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Lately, the phrase "public servants" has struck me as ironic, not because government officials fail to serve the public, but because much of the public serves them. The public is the servants. Activist groups and individuals devote themselves to bettering the fortunes of political parties or politicians, at the expense of pressuring government officials to represent public demands.
Nobody favors eliminating elections, and nobody favors eliminating activism. But there are those who cannot see how prioritizing money-marinated, gerrymandered, cable-news-controlled, unverifiable elections will reverse the train wreck in progress. And there are those who cannot see what it would mean to engage in activism that wasn't aimed at promoting electoral victories.
Obama just proposed three job-killing corporate trade agreements
Here's a useful comparison:
Oct 04, 2011 - Iraqi law should not govern a lawsuit brought by the mother of a Pittsburgh-area soldier electrocuted in a barracks shower at an Army base in Iraq, a federal judge has ruled.
Lawyers for Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc. had asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to apply Iraqi law to the ongoing lawsuit in the January 2008 death of Pittsburgh-area Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. But Fischer agreed with lawyers for the soldier's parents who argued that United States law should hold sway because the base was under American control - and could provide for punitive damages and other advantages to the plaintiffs not recognized by Iraqi law.
Israeli State Terror Belies Wanting Peace - by Stephen Lendman
In his book "Overcoming Zionism," Joel Kovel called Israel "a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses" led by terrorists posing as democrats.
Throughout its history, Israeli policy toward Arabs has been corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic and hateful.
Bailout Roulette - by Stephen Lendman
Daily the charade continues as world economies crater. Longtime financial analyst and Progressive Radio News Hour regular Bob Chapman says systematic global risk "lurks around every corner."
The European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) wants governments to increase bailing out banks close to failure. Taxpayers become lenders of last resort.
Remarks at Take Back the Dream conference, October 3, 2011.
Back around May or June a bunch of us announced plans for this coming Thursday, October 6th, to occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., not for a march or a rally, and not for a day or a weekend, but to create a central space for an ongoing occupation from which we would engage in nonviolent resistance.
We were inspired by the Arab Spring and Wisconsin and working for a U.S. Autumn. Now of course we are also inspired by the Occupation of Wall Street. It's been wonderful to see more and more people and organizations compelled to join in that action, and to see militarism and plutocracy opposed together by a movement that refuses to be dumbed down into a sound bite.
Over 150 organizations are part of the planning for Freedom Plaza at October2011.org and all are encouraged to join. Wall Street's servants on K Street, in the Pentagon, and in our government may be feeling comfortably distant from Wall Street right about now. But I don't see any reason to support protests of the wealth that corrupts our government and not protests of the government corrupted by that wealth. Choosing to be corrupted is an active choice. Corruption is not something imposed on helpless victims.
We chose October 6th because the Afghanistan War was due to begin its second decade. Over 4,000 people have taken this pledge:
"I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning ."
I hope you'll go and pledge the same at October2011.org
It has been three years now since a Russian ambassador to Afghanistan said the United States had repeated all of the Soviet Union's mistakes in Afghanistan and had moved on to new ones. Mistakes is a common euphemism for crimes and other words that we would be applying were ours the country violently occupied, were ours the bulk of the deaths and misery, were our doors being kicked in and our loved ones disappeared, were the missiles hitting our homes.
Every year, of course, as British Member of Parliament Rory Stewart recently pointed out, top western officials have claimed that whatever year it was would be the decisive one. And each year it has not been. This past week, the United Nations reported an increase in violence in Afghanistan of about 40 percent over last year. NATO deemed that story inappropriate and announced its own findings the very next day. It turns out that, if you believe violence isn't violence when it's committed by the United States and allies, then you can look at certain types of violence initiated purely by Afghans and identify a dramatic decrease of . . . wait for it . . . 2 percent.
But don't book that Afghan vacation just yet.
Migratory birds have been avoiding Afghanistan for some years now. Afghans with higher educations have been leaving for decades. War profiteers, and occupation profiteers, and so-called reconstruction profiteers seem to know their way out. But imperial rulers, whether British or Soviet or U.S., Nobel Peace Prize winners or otherwise, seem utterly incapable of withdrawing other people's kids from Afghan wars until no other option remains.
And why this inability to leave? Why stay? It's not to track down Osama bin Laden on the off chance he wasn't really given that proper Muslim sea burial. It's not to find the number 8 regional leader in al Qaeda, and certainly not to oppose the Taliban which feeds off the occupation. It may be for politics, but U.S. opinion polls could hardly scream "Get out!" more clearly. It is almost certainly for profits and pipelines and permanent bases. A U.S. executive, er excuse me "job creator," told NPR this summer that if the occupation of Afghanistan were scaled back he really hoped there could be a big occupation of Libya.
But there's apparently another reason why armed U.S. citizens and their foreign workers are still in Afghanistan, and it's not to keep us safe. The 2006 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, among other studies, made clear that these wars make us less safe, not more. Almost four years ago, at a conference in Washington, D.C., on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin listed ways to reduce the threat of terrorism. Afterwards, journalist Gareth Porter asked him whether ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should have been on his list.
“You’re right,” he answered. And then he added, “But we can’t do that.”
“Why not,” Porter asked.
“Because,” he said, “we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain.”
Since then, of course, a lot more people have died in vain.
This is what it comes to, and why nonviolent occupations of our own back in Der "Homeland" are required. Our government has gone insane. It is killing people purely because it has already killed people.
War was banned by the nations of the world in 1928 and an 85-1 vote in the U.S. Senate in 1929 following a decade of work by a peace movement that refused to give up. And now we accept war as the air we breathe. In 2008 we may not have voted in "four more years," but we did get four more wars: Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, added to Iraq and Afghanistan, with routine murders of particular human beings and those standing too close to them now openly inclusive of U.S. citizens.
To a growing extent, we see through this just as we see through austerity, environmental destruction, corporate welfare, and political corruption. But merely waiting for another money-soaked, gerrymandered, cable-tv-controlled election on unverifiable voting machines is not going to be sufficient. We're not against elections. This is not either-or. We're not against elections: we're demanding reforms that would allow us to have meaningful elections. But redirecting OccupyWallStreet energy into elections, as was done to Wisconsin, would be an act of betrayal.
Super Congress Member John Kerry's home state is fifth in the nation in military spending, employing lots of registered voters building machines of death for Raytheon, the former head of which company was brought in by the Obama administration as Deputy Secretary of Defense and who told the Washington Times in June, "The wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before."
Super Congress Co-Chair Patty Murray, Democrat from Boeing, since 2007 has taken $276,000 from war industries, Max Baucus $139,000, Dave Camp $130,000, John Kerry $73,000, and so on. The President who must sign or veto whatever comes out of the Super Congress and the Less Than Super Congress took over $1 million from war industries just in the 2008 election, not to mention $39 million from finance, insurance, and real estate. Targeting our social safety net is a goal that Wall Street and the military industrial complex have shared for many years. And of course the general corporate exploitation of foreign resources and workers depends on the threat of military force. Military spending has increased at the President's request each year since 2008 as well as since 2001.
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, a conversation has been launched about the damage the wealthiest one percent is doing to the rest of us. California just pulled out of a mortgage fraud settlement deal that is expected to let the crooks off easy. Who's to say Occupy Wall Street didn't influence that decision.
The Super Congressional crusade to slash spending can only be carried through without causing massive misery and death in one of two ways, neither of which the U.S. Congress or President wants to touch, but both of which are central demands of the Occupation movement. The first is to significantly raise taxes on the super wealthy. The second is to significantly cut spending on the military. A progressive demand right now is not "Jobs Not Cuts" but "Jobs Not Wars."
Seventy members of Congress have pointed out that ending the two biggest current wars in fiscal year 2012 would save $1.8 trillion over the following decade, above planned savings from promised reductions in troops. But war spending is pocket change in comparison with the overall military and security budget. Economists have studied the impact on job creation of various types of government spending. It turns out that we could have full employment in the United States purely by redirecting a fraction of the Pentagon's budget. We could create 29 million jobs above and beyond reemployment for workers displaced in a conversion, just by moving funds from the Pentagon into education, healthcare, clean energy, and tax cuts. This calculation, if not my ideal plan, would leave military spending in several departments including Homeland Security untouched and leave the Department of So Called Defense more money than it had 10 years ago.
Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call "Secretary of War," considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget. But he's discussing cuts to dreamed of future budgets. The current budget would still increase under those so-called cuts. But imagine really taking $35 billion from a budget of well over a trillion. (According to Chris Hellman of National Priorities Project, the security budget is $1.2 trillion, including the spy agencies and various other departments.) That would be a cut of less than 3.5 percent.
China spends about $114 billion per year on its military. Let's generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China's budget to double it to $228 billion. And let's assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because . . . well, just because. Now we're at $456 billion. How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as "doomsday"? Is the danger here to us or to the profits of the weapons makers who are also demanding that any cuts made be made to troops' benefits rather than to weaponry?
“Every gun that's made," said Dwight David Eisenhower, "every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." It also signifies death and injury to those on the receiving end, almost all of whom are non-Americans. But we cannot have a movement in this country demanding funding for anything decent or humane without having a movement to restrain the machine that is sucking down over 63 percent of discretionary spending (including care of veterans but not including Homeland Security or interest payments on war debt), serving as our biggest polluter of the natural environment, and providing the leading justification for eroding our civil liberties.
These are the demands we will bring to Freedom Plaza beginning Thursday:
• Tax the rich and corporations
• End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending
• Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and improved Medicare for all
• End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests
• Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation
• Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages
• Get money out of politics
There's a widespread belief that such a list of demands must be reduced to one bumper sticker. But is what I just read really too many words for people who pass 10,000-word laws meant to govern us? There are 100s of times as many words as in this list of demands in the instruction booklet for a blueray player, something your average American seems able to handle. Nobody insisted that Thomas Jefferson reduce the Declaration of Independence to an eight-second sound bite. We aren't going to win this by getting pithier, and let me let you in on a little secret: Corporate television doesn't dislike resistance to corporate power because its advocates are unskilled at framing and messaging. We aren't going to win this by kicking ourselves. We aren't going to win this by dividing ourselves: we need to be willing to stand in uncomfortably large coalitions, side by side with people who like different parties or candidates or who hold what we think are bizarre views of the world. In Freedom Plaza there will be no promotion of any party or any candidate. We will be speaking as we the people to them our government.
And we will have a lot more fun than can be had sitting home and griping or even engaging in all variety of other useful activities, from phone calling to emailing to tweeting to sitting in conferences listening to me. I mean way more fun, the kind of fun in solidarity with others that medical science says is good for our health, the kind of fun that can take young people buried in student debt and joblessness away from enormous signing bonuses offered by the war machine. Young people will be reached in Freedom Plaza through seminars, libraries, outdoor films, and the experience of democratic decision making and risk taking. And the price is right. Compared with $259 per night here in the Hilton, the accommodations in Freedom Plaza will be priceless.
"Power concedes nothing without a demand," said Frederick Douglass. "It never did and it never will."
Videos by Lionel Heredia freedommediafilm at gmail dot com
By Charles M. Young
I took the subway down to Zuccotti Park on Saturday morning to go on the Slut Walk. Since it was on the official schedule of Occupy Wall Street, and since I had heard it promoted by various members of the Ad Hoc Caucus of Non-Male Identified Individuals, I figured that the Slut Walk was an official Occupy Wall Street event. I envisioned a few dozen Non-Male Identified Individuals raising a ruckus and making a spectacle and wreaking havoc in and around Zuccotti Park.
Instead I found the park to be stuffed with an unusually large proportion of Male Bodied Individuals of unknown identification who were preoccupied with revolutionary pursuits other than the Slut Walk, which was nowhere in evidence. I asked several Male Bodied Individuals where I might find the Slut Walk, and none of them knew.
Israeli leaders and their supporters are again pounding the drum about the need to nip in the bud the danger they profess to see coming from Iran. No one ever mentions the key, "high-confidence," unanimous judgment by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies (published in a National Intelligence Estimate in November 2007) that Iran stopped work on a nuclear weapon in the fall of 2003 — yep, that's right; EIGHT YEARS AGO.
The evidence supporting that judgment is continually reviewed very closely, as you might imagine. It has be reaffirmed every year since...as recently as February and March 2011. There are still some honest analysts and managers working in our intelligence community.
The Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), however, avoid any allusion to this; go ask your neighbors if they think Iran is trying to get the bomb.
Palestinian Freedom Later, Not Now - by Stephen Lendman
On October 2, Haaretz said "Israel accepts Quartet peace plan," making Palestinian UN membership conditional on negotiating peace with an unwilling partner.
No matter that decades of on-and-off talks never achieved resolution and won't now.
Police State Justice Under Obama - Stephen Lendman
Lawlessness, injustice, and contempt for democratic values define his administration. He delivered change all right - for the worst, and nothing ahead looks promising.
Obama-style "rules of engagement" include bullets, bombs, slit throats, knives in the back, or drone attacks justice.
By Michael Collins
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just issued an environmental report on its enhanced security plan to cover an area extending from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the northern border of the United States to 100 miles south of the border. While there are few specifics on the new security measures, the environmental report offers enough to see how we will be protected against threats to national security coming from Canada. The Department of Homeland security will enhance efforts and technologies to reduce the danger from "known terrorist affiliates and extremist groups [that] have an undisputed presence along the Northern Border in both the United States and Canada." Northern Border Security Programs, p. 1-3, September 2011 (Northern Border) (Image: thelastminute)
Congressional Anti-Internet Freedom Bills- by Stephen Lendman
Net Neutrality is the last frontier of press freedom. With it, consumers have open access to an array of equipment, content, applications and service, free from corporate control. Public interest groups want it preserved. Giant telecom and cable companies want control to:
- establish toll roads, or premium lanes;
Abbas Feeling Heavy-Handed Pressure - by Stephen Lendman
Washington wants Abbas' UN membership Security Council application tabled in limbo for months. On September 28, it was sent to a standing admissions committee.
On September 30, New York Times writer Neil MacFarquhar headlined, "Palestinian Request Sent to Experts," saying:
caskets of dead
soldiers coming home;
cameras out of
They did not count
all they killed;
they did not count
They said the
mission was accomplished.
They said the
mission was through.
Missions made of only lies.
Murder and maim,
Murder and maim
and use our name.
Death for sale by enterprise.
Devil’s bargains stealing souls.
We know. We know. We know.
CODE ORANGE: Amendments missing!
If you see them,
Their mother is worried.
Reward for their safe return.
Supreme Court fire sale:
Half off for
Politicians while they last.
Weak Bridge Ahead
By Gary Lindorff
Prison Hell in America - by Stephen Lendman
Prison is hell everywhere. America is no different in, by far, the world's largest gulag. Inmates are treated worse than subhumans.
Torture is commonly used. It not just at Guantanamo and similar offshore hellholes. It happens across America in federal, state and local prisons where inmates are terrorized by dogs, shocked with cattle prods, burned by toxic chemicals, harmed by stun guns, beaten, stripped naked, raped, and abused in other ways.
Palestinian UN Membership Roulette - by Stephen Lendman
As Palestinian legal advisor in 1987, Law Professor Francis Boyle drafted its Declaration of Independence, creating a Palestinian state.
Palestinians now want and deserve official recognition and full de jure UN membership. Washington and Israel remain obstructionist.
Thurs Sept. 29th-1 hr.
10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific
Why is the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq? What is the effect on those societies? When, if ever, will the U.S. leave? As we prepare to protest 10 years of US war on Afghanistan, let's wrangle over a question a lot of returning soldiers say they can't answer: Why is the US there?
We in The World Can't Wait express our enthusiastic solidarity with the morally and physically courageous youth of Occupy Wall Street and all others now forming occupations in their cities. They have not resigned themselves to accepting the way the world is, but are boldly exposing the towering crimes and audacious lies of this nation’s financial and political elites. They are righteously demanding that it all end and in doing so enduring brutal attacks by police and the corporate media’s malign neglect.
By Dave LIndorff
It's no accident that the New York Police have been so assiduous in their protection of the big banking establishments that are housed on Wall Street and environs.
The banks don't like paying taxes, but they know how to buy the protection they need, as <a href="http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/article/ny-13.htm?TB_iframe=true&height=580&width=850">this page from JPMorgan Chase's website</a> makes clear.
It boasts that the company has bought the police a bunch of toys for their squad cars, and that is has financed spying software (they call it "security monitoring software") for the NYPD's main data center.
Entrapping Muslims in America - by Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11, American Muslims became fair game, targeting them for their faith, ethnicity, and at times prominence and charity.
As a result, they've been ruthlessly vilified and exploited as "war on terror" scapegoats for political advantage.
Rage Against Wall Street Crooks - by Stephen Lendman
Angry New Yorkers organized an initiative called "Occupy Wall Street." Beginning September 17, they called for "tak(ing) the bull by the horns," referring to the familiar New York financial district symbol.
Its web site statement said:
By Dave Lindorff
Probably the biggest accomplishment of the Occupy Wall Street movement to date has not been the light these courageous and indomitable young activists have shined on the gangsters of Wall Street, as important as that has been. Rather it has been how they have exposed the police of the nation’s financial capital as the centurions of the ruling class, and not the gauzy “people’s heroes” that they have been posing as since some of their number, along with many more firefighters, nobly gave their lives trying to rescue people in the World Trade Center towers on 9-11.
In 1963 author, philosopher and professor Hannah Arendt published her famous book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. The book was Arendt’s report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat and war criminal largely responsible for implementing Hitler’s “final solution” that resulted in the systematic murder of millions of Jews.
In pointing out that the remarkable thing about Eichmann was that he was completely unremarkable, she drove home the point that the Nazi crimes were not committed by fanatics or sociopaths but by “ordinary people who accepted the premisies of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal”. Eichmann was a mild mannered civil servant with a wife and kids who epitomized the virtues of the German middle class. It was in his dispassionate face at trial that Arendt saw “the banality of evil”.