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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
The growing accountability movement got a major shot in the arm recently when it learned that on April 19, an Argentinian judge sentenced the last of Argentina's dictators, Reynaldo Bignone, age 83, to 25 years in prison. Bignone's crime: kidnapping and torturing 56 victims in a concentration camp during the reign of terror known as the "dirty war" that gripped Argentina from 1976-1983. This is huge, surpassing the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in his hospital bed back in 1998. (Pinochet died before justice could be done). The conviction of a former head of state for crimes he committed while in office sends a powerful message to all those suspected war criminals still on the loose, including some of the top leaders of the Bush administration.
George W. Bush, who lied our country into war resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 American troops, heads the list. He, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also authorized waterboarding of prisoners seized in Afghanistan, violating U.S. and international law against torture in the process. Worse yet, they authorized torture, at least initially, not to get actionable intelligence, but to get forced confessions from detainees about nonexistent links to Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, and 9/11 in a horrific attempt to strengthen their nonexistent case for sending troops to Iraq. Evidence abounds that all three are guilty of murder and war crimes.
Don't get me wrong. Barack Obama's famous mantra, "I prefer to look forward instead of backward" was a palliative signal to war criminals in the previous administration (including Bush and Cheney's architects of tyranny and torture in the Department of Justice, John Yoo and Jay Bybee), that the new president would not push for their prosecution. Obama's oft-quoted words succeeded, at least during his first year in office, in tamping down his supporters' well-documented desire for criminal prosecutions. But former vice president Dick Cheney, Bush "torture lawyer" John Yoo and Bush's close advisor Karl Rove must have felt a chill when they saw that the number-one wish citizens posted on the website that President-elect Obama created before he entered office was a full-fledged criminal investigation into their misdeeds and those of their boss. Ever since, all three have adopted the classic posture of "the best defense is an offense," with Cheney and his daughter Liz hitting the TV talk shows with a vengeance while Yoo and Rove have used their recently published books to burnish the Bush administration's image with their lies -- no doubt hoping that if repeated enough, the American people will accept their version of events during the years 2000-2008.
Will they succeed? The jury is still out. For the most part, the Tea Party movement of angry middle-class Americans does not appear to be aligned to either Republicans or Democrats, despite Republican fear-mongering efforts to blame the Obama administration for their ills. The Cheneys' efforts to weaken the Obama administration's Department of Justice by attacking DOJ lawyers who defended detainees during the Bush administration actually backfired. John Yoo, now back at Berkeley where he teaches law, has reportedly had to revert to holding his classes in secret because of the unrelenting efforts of protestors who want him prosecuted for war crimes. Equally unnerving for his fellow co-conspirators, a federal judge recently allowed a lawsuit brought by an American torture victim to go forward against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And over 150 lawyers and human rights campaigners meeting in Beirut, Lebanon chose former US attorney General Ramsey Clark to head an international campaign to investigate Bush-era war crimes, with a commitment to prosecuting and indicting the defendants in the U.S. Read more.
By: Jane Hamsher, FireDogLake
Ron Paul has released a statement on Bernie Sanders’ decision to gut his Audit the Fed amendment:
Bernie Sanders has sold out and sided with Chris Dodd to gut Audit the Fed in the Senate. His “compromise” is what the Adminstration and banking interests want: they’ll allow the TARP and TALF to be audited, but no transparency of the FOMC, discount window operations or agreement with foreign central banks. We need to take aciton and stop this!
The audit is only allowed back to December 2007, which leaves most of the work of the Fed’s Open Markets Committee in the dark — they were the ones who were supposed to be watching over Wall Street when it was engaging in its riskiest practices. And according to Jay Newton-Small of Time Magazine, there will only be one audit — it will not be ongoing.
DOJ Responds to Velvet Revolution's Call for Criminal Investigations Into Goldman Sachs and Massey Energy
Twin StopTheChamber Successes! Criminal Investigation of Massey Energy and Goldman Sachs Announced by DoJ!
Our StopTheChamber.com campaign has been on fire since we wrote to Eric Holder three weeks ago asking for a criminal investigation of Massey Energy CEO and Chamber of Commerce director Don Blankenship whose safety violations caused the death of 29 miners. Our spokesman, in numerous appearances, has been educating the mainstream press about the Chamber’s unethical activities. And last week, within 24 hours of when we publicly asked, “Where are the prosecutors” of Massey Energy and Goldman Sachs, the Department of Justice announced criminal investigations against both companies!
Watch our Earth Day, interview with Bobby Kennedy Jr., who calls Massey Energy “a criminal enterprise,” and says Blankenship should “be in jail” for causing the death of the 29 miners.
VR Offers $50,000 Reward re: Massey Energy Bribes
On Monday we offered a reward for information leading the arrest of any Massey Energy executive who paid a bribe to federal officials to overlook safety violations. The FBI announced last Friday that it was investigating such bribes.
We have to keep the pressure on to hold these corporate criminals accountable. Will you help by signing on to our StopTheChamber.com campaign?
Your tax-deductible donations are needed to enable us to continue with our press releases, ads and public relations campaign.
There are 18 U.S. intelligence agencies on the military and civilian side and 70 percent of their combined budget is outsourced to for-profit corporations who simultaneously work the United States government as well as multinational corporations and foreign governments. We have radically outsourced the intelligence operations in this country because we have radically outsourced everything. Sixty-nine percent of the Pentagon’s entire work force, and I am not talking only about the battlefield, is now privatized.
We are approaching a decade of war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq is in its eighth year. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands more Afghans and Pakistani civilians have been killed. Millions have been driven into squalid displacement and refugee camps. Thousands of our own soldiers and Marines have died or been crippled physically and psychologically. We sustain these wars, which have no real popular support, by borrowing trillions of dollars that can never be repaid, even as we close schools, states go into bankruptcy, social services are cut, our infrastructure crumbles, tens of millions of Americans are reduced to poverty, and real unemployment approaches 17 percent. Collective, suicidal inertia rolls us forward toward national insolvency and the collapse of empire. And we do not protest. The peace movement, despite the heroic efforts of a handful of groups such as Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Green Party and Code Pink, is dead. No one cares.
The roots of mass apathy are found in the profound divide between liberals, who are mostly white and well educated, and our disenfranchised working class, whose sons and daughters, because they cannot get decent jobs with benefits, have few options besides the military. Liberals, whose children are more often to be found in elite colleges than the Marine Corps, did not fight the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the dismantling of our manufacturing base. They did nothing when the Democrats gutted welfare two years later and stood by as our banks were turned over to Wall Street speculators. They signed on, by supporting the Clinton and Obama Democrats, for the corporate rape carried out in the name of globalization and endless war, and they ignored the plight of the poor. And for this reason the poor have little interest in the moral protestations of liberals. We have lost all credibility. We are justly hated for our tacit complicity in the corporate assault on workers and their families.
Our passivity has resulted, however, in much more than imperial adventurism and a permanent underclass. A slow-motion coup by a corporate state has cemented into place a neofeudalism in which there are only masters and serfs. And the process is one that cannot be reversed through the traditional mechanisms of electoral politics. Read more.
And of course, we have George W. Bush, a big-government conservative, who curiously wins, as Bovard notes, a 57 percent approval rating from the “small government” Tea Partiers. Yet in parallel with his war on terror, domestic spending increased more than any president since Lyndon Johnson, and he dramatically increased executive power to near tyrannical proportions by illegally using torture, wiretapping, and indefinite detentions without trial.
As Bovard notes, Tea Partiers are right-wing Obama-haters rather than liberty-lovers. And like their icon Sarah Palin, they seem proudly ignorant of history.
In an astute op-ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor, James Bovard points out that the love of liberty by the Tea Party crowd usually takes a backseat to a hatred of President Obama and the Left. After attending a tax day Tea Party event in Rockville, Md., a suburb of the nation’s capital, Bovard reported that the Tea Partiers oppose big government from the Left but not from the Right. Big government from the Right usually involves warfare and its accompanying enhanced police powers at home, which usually severely erode the liberty Tea Partiers claim to stand for. For example, the tea sippers extended their pinkies in a salute to torture, harsh policies toward Iran, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They didn’t seem to mind the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping and vacuuming up of ordinary Americans’ phone calls either, according to Bovard.
Yet of all the causes of big government in human history, warfare is the most important. The nation-state originally came into being because wars had become too expensive for mere kingdoms to handle.
And then the welfare state followed the warfare state. In fact, a militaristic conservative, Otto von Bismarck, created the first modern welfare state in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century.
In American history too, welfare has followed warfare. The roots of the Social Security system were planted with pensions for Civil War veterans. The progressive movement—with its counterproductive regulations on business that hurt the consumers it was trying to help—followed the Spanish-American colonial war. Read more.
The Triple Curse of the Corporate Climate Bill
By Harvey Wasserman
Legend says curses come in threes. Let's pray that doesn't happen with the unholy trinity of the Corporate Climate Bill.
It demands drilling for oil, digging for coal and big money for new nukes. How such a devil's brew could help save the Earth conjures a corporate cynicism beyond the scope of the human mind and soul.
It all now bears a special curse. It was meant for Earth Day. Then it slipped to the April 26 Chernobyl anniversary. But co-sponsor Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pitched a fit over immigration and pulled his support.
As did Earth herself. Just prior, more than two dozen hill country miners were killed in a veritable Three Mile Island of black carbon. This entirely avoidable accident was built on years of sloppy denial by King Coal and the tacit assent of pliant regulators. With mountains of offal being pitched into rivers and streams, and underground hell holes filled with gas and soot, coal has been slaughtering people and eco-systems here for more than a century. Now, as at TMI, the death has become visible.
Meanwhile, the undersea gusher destroying the Gulf of Mexico may soon pour up the east coast. Like Chernobyl, it defies comprehension.
What Real Financial Reform Looks Like
By Stephen Lendman
Be wary when Washington talks reform. Nearly always it's bogus and ends up making a bad situation worse, the likely outcome this time addressing longstanding Wall Street abuses not easily changed at a time tinkering around the edges or papering them over won't work.
Case in point - the House passed "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009" (HR 4173) and current Senate debate on the "Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010" (S. 3217). This writer addressed both measures on April 1:
Still a work in progress, the Senate bill will be as bogus as the House one, so whatever reconciliation produces will be another promise made, another broken. Business as usual will persist so don't be fooled - on this measure or any other, including the appalling health care bill that made a dysfunctional system worse, and took a giant step toward ending Medicare, one of the main reasons it was enacted, besides enriching corporate providers.
Instead of restraining financial fraud, House and Senate bills sanctify it. They leave too big to fail banks in place, permit greater consolidation, and let Wall Street casinos game the system with public money, gambling with unregulated exotic and fraudulent derivatives and other securities.
In Washington, the more things change, the more they worsen, and the public always gets scammed - fooled again because power and privilege trump people.
Lobbyists and corporate lawyers write legislation affecting their interests and get precisely what they want, a few public-friendly crumbs added for deception.
Consider a few measures likely to pass or not change:
Watchdog Group Offers $50,000 Reward For Information Leading to Conviction of Massey Energy Officials For Bribery
Watchdog Group Offers $50,000 Reward For Information Leading to Conviction of Massey Energy Officials For Bribery
Washington, DC—StopTheChamber, com, a national watchdog group dedicated to government and corporate accountability, today offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any Massey Energy executive for paying a bribe to any federal official for any purpose, including to cover up or ignore safety violations, pass legislation, or install or appoint pro-Massey people in key oversight positions.
On April 14, 2010, StopTheChamber.com attorney Kevin Zeese wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting a criminal investigation of Massey Energy and its CEO Don Blankenship for engaging in a pattern of criminal activity. “Our letter and the new FBI investigation of Massey Energy provide a strong basis to believe that Massey, its CEO Don Blankenship and/or other executive Massey staff spent vast amounts of money to ensure that federal officials overlooked its pattern of criminal activity,” said Mr. Zeese.
Among the letter’s long list of criminal allegations was a cover-up of the massive, October 2000 coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky, called one of the "nation's largest man-made environmental disaster east of the Mississippi.” After the spill, then-U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who oversaw the Mining Safety and Health Administration, "put on the brakes" regarding an agency investigation into the spill by placing a staffer to her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), in charge. In September 2002, after a Labor Department judge levied a nominal $5,600 fine, Massey's PAC gave $100,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which McConnell had previously chaired. Overall, McConnell has been one of the top recipients of Massey-related contributions, collecting at least $13,550 from Massey-connected contributors.
Blankenship's contributions to Republicans helped him place allies at the highest levels of the federal mine safety system during the Bush administration. Massey COO Stanley Suboleski was named a commissioner of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission in 2003 and was nominated in December 2007 to run the Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy. Suboleski is now again on the Massey board. After being rejected twice by the Senate, President Bush put one-time Massey executive Dick Stickler in charge of the MSHA by a recess appointment in October 2006. In the 1990s, Stickler oversaw Massey subsidiary Performance Coal, the operator of the deadly Upper Big Branch Mine, after managing Beth Energy mines, which "incurred injury rates double the national average." Bush named Stickler acting secretary when the recess appointment expired in January 2008.
The letter specifically names Massey CEO Don Blankenship, stating that he “bought a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court,” took vacations with a West Virginia Supreme Court justice, and paid the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to use its lobbyists to influence official action. Last Friday, National Public Radio reported that the FBI is investigating allegations that Massey Energy bribed officials of the MSHA.
“Although we did not use the word ‘bribe’ in our original letter to the Attorney General," Zeese continued, "We now believe that it is appropriate for law enforcement to look at whether the payments made by Massey to Senator Mitch McConnell, his wife, the MSHA, the NRSC and the Chamber constituted bribes under Section 201 of the federal bribery statute. That statute specifically prohibits the direct or indirect giving of anything of value to any federal official to do anything that benefits the giver."
"Clearly, Massey benefitted from payments to Senator McConnell, the Chamber and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. We now call on the Attorney General to investigate these payments as well as other alleged payments from the perspective of Section 201. And, to help with this investigation, we are offering a fifty thousand dollar reward for hard information that will stand up in court and lead to the arrest and conviction of any Massey executive staff who paid a bribe.”
The identity of those who contact the StopTheChamber.com tip line will be kept strictly confidential. The campaign has set up a two ways to accept tips -- 1-888-4U-CHAMBR (1-888-482-4627) or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Obama administration and Fed officials have said they “would fight to stop it at all costs” an amendment to the financial reform bill sponsored by Bernie Sanders that would require an audit of the Federal Reserve. However, economists, labor organizers, bloggers and other progressive leaders have signed on to a letter of support for the Sanders amendment, which is cosponsored by Russ Feingold, Jim DeMint, Ron Wyden, Chuck Grassley, and other Senators from both sides of the aisle (PDF).
The letter begins: Since the start of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has dramatically changed its operating procedures. Instead of simply setting interest rates to influence macroeconomic conditions, it rapidly acquired a wide variety of private assets and extended massive secret bailouts to major financial institutions....Read the rest of the letter.
Weissman: Congress Is Abdicating Its Authority on Wars
By Stephen R. Weissman | Special to Roll Call
One reason for the current confusion over U.S. policy toward the Karzai government in Afghanistan is that U.S. decision-making has not been the result of a meaningful democratic process.
The yearlong debate over health care reform legislation produced a tidal wave of criticism of the “dysfunctional” American Congress. In the same period, President Barack Obama dispatched more than 50,000 additional troops to Afghanistan with essentially no legislative debate. But hardly anyone has complained about Congressional dysfunction here.
This silence is amazing because it is widely accepted that past administrations, acting without Congressional input, made huge mistakes in America’s last two major wars. And these eventually proved devastating to the parties in power. Both Democrats and Republicans have acknowledged that interventions in Vietnam and Iraq were either misconceived or significantly mismanaged. After each, there was a sense that Congress could have done more to test flawed policy assumptions and hold decision-makers accountable, enlisting sustained public support for better policies. Yet despite different concerns about Afghanistan policy on both sides of the aisle, Congress has been re-enacting its performances in Vietnam and Iraq. Read more.
Velvet Revolution's Stop the Chamber Announces Launch of "Protect Our Elections" Campaign | Press Release | April 30, 2010
Watchdog Groups Applaud The DISCLOSE Act As An Important Step To Mitigate The Corrosive Influence Of Corporations On Our Elections
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives, led by Charles Schumer and Chris Van Hollen, introduced legislation to mitigate the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which overturned 100 years of precedent by ruling that corporations can spend unlimited funds to influence elections.
The DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections), when passed, will help ensure that the candidates who win American elections are those who receive the most votes from citizens rather than those who receive the most money from Big Business.
“Every American has seen this year that corporations cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of the people, with Wall Street ripoffs, worker deaths, bank failures and massive executive salaries,” said StopTheChamber.com spokesman and attorney Kevin Zeese. “Corporate robber barons, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have said that they will spend more than $100 million to elect Congress Members this year who will do their bidding. This corruption of elections is opposed by the vast majority of Americans. The DISCLOSE Act will require disclosure about corporate advertising, create stand-by-your ad requirements for CEOs, and bar foreign corporations with domestic subsidiaries, federal contractors and TARP recipients from spending their money on elections. This is a much needed first step toward returning honesty to our democracy.”
StopTheChamber.com will be launching a new campaign in the coming days called Protect Our Elections that will not only bring massive grassroots support to pass the DISCLOSE Act, but also to pass a whole host of pending election protection legislation, including anti-caging, anti-purging, provisional ballot counting, anti-deceptive practices, and felon enfranchisement. Passage of these bills will protect millions of existing voters and allow millions of new voters to participate in our elections.
“After more than a decade of assaults on our elections, we are fighting back with demands for transparency, honesty, and fairness,” said Zeese. “We will no longer allow corporations or partisans to run our elections with secret money or secret software that counts the votes. These are direct threats to our democracy that we are confronting, once and for all.”
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH HAS GIVEN PRIORITY TO BIOWEAPONS RESEARCH
By Sherwood Ross
...previous biowarfare research and development contracts with the Pentagon clearly stated: “We have selected pigs (to gas with biowarfare agents) because they have a circulatory system and a respiratory system similar to human beings.”
The priorities of the National Institutes of Health(NIH) in the area of bacteriology have been “catastrophically re-ordered” by emphasizing bioweapons research over non-bioweapons research, a prominent authority states.
Giving priority to bioweapons research at NIH, started under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama, “diverts resources from critical public-health and scientific objectives,” says Richard Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
“The negative impact has been most severe in bacteriology, in which NIH research priorities have been catastrophically re-ordered---with research on bacterial bioweapons receiving more support than research on the top five bacterial causes of death combined---and in which non-bioweapons research has suffered catastrophic losses in resources and personnel,” Ebright said.
Ebright cited the examples of research into two bacterial pathogens: “Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which claim 40,000 and 20,000 U.S. lives each year, respectively. Each kills more Americans than HIV-AIDS (15,000 U.S. lives) “but neither of these bacterial pathogens is on the list of NIAID Priority Pathogens,” Ebright pointed out. (NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the subdivision of NIH responsible for infectious-disease research.)
Laura’s Story: Deadly Intersections
By Missy Comley Beattie
I suppose Laura Bush will go to her grave defending her husband’s presidency and the decisions considered criminal by most of the world. In her book, “Spoken From the Heart,” the former first lady describes how competently George handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, by flying over, rather than walking beside, the shell-shocked. After all, had he been on the ground, face-to-face with the despair, his entourage would have prevented necessary supplies from arriving. “He did not want one single life to be lost because someone was catering to the logistical requirements of the president,” Laura reasons. Of course, we know the REAL story. The recipient of George's compassion was revealed when he spoke about Trent Lott, whose beach house was a casualty of nature. Bush said he looked forward to sitting on the porch when the house was rebuilt.
In “Spoken From the Heart,” Mrs. Bush provides a glimpse into the agony she felt after flying through a stop sign at an intersection, plowing into another car, and killing a young man, Mike Douglas, a popular student at her school. This was/is a life-changing event, a tragedy for Laura and her family, the victim’s family, and for the community. Yet, despite Laura’s acknowledgement of the guilt she felt, she offers a litany of explanations for the wreck and the death. It was dark. The stop sign was small. And, yes, she even tells us that the car she hit was a make and model investigated for a rollover problem. I can almost hear, “Sorry for your loss, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas, but, really, if Mike had been in a safer car.” One that could have withstood Laura’s negligence.
Remind you of anyone? Someone who offered excuse after excuse to justify the killing and maiming of now more than a million Iraqis and Afghans? Someone whose criminal choice has resulted in the deaths of nearly 6500 coalition troops? Someone whose decision has caused a multitude of amputees, brain injured, and post-traumatic stress disordered military men and women? Someone who said we don’t torture—while we were? Yes, this someone is Laura Bush’s husband George—the man her memoir exalts and protects.
First look at George Bush's memoirs
The former US president's memoirs are to be published in November, and will consist of an account of his key decisions. Below is an exclusive preview from the first draft . . .
By Tim Dowling || Guardian.co.UK
Point 1 One of the biggest decisions of my life was the day I decided not to be an alcoholic any more. I don't remember any decisions before that.
Point 2 Everybody remembers where they were on September 11, 2001. And everybody remembers where I was, including me. I was in a school in Florida, listening intently as some children read a story called The Pet Goat. It was about a little girl who had a goat that ate everything. Her parents wanted to get rid of it.
At some point my chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispered to me that America was under attack. Immediately I made the decision to carry on listening to the children. I've faced some criticism for that, but I knew then that I was facing the hardest day of my presidency, with some tough choices ahead of me. I would need all my powers of concentration and judgment, and I couldn't afford to be distracted by wondering how the story ended. I had to find out what happened to that goat. Read more.
Washington, D.C.--StopTheChamber.com, a network of national organizations dedicated to corporate accountability, has been calling for months for a full criminal investigation into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its top staff, including CEO Tom Donohue, for racketeering, fraud, false reporting, and campaign finance violations. Now the network is adding obstruction of justice to that list. In the past two weeks, the United States has been hit with three major disasters, all tied to the polices and practices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. First, 29 miners were killed in a Massey Energy coal mine explosion, second, 11 oil workers were killed in an British Petroleum oil rig fire, and third, Goldman Sachs was charged with a massive billion dollar fraud enterprise. Each of these companies uses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with its army of lobbyists and lawyers, as its first line of defense, corruptly influencing politicians and judges to protect corporations and thwart investigations, and spinning public relations to justify criminal conduct.
The Chamber has spent hundreds of millions on behalf of Wall Street robber barons, and has been directly coordinating with Goldman Sachs to maximize its profits and minimize the fallout from its criminal activities. The Chamber has been fighting laws and regulations to protect worker safety on behalf of Massey Energy and British Petroleum, and in fact, Massey CEO Don Blankenship is a Director of the Chamber and confidant of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue. Massey and BP have been cited for thousands of safety violations, while the Chamber has been representing them and their trade groups to avoid regulation of any kind.
Bobby Kennedy Jr. said on Sunday (watch video here) that “Massey Energy is a criminal enterprise” that “cannot stay in business without breaking the law.” He says that Don Blankenship should “be in jail” for creating the conditions that led to the deaths of the 29 miners. On Tuesday, Eliot Spitzer, probably the most experienced attorney general to go after Wall Street criminals, asked, with regard to Goldman Sachs, “Where are the prosecutors?”
StopTheChamber.com calls on both the United States Attorney General and state attorneys general to launch widespread criminal investigations of the operations of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, racketeering and other serious felonies. “The Chamber is like the mafia dons of past eras,” said campaign spokesman and attorney Kevin Zeese. “All the criminal companies have to pay off the Chamber in order to get protection. The Chamber in turn launders that money in secret, and then pays off judges, politicians and even the media with donations, advertising, jobs, and other means of corruption. Tom Donohue, to quote Eliot Spitzer, ‘has never once found a crime that he couldn't justify, as long as it was committed by one of his dues-paying members.’ The Chamber, like the mafia, also uses threats to get its way, unleashing waves of goons, lobbyists and lawyers to intimidate anyone who dares to challenge it. Tom Donohue proudly says that the Chamber is so strong that ‘when it bites you in the butt, you bleed.’ We are calling on attorneys general across the country to focus their prosecutorial resources on the root of the corporate wrongdoing problem, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which enables, protects and conspires with these criminal companies to violate the law to the detriment of all Americans. There can be no more business as usual, and the Chamber must be held accountable in the same way the mafia dons were held accountable—prosecutions for conspiracy and racketeering.”
Is the CIA's secret program of drone strikes against terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen a case of illegal assassinations or legitimate self defense?
That was a central question Wednesday as the program came under fire from several legal scholars who called for greater oversight by Congress, arguing the attacks may violate international law and put intelligence officers at risk of prosecution for murder in foreign countries.
Four law professors offered conflicting views, underscoring the murky legal nature of America's nine-year-old war against extremists. The conflict has spread from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a complex campaign against al-Qaida, the Taliban and other insurgents worldwide.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have defended the use of attacks from unmanned aircraft. But they have also tiptoed around the issue because the CIA program — which has escalated in Pakistan over the past year — is classified and has not yet been acknowledged publicly by the government.
The CIA strikes are "a clear violation of international law," said Mary Ellen O'Connell, law professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, who added that going after terrorists should be a law enforcement activity. Read more.
UPDATE: CIA drone operators could be prosecuted for war crimes, lawyer tells Congress
The US's unofficial program of targeted killings against terrorist suspects could result in the CIA's drone operators being prosecuted for war crimes, a prominent law professor told a congressional hearing Wednesday.
Loyola Law School professor and former Navy officer David Glazier told a House foreign affairs subcommittee that, because CIA agents are not legally considered combatants in a war, the law could see them as being civilians who carried out killings writes Nathan Hodge at Wired.com. "Unless a judge in, say, Pakistan, wanted to issue a warrant, it doesn’t seem likely." Read more.
On April 20, 2010, author and political gadfly Ralph Nader gave a lecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Baltimore, MD. He spoke before a near capacity audience for over an hour. Mr. Nader spotlighted corporate power and abuses in the U.S., and how AIG, the insurance titan, is the biggest recipient of “welfare--$182 Billion!” He showed how the workers in Western Europe have long had splendid social programs, like: “universal health insurance,” that are regularly denied our citizens. Mr. Nader submitted that the American psyche is dominated by a “fundamentalist market” ideology. Corporation loyalty, he also charged, citing various examples of gross abuse, is to the “dollar sign,” and not to the country. Professor Fimin DeBrabander of MICA introduced Mr. Nader.
If money is an abstraction, the investment industry's creative inventions are abstractions of abstractions of abstractions. Banks no longer just give people loans to buy houses. Now Wall Street's geniuses -- and they are ingenious -- trade bizarre financial products in which the original loan is packaged with thousands of others and buried under piles of equations and economic gibberish.
Goldman may face SEC charges, but it's the entirety of our deregulated financial system that's on trial. In this new order, the inventiveness of our entrepreneurs goes not only into creating products that actually enhance our lives (from refrigerators to laptops to iPods) but also into fashioning "absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical" financial products whose main function is to enrich a very small number of well-placed people.
Maybe the next time someone calls Barack Obama a socialist, the president shouldn't issue a denial. He might instead urge his accuser to read the hearing transcript of this week's congressional testimony from the Goldman Sachs guys in their beautiful suits.
Capitalism has not taken a hit like this since Mr. Potter made his appearance as the evil banker on "It's a Wonderful Life." No leftist polemicist could come up with as damning a description of contemporary capitalism as the contents of an e-mail that Goldman's Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre sent to his girlfriend.
"Well," he wrote, "what if we created a 'thing', which has no purpose, which is absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical and which nobody knows how to price?"
Perhaps Fab once read the Karl Marx who wrote: "The more abstract money is, the less natural its relationship to other commodities." Read more.
Kaptur's letter calling for criminal investigation into Goldman heads to DOJ
By Vicki Needham | The Hill | Reprinted in its entirety courtesy of The Hill
A letter signed by more than 60 lawmakers calling for a criminal investigation against Goldman Sachs will be delivered to the Justice Department on Wednesday.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, (D-Ohio), who spearheaded the charge, will take the letter with the support 62 Members and a petition with 140,000 signatures to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Kaptur has worked with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and MoveOn.org, to collect signatures backing the call for criminal charges.
Several Goldman Sachs employees, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein spent all day Tuesday on Capitol Hill discussing their firm's actions leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
To see a copy of Kaptur's letter, click here.
To view the petition, click here.
Not only did Goldman Sachs profit on betting against CDOs they designed to fail; more importantly, they insured them through AIG which led to a $182 billion taxpayer bailout.
Have you heard the news? It’s everywhere! The SEC and Congress have all of a sudden sprung to life and are now “getting tough” on Goldman Sachs. Is this all the first phase of a long-awaited investigation that will reveal the causes of our current economic crisis, or is this just more show trials and psychological operations designed to manipulate public opinion and make the American people feel that our elected officials are finally standing up to their campaign funders on Wall Street?
First off, let’s address these SEC charges against Goldman Sachs. At first glance you might think, oh big deal, this is just a minor civil suit that only indicts a low-level Goldman employee. Goldman will just throw some money at it and it will most likely go away. After all, Wall Street firms have already thrown over $430 billion out to derail 1500 cases against them, so what will make this any different?
We are also left wondering, if the SEC was serious about this case, why aren’t they investigating and prosecuting John Paulson and top Goldman executives under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statutes? Even the NY Times reported that top executives were involved in the process. If you think Lloyd Blankfein wasn’t fully aware of this billion dollar deal involving John Paulson, you’re delusional. Blankfein became CEO of Goldman due to his outstanding expertise in this particular area, serving as Goldman’s head of the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division (FICC) since its formation in 1997.
So unless this is just the first of many moves on the part of the SEC, this whole case amounts to a psychological operation designed to once again quell popular outrage. These indications lead me to believe that this is a classic “limited hang-out.” As Wikipedia explains it:
Japanese Military Joins U.S. And NATO In Horn Of Africa
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | April 25, 2010
Japanese navy commander Keizo Kitagawa recently spoke with Agence France-Presse and disclosed that his nation was opening its first overseas military base - at any rate since the Second World War - in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
Kitagawa is assigned to the Plans and Policy Section of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as his nation's navy is called, and is in charge of the deployment.
AFP quoted the Japanese officer as stressing the unprecedented nature of the development: "This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa." 
The military installation is to cost $40 million and is expected to accommodate Japanese troops early next year.
Djibouti rests at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, across from strife-torn Yemen, and borders the northwest corner of equally conflict-ridden Somalia. The narrow span of water separating it from Yemen is the gateway for all maritime traffic passing between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
Over the last decade or so, the police have had the run of things – vast investment, a huge increase in numbers (17,000), regiments of Police Support Community officers (16,000) to do the unglamorous jobs, and permission to write controversial policy that by-passes parliamentary scrutiny. That is why I took notice of an article from the Police Federation about "excited delirium" which subtly advocates the forcible chemical sedation of suspects by officers.
Kevin Huish, the custody specialist for the Police Federation, has returned from the conference of the Institute for the Prevention of Deaths in Custody – yes, there truly is such an organisation – with a description of excited delirium syndrome and the protocols for dealing with it.
The syndrome is defined in the Police magazine article by a multitude of symptoms, some of which may seem unnervingly familiar – running for no apparent reason; running wildly; being naked (trying to get cool); stripping off clothes (trying to get cool); apparent superhuman strength; seemingly unlimited endurance; violent resistance; violent resistance after being restrained; muscle rigidity; and the subject claiming "he can't breathe". In other words, pretty much anyone who is an agitated state, possibly because they have been wrongly arrested, have missed the last train out of Sheffield or cannot breathe because a police officer is kneeling on their windpipe.
Huish's tactic is clear. "The Federation is currently undertaking work to formulate a strategy which we intend to lead to recognition and acceptance of excited delirious syndrome by the British medical profession." Once this is achieved, it seems only a matter of time before officers are being issued with hypodermics as freely and thoughtlessly as they have been issued with thousands of Taser guns. Read more.
Acts of rebellion which promote moral and political change must be nonviolent. And one of the most potent nonviolent alternatives in the country, which defies the corporate state and calls for an end to imperial wars, is the secessionist movement bubbling up in some two dozen states including Vermont, Texas, Alaska and Hawaii.
These movements do not always embrace liberal values. Most of the groups in the South champion a “neo-Confederacy” and are often exclusively male and white. Secessionists, who call for statewide referendums to secede, do not advocate the use of force. It is unclear, however, if some will turn to force if the federal structure ever denies them independence.
These groups at least grasp that the old divisions between liberals and conservatives are obsolete and meaningless. They understand that corporations have carried out a coup d’état. They recognize that our permanent war economy and costly and futile imperial wars are unsustainable and they demand that we take popular action to prevent citizens from being further impoverished and robbed by Wall Street speculators and corporations.
“The defining characteristic of the Second Vermont Republic is that there are two enemies, the United States government and corporate America,” Thomas Naylor, who founded Vermont’s secessionist movement, told me when I reached him by phone at his home 10 miles south of Burlington. “One owns the other one. We are not like the tea party. The underlying premise of the tea party movement is that the system is fixable.”
Naylor rattles off the stark indicators of the nation’s decline, noting that the United States stands near the bottom among industrialized countries in voter turnout, last in health care, last in education and highest in homicide rates, mortality, STDs among juveniles, youth pregnancy, abortion and divorce. The nation, he notes grimly, has trillions in deficits it can never repay, is beset by staggering income disparities, has destroyed its manufacturing base and is the planet’s most egregious polluter and greediest consumer of fossil fuels. With some 40 million Americans living in poverty, tens of millions more in a category called “near poverty” and a permanent underclass trapped by a real unemployment rate of 17 percent, there is ample tinder for internal combustion. If we do not undertake a dramatic reversal soon, he asserts, the country and the global environment will implode with catastrophic consequences.
The secessionist movement is gaining ground in several states, especially Texas, where elected officials increasingly have to contend with secessionist sentiments.
Lockheed Still Tops Misconduct Charts, But No Misconduct Pattern for Over a Third of Top Gov't Contractors
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is releasing its updated Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), with a new top 100 ranking based on the fiscal year 2009 data of USAspending.gov. POGO's release is concurrent with the operational date for the federal government's contractor responsibility database — the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) — which will not be publicly accessible.
For 27 of the top 100 recipients of federal contract dollars, POGO did not find any instances of misconduct. "The fact that over a quarter of the top 100 contractors have no known instances of misconduct is further evidence that we should not accept contractor misconduct as a cost of doing business," said POGO Investigator Neil Gordon.
An additional 11 contractors in the top 100 have only one known instance, showing that more than one-third of the companies in the database do not show a pattern of misconduct.
However, 63 contractors did have multiple instances of misconduct, and once again Lockheed Martin tops the ranking with 50 instances of civil, criminal, or administrative misconduct since 1995. In FY 2009, Lockheed Martin received almost $40 billion in federal contract awards. Read more.
Launched in October 2003, Cageprisoners is a human rights organization dedicated to raising the "awareness of the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay" and other War on Terror victims. As a "comprehensive resource," six words explain its mission: "education, campaign, support, motivation, co-operation (and) prevention" for its efforts to educate the public, campaign for Guantanamo and other detainee repatriations or their asylum, and have prisoner rights guaranteed under international law, including humane treatment not to be:
- indefinitely detained;
- disappeared; or
- denied proper legal representation, due process, judicial fairness, and access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), medical personnel and families.
In April 2009, its report titled, "Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in renditions and torture" followed its same-titled 2006 report. Part I covered 13 cases with evidence based on detainee testimonies, interviews with security service officials, and other research.
Part II updated it (including 16 other cases - 29 in all), focusing on Britain's claim to be a human rights leader. Stating it ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2003, its practices belie its commitment.
Prior to 9/11, Britain became complicit in America's War on Terror, and the worst of its crimes, including renouncing the rule of law, due process, and judicial fairness in persecuting innocent people, subjecting them to barbaric torture, other abuses, and long internments.
Muslims were targets of choice for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and at times charity. They've been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and bogus charges, convicted in sham proceedings, then incarcerated as political prisoners for practicing Islam at the wrong time in America and Britain.
Targets were kidnapped, illegally detained, then extrajudicially disappeared to black sites, called extraordinary or irregular rendition, or the practice of forcibly transferring someone from one nation to another. The term is undefined in law.
From Peter Tucker, WPFW Pacifica Radio:
A group of us who are opposed to DC's mandate that sixth grade girls receive the controversial HPV vaccine testified at the DC Council before the Health Committee on Wednesday morning at a hearing on the DC Department of Health budget. The Chairman of the Committee, David Catania, who is responsible for creating the mandate, could not respond to Emily Tarsell's testimony.
Ms. Tarsell lost her daughter, Christina, 18 days after Chris was vaccinated with her third dose of Gardasil. Chris had shown signs of complications after the second dose, but since doctors don't always forewarn those receiving the HPV vaccine about the possible side effects, Ms. Tarsell had no idea that it was Gardasil that was causing the complications and that further vaccination could make things worse for her daughter.
Ms. Tarsell is a psychologist and she has merged her grief from losing her only child with her scientific skills and has become an expert on Gardasil. Among other things, she has started a website in honor of Chris (Gardasil and Unexplained Deaths). After giving her amazing testimony, as she was riding in a car to Union Station to catch a train back to Baltimore on her way home to northern Maryland, I got to interview her. Click to listen. The interview aired Wednesday evening on Spectrum Today on WPFW 89.3 FM
She is truly an amazing woman. Please spread this far and wide.
Note: For further shocking information on this, read gardasildad's comment here.
I'm Lila Garrett host of CONNECT THE DOTS Monday mornings 7 on KPFK 90.7 fm). On April 26th we discuss how Corporate America continues to call the shots:
- John Nichols author of the new book, OUR MEDIA NOT THEIRS, whacks press prejudice which gives small right wing rallies big coverage and big progressive rallies almost none at all.
- Bob Edgar, President & CEO of Common Cause on combating the recent Supreme Ct Decision which empowers Corporations to buy our elections with unlimited contributions.
- Marcy Winograd, jobs & peace candidate for Congress climbing in the polls as she continues to challenge war hawk incumbent Jane Harman in the California's 36th district. Winograd, for the people; Harman for the corporations. A real choice here.
Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)
KPFK 90.7 FM in LA; 98.7 Santa Barbara
Airs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.
To pod cast or download the broadcast just use this link:
Each show is on line for three months.