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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
The American Political Tradition
By Ray McGovern
Text of Ray McGovern’s prepared remarks at rally before John Yoo speaks this afternoon at the University of Virginia:
This morning I was reading the 11th grade AP American History textbook used in my granddaughter here in Charlottesville.
The textbook is titled: "The American Political Tradition and the Men who Made It." The author is Richard Hofstadter; the book has been around since 1948....almost as long as I have been around. It discusses the basics--the assumptions behind American ideals and American politics. It is what I was taught.
What the author is most clear about is the influence of Mr. Jefferson on other distinguished statesmen....including those not privileged to be Virginians — like Abraham Lincoln, who was a real Republican.
Back From Iraq, Injured War-Zone Workers Fight Insurance Giant AIG, Face Financial Ruin Civilian Contractors Accuse Insurer of Continuing To 'Delay and Deny' Claims
By Avni Patel | ABC News
Civilian contractors who were injured or wounded while supporting American troops in Iraq continue to face long battles with insurance giant AIG for payment of their disability claims, despite Congressional inquiries and calls to reform the system that has handled tens of thousands of disability claims from employees of overseas contractors.
The injured workers, including some wounded by small-arms fire or IEDs during insurgent attacks, complain that AIG has continued to "delay and deny" their claims nearly a year after a joint investigation by ABC News, ProPublica, and the Los Angeles Times first exposed serious problems with AIG's handling of disability claims under a government-funded insurance system. An analysis found that AIG challenged nearly half of the claims involving the most serious injuries.
"They will spend whatever it takes, or do whatever it takes, to berate, belittle and humiliate us," said Bill Carlisle, an injured Arkansas man who drove trucks in Iraq for nearly two years. Read more.
America's Secret Prisons
By Stephen Lendman
On January 28 in TomDispatch.com, Anand Gopal headlined, "Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the 'Black Jail,' and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan," recounting unreported US media stories about killings, abductions, detentions, interrogations, and torture in "a series of prisons on US military bases around the country." Bagram prison, for example, is "a facility with a notorious reputation for abusive behavior," including brutalizing torture and cold-blooded murder.
Even worse is the "Black Jail," a facility consisting of individual windowless concrete cells with bright 24-hour lighting, described by one former detainee as "the most dangerous and fearful place" in which prisoners endure appalling treatment.
The pattern is predictable. US/NATO convoys are attacked or reports of Taliban forces are received. Americans respond accordingly, rounding up suspects, mostly innocent civilians, and detaining them for interrogations, torture, abuse and degrading treatment - not just in Afghanistan but in secret black sites globally, according to a January 26 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) report detailing practices engaged in by various countries including America, by far the world's worst offender in its war on terror - one waged against humanity for unchallengeable power and total global dominance.
Please click below to hear democratic consultant Bob Fertik discuss how American democracy is at stake due to the Supreme Court decision to allow unfettered corporate spending, including foreign corporate dollars, on U.S. elections: Listen to Bob Fertik on the Bill Press Show
1. Binding pledges from corporations not to buy or sell election ads
2. Strict laws against election spending by corporations with foreign owners, and by recipients of Federal contracts, bailouts, and subsidies. For other U.S. corporations, shareholders must approve election ads
3. Clean elections through publicly-funded Federal and state campaigns
4. A Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling so Congress and states can outlaw all corporate election spending
Walmart Fires Cancer Patient with Prescription for Medical Marijuana
Man Who Earned Associate of the Year Honors Fired by Employer Even Though Medical Marijuana Legal
By Tahman Bradley | ABC News
Even though Michigan resident Joseph Casias had a prescription from his doctor for medical marijuana, he was fired after a positive test for the substance by his employer, Walmart.
The news last November he'd been terminated was devastating for Casias, 29, who took great pride in his job, once earning the honor of Associate of the Year.
"It hurts. It hurts because I care. I care a lot about the store. I always wanted to make sure I do well," he told ABC News.
Casias started taking the medicine last June to cope with pain from sinus cancer and a brain tumor. He says the rare form of cancer causes him pain constantly and he almost died when he was first diagnosed.
Casias sprained his knee at work last November and underwent the routine drug test that follows all workplace injuries. Questioned about his positive test, Casias told management about his condition and presented a state card authorizing his marijuana use for medical purposes, but he was fired anyway. Casias says management told him Walmart does not honor medical marijuana cards. Read more.
In December, we argued the urgent need to make public A.I.G.'s emails and "key internal accounting documents and financial models." A.I.G.'s schemes were at the center of the economic meltdown. Three months later, a year-long report by court-appointed bank examiner Anton Valukas makes it abundantly clear why such investigations are critical to the recovery of our financial system. Every time someone takes a serious look, a new scandal emerges.
The damning 2,200-page report, released last Friday, examines the reasons behind Lehman's failure in September 2008. It reveals on and off balance-sheet accounting practices the firm's managers used to deceive the public about Lehman's true financial condition. Our investigations have shown for years that accounting is the "weapon of choice" for financial deception. Valukas's findings reveal how Lehman used $50 billion in "repo" loans to fool investors into thinking that it was on sound financial footing. As our December co-author Frank Partnoy recently explained as part of a major report of the Roosevelt Institute, "Make Markets Be Markets," such abusive off-balance accounting was and is endemic. It was a major cause of the financial crisis, and it will lead to future crises.
According to emails described in the report, CEO Richard Fuld and other senior Lehman executives were aware of the games being played and yet signed off on quarterly and annual reports. Lehman's auditor Ernst & Young knew and kept quiet.
The Valukas report also exposes the dysfunctional relationship between the country's main regulatory bodies and the systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) they are supposed to be policing. The NY Fed, the regulatory agency led by then FRBNY President Geithner, has a clear statutory mission to promote the safety and soundness of the banking system and compliance with the law. Yet it stood by while Lehman deceived the public through a scheme that FRBNY officials likened to a "three card monte routine" (p. 1470). The report states: Read more.
Note: The bookstore links are not working yet, but will be soon.
You gotta see this! [Video above.] If this doesn't convince you that Timothy Geithner knew about the securities shenanigans that were going on at Lehman, than I don't know what will.
Keep in mind, that Geithner ran Lehman through 3 "stress tests" prior to bankruptcy; all of which Lehman failed, and yet, nothing was done. Anton R. Valukas--the examiner who wrote the 2,200 page investigative-report which was released on Thursday-- has provided plenty of information detailing Lehman's “materially misleading” accounting and “actionable balance sheet manipulation.”
In other words, they cooked the books. Read more.
The activist-police clashes in the sixties were bloody and violent. They were loud and terrible, and they made the news. Black protesters were attacked by police dogs. The moment the populace saw those images, everything changed. “The black community was instantaneously consolidated behind King,” said David Vann, who would later become mayor of Birmingham.
Now, imagine if dogs hadn’t been used, but the police instead utilized “non-lethal personal suppression projectiles.” In this world, the civil rights protesters in the sixties didn’t scream and fight. They just got kind of loopy, smiled, and walked home. Yes, technically the police prevented injuries, but the larger damage is much more severe. The police prevented political change. That may be a good thing for the regime of the moment, but it’s a bad thing for justice and society at large.
Bob Herbert recently wrote about the overzealous enforcement of “peace officers” assigned to New York City schools. The officers are accused of detaining, searching, handcuffing, and arresting students for silly things like drawing on desks, or handling — not using, but handling — cell phones in school.
In one case, a safety officer kicked in the door of a stall in the boys’ bathroom, wounding a student’s head. The officer’s response to questioning about the matter was: “That’s life. It will stop bleeding.”
Another student, this time a 5-year-old, was shipped off to a hospital psychiatric ward for throwing a tantrum.
These absurd reactions to normal childhood behavior is all part of “Zero Tolerance.” Six-year-old Zachary Christie faced disciplinary action after bringing a Cub Scout utensil that can serve as a knife, fork, and spoon to school. Apparently, the state of Delaware is terrified of children shanking each other, and after all, it’s the era of Zero Tolerance. Read more.
Texas public school students no longer would hear the terms "capitalism" or "free market" under new social studies curriculum standards the State Board of Education is developing.
All references will be limited to "free enterprise" after an 8-7 board vote.
Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, pleaded with the board not to change the style recommended by board-appointed experts who proposed "free enterprise" with "capitalist, free market" is parenthesis.
"A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this (compromise)," Hardy said. "This board is getting too specific. Leave it as it is."
State law requires the term "free enterprise," although college students use "capitalism" and "free market" descriptions. Read more.
20 March Peace Demonstrations still on Despite Pre-Protest Suppression of Dissent
By Robert L. Hanafin | Veterans Today
The government and national and local law enforcement agencies are now engaged in a nationally coordinated effort to stamp out the exercise of classic grassroots organizing and dissent against the continued occupation of Iraq and war for Defense Industry profits in Afghanistan.
Protest organizers such as those speaking out below vow to never surrender to this Police State campaign that aims to intimidate and bankrupt the progressive movement. They are fighting back. Most importantly, they continue to mobilize despite police harassment.
They ask for our support by coming to the March 20 demonstrations and by bringing our friends, families, co-workers and fellow students. The voice of dissent will not be silenced.
Last Sunday night, March 6, volunteers in LA were arrested for allegedly putting up three posters announcing the March 20th Peace demonstrations to be held on that area. Peace activists were charged with felony vandalism and kept in jail on $20,000 bail for each of them. Thanks to volunteers coming together, they were able to raise bail money....
In Washington, D.C., Peace activists have also been hit with another wave of fines for March 20th political posters. These thousands of dollars of new fines are on top of an unprecedented $70,000 fines from the two most recent Peace mobilizations....
Those in the federal government, local law enforcement or pro-war movements in general who deprive others of their constitutional and civil rights must be held accountable and liable for their constitutional wrongs. This is necessary so that our government and law enforcement figures, and others who might follow in their footsteps, are deterred from the constitutional violations that have grown far too frequent, during the Bush and Obama administrations, from ever recurring again. No remedy is comprehensive unless it works to prevent recurrence and protects the rights of all. Read more.
Lyndeborough, NH Passes Warrant Article Prohibiting Concealed Vote Counting By Computers Or Any Other Method
Any citizen in New Hampshire can bring a petition article to their Town Warrant by securing the signatures of at least 25 registered voters. The article is then added to the Town Warrant to be voted on in Town meeting. Today, the citizens of Lyndeborough resoundingly approved enacting into the town's laws the following warrant article regarding the counting of votes. I hope that NH citizens all around the state will enact the same law in their town at next year's Town Meetings.
Here is the petition citizens signed to add the article below regarding the counting of votes to the Town Warrant:
A senior adviser to former US President George W Bush has defended tough interrogation techniques, saying their use helped prevent terrorist attacks....
He said waterboarding, which simulates drowning, should not be considered torture....
"Yes, I'm proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They're appropriate, they're in conformity with our international requirements and with US law." Read more, watch Rove in video.
Doris "Granny D" Haddock died peacefully today in her Dublin, New Hampshire family home at 7:18 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, 2010. She was 100 years old. Born in 1910 in Laconia, New Hampshire, she attended Emerson College and lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. She was an activist for her community and for her country, remaining active until the return of chronic respiratory problems four days ago.
By David Swanson, FreeSpeechForPeople
The damage from the Supreme Court's decision in "Citizens United v. FEC" continues to spread as feared. Newly emboldened corporations are suing to overturn state laws that restrict corporate spending on politics:
"A pro-natural resource development group [how's that for spin?] and a Bozeman painting company asked a Helena District Court on Monday to strike down Montana’s 1912 ban on corporate donations and expenditures to political campaigns to comply with a January U.S. Supreme Court ruling."
Meanwhile, the new third branch of government (the other two being the Democratic and Republican parties), the institution that had predicted in an amicus brief that it would be the largest beneficiary of "Citizens United," is now becoming just that. Here's an LA Times headline:
H. R. 4729
To clarify the situations in which a corporation may be treated as a person under Federal law.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 2, 2010
Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To clarify the situations in which a corporation may be treated as a person under Federal law.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. TREATMENT OF CORPORATION AS A PERSON.
The public is angry. Why should the public pay for the bankers mistakes. Iceland blogger Halldor Sigurdsson
Who cleans up the mess when ignorant, greedy bankers rack up massive debt then go broke? The people of Iceland made a strong statement Saturday. The sins of big bankers and government regulators shouldn't fall on the citizens. By a 93% to 2% margin, they voted down a proposal requiring them to cover bad debt incurred by one of the nation’s oldest and largest banks. Covering the debt would have cost Iceland's 317,000 citizens around $17,000 each.
Iceland's national referendum was the first opportunity for the people of any nation to vote directly on who pays when the financial elite fail.
As citizens voted, Iceland's Prime Minister was dismissing the importance of the vote and promising to negotiate a payment scheme obligating citizen subsidies for bad debt created by Iceland's beyond-bad bankers.
Icelanders are struggling with a collapsed economy. Businesses are failing at a startling rate, unemployment is soaring, and the prospects for the future are simply not there. Yet the British and Dutch governments demand that their swindled citizens receive compensation from beleaguered Icelanders. Where were the British and Dutch central banks and politicians while their citizens were being fleeced? Aren't the rulers of these countries aware that the failed Icelandic bank was owned by wealth investors, not the citizens?
Iceland's size and the very dire circumstances offer a focused preview for citizens around the world. The banks make bad deal after bad deal. When they're about to fail, the government steps in with a taxpayer bailout. It doesn't matter which faction of the narrow political spectrum is in charge. The message is starkly clear -- when the banks fail, you pay. The solution is presented to citizens as a fait accompli, a mandatory submission to indefinite financial slavery for the benefit of the failed financial elite. The will of the people doesn't matter even when there's a direct vote.
The failed financial enterprises that control global commerce are opening their new show on the road in Iceland. Greek citizens are next in line for indentured servitude, thanks to their lying leaders and Wall Street's Goldman Sachs.
I just read this in an article about Michael Connell's suspicious death:
"Ohio’s secretary of state in 2004 was a fiercely partisan Christian named Ken Blackwell. Blackwell had hired a company called GDC Limited to run the IT systems, which had subcontracted the job to Michael Connell’s company, GovTech. Connell had in turn sub-contracted SMARTech, an IT firm based in Chattanooga, to act, it was claimed, as a backup server.
“By looking at the URLs on the Web site, we discovered that there were three points on election night when SMARTech’s computers took over from the secretary of state,” says Arnebeck. “It is during that period that we believe votes were manipulated.”
In computer jargon it is known as a man-in-the-middle attack. Read more.
Urban Journal Features Bob Fertik of Democrats.com Today Speaking On Stopping Corporate Election Funding
Keith Murphy, President of Conceptz Communications wrote today:
The Urban Journal show airs at 8pm EST-5pm PST on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio on Ch 169, but the show can be heard right now around the world at The Urban Journal. Feel Free to post on your websites or to send out via Facebook and email.
Seg. 1 Mario Flores, Habitat for Humanity International
Seg. 2 Martha Love, Census Representative
Seg. 3 Bob Fertik, Democrats.com
Seg. 4 Derek Dingle, Editor in Chief, Black Enterprise Magazine
...you can save thousands by hiring a medical billing advocate to find and fight hospital billing errors for you. Eighty percent of hospital bills contain errors, according to Medical Billing Advocates of America.
Millions of Americans...have health insurance plans that charge "coinsurance" rather than a flat co-pay. Coinsurance means you are charged a percentage of your medical care. The most common cost-sharing arrangement is an 80/20 plan, where the insurance company pays 80 percent of your bill and you pay the other 20 percent. Twenty percent of a big bill for a major hospitalization is a lot of money.
Insurance policies have maximum lifetime limits that they will pay out. Often, those lifetime limits are not as generous as they should be, and you may have no choice if you are insured through your employer and not given many options. Therefore, you want to keep your costs down as much as possible to stay away from that lifetime limit on coverage. Read more.
End-of-Life Warning at $618,616 Makes Me Wonder Was It Worth It
By Amanda Bennett | Bloomberg
Along with my colleague Charles Babcock, I spent months poring over some 4,750 pages of documents collected from six hospitals, four insurers, Medicare, three oncologists, and a surgeon. Those papers tell the story of a system filled with people doing their best. And they raise complex questions about a health-care system that consumes 17 percent of the economy.
Days to Decipher
As I leafed through the stack of documents, it was easy to see why 31 percent of the money spent on health care goes to paperwork and administration, according to research published in 2003 by the New England Journal of Medicine. That number has either stayed the same or grown, said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the study cited by the journal. Some bills took days to decipher. What did “opd patins t” or “bal xfr ded” mean? How could I tell if the dose charged was the same as the dose prescribed?
The documents revealed an economic system in which the sellers don’t set and the buyers don’t know the prices. The University of Pennsylvania hospital charged more than 12 times what Medicare at the time reimbursed for a chest scan. One insurer paid a hospital for 80 percent of the $3,232 price of a scan, while another covered 24 percent. Insurance companies negotiated their own rates, and neither my employers nor I paid the difference between the sticker and discounted prices.
‘It’s Completely Insane’
In this economic system, prices of goods and services bear little relation to the demand for them or their cost to make -- or, as it turns out, the good or harm they do. Read more.
...hiring Ugandans is cheap. Since the first Ugandans were sent to Iraq in late 2005, competition from other developing countries in Africa and the Indian subcontinent has seen the government cut the minimum wage from $1,300 to $600 a month. That compares with the $15,000 that one industry insider estimated an American guard could make each month. Nevertheless, competition is fierce, and for those Ugandans who land a job, Iraq can prove a bonanza.
Under a relentless equatorial sun and the gaze of her Zimbabwean instructor, Juliet Kituye quickly reassembles her AK-47. Next to her, a young man in a ripped red T-shirt discharges imaginary rounds at an invisible target.
On a disused soccer pitch in the suburbs of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, 300 hopefuls are being put through rudimentary firearms training. Many of the recruits are raw and their drills occasionally lurch towards slapstick. One trainee lets the magazine slip out of his automatic rifle and onto the red earth, someone else about turns right instead of left. All of them share the same dream, however: going to Iraq.
As President Barack Obama announces plans to withdraw US troops from Iraq, thousands of young Ugandans are increasingly desperate to be sent to the war-torn country. Already, the Ugandan government says there are more than 10,000 men and women from this poverty-stricken East African nation working as private security guards in Iraq. Hired out to multibillion-dollar companies for hundreds of dollars a month, they risk their lives seeking fortunes protecting US Army bases, airports, and oil firms. Read more.
EXCLUSIVE: Waterboarding Too Dangerous, Internal DoD Memo Reveals
By Jeffrey Kaye | Truthout
In recent weeks, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign defending the efficacy of waterboarding, going so far as to say that the torture technique sanctioned by the Bush administration is not only safe, but is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
On Tuesday, in an interview with "Fox News," John Yoo, the former Justice Department attorney who was the principal author of legal memoranda that cleared the way for CIA interrogators to waterboard "war on terror" detainees and subject them to other brutal torture techniques, asserted that waterboarding was harmless.
In his defense of the practice, Yoo cited the thousands of US servicemen who have undergone SERE training and said, "we don't think it amounts to torture because we would not be doing it to our own soldiers otherwise." Read more.
Iraq Opens Up to Foreign Oil Majors
Western producers like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Shell are enjoying their best access to Iraq's southern oil fields since 1972, but a weaker government could be on the way
By Anthony DiPaola and Daniel Williams | Business Week
BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. took the best deal they could get in Iraq last year when they won the largest oil contracts since addam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Oil companies may wait a long time to get a better one.
Parliamentary elections may produce a weak or unstable government incapable of tendering new oil contracts, said Samuel Ciszuk, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. He said he does expect the 10 technical-services contracts won by Exxon, BP and 20 other companies to be honored.
"One thing that's fairly certain is there won't be a strong coalition, so it may take time for the next government to get its act together," Ciszuk said in a telephone interview....
The contracts awarded in two auctions, which pay a per-barrel fee for development work rather than granting a share in the production itself, will cost the companies a total of about $100 billion to develop deposits, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said in December. Iraq, with the world's third-largest oil reserves, will earn about $200 billion a year....
U.S. troop levels will fall to 50,000 from the current 97,000 by August of this year, according to a schedule laid out by President Barack Obama in February 2009. All troops will leave by the end of 2011 under an agreement with the Iraqi government reached by President George W. Bush....Read more.
Torture Suit Naming Rumsfeld Clears Hurdle | CBS News
Judge Allows Hearing for Lawsuit Accusing Former Defense Secretary of Responsibility in Alleged Torture of Americans in Iraq
While in custody, they were subjected to sleep deprivation, long hours of interrogation, blasting music, threats, hunger and a practice known as "walling" in which subjects are blindfolded and walked into walls, according to the suit.
The suit describes such practices as forms of torture and alleges Rumsfeld personally took part in determining such methods were acceptable for use by the military in Iraq.
A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm.
U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven any of their claims. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.
Andersen said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."
Andersen did throw out two of the lawsuit's three counts but gave former contractors Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel the green light to go forward with a third count alleging they were unconstitutionally tortured under procedures personally approved by Rumsfeld. Read more.
Barry C. Lynn's "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction"
By Stephen Lendman | Blogspot
Lynn is director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of "Too Big to Fail" about the dangers of monopoly capitalism. He will be Stephen's radio guest on Saturday, March 6th, on the Progressive Radio Network.
He expands on the threat in his newest book titled, "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction," explaining today's peril given the power of predatory giants.
They control governments, the courts, war and peace, dominant information sources, and essential services, including health care, air and water, what we eat and drink, where we live, what we wear, and school curricula to the highest levels. They own genetic code patents, basic human life elements to be commodified the same as toothpaste, tomatoes or toilet paper.
Omnipotent, they plunder recklessly, ruthlessly at our expense. They're private tyrannies, endangering humanity, basic freedoms, environmental sustainability, and planetary survival. Without exaggeration, they're unaccountable, unchecked "weapons of mass destruction."
In "Cornered," Lynn explains the danger and urgency to address it. Our lives and futures depend on it.