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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
Treatment of New York Detainee Is ”Legalised Torture”
By William Fisher | Faxts
For the past almost three years, a U.S. citizen, Syed Fahad Hashmi, has been held in isolation in a federal detention centre in New York City.
Hashmi is under 24-hour video and audio surveillance, even when he uses the toilet. He eats all his meals in his small cell. He is not allowed to communicate with other prisoners. He is a Muslim but is not allowed to participate in group prayer.
The month-old newspapers he receives have whole sections cut out of them by the government. Contact with the media is forbidden. For one hour every other week, one member of his family can ”visit” through a heavy screen. No touching or hugging is allowed or possible.
Sometimes the government takes away his family visits as punishment. In 2008, he lost his visits for three months and has not had family visits since December. Sometimes the government does not allow his family to see him when they arrive at the prison because the FBI translator is not there.
Hashmi's trial is finally scheduled for Apr. 28,...
Did his lawyer put up a robust defense against the imposition of the special administrative measures (SAMs)?
A: Yes, his defence has challenged the SAMs on multiple occasions, including introducing medical and scholarly evidence of the damage that prolonged solitary confinement has on a person....
These SAMs are legalised torture. The levels of isolation and sensory deprivation are dehumanising. They go against international standards and have been shown in medical and scholarly research to have a severe impact on a person's mental health and stability. And they severely impact the ability of a person to participate effectively in his or her own defence.
Fighting Bob La Follette, the great Senator from Wisconsin and the founder of this magazine, warned throughout his career about the looming threat posed by corporate power. When he ran for President in 1924, he said: “Democracy cannot live side by side with the control of government by private monopoly. We must choose, on the one hand, between representative government, with its guarantee of peace, liberty, and economic freedom and prosperity for all the people, and on the other, war, tyranny, and the impoverishment of the many for the enrichment of the favored few.”
ON FEBRUARY 16, ABOUT 200 people gathered on the steps of the Wisconsin state capitol. “It’s fitting that we stand out in the cold,” said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “That’s where the Supreme Court has left us.”
He was referring to the court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which granted corporations the right to spend unlimited funds on so-called independent expenditures to influence the outcome of elections. The crowd heartily agreed with McCabe. Signs said: “No Corporate Takeover of Elections,” “Free Speech, Not Fee Speech,” “Money Is Not Speech, Corporations Are Not Persons.” And a chant went up: “Overrule the Court.”
Ben Manski, executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation, drew the crowd in with a historical analogy. Read more.
From TomDispatch this morning: A chilling account of two American-backed presidents -- in Afghanistan 2010 and Vietnam 1963 -- two unnervingly similar situations, and Washington's unending folly. This is an original -- Alfred W. McCoy, "America and Dictators, From Ngo Dinh Diem to Hamid Karzai."
In a beginning of unparalleled eeriness, historian, expert on the CIA and the drug trade, and TomDispatch regular Alfred McCoy writes in his latest post: "The crisis has come suddenly, almost without warning. At the far edge of American power in Asia, things are going from bad to much worse than anyone could have imagined.... After years of lavishing American aid on him, the leader of this country, our close ally, has isolated himself inside the presidential palace, becoming an inadequate partner for a failing war effort. His brother is reportedly a genuine prince of darkness, dealing in drugs, covert intrigues, and electoral manipulation. The U.S. Embassy demands reform, the ouster of his brother, the appointment of honest local officials, something, anything that will demonstrate even a scintilla of progress..."
It sounds, of course, like -- and is -- America's man in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, 2010, but it's also an exact description of America's man in Saigon, Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, in 1963. In this singular and magisterial piece, McCoy describes just how similarly Karzai and Diem, both exiles without significant bases of support in their countries, were brought to power by the United States, ran fraudulent elections, made similar decisions, and presented Washington with a conundrum wrapped in an enigma that it could never solve or resolve as a American-backed war morphed into a full-blown American one and disaster ensued.
Diem's life was finally ended in a CIA-sponsored coup and assassinaton that still reverberates in American political calculations as Vietnam destabilized and the war there became a history-altering disaster. "America’s representatives in Kabul," warns McCoy, "are once again hurtling down history’s highway, eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror, not the precipice that lies dead ahead." Whatever the fate of Karzai, McCoy asks why, since World War II, Washington has ended up in similar situations with so often with local and regional autocrats it's backed.
He writes: "In the experiences of both Ngo Dinh Diem and Hamid Karzai lurks a self-defeating pattern common to Washington's alliances with dictators throughout the Third World, then and now. Selected and often installed in office by Washington, or at least backed by massive American military aid, these client figures become desperately dependent, even as they fail to implement the sorts of reforms that might enable them to build an independent political base. Torn between pleasing their foreign patrons or their own people, they wind up pleasing neither."
This is a stunning history of American global folly from the 1950s to late last night that ends only one way -- "with the collapse of our authoritarian allies, whether Diem in Saigon, the Shah in Tehran, or on some dismal day yet to come, Hamid Karzai in Kabul." Read it now.
Conservative and Liberal Pillagers Master the Art of Pandering
By Morris Davis, Fmr. Chief Prosecutor for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay | Huffington Post
The rule of law means everyone -- let me repeat, everyone -- is accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated. The Torture Statute, publicly promulgated federal law codified in the United States Code, says torture is a criminal offense. Likewise, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is signatory, requires the investigation of allegations of torture and the criminal prosecution of offenders. There is no opt-out provision in either statute that lets the government choose to ignore the law when it's not politically expedient or might prove to be unpleasant.
So how can the Obama administration say with a straight face that the United States is the champion of the rule of law and others should step up and follow our example when the administration deliberately ignores criminal accountability for the torture of some of the detainees captured in the global war on terrorism?
If it was a crime to misappropriate a word or phrase -- to treat it like you own it and toss it around arbitrarily whenever it suits your purposes -- then some prominent conservatives and liberals would be serving hard time. Of course there don't seem to be any real consequences when there's literal theft in the world of politics, so it's a pipe dream to imagine there would be any consequences for pillaging the vocabulary, but it's still a good thought.
Conservatives stole the word "patriot." They hot-wired the ignition and drove it away like they had the title in their back pocket. Join the Tea Party and become a Tea Party Patriot. Go to the TPP website and "join the fight for liberty." Buy Karl Rove's book and read how Dick Cheney is a patriot. If you think Sarah Palin is wonderful and President Obama is a socialist then you're a patriot, too. The clear message is that if you haven't embraced the far right agenda then by default you have to be an unpatriotic liberty hater.
As a military veteran who spent a quarter-century in uniform, I take offense when people like Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Gingrich, Cheney (Dick and Liz), Rove, Malkin, Coulter, and Dick Morris -- a dozen chest thumping right wing war hawks who've amassed personal fortunes wrapping themselves in the patriot banner and stoking the anger of the base with their "you're either with us or against us" blather, but who felt they had more important things to do when each of them had the opportunity to serve in the nation's armed forces -- imply that veterans who answered the call of duty but don't ascribe to their hateful fear-based ideology are unpatriotic and something other than "real Americans." It's disappointing, too, that so many ordinary Americans are drawn to these PINOs (Patriots In Name Only) like mosquitoes to the alluring blue light in a bug zapper. There are patriots of all stripes who love this country. No one, and no one ideology, has the right to treat the word like it's theirs exclusively. Read more.
Occupied Palestinians and Israeli Arabs never had rights in a state affording them solely to Jews. Now even they're at risk as democratic freedoms fast erode on their way to extinction; to wit, free expression, a right without which all others are endangered. It includes free speech, a free press, freedom of thought, culture, intellectual inquiry, and the right to challenge government authority peacefully, especially in times of war and cases of injustice, lawlessness, incompetence, and abuses of power.
Israel has no constitution or specific laws guaranteeing equality or free expression. Yet its Basic Laws protect human dignity and liberty as fundamental democratic values, more rhetoric than fact given its persecution of journalist Anat Kam and Haaretz's national security reporter Uri Blau.
Kam (held under house arrest since December) will be tried in mid-April for passing confidential documents she removed while stationed in IDF General Yair Naveh's office during her mandatory military service. Blau, fearing assassination or a judicial lynching, is now hiding in London.
Two (internal security) Shin Bet gag orders (code name "Double-Take") were judicially implemented to silence press discussion, on October 8, 2009 and on January 1, 2010 for 90 days, now partially lifted.
They're on grounds of harming national security, damaging the investigative process, and the ability of prosecutors to prove criminal liability. Part of it is cited in an undated April richardsilverstein.com Tikun Olam article headlined, "Anat Kam Gag Order Published for the First Time," stating:
"....publication about the investigation or that it even exists (is prohibited), and on the judicial discussion of the matter and legal decision rendered by the court which has been and will be conducted....
We seek that the gag prohibits publication even about the application for a gag order, its content, and even the existence of a gag order in this case; and any other publication likely to identify the respondent, witnesses, suspects or others engaged in the investigation, including publications of their images, addresses, or other identifying details."
By Linda Milazzo
Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy).
One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.
Terror suspects held 'illegally' in Afghanistan prison named by charity
• MoD sued for refusing to identify pair handed to Americans
• Men named as Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah
By Richard Norton-Taylor | Guardian.co.UK
A legal charity has named two men who ended up in the infamous "dark prison" at Bagram in Afghanistan after being handed to US forces by members of the SAS. The men were held in Afghanistan after being seized by the British in Iraq.
The charity Reprieve said it was suing the Ministry of Defence for refusing officially to identify the men, who are from Pakistan. The MoD argues that if it released their names, even to their families, it would be in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The director of Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith, accused the ministry of "rank hypocrisy" for refusing to give the prisoners their rights while at the same time claiming it was upholding the rule of law.
David Davis, the former Conservative shadow home secretary, who has also taken up the case, described the ministry's refusal to release the names as an "insult". "If they are bad people, tell us who they are. I think the reason we are not being told is because it is politically embarrassing. They deserve a trial. We deserve to know what the truth is."
Reprieve said it had taken years and thousands of pounds to discover the identities of the two men who were taken by the SAS in Iraq in 2004. It named them today as Amanatullah Ali, a Shia, and Yunus Rahmatullah, a Sunni. Read more.
At a press conference in Annapolis, Maryland, on Tax Day, April 15, 2010, social justice activists charged: “Fully one-third of the biggest corporations in Maryland paid absolutely nothing in state income taxes in 2007!” Matthew Weinstein, Fiscal Policy Director for “Progressive Maryland,” added: “The Maryland Chamber of Commerce (MCC) has played our state legislators for suckers for years...Maryland families are subsidizing business to the tune of $2 billion a year.” The event was held in front of the MCC’s office on West Street. It was sponsored by “The Heart of Maryland Coalition,” which is an ad hoc group comprising “non-profits, labor and progressive” organizations.
Bush CIA head agreed to destruction of torture videotapes
By John Andrews | WSWS
According to a formerly secret email message made public Thursday, Porter J. Goss, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004 to head the CIA, agreed to the November 2005 destruction of about 100 videos depicting the repeated waterboarding and other torture of two alleged Al Qaeda prisoners at a secret Thailand prison.
The email was among several documents recently released to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the course of Freedom of Information Act litigation initiated in 2003. To date, the ACLU has made available over 100,000 pages of heavily redacted government documents detailing various aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program.
The latest batch of documents reveals disputes between the CIA and Bush administration lawyers over the retention of video recordings depicting the 2002 torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Other documents confirm that CIA interrogators exceeded the generous limits on “enhanced interrogation techniques”—the Bush administration euphemism for torture—set out in the infamous torture memoranda prepared by White House counsel.
We are in a Massive Unemployment Crisis in this Country
By Dave Lefcourt | OpEd News
We are in a massive unemployment crisis in this country that a rising DOW above 11,000 has no connection to and if anything masks the true state of the American economy....
Our "official" unemployment level is close to 10% but unofficially is closer to 20% when including those no longer looking for work, people working part time but want (and need) full time jobs as well as those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. So the reality of joblessness (close to 30 million) doesn't match the "official" figures....
In the immediate dire situation, short term deficit spending will be needed to achieve large scale job creation. But over the long haul, considering our existing trillion dollar deficits where can we find the resources to fund and sustain these type programs long term (as is likely)? The answer ; the bloated defense budget of unnecessary military hardware (planes, aircraft carriers, atomic submarines, tanks and other military hardware that are still being built for an enemy (the USSR) that ceased to exist over 20 years ago.
Couple this unnecessary spending with our undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (not to mention our clandestine war in Pakistan) funded through Congressionally approved supplements not included in the yearly approved Defense Department budget) there exists yearly, well over a trillion dollars in wasteful and unnecessary government spending directed to the military/industrial complex.
This unnecessary military spending has been all but a sacrosanct and virtually untouchable to serious cuts (or for that matter even given to serious political debate).
But that situation has to change and the American people must be made aware that our endless war driven economy is depleting us financially and is a political straitjacket preventing us from providing the necessary resources that can help us return to and sustain a full employment economy. Read more.
U.S. troops fired on a crowded passenger bus on the outskirts of Kandahar city, killing four civilians and injuring 18 others, stoking anti-American protests that promised to complicate a massive offensive against Taliban insurgents this summer.
Although the military command issued an apology, saying it “deeply regrets the tragic loss of life,” Monday’s incident cast fresh doubts on Operation Omid, billed as the pivotal offensive of the war, which will see tens of thousands of NATO troops attempt to seize control of Kandahar.
NATO officials were already struggling to win support for the offensive from ordinary Afghans and tribal elders who had expressed concern over the potential for “collateral damage.”
Monday’s shooting appeared to confirm those fears, with angry Afghans spilling into the streets, burning tires and chanting “Death to America.”
“People brought the bus to Kandahar bus station and drivers and ordinary people protested against Americans,” said a man named Naqibullah who attended the protest, which he said “showed the anger of the people against the Americans.” Read more.
To Organize Against Wall Street, We Need a Narrative Focusing on Crime and Massive Fraud
By Danny Schechter, Independent Filmmaker, Plunder | Global Research
In politics, it’s always all about the narrative, about how issues are framed.
As we ask ourselves, how we can be experiencing the largest economic meltdown in decades with millions out of work, and millions more losing their homes, and yet, with no real mass mobilization or ongoing response from the progressive world.
To understand this paradox, we need to reflect on how most of us we define the problem.
To this day, there has not been an aggressive investigation of who and what brought down the system ala the Pecora Commission appointed by FDR. Instead we have a wimpy ineffectual body that can’t get its act together. The New York Times, which hailed its appointment, now buries its defacto obit way back in the business section, noting it has “been hobbled by delays and internal disagreements and a lack of focus,”
At the same time, the bookshelves are filling up with volumes of complicated treatises on the complexities of derivatives, risky profit models and credit default swaps. The practitioners of the “dismal science” of economics are having a field day with longwinded dissertations that fail to engage the popular imagination.
We had a word for this when I worked in network television—MEGO, standing for “My Eyes Glaze Over!”
More popular writers are spinning catchy “yarns” like “The Big Short” which put it all down with psychologically-driven, character-based storytelling to how deluded everyone on Wall Street was. That leaves us feeling superior to the dunderheads who lost us trillions and, then, laughed all the way to their mansions in the Hamptons.
Missing is a hardnosed look at the financial crisis as a crime story---an approach that allows for morality as well as indignation, and resonates with public anger. It touches the nerve that most people feel. Read more.
A critical moment in banking reform
By Kevin Zeese | Prosperity Agenda US
Last month saw record bankruptcies since the federal personal bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005, the underemployment rate increased to 20%, and the percentage of borrowers three months behind in mortgage payments is at 6.67% up from 2% in 2005.
People are hurting and the banks are taking advantage of them. Major banks are now part of the pay day loan scam charging up to 120% or higher interest rates. The rich are getting richer - the number of billionaires is increasing, the wealth divide is expanding with 70% of wealth now owned by the top 1%, CEO pay is $500 to every $1 made by the average worker. Wall Street is paying themselves record bonuses and salaries only because the taxpayers have provided them with trillions of dollars of our money.
The financial interests who dominate the Congress are doing a very effective job of preventing real financial reform. Rather than breaking up the big banks whose existence assures another financial collapse, the "reform" actually includes a back door bailout that gives the Fed emergency lending authority. And the Fed, which many criticized as a cause of the collapse, is gaining power under the proposed "reforms" including controlling the consumer protection agency.
Don Blankenship and the Chamber – buying the Courts to keep the money flowing
By Jason Rosenbaum | FireDogLake
Don Blankenship is the head of Massey Energy, the company that runs the Upper Big Branch Mine which just had a horrific "accident" that left 29 dead. Massey’s conduct under Blankenship has been negligent enough to approach criminality, calling into question how much of an "accident" this was. Leo Gerard, head of the United Steelworkers, makes that point:
Since 2005, regulators cited Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine 1,342 times for safety infractions and charged Massey $1.89 million in fines, $1.3 million of which Massey is contesting. Of the violations, 86 were for failing to obey a ventilation plan to control explosive methane gas and coal dust. These are the very factors suspected in Monday’s deadly blast. Regulators issued 12 of those citations in the past month, and miners told the New York Times that dangerous gas accumulation forced evacuations of the mine several times in recent weeks. Regulators found two violations on Monday, before the explosion.
In January, agencies imposed the largest fines in the mine’s history for two violations, including one case in which a mine foreman admitted he’d known of a ventilation problem for three weeks. In 2008, Massey paid what federal prosecutors said was the largest settlement in the history of the coal industry — $4.2 million in criminal fines and civil penalties — after a subsidiary pleaded guilty to criminal mine safety violations for a January, 2006 fire that killed two workers in Massey’s Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine. In addition those deaths at a Massey mine and the 29 killed Monday at Upper Big Branch, three other miners died at the Upper Big Branch mine since 1998.
The Charleston Gazette reported:
“In seven of the last 10 years, the mine has recorded a non-fatal injury rate worse than the national average for similar operations, according to MSHA statistics.” Read more.
By David Swanson
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has given out its 2010 Muzzle awards for those blocking freedom of speech, and the awards are all for particular petty instances of censorship. Stanley Fish muses in the New York Times about the conflict between valuing free speech and valuing democracy. What these two thoughtful, well-intended endeavors -- the awards and the op-ed -- seem to miss is that the greatest threat to free speech is the monopolization of speech by some vociferous defenders of free speech. The Supreme Court that ruled on "Citizens United vs. FEC" should not have gone without a Muzzle.
StopTheChamber.com Campaign Calls For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide
No More Business As Usual
Our StopTheChamber.com Campaign Today Called For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide Of 29 West Virginia Miners
We Also Called For Congress Members To Order Halt Contact With Chamber Lobbyists
YOU CAN HELP BY JOINING AND SUPPORTING OUR CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE CHAMBER!
Our StopTheChamber.com campaign has been warning for months about the devastating effect of U.S. Chamber of Commerce policies on the well being of Americans. Specifically, we have condemned the Chamber for spending hundreds of millions to fight regulation of its dues paying members and regulation of pollution caused by those members. These actions have been led by Chamber CEO Tom Donohue and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the latter who runs vast coal mining operations in West Virginia, including the serial offending Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners were killed last week.
In a recent press release, attorney and campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said: “The convergence of the Chamber’s policies against regulation of workplace safety and the disaster of mining coal without regard for the environmental impact resulted in the death of 29 hard working West Virginian miners. This was not an accident, but rather the result of deliberate and intentional decisions and actions of Don Blankenship, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Blankenship and Chamber CEO Tom Donohue must be held accountable for these deaths. What is it going to take for Congress and the President to stop coddling criminals, masquerading as legitimate businessmen, who cause the death of our loved ones? Blankenship, with the lobbying army of the Chamber to back him up, has thumbed his nose at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, ignoring or appealing every violation, including the scores that resulted in coal mine evacuations and the hundreds of other serious violations. As the Washington Post pointed out in a Saturday editorial, these 29 deaths would not have occurred absent this intentional conduct of Blankenship. He is just as criminally culpable as any mass murderer.”
Today we called on federal law enforcement officials to charge Don Blankenship with homicide, and for a complete criminal investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its CEO Tom Donohue to determine what policies and practices led to the death of these miners, and whether Chamber lobbyists and lawyers were used to cover-up or avoid compliance with safety regulations. Criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrible crime will ensure accountability, expose the Chamber’s criminal conduct and pave the way for real worker safety across the nation.
We also called on all Congress Members to immediately issue a standing order to their staff to cease all communication and contact with U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyists. Now that the Chamber and its directors have been directly implicated in the homicide of 29 workers, there can be no more business as usual. Congress Members must stand up for working people by refusing to meet with and do the bidding of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose directors, policies and practices have killed and will kill again if they are not stopped.
Let us hear no more excuses for Barack Obama. Let us hear no more defenses, no more special pleading, no more extenuations. Let us have no more reciting of the "pressures" he is under, of the "many obstacles" that balk him in his quest to do us good, of the "bad advisors" who are swaying him to unworthy acts against his will. Let us be done at last with all these wretched lies, these complicitous self-deceptions that are facilitating atrocity and tyranny on a monstrous scale.
Barack Obama has ordered the murder of an American citizen, without trial, without due process, without the production of any evidence. All it takes to kill any American citizen in this way is Barack Obama's signature on a piece of paper, his arbitrary designation of the target as a "suspected terrorist." In precisely the same way -- precisely the same way -- Josef Stalin would place a mark by a name in a list of "suspected terrorists" or "counterrevolutionaries," and the bearer of that name would die. This is the system we have now, the same as the Soviets had then: a leader with the unchallengeable power to kill citizens without due process.
That this power has not been used on the same scale in the American system as in the Stalinist state -- yet -- does not alter the equivalence of this governing principle. In both cases, the leader signs arbitrary death warrants; the security services carry out the task; and the 'great and good' of society accept this draconian power as necessary and right.
This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. It does not matter if you think his opponents in the factional infighting to control a bloodsoaked empire and its war machine are "worse" than he is in some measure. When you support him, when you defend him, when you excuse him, it is arbitrary murder that you are supporting. It is the absolute negation of every single principle of enlightenment and human rights professed by liberals, progressives -- indeed, by honorable people of every political stripe -- for centuries. Read more.
I believe that during the past 18 months, there were very few instances of serial default and contagion that could have not been contained by adequate risk-based capital and liquidity. I presume, for example, that with 15% tangible equity capital, neither Bear Sterns nor Lehman Brothers would have been in trouble. Increased capital, I might add parenthetically, would also likely result in smaller executive compensation packages, since more capital would have to be retained in undistributed earnings.
FCIC Testimony, 4/7/10
It’s a question on everyone’s mind: how much capital must banks be made to hold? No other regulatory change can do as much to prevent another financial collapse. A bigger equity cushion not only buffers bank creditors from losses — preventing cascading bank runs — it by definition would reduce frothy lending that inflates bubbles in the first place.
The issue has new immediacy today, in the wake of revelations published by WSJ that major banks are masking their leverage. Because balance sheets are reported at a single point in time, i.e. the last day of the quarter, there’s an incentive to reduce risk around that particular day in order to present a pretty face to the world. Meanwhile, during the quarter banks are jacking up leverage in order to boost profits. While Lehman actually hid leverage (with Repo 105), other banks are temporarily reducing it, “understating debt levels used to fund securities trades by lowering them an average of 42% at the end of each of the past five” quarters.
This is just another reason that, when setting new capital standards, regulators should err on the high side. Not only are banks sitting on large embedded losses with the help of extend and pretend accounting, there’s now strong evidence they’ll game whatever standards are set. Read more.
How the CIA is Welcoming Itself Back Onto American University Campuses
By David Price | Counter Punch
Throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, independent grassroots movements to keep the Central Intelligence Agency off American university campuses were broadly supported by students, professors and community members. The ethos of this movement was captured in Ami Chen Mills’ 1990 book, C.I.A. Off Campus. Mills’ book gave voice to the multiple reasons why so many academics opposed the presence of the CIA on university campuses: reasons that ranged from the recognition of secrecy’s antithetical relationship to academic freedom, to political objections to the CIA’s use of torture and assassination, to efforts on campuses to recruit professors and students, and the CIA’s longstanding role in undermining democratic movements around the world.
For those who lived through the dramatic revelations of the congressional inquiries in the 1970s, documenting the CIA’s routine involvement in global and domestic atrocities, it made sense to construct institutional firewalls between an agency so deeply linked with these actions and educational institutions dedicated to at least the promise of free inquiry and truth. But the last dozen years have seen retirements and deaths among academics who had lived through this history and had been vigilant about keeping the CIA off campus; furthermore, with the attacks of 9/11 came new campaigns to bring the CIA back onto American campuses.
Henry Giroux’s 2007 book, The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial Academic Complex, details how two decades of shifts in university funding brought increased intrusions by corporate and military forces onto university. After 9/11, the intelligence agencies pushed campuses to see the CIA and campus secrecy in a new light, and, as traditional funding sources for social science research declined, the intelligence community gained footholds on campuses.
Post-9/11 scholarship programs like the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP) and the Intelligence Community Scholarship Programs today sneak unidentified students with undisclosed links to intelligence agencies into university classrooms (both were first exposed by this author here in CounterPunch in 2005). A new generation of so-called flagship programs have quietly taken root on campuses, and, with each new flagship, our universities are transformed into vessels of the militarized state, as academics learn to sublimate unease. Read more.
...What is the reality of democracy in practice? Political systems in all Western societies are tightly controlled by the elites. People with money manipulate the system to their advantage. The masses are simply used as a vote bank to endorse whatever policies are put forward by competing elites belonging to the same class. In the past, feudal elites controlled the system and used it to advance their landed interests; with industrialization and development of the banking sector, a new class of people emerged. Now multinational corporations manipulate the system so that their interests are protected and advanced. People are asked to choose between the same set of elites that represent elite interests, not those of the masses. This has been compared to mice being asked to choose between different colors of cats to rule them: black, white, brown or other....
...An entire industry of lobbyists has also emerged. Lobbying is an expensive undertaking. A small group of people with money is able to manipulate the political system to their advantage. In the US, the Zionist lobby, the armaments industry and more recently the banking industry have all shown how the system is controlled and manipulated. No US leader has the courage to oppose the demands of the Zionist lobby. While millions of Americans are deprived of the right to a decent job, housing and healthcare, billions of dollars are funnelled to the Zionist State of Israel each year. America’s global wars are waged on the backs of ordinary Americans whose sons and daughters die in distant lands so that the armaments industry barons can make tidy profits. The gnomes of banking lost billions of dollars in Ponzi schemes but then demanded that the government bail them out otherwise the entire system would collapse. Nearly $1 trillion were handed to them while millions of people lost their jobs and homes. How were people’s interests safeguarded? The banking executives should have been put on trial for fraud and handed long prison sentences. Instead, in America’s democratic utopia, they gave themselves billions of dollars in bonuses while ordinary people were thrown out of their homes and forced to live in tents.
This is how democracy works. One must express sympathy with ordinary people but this does not put bread on their plates. Read more.
The Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington gets it. Conservative columnist George Will gets it. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) gets it. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) gets it. U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) gets it. Judge Napolitano of FOX News’ “Freedom Watch” gets it.
All of these people understand that it’s time to rethink the Afghanistan war.
It’s long past time for President Barack Obama to get it.
The deep costs of the Afghanistan war are not a matter of partisan bickering, which is remarkable given the climate in America’s politics today. When the health care reform debate degenerates into cries of “death panels” and “baby killer!” it’s incredible that a war that’s gone on for 9 years and cost us almost a thousand U.S. troops and hundreds of billions of dollars hasn’t seen similar bipartisan bickering. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
If you’re like me, now that we’re in the week that federal income taxes are due, you are finally starting to collect your records and prepare for the ordeal. Either way, whether you are a procrastinator like me, or have already finished and know how much you have paid to the government, it is a good time to stop and consider how much of your money goes to pay for our bloated and largely useless and pointless military.
The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America’s imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion.
WRITING ABOUT THE UNSPEAKABLE (AIDS, the CIA and bio-warfare)
By H.P. Albarelli Jr. | TVNewsLIES
I don’t like having to write this article. I don’t like even thinking about it, but over the past few months its subject has come up repeatedly. Many television and radio hosts who have interviewed me about my new book, A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, have, on their own, brought up the subject of AIDS and Fort Detrick and the connection between the two. Nearly the entire ten years I worked on the book, this subject consistently loomed in the background like some malevolent poltergeist, and was essentially considered unspeakable by practically everyone I interviewed. Now things are different.
Just a few days ago, one radio host, who had actually read my entire book, asked about the many trips various Fort Detrick bacteriologists and biochemists took throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond to locations in Africa. Trips were to locations like the Belgian Congo and Burundi and French Equatorial Africa. A few media hosts have remarked about the thousands of rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees that Fort Detrick went through in their countless experiments during these same years; resulting in so many mutilated and dead primates that one former Army scientist, Dr. Henry Eigelsbach, told me that sometimes their bodies had to be “scooped up with a back-hoe and loaded into dump trucks” and then carted off for disposal and incineration.
Only yesterday, a very well informed radio host in California, Cary Harrison, at KPFK-FM, asked me about well-documented reports concerning the 1969 testimony of a high-level Pentagon biological warfare official before the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nobody in their right mind wants to think or believe that the American government had a hand in producing the dreadful disease AIDS, certainly not me. My father, as a dedicated and conscientious histologist, worked for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in the 1950s, and went on to devote his life to helping people in any way he could. He would have never done anything to hurt anyone, yet now there is strong evidence that other scientists with the U. S. Army may have done just that. Before his recent death, I asked my father about these reports. He sadly shook his head, and said, “I don’t know what’s happened to this country. I don’t understand it at all. It’s not the country I went to war for; it’s not the same country I was willing to die for.” My father was always a confident man. It distressed me to see him bewildered, but I too was bewildered. I didn’t at all like thinking about Fort Detrick and AIDS. Read more.
Watchdog Groups Call For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide
29 Dead In West Virginia Mine Because Of Chamber Policies
Congress Members Must Order Halt To Contact With Chamber Lobbyists
Washington, D.C. -- StopTheChamber.com, a coalition of NGOs dedicated to corporate and government accountability, has been warning for months about the devastating effect of U.S. Chamber of Commerce policies on the well being of Americans. Specifically, the Chamber has spent hundreds of millions to fight any regulation of its dues paying members and any regulation of pollution caused by those members. These actions have been led by Chamber CEO Tom Donohue and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the latter who runs vast coal mining operations in West Virginia, including the serial offending Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners were killed last week.
Historian, international relations expert and former US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich returns to the JOURNAL to discuss America's long war in Afghanistan.
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal. The war in Afghanistan has claimed more than one thousand American lives and in the last two years alone the lives of more than four thousand Afghan civilians. It's costing American taxpayers over three-and-a-half billion dollars every month—a total of some $264 billion so far. But for all that, in the words of one policy analyst quoted by the New York Times this week, "there are no better angels about to descend on Afghanistan."
The news from that torturous battleground continues to dismay, discourage and enrage. America's designated driver there, Hamid Karzai, is proving increasingly unstable behind the wheel. The United States put Karzai in power and our soldiers have been fighting and dying on his behalf ever since. Despite widespread corrupton in his government. Now he's making threats against the western coalition that is shedding blood and treasure on his behalf.
Even more disturbing,for the moment, are the civilian deaths from nighttime raids andaerial bombings by American and other NATO troops. Just this week, we learned of an apparent cover-up following a Special Forces raid in February that killed five civilians, including three women, two of whom were pregnant. It's believed bullets were gouged from the women's bodies to conceal evidence of American involvement.
This slaughter of innocents has led the pro-American "Economist" magazine to question whether ourentire effort in Afghanistan" has been nothing but a meaningless exercise of misguided violence."
With me is a man with first-hand experience of war. Andrew Bacevich served 23 years, some of them in Vietnam, before retiring from the Army. He's now professor of history and international relations at Boston University. Just this week he was at a US Army War College symposium on the highly pertinent question, "How do we know when a war is over?" His book, "The Limits of Power," was a best-seller and his latest, "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War," comes out this summer. Andrew Bacevich, welcome back to the Journal. Watch the video, read the transcript.
David Schlesinger, the editor in chief of Reuters, declined to run a story by one of his own reporters containing claims that the 2007 killings of two Reuters staffers in Baghdad by U.S. troops may have been war crimes.
Reuters staffers Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed by U.S. helicopter gunships in Baghdad in 2007. Video of the attack, which shows the journalists standing next to unidentified armed men on a Baghdad street and records the destruction of a van attempting to retrieve a wounded Chmagh, was published this week by Wikileaks.
The video has launched a debate about the legality of the attack, which also wounded two children (you can read our take here). Yesterday, Reuters' deputy Brussels bureau chief Luke Baker filed a muscular story repeating allegations from several human rights and international law experts that the killings may have constituted war crimes. But Reuters chief David Schlesinger, a tipster says, spiked the story because "it needed more comment from the Pentagon and U.S. lawyers." It never ran, but you can read it in full below.
Exclusive: Reuters Chief Spikes Story on Killing of His Own Staffers In BaghdadReuters' response to the disclosure of the video has been relatively muted. Schlesinger issued a statement on Tuesday calling the video "disturbing" but declining to assign blame or accuse the U.S. military of improper behavior: Read more.
Child Soldiers give new meaning to ‘baby killers’
By William Crain
I sat with my grand kids awaiting the St. Patty’s Day Parade. It was a little behind schedule but a nice enough day, nobody minded. Then it began for us; family friends, their kids and people lined the block in all directions. It was about the 2nd or 3rd entry after the official “Color-Guard”...I could not believe my eyes, my whole body flushed with anger, young boys in camouflaged fatigues and combat boots marching, Billings Child Soldiers, and cadre were enabling another Reich to fashion itself, my stomach churned...the people cheered...I shouted “Child Soldiers!” “Child Soldiers!!”
FDA, VA approve drug despite its link to soldiers’ deaths
By Martha Rosenberg | Nieman Watchdog
Seroquel is a widely-prescribed medication, with almost $5 billion in sales last year. But survivors of dead servicemen, torn and angry, question its use as part of a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sgt. Eric Layne's death was not pretty.
A few months after being prescribed a drug cocktail with the antidepressant Paxil, the mood stabilizer Klonopin and AstraZeneca's controversial antipsychotic drug Seroquel, the Iraq war veteran was "suffering from incontinence, severe depression [and] continuous headaches," according to his widow, Janette Layne, at FDA hearings for new Seroquel approvals last year.
Soon he had tremors. " … [H]is breathing was labored [and] he had developed sleep apnea," said Janette Layne, who served in the National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom along with her husband. On the last day of his life, she testified, Eric stayed in the bathroom nearly all night battling acute urinary retention. He died while his family slept.
Sgt. Layne had just returned from a seven-week inpatient program at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati where he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A video shot during that time, played by his wife at the FDA hearings, shows a dangerously sedated figure barely able to talk.
Sgt. Layne was not the first healthy veteran to die after being prescribed medical cocktails including Seroquel for PTSD.
In the last two years, Pfc. Derek Johnson, 22, of Hurricane, West Virginia; Cpl. Andrew White, 23, of Cross Lanes, West Virginia; Cpl. Chad Oligschlaeger, 21, of Roundrock, Texas; Cpl. Nicholas Endicott, 24, of Pecks Mill, West Virginia; and Spc. Ken Jacobs, 21, of Walworth, New York, have all died suddenly while taking Seroquel cocktails. Read more.