. It established the SEC under Section 4 to enforce the new act.
 
Later came the 1939 Trust Indenture Act, the 1940 Investment Company Act, the same year Investment Advisors Act, Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002, the 2006 Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, and Dodd-Frank in 2010.
 
SEC regulators long ago abandoned their mandate. The agency was established to enforce federal securities laws, the security industry, the nation’s financial and options exchanges, and other electronic securities markets and instruments.
 
In the 1930s, they were unknown. They include derivatives and other forms of speculation. In principle, SEC is charged with uncovering wrongdoing, assuring investors aren’t swindled, and keeping the nation’s financial markets free from fraud and other abuses.
 
For decades, it’s been weak-kneed. Under George Bush, it was more facilitator than enforcer. It’s a paper tiger. It abandoned the public trust. It operates the same way under Obama. It
 
  • turns a blind eye to fraud and abuse;
 
  • protects Wall Street, not investors;
 
  • neutered its enforcement staff’s authority;
 
  • adopted voluntary regulation; and
 
  • lets investment banks hold less reserve capital, as well as freely use leverage speculatively.
 
Wall Street gets a free hand. Major banks take full advantage. They do what they please. They operate with impunity. They do it the old-fashioned way. They make money by stealing it. Their business model is fraud and grand theft.
 
They transformed America into an unprecedented money making racket. They function more like a crime family than business.
 
They manipulate markets. They front-run them. They pump and dump. Doing so artificially inflates security prices.
 
They profit in up and down markets. They scam investors. They bribe politicians. Their officials infest Washington.
 
At most, they get occasional wrist slaps. Fines imposed are pocket change. Prosecutions don’t follow. Mega-crooks are free to keep stealing. They take full advantage.
 
Mary Schapiro was SEC head from January 2009 – December 2012. She’s a consummate insider. She spent years promoting self-regulation.
 
She formerly headed the National Association of Securities Dealers’ (NASD). She ran the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Her expertise includes quashing fraud investigations.
 
She took full advantage in subordinate SEC positions under Reagan, Bush I and II. She did the same for Obama as agency head.
 
The Wall Street Journal noticed. It said her regulatory record showed she “infrequently pursued tough action against big Wall Street firms.”
 
Expect Mary Jo White to operate the same way. She’s a consummate insider. She’s considered safe. Why else would Obama choose her? He’s beholden to Wall Street. Money power owns him.
 
On January 24, a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “Political Regulators.” It commented on White’s appointment.
 
Media scoundrels call her a tough prosecutor. She “stood up to terrorists and mobsters.” Can she “do the same for Wall Street?”
 
“(W)e remember cases when she wasn’t so tough.” The 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign-finance scandal was one of many.
 
She asked Congress to “back off its probe of the AFL-CIO’s Rich Trumka.” At issue was compromising her own investigation, she said. It was more whitewash than scrutiny of wrongdoing.
 
White targeted small players. “None of this bodes well” going forward, said the Journal.
 
“The media’s Obama Protection Club may consider us rude for bringing all this up, but then a little scrutiny might make Ms. White more likely to resist Democrat pressure for politicized law enforcement.”
 
White is Wall Street’s new enabler-in-chief designee. She’s the first former prosecutor to head SEC. As US attorney for the Southern District of New York, she prosecuted alleged terrorists and crime bosses. She got Mafia boss John Gotti convicted of murder and racketeering.
 
Occasionally she targeted small Wall Street players. She didn’t lay a glove on big ones. She’s a former Nasdaq director.
 
She currently heads Debevoise & Plimpton’s litigation department. It’s a New York-based international law firm. It serves corporate clients. Its Wall Street ones include a rogue’s gallery of white collar crooks.
 
JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS and Bank of America among others are represented.
 
White defended B of A’s former head, Ken Lewis. Until stepping down in September 2009, he was Bank of America chairman, president and CEO. He reflects the worst of Wall Street crooks. He’s got lots of company.
 
White’s husband, John White, represents an obvious conflict of interest. He formerly headed SEC’s corporate finance section. He’s now at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. It’s a prominent New York law firm. White lobbies against regulation.
 
It hardly matters. Getting tough on crime isn’t Mary Jo’s mandate. Too big to fail means too big to jail.
 
Expect no change on White’s watch. She profiteers from revolving door politics. Her government positions got her high-paying private sector jobs. She’s part of the corrupt system.
 
Expect business as usual at SEC. As top regulatory cop, she’ll take full advantage. Her predecessors did the same. Whitewashing crime in the suites pays. Lucrative private sector jobs follow government service.
 
White will be better than ever rewarded when she leaves. She knows the game and plays it. She did it before. She’ll do it again. Career prospects depend on it.
 
Matt Taibbi addressed what goes on. He headlined his Rolling Stone article “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?”
 
Corporate bosses aren’t prosecuted. “Nobody goes to jail.” Nobody except occasional minor players. “(F)ederal regulators and prosecutors (let) banks and finance companies” get off easy.
 
Whitewash is policy. A “mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, (it’s become) a highly effective mechanism for protecting” them.
 
Taibbi quoted former SEC chief accountant Lynn Turner saying:
 
“I think you’ve got a wrong assumption – that we even have a law enforcement agency when it comes to Wall Street.”
 
Open and shut cases are whitewashed. Others are placed in a “deal with later” file. Later never arrives. The most high-profile cases get “gummed up in the works, and high-ranking executives” get off scot-free.
 
It’s standard practice for Wall Street. The Street’s biggest crooks aren’t touched. They’re free to steal again. Crime pays. Regulators cash in.
 
“The Revolving Door isn’t just a footnote in financial law enforcement,” said Taibbi. “Over the past decade, more than a dozen high-ranking SEC officials (took) lucrative jobs at Wall Street banks or white-shoe law firms.”
 
Partnerships are worth millions. Banks pay top executives multiples more. “All of this paints a disturbing picture.” It reflects a “closed corrupt system.”
 
Powerful interests get their way. Obama’s no different from Bush and earlier presidents. He allocated “massive amounts of federal resources” going after the wrong people.
 
“So there you have it. (Undocumented) immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: one. Bankers: zero. The math makes sense because the politics are obvious.”
 
Winning elections and profiteering out of office depend on “bang(ing) on the jailable class.” Innocent people fill prisons. Others committed misdemeanors too minor to matter.
 
Steal “a billion” and stay free to steal more. It’s the American way. White’s job is seeing nothing changes. Accounting Today warned us, saying:
 
In February 2012, she addressed a New York University School of Law forum. Prosecutors must not “fail to distinguish what is actually criminal and what is just mistaken behavior, what is even reckless risk-taking, and not bow to the frenzy,” she said.
 
At Debevoise & Plimpton, she represented some of Wall Street’s worst. She’ll do likewise at SEC. She’s part of the system. She’s safe. She won’t disappoint.

Aaron Swartz: Suicide or Murder?

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on January 17, 2013

Discuss this article at the Heros of the Revolution table inside the Diner

 
Advocates of online openness and freedom lost a committed champion. The Economist said to call him “gifted would be to miss the point. As far as the internet was concerned, he was the gift.”
 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation called him an “Internet freedom rock star.”
 
An official family statement called him “(o)ur beloved brother, son, friend, and partner….We are in shock, and have not yet come terms with his passing.”
 
His “insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable – these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter.”
 
“Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge.”
 
“He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.”
 
“His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.”
 
“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
 
“Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.”
 
“Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”
 
“Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.”
 
Lawrence Lessig is an academic, political activist, online freedom proponent, former University of Chicago/Harvard Law School Professor, and current Professor of Law at Stanford. He founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society.
 
He knew Aaron as a friend and lawyer. On January 13, he headlined “Prosecutor as Bully,” saying:
 
Whatever Aaron did wasn’t for personal gain. He did what he thought right. JSTOR understood. “They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron.”
 
They asked prosecutors to drop charges. “MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear.”
 
Prosecutors took full advantage. They got the excuse they wanted to target Aaron. They wrongfully criminalized him.
 
“From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way.”
 
It suggested he downloaded academic and scholarly articles for profit.
 
“But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.”
 
“Aaron had literally done nothing in his life ‘to make money.’ ” Whatever he earned wasn’t by intent.
 
“(W)e live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis, (notorious despots, and other scoundrels) regularly dine at the White House.”
 
“(W)hy (was) Aaron labeled a ‘felon?’ ” Prosecutors bled him dry. “(W)e need to get beyond the ‘I’m right so I’m right to nuke you’ ethics that dominates our time.”
 
“That begins with one word: shame. One word, and endless tears.”
 
A previous article questioned the official suicide story. It quoted Aaron extensively in his own words. It asked if he sounded like someone planning suicide.
 
He advocated online openness and freedom. He called information “power.” He wanted it in the public domain. He wanted everyone able to share it freely and openly. Failure is “too high a price to pay,” he said.
 
It’s “outrageous and unacceptable,” he added. Possessors of information are obligated to share it. They’re morally bound not to “keep this privilege for (them)selves.”
 
“(S)haring isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”
 
“Large corporations….are blinded by greed.” Politicians are “bought off to back them.” Legislation follows. It’s immoral and unjust.
 
“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.”
 
Aaron advocated open access. He wanted information everyone has the right to know made public. Download them from scientific journals, he urged. Upload them to file sharing networks.
 
Make privatization of knowledge a thing of the past. He asked everyone to join him in a struggle for what’s right. He did it because it matters.
 
He paid with his life. New York’s medical examiner allegedly conducted an autopsy. He pronounced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”
 
A previous article said lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? Why would he throw it away?
 
Why was no private autopsy and forensic examination done? Why aren’t questions raised about a potential coverup? Why isn’t independently determined full disclosure demanded?
 
Prosecutors notoriously lie. Medical examiners help them. So do media scoundrels.
 
Did Aaron take his own life or was he murdered? America has a dark history of eliminating noted figures it wants silenced.
 
Aaron perhaps is the latest. His death raises obvious suspicions. He appears a victim of capitalist greed. His open access advocacy had to be silenced. What better way than by making murder look like suicide.
 
Was he drugged and then hanged? Was eliminating him planned long ago? Was it done to avoid protracted headline-making trial proceedings?
 
Many of Aaron’s global followers would have reported them daily. Doing so would have revealed prosecutorial injustice. Dark forces perhaps decided not to risk it.
 
Prosecutors hounded him. His attorney, Elliot Peters, accused them of doing it to gain publicity. They cooked up alleged computer crimes against him.
 
They targeted his advocacy for what’s right. They wanted him silenced. They wanted him put away for decades. They wanted him out of sight and mind.
 
They crossed ethical and moral lines, said Lessig. They did what they did because they can. They made him a martyr in the process. He’s internationally recognized for fighting for what’s right.
 
Internet freedom is at stake. In 2008, candidate Obama promised to “(s)upport the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.”
 
As president he’s waged war to destroy it. He wants open access advocates criminalized. He calls doing so investing in America’s future. He wants censorship replacing First Amendment rights.
 
He and likeminded Washington extremists support an alphabet soup of federal and international freedom-destroying measures.
 
Various cybersecurity acts threaten constitutional freedoms. SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA, and TPP are stealth pro-corporate, anti-populist schemes.
 
Secrecy and misbranding conceal their harshness. Activists know what’s going on and say so. At issue is unchallenged global corporate empowerment regulation free.
 
Internet freedom, popular rights, and national sovereignty are too important to lose. They’re on the chopping block for elimination.
 
Profits alone matter. Compromising civil liberties is a small price to pay. So are public knowledge, privacy, and other fundamental rights free societies should champion. Democratic values are too important to lose.
 
Obama has other ideas in mind. Aaron and likeminded open access advocates challenged him. Doing so targeted him for elimination. Others are likewise threatened.
 
Doing the right thing is dangerous. Everyone involved is closely monitored. FBI, CIA and other national security files are maintained.
 
Lawless warrantless surveillance watches like Big Brother. Phones are tapped. Emails and other private communications are monitored, collected and stored. Stealth videos at times are used. There’s no place to hide.
 
Doing the right thing is hazardous. America’s unfit to live in. For many, it’s dangerous. Other Western societies operate the same way. The best, brightest and most dedicated are targeted.
 
Some are marked for elimination. Odds suggest Aaron was one. A fitting epitaph should read killed by capitalist greed.
 
He’s gone but by no means forgotten. Others continue his struggle for open access justice. Doing so is the only chance to have it. The alternative is too intolerable to accept.
 
A Final Comment
 
On January 15, Russia Today said Massachusetts federal court charges were dropped. Why pursue a dead man. A simple statement read:
 
“DISMISSAL”
 
“Pursuant to FRCP 48(a), the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz, hereby dismisses the case presently pending against Defendant Aaron Swartz.”
 
“In support of this dismissal, the government states that Mr. Swartz died on January 11, 2013.”
 
Omitted was full disclosure about how and most important why. Aaron was no ordinary Internet freedom advocate. His prominence made him a marked man. It cost him his life.
 
JSTOR didn’t press charges. MIT pursued a civil suit. Repercussions remain ongoing.
 
On January 14, the global hacktivist collective, Anonymous, broke into MIT’s website. It replaced its front page. A simple line read: “In Memoriam, Aaron Swartz.”
 
A statement followed. It called the Justice Department’s prosecution “a grotesque miscarriage of justice” and “a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for.”
 
“We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered Internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all,” it added.
 
Aaron grew up in suburban Chicago. On January 11, he died in his Brooklyn apartment. He was 26 years old.
 
On January 15, suburban Chicago’s Highland Park Central Avenue Synagogue was filled to capacity.
 
Family, friends and supporters came to honor him. Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman spoke for others, saying “Aaron wanted so badly to change the world. He wanted it more than money. He wanted it more than fame.”
 
“When things are hard – and he said it is the important things that are hard – you have to lean into the pain.”

Grand Bargain Betrayal Coming

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman 

Published on Steve Lendman Blog on November 10, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

 
Obama’s economic record includes nearly 25 million unemployed, around 23% of working age Americans without jobs, poverty, homelessness, and hunger at record levels or close to it, and the greatest wealth disparity in US history.
 
Privileged elites benefitted enormously on his watch. They’ll get plenty more ahead. Others are enduring protracted hard times. Bipartisan complicity calls for making things worse, not better. Huge budget cuts loom. Social programs will be hit hardest. More on that below.
 
America’s compromised progressive left hailed Obama’s victory. Condemnation should have been headlined instead. Nation magazine lost its soul long ago. 
 
Throughout its history, it pretended to have one. It scorns truth. It turns reality on its head. It ducks responsible reporting on issues mattering most.
 
On November 7, it headlined “A Progressive Surge,” saying:
 
“While President Obama’s re-election inspires varying degrees of hope among progressives, it has evoked one common sentiment: relief. Democracy may not be reborn, but a living symbol of plutocracy was defeated by the voters on November 6.”
 
It’s hard believing so-called progressive editors would publish outrageous rubbish this offensive. Obama matches Romney’s anti-populist agenda blow for blow. 
 
They agree on most everything benefitting corporate favorites and rich elites at the expense of all others. They scorn social America. They don’t give a damn about people needs. Pretending otherwise is unprincipled, reprehensible, and stupid.
 
Nonetheless, Nation editors celebrated “exhilarating wins” for Obama and likeminded Democrats. Hail to the party of the rich. It replicates the other rich man’s party. America’s duopoly calls progressivism a four-letter word.
 
“We are glad the 1 percent (was) rebuffed at the polls,” said Nation editors….”We are glad that progressive politics….made the difference.”
 
Perhaps they meant Venezuela’s election instead. In October, people power defeated privilege. Letting Obama lead America’s Money Party for another four years assures worse for ordinary people than in term one. It’s baked in the cake. 
 
Too bad Nation readers weren’t told the truth. Nor regular New York Times adherents. On November 7, its editorial headlined “An Invigorated Second Term,” saying:
 
“Without question, (Obama) intends to build on and improve the significant accomplishments of the last four years….to keep the economy growing.”
 
His first term record might make some despots blush. His economic policies are weapons of mass destruction affecting ordinary people. He’s got further mass immiseration in mind for term two. He also plans more war on humanity globally.
 
Times editors want his mandate used to “broaden his agenda.” How much more scorched earth hell can people stand? They’ll shortly find out straightaway.
 
Top domestic policy is massive social benefit cuts. Newspeak terminology substituted “grand bargain” for “austerity.” 
 
“Fiscal cliff” language refers to expiring yearend tax breaks and unemployment benefits, as well as looming $1.2 trillion in largely discretionary sequestered cuts to address them.
 
The 2011 Budget Control Act mandates them. Automatic reductions will affect vital social programs. Medicare, Medicaid, public pensions, food stamps, and other important ones will be hit hard.
 
The sequestered $1.2 trillion is for starters. Around $4 trillion over the next decade was agreed on. At issue isn’t deficit cutting. Key is protecting corporate handouts and Bush era tax cuts, as well as expanding them for business and upper-bracket earners.
 
Bush era tax cuts cost America at least $3.5 trillion in vital revenue. Important domestic needs were sacrificed. If maintained or increased for 10 more years, another $3.5 trillion or more will be lost. 
 
At the same, deficits will rise. Conservative projections show it. More realistic ones reveal ominous numbers.
 
America’s duopoly already agreed on cuts and increases in principle. When publicly announced, newspeak duplicity will conceal the severity of what’s coming. Initial cuts are expected on January 1 or shortly thereafter. 
 
Neither party worries about deficits or debt. Saying so is duplicitous deception. Obama, most Democrats, and Republicans want corporate friends and super-rich elites protected.
 
Working Americans and seniors will bear the burden. Increased corporate and upper-bracket earner benefits are planned. Cuts affecting ordinary people were agreed on months ago. Timing remains to be decided. 
 
It’s not about amounts, who pays, and who benefits. Key also is assuring Bush era cuts are preserved and sweetened.
 
From now through yearend, four major issues must be resolved:
 
(1) extending the 2% payroll tax deduction another year. In fact, it’s a stealth drain of hundreds of billions of dollars from Social Security’s Trust Fund reserves. 
 
Revenue already lost irreparably weakened its ability to pay future benefits. Lose more and the entire program may be lost. Privatization assures it.
 
Obama fully concurs on driving a stake through the heart of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and public pensions. He’s no progressive. He’s a corporatist hardliner. He never would have become president otherwise. Populists needn’t apply.
 
(2) extending expiring unemployment benefits for millions of laid off workers.
 
(3) another one-year Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) fix.
 
(4) delaying the 29% cut in doctors fees for serving Medicare patients.
 
Expect Republicans to drive a hard bargain like they always do. Democrats pretend they care. In fact, they’ve already sold out. Obama’s reelection hinged on it. 
 
He talks tough, then caves at the 11th hour. He did repeatedly throughout his first term. Both parties are in lockstep on defending privilege. 
 
People needs don’t matter. It’s part of a longstanding plan to third worldize America. Safety net protection is someone else’s problem.
 
On November 6, Bill Black discussed what’s coming. His article headlined “Wall Street Urges Obama to Commit the Great Betrayal,” saying:
 
Top domestic policy is eroding safety net protections en route to eliminating them altogether.
 
“Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it (a process that would occur over a number of years) by legitimizing the claim that (it) must be cut.”
 
Obama was hand-picked to do it. “Wall Street’s unholy grail (is) privatizing Social Security.” 
 
Doing so will let financial predators “charge tens of billions of dollars in fees annually and the banks that administered the privatized program would be systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) because the consequences of allowing bank failures to cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their retirement savings would require either that all such deposits be federally insured or that the failing banks be bailed out by the federal government.” 
 
“Privatization, therefore, is a convenient fiction. The banks’ profits will be privatized. Any catastrophic losses will be borne by the public.”
 
The Big Lie claims no acceptable alternative exists. Safety net cuts must be imposed. Obama’s sharpened knife is a dagger at the heart of what matters most to ordinary people. Their welfare, security and futures are up for grabs. They’re being destroyed in plain sight.
 
Force-fed austerity assures the worst of hard times. It’s responsible for what Black calls “the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse:”
 
  • economic decline;
 
  • job cuts and greater unemployment;
 
  • increased deficits and debt; and
 
  • destruction of safety net protections.
 
Combined assures third world status. Black said Obama prioritizes it. We’re forewarned but does it matter? Few Americans understand what’s coming. 
 
Grand bargain betrayal is planned. It’s come in stages like boiling a frog. It doesn’t know it’s dinner until too late. 
 
Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. It’s been happening incrementally for decades. Democrats are in league with Republicans. Their agenda assures intolerable pain and suffering for ordinary people.
 
Standard & Poor’s and other rating agencies endorse it. They’re corporate tools. They mostly represent Wall Street and other financial interests. S&P’s marching orders called for downgrading US credit to AA+. It did so in August 2011, saying:
 
“The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.”
 
“America’s credit rating is at a crossroads. We can choose to heed this message by finishing the deficit reduction job with a balanced plan that is composed mainly of entitlement cuts, closing tax loopholes and defense cuts, or we can squabble while our global standing continues to sink.” 
 
“The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.”
 
S&P targeted safety net protections. Including defense and tax loopholes reflected pro forma deception. Whatever benefits America’s imperium, Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites is sacrosanct and untouchable.
 
Expect fast and loose deception to conceal it. Obama’s an old hand at it. He’s a con man. He’s Wall Street’s man. They chose him and expect four more years of subservience. He won’t disappoint.
 
Forewarned is forearmed. “(W)e do not need to unravel the safety net and doing so would harm our nation,” said Black. Ideologues are wrong about what’s best for America. 
 
Throughout his political career, Obama’s been a stealth Republican. His voting record proves it. Reelecting him serves elitist interests well. They know what they want and got it.

Nobel Hypocrisy Wins Again

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on Steve Lendman’s Blog on October 12, 2012

 

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

 
Call it a rite of fall. Nobel hypocrisy shows up annually. It came again this year. The only surprise was which disreputable honoree would win.
 
A surprise of sorts indeed. War criminals often become Peace Prize winners. This year a political/economic union won. Perhaps honoring Wall Street and neoliberal/war mongering organizations awaits. Or maybe Republicans and Democrats for causing so much harm globally.
 
Expect anything from Nobel Committee members. They represent wealth, power, privilege, imperial lawlessness, and war, not peace. Perhaps they believe war is peace. They’ll have to explain why scoundrels regularly win their highest award.
 
Their announcement said in part:
 
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union (EU). The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
 
“In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France.”
 
“Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars.” 
 
“Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners.”
 
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.” 
 
“The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”
 
Apparently Nobel Committee members never heard of NATO. Its member states infest the continent. The North Atlantic Alliance functions as an imperial tool.
 
It was always for offense, not defense. Post-WW II, Western states had no enemies. East/West war never threatened. Hitler ravaged Soviet Russia. It didn’t regain normalcy until long after Stalin.
 
NATO was formed as an alliance for war, not peace. Cold War hyperbole incited fear. An arms race followed. So did permanent wars with or without NATO. From Truman to Obama they raged. They still do. NATO’s dirty hands operate in multiple theaters.
 
It’s a killing machine. America runs it. Leading EU member states include Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In total, 21 EU nations are NATO members.
 
They’re allied for war, not peace. They’re a dagger pointed at humanity’s heart. NATO has global ambitions. It includes ravaging countries everywhere. 
 
Maybe Nobel Committee members don’t pay attention to what’s ongoing. Perhaps turning a blind eye colors their thinking.
 
Their tradition is long and inglorious. Consider past war criminal winners. Henry Kissinger may qualify as the worst of the lot. His resume includes:
 
  • three to four million Southeast Asian Vietnam War deaths; 
 
  • the bloody overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende; Augusto Pinochet’s reign of terror; 
 
  • support for some of the worst global despots; 
 
  • Indonesia’s Surharto was one; Kissinger backed his bloody West Papua takeover; he also encouraged his East Timor genocide;
 
  • support for Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, its rise to power and reign of terror; 
 
  • backing of Pakistan’s overthrow of Bangladesh’s democratically elected government; a half million deaths followed;  
 
  • his 1974 National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) advocated genocide; he called it forced world population control; he wanted worthless eaters removed; he recommended eliminating 500 million people by 2000 and millions more annually; and
 
  • numerous other global crimes against humanity were committed during his tenure as Nixon and Ford’s National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. He served as administration Svengali.
 
In 2001, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the world body won. It was “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”
 
Throughout his tenure, Annan violated the UN Charter’s mandate. It’s to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war….”
 
Instead, he supported imperial lawlessness. He spurned peace. He never condemned or tried to end devastating Iraq sanctions. They killed around 1.5 innocent men, women and children. He stood by, watched, and did nothing.
 
He never denounced America’s lawless 2003 war. He was silent while Washington-led NATO ravaged Afghanistan. He supported the worst of Israeli crimes. 
 
He said nothing about America’s failed attempts to oust Hugo Chavez or success removing Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Like NATO, he’s an imperial tool. He resurfaced in Syria. 
 
His so-called peace plan was cover for regime change. He’s complicit in war crimes. He’s a world class scoundrel. His record is testimony to failure, betrayal, and criminality.
 
His sole achievement was spurning peace for war.
 
Three former Israeli prime ministers also got Nobel Peace Prizes. In 1978, Menachem Begin won. In 1994, so did Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.  
 
All three are war criminals. They and other Israeli leaders reigned terror on Palestinian civilians for decades. Netanyahu continues their deplorable viciousness. He’s Israel’s worst ever leader. He’s a world class thug. Expect Nobel Committee members one day to honor him. It wouldn’t surprise.
 
In 2007, Al Gore won. He put politics over principle. He was pro-business, anti-union, pro-war, anti-peace, and no friend of the earth. 
 
His “Earth in the Balance” book was more theater than advocacy. His so-called “green” credentials were used to further his pro-corporate/anti-populist/imperial agenda.
 
Numerous others like him comprise the Nobel Committee’s hall of shame. Four US presidents stand out. In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt won. He once said he’d “welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.”
 
He was honored for sponsoring the Spanish/American war and Philippines genocide. In May 1902, Senator George Hoar denounced him on the Senate floor, saying:
 
“You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives – the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit.” 
 
“You have established re-concentration camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest bringing sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane to drag out miserable lives, wrecked in body and mind.” 
 
“You make the American flag in the eyes of a numerous people the emblem of sacrilege in Christian churches, and of the burning of human dwellings, and of the horror of the water torture.”
 
Having done that and more, perhaps he deserved two Nobels. He wanted Pax Americana enforced through the barrel of a gun.
 
In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was honored. He broke his campaign pledge to keep “us out of war.” He wanted involvement in WW I. In April 1917, he established the Committee on Public Information (CPI or Creel Committee).
 
Its mission was enlisting public support for war and undermining opposition sentiment. It worked as planned. It turned pacifist Americans into raging German haters. The rest is history.
 
Wilson’s resume also includes the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. For nearly a century, it let bankers wage financial war on humanity.
 
In 2002, Jimmy Carter won. He got Argentine death squad leaders involved in training Nicaraguan contras. He supported Salvadoran fascists. He helped Khmer Rouge killers. He backed despots like South Korea’s Chun Doo Hwan.
 
He armed Suharto after his East Timor genocide. He began covert operations in Afghanistan. He enlisted mujahedeen fighters against Soviet Russia. He supported neoliberal harshness. In 2002, he won the award he wanted for years.
 
In 2009, Obama became the fourth US presidential recipient. He’s the worst of the lot by far. Nobel Committee members said it was for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
 
“Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”
 
He “created a new climate in international politics.”
 
He supports efforts to strengthen “democracy and human rights.”
 
“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
 
He was less than nine months in office. He was learning his trade. His crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide were just beginning. His war cabinet assured it. One observer called it a “kettle of hawks.” 
 
Neocons said McCain couldn’t have chosen better. He’ll continue where Bush left off. He did that and more. He’s still at it. Maybe he’ll become a double honoree. 
 
Nobel Committee members reward warriors. They deplore peace. Their awards show what they value most. It reflects Alfred Nobel’s legacy.
 
He got rich inventing dynamite and manufacturing weapons. He was a 19th century war profiteer. Late in life he reinvented himself. He established awards bearing his name. 
 
One was for peace he deplored. His business depended on war. There was plenty around then. There’s more than ever now. Nobel’s legacy legitimizes wars and leaders who wage them. 
 
Honoring EU nations shouldn’t surprise. They’re waging hot wars and financial ones on humanity. Committee members recognized their achievement. Perhaps they’ll be encouraged to do more. 

Weekly Steve Lendman-10/11/2012

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog

Discuss these articles at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboar inside the Diner

War or No War on Iran
by Stephen Lendman

In Shakespearean terms, indeed that’s the question. Longstanding regime change plans are known. Means to achieve them have been ongoing for years.

A previous article put it this way:

Red lines, timelines, deadlines, sanctions, sabotage, subversion, cyber attacks, assassinations, saber rattling, falsified IAEA hype, ad nauseam warmongering, Netanyahu/Barak bluster, spurious accusations, manipulated to fail P5+1 talks, and inflammatory headlines up the stakes for war.

Washington also uses color revolutions. Some work. Others don’t. Iran’s so-called “green” one was made in America.

After Iran’s June 12, 2009 election, days of street protests and clashes with security forces followed. Washington stirred the pot and caused them. They replicated previous efforts elsewhere. Regime change is the common thread.

Spurious Western media reports claimed electoral fraud. A new vote was demanded. Events replicated Georgia’s “rose revolution” and Ukraine’s “orange” one. Both worked.

The Iranian scheme failed. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won fair and square. He became the Islamic Republic of Iran’s sixth and current president. What Iranian voters chose, Washington wasn’t able to put asunder. It hasn’t stopped trying.

One scheme follows others. Iran’s so-called nuclear/existential threat makes headlines. They repeat ad nauseam. The power of repetition gets most people to believe them.

Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time….” Too many people are always fooled on issues mattering most.

What’s more important than war and peace. Public ignorance lets America get away with murder. It happens repeatedly against one targeted country after another.

Will Washington attack Iran? Will it be done jointly with Israel? More on that below. The Islamic Republic poses no threat. It hasn’t attacked another country in two or three centuries. It threatens none now. It’s nuclear program is peaceful.

Netanyahu is menacing. He’s toxic, belligerent and dangerous. He’s a world class thug. He’s Israel’s worst ever leader. He threatens Jews as well as Muslims.

Most Israelis are fooled. They may, in fact, reelect him. On October 9, he announced early elections. He said coalition partners can’t agree on budget priorities. Scheduled fall 2013 elections now shift to early next year.

Iran will be issue one. On October 10, Haaretz headlined “Nuclear Iran will star in Netanyahu’s bid for re-election, not Israel’s economy,” saying:

Fear trumps human need. “Netanyahu will highlight the approaching nuclear danger and portray himself as the only Israeli leader realistic enough – and tough enough – to deal with it.”

He repeats the Big Lie ad nauseam. He promises action against a bogus “Iranian threat.”

“Netanyahu prefers to focus on Iran rather than the economy, since Israeli elections are usually decided on the people’s anxiety about their security. And the economic horizon beyond the election looks grim indeed.”

From now through election, expect scurrilous anti-Iranian propaganda. It’ll probably get him reelected. Fear works that way. What’s coming post-election bears close watching.

David Rothkopf serves as Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s CEO and Editor-at-Large. Formerly, he and former Clinton National Security Advisor Anthony Lake co-founded Intellibridge Corporation.

Sourcewatch said in launching Intellibridge, Rothkopf had help from “several former government officials and spooks, including Anthony Lake and former CIA director John Deutch….” Former Clinton administration officials hold top posts.

Intellibridge provides “open-source intelligence, customized content,and analysis to the military and corporations.”

Earlier, Rothkopf was Kissinger Associates managing director and US Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy.

He and FP support Washington’s imperial agenda. On October 8, he headlined “A Truly Credible Military Threat to Iran,” saying:

America and Israeli may surgically strike Iran. Washington will do most heavy lifting. Israel will ride shotgun. Netanyahu won’t go it alone. He needs US approval and support.

Romney’s been baiting Obama on Iran. In an October 8 Virginia Military Institute speech, he claimed:

“Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us.”

“The President has failed to lead in Syria….Our ally Turkey has been attacked. And the conflict threatens stability in the region.”

“It is time to change course in the Middle East….I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.”

“(W)e must make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.” He barely stopped short of urging war.

He’s in campaign mode. Whether he’ll follow through if elected isn’t known. The possibility very much is real.

He claimed Obama hasn’t slowed Iran’s “pursuit” of nuclear weapons. Rothkopf called the issue a “centerpiece of the Romney campaign’s argument that Obama has not been tough enough on Iran….”

He hasn’t “offered a credible military threat” to deter what, in fact, doesn’t exist.

Rothkopf said unnamed Obama advisors told him privately that “they wonder about his commitment and that of the US military to taking action against Iran.”

Up to now, he’s been “dragging his feet,” but no longer. White House and Israeli officials are “closer together in their views in recent days.”

While no precise red line exists, Netanyahu’s preferred military option “is considerably more limited and lower risk” than full-scale war.

Saying so greatly understates the threat and potential catastrophic consequences. Attacking Iran is madness. Tehran’s response will be swift and strong. It’ll be far more robust than anything Israel previously experienced.

Bombing nuclear facilities in both countries assures widespread irradiation. Immediate casualties will be huge in both countries. Longer-term ones will be catastrophically high.

War on Iran assures all sides lose. Regional countries will be affected. US facilities and ships will be attacked.

Economic consequences will be severe. Sharply higher oil prices will follow. Global recession will deepen. Israel and America will be more hated than ever. War may happen anyway.

Understating what’s at stake is irresponsible. Is Rothkopf urging war? Claiming low risk consequences suggests it. According to his unnamed source, “(t)he strike might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve a ‘day or two’ overall.”

It “would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support.” It’s “politically palatable.” It’ll set back Iran’s nuclear program “many years….without civilian casualties – it would have regional benefits.”

Yellow journalism is bad enough. Practically endorsing catastrophic war is unconscionable and madness.

He quoted an unnamed warmonger claiming a “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.”

Transformative indeed in all the wrong ways.

It’s well known, or should be, that Israel can’t go it alone. Its capability isn’t up to destroying Iran’s Fordo facility. It’s built deep underground within a mountain for protection.

Powerful bunker busters (possibly mini-nukes) are needed. Using them won’t assure success. At the same time, Israeli aircraft on their own may be unable to deliver a potential knockout punch.

The Wilson Center’s Iran Project assessed benefits and costs. Its conclusions didn’t please warmongers. Iran can retaliate with “conventionally armed ballistic missiles capable of striking most of the region, including Israel,” it said.

War could last years. Military and economic costs will be high. A New American Foundation study said attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities assures disaster.

Another by Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies said Iranian mines and missiles can block the Strait of Hormuz, halt or greatly curtail oil shipments, and “it could take many weeks, even months, to restore the full flow of commerce, and more time still for the oil markets to be convinced that stability has returned.”

A 2008 Washington Institute for the Near East Policy (WINEP) study said two decades after the Iran/Iraq war, the Islamic Republic’s naval capabilities now excel. They’re able to wage effective asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) is highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed. It’s a formidable force. It controls the Strait of Hormuz choke point.

WINEP added that if Washington and/or Israel attacks Iran, its response will be proportional to damage it sustains.

It bears repeating. Attacking Iran is madness for good reason. Claiming otherwise is unconscionable. It also avoids explaining serious international law violations.

Preemptive aggressive wars are illegal. Hot or cold warriors don’t seem to care.

Cooked or Accurate US Employment Numbers

by Stephen Lendman

For over a decade, US job prospects have been dismal. Since crisis conditions erupted in 2008, they’ve been dire for millions wanting work.

Since Obama took office in January 2009, job creation has been pathetic. Numbers reported during the weakest US recovery on record largely failed to compensate for others lost.

Monthly Labor Department (BLS) data report inaccurately. America’s broken jobs engine isn’t explained. The latest 7.8% unemployment rate is blarney. Based on the 1980s calculation model, real unemployment approaches 23%.

You’d never know it from irrational exuberance following the October 5 BLS report. “Better News on Jobs” headlined a New York Times editorial, saying:

The report “was stronger than expected.” It’s also true that more needs to be done “to maintain and create jobs,” The Times admitted. It also called the unemployment rate drop from 8.1% to 7.8% “partly due to a statistical fluke and partly to more part-time employment.”

It has nothing to do with the latter. It has everything to do with huge numbers of workers dropping out of the labor force monthly for lack of jobs. Healthy economies have them for virtually anyone wanting work. No longer.

Moreover, most jobs created are poor temporary or part-time low wage/low or no benefit ones. People take them to eat and avoid having to sleep on city streets.

The Times left unexplained what’s most important to know. A Washington Post editorial was worse. It headlined “Jobs report shows an economy on the move,” saying:

Before taking office in January 2009, Obama told Post editors that job creation was his “number-one priority.” Grade him F for not delivering or trying.

Not according to the Post, saying: “Friday’s employment report gave Mr. Obama a reason to crow.”

“Unemployment probably would have been worse but for some of (his) policies….”

False! Obama helped Wall Street, not Main Street. His so-called fiscal stimulus went mostly for corporate tax cuts and others to rich elites. Ordinary people got austerity, not help. Current dire conditions show it.

An October 9 NYT editorial claimed otherwise. Headlined “Conspiracy World,” it covered more than unemployment. It said many Republicans see Obama “as the center of a broad and malevolent liberal conspiracy to upend the truth.”

Both parties and supportive media scoundrels wage relentless war on it.

The latest unemployment numbers “make the administration look good.” They’re, in fact, dismal, but Republicans take issue with anything appearing to help Obama, even if untrue.

Some called the latest BLS numbers “cooked.” The Times berated anyone “mistrust(ing) the most basic functions of government.”

They should be exposed and denounced for what they are.

BLS and other federal bureaucrats resist “political pressure and manipulation,” claimed The Times. Conspiracists claim otherwise. Sometimes they’re right. Insiders don’t go public and admit it.

Instead of giving Obama undeserved credit, the Post, Times and other supportive media should explain how badly he failed.

Economist Paul Craig Roberts excels in doing it. On October 5, he headlined “Another Phony US Employment Report: Spiraling Number of Involuntary Part-Time Workers,” saying:

BLS reported jobs created fell way short of population growth. Healthy US economies would be producing nearly three times the reported number monthly.

BLS said 2.5 million “persons were marginally attached to the labor force.” Orwell couldn’t have said it better. They want work but can’t find it. BLS made them non-persons. Millions of others bump dangerously close to the same status.

America’s economy is sick. Roberts explains it often. He omits ambiguity. He says what people need to know. Dire US employment prospects show up monthly in huge involuntary part-time worker increases. Similar full-time dropouts also reflect it.

High-paying/good benefit full-time manufacturing, high-tech, and other professional jobs are disappearing. They’re now offshore in low-wage countries.

Growing numbers of Americans must settle for part-time Walmart, bartending, waitressing, ditch-digging, and other rotten service jobs they don’t want but have no choice.

America’s “New Economy” is as phony as Iraq’s WMDs. Reality falls way short of rhetoric.

Economist Jack Rasmus appears regularly on the Progressive Radio News Hour. He reports accurately on economic and financial conditions. Like Roberts, he explains what’s most important to know. He’s world’s different from tout-TV analysts and business press headlines.

He questioned the accuracy of BLS jobs reports. They’re not falsified, but something very much is wrong and has been previously.

For the last three years, an unexplained phenomenon repeated. Rasmus is one of few economists explaining it. It’s significant and needs highlighting. It suggests something out of whack, besides much else about suspect and inaccurate BLS reporting.

Each fall and winter, well above trend job gains are reported. In contrast, every spring/early summer gains “collapse. There is indeed something going on with the jobs numbers, though it’s not falsification,” says Rasmus.

Last month’s Household Survey mysteriously showed outsized gains. Given current conditions, they made no sense. They reflect one or two phenomena, believes Rasmus.

Employers are either replacing full-time workers with part-time/temp ones, or they’re hiring for the latter two categories because economic prospects aren’t encouraging.

In calculating its headline U-3 unemployment rate, part-time workers count the same as full-time ones. Hiring them in place of permanent employees reflects “very weak labor market” conditions.

Fictitious new business formations also help explain inordinately high part-time hiring. Estimates are suspect. Media scoundrels report them like gospel.

Something is very wrong with BLS reports. Problems are more extensive than one month’s numbers. When divergence is so great between the Establishment (Payroll) and Household (Population) Surveys, something indeed is amiss.

As or more important is the extraordinary seasonal divergence. One year’s aberration wouldn’t matter. Three consecutive years shows something else entirely. “Something is wrong.”

America’s economy is sick. Labor market reality reflects it. It’s not “rapidly mending.” Over 23 million remain jobless. Trillions of dollar of tax cuts, banker bailouts, corporate subsidies, and other handouts did nothing to mend things.

Nor did QE ad infinitum. The most radical ever monetary/fiscal experiment failed.

In the first so-called presidential debate, neither candidate discussed “anything remotely representing a jobs program.”

Obama and Romney don’t care. They want more for bankers, war profiteers, and other corporate favorites. People needs don’t matter. Bipartisanship reflects let-em-eat-cake indifference, government of, by, and for them alone, force-fed austerity, unfair “free” trade deals, permanent wars, and harsh crackdowns on non-believers.

Nothing ahead next year looks promising. Both parties are in lockstep. People needs aren’t addressed. America’s military alone actively recruits. Join the army. See the world. Lose a limb or two or three.

Lose your emotional stability and future prospects. Nothing abroad justifies fighting for. Nothing good domestically awaits returning vets. Hot wars target America’s enemies. Financial ones affect ordinary people back home. Both have deadly consequences.

A new IMF report signaled trouble. “The recovery has suffered new setbacks, and uncertainty weighs on the outlook,” it said. “Downside risks have increased and are considerable.”

Worldwide growth will match 2009 recession levels. Global recession may follow. Out-of-control government debt is pandemic. Expect higher interest rates, lower profits, and weak financial markets.

US 2013 fiscal cliff austerity assures harder times ahead. Similar cuts across Europe smother the continent. Employment gains are fake, a mirage. Business and consumer confidence are “exceptionally” fragile. Market rallies are head-fake traps.

Dismal prospects loom. Companies cut staff in hard times. Expect them in 2013. Rasmus predicts nasty recession conditions. Past forecasts he made proved accurate. Stay tuned. He, Roberts, and others reporting accurately will update their outlooks ahead.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:50 PM

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Venezuelan Electoral Postmortems
by Stephen Lendman

Chavistas celebrated Sunday’s victory. Bolivarianism triumphed over exploitive neoliberal harshness. In open, free, and fair elections, Venezuelans got to choose. It’s constitutionally mandated. Every vote counts equally.

Americans don’t have that right. On November 6, choice won’t be the ballot. Column A matches Column B. Money power chooses candidates and winners. Some election! No wonder half the electorate ops out.

On October 7, Venezuelans turned out in record numbers. Over 80% of registered voters showed up. Turnout was so great, many waited hours to exercise their franchise.

It’s important because what they say matters. They wanted Chavez for another six years and got him. They want Bolivarianism sustained and deepened.

Chavez pledged he’ll do it. He keeps promises. Vows US leaders make aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Obama broke every major one he made.

It shouldn’t surprise. It’s the American way. Bolivarianism chooses another. Its good example shames Western faux democracies. Today they’re more hypocrisy than ever.

Prioritizing wealth, power and imperial interests means depriving most people of vital social services. No wonder unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and overall human misery keep growing.

Venezuela is mirror opposite. Beneficial social change is prioritized. It shows. Poor people are helped generously. Child mortality fell from 20 per 1,000 to 13. Unemployment dropped from 14.5% to 7.6%. Income inequality is Latin America’s lowest. Poverty was cut in half. Extreme poverty fell from 23.4% to 8.5%.

According to Census figures, half of US households are impoverished or bordering on it. Real unemployment approaches 23%. Most jobs are temporary or part-time low pay/poor or no benefit ones. They’re rotten. With no other choice, people take them. It’s either that or starve and sleep on city streets.

America’s industrial base is a shadow of its former self. It’s located offshore in low wage countries. US workers are left high and dry. Conditions keep worsening, not improving.

Venezuela’s far from perfect. Violent crime, corruption, high inflation, infrastructure needs, and a menacing northern neighbor are worrisome. Chavez’s health is uncertain. His cancer’s in remission. If it returns and he can’t serve, who’ll succeed him isn’t clear.

Venezuela’s poor love him for good reason. They turned Sunday evening into New Year’s eve. Victory was sweet, and they celebrated.

Sour grapes showed up prominently elsewhere. It’s standard practice after every Bolivarian triumph. More on that below.

Venezuela is comprised of 23 states, a Capital District (Caracas), and offshore Federal Dependencies. Chavez carried 21 states and Caracas. Lead opponent Capriles took Zulia and Carabobo states.

Venezuela’s state-of-the-art electoral process shames America’s. It’s far less susceptible to fraud and identity theft than elsewhere.

Postal and proxy votes are excluded. Fingerprints identify voters electronically. Paper receipts verify ballots cast. They’re recorded and available for recounts if needed.

Every candidate was identified by name and full color photo. It helps assure votes are cast as intended. Observers monitored fairness. Opposition supporters turned out in force. They agreed. Voting was open, free and fair.

The Union of South American Nations praised what went on. Mission head Carlos Alvarez said:

“Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world.”

“Venezuela strengthened democracy in the nation and the region.”

Alvarez also praised Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE). He called its work “extraordinary.” It’s a model to help “achieve the construction of a South American electoral system.”

Throughout Sunday, everything proceeded smoothly. No major disturbances occurred. Opposition strategists hoped otherwise. They planned to highlight fraud and other irregularities but couldn’t find any.

Capriles had no recourse but to concede defeat. He left unsaid why most Venezuelans spurned them. They need no explanations. Triumphant Chavismo is all that matters.

On January 10, Chavez begins his fourth term. He told supporters he’s not waiting. “(F)or me,” he said, “the new cycle begins today. We’re obligated to be better every day, more efficient, obligated to respond with greater efficiency to the needs of people.”

He promised “to be the best president that I have been in these years.” Take him at his word. He’ll try because he cares. Imagine if US and other Western leaders felt this way and showed it. Perhaps another time in a new era, but not now. Other priorities take precedence.

Beating up on Bolivarianism

If you can’t beat ’em, beat up on ’em. Sour grapes postmortems made headlines. Scoundrel media editorials and op-eds featured them.

The Wall Street Journal’s Mary O’Grady is ideologically to the right of many neocons. Her style reflects character assassination. Her rhetoric drips with vitriol. She wins awards for genuflecting to power and suppressing vital truths for power brokers who pay her.

Her electoral postmortem was typical. She headlined “Chavismo Wins, Venezuela Loses,” saying:

“Control of the media and the voting polls, plus some old-fashioned fear, have won Hugo Chávez six more years.”

False, false and false! Corporations control virtually all Venezuelan major broadcast and print media. They unanimously endorsed Capriles. Venezuela’s electoral process is called the world’s best for good reason. Voters turned out en masse because it matters. Neoliberal extremists alone stoke fear.

O’Grady lied saying internal Capriles polling showed he’d “win by three to four percentage points.” Days before October 7, opposition insiders privately conceded. They knew they had no chance to win and said so.

Chavez “seized control of television and radio stations and used them during the campaign…” Those same stations opposed him. They promoted Capriles. They featured him on air.

“Mr. Capriles tried to tap into (Venezuelan) misery by presenting himself as a social democrat….” He’s a wealthy neoliberal hard-liner. He deplores beneficial social change. If elected he’d return Venezuela to its bad old days. Voters wanted none of him and his extremism.

O’Grady’s litany of canards infested her piece. Ones included sound like America, not Venezuela. She never misses a chance to beat up on Chavez. She was true to form calling him a “dictator,” a “world-class demagogue.”

He “mortgaged Venezuela to help him buy another six years in power….(N)o one believes that the final vote spread reflects the public’s opinion of the winner.”

“With China underwriting his populism and Cuba manning his intelligence and security apparatus, his near-term comfort in Miraflores palace is practically guaranteed.”

O’Grady reflects the worst of US opinion journalism. Yellow can’t begin to describe it.

WSJ writers Jose de Cordoba and Sara Schaefer Munoz had their say. They were dishonest in less strident form than O’Grady. They headlined “Victory Tightens Chavez Grip on Power,” saying:

“Another decisive electoral victory for Hugo Chávez has convinced many Venezuelans in the opposition that his only vulnerabilities are a turn for the worse in the ailing president’s health or a sharp drop in oil prices.”

“The win allows Mr. Chávez to press ahead with his Socialist revolution, deepening government intervention in the economy, including price controls and nationalizations.”

“Observers see him as likely to continue his role as the leading voice against U.S. interests in the region, enhancing alliances with everyone from Tehran to Beijing.”

What else would a Murdoch publication say. They have marching orders, salute and obey. So does Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analyst Moises Naim. The Journal writers quoted him saying:

“You have the head of a petrostate with authoritarian propensities who controls the legislative branch, the supreme court, the electoral tribunal and the oil industry which generates 98% of the country’s wealth, without any checks and balances.”

The entire article wreaked with misinformation. Corporate media scoundrels offer nothing else.

Bloomberg headlined “Chavez Election Victory Signals Accelerated Socialist Revolution,” saying:

Since taking office in 1999, “he nationalized more than 1,000 companies or their assets…” Nationalizations were far fewer. He paid fair compensation every time. No one was cheated.

“With voters giving the former paratrooper another six-year term, he’ll probably push policies, such as currency controls and takeovers, that have driven away investors….”

Chavez combines populism with business friendly practices. Level playing field politics perhaps best describes it. Before crisis conditions erupted in 2008, banker profits were so high they said they were “having a party.”

During today’s hard times, Venezuela’s growth is impressive. Q II 2012 advanced 5.4%. In contrast, Europe’s in recession. America is close. Economist Jack Rasmus predicts it in 2013. He calls overall conditions dire.

In a section devoted to Chavez, The New York Times said the “fiery socialist defeated a youthful, more moderate challenger….”

“He is an ailing and politically weakened winner facing an emboldened opposition that grew stronger and more confident as the voting neared, and at times seemed to have an upset victory within reach.”

The Times spent the last dozen years or longer beating up on him mercilessly. It can’t bear admitting social democracy works. It supports wealth and power. It spurns ordinary people. It calls fascist America democratic. It calls the real thing in Venezuela autocratic. Truth was never The Times’ long suit.

The Dallas Morning News was no better. Its editorial headlined “Venezuela’s sad electoral statement,” saying:

“Score another lamentable election victory for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The fiery, anti-U.S. revolutionary now has another six-year term to continue with the plans he launched after his first election in 1998 to dismantle Venezuela’s free-market economy and pursue his anachronistic socialist agenda.”

Washington has “national security” concerns to worry about for another six years. Chavez “rankled US leaders” by friendly relations with governments America opposes.

His “so-called Bolivarian revolution has proved hollow. Revolutionary socialism is almost impossible to sustain….Chavez should increasingly be dismissed for what he is – a toothless tiger.”

Media scoundrels call success failure. Their arguments don’t wash. Rhetoric substitutes for hard truths. Too bad so many people believe them. Venezuelans aren’t fooled. They support what works and showed it.

Pre-election, the London Guardian headlined “Hugo Chavez: a strongman’s last stand,” saying:

“No one ever accused Hugo Chávez of thinking small. He casts politics as an existential contest between good and evil, the oppressed and the oppressor.”

The election will decide “the comandante(‘s)” fate “and his revolution. (It) hangs by a thread….Chávez surrounded himself mostly with mediocrities, valuing loyalty over competence.”

“His legacy will be debated for decades….Many outsiders made up their minds long ago. There was Chávez the dictator who jailed opponents, sponsored terrorists and left his people hungry.”

“Chavez….is a hybrid: a democrat and autocrat, a progressive and a bully.” The Guardian also called him “a caudillo (strongman)” running a “dysfunction(al)” economy.

It’s hard imagining any broadsheet letting this trash end up in print. Inconvenient truths are ignored. Admitting them would discredit everything else said.

Shameless editorials and op-eds hounded Chavez for years. In its November/December 2005 Extra edition, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) headlined “The Op-Ed Assassination of Hugo Chavez,” saying:

Pat Robertson literally wanted him killed. Even so-called “moderate” columnists beat up on him mercilessly. The usual characterizations call him a strongman, autocrat, dictator, another Hitler.

“In studying the opinion pages of the top 25 circulation newspapers in the United States during the first six months of 2005, Extra! found that 95 percent of the nearly 100 press commentaries that examined Venezuelan politics expressed clear hostility to the country’s democratically elected president.”

It was no different earlier and perhaps worse today. The longer Chavez survives and gets majority Venezuelan support, the more media scoundrels beat up on him.

It’s nearly impossible finding major media commentaries portraying him accurately. Doing so would be out of character. Contributors would be out of work. Party line opinion only is tolerated. Truth and full disclosure are prohibited. It’s the American way.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:53 PM
NATO Edges Closer to War on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

Waging war is easy. Instigate provocative incidents. Blame them on targeted countries. False flags work as planned. So do Big Lies repeated enough times to get most people to believe them.

Stoking fear is a common thread. So is claiming good v. evil. Mix well with misinformation and duplicity. Sun Tzu was right saying wars depend on deception. It’s been that way since antiquity. Modern technology makes it easier.

Churchill said lies get halfway around the world before truths get their pants on. Global communication today is instant. Sending hawkish information everywhere is as simple as ready, aim, fire.

Washington and NATO partners are involved in multiple direct and proxy wars. More are planned. Word hasn’t gotten out but it’s coming.

Obama and Romney want war. So does NATO Secretary-General Fogh Rasmussen. He’s a consummate liar. Numerous times he said NATO won’t intervene in Syria. It’s been planned all along.

It’s ongoing. America, Britain, France and Turkey are lead belligerents. They’ve been involved since winter last year. Much goes on covertly.

If NATO didn’t want war, its key countries would be supporting peace. Death squad armies wouldn’t have been recruited. Training, funding, arming, and directing them wouldn’t have been ongoing since conflict erupted in March 2011.

Nor would terrorists be given safe haven in Turkey on Syria’s border. Provocations throw fuel on the fire. Last June, two Turkish warplanes lawlessly entered Syrian airspace low and fast. Doing so showed hostile intent.

One escaped unharmed. Syrian anti-aircraft fire downed the other in its own waters. Assad was blamed for Turkey’s provocation. War could have erupted but didn’t at the time.

The latest cross-border incident makes it more likely. Inflammatory rhetoric increases the possibility. Turkey’s been shelling Syrian territory for six days.

Assad had nothing to do with mortar fire on Turkish territory. Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants are responsible. It doesn’t matter. Only who’s blamed counts. Fingers always point the wrong way. Media scoundrels spread Big Lies. They’re repeated ad nauseam.

Warmongering officials advance the ball for war. Turkish ones play with fire. As one of 28 NATO countries, it’s obligated in ways it wouldn’t be if independent. It also borders Syrian territory.

Prime Minister Erdogan has been hawkish for months. President Abdullah Gul marches with him in lockstep.

“The worst-case scenario is happening in Syria at the moment. Syrian people are suffering and the developments there affect Turkey. We have citizens who have lost their lives,” he said.

“In such a moment, we are always in consultations with our government and chief of General Staff. Whatever necessary is being done, as you know. And it will continue to be done.”

“Sooner or later, a transition will occur. But our wish is (for it to happen) before more blood is shed and before Syria is ruined. I am of the opinion that the international community should actively be involved.”

Did he ask NATO to declare war? What else can international intervention mean? It’s been involved all along short of launching Libya 2.0. Turkey’s role is lead belligerent. Whatever its preference, it’s acquiescent.

Except perhaps for EU admission, it’s hard imagining what it hopes to gain. War on its southern neighbor assures spillover in its own territory. Heavy casualties and destruction will follow.

Most Turks and key opposition parties oppose war. Erdogan and Gul risk their futures for going against the tide. They’re in lockstep with Washington’s agenda. The will of their own people is spurned.

Politically it’s a bad strategy. Maybe they have other aims in mind. Maybe they’re biting off more than they can chew. Maybe they’ll get burned or worse in the process.

They’ve already got enough blood on their hands. So does NATO’s Rasmussen. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. How many more corpses will he tolerate on his conscience?

Ahead of an earlier October Brussels meeting, he said:

“I would add to that that obviously Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity, we have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary.”

He did little to cool tensions, adding:

“We hope that all parties involved will show restraint, and avoid an escalation of the crisis. I do believe that the right way forward in Syria is political solution.”

If he believed it, he’d work with other NATO members and to call off their dogs. Since conflict erupted last year, belligerence was prioritized. Alleged humanitarian concerns and fake peace plans were subterfuge for what’s planned.

On October 9, Rasmussen’s rhetoric grew sharper. “We have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary,” he said.

Damascus needs defending, not Ankara. Rasmussen commended Turkey for its restraint. Shelling Syrian territory for six days hardly shows it. Clearly it makes war more likely.

“Obviously Turkey has a right to defend herself within international law,” claimed Rasmussen. “I would add….that Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity.”

Rasmussen and Erdogen both sound Orwellian. The NATO chief commends Turkish shelling as restraint. Erdogan practically says the best way to achieve peace is wage war.

Perhaps he also believes freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Maybe Turks will get fed up enough to remove him and likeminded warmongers before their country get embroiled over its head.

On condition of anonymity, NATO officials said plans in place are longstanding. In response to Washington’s regime change agenda, perhaps they were readied in the 1990s.

Turkey is a willing client state. It risks its own well-being. Partnering with America’s imperium has consequences. The price of imperial arrogance may be too much to pay.

Syrians paid dearly for months. Thousands died. Dozens more die daily. On October 9, twin blasts rocked a military base near Damascus. Suicide bombers perhaps were involved.

Dozens were reported killed. Many others were wounded. It’s the latest in a series of major attacks. The Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front took credit. It claimed it was avenging Muslims “oppressed or killed” by Assad.

On October 9, Voice of Russia headlined “NATO invasion of Syria: coming soon, rated X,” saying:

Growing signs suggest it. It’s likely baked in the cake. Perhaps one spark too many will ignite it. They’re easy to create. They’re ongoing now cross-border. Erdogen already got parliamentary approval. Shelling may get more intense.

If Syria responds in kind, all bets are off. Turkey suggests it’s spoiling for war. It moved tanks and other heavy weapons to its southern border. It has 25 F-16s and other aircraft positioned in Diyarbakir. It’s in the country’s Kurdish region.

They attacked four alleged PKK sites in Iraq. It followed a near parliamentary declaration of war on Syria. It barely stopped short. After an earlier in October NATO meeting, the following statement was issued:

“In view of the Syrian regime’s recent aggressive acts at NATO’s southeastern border, which are a flagrant breach of international law and a clear and present danger to the security of one of its Allies, the North Atlantic Council met today, within the framework of Article 4 of the Washington Treaty….”

“In the spirit of indivisibility of security and solidarity deriving from the Washington Treaty, the Alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an Ally.”

At the behest of any member, Articles 4 or 5 can be invoked.

Article 4 calls for members to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any” is threatened.

Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all, and calls for collective self-defense.

Will NATO invoke it next? Will full-scale war follow? Heightened tensions increase the likelihood. If it’s planned, it’s virtually certain. Perhaps another pretext will launch it. As explained above, it’s as simple as ready, aim, fire. Heaven help regional countries if it’s ordered.

A Final Comment

Mossad-connected DEBKAfile’s (DF) October 9 headline added another possible wrinkle of its own. “US, Israel plan October Surprise. Others: Israel can do it alone,” it said.

DF said an Israeli/Iranian war already is ongoing. It cited the UAV Israel downed over its territory days earlier. DF blamed Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

This writer called it a likely false flag. No regional country has anything to gain. For Israel, it’s a convenient casus belli. If one scheme doesn’t work, new ones are easy to invent. Israel does it often. So does Washington.

DF points fingers at Iran for practically everything it claims harms Israel. Tehran, of course, is victim, not perpetrator. So are Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Palestinian resistance groups.

The idea that Israel can go it alone is nonsense. Its capability isn’t up to the challenge. It won’t dare attack Iran without Washington’s approval and support. DF knows it but claims otherwise.

Perhaps it’s playing stalking horse for something else big planned. Full-scale war on Syria seems most likely. If it comes, it won’t be pre-announced. Nor will war on Iran or on any other countries. Targets aren’t given advance notice to prepare.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:52 PM

Monday, October 08, 2012
Chavez Win Strengthens Bolivarianism
by Stephen Lendman

Several previous articles said Venezuelans won’t tolerate going back to their ugly past. On Sunday, they proved it. They voted in record numbers.

Long lines queued hours before dawn. Polls stayed open well into the night so everyone coming out could vote.

Turnout was nearly 81% of Venezuela’s 19,119,809 registered voters. US elections usually get around 50%. Off-year congressional races average under 40%.

From 1960 – 2010, the highest percentage participation was 63.1%. It was in 1960 when Kennedy defeated Nixon. The lowest turnout was 49.1% in 1996 when Clinton bested Bob Dole.

In the off-year 2010 congressional election, a meager 37.8% participated. America’s electoral process lacks credibility. Duopoly power permits no choice. Big Money always wins.

Venezuelans get the real thing. Their electoral process is the best in the world. It’s independently judged open, free and fair. Every vote counts. They’re tabulated fully and honestly.

US elections are rigged. Politics in America reflect more hypocrisy than democracy.

Overnight Sunday into Monday pre-dawn, Venezuelans celebrated. Fireworks went off in Caracas. People honked horns, waved flags, and cheered. Thousands massed outside the Miraflores presidential palace. Chavez rallied them.

From a balcony overlooking the crowd, he raised a sword once belonging to 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar. “The revolution has triumphed,” he said! Venezuelans “voted for socialism.”

“Viva Venezuela! Viva the fatherland! The battle was perfect and the victory was perfect!”

“Today we’ve shown that Venezuela’s democracy is one of the best democracies in the world, and we will continue to show it.”

“Venezuela will never return to neoliberalism and continue in the transition to socialism of the 21st century.”

“I want to make a recognition to the whole Venezuelan people, the whole Venezuelan nation. Today the country of Bolivar was reborn.”

In response, supporters chanted, “Viva Le Patria. “Ooh Aah, Chavez won’t go!”

Speaking for others perhaps a Vargas fisherman said, “I’m crying with joy. In the next six years, we will deepen the revolution.”

A construction worker said, “I can’t describe the relief and happiness I feel right now.”

A teacher said, “Chavez is my joy. He will continue protecting the poor and defenseless.”

After his victory was announced, Chavez tweeted:

“Thank you, my God. Thanks to everyone. Thanks my beloved people!!! Viva Venezuela!!! Viva Bolivar!!!”

An email sent this writer showed an image of him displaying a Chicago Daily Tribune headline saying, “CAPRILES DEFEATS CHAVEZ.”

It replicated Harry Truman holding up the notorious Chicago Daily Tribune (now the Chicago Tribune) early November 3, 1948 front page headlining “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”

The broadsheet to this day hasn’t erased the memory it would like everyone to forget.

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez tweeted congratulations, saying:

“Your victory is our victory! And the victory of South America and the Caribbean!”

Bolivian President Evo Morales replicated her tweet, saying:

“Your victory is also ours. It is of South America and the Caribbean. Congratulations President Chavez!”

Cuban President Raul Castro was one of the first leaders to send congratulations. Chavizmo was triumphant. Sunday was celebratory time. Monday it’s back to business.

Chavez said that he’ll deepen socialism in the next six years. Many problems need addressing. He promised to continue working to alleviate them.

It’s not easy turning around a money power run country run for generations. Since taking office in February 1999, Chavez did plenty. Venezuelans rewarded him with six more years. He deserved it. On January 10, he’ll be inaugurated to deepen Bolivarianism as he promised.

Around 10PM Sunday night, with 90% of votes counted, National Electoral Council (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena announced electoral results.

Chavez led Capriles by 54.42% to 44.97%. He was ahead by around 1.3 million votes. It was more than enough to assure victory. With 98% of votes counted, Chavez upped his victory margin to 1.5 million votes. He won 55 – 44%. Other candidates got 1% combined.

Lucena said, “Once again we’ve had a calm electoral process without problems, with the joy of this people who decided to vote massively today.”

Corporate media scoundrels stopped just short of sour grapes. For over a decade, they pilloried him mercilessly. They can’t bear having a hemispheric good example shame how America is run. The difference between both countries is stark. Previous articles explained it.

The New York Times has been one of his lead antagonists. On October 7, it headlined “Chavez Wins New Term in Venezuela, Holding Off Surge by Opposition.”

“Surge?” On Sunday it failed to show up except in a fake Spanish ABC newspaper mid-afternoon exit poll. It didn’t surprise. It was published in Miami, Colombia, Chile and Venezuela.

It claimed opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski won. The corporate run Varianzas agency released it. It said he defeated Chavez by 51.3% to 48.06%.

Perhaps it tried to deter Chavez supporters from voting later in the day. Not a chance. They wanted another six years and got them.

Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign (VSC) secretary Francisco Dominguez said:

“Fake exit polls are one way in which opponents of the current government have previously tried to discredit the results of elections where Hugo Chavez has won clear majorities.”

“This is part of a political game – a dirty war played by the Venezuela right-wing.”

“Journalists who have reported these polls believing them to be credible have later been embarrassed to have found themselves exploited for political motives.”

“Given that polling is not permitted on election day in Venezuela, any such polls should be treated skeptically.”

“There is the very real risk that this is part of a propaganda war by sections of the right-wing opposition with the aim of creating destabilization and unrest.”

“It would be irresponsible of journalists to give this poll any credence. To use it risks inadvertently supporting a campaign from the more extreme sections of the Venezuelan opposition to try to claim that any defeat at today’s election is simply the result of fraud.”

“As both campaigns said earlier today, people should await the official results from that will be released in the next few hours.”

The Times called Chavez a longtime “fiery foe of Washington.” He’s opposes neoliberal injustice and imperial ravaging. Times editorial policy supports them.

The article claimed Chavez is “an ailing and politically weakened winner facing an emboldened opposition that grew stronger and more confident as the voting neared, and held out hope that an upset victory was within reach.”

In fact, opposition insiders knew they had no chance and said so. Capriles was too far behind to win. Days before October 7, cohesion among them began disintegrating. A previous article discussed it. Corporate media scoundrels said nothing.

They pretended that Capriles had a good chance to win. It was laughable on its face. The Times said “Chavez spent much of the year insulting and trying to provoke Mr. Capriles and his followers.”

He gave them hell for good reason. He explained what they are and the danger they pose. Venezuelans remember the bad old days and want none of it repeating.

Instead of explaining beneficial social change under Chavez, The Times said “Venezuela is mired in problems, including out-of-control violent crime, crumbling roads and bridges, and power blackouts…”

True enough. These problems and others need addressing. Chavez promised to do more. America has these and many more unaddressed festering problems harming most people nationwide.

The Times failed to notice. It also downplayed the sharp drop in poverty and unemployment under Chavez. He’s waged war on inequality and human need. These and other vital issues go begging in America. Instead of fixing them, they’re getting worse.

On October 6, a scurrilous Washington Post editorial headlined “Venezuela eyes change,” saying:

“IF HUGO CHAVEZ is an autocrat, how could he be in danger of losing the Venezuelan presidency in an election on Sunday?”

“Polls show a race to the wire between the caudillo and challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski. An opposition victory would mean an epochal change of political direction in one of the world’s largest oil producers….”

Fact check

Independent democrats Washington dislikes are called autocrats and much worse. A close race? It never was close throughout the campaign except in fake polls claiming it.

Indeed an opposition win would be “epochal” for all the wrong reasons. Venezuelans wanted none of it. They had final say.

Many Post editorials are scandalous and disreputable. This one was no different. It claimed Chavez “feels obliged to stage elections (but) in an environment that heavily favors the regime.”

“Mr. Chavez controls Venezuela’s courts, election commission and most television channels, which bombard the population with propaganda.”

All of the above explains America, not Venezuela. Claiming otherwise is vicious and patently untrue.

Venezuelan voters are “intimidated,” claimed the Post. Chavez “is in danger of losing (because of) the havoc he has wreaked in what was once Latin America’s richest country.”

In fact, he turned a cesspool into a model social democracy. That notion is verboten in America. Money power won’t tolerate it. Neither do media scoundrels.

The editorial went on to pillory Chavez with one canard after another. Like all members of America’s corporate media establishment, the Post adheres to its strict code of suppressing truth and full disclosure.

Its notion of freedom and social democracy is none at all. It claimed Chavez’s “days as Venezuela’s leader are numbered.” It suggested a possible electoral loss.

It urged “Venezuela’s neighbors, and the Obama administration, should be ready to react if he attempts to remain in power by force.” It barely stopped short of recommending coup d’etat authority to oust him. Perhaps a future editorial will go further.

The Financial Times was more measured. It headlined “Chavez wins new term in Venezuela.” It covered his electoral win in 10 concise paragraphs. Pejoratives were omitted.

It said he “frustrat(ed) the opposition’s best chance of beating him after 14 years in power and reconfirming him as one of Latin America’s most commanding political figures.”

Indeed so for good reason. As long as he’s healthy, wants to keep serving, and keeps doing the right things, he’ll likely to remain so. Venezuelans won’t tolerate the alternative.

On October 8, Russia Today (rt.com) headlined “Here to stay: Chavez wins Venezuelan presidency,” saying:

He won a fourth term convincingly. There never was any doubt. Only the turnout and margin of victory remained to be determined. With nearly all ballots counted, now we know.

Crowds were jubilant for good reason. Six more years. Viva Chavez. Viva the kind of social democracy Americans can’t even imagine.

The Weekly Steven Lendman 9/24/2012

Off the keyboard of Steven Lendman

Published on Stephen Lendman’s Blog

Discuss this Column at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Friday, September 21, 2012

Score One for Hedges v. Obama

by Stephen Lendman

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong called his Apollo 11 landing “one step for man, a giant leap for mankind.”

Hedges v. Obama perhaps reflects a baby step, if temporary, for justice.

On September 12, Southern District of New York federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest blocked Obama’s indefinite detention law.

In her 112-page ruling, she called it “facially unconstitutional: it impermissibly impinges on guaranteed First Amendment rights and lacks sufficient definitional structure and protections to meet the requirements of due process.”

She added that:

“If, following issuance of this permanent injunctive relief, the government detains individuals under theories of ‘substantially or directly supporting’ associated forces, as set forth in” the National Defense Authorization Act, “and a contempt action is brought before this court, the government will bear a heavy burden indeed.”

At issue is section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It states in part:

“Congress affirms that the authority of the president to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.”

“Covered persons” are defined as:

Anyone “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Plaintiffs argued that broad, ambiguous language like “substantially supported,” “associated forces” and “directly supported” leaves them and others vulnerable to lawless indefinite detention.

For example, meeting someone rightly or wrongly designated a terrorist, staying in their homes, inviting them to speak at conferences or in panel discussions, perhaps interviewing them, or socializing with them can be called dealing with the enemy.

So can writing anti-imperial articles, exposing and/or discussing US crimes of war and against humanity, and participating in anti-war protests.

Hedges and others also said concerns arose from NDAA’s passage. It grants unconstitutional presidential authority. It exceeds the September 2001 congressional approval for Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

On January 16, 2012, Hedges wrote “Why I’m Suing Barack Obama,” saying:

He and others challenged AUMF’s legality “as embedded in the (2012 NDAA) signed by (Obama) on Dec. 31.” He picked New Year’s eve. Perhaps he thought no one would notice.

It created a firestorm but not in the media. They reported virtually nothing on enacted tyranny.

Hedges said NDAA “authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled ‘Counter-Terrorism,’ for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing.”

“With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism.”

“And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until ‘the end of hostilities.’ It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.”

As a journalist, he spent many years abroad. He “met regularly with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.”

He also met Arafat and other PLO leaders when they were called terrorists. He “spent time with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and was in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.”

They were all called terrorists. So are others journalists meet with regularly and will again. It’s their job.

Hedges said he “suspect(s) the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. The definition of a terrorist is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up.”

Washington’s war on terror is ill-defined and vague. It reflects totalitarian state harshness. It equates dissent with treason. It fosters “mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe.” It destroys fundamental constitutional rights.

Obama lets CIA torturers, Wall Street crooks, other corporate criminals, lawless war profiteers, and other venal high-level civilian or government officials off scot-free.

In contrast, he usurped unconstitutional diktat authority. At issue is freely targeting US citizens anywhere in the world, indefinitely detaining them, and killing them if he wishes on his say so alone.

Freedom in America is fast disappearing. On December 14, the House passed the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). On December 15, the Senate followed suit. Ironically it was Bill of Rights Day.

Obama signed it into law. The measure ends constitutional protections for everyone, including US citizens. Specifically it targets due process and law enforcement powers.

With or without evidence, on issues of alleged terrorist connections posing national security threats, the Pentagon now supplants civilian authorities. It’s well beyond its mandate.

Militaries exist to protect nations from foreign threats. America’s Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) applies solely to its own personnel as authorized under the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8. It states:

“The Congress shall have Power….To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces.”

In America, state and local police, the Justice Department, and FBI are responsible for criminal investigations and prosecutions. No longer on matters relating to alleged national security concerns.

Enactment means America’s military may arrest anyone anywhere, including US citizens. They can be indefinitely held without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, baseless allegations, or none at all.

No reasonable proof is required, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Henceforth, indefinite detentions can follow mere membership (past or present) or support for suspect organizations or individuals.

Constitutional, statute and international laws don’t apply. Presidential diktats replaced them. No one anywhere is safe.

Presidents have unchecked power. They can unjustifiably accuse anyone of posing a threat. They may order arrests and imprisonment for life without charge or trial. Abuse of power replaced rule of law protections. It’s happening in real time.

Ahead of their holiday break, leaders from both Houses met secretly to resolve final language differences before sending NDAA to Obama to sign.

Senate bill sponsor Carl Levin said administration officials, in fact, lobbied against language excluding US citizens from indefinite military detentions without trials or due process. According to Levin:

“The language which precluded the application of Section 1031 to American citizens was in the bill that we originally approved….and the administration asked us to remove (it) which says that US citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section.”

“It was the administration that asked us to remove the very language which we had in the bill which passed the committee. (W)e removed it at the request of the administration….It was the administration which asked us to remove the very language, the absence of which is now objected to.”

In other words, Obama wants US citizens indefinitely detained in military prisons whether or not charged. He fully supports police state repression. Only his disingenuous rhetoric says otherwise.

His earlier Executive Order authorized indefinite detentions of anyone designated national security threats. Specifically intended for Guantanamo detainees, it’s now for everyone, including US citizens at home or abroad.

Moreover, CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads got presidential authorization to kill targeted US citizens abroad. As a result, they can be hunted down and murdered in cold blood for any reason or none at all.

Inviolable rights are dead. Protesting imperial lawlessness, social injustice, corporate crime, government corruption, or political Washington run of, by and for rich elites can be criminalized.

So can free speech, assembly, religion, or anything challenging America’s right to kill, destroy and pillage with impunity. Tyranny arrived in America. The nation’s unsafe to live in. There’s no place to hide. Anyone challenging injustice can be arrested, charged with supporting terrorism, and indefinitely imprisoned forever.

In response to Judge Forrest’s ruling, administration officials appealed. They claimed she exceeded enjoining NDAA’s section 1021. In a 38-page filing, they said her ruling:

“threatens irreparable harm to national security and the public interest by injecting added burdens and dangerous confusion into the conduct of military operations abroad during an active armed conflict.”

Forrest questioned how AUMF is interpreted. The 2001 authorization and NDAA’s section 1021 aren’t the same, she said. “They are not co-extensive. Military detention based on allegations of ‘substantially supporting’ or ‘directly supporting” the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or associated forces, is not encompassed within the AUMF and is enjoined by this order regarding” NDAA.

Washington uses AUMF and other twisted legal interpretations to wage war on humanity. At issue also is giving Obama diktat authority to indefinitely detain or kill anyone he wishes with or without charges or trials.

Habeas and due process rights are null and void. So are all other constitutional rights. Obama effectively granted himself dictatorial powers.

His minions overstepped by saying Forrest took “it upon (herself) to disagree with an interpretation of the military’s detention authority that had previously been endorsed by all three branches of government.”

“What is more, (she) expressly invites actions for contempt sanctions if the military exercises detention authority in a manner inconsistent with the court’s deeply flawed understanding of that authority.”

In June, she issued a preliminary injunction against enforcing the statute she questions. While appealing her ruling, Obama officials didn’t block it.

After making her injection permanent, they asked for an emergency stay. They claimed she made an “unprecedented” ruling affecting wartime matters.

On September 17, Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Lohier issued a one-page order. It stayed Forrest’s decision until a three-judge panel rules. On September 28, it’ll hear pro and con arguments.

If it upholds her injunction, expect the Supreme Court to decide.

Bruce Afran is one of several attorneys representing plaintiffs. He called the government’s concern unfounded. Forest’s injunction doesn’t touch its separate AUMF powers. “The general thrust of (its) argument seems to be that the president and Congress are immune from judicial review.”

No matter which way the Second Circuit or perhaps Supreme Court rules, this issue is far from resolved. At the behest of Obama or Romney if he’s elected, Congress can pass new overriding legislation. It happened several times during the Bush administration.

If so, we’re back to square one. Repression will continue unchecked. With or without NDAA, it’s largely that way now. America isn’t fit to live in. A new dark age dawned no matter which party wins in November.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:53 PM

Long Knives Target Iran

Long Knives Target Iran

by Stephen Lendman

Some background:

February 11, 2012 marked the 33rd anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution. It ended a generation of repressive rule under Washington’s installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

In 1953, CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson and Franklin’s cousin, engineered the Agency’s first coup. Democratically elected Mohammad Mossadeq was ousted. The New York Times called him Iran’s “most popular politician.”

As late as 1977, Jimmy Carter declared Iran an “oasis of stability.” He ignored years of brutal Shah repression. In January 1979, he fled the country. Ayatollah Khomeini returned. He proclaimed the Islamic Republic with overwhelming public support.

US officials thought they could control him. They thought wrong. Iran was free from Western dominance and didn’t look back. Tensions escalated. Washington planned regime change. It remains US policy.

In 1975, Iran and Iraq negotiated the Algiers Agreement. It settled border disputes between the two countries. In March 1980, Saddam Hussein unilaterally abrogated it. Carter officials encouraged him.

Journalist/historian Dilip Hiro noted:

“According to the Iranian president, Bani-Sadr, in early August 1980 his government had purchased secret documents containing a detailed account of the conversations in France between several deposed Iranian generals and politicians, Iraqi representatives, and American and Israeli military experts.”

“If so, the administration of President James Carter had an inkling of Iraqi plans. By supplying secret information, which exaggerated Iran’s military weakness, to Saudi Arabia for onward transmission to Baghdad, Washington encouraged Iraq to attack Iran.”

Saddam was supported by CIA-sponsored Iranian military officers given refuge in Iraq. Soviet Russia feared revolutionary Islam spreading to central Asia.

Saddam saw his chance to wage war and win. He hoped to defeat a regional rival, annex parts of Iran, and strengthen his regional position.

Washington wanted its own regional influence enhanced. The Carter Doctrine pledged Middle East military intervention if US interests were threatened.

According to columnist Jack Anderson, he considered invading Iran, seizing its oil fields, and boosting his electoral prospects, he hoped. Soviet Russia threatened intervention if he followed through.

Carter abandoned his plans. At the same time, his administration remained hostile to Ayatollah Khomeini’s government.

Reagan escalated Carter policies short of committing US forces in combat. Saddam got US backing. America pretended neutrality. It proves repeatedly it can’t be trusted.

Support for the Shah was a key element of US regional policy. Iran’s 1979 revolution changed things. Saddam became Washington’s weapon to defeat a government it opposed.

On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. Border clashes preceded all-out conflict. Nearly eight years of war followed. Over a million died, including civilians. America and other Western countries call it the Iran/Iraq war.

Saddam hoped it would be a “whirlwind war.” He renamed it Qadisiyyad Saddam. It was an emotive reference to Arabs defeating Persians in 636. Tehran calls it the “Sacred Defense” or “imposed war.”

On September 21, Press TV headlined “Iran marks (32nd) anniversary of Iraq imposed war with military parades,” saying:

Ceremonies opened “Sacred Defense Week.” They began symbolically at Ayatollah Khomeini’s Tehran mausoleum. Planned events include parades, commemorative concerts, and photo exhibits.

Commemorating the occasion, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a nationally televised address, saying:

“Our sacred defense was not defending a territory, a nation or a school of thought alone. It was well beyond that. It was defending human dignity, the rights of all nations and those of the oppressed people of the world.”

Iran will “stand and defend its rights,” he asserted. He called the blasphemous anti-Muslim film inciting violence an Israeli plot “to divide (Muslims) and spark sectarian conflict.”

He and Ayatollah Khamenei days earlier noted Western hypocrisy. Condemn Washington, other NATO allies, or Israeli crimes and be denounced. At the same time, insulting Islam is called free expression.

He criticized nations backing Saddam’s invasion. They revealed their imperial regional aims. They’re also fake human rights advocates. They say one thing and do another. Scoundrels operate that way.

Iranian officials turned out in force. High-ranking military ones were present. Iran’s latest military hardware was showcased. On display was its new domestically made air defense system.

Called Raad, or Thunder, it’s more advanced than its Russian predecessor. It’s designed to confront jet aircraft, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters, and drones.

Its capability ranges up to 30 miles. It can strike targets high as 75,000 feet. It’s a formidable defense against attack.

“Sacred Defense Week” commemorates Iran’s commitment to deter aggressors and remain free.

Western and Israeli long knives remain threatening. Tensions are especially high. Netanyahu’s bluster aside, longstanding Washington plans call for regime change.

Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is red herring cover used as pretext. If not that, something else would substitute. Excuses are easy to fabricate. Western media scoundrels regurgitate them ad nauseam.

Fear is generated. Other false charges follow. America is hell bent for war. It has a willing partner in Israel provided Washington plays the lead role.

Potentially catastrophic consequences are ignored. Apparently, so is opposition expressed by current and past high-ranking military and government officials in both countries. Updated war plans are ready to be implemented unless cooler heads go all out to prevent it.

Iran is falsely called an existential threat. Netanyahu and Israeli hardliners claim it constantly. Washington does it on and off. It’s wearing thin but take it seriously. One day crying wolf won’t be bluster or bluffing.

On September 20, Haaretz reported the latest outburst. It headlined “US warns Iran: Time is running out on diplomacy over nuclear program.”

This time UN envoy Susan Rice issued the warning. She gives diplomacy a bad name. She’s one of America’s worst ever ambassadors. Her style is belligerent, arrogant, and offensive.

Addressing the Security Council, she said:

“We believe there is still time and space for diplomacy,” but not much.

“(T)he onus is on Iran to respond constructively.” She added that Washington seeks a “clear, united resolution” regarding Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program.

Her comments were a clear warning. At the same time, she and other US officials know Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. So do others in Israel, European nations and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, warnings persist. This one comes as Washington, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and other US allies stage large-scale Gulf naval drills. Doing so is provocative. It heightens tensions. Make no mistake. Provocation is Washington policy.

This one is codenamed IMCMEX-12. It involves minesweeping and other measures to keep the Strait of Hormuz open if Iran blocks it defensively. It warned about doing it if attacked.

In September, Tehran plans its own drills. It knows the risks and stands ready to confront them.

So do Israelis wanting no part of war. A mid-August Haaretz article headlined “We’ll all pay on doomsday,” saying:

Attacking Iran is madness. It means sharply higher oil prices, deeper global recession, and Israel becoming “even less popular in Europe and the United States than we already are.”

The Bank of Israel and Finance Ministry predict attacking Iran will cause “serious economic damage.” They’re concerned about bankruptcies, mass layoffs, potential panic, and other protracted effects.

World condemnation will follow. Countries, companies, labor organizations, and consumer groups already boycott Israel for good reason. Attacking Iran will intensify their ire.

When “rockets fall on Tel Aviv,” expect investors to flee. Financial assets will suffer. Tax revenues will drop. Deficits will rise.

Iran’s response will be far more robust than anything Israel previously experienced. “You can’t live a normal life under a daily threat like that.”

Israelis will be fearful. They’ll hunker down. Normal activities will be curtailed. Business will suffer. Tourists won’t come. International airlines will cancel flights. Ports will be “paralyzed.”

The shekel will drop sharply. Inflation will rise. Goods will become scarce. The only good news is that unaffordable housing prices will fall. Who’ll buy property vulnerable to destruction?

Haaretz omitted what’s most important. How many millions of Iranian and Israeli lives will be lost? Bombing nuclear facilities in both countries assures widespread irradiation.

Immediate casualties will be huge in both countries. Longer-term ones will be catastrophically high. War on Iran assures all sides lose. Regional countries will be affected. So will most others from economic fallout.

Haaretz is right saying “We’ll all pay on doomsday.” Assuring it doesn’t happen is the only sensible policy. It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:49 PM

Thursday, September 20, 2012

US Media War on Islam

US Media War on Islam

by Stephen Lendman

America never treated Muslims respectfully. US media and Hollywood play lead roles. Jack Shaheen’s book “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People” documented how American filmmakers slander them.

For decades, they’ve been fair game. From silent to more recent films, prejudicial attitudes were fostered. They still are regularly. They disparage Islam in contrast to manufactured notions of Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority.

Islamic tenets are ignored. The Koran teaches love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not selfishness; and tolerance, not terrorism.

Its five pillars include profession of faith, prayer five times daily, fasting during Ramadan, charity, and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime for those able to afford it.

Nonetheless, Muslims are stereotypically portrayed as dangerous gun-toting terrorists. Hate messages repeat regularly. Fear is stoked. Imperial wars of aggression are called justifiable ones.

At home, Muslims are vilified and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, and at times prominence, activism and charity.

They’re lawlessly targeted. They’re hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, and given long sentences.

For extra harsh treatment, they incarcerated as political prisoners. They’re segregated in Communication Management Units (CMUs).

Doing so violates US Prison Bureau regulations. They strictly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or political beliefs.

In February 2005, the Supreme Court’s Johnson v. California decision affirmed 14th Amendment protection against racial discrimination. It “rejected the notion that separate can ever be equal or neutral.”

Bush administration officials violated rule of law provisions regularly. So do Obama’s. Innocent victims suffer grievously. It happens abroad and at home.

Guantanamo and other torture prisons exist globally. Muslims fill them. Post-9/11, they became public enemy number one.

Many in America are consigned to CMU prison hell. Treatment is ruthless and demeaning. Extra punishment may be ordered for any reason or none at all.

They get fewer rights than other prisoners. Their dietary requirements are compromised or denied. So is proper medical care when needed. Emergency treatment takes days to get. It’s not delivered properly when gotten.

Rotten, inedible food quality is commonplace. Tap water is inferior. Privacy is denied. The entire CMU is monitored round the clock with cameras and listening devices. Policy assures mistreatment and disrespect. Prisoner complaints go unanswered.

Virtually every imprisoned Muslim is innocent. They’re war on terror victims. They’re locked up for praying to the wrong God. They’re alive, but for those getting inordinately long sentences, they’re among the living dead.

Their families suffer with them. It’s the wrong time to be Muslim in America and in nations abroad Washington targets.

Major media scoundrels back the worst of US crimes. When Bush administration officials declared war on Islam, they marched in lockstep. They still do. They’re reliable imperial cheerleaders.

They headline inflammatory accounts of innocent Muslims charged domestically. They play the same blame game. Targeted victims are considered guilty by accusation. Before indictment and prosecution, they’re convicted in the court of public opinion.

Their coverage of anti-Muslim hate film violence is appalling. They ignore what’s really going on. On the one hand, it reflects rage over imperial wars on Islamic countries. People don’t burn buildings or harm others over blasphemous materials alone.

The film sparked what followed. It ignited violence. Promoting it on social media spread it. Something else could have done it as easily. People take abuse only so long before reacting. Once begun, it replicates elsewhere.

In the 1960s, racial segregation, related police violence, other denied civil rights, and economic depravation ignited violence across America. Neighborhoods in northern US cities were set ablaze. It can happen again and likely will. Provocative incidents spark it. It can happen anywhere.

Other factors also lie behind the anti-Muslim film. Dark forces produced it. Killing a US ambassador reinforced it. Israeli fingerprints are all over it. Jewish donors funded it. They got what they wanted.

Justifiable rage across the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South Asia, as well as elsewhere lets them portray Muslims as violent terrorist threats. US and other Western headlines reflect it. More on that below.

Also at issue is America’s November election. Netanyahu and Obama dislike each other. It’s no secret that the Israeli leader favors Romney. He thinks he’ll be quicker to attack Iran.

He’s angry about Obama’s reluctance to show rock solid support. He wants him Carterized. He picked a very public fight to get his way.

Perhaps he’s directly responsible for the blasphemous film. If not, very likely extremists around him. It has all the earmarks of a Mossad false flag. At issue is weakening him politically and fomenting war.

San Francisco anti-Muslim bus ads stoke it. They’re planned for New York and perhaps elsewhere. They read:

“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Concluding words say “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Pam Geller’s running them. She’s a notorious hatemonger. US media scoundrels publish her writing. She’s interviewed on television. CBS’ 60 Minutes ran a full feature profile.

She and Robert Spencer co-founded the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America. It’s legal to be bigoted in America. It’s appalling that media scoundrels support what they should condemn.

The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo fanned its own flames. It ran blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed. Some showed him naked in pornographic poses.

Editor in chief Gerard Biard claimed he did it to satirize the anti-Muslim video. He called its violent reaction absurd. Editorial director Stephane Charbonnier said “We have the right to express ourselves.”

Biard added the Charlie Hebdo is “a newspaper against religions as soon as they enter into the political and public realm.” He claims Muslim religious leaders manipulate French followers for political reasons. “You’re not meant to identify yourself through a religion, in any case not in a secular state,” he claims.

Christians and Jews do it freely in France, America, and other Western countries without incident. Only Muslims are targeted for their faith unfairly.

Who speaks for their rights? No one in high places or with media influence able to reach large audiences in America and across Europe daily.

White House spokesman Jay Carney stopped short of denouncing Charlie Hebdo editors, saying:

“We don’t question the right of something like this to be published. We just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it.”

Call it a back door endorsement. French officials also backed their hate speech rights.

Try denouncing the holocaust in France and see what happens. Try wearing a hijab, other head covering, or head to toe burqah and find out.

Try denouncing Israeli crimes on US television or in mainstream publications, and see how long you keep your job. Try supporting right over wrong and fair no better.

Major media in America and other Western countries suppress truth and full disclosure. Imperial wars are cheerled. Friendly dictators are supported. Independent governments are called terrorist ones. News, information, and analysis get turned on their head.

On September 19, a New York Times editorial was typical. It headlined “The United States and the Muslim world.”

It invoked “Arab Spring” terminology. It’s a Western, not Middle East, term. Since regional protests erupted in winter 2011, nothing changed. In countries like Egypt, things are worse.

The Times inverts reality. It calls regional states run by despots “liberated” ones. They’ve “become battlegrounds for Islamic extremists, moderates and secularists, all contending for power and influence over the direction of democratic change.”

Except for confessional-style Lebanese democracy, no Arab state tolerates it. Neither does Israel, America and hardcore NATO allies.

The Times blames regional violence on extremist elements beyond US control. They’re “eager to exploit unrest for their own purposes.”

Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah is a powerful force against Western and Israeli imperialism. The Times calls him a “particularly destructive force.” It denounced his ability to get tens of thousands of anti-US/Israeli protesters onto Beirut streets and elsewhere across Lebanon.

It pilloried his support for Assad. It condemned Anti-American regional protesters. It claimed they “reinforced the worst fears of those who see Muslims” as violent extremists.

“In 2009, (Obama) wisely sought rapprochement with Muslims.” His Cairo speech “endorsed an approach of mutual respect and promised, that….America never would be at war with Islam.”

From day one, Obama waged multiple direct and proxy wars against Muslim countries. Iraq remains occupied. Tens of thousands of US combat troops never left. Daily violence harms innocent civilians.

Afghan war rages. It’s America’s longest conflict. No end in sight looks near. Obama destroyed Libya. He killed tens of thousands of civilians. Violence continues daily across the country. No one’s sure who’ll live or die.

He supports the worst of Bahraini despotism, its war on people wanting democratic freedoms, and its persecution of activists supporting it.

He’s waging proxy wars against Somalia, Yemen, and indirectly against Palestine with billions of dollars of Israeli aid and strong support for occupation harshness.

He bears direct responsibility for ravaging Syria. He plans eventual war on Iran. Since January 1991, America killed millions of Middle East, North African, and Central Asians Muslims. Most were non-combatant civilians. Many were children.

How many more millions will die before The New York Times and other media scoundrels acknowledge decades of US mass murder?

Instead, The Times praised Obama’s commitment to Middle East democracy. It urged America “to stay engaged in whatever ways it can.”

Millions across the region feel otherwise. They want Washington out for good reason. It’s a scourge. It menaces people wanting peace and freedom, not war, occupation, genocide and destruction. Don’t expect The Times or other media scoundrels to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:43 PM

Bailout Fraud and Unaccountability

Bailout Fraud and Unaccountability

by Stephen Lendman

On December 8, 2008, the Senate confirmed Neil Barofsky’s nomination as Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) watchdog. He assumed the post of SIGTARP (Special Inspector General for TARP).

On July 20, 2009, he estimated the $700 billion bailout fund could balloon to $23.7 trillion. Obama administration secrecy conceals what’s essential to reveal. Over $9 trillion is known. Some analysts think true figures may be three times that amount. Only crooked bankers and corrupt bureaucrats know for sure.

In February 2009, Barofsky submitted an initial report to Congress. In the past two months, he said, Washington handed out hundreds of billions of dollars (like confetti) to troubled financial institutions.

Where did the money go, he asked? What assurances exist that it’s not stolen or wasted?

TARP didn’t require recipients to report or internally track funds used. Accountability wasn’t mandated. Banks took full advantage. Instead of loans to stimulate recovery, they hoarded cash, acquired other financial institutions, paid off debt, speculated, and knew then and now there’s plenty more help for the asking.

Fraud prevention standards weren’t imposed. Barofsky doubts the program’s longterm success.

On March 29, 2011, he headlined a New York Times op-ed “Where the Bailout Went Wrong,” saying:

Two and a half years after legislation passed, Obama officials declared mission accomplished. “On my last day as the special inspector general….I regret to say that I strongly disagree.”

TARP and what followed struck out. It “failed to meet some of its most important goals.” Main Street was sacrificed for Wall Street.

Congress was told TARP funds would buy up to $700 billion of mortgages. Authorizing legislation (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act – EESA) emphasized preserving homeownership.

Treasury officials promised help. EESA mandated it. Struggling homeowners got none. Legislative provisions were violated. Treasury changed the rules. Money went to banks with no accountability or mandate to extend credit.

“There were no strings attached: no requirement or even incentive to increase lending to home buyers, and against our strong recommendation, not even a request that banks report how they used TARP funds.”

Instead of increased lending, it declined. As inspector general, Barofsky had no enforcement power. He could only recommend. Suggested policies fell on deaf ears. Treasury and Wall Street conspired to commit grand theft. Ordinary people were hung out to dry and scammed.

Helping homeowners was shelved. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was introduced. Obama promised four million families help. The program was “a colossal failure.”

It was designed to fail. Its provisions included no accountability. Guidelines only were provided. Banks and other mortgage services ignored them. Foreclosures mounted. Millions of homeowners were defrauded. Nothing changed to this day.

One of HAMP’s most pernicious abuses was letting servicers “direct borrowers who were current on their mortgages to start skipping payments, telling them that that would allow them to qualify for a HAMP modification,” said Barofsky.

“Homeowners who might have been able to ride out the crisis instead ended up in long trial modifications, after which servicers would deny them a permanent modification and send them an enormous ‘deficiency’ bill.”

“Borrowers who might otherwise never have missed a payment found themselves hit with whopping bills that they couldn’t pay and now faced foreclosure. It was a disaster.”

Geithner bears full responsibility. Understating problems, he admitted solutions “won’t come close” to expectations. He refused to address glaring shortfalls. He abandoned Main Street for Wall Street. He’s complicit in grand theft. He and banker cronies belong in prison.

Banks know they can steal with impunity. They’re larger and more powerful now than when crisis conditions erupted. They can speculate recklessly. They’ll be bailed whenever they get in trouble.

Treasury “ignore(d) rather than support(ed) real” reforms. Its “broken promises” turned TARP and other programs into a giant Wall Street “giveaway.”

Its “mismanagement” and criminal complicity “damaged the credibility of the government….” Conditions are so out of control that future policy makers may be unable “to save the system the next time a crisis arises.”

Perhaps that’s TARP’s “most lasting, and unfortunate, legacy.”

Barofsky’s new book “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street” explains.

Writer/Roosevelt Institute fellow Matthew Stoller calls it “a very important” account of the financial crisis aftermath. In April 2010, Barofsky met a key adversary.

Herbert Allison formerly headed Merrill Lynch, TIAA-CREF and Fannie Mae. He came out of retirement to oversee TARP. He became Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Stability.

“Have you thought at all about what you’ll be doing next,” he asked. “Out there in the market, there are consequences for some of the things you’re saying and the way you’re saying them.”

Barofsky knew he was being threatened “with lifelong unemployment.” Going along instead of bucking the system assures revolving door plum positions. “It was gold or the lead,” he explained.

Cooperate and get rich. Don’t and lose out. At first, he “had no idea that the US government had been captured by” bankers. He was “shocked (at) how much control” they have over policy on their own terms. Treasury goes along deferentially. Republicans or Democrats agree on core issues.

He was hijacked and hamstrung. Too big to fail constitutes near omnipotence. Whatever Wall Street wants it gets. Contesting its power is futile.

Stoller calls “Bailout” an account of “the importance of Congressional oversight in reigning in corruption, and the problems of our imperial Presidency.”

Barofsky hoped for press and congressional attention. “Our message was simple,” he said. “Treasury’s desperate attempt to bail out Wall Street was setting the country up for potentially catastrophic losses.”

Throughout his tenure, he was obstructed. He faced road blocks, ambushes, trench warfare, and threats in trying to do his job.

On arrival at Treasury, he saw ornate large offices given top officials. He got a small, foul-smelling basement one with barred windows. He spent most of the next three years there. He wasn’t welcome unless he played ball. It’s not his style and he refused.

He explained what he saw graphically. Homeowners were abandoned and scammed. A tsunami of evictions, foreclosures, fraud, mortgage document robo-signings, blighted neighborhoods, and homelessness continues without relief.

Taxpayers got the bill. Bankers got benefits. So did lobbyists and go-along politicians. The combination of Treasury criminality, White House complicity, congressional laxity, and regulatory failure keeps the dirty game going.

Since crisis conditions erupted five years ago, ordinary people were sold out and lied to. Obama exceeded the worst Bush administration policies. Political corruption is rampant.

Barofsky’s best efforts failed. Attempts to achieve accountability, transparency, controls, and consumer protections proved no match for entrenched bureaucratic power, privilege and complicity with Wall Street.

He issued numerous reports. Geithner and other Obama officials buried them. Media scoundrels largely ignored them.

Barofsky believes Geithner, complicit officials, and Wall Street crooks should be fired and prosecuted. Don’t expect it as long as criminals run America.

Five years after crisis conditions erupted, no top Wall Street or government official faced charges. Unaccountability is institutionalized. An eventual greater crisis looms. Unresolved problems assure it. When is anyone’s guess.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:42 PM

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hypocrisy not Democracy in America

Hypocrisy Not Democracy in America

by Stephen Lendman

US elections are farcical. Obama and Romney represent two sides of the same coin. Neither offers choice. Democracy never existed and doesn’t now. Rhetoric substitutes for reality.

Republicans and Democrats offer the worst of all possible worlds. Ordinary people are entirely shut out. Growing numbers reject both parties for good reason. Money power owns them.

“Are you better off” than four years ago, asked The New York Times? “There is really no reason for any hesitancy. The country is unquestionably better off than it was in 2008.”

Fact check

True to form, The Times offered a litany of lies. Bankers, other corporate favorites, and war profiteers fared handsomely. They still do. America’s 99% got stiff-armed. Most US households were thrown under the bus.

Virtually no jobs were created. Full-time/good pay and benefit ones are disappearing. Real unemployment approaches 23%. In the Great Depression, it reached 25%. Serious efforts were made then to reduce it. Virtually nothing is done now.

US Census figures confirm half or more of US households living in poverty or bordering on it. Record numbers need food stamps to survive. Congress plans cuts when they’re more than ever needed.

Feeding America says over 50 million Americans face hunger. One in six people are affected, including over one in five children. Political Washington ignores food insecurity. Serving corporate interests and imperial warmongers alone matter.

Duplicitous political convention rhetoric was enough to make a brash brigand blush. Banality took center stage. Demagogic deception hid reactionary extremism.

Convention delegates and ordinary people inhabit worlds apart. Pre-scripted yammering was predictable. Republicans showed contempt for human needs. Phony populism hid a similar Democrat agenda.

Privilege alone matters. Ordinary folks increasingly are on their own sink or swim. Obama’s first term reflected it. Betrayal and failure defined it. Another four years assures more of the same and then some.

The man promising hope and change broke every major pledge made. Four demagogic years did Lincoln one better. He fooled most people enough to matter. He’s beholden to big money. He never cared about ordinary people and doesn’t now.

“Yes we can” conceals his dark side. No pun intended. He’s a consummate con man. It’s easy to know when he’s lying, just watch his lips move.

Throughout his political career, he’s been pro-corporate, pro-war, pro-Israel, anti-populist, anti-civil and human rights, and anti all values real democrats support.

He put Wall Street crooks in charge of looting the nation’s wealth. He furthered the greatest wealth transfer in history. Rules, regulations, legal restraints with teeth, and taxes were slashed to help them. Plans are on track to make America resemble Guatemala.

Full-time/high pay/good benefit jobs are disappearing. So are social services. They’re on the chopping block for elimination. The nation’s middle class is targeted for destruction. A huge underclass is replacing it. America’s more than ever militarized to control it.

Police state laws threaten freedom. Big Brother spying is policy. Privacy is a figure of speech. First Amendment rights and dissent are endangered. Tyranny, torture, corporate empowerment, and permanent wars define Obama’s agenda.

He exceeded the worst of George Bush’s harshness, lawlessness, and belligerency. Imagine what he plans if reelected. He waged war on Islam, Latino immigrants, animal and environmental rights activists, whistleblowers, people of color, the poor, anyone challenging state power, and civil rights lawyers who defend them too vigorously.

In Obama’s America, only the privileged matter. Growing numbers of others are on their own hungry, homeless, and jobless.

He looted the nation’s wealth, wrecked the economy, ravaged one nation after another, and continues waging war on humanity.

He executed two Latin American coups. Honduras’ democratically elected president was ousted. So was Paraguay’s. He militarized Haiti, opened the country for business, occupied it for plunder, rigged its election, installed a pro-Western stooge, and increased the growing burden of impoverished Haitians who deserve better.

He supports the world’s worst despots. He sucks up shamelessly to Israel. He spurns long denied Palestinian rights. He plans war on Syria and Iran. Neither nation threatens anyone. America and Israel menace humanity.

He presides over a bogus democracy under a repressive police state apparatus. Habeas rights, due process, judicial fairness, and other civil liberty protections are quaint artifacts increasingly discarded.

Torture is official policy. So is Murder, Inc. Death squads operate in over 120 countries. Special forces and CIA operatives are licensed to kill. US citizens may be targeted at home or abroad. No one anywhere is safe.

Summary judgment means no arrests. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just a bullet, bomb or slit throat. It’s official Obama policy. Diktat authority affords justice to no one ordered killed.

It also lets Obama order US citizens arrested and indefinitely held without charge or trial. No proof is needed, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Constitutional protections no longer apply.

US military personnel may arrest and indefinitely detain anyone globally. No one anywhere is safe. Tyranny is policy. Obama seized virtual dictatorial powers. Anyone designated a potential enemy of the state, true or false, is targeted.

Political prisoners fill America’s gulag. It’s the world’s largest by far and one of the worst. Muslims and people of color are most at risk. America’s super-rich and corporate crooks are free to do what they please. Bad as things are now, expect worse.

War rages against labor. Budget-strapped states get little help. Welfare is being cut. So are Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for the needy, and other New Deal/Great Society programs.

Public education is being commodified. Plans call for making it another business profit center and ending government’s responsibility. Health care is being rationed. Only those who can afford it will get help when they need it.

Food and drug safety don’t matter. Nor do clean clean air or water. Small farms and businesses are being destroyed. Large ones are bigger and more dominant than ever.

Wall Street ones are up to one-fourth larger today than four years ago. They’re double their size a decade ago relative to the economy. Ordinary Americans are much poorer and more deprived.

Financial reform was fraudulent. Institutionalized grand theft is policy. Business as usual lets Wall Street run the country. Consumer protections don’t exist.

The worst of bad practices continue. Rules either don’t exist or are made to be broken. Bankers get what they want. Ordinary people get scammed.

Obama promised “change you can believe in.” He delivered betrayal instead. He’s anti-progressive, hard-right, reactionary, belligerent, pro-corporate, and anti-populist. He’s heartless, merciless, morally corrupt, and soulless.

Austerity is policy when help is needed. Draconian cuts were enacted. Many more are planned. Eliminating trillions of dollars in social service spending is policy. Democrats are in lock step with Republicans.

Corporate handouts, tax cuts for the rich, and Pentagon spending remain virtually untouched. Bad as things are now, imagine America in four years under either party.

Obama plans more of the same and then some. Romney is a religious extremist/corporate crook/socially destructive/imperial rogue.

He and Ryan plan exceeding the worst of Obama. Both are unapologetic. They’re indifferent to human need and welfare. They represent everything wrong with a broken system. It’s too corrupted, dysfunctional, and rotten to fix.

They’re frontmen for financialized America, super-rich privilege, and imperial lawlessness. They guarantee worse wide awake nightmares than Obama.

America’s choice in November is none. Bad as things are now expect worse. Bipartisan complicity assures it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:54 PM

Unconditional Surrender in Chicago

Unconditional Surrender in Chicago

by Stephen Lendman

September 18, 2012 will be remembered in Chicago as a day of infamy. Corrupt city officials and union bosses won. Teachers, parents, and kids lost.

On September 10, teachers walked out. Core issues were at stake. Most important is saving public education. An American tradition is disappearing.

It’s being commodified. Corporate predators are gaining control. Contract terms agreed on do nothing to stop them.

On Tuesday, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates voted to suspend strike action and resume classes. By 9:00AM Wednesday morning, they reopened across the city.

Primary and secondary education in Chicago and across America is a shadow of its former self. An article written two years ago next month compared earlier America with today. Rewritten parts are below, saying:

A personal note. I grew up in Boston from the mid-1930s – mid-1950s through college. Post-graduate work followed military service.

Times were different, good and bad. Eisenhower was still president. Unemployment was low. Anyone wanting work found it. Financialization hadn’t taken hold. Industrial America was strong. Most jobs were high pay/good benefit/full-time ones.

Most years the economy grew during a post-WW II expansion. Inflation was low. The average new car cost $1,500. A typical home was under $10,000. College was affordable.

Harvard’s 1952 full year tuition was $600. Four years later it was $1,000 – for a full, two-semester year. Anyone could attend evenings for $5 a course and get a Harvard degree for about $175.

My mother did it that way. On June 14, 1956, we graduated together in the same class. We were Harvard’s first ever mother and son to do it. Perhaps no parent and child did it since.

America was unchallenged economically. Its manufacturing base was solid. It offered high paying/good benefits jobs. No longer.

Union representation was high. Today it’s a shadow of its former self. Southern and northern US cities were segregated. They still are.

All 1960s civil rights gains plus most good jobs and benefits are gone. Alaska and Hawaii additions grew America to 50 states. The Korean War left an unsettled armistice. Six decades later, things haven’t changed.

Cold War politics settled in. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) prevented WW III. Censure ruined Joe McCarthy. By May 1957, he was dead at age 48. He’s not missed or mourned.

The CIA’s first coup deposed Iran’s democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh. A generation of terror followed. A year later, America toppled Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Decades of genocide followed. Indigenous Guatemalans suffered horrifically. They still do.

Throughout the decade, few followed Vietnam events, France’s defeat, and America’s growing involvement. Palestine wasn’t occupied. Israel was mostly out of sight and mind.

Times indeed changed, and not for the better, including in education.

June 14, 1956 reflected a different time. Thousands filled Harvard’s yard that day. Dignitaries showed up. Jack Kennedy delivered the commencement address. Senator JFK. It was 1956.

He was thoughtful and scholarly. Politicians don’t talk that way today. He said political parties and politicians only think of winning. Truth and honor are sacrificed for political advantage.

His entire address was full of scholarly references. He quoted Lowell, Milton, Bismark, Goethe, Macauley, and others. He had intellect and showed it.

He reminded listeners that long ago books were politicians’ tools, not their enemies. Locke, Milton, Sydney, Montesquieu, Coke, Bollingbroke and others were widely read and quoted in political pamphlets.

“Our political leaders traded in the free commerce of ideas with lasting results” long ago. He named Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster among others.

He said when freedom is endangered, politicians and intellectuals “should be natural allies, working more closely together for the common cause against the common enemy.”

He ended saying “if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live on this commencement day of 1956.”

He also said one of his contemporaries spoke of Jefferson as a man for all seasons. He called him “A gentleman of 32, who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.”

He was also a statesman, third US president, and supporter of public and university education. He said “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

“….whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.”

He called education fundamental for democracy. He believed ignorance and sound government can’t co-exist. He said government must provide education.

Only popular government can safeguard democracy. “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree….”

“Democracy cannot long exist without enlightenment….it cannot function without wise and honest officials.”

In free societies, everyone “should be educated regardless of wealth, birth or other accidental conditions….Children of the poor must be educated at common expense.”

On December 2, 1806, in his State of the Union Address, he urged Congress pass a constitutional amendment mandating federal support for education. He said:

“An amendment to our constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over government must be shared among all people.”

He never got what he wanted. It’s our loss today. He believed primary and secondary education were vital. He wanted them kept public. He had six objectives. He hoped they’d create a more productive, informed electorate. They included:

(1) “To give every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business;

(2) To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts, in writing;

(3) To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties;

(4) To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either;

(5) To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment;

(6) And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.”

Hopefully he meant “she” as well as “he.”

He devoted his later years to education. He wanted to create an “academic village.” In 1819, he founded the University of Virginia. He envisioned a new kind of university. He wanted emphasis placed on practical affairs and public service.

It was America’s first nonsectarian institution of higher learning. It was the first to adopt an elective course system. He called founding the university one of his greatest achievements.

He did it late in life. He planned its curriculum, recruited its first faculty, and designed its “academic village.” In 1825, classes began with eight teachers and 68 students.

Kennedy also believed in the importance of education. He said “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

“A child miseducated is a child lost.”

He supported keeping primary and secondary education public. He proposed aiding them with federal grants. He stressed investing in our youth from grade school through post-graduate studies. Imagine what he, Jefferson, and like-minded leaders would say today.

On September 19, the Chicago Tribune headlined “Teachers, students return to Chicago public schools,” saying:

On Tuesday, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates members voted to end strike action and return to classes.

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) president Karen Lewis pressured them to accede. She should be hung in effigy, fired and replaced. Instead she practically gloated saying:

“We feel very positive about moving forward. We feel grateful that we have a united union, and that when a union moves together, amazing things happen.”

Sugar-coating sellout doesn’t wash.

Mayor Emanuel was no better. He called the deal “an honest compromise.”

It was sellout. Money and power won. Teachers, parents and kids lost. At issue is how long will it take before they know? Then, what’ll they do about it?

Short-term, it’s too late. Across America, ordinary people are losing out consistently. Human, civil and worker rights are being lost. A previous article said Occupy Wall Street is right. The only solution is world revolution. Nothing less will work.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Romney/Ryanism in Tampa

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

 Published originally on August 31st, 20121 on the Steve Lendman Blog
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Tampa may never be the same. Republicans left it pockmarked. At least they’re gone. Residents welcomed their departure. Three days of pre-scripted hokum were featured. Romney/Ryan speeches featured revisionist history. Democrats get their turn next week.
Campaigning is in high gear. According to Bloomberg, “you’d need six months to watch every presidential campaign ad.” As of August 22, 526,633 (30 or 60 second) spots were run.
By election day November 6, perhaps they’ll top a million. And that’s only for president. All House and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs. So are numerous others at state and local levels. They range from gubernatorial to local school boards.
A war of words hammers US voters nonstop. Relief won’t come until post-election. America’s campaign season never ends. Preparations begin immediately for the next cycle. Big money plans it that way. Candidates and officeholders either go along or find another line of work. Voters get betrayed every time.
Tampa was Exhibit A. Romney/Ryan represent socially destructive interests. Obama’s the same. Voters are stuck between fire and brimstone.
America’s political process is too dysfunctional and corrupted to fix. People should either vote independent or stay home. Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference that matters separates them.
They represent money power and imperial lawlessness. People needs are spurned. Bipartisan complicity plans destroying them entirely. Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. Political Washington’s vision is dark age harshness.
Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan represent the worst of all possible worlds. Obama’s con man days began in Illinois. Before entering politics, Romney parlayed grand theft into super wealth.
As Bain Capital head, he profiteered by leveraged buyouts, asset-stripping companies, and leaving thousands of workers high and dry. As president, he’ll do for America what he did to one plundered company after another.
On August 29, Matt Taibbi headlined his Rolling Stone article “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.”
He calls him the flip side of Che or Trotsky. He’s a human wrecking machine. He’s right out of predatory capitalism’s central casting. He’s a visionary for everything harming people.
His campaign reflects “a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy.” He’s kept it hidden out of sight. Ryan’s his alter ego. He’s “a self-righteous anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist” the soup bowl is empty, go hungry.
On the one hand, Romney claims “a prairie fire of debt” is ravaging America. On the other, he got super-rich by “borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back.” He’s one of the “most irresponsible debt creators of all time.”
In Ryan, he’s got “perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous” than himself on the evils debt piled up by borrowed money. “No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big a lie.” In November, he may become the exception that proves the rule.
He’s unapologetic. He’s emblematic of Wall Street fraud, greed, and indifference about human need and welfare. He’s one of their own. He can be president, Treasury secretary and Fed chairman all in one. He represents everything wrong with America getting worse.
He’s a dagger at humanity’s heart. He’s the perfect frontman for destroying decades of social progress. Give him four years and it won’t exist. He endorses government of, by and for super-rich elites like himself.
He’s “a new and improved version” of Gordon Gekko dressed up in better PR and more grandiose notions of wealth and power. He envisions leveraged buying out America. He’ll leave everyone else to pay the tab.
His business model is scorched earth asset stripping. Expect ordinary people to be left high and dry. He wants America looking like one company after another he wrecked. He thinks it’s OK as long as his hands don’t look dirty.
His free market notions suck life from people. He’s a brigand who discards them like trash. He believes only making money matters. He made piles the old fashioned way by stealing it. Dirty money buys as much as honest cash. Romney got lots of federal help making plenty.
Government giveaways enriched him. So did business-friendly tax provisions. They facilitate leveraged buyout scams. They made Romney super-rich.
Before he took office, James Petras called Obama “the greatest con man in recent history.” He compared him to Melville’s Confidence Man. “He catches your eye while he picks your pocket.” Romney one-ups him and then some. He knows every dirty trick in the book to steal, wreck human lives, and get off scot free.
He’s the perfect frontman for financialized America. It uses money to make more of it without manufacturing anything. It prospers at the expense of others. It hides wealth in tax havens. It watches from the sidelines while America crumbles.
It’s being transforming into Guatemala, complete with police state harshness. Come January, Romney may head the grand scheme. Obama’s able to match him blow for blow.
Imagine the state of the nation four years hence under either leader. Imagine having endless wide awake nightmares. Imagine the worst of all possible worlds. Obama/Romney assure it. They’ll be no place to hide.
Take no prisoners defines their style. Romney comes off brash. Obama’s more subtle. Either way they’re flip sides of the same coin. Decades earlier Republicans and Democrats wouldn’t recognize their modern-day successors.
Political conventions today bear little resemblance to earlier ones. Predictability replaced suspense. In 1976, Gerald Ford contested Ronald Reagan on the convention floor to become Republican nominee.
In 1960, Jack Kennedy lacked a majority until Wyoming voted last. Everything now is pre-scripted theater. It’s like watching an old film aired many previous times.
Tropical storm Isaac/turned hurricane had first say in Tampa. It shortened circus shenanigans to three days. Reactionary extremism, hokum, grandiosity, and revisionist history took center stage. Influence peddling dominated behind the scenes deal making.
Pre-scripted bluster went off as planned. Dissembling obscured reality. Delegates were fed red meat malarkey. Tough issues were ducked. They were distorted by falsely claiming Romney/Ryan have ways to fix America.
Today’s political conventions are coronations, not nominations. Suspense and political honesty are nowhere in sight. Everything heard is predictable.
In Tampa, politicians impersonated actors. Clint Eastwood played the opposite role. He fell flat and then some. He sounded more under the table than over the top.
Critics called his cameo “bizarre” and “embarrassing.” At age 82, best stick to gardening. Even Republicans called it a mistake to invite him. Democrats make fools of themselves next week. Ready or not, Charlotte awaits their arrival.
They’ll match Republicans blow for blow. Rhetoric alone separates them. Politics on either side of the aisle reflect flip sides of the same coin. They’re lawless, merciless, inhumane, anti-labor, anti-welfare, racist, neoliberal, elitist, pro-business, pro-war, and anti-populist.
A previous article said both parties believe America’s future depends on greater wealth disparity, ignoring public need, waging war on humanity, silencing truth, and cracking down on non-believers.
On November 6, voters get to choose between either wing of America’s money party. Duopoly power offers no alternative.
A Final Comment
All week, Tampa was on virtual lockdown. Hundreds of protesters showed up. Thousands of cops confronted them. Media scoundrels largely ignored them.
They marched on the RNC’s convention site. Occupy Tampa came out. Ahead of convention week, they noted an unemployment crisis, a do-nothing Congress, and other vital unaddressed issues. They complained about security protocol restrictions compromising their First Amendment rights.
Occupy the RNC was there. They’re unaffiliated. They stand in solidarity with Charlotte DNC protesters. They railed against both parties. They’re tied to corporate rule, war, economic injustice, and freedom extinguishing policies.
America’s “entire system….is rooted in greed and power.” Exploitation and oppression are prioritized. They demand better like others. They facilitated logistics for protesters.
They published Tampa Principles. They support political diversity within their struggle for social, economic, and environmental justice. They’re committed to treating everyone with respect.
They oppose repressing dissent, surveillance, infiltration, disruption, police brutality, and restrictive “free speech zones” far from convention activities. They united for change not possible without sustained commitment.
Code Pink came out in force. During Romney’s speech, their members stood up chanting and unfurling banners saying “People over Profits.” “Democracy is not a business.”
They interrupted Ryan’s speech. They demanded women’s rights, control over their own bodies, and healthcare, not warfare.
They stormed the streets and convention site day and night. They delivered messages saying end wars and get money out of politics. They explained America’s broken electoral system. What’s the point of kicking out bums for new ones.
Dressed as pink police, they staged mock citizens’ arrests at every Condi Rice event. At a pro-Israeli one, they denounced its illegal occupation. They spoke out against war on Iran. With barely a chance to exhale, they’re off for Charlotte and more demonstrations.
Others in Washington shut down a busy intersection as Romney was about to accept his party’s nomination. They chose a spot known for activism.
They protested his politics of the rich. They held signs saying “Stop the Romney economy.” “We are here to protest Romney’s nomination.” People need to hear disenfranchised voices.
Others must lend support. The only solution is world revolution. Change comes only from the bottom up. It’s time to challenge the beast and slay it.

The Weekly Steve Lendman Column #2

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published the week of August 20th, 2012 on the Steve Lendman Blog

Discuss this Column at the Epicurean Delights Smorgaspord inside the Diner

Saving a Failed System

by Stephen Lendman
 
Combining 17 dissimilar countries under one monetary/fiscal system assured disaster waiting to happen. One size fits all rules don’t work. Euro expert Bernard Connolly knew it before the euro’s 1998 introduction.
 
Saying so cost him his job as EU monetary affairs department head. He called the euro system a harebrained idea doomed to fail. He was years ahead of his time.
 
Since 2008, one crisis conditions deepened. Stopgap solutions buy time but nothing else. Massive money printing keeps wobbly Europe afloat but for how long. Bailouts, rescue plans, debt monetization, and other forms of money manipulation haven’t made sick economies healthy.
 
Prosperity remains elusive. Money used for zombie banks and speculation sacrifices growth and millions of households with it. Debt problems can’t be solved by adding more to existing amounts.
 
Financial expert Martin Weiss calls the West’s financial crisis a debt monster. America and Europe face similar problems. Current US debt levels are three times what they were four years ago, six times greater than in the mid-1990s, 10 times mid-1960s levels, and hundreds of times compared to earlier periods.
 
There’s no way to hide or fix it with bad policies. It exceeds GDP. Washington owes about $1.05 for every product and service dollar produced by all local governments, companies and individuals.
 
America is “passing a point of no return,” says Weiss. It’s “beyond which any new government initiative to end the crisis will probably just make it worse.” Festering financial problems constitute “the definitive crisis of our generation.”
 
Instead of responsibly addressing them, bipartisan complicity assures worsening, not improving conditions. Western economies are declining, not prospering. Europe’s worse off than America.
 
ECB policy failed dismally. Throughout 2011, it intervened in bond markets. LTRO (Long-Term Refinancing Operation) 1 and 2 schemes provided over one trillion euros to troubled EU banks. They also got other liquidity windows.
 
Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland got bailouts. Much more is needed. In the process, the ECB ballooned its balance sheet above 3 trillion euros. It’s 30% more than Germany’s economy. It’s Europe’s largest.
 
Everything tried so far failed. Time alone was gained. Crisis conditions aren’t resolved. Solutions aren’t rocket science. They’re avoided to give zombie banks more money and keep failed economies afloat but not fixed.
 
Greece’s debt crisis exploded in early 2010. Billions poured in to help. Conditions now are worse than earlier. Athens faces another major budget shortfall. It’s greater than previously estimated.
 
Germany’s coalition government rejects additional bailouts beyond ones already approved. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble also rejects more aid. “We can’t put together yet another new program,” he said. “It is not responsible to throw money into a bottomless pit.”
 
If tiny Greece can’t be saved, how can Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and other troubled Eurozone nations combined?
 
ECB President Mario Draghi promised whatever it takes to preserve the euro system. Earlier policies tried failed. What new tricks hasn’t he tried? Perhaps none but he dare not say.
 
He can keep binge money printing. He can’t buy sovereign debt without European Stability Mechanism (ESM) authority. It’s proposed, but not in place. If created, it’s a permanent bailout fund.
 
Creation depends on Germany’s Constitutional Court and parliament. Judges must agree to change German constitutional law. At issue is will they or won’t they without required national referendum approval.
 
If approved, parliament must then act. In mid-September, another moment of truth approaches. Legislators will act one way or the other.
 
Massive money printing means future inflation and a much weaker currency. German officials strongly propose monetary madness.
 
Eurobonds issuance is another possible scheme. Angela Merkel said no “as long as (she) live(s). She means it. Doing so violates Germany’s constitution. Doing so may cost her reelection. Germany’s AAA credit status would also be at risk.
 
It’s debt/GDP ratio already is too high at around 90%. Hundreds of billions of backdoor bailouts exacerbated its problems. Germany’s pockets aren’t deep enough to endlessly supply more.
 
At the same time, if its parliament ratifies the ESM, it’s on the hook for nearly another 200 billions euros as well as around one trillion in committed bailouts. Germany’s GDP is around 3.5 trillion euros. It’s heading for its own solvency crisis.
 
Europe is a disaster waiting to happen. Central banks aren’t omnipotent. They can print money. They can’t save the world. They’ve let crisis conditions fester and grow to save zombie banks. They need to be nationalized, broken up or closed.
 
Economics Professor Yanis Varoufakis accuses the ECB of being complicit in a macro-financial crisis. Pre-2008, it featured “Ponzi growth.” Now it’s “Ponzi austerity.”
 
Toxic money schemes created “irreversible” insolvent banks. Bailouts conditional on austerity delay inevitable defaults. In theory, the ECB was created to be “the only serious” Eurozone institution. Its mandate is to protect and guard the euro’s credibility. It failed dismally before and after 2008.
 
It’s “part and parcel of this crime against the peoples and spirit of Europe.” Now that chickens are coming home to roost, Draghi pledges whatever it takes to save things. So far, deeds haven’t backed up words.
 
Some analysts think he’s bluffing. Varoufakis attributes ECB failure to “its most powerful constituent part, the Bundesbank.” It hasn’t so far agreed to two potentially normalizing operations:
 
(1) capping peripheral country spreads via unlimited bond purchases, and
 
(2) an EFSF/ESM (European Financial Stability Facility/European Stability Mechanism) banking license with a commitment to recapitalize banks directly.
 
The Bundesbank slammed Draghi’s plan. It said bond purchases entail “considerable risks for stability.” Perhaps it’s signaling that Germany’s monetary soul matters more than saving Greece and other peripheral countries.
 
German banks refuse to submit to ECB “scrutiny.” It’s inevitable under ECB EFSF/ESM mandates if adopted.
 
Draghi “is participating in a huge game of (Ponzi austerity) deception.” He signaled readiness to sidestep Bundesbank objections provided Angela Merkel agrees. His scheme “is bound to fail.”
 
He doesn’t have enough ammunition to bail out troubled PIIGS countries, let alone all Europe. Draghi is “hapless,” says Varoufakis. He’s forced to choose between “a walk-on part in the unfolding tragicomedy of Ponzi austerity and a bond purchasing scheme whose failure is foretold.”
 
Instead of adopting workable policies, why is he hardline for measures sure to fail? One reason is that Germany and other surplus nations (Finland, Austria, the Netherlands) won’t approve policies that bind them irreversibly to the euro.
 
It’s not about not wanting to stay. They won’t surrender bargaining power and option to leave. One day perhaps they’ll have no choice.
 
Germany is Europe’s strongest economy. It’s the ECB’s most important backstop. It doesn’t have the capital or inclination to prop up all Europe. It won’t risk hyperinflation doing it.
 
Neither can Draghi on his own rescue Europe. Saying he will is bluff. Markets rally as much on hope as reality. Eventually one catches up with the other. Expect day of reckoning time to be painful.
 
Troubled EU countries may topple like tenpins. Expect sickest ones to tumble hard. The longer real solutions are delayed, the harder they’ll fall. If Spain and Italy go, watch out.

 

Trillions Stashed in Tax Havens
 
by Stephen Lendman
 
A new Tax Justice Network (TJN) USA report reveals an estimated $21 – $32 trillion of hidden and stolen wealth stashed largely tax-free secretly.
 
Titled “The Price of Offshore Revisited,” it explains what financial insiders know but won’t discuss. Many of them have their own hidden wealth.
 
TJN describes a “subterranean” systemic “economic equivalent of an astrophysical black hole.” The higher estimate above exceeds US GDP twofold.
 
It’s mind-boggling. It’s hard imagining a tiny percent of privileged elites control this much wealth secretly. It’s worse knowing it’s largely tax free. It’s appalling that governments let them get away with it.
 
Wall Street and other major banks manage it. Their business is fraud and grand theft. Private banking operations yield huge profits. Keeping funds secreted tax free attracts rich clients. Private capital globally is attracted. It’s welcome from anyone, “no questions asked.”
 
Government policies protect them. Societal costs are huge. Tax justice is absent. Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley once said only little people pay taxes. TJN’s report bears her out.
 
A vast “global offshore industry” is explained. It’s largely tax-free. It’s controlled by the world’s richest, most powerful elites. Estimating amounts secreted takes tedious data mining.
 
Previous estimates relied more on rough judgments. TJN used several methods. They include available data sources, estimation methods, and core assumptions. They’re open to peer review and public scrutiny.
 
Four key approaches were used:
 
(1) A “sources-and-uses” country-by-country model.
 
(2) An “accumulated offshore wealth” model.
 
(3) An “offshore investor portfolio” model.
 
(4) Best-guess estimates of offshore assets held by the world’s top 50 private banks.
 
Familiar Wall Street, European, and other global financial institutions comprise them.
 
Current data gotten from global central banks, the World Bank, IMF, UN, and national accounts were used. Other evidence includes:
 
(1) “Transfer mispricing” data.
 
(2) Demand for cross-border liquid “mattress money” data.
 
(3) Current research data on the offshore private banking market’s size.
 
TJN believes its work comprises the “most rigorous and comprehensive” data ever produced. It challenges anyone to contest it.
 
In overall size through 2010, it estimates hidden global wealth at from $21 – $32 trillion. It’s invested “virtually tax-free” through a still-expanding black hole of more than 80 secret jurisdictions. It calls estimates conservative.
 
Developed countries don’t face debt problems. They’ve got huge offshore tax evasion ones. Repatriation would reduce debt substantially. Doing so would bring it well within tolerable levels.
 
Only financial wealth is included. Much else isn’t measured. It includes real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold, art, and other categories not easily quantified.
 
The offshore economy alone has an enormous negative impact on the domestic tax bases of affected countries. They’ve had significant private capital outflows for years, decades or longer.
 
TJN focused on 139 countries. They’re mainly “low-middle income” ones. The World Bank and IMF maintain data on them.
 
Since the 1970s, private bankers let rich elites accumulate trillions in hidden wealth. At the same time, these nations experienced structural adjustment harshness.
 
They became debt-entrapped. Some borrowed themselves into insolvency. They sold off public assets at fire sale prices. They impoverished their people. They colluded with big money interests at their expense.
 
Through 2010, they accumulated over $4 trillion in debt. Minus foreign reserves invested in First World securities, it’s $2.8 trillion. Including hidden wealth, they’re net lenders.
 
Key is that assets of these countries are held by wealthy elites. Ordinary people bear the burden of debts.
 
In the 1980s, an unnamed Fed official said:
 
“The problem is not that these countries don’t have any assets. The problem is they’re all in Miami” and other global cities. They’re home to private financial institutions.
 
Hidden offshore wealth correlates positively with loan amounts to indebted countries. Large amounts of borrowed capital were secreted lawlessly in global tax havens.
 
Local elites continue “vot(ing) with financial feet.” At the same time, their public sectors borrow heavily and ordinary people go begging.
 
Although First World countries borrow most, they and elites in them remain global financiers.
 
Wealth is concentrated in select private hands “in a handful of source countries.” Many are regarded as debtors.
 
Through 2010, 50 top private banks managed over $12 trillion in cross-border assets from individual clients,  trusts and foundations.
 
Smaller banks, investment firms, insurers, and non-bank intermediaries like hedge funds and independent money managers handle additional amounts up to an overall $32 trillion estimate.
 
TJN calls these enablers part of a global “tax injustice system.” Complicit governments let them operate at the expense of their own people.
 
“Since the late 1970s, investigative journalists, tax authorities, drug enforcement officials, terrorist trackers, national security experts,” and others became aware about vast amounts of money stashed in “offshore” tax havens.
 
Private banking “professional enablers” manage it. They make fortunes doing it. The term “offshore” refers less to physical locations than virtual ones anywhere. They’re often “networks of legal and quasi-legal entities and arrangements.” They operate in the interests of money managers.
 
Physical locations can be anywhere. Legal structures typically are assets owned by anonymous offshore companies in one jurisdiction. Trusts are in another. Trustees are in multiple places globally.
 
Clients are rich elites, companies, and criminals. They include real estate speculators, technology tycoons, oil sheiks, underworld millionaires, heads of state, despots, and drug lords, among others. Their common needs include:
 
(1) Anonymity and confidentiality.
 
(2) Minimizing or avoiding taxes.
 
(3) Skilled money management.
 
(4) Ability to access and manage their wealth anywhere.
 
(5) Secure places to reside, visit, or hide.
 
(6) Assured financial security no matter what’s happening in the real world.
 
Skilled professionals provide these services globally. Money management happens in a virtual world. They live under one set of rules. Another exists for all others. It’s gone on for decades. Global banks thrive on it. It’s one of their most profitable operations.
 
Physical locations operate from Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Nauru, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, and elsewhere.
 
Over 3.5 million paper companies, thousands of shell banks and insurers, more than half the world’s registered commercial ships above 100 tons, and tens of thousands of shell subsidiaries of giant global banks, accounting firms, and various other companies operate there.
 
Nonetheless, conventional havens are misleading. Despite their vast financial infrastructure, most super-rich elites want more security. They also need easy access to First World capital markets, competent attorneys and accountants, independent judiciaries, and laws protecting them.
 
Professional “enablers” provide all needed services. Managing vast wealth is complex. Many skills are required. They include financial, economic, legal, accounting, and insurance. Super-rich elites demand and get the best.
 
Haven locations offer more than tax avoidance. Almost anything goes on. It includes fraud, bribery, illegal gambling, money laundering, human and sex trafficking, arms dealing, toxic waste dumping, conflict diamonds and endangered species trafficking, bootlegged software, and endless other lawless practices.
 
It’s impossible to estimate total lawful and illegal wealth from all sources. It’s vastly more than estimates within the parameters of TJN’s study. Credit Suisse tried.
 
Through mid-2011, it puts total financial and non-financial global wealth at $231 trillion. It’s a best guess. It’s tenfold TJN’s top figure. It’s mind-boggling. It’s roughly 3.5 times global GDP. In 2011, it was about $65 trillion.
 
Imagine the good a small percent of global wealth could do for billions of disadvantaged people. Imagine its ability to stabilize and recapitalize troubled countries. Imagine a world where everyone shares its wealth. Imagine one worth living in.
 
Global wealth represents low-hanging fruit out of reach. Instead of everyone benefitting, few do at the expense of all others. Injustice that great begs for transformational change. From the bottom up is the only way possible. Shedding light on what’s dark is a good way to start.
 
War of Words on Iran

 
by Stephen Lendman
 
If words could kill, imperial Washington long ago would have returned Iran to its nightmarish Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi days.
 
Propaganda wars rage daily. Tehran is wrongfully called an existential threat. Imagine a country wanting peace accused of belligerent intents. Repeating it enough times gets people to believe it. Big lies have impact.
 
London’s Telegraph supplied the latest. More on it below. Perhaps it’s connected to what’s shaping up to be an impressive August 26 – 31 Non-Alignment Movement Tehran meeting.
 
Officials from over 100 countries will attend. On August 22, the Tehran Times said over 50 “will participate….at the level of president, prime minister, king, and vice president and this number will probably increase.”
 
So far, around 150 delegations will attend. They’ll be joined by representatives from about 20 international organizations. “Special guests” are also expected.
 
Top officials coming include Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Cuban leader Raul Castro, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Hugo Chavez, Hamid Karzi, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Azerbaijani President IIham Aliyev, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe among others.
 
Despite heavy Israeli and Western pressure not to come, the UN News Centre said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend. According to his spokesman:
 
“The Secretary-General looks forward to the Summit as an opportunity to work with the participating Heads of State and Government, including the host country, towards solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda including follow-up to the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development, disarmament, conflict prevention, and support for countries in Transition.”
 
“With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people.”
 
“These include Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”
 
Like Kofi Annan, Ban is an imperial tool. He represents Western interests. He had to go or look foolish. NAM is a major international organization. An unnamed UN official said “Ban has no choice but to attend an event of this size and importance.”
 
He’ll use the occasion to lecture Iran on its “international obligations.” Last week, he rebuked accurate Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Israeli criticism.
 
Ahmadinijad called Zionism a “cancerous tumor” and Israel an “insult to all humanity.” Khamenei repeated the sentiment, saying “the big powers have dominated the destiny of the Islamic countries for years….and installed the Zionist cancerous tumor in the heart of the Islamic world.”
 
He added that “Zionism will disappear from the map.” Indeed it will one day by self-destructing.
 
Speaking uncomfortable truths and confronting abusive power draws rebukes. Through his spokesman, Ban criticized “offensive and inflammatory statements.” US and EU officials called them “hateful.”
 
They accurately reflect the region’s real existential threat along with America’s imperial presence.
 
On August 19 during Eid al-Fitr prayers, marking the end of Ramadan, Khamenei addressed worshipers at Tehran University. He urged world Muslims to remain vigilant. He discussed anti-Islamic conspiracies, saying:
 
“The issues of the Muslim world at the current juncture are unprecedented ones. These developments that have occurred in the Muslim world are peculiar, shocking and determine the course of the Muslim Ummah in the future.”
 
He called America and Israel enemies of Muslim nations. He cautioned against erroneously misunderstanding their intentions. He expressed hope that Muslim countries follow “proper measures.”
 
He said a new era had begun. Muslim states are experiencing “a new situation. It will affect other nations worldwide.” He supported Palestinian resistance. He called their struggle “fundamental and important” for world Muslims.
 
Like Ban, The New York Times represents imperial interests. It’s more voice of America than legitimate news and information service. On August 22, it headlined “UN Visit Will Set Back a Push to Isolate Iran,” saying:
 
US and Israeli efforts “to isolate Iran suffered a setback” when word came Ban will attend. Iran “trumpeted” his coming “as a vindication of its defiance and enduring importance in world affairs.”
 
According to US-based independent Iranian scholar Farideh Farhi:
 
“The extraordinary effort that the Iranian leaders have put into the summit is intended to showcase Iran’s global role and offer concrete evidence that the US policy of isolating Iran has failed.”
 
“A case is being made that it is not the ‘global community’ that has problems with the Islamic republic, as repeatedly asserted by U.S. officials, but merely a U.S.-led-and-pressured coalition of countries.”
 
“And ironically the Obama administration is conceding the point by trying to pressure various leaders from attending the meeting.”
 
Reacting to Ban and Egyptian President Morsi’s announced attendance, Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev conceded:
 
“If (they’re) going there, if you’re paying homage to the leaders of Iran, what kind of diplomatic isolation is that?”
 
Washington’s National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said:
 
“We think that Iran is going to try to use the event for propaganda purposes and to try to cover up the extreme isolation Iran is feeling politically and economically.”
 
“That said, if people choose to participate, we believe they should take the opportunity of any meetings that they have with Iran’s leaders to press them to comply with their international obligations without further delay.”
 
Like the Times, the Washington Post represents wealth and power issues. Doing so betrays its readers. On August 14, it headlined “UN chief should boycott Tehran conference,” saying:
 
Tehran’s summit “promises to be” an anti-American “festival.” Iran intends to defend its sovereign rights. They include its peaceful nuclear program and call for a non-nuclear Middle East.
 
Post editors say that’s hostile. They also repeated earlier long ago discredited canards. Truth takes a back seat to propaganda. Beating up on nations Washington wants isolated, ravaged and plundered is policy.
 
Ban “will be forced to endure public lectures from the Iranian leaders about their right to enrich uranium and” anti-Israeli rants.
 
“By attending the Tehran conference, Mr. Ban will dignify a bacchanal of nonsense, undermine the work of the Security Council and probably get nothing in return.”
 
Post editors give readers reason to boycott the broadsheet and denounce its shameless commentaries. They long ago wore thin. They almost make earlier yellow journalism look respectable.
 
On August 22, London’s Telegraph delivered the latest anti-Iranian broadside. It headlined “Iran’s supreme leader orders fresh terror attacks on West.”
 
Never mind what he may have done, said and meant. Western propaganda calls it its way. Writer Con Coughlin cited unnamed Western intelligence officials, claiming:
 
“Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to the elite Quds Force unit following a recent emergency meeting of Iran’s National Security Council in Tehran held to discuss a specially-commissioned report into the implications for Iran of the Assad regime’s overthrow.”
 
“Intelligence officials say the report concludes that Iran ‘cannot be passive’ to the new threats posed to its national security, and warns that Western support for Syrian opposition groups was placing Iran’s ‘resistance alliance’ in jeopardy, and could seriously disrupt Iran’s access to Hizbollah in Lebanon.”
 
Indeed Khamenei and other Iranian officials are concerned. Failure to address serious threats would be irresponsible. Claiming Tehran plans confronting Western belligerence with its own continues an anti-Iranian war of words.
 
Doing so is spurious, unconscionable propaganda. Corroborating evidence is absent. So are names and convincing specifics.
 
Instead, unnamed intelligence sources claim Khamenei issued a directive to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Allegedly it ordered him to step up Western attacks.
 
Coughlin unjustifiably accused Iran of other anti-Western terror attacks. No evidence whatever proved Iranian involvement in any of them. All had Mossad and/or CIA fingerprints.
 
Suggesting more is an obvious ploy to blame Tehran for planned false flags. Perhaps something big is coming. Spuriously accusing Iran advances the ball for war. Washington’s had plans to attack for years. So does Israel. Timing alone is unknown.
 
Pretexts are needed. So is softening up propaganda. Enlisting public support is key. Getting it depends on convincing people of an existential threat too grave to ignore. Reality doesn’t matter, just accusations repeated enough times to sound convincing.
 
The latest scam claims Iran plans “retaliat(ing) for what they regard as the West’s attempts to influence the outcome of the Syrian unrest.”
 
Expect lots more ahead. Know the source, purpose, and longstanding US/Israeli aims. Ignore baseless accusations by sources too shamefaced to go public. They lack credibility.
 
At stake is ravaging independent nations, controlling their resources, plundering them, and exploiting their people. Peace and stability are verboten. War is the option of choice.
 
A Final Comment
 
On August 21, convicted Iran/Contra criminal Elliot Abrams headlined his Weekly Standard article “Time to Authorize Use of Force Against Iran.”
 
Abrams is one of Paul Ryan’s advisors. He’s tutoring him on foreign policy. Topic one is waging war on independent states. Ryan is a George Bush adherent. He calls himself a “defense hawk.” He’s committed to mass slaughter and destruction. So is Abrams, saying:
 
“At the moment, no one is persuaded that the United States will use force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That situation worries Israelis and emboldens Iranians, not the outcome we want.”
 
“A clear statement now that is backed by the nominees of both parties and elicits widespread support in Congress would demonstrate that, whatever the election results, American policy is set.”
 
Post-9/11, Congress gave Bush a blank check to wage war. It approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”
 
Bush took full advantage. Permanent wars rage. Abrams wants more. So do other neocon hawks. Iran is target one. Plans call for full-blown Syrian escalation. Exposing and denouncing imperial schemes is essential. What greater priority than that.
 
Risking Nuclear Armageddon

 
by Stephen Lendman
 
Irresponsible leaders risk the unthinkable. Media scoundrels cheerlead mindlessly. So do neocon think tanks. Ordinary people are more concerned about mundane trivia than survival.
 
Nero didn’t fiddle while Rome burned. The violin wasn’t invented for another 1,500 years. Today’s officials go where earlier ones wouldn’t dare. They risk regional or global disaster. War on Syria and/or Iran may ignite more than leaders bargain for.
 
Imagine blowing up the world to control it. Imagine forces able to stop it staying sidelined. Imagine the unimaginable. Imagine it before it’s too late to matter.
 
World War II weapons were toys compared to today’s. Before war ended, tens of millions died. Estimates range from 50 – 70 million. No one knows for sure. Preventing war would have saved them. Hoped for never again became perpetual conflicts.
 
Obama replicates hardline neocon extremism. He did what supporters thought impossible. He surpassed the worst of Bush. Imagine what’ll do in a second term.
 
He’s risking the unthinkable. He’s lurching toward potential nuclear war. He’s mindless about likely consequences.
 
Only America used nuclear weapons. It’s not working to avoid potential catastrophe. It wants advantageous geopolitical positioning and dominance. Mutually assured destruction so far worked. Fail safe days may be ending.
 
Attacking Syria risks Russian and perhaps Chinese intervention. War on Iran entails that risk and more. Washington’s arsenal includes weapons too dangerous to use.
 
One around for several years is called “the Mother of All Bombs (massive ordinance penetrator, or MOP).” At 30,000 pounds, it’s able to penetrate 200 feet of concrete before exploding. It’s America’s most powerful non-nuclear weapon. Use will cause horrific casualties and destruction.
 
Tactical nuclear weapons may also be used. Called bunker busters, their explosive power ranges from less to more than bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
 
Using them assures retaliation. Prime targets include Israel’s nuclear sites, US bases, and America’s nuclear armed vessels. Imagine the potential consequences. Armageddon is risked. The unimaginable may become reality.
 
Plans have been in place for years. Washington and Israel have them. Perhaps coordinated strikes are planned. Russian and Chinese intervention ups the catastrophic odds.
 
Dangerous signals are increasing. On August 19, Obama promised US military intervention if Syria repositions or uses chemical or other nonconventional weapons. At a White House news conference he said:
 
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.”
 
“That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
 
At the same time, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) said US, UK and French special forces are positioned in Israel, Jordan and Turkey. They’re on standby to seize Syrian chemical weapons.
 
Doing so means invasion. DF said they’ll “engage Syrian troops attempting to” reposition nonconventional weapons. Allegedly it’s to prevent them from falling into insurgent hands or supplying them to Hezbollah.
 
Obama, Britain’s David Cameron, and France’s Francois Hollande “wrap(ped) up the details of their combined operation….” They plan direct intervention. Air strikes are involved.
 
DF said “American reconnaissance teams are already on the ground, marking out landing sites and setting up bridgeheads for the incoming US, British and French special forces.”
 
Direct US intervention began. Stepped up actions will follow. Obama’s acting on his own. Congress remains on summer recess until early September. Republicans hold their national convention from August 27 – 30. Democrats have theirs the following week.
 
All’s quiet on the home front. What better time perhaps for more war. National attention will be minimal. Perhaps Obama thinks he can wrap things up and declare victory before most people notice. He hasn’t been able to do it for over 18 months.
 
No end of conflict is imminent. Attacking Syria may involve Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and China. Imagine then what follows. All-out war repercussions can’t be predicted. Embroiling the entire region and beyond is possible.
 
Syria won’t use chemical weapons except in self-defense. It won’t give Washington pretext to intervene. Its statements left no ambiguity. On August 24, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said:
 
“We, for our part, have already worked with the Syrian government and have raised this issue. We have been given very strong assurances that everything possible will be done to stop it happening. Guarantees were also given that the chemical weapons will remain in their current place.”
 
“They assured us that very serious control is being exercised over the safety of these weapons, and there is no threat today that something could happen to them or the situation could get out of control.”
 
At the same time, Gatilov expressed concern about Washington perhaps instigating insurgent nonconventional weapons use blamed on Assad. Doing so gives America pretext for war.
 
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France will help enforce no-fly zone authority. Doing so without Security Council approval is lawless. It also involves bombing Syrian air defenses and command and control sites.
 
Libya 2.0 may be imminent. Imagine the horrific casualty count and devastation. War with Syria assures it. Planners, of course, say nothing. Media scoundrels suppress what everyone needs to know.
 
Another nonbelligerent nation is on America’s target list for total destruction. Imagine public inattention while it’s happening.
 
Attacking Iran may follow or occur simultaneously. On August 24, Haaretz headlined “Heading for an iceberg called Iran,” saying:
 
Netanyahu/Barak want support to attack. Cabinet members are evenly split pro and con. Shimon Peres went public. He’s concerned about something too dangerous to risk. Unfortunately he thinks so only if Israel acts unilaterally  He calls going solo potentially suicidal. Alone or otherwise is madness.
 
Fourteen ministers comprise Israel’s security cabinet. Eight have most say. Currently Netanyahu/Barak favor war. Two others support them – Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. Four others are opposed.
 
Netanyahu/Barak need one more on their side. How all cabinet members feel is important. Six want war. Another six don’t, and two remain undecided. Decisions this grave should be no-brainers. Mindless officials risk possible armageddon Haaretz spelled out as follows:
 
Though unlikely, if Israel goes it alone, Washington will be “furious. The price of oil soars. Thousands of missiles strike Tel Aviv, Haifa, Dimona and other Israeli cities. The economy collapses.”
 
“Hundreds are killed, thousands wounded. A mass flight of Israelis abroad. Tent cities. In this scenario, a senior figure in the ruling party said this week, Netanyahu will certainly lose the next election. Not even avowed Likudniks will vote Likud.”
 
Does Netanyahu know the risks? “Of course,” said a senior unnamed source. “He is not stupid.” He just acts that way. “He sees the whole picture and all its parts.”
 
Will that give him pause? “No. He believes that this is his reason d’être in life.” That’s why he was elected, he thinks. He and Barak are committed. Others are worried for good reason.
 
Haaretz downplayed potential disaster. At issue is irradiating Israel, causing vast destruction, killing thousands, injuring many more, and putting the entire population and others in neighboring countries at risk.
 
Nightly anti-war demonstrations target Barak’s home. Former adviser Eldad Yaniv participates. He said Yitzhak Rabin made a mistake allowing them weekly where he lived. They affected public opinion.
 
Yaniv thinks if he and others persist nightly, they’ll become “permanent fixture” enough perhaps to prevent war. He and other believe it’s too important not to try.
 
Hawks say waiting ups the dangers. Inflammatory reports lacking credibility and/or designed to enlist public support circulate.
 
On August 23, Reuters headlined “Iran expands nuclear capacity in underground bunker – sources,” saying:
 
More underground uranium enrichment ability “potentially pav(es) the way for a significant expansion of work the West fears is ultimately aimed at making nuclear bombs.”
 
Doing so “de(fies) international demands to curb its nuclear program.”
 
Unnamed sources lack credibility. Inflammatory reports advance the ball for war. Reuters shares guilt with other media scoundrels.
 
On August 23, The New York Times ran the same story in more detail with more deception. Writer David Sanger’s been waging war on Iran. Instead of truth and full disclosure, he features pro-Western misinformation.
 
He calls Iran’s peaceful nuclear program “a direct threat to the US.” He lied but won’t admit it. He’s at it again stoking fear instead of allaying it.
 
IAEA head Yukiya Amano will soon report more on Iran. He’s a pro-Western tool. Washington got him installed to serve its interests. He’ll say what Obama officials want to hear. He’ll stoke more baseless Iranian threats.
 
He’ll stop short of saying Iran decided to produce nuclear weapons. Perhaps he’s saving this type punchline for a later time. Claiming it doesn’t wash. It won’t deter him saying anything to debase Tehran unjustifiably.
 
Nonetheless, he’ll likely “renew the debate over Iran’s intentions at a time when Israeli officials are stepping up their warnings that the window to conduct a preemptive military strike is closing.”
 
His views may affect US voters in November. In July, Romney said Obama wasted time negotiating. Iran took full advantage, he claimed.
 
Inflammatory reports make negotiated solutions less likely. Sanger and others like him increase chances for war. They’d feel otherwise if bombs fell on them. They’re brain-dead about human costs of war. Proliferating propaganda only matters.
 
Amano plays the same dirty game. He’ll say Iran made substantial enriched uranium progress. They’ve got enough to produce five or more bombs.
 
Ordinary people have enough power with their bare hands to inflict harm. Few go around doing it. Headline stories don’t suggest they might. Spurious reports mischaracterize Iranian intentions.
 
Amano’s bottom line is how close is Tehran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons? Every nation operating commercial reactors can do so if they wish. Only Iran is called threatening. Accusers have other fish to fry.
 
At issue is regime change. Pretexts are easy to contrive. Repetition stokes fear. Public support for what’s unthinkable may follow. Imagine a worst case scenario. Imagine leaders risking it.
 
Imagine fears becoming reality. At that point it’s too late to matter. What better reason to stop potential catastrophe before it happens.
 
Obama’s bully pulpit can prevent it. Instead, he’s furthering belligerence, not deterring it. On March 7, House Congressional Resolution (HCR) 107 was introduced. It was referred to committee. No further action was taken.
 
It “(e)xpress(es) the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
 
It states:
 
“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
 
What greater crime than aggressive war. Obama and other US leaders are guilty. Invoking constitutional power more than ever is urgent to prevent the unthinkable. If saving humanity isn’t reason enough, what is?

The Weekly Steve Lendman Column #1

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

Originally published on the SJLendman Blog

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Note from RE:  Steve has joined the Diner as a Cross Posting Blogger.  His regular articles from the SJLendman Blog will appear here on a regular basis.  Some may appear individually titled by Article, others as Compilations in the Steve Lendman Column.  All the articles can also be found on Steve’s Blog.  In addition to his Blog, Steve also Hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour where you can listen to Podcasts with many notable Talking Heads on Geopolitical, Economic and Social Issues.

RE 

Syrian False Flag Planned?
by Stephen Lendman
Never bet against Washington’s imperial plans. New tactics follow failed ones. Efforts to oust Assad continue. Proxy killers can’t do it alone. They’re no match against Syria’s superior military strength. It’s committed to rout them.
Expect NATO intervention anytime or perhaps post-US November elections. Libya 2.0 looks increasingly likely. What better way to finesse it than by staging a false flag attack blamed on Assad.
America’s false flag history suggests it. In 1898, Spain was falsely accused of blowing up the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba harbor. The Spanish-American war followed.
Roosevelt manipulated Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. South Korea was used to instigate war on the North. Lyndon Johnson wanted war on Vietnam and got it.
Fake threats sent US marines to Grenada. Manufactured incidents precipitated America’s Panama invasion.
Saddam was head-faked into invading Kuwait. The Gulf War, two decades of sanctions, another war, and occupation followed.
September 11, 2001 was the mother of all false flags. It’s the big lie of our time. Eleven years of imperial wars followed. One segues to another without end. Syria is Washington’s latest. Iran is next. Proxy wars always rage. Media silence makes pretexts unnecessary.
On August 20, Obama perhaps signaled US intervention intentions. He told reporters:
“I have indicated repeatedly that President al-Assad has lost legitimacy, that he needs to step down. So far, he hasn’t gotten the message, and instead has double downed in violence on his own people.”
“I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical.”
“That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria. It concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.”
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
“We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.”
These comments signal possible intervention. The New York Times said Obama’s warning advances things “a step closer to direct American intervention.”
Syrian Foreign Ministry Jihad Makdissi clearly said chemical weapons won’t be used internally. Nor will they be used against other nations except in self-defense.
Of course they won’t. Why would Assad give Washington and other NATO countries reason to intervene?
No matter. Incidents are easy to manufacture. Scoundrel media hyperbole manipulates readers and viewers to expect it. Propaganda hypes fear.
On August 17, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined “Syria’s neighbors braced for chemical threat. Assad warns Turkey on Stingers,” saying:
“The US and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require up to 60,000 ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of the Assad government, an unnamed American source said Thursday night, Aug.16.”
Securing weapons is deceptive cover perhaps for a planned chemical false flag blamed on Assad. DF, Obama, other officials, and Western media are manipulating public opinion to accept another full-scale war.
Alleged Iraq WMD threats facilitated shock and awe and occupation. Others initiated NATO’s destruction of Libya. Expect something similar for Syria. Washington’s bag of tricks contains all dirty ones.
Chemical warfare threats are hyped. DF said US special forces are positioned in Jordan, Turkey and Israel. “Reconnaissance teams from potentially targeted countries have infiltrated Syria.”
Medical preparations have been made. “Israeli hospitals are on war alert.” Fortified emergency wards were opened. “IDF Home Front Command units embarked on a series of chemical attack drills….”
Soldiers wore anti-contamination clothing. Underground parking areas are ready as bomb shelters. “Assad is resolved more than ever to stand fast” and fight.
DF hyperbole sounded like Western media reports during the Blitz.
On August 21, Voice of Russia headlined “Russia denies sending chemical weapons to Syria,” saying:
Colonel Vladimir Mandych, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Department for Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, said none were sent to Syria, adding:
“Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. (Their) use leads to colossal consequences for people involved in armed conflicts and the civilian population and inflicts irreparable damage to the environment.”
“Of course, the international community should take measures to prevent the use of chemical weapons in different regions in the 21st century.”
At the same time, SANA state media reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejects outside intervention and safe zones. He said:
“Statements saying (the Geneva agreement) is as good as dead imply that someone seeks a pretext for military intervention. This is worrying as it can only lead to catastrophe in the region.”
He added that Russia continues discussions with “everyone” to prevent what’s bad getting worse. He fears it for good reason.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expects no Security Council resolution. On August 20, her follow-up comments suggested intervention, saying:
Washington’s position is well-known. “We don’t think there’s going to be peace in Syria until Assad steps down and the bloodshed ends.”
America’s agenda remains unchanged, “that is to get to a political transition strategy, to get to an end to the bloodshed, and to get to a real transition with those countries who are willing to participate, outside the UN if necessary.”
On August 19, SANA state media reported Britain’s Sunday Times saying UK intelligence “is covertly aiding the armed terrorists to launch terrorist attacks in Syria….”
A Syrian opposition official was quoted saying:
UK authorities “know about and approve 100%” of intelligence from their Cyprus military bases. It’s being sent through Turkey to Free Syrian Army forces.
“British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus. The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans and we are getting it from the Turks.”
Information includes Syrian army movements in Aleppo. CIA elements are involved. So is German intelligence. The Bild am Sontag weekly reported that a spy ship off Syria’s coast uses Federal Intelligence Service (BND) technology. It’s provides information to insurgents.
Germany’s Defense Ministry confirmed its presence. The vessel Oker provides early warnings, communications and reconnaissance. It’s able to monitor troop movements up to 600 km inside Syria. Information is sent to Washington, Britain and insurgents.
BND agents are also stationed in Adana, Turkey. They’re monitoring Syrian telephone and radio communications.
Oker is part of Germany’s UNIFIL mission (UN Interim Force in Lebanon since 1978 until August 31, 2012 unless renewed). It’s not authorized to conduct Syrian intelligence. No parliamentary mandate approved it.
Perhaps Angela Merkel is freelancing on her own. She’s part of NATO’s imperial regime change coalition. Germany is also involved with the “Economic Reconstruction and Development” working group.
Last May, the Syrian National Council’s (SNC) Finance and Economic Affairs Bureau (FEAB) adopted a post-Assad privatization plan. Dozens of countries and 10 organizations are involved. Germany and the UAE lead the initiative.
They want Syrian spoils carved up among them. Plunder is their mandate. Subterfuge masks it. They call it a mission to benefit all Syrians. They plan erasing the Syrian Arab Republic and remaking it in their own image.
They envision unfettered capitalism unleashed in its most savage form. They want Syria replicating the new Iraq and Libya. Profits, not people, matter. Iraq more closely resembles hell than “the cradle of civilization.”
Violence ravages Libya. No end of conflict and human misery is imminent in either country. Full-scale war rages in Afghanistan. American-style liberation is more charnel house than democratic freedom.
Syrians experienced it for months. No end in sight is near. The worst is yet to come. Bet on it.

Lawless National Security Letters

by Stephen Lendman
American freedom always was weak. It’s now on life support. Numerous police state laws followed 9/11. Rights most people take for granted are on the chopping block for elimination.
Big Brother spying alone eroded them. It’s ongoing lawlessly in many forms.
So-called National Security Letters (NSLs) is one example. Most people never heard of them. Many are victims without knowing it. Those aware are gagged from discussing them. More on that below.
NSLs have been around since the mid-1980s. They involve abusive police state intrusions. Pre-9/11, they had more limited authority to secure records and other personal information on alleged terrorists and spies.
The USA Patriot Act’s Section 505 changed things. It permits expanded FBI’s authority to obtain personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.
At issue only is claiming information sought relates to alleged terrorism or espionage investigations. No proof is required.
Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private records can be obtained. Gag orders prevent targeted individuals or groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing exponentially.
Between 2003 and 2006 alone, the DOJ’s inspector general reported nearly 200,000 NSLs issued. By now, they may exceed a million. Using them violates constitutional freedoms. They’ve eroded enormously en route to disappearing altogether.
Full-blown tyranny is one more state-sponsored 9/11 type attack away. It could come any time.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls NSLs “one of the most frightening and invasive” police state laws. The FBI’s abuse of power already is legendary.
It’s operated extrajudicially for decades. It does so with impunity. Giving them more powers compounds America’s total surveillance society.
EFF calls NSLs unconstitutional. They’re vehicles for institutionalizing abuse. In March 2007, the Justice Department inspector general published a report confirming extensive misuse of authority. An internal FBI audit confirmed it.
At the same time, Attorney General Guidelines and internal FBI documents claimed no criminal laws were broken.
In response, EFF filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) litigation. It sought documentation of NSL abuse. On June 16, 2007, a federal judge ordered 2,500 pages released monthly.
In January 2007, The New York Times headlined “Military Expands Intelligence Role in US,” saying:
Pentagon officials use NSLs to spy on Americans. It’s part of their “aggressive” domestic intelligence gathering efforts. The CIA and FBI do the same thing. On request, they can get virtually any private information they request.
After The New York Times disclosure, EFF sought Pentagon records. In October 2007, the Department of Defense began producing them.
Since filing FOIA litigation, EFF obtained thousands of documents. They reveal egregious government abuses of power.
Since 2005, EFF petitioned Congress for NSL reform. Bush administration officials blocked it. So did Obama and bipartisan congressional complicity.
Since NSL authority was first enacted, “the FBI issued hundreds of thousands of such letters seeking private telecommunications and financial records of Americans without any prior approval from courts.”
Prior to 2011, EFF believes challenging NSL constitutionality happened only once. The Department of Justice protects FBI authority to operate extrajudicially.
DOJ uses an aggressive new tactic. It’s suing NSL recipients who challenge FBI authority. It claims doing so is lawless.
In other words, DOJ claims standing up for our constitutional rights breaks the law. Claiming it constitutes police state authority. Doing so mocks rule of law principles openly. Everyone is put at risk.
NSLs let federal authorities gag service providers. They’re prevented from telling affected customers or the public what’s going on.
This constraint violates the First Amendment’s procedural prior restraint provision. It lets federal authorities issue a never-ending prior restraint of their own. It forces service providers to comply.
In addition, judicial authority is bypassed. Moreover, recipient telecom and financial companies can’t determine if or how the government might overreach or abuse its authority.
As a result, legal challenges are extremely hard. In May 2011, EFF brought one on behalf of one client. It raised the above concerns and others relating to due process and First Amendment rights.
In response, the DOJ filed a civil complaint against the recipient. It alleged that by “stat(ing) its objection to compliance with (NSL) provisions,” said person or organization “interfered with the United States’ vindication of its sovereign interests in law enforcement, counterintelligence, and protecting national security.”
Subsequently, DOJ agreed to a stay. It temporarily suspended its suit. It moved to compel disclosure of subscriber information. It also upheld gag order restrictions.
The petition contesting NSLs is currently pending before the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It will decide if said recipient is permitted to speak publicly and if federal authorities may keep issuing NSLs.
At the same time, if DOJ loses, it will appeal up to the Supreme Court. At issue is legitimizing police state authority. Expect the usual spurious national security issues to be cited. Most likely the High Court will agree.
Freedoms in America are on the chopping block for elimination. Full-blown tyranny approaches. Expect Supreme Court justices to approve. They support power and privilege over doing the right thing.
A Final Comment
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), five federal statutes authorize FBI or US intelligence officials to issue NSLs related to national security investigations.
The relevant laws include:
(1) section 1114(a)(5) of the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3414(a)(5)
(2) and (3) sections 626 and 627 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681u, 1681v)
(4) section 2709 of title 18 of the United States Code
(5) section 802 of the National Security Act (50 U.S.C. 436)
Two lower federal courts found “uncertainties, practices and policies associated with” NSLs. They violate First Amendment and other freedoms.
Amended federal law addressed concerns raised by critics and lower court judges. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed one lower court case. It remanded the other for reconsideration in light of amended law.
The district court remained troubled by First Amendment violations. The appellate court also expressed concerns but ruled the government could invoke authority under 18 USC 2709 and 18 USC 3511 “in a limited but constitutionally acceptable manner.”
Federal courts are extremely right wing. The Roberts Supreme Court may be America’s worst. When vacancies occur, liberals need not apply.
Democrat and Republican presidents won’t nominate them. Senators won’t confirm them. The Constitution gives them advise and consent authority.
Since 1789, 160 nominations were submitted. Of these, 124 were confirmed. Seven declined to serve. On June 1, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor. On August 6, 2009, she was confirmed.
On May 10, 2010, he nominated Elena Kagan. On August 5, 2010, she was confirmed.
America’s most distinguished independent jurists get no consideration. Today, Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan and William O. Douglas wouldn’t make the cut. US jurisprudence suffers grievously. So do fundamental freedoms.

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  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

Doomstead Diner Daily June 18The Diner Daily is av [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily June 17The Diner Daily is av [...]

The Illiberal Right Throws a TantrumA faction of t [...]

THE TERRIFYING WORLD OF ALEX JONES[html] [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily June 16The Diner Daily is av [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Researcher David Spratt warns in a new report that [...]

Belgian Trappist monk Manu Van Hecke is to sell hi [...]

With the stroke of the governor's pen on Mond [...]

Boeing is open to renaming its troubled 737 Max, i [...]

In November 2018, a 66-year-old man named Tommy Th [...]

Dear Readers, Things in Venezuela are getting mess [...]

Quote from: Golden Oxen on April 27, 2019, 01:49:4 [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 25, 2019, 09:09:46 AMQu [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield via Sultan Knish blog Image by ElisaRiva from Pixa [...]

A Window Into Our World By Cognitive Dissonance   Every year during the early spring awakening I qui [...]

Deaf, Dumb and Blind Who Is Better at Conceding They Are Wrong - Conservative or Liberal Extremists? [...]

The Apology: From baby boomers to the handicapped generations. by David Holmgren Re-posted from Holm [...]

Society Is Made Of Narrative. Realizing This Is Awakening From The Matrix. By Caitlin Johnstone Orig [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-12http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

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Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Carbon in the Dale"Rather than put back the coal mines, we should seriously think about putting back the forests. [...]

Farewell to the Fishes"Ninety percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or dep [...]

Climate Change Reversal at Whole Village"During the burn people were taken around the farm to see the 40,000+ trees we have planted, ou [...]

Pitching Seaweed Straws"Kelp-based straws will beat the price of paper straw competitors later this year and could und [...]

What is your climate pawprint?"If US dogs had their own country it would be bigger than 200 other countries and likely be on [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

Why has it taken so long for the climate movement to accomplish so little? And how can we do better [...]

To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

The South Atlantic Ocean is currently undergoing significant alterations due to climate change. This [...]

This paper assessed the variability and projected trends of solar irradiance and temperature in the [...]

Following the impact of droughts witnessed during the last decade there is an urgent need to develop [...]

A “nadir-only” framework of the radiometric intercomparison of multispectral sensors usi [...]

A fuzzy random conditional value-at-risk-based linear programming (FCVLP) model was proposed in this [...]