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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
Federal prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against current and former American International Group Inc. executives for their role surrounding financial contracts that nearly brought down the insurer about two years ago, according to people familiar with the matter.
The decision brings to a close a criminal investigation that, while mostly under wraps, was widely followed. The September 2008 bailout of AIG was one of the biggest and most shocking of the financial crisis, as trading by a noninsurance unit brought down one of the most iconic financial companies world-wide.
The probe focused on Joseph Cassano, who headed a London-based unit of AIG called Financial Products, people familiar with the matter have said. Other executives at the unit, Andrew Forster and Tom Athan, also were targets of the investigation, these people said.
"The system worked," said lawyers F. Joseph Warin and Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who represent Mr. Cassano, in a statement on Friday. "The large group of federal agents and prosecutors was diligent and professional throughout the investigation, and our client is grateful that they did their jobs by following the facts to the end." Read more.
TomDispatch: Putting the Pentagon on a Diet, Will Bad Times and a Bad Economy Finally Discipline the Pentagon?
An expert on the Pentagon budget asks the crucial question -- are the military's free-spending days coming to an end?: Christopher Hellman, "Putting the Pentagon on a Diet, Will Bad Times and a Bad Economy Finally Discipline the Pentagon?"
For years, the Pentagon's ever more bloated budget has been sacrosanct in Washington. In fact, since all discussion of a post-Cold War "peace dividend" disappeared amid increased military spending in the 1990s, points out Christopher Hellman of the National Priorities Project, Pentagon spending has gone wild. Now, he writes, "after a decade and a half of unparalleled budget growth, top Defense Department officials are finally talking about the possible end of their spending spree. And they’re not alone." Is this, then, the moment when economic bad times edges the Pentagon budget into the ever fiercer spending debate in Washington?
Hellman vividly describes just how ridiculously "overmatched" the Pentagon is versus any other military force on earth, cleverly using the words of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to make the point. ("All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet -- a proxy for overall fleet capabilities -- exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners. And, at 202,000 strong, the Marine Corps is the largest military force of its kind in the world and exceeds the size of most world armies.") He also considers Congressional opposition to Pentagon budget cuts and the growing realization of top Pentagon officials that they simply won't be able to spend forever as if there were no tomorrow.
Hellman concludes this way: "Make no mistake, Gates has no intention of contributing Pentagon dollars to reducing the debt. His efforts are merely an acknowledgement of our nation’s weak economy, and the fact that fewer dollars will be available for any government program, even favored military ones. This type of Pentagon re-budgeting has been likened to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic... The mere fact that even Defense Department officials are beginning to discuss fewer dollars for the Pentagon, however, offers an opportunity for Americans intent on reining in rampant military spending. It is a chance that has been a long time coming, is finally on the national agenda, and, if missed, might be an even longer time in coming again."
This is an important piece which, like the Pentagon budget, should be on the media agenda. Read it now.
WASHINGTON, May 20 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement after the Senate tonight voted 59 to 39 for a major Wall Street reform bill:
“As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, this country was plunged into a horrendous recession. While this bill does not go as far as I would like, it is a strong beginning in the effort to reregulate huge financial institutions and to bring transparency to their often nefarious activities.
“I am especially proud that in this bill there is a major provision I authored which, for the first time, will lift the veil of secrecy at the Federal Reserve and give the American people an understanding of where trillions of their tax dollars went in the Wall Street bailout.
“I am disappointed that we could not garner the necessary votes to lower interest rates on credit cards or to begin the process of breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country which are the cause of so many of our problems. I intend to continue that effort until we succeed.”
Click "Read more" below right for more reactions and videos.
Excerpts: Rather than collect the overdue money they are owed, many local governments are selling tax liens. Buyers range from behemoths such as JPMorgan Chase & Co, and some regional banks and law firms, to small-fry investors lured by late-night television commercials promising quick riches. Investors generally bid in an auction for the right to collect delinquent taxes and other municipal debts on property owners, sometimes by paying only a few hundred dollars. When owners can't pay, investors can pick up property at bargain prices....
Investors purchased an estimated $30 billion of real estate tax debt held by governments across the country in 2009, double the amount a year earlier, according to the Florida-based National Tax Lien Association. Altogether, 29 states and the District of Columbia can sell tax lien debt to investors.
Lien sales in Baltimore have nearly doubled since the housing bubble of 2006. On Monday, the city sold 12,689 liens - a probable record. Properties ranged from boarded-up shells and vacant lots to row homes in gentrified neighborhoods and some commercial buildings.
Last February, Vicki Valentine was evicted when she couldn't pay $3,603.41 to rescue her Baltimore home. Valentine's wasn't a typical foreclosure -- the mortgage was paid off. But when she failed to pay a $362.28 water bill, the city auctioned her debt off in a tax lien sale. An investor now owns her home.
City records show that one in five of these liens on properties is for unpaid taxes or other municipal bills amounting to $1,000 or less. If Baltimore's 2009 tax sale is any indication, hundreds will stem from delinquent water bills; there were 666 such liens last year.
Although the brisk tax lien trade thrives beneath the radar, largely unnoticed, it has occasionally drawn scrutiny from law enforcement authorities.
Some of Maryland's most prominent tax sale investors have been swept up in a criminal investigation into bid rigging at the sales. Federal prosecutors allege that those investors agreed in advance which properties to bid at some auctions, improperly reducing the money earned by municipalities. Read more.
Take Action: Environmental Activist Facing Prison Time For A Banner Drop As Massey Murders & BP Kills Gulf Environment
Now Ted [Glick] is facing up to three years in jail. Based on the [DC] judge's comments last week, it really does appear that he will be incarcerated for at least a month or two.
Please read and view more below and write letters to:
Judge Frederick H. Weisberg
DC Superior Court
500 Indiana Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
This from Mike Tidwell, asking that we protest Ted's incarceration AND sign the petition to stop offshore drilling...
Despite the Gulf disaster, no one from BP has been arrested and sent to jail. Despite safety violations at coal mines, no one from Massey Energy has been handcuffed. But today I write to inform you that one of America's best global warming activists is probably facing several months of jail. He's been convicted by a D.C. jury, and now he awaits sentencing on July 6th. Why? Because he peacefully dropped two banners on Capitol Hill that said: "GREEN JOBS NOW" and "GET TO WORK."
I'm not joking. Ted Glick of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network was convicted by a jury May 13th of peacefully dropping the banners inside the U.S. Senate Hart Office Building last September. The DC U.S. Attorney's office clearly has decided to make an "example" of Ted because of his previous two -- count 'em, two -- convictions related to peaceful acts of climate civil disobedience. Can you believe it? You can see a three-minute video of Ted's September "crime" right above. He's the guy toward the end simply lowering the banners. Period.
Now Ted is facing up to three years in jail. Based on the judge's comments last week, it really does appear that he will be incarcerated for at least a month or two.
So here's what you can do:
By John Grant
In Spanish, the word Honduras means depth. The example often used is meterse en Honduras – to go beyond one’s depth. It comes from the adjective hondo – deep or low.
I’ve often wondered what the Spanish conquistador or priest was thinking when he decided circa 1500 to call the place The Depths– or with some liberties, The Gulch.
When I was in Honduras, I recall the capital Tegucigalpa as a series of hills and deep gulches, with the hillsides noted for poor communities of thousands of slapped-together shanties. The Tegucigalpa airport is considered one of the most dangerous in the world; it’s a bit like dropping down and circling inside a teacup before landing.
So maybe that old Spaniard was onto something. If Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” maybe Honduras is the gulch where they just get mired in muck.
It's common practice in America. A government-Wall Street cabal caused the financial crisis and subsequent fallout. Now debated financial reform is a stealth scheme to let bankers self-regulate. Rogue Democrats rammed through health reform to ration care and enrich corporate providers. Defense, technology, and related firms profit hugely from permanent wars, and a regulatory-free Washington - energy industry alliance lies at the root of the Gulf disaster, by far America's greatest ever environmental calamity, worsening daily with no fail-safe, or perhaps any, way to stop it.
Alarming reports show "Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery" shows that BP and the Obama administration lied about the incident's severity, and they're still lying.
According to University of Georgia researcher Samantha Joye, "There's a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to" what's visible on the surface, the tip of a big and growing iceberg, this one containing oil. "There's a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column."
Worse still, it's depleting Gulf oxygen, prompting fears about killing sea life in the effected areas and permanently destroying the livelihood of area fisherman who supply 20% of the nation's supply.
Already since April 20, oxygen levels are down 30%, a pace that if maintained "could draw (it) down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months. This is alarming."
Even The Times admits the daily flow may be as high as 80,000 barrels (3.4 million gallons or the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill around every three days). Yet the Obama administration and BP still claim only 5,000 barrels a day, and company officials won't let scientists use sophisticated instruments to measure the output more accurately on the ocean floor. Clearly they have something to hide, but there's no way to suppress the growing ecological devastation once clear evidence substantiates it.
Local fishermen hired to work on BP's uncontrolled oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are scared and confused. Fishermen here and in other small communities dotting the southern marshes and swamplands of Barataria Bay are getting sick from the working on the cleanup, yet BP is assuring them they don't need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.
Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.
And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.
For two weeks, I've been in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama sharing stories from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which devastated the community I lived and commercially fished in, with everyone from fishermen and women to local mayors to state governors and the crush of international media.
During the 1989 cleanup in Alaska, thousands of workers had what Exxon medical doctors called, "the Valdez Crud," and dismissed as simple colds and flu. Fourteen years later, I followed the trail of sick workers through the maze of court records, congressional records, obituaries, and media stories, and made hundreds of phone calls. I found a different story. As one former cleanup worker put it, "I thought I had the Valdez Crud in 1989. I didn't think I'd have it for fourteen years." Read more.
The U.S. Senate is moving forward with a 59-billion-dollar spending bill, of which 33.5 billion dollars would be allocated for the war in Afghanistan.
However, some experts here in Washington are raising concerns that the war may be unwinnable and that the money being spent on military operations in Afghanistan could be better spent.
”We're making all of the same mistakes the Soviets made during their time in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, and they left in defeat having accomplished none of their purposes,” Michael Intriligator, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, said Monday at a half-day conference hosted by the New America Foundation and Economists for Peace and Security.
”I think we're repeating that and it's a history we're condemned to repeat,” he said.
Intriligator also argued that the real, long-term cost of the war in Afghanistan may completely overshadow the current spending bill.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes estimated that the long-term costs - taking into account the costs of taking care of wounded soldiers and rebuilding the military - of the war in Iraq will ultimately cost three trillion dollars.
Intriligator suggested that a similar calculation for the costs of the war in Afghanistan would indicate a long-term cost of 1.5 to 2.0 trillion dollars.
”Why are we putting money into Afghanistan to fight a losing war and following the Soviet example rather than putting money into [our] local communities?” he asked. Read more.
TomDispatch: The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy, A New Oil Rush Endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the Planet
From TomDispatch this afternoon, a striking analysis of what the BP oil-leak disaster in the Gulf of Mexico really means, and a reminder that it signals the grim beginning of a new oil rush in an onrushing age of "tough oil" -- Michael T. Klare, "The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy, A New Oil Rush Endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the Planet."
"Yes, the oil spewing up from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in staggering quantities could prove one of the great ecological disasters of human history," begins energy expert and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet Michael Klare. "Think of it, though, as just the prelude to the Age of Tough Oil, a time of ever increasing reliance on problematic, hard-to-reach energy sources. Make no mistake: we’re entering the danger zone. And brace yourself, the fate of the planet could be at stake."
Klare is one of our foremost analysts on the coming age of tough oil and of natural resource scarcity. In his latest TomDispatch.com post, he reminds us of a simple fact when it comes to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20th in the Gulf of Mexico: "Whether or not the immediate trigger of the explosion is ever fully determined, there can be no mistaking the underlying cause: a government-backed corporate drive to exploit oil and natural gas reserves in extreme environments under increasingly hazardous operating conditions."
This is a subject on which Klare has been a pioneer in his analysis. Here he focuses on the new oil rush in search of energy reserves into some of the most difficult areas of the planet -- the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Arctic which, by their very nature, involve an ever increasing risk of human and environmental catastrophe -- something that has been far too little acknowledged.
Klare concludes his important new piece on what the BP ecological disaster really portends this way: "The Deepwater Horizon explosion, we assuredly will be told, was an unfortunate fluke: a confluence of improper management and faulty equipment. With tightened oversight, it will be said, such accidents can be averted -- and so it will be safe to go back into the deep waters again and drill for oil a mile or more beneath the ocean’s surface. Don’t believe it... The ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas -- risks be damned. So long as this compulsion prevails, more such disasters will follow. Bet on it." This is a major piece of analysis. Don't miss it. Read it now.
A mixture of union representatives and anti-mining activists gathered outside a historic Richmond hotel Tuesday morning to protest against a common foe — Massey Energy Co.
Hundreds of people sang songs, chanted and held signs across the street from the Jefferson Hotel, while Richmond-based Massey's board opened its annual stockholders meeting inside. Their protests were focused on Massey CEO Don Blankenship, calling for him to resign or to be prosecuted on environmental and workplace safety issues.
The meeting has attracted more attention than usual because it comes six weeks after 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The blast is the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years and has prompted an outpouring of criticism of Massey.
At least two people were arrested inside the hotel by Richmond police. Hotel officials declined to comment, and police did not immediately identify who was arrested or why.
Environmental group Rising Tide DC said group members Kate Finneran, 22, and Oscar Ramirez, 25, were arrested after unfurling a 10-by-10 hand-painted banner that read "Massey: Stop Putting Profits Over People" from the mezzanine above the grand foyer in the hotel. They were charged with trespassing and were expected to be released Tuesday afternoon. Read more.
The Guardian is reporting that the chief military prosecutor in Kabul is accusing “the US of creating an outlaw militia which allegedly shot dead Matiullah Qateh, the chief of police in the city of Kandahar” and “has issued an arrest warrant for an American special forces commander:”
The militia, which Ranjbar claimed is armed and trained by US special forces, also allegedly killed Kandahar’s head of criminal investigations and two other officers, when they attempted to free one of their members from a courthouse…
Ranjbar said an investigation found that the force that killed Qateh operated from Camp Gecko, in the hills outside Kandahar, a base for both US special forces and the CIA.
Officials in Kandahar said the militia supplies guards and is trained to work alongside special forces and intelligence officials in raids against Taliban targets…
He claimed that suspects arrested for the courthouse raid had confessed to being part of a 300-strong militia unit run by “Johnny”. They said they “could not move a muscle and could not leave their base without Johnny’s orders” Ranjbar said. “He was the head of the group and they [the Americans] were the ones paying them.”
“Johnny” is the only known name of the US Special Ops member who is reported to command this “outlaw milita.” Read more.
Like a modern-day Ministry of Truth, the American Psychological Association (APA) has scrubbed the webpage describing “deception scenarios” workshops that were part of a conference it conducted with the CIA and Rand Corporation on July 17-18, 2003. In addition, the APA erased the link to the page, and even all mention of its existence, from another story at its July 2003 Science Policy Insider News website that briefly described the conference.
In May 2007, in an article at Daily Kos, I noted that the workshops were describing “new ways to utilize drugs and sensory bombardment techniques to break down interrogatees.” Quoting from the APA’s description (and note, the link is to an archived version of the webpage; emphasis is added):
- How do we find out if the informant has knowledge of which s/he is not aware?
- How important are differential power and status between witness and officer?
- What pharmacological agents are known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior?….
- What are sensory overloads on the maintenance of deceptive behaviors? How might we overload the system or overwhelm the senses and see how it affects deceptive behaviors?
Scott Horton, Legal Affairs writer for Harper's Magazine, exposes further misconduct in the Siegelman case quoting one member of the prosecution as saying that he would not come forward to expose government misconduct because:
--"you don't understand, these people would kill me if they have to to keep the lid on this." And Main Justice? "They’d be happy to learn that I was dead."
Horton says the person responsible for subverting justice is David Margolas, Deputy Attorney General and the right hand man to Eric Holder. (Who is David Margolas? See Scott Horton's speech below, 4th page, 3rd full paragraph.)
Please read this article and Horton's speech linked in The Legal Schnauzer. It is chilling!
A member of the team that prosecuted former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman says he witnessed rampant misconduct in the case but is afraid to come forward out of fear for his life.
Scott Horton, legal-affairs contributor for Harper's Magazine, made the revelation in a speech last week to the Rotary Club of New York and the American Constitution Society.
Horton says that one Justice Department whistleblower--Tamarah Grimes, of Montgomery--had come forward about misconduct in the Siegelman prosecution and wound up losing her job. A second, unnamed whistleblower fears a similar fate, or worse, if he comes forward.
Horton says he has interviewed both prosecution insiders, and they corroborate statements by key witness Nick Bailey that he was heavily coached and threatened with being outed as a homosexual. Says Horton:
As I note, two members of the prosecution team were appalled by the misconduct that drove the case against Siegelman. One of them filed internal complaints inside the Justice Department. The result? Her name is Tamara Grimes. She was persecuted, hounded, and finally dismissed from her position--in direct violation of the federal whistleblower protection statute.
And what about the second member of the team?
(He) tells me he will not step forward because he knows he would face the same fate. He even indicated the fear of a mob type--"you don't understand, these people would kill me if they have to to keep the lid on this." And Main Justice? "They’d be happy to learn that I was dead."
Horton goes on to summarize the Justice Department's disgraceful handling of the Siegelman case:
So today, even though the Siegelman case has been torn to shreds in the public and 104 state attorneys general, led by Grant Woods, the national co-chair of the McCain for President campaign, have formally complained about the Justice Department’s gross and abusive handling the case, the Justice Department admits no wrong. It's even issued a series of brazenly false public statements in an attempt to cover its tracks.
The Siegelman prosecution hardly is an isolated instance of abuse. Horton discusses other justice-related matters, and the full speech can be viewed here.
America has achieved its objectives in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda has been dispersed, the Taliban has been punished, an anti-terrorism message has been sent. But Washington’s broader attempt at nation-building has been far less successful, despite the expenditure of nearly 1,000 American lives more than $220 billion. For all this, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls the situation in Afghanistan “deteriorating.”
There is no better time than the present for Washington to learn humility. The U.S. cannot impose liberty, prosperity, democracy, and stability on Afghanistan. The Obama administration should focus on protecting Americans from terrorism while leaving nation-building in Afghanistan to the Afghan people.
The easiest way for an American to fly into Afghanistan is on Kam Air from Dubai. But it appears that only Americans fly into Afghanistan on Kam Air from Dubai. Almost, anyway.
The vast majority of passengers on my flights into and out of Kabul were white males, many with military-style haircuts and several with military tattoos. A few may be on active duty. Most probably are private security consultants. As in Iraq, contractors have come to play an increasing role in the way America fights wars.
More significant, though, is the appearance that this is America’s, not Afghanistan’s, war. Afghans are doing most of the dying, of course. But the conflict is what it is because of American (and Western) men and money.
As a city of several million, Kabul is most definitely Afghan. Nevertheless, the city’s organization—to the extent that it exists—is Western. Traffic, commerce, government, and much else revolves around foreign soldiers, diplomats, consultants, aid workers, journalists, and other outsiders who typically show up during war.
Taliban attacks in the capital are few, but no one feels safe. The airport is ringed by barbed wire; the road leading in is filled with concrete blocks and checkpoints. Travelers face multiple bag and body checks. Humvees topped with machine guns stand guard.
Note: The author, Doug Bandow, is the Robert A. Taft Fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance, advisor to Campaign for Liberty, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He is also a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. Read more.
Wall Street to K Street to Capitol Hill - One Big Revolving Door
By George Goehl, Executive Director, National People's Action | Huffington Post
Big bank CEOs make their most lucrative moves not from their offices on Wall Street but from their DC addresses on K Street and Capitol Hill.
The report, "Big Bank Takeover,"...documents a revolving door where former Members of Congress and federal employees soon become bank lobbyists who work to undermine democracy and further the interests of Wall Street at the expense of the American people.
The report documents how during the financial reform debate, the financial industry has hired over 70 former Members of Congress and 940 former federal employees to lobby on their behalf. Members of both parties are guilty.
One of the key findings is that the six biggest banks - Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo - account for a disproportionate share of the activity. This provides the answer to why the U.S. Senate has failed to move on the most critical component of financial reform: breaking up the big banks whose size and reach put our entire economy (not to mention our democracy) at risk. Read more.
European optimists hope the way to save the eurozone will be to complete the project by agreeing much closer fiscal and political union between the single currency members. In future, the hope is Germany would no more allow Greece to get into this mess than it would Bavaria.
Yet recognising how interconnected our economies have become does not in itself lessen the risks. In many respects, the credit crunch which began in 2007 has just jumped another firebreak: what began as a private sector banking problem has mutated into a sovereign debt disaster as nation states try to help, and is now becoming a supranational headache instead as the few remaining stable authorities, such as the EU and International Monetary Fund, get dragged in too.
Understandably, many are now again questioning the role that banks and traders have played in this saga – not least as a government-spurred recovery in bank profits once again drives personal bonuses to record levels.
In Europe, anger at the financial system is directed particularly towards London and New York, where most of the world's currency traders and debt investors hang out. The EU is already working on plans to form its own credit rating agencies as an answer to what many see as an American hegemony....
Satisfying, and just, as it may be to turn fire back on the financiers, the complicating factor is that indebted countries have never needed them more. Perhaps only a root-and-branch reassessment of our financial system itself can save us now. Read more.
Tom Dispatch: Glenn Beck, America's Historian Laureate, The Tea Party's Guide to American Exceptionalism (It Is All About Race)
From TomDispatch this afternoon: the smartest analysis you can find of just why Tea Partyism is all about race -- Greg Grandin, "Glenn Beck, America's Historian Laureate, The Tea Party's Guide to American Exceptionalism (It Is All About Race)
The Tea Party Movement -- and Glenn Beck is its historian laureate -- is all about race in ways that are as American as apple pie, and just about as basic, so writes Greg Grandin, TomDispatch regular and author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Fordlandia. "Americans, it’s been said, learn geography when they go to war," he begins. "Now, it seems, many get their history when they go to a Tea Party rally or tune in to Glenn Beck."
He continues: "It’s easy to dismiss the iconography of the movement: the wigs and knee breeches, the founding-father fetishism, the coiled snakes, and, yes, the tea bags. It’s no less easy to laugh at recent historical howlers like the claims of Dick Armey, who heads FreedomWorks, a corporate Tea Party front, that Jamestown was settled by “socialists” or the Texas School Board’s airbrushing of Deist Thomas Jefferson from its history textbooks. It’s fun to ridicule Beck, as Jon Stewart recently did, when he goes all “Da Vinci Code,” and starts connecting Woodrow Wilson, Mussolini, and ACORN in order to explain 2008’s economic collapse.
"But historical analysis is about making connections, and there is, in fact, coherence to the Tea Party version of history, which allows conservative cadres not just to interpret the world but to act in it. And yes, it is all about race."
Grandin then explores Beck's "epic view of American history" and extreme individualism, and just why the Tea Party and affiliated right-wing movements are so unable to whistle past Dixie.
This is a deep plunge into the history of race and racism in the U.S. and why it's only a short step from where the Tea Party movement is today to a potential paroxysm of violence. Read it now.
By Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia loves to brag about it’s ‘Firsts,’ citing such notable things as the nation’s first capital (1774), America’s first zoo (1874) and the birthplace of the world’s first digital computer ENIAC (1946).
There is one ‘First’ that will never appear in slick tourist handouts from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau though, and that’s the city’s first air raid on May 13, 1985, when the city deliberately bombed an occupied house containing children, sparking a deadly firestorm.
A bomb dropped on an American city by that city’s own police force?
Yes, a bomb made with hi-explosive military C-4 and powerful Tovex dropped by Philadelphia police from a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter onto the roof of 6221 Osage Ave., located in West Philadelphia just blocks from the University of Pennsylvania – considered America’s ‘First’ university.
This definitive list of all the court rulings relating to habeas corpus petitions submitted by the prisoners at Guantánamo, as delivered by judges in the District Court in Washington D.C. (and as mandated by the Supreme Court in June 2008) follows on from my ongoing coverage of the habeas petitions and my recent project, “Guantánamo Habeas Week,” in which I presented a list of the 47 habeas corpus rulings made at that point, with links to the articles I had written over the previous 19 months analyzing the judges’ rulings, and also wrote six new articles examining, in depth, seven recent unclassified opinions issued by the judges....
However, as I also explained, I remain deeply troubled about the justification for continuing to hold the majority of the prisoners who lost their habeas petitions, because the basis for doing so — the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and maintained as a justification by President Obama — was, and is a deeply flawed document, which fails to distinguish between a small group of genuine terrorists (al-Qaeda) and a considerably larger group of men (and boys) associated with the Taliban. The result is that men continue to be consigned to indefinite detention, on an apparently sound legal basis, even though they were only peripherally involved with the military conflict in Afghanistan to secure the fall of the Taliban, and should, all along, have been held (if at all) as prisoners of war, and protected by the Geneva Conventions. Read more, review list of court rulings.
Listen Tonight! KBOO Special Report: The Insanity Of Our Oil Addiction - Connecting The Dots In The BP Oil Disaster - Tonight 6-7 PM Pacific Time
KBOO Special report: The insanity of our oil addiction - connecting the dots in the BP Oil Disaster
Air date: Wed, 05/12/2010 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm Pacific Time
Featuring radical Texas populist Jim Hightower, renowned author and activist Antonia Juhasz (The Tyranny of Oil), discussing the real issues behind the BP oil spill currently gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer and public speaker who has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.
Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. Click here for his website.
Also on the show will be Antonia Juhasz, whose book The Tyranny of Oil has been called the hardest-hitting exposé of the oil industry in decades, examining today's most pressing energy questions:
- Why do oil and gasoline prices rise and fall so quickly?
- How much oil is left?
- How far will Big Oil go to get it?
- And at what cost to the economy, environment, human rights, worker safety, public health, democracy, and Americas place in the world?
After Oil Rig Blast, BP Refused to Share Underwater Spill Footage
Message Control A Key Industry Focus During Oil Disaster Drills
By Matthew Mosk, Avni Patel, John Solomon, and Aaron Metha | ABC News And Center For Public Integrity | May 12, 2010
"The technology that's being used on the surface is over 30 years old," said Jerome Milgram, a professor of marine technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I can say this. I don't see any practical effect for putting out booms when the sea conditions are such that the booms are totally ineffective."
BP's "worst case" scenario for a huge oil spill in the Gulf relies heavily on being able to boom and skim a half million barrels a day, according to the oil spill response plan the company filed with federal regulators.
During a series of dry-run exercises, where the U.S. Coast Guard, other agencies and oil companies practiced their response to major oil spill disasters, industry executives repeatedly pressed federal regulators to give them more say on what information would be released to the public if disaster struck.
Reports obtained in a joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity show oil companies targeted the potential release of "confidential" information as a key concern.
That behind-the-scenes lobbying effort helped foretell a tug of war this week over images that BP America did not want the public to see as the company struggled to try and contain the massive spill unleashed after one of the company's offshore oil rigs exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Throughout the clean-up effort, BP has monitored the spill site around the clock using submarine-mounted cameras at the mouth of the spill. An official at Oceaneering International, the company that operates the submarines under a contract with BP, told ABC News he "could walk right down the hall and watch it, but I can't share it without BP's express permission." Read more.
Billions of oil barrels spilled reminiscent of Exxon Valdez catastrophe
Kevin Zeese, ProsperityAgenda.US
The Senate is currently working on the so-called “reform” of the financial industry. I say “so-called” because thus far there is nothing in the bill that the big banks and the crony capitalists on Wall Street oppose. There have been several important votes and now we can see whether senators are representing the people or the banksters.
Protesters called out "BP kills" and waved signs denouncing the British energy giant Tuesday as the US Congress opened its first hearing into the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"BP kills wildlife, BP kills people, BP kills the planet," two of the demonstrators, members of the anti-war group Code Pink, called out moments before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources began the session.
The protesters also waved signs that read "BP = Bad People," and one wore a T-shirt with a crudely painted "power to the people."
A second group of protesters staged a more quiet show of opposition in black T-shirts emblazoned with "Energy Shouldn't Cost Lives," applying make-up in the shape of black tears.
(PressTV) – BP dome fails to stop oil leak
British Petroleum (BP) has failed in its first attempt to contain oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico with a metal box as crystallized gas fills the structure. Read More Here
- (McClatchyDC) – Video: Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in gulf. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. Video Link Here
- Video: Southern Boys Show US Government How to Clean Up Oil With Hay! – Video Link Here
- (MediaConsortium) – Weekly Mulch: Slick of Oil Industry Cash Gummed up Regulatory Works
- The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is worse than anyone thought, and the crisis will likely go on for months. British Petroleum (BP) is tripping over itself to say it’ll cover the costs of the clean-up, yet before the spill, the company spent its time and money pushing back against government regulation and safety measures. Read More Here
- (Spiegel) – Expert Recommends Killing Oil-Soaked Birds A German biologist says that efforts to clean oil-drenched birds in the Gulf of Mexico are in vain. For the birds’ sake, it would be faster and less painful if animal-rescue workers put them under, she says. Studies and other experts back her up. Kill, don’t clean,” is the recommendation of a German animal biologist, who this week said that massive efforts to clean oil-soaked birds in Gulf of Mexico won’t do much to stop a near certain and painful death for the creatures Read More Here
- (Guardian) – Chevron wins access to film-maker’s Amazon pollution footage
- Crude, released last year, focuses on the 17-year legal battle between Chevron and 30,000 Ecuadorians who say their land, rivers, wells, livestock and own bodies were poisoned by decades of reckless oil drilling in the rainforest. Read More Here
- (AP) – Oil spill may endanger human health, officials say
- With a huge and unpredictable oil slick drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, state and federal authorities are preparing to deal with a variety of hazards to human health if and when the full brunt of the toxic mess washes ashore. Read More Here
(GreenPeace) – BP working hard to keep the damage hidden – Read More Here
Foreign Bankers, Low Hanging Fruit and Social Security
Reprinted in full courtesy of NCPSSM | May 11, 2010
In these days of billion dollar public relations campaigns designed to convince the American people that somehow Social Security must foot the bill for a decade of unrelated fiscal failures, the headlines hardly surprise us anymore. But today on CNN Money we came across something which has really set the bar for balanced media coverage at a new low.
Jeanne Sahadi’s “Fixing Social Security: the Low Hanging Fruit” reads like a Peterson Foundation News Release. Quoting liberally from the multi-billionaire anti-entitlement crusader and the director of another Peterson funded group, the Concord Coalition, provides lop-sided sources for a story about Social Security. Surely CNN could have found at least one Social Security expert in Washington to balance the anti-Social Security rhetoric? Rhetoric like:
“it (cutting Social Security) would be a confidence builder with our foreign lenders” Peter Peterson, Peterson Foundation
“They could begin with Social Security, which oddly enough has gone from being the ‘third rail of American politics’ to the low-hanging fruit” Robert Bixby, Concord Coalition
These “experts” Sahadi consulted view Social Security cuts as low-hanging fruit and a confidence builder for foreign bankers …really? Is that really all there is to this story? How about a quote reminding CNN viewers and its online readers that Social Security hasn’t contributed one dime to our current fiscal mess–that Social Security is funded by contributions from American workers, not federal dollars? How about a quote from an economist or Social Security policy expert explaining that what fiscal hawks really want is for Washington to renege on its repayment to the Social Security trust fund—a trust fund built up by contributions from America’s workers over decades and now made to be the scapegoat for failed borrow and spend policies, skyrocketing health care costs, two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy and a Wall Street run amok (which ultimately collapsed our economy).