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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Myth of Freedom in the Land of the Free

The US touts itself as the land of free, but it has laws which are
designed to crush criticisms of the state.

By John Stoehr
Al Jazeera.com
March 30, 2012

In 1893, a massive financial panic sent demand for the Pullman
Palace Car Company into a downward spiral.

The luxury rail car company reacted by slashing workers' wages
and increasing their work load.

After negotiations with ownership broke down the following year,
the American Railway Union, in solidarity with Pullman factory
workers, launched a boycott that eventually shut down railroads
across the US.

It was a full-scale insurrection, as the late historian Howard Zinn
put it, that soon "met with the full force of the capitalist state".

The US Attorney General won a court order to stop the strike,
but the union and its leader, Eugene V Debs, refused to quit.

President Grover Cleveland, over the objections of Illinois
governor, ordered federal troops to Chicago under the pretense
of maintaining public safety.

Soldiers fired their bayoneted rifles into the crowd of 5,000,
killing 13 strike sympathisers. Seven hundred, including Debs,
were arrested.

Debs wasn't a socialist before the strike, but he was after. The
event radicalised him.

"In the gleam of every bayonet and the flash of every rifle," Debs
said later on, "the class struggle was revealed".

I imagine a similar revelation for the tens of thousands of Americans
who participated in last fall's Occupy Wall Street protests.

As you know, the movement began in New York City and spread
quickly, inspiring activists in the biggest cities and the smallest
hamlets.

Outraged by the broken promise of the US and inspired by democratic revolts of Egypt and Tunisia, they assembled to protest economic injustice and corrupt corporate power in Washington.

Yet the harder they pushed, the harder they were pushed back
with violence.

Protesters met with police wearing body armour, face shields,
helmets and batons; police legally undermined Americans' right
to assemble freely with "non-lethal" weaponry like tear gas,
rubber bullets and sonic grenades.

There was no need for the president to call in the army. An army,
as Mayor Bloomberg quipped, was already there.

Before Occupy Wall Street, many protesters were middle- and
upper-middle class college graduates who could safely assume
the constitutional guarantee of their civil liberties.

But afterward, not so much. Something like scales fell from their
eyes, and when they arose anew, they had been baptised by the
fire of political violence.

Income inequality isn't just about justice; it's about freedom, too.

One view of freedom minimises the state's role in an individual's life
and maximises markets so that individuals are free to risk whatever
they want to risk to be whatever they want to be.

Another view sees the obligation of the state to hedge against the
risk of the marketplace so that individuals can feel secure enough
to be what they want to be.

Obviously, the libertarian view favours someone who can afford
risk; the socialist view favours someone who can't.

One view has confidence in the market while the other is skeptical.

One view sees income inequality as natural while the other sees it
as politically oppressive.

Emmanuel Saez, an economist from UC Berkeley, tried to quantify
that oppression.

He found that during the first year of the recovery from the 2008
crisis 93 per cent of incomes gains went to the 1 per cent.

"Top 1 per cent incomes grew by 11.6 per cent, while bottom 99
per cent incomes grew only by 0.2 per cent," he said in an update
of a previous study. "... Such an uneven recovery can help explain
the recent public demonstrations against inequality."

Moreover, income for the 99 per cent grew by 20 per cent from
1993-2000, but during the Bush years, it grew by only 6.8 per cent.

It's worth saying again that this is not a natural occurrence of the
free and open marketplace.

The upward redistribution of wealth is the concrete result of
politics and policy - one might even say socialism for the rich,
capitalism for everyone else.

Or should I say authoritarianism for everyone else.

Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the US has spent about $635bn
to militarise the country's local police forces. It's ostensibly an
effort to better prepare communities in case of another attack.

But, as Stephan Salisbury reported recently, there has been a
cultural transformation, too.

"The truth is that virtually the entire apparatus of government
has been mobilised and militarised right down to the university
campus."

When the state makes a fetish of security, as the US has, it
becomes hard to tell the difference between acts of civil
disobedience and terrorism.

So it's tempting to say two currents conspired to increasingly
limit the freedom of individuals in the land of the free.

One is the funnelling of wealth upward so that the top 10 per
cent owns and controls half the wealth.

The other is the organising of state violence to protect the
oligarchy in case anyone gets wise to what's happening.

Perhaps there's a third: the executing of state violence in the
name of security.

These collided in an instant in November. New York City cops,
under the orders of a billionaire mayor to clear out Zuccotti Park,
suppressed the rights of thousands of Americans who had been
protesting the oligarchy's power over their lives.

Later on, it was revealed that the real estate firm that owned the
park had previously taken more than $174.5 million in tax-payer
subsidies to rebuild after September 11.

Not only was the state reacting to the threat of collective action; it
was defrauding the public of its contractual right to use the park
after having paid for it.

Given all this, I sense the depth of Zinn's line about "the full-force
of the capitalist state".

Occupy protesters aren't just facing local police; they are facing an
entire system bent on breaking dissent and protecting the status quo.

And I sense this is why Eugene Debs became a radical after
experiencing such political violence.

How can you play by the rules when the 1 per cent writes, and
keeps rewriting, the rules?

The only way to fight back is to fight back against the entire system.

In 1918, Debs visited three socialists in jail for dodging the World
War I draft.

Afterward, he walked across the street to give an impromptu speech that enraptured onlookers for hours.

Because of this speech, Debs was eventually found guilty of
violating the Espionage Act, a deeply un-American set of laws that
are still in effect (in fact, the Obama administration is using the
laws against Bradley Manning, who leaked secrets to WikiLeaks).

These laws are designed to crush criticism of the state.

The irony of Debs' time may be the irony of ours:

"They tell us we live in this great free republic; that our institutions
are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people," Debs
said to his audience. "That is too much, even for a joke."


John Stoehr is the editor of the New Haven Advocate and a lecturer
at Yale.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/20123199552
3614214.html

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hitler’s Blackberry

Hitler’s Blackberry

By Dan Denning
The Daily Reckoning
March 28, 2012

Poor old Ben Bernanke has a deflation phobia. He sees it
everywhere the way the kid in The Sixth Sense saw dead
people.

And Bernanke is equally terrified of falling stock prices (and their
effect on consumer confidence). Falling stock prices are what some
people call deflation, or asset price deflation.

Bernanke, the governor of the US Federal Reserve, believes the
Fed made the Depression a Great Depression by raising interest
rates too soon during the US recovery.

He won’t make that mistake again! He will simply not allow stocks
to fall.

The Fed chairman’s recent speech to the National Association
for Business Economics lit a fire under US stock prices. All the
US indexes charged ahead.

And even gold got off the mat to close higher. Stocks are addicted
to lower interest rates and yesterday they got a nice satisfying hit.
Bernanke is on the record for saying he’ll keep US rates low until
2014.

Yesterday he repeated his willingness to keep rates low, saying,
“Further significant improvements in the unemployment rate will
likely require a more-rapid expansion of production and demand
from consumers and businesses, a process that can be supported
by continued accommodative policies.”

It’s a bizarre world.

The Fed chairman thinks lower rates are needed to produce
more economic growth. Growth will produce jobs. Jobs will
lead to spending. Only then can interest rates — the price
of Fed money — be raised.

It’s a shame he can’t understand that the US rate policy is
unsound. And since the rest of the world more or less keys
off from US interest rates, an unsound US monetary policy
leads to an unsound global monetary policy.

By “unsound” we mean a policy that keeps interest rates too low,
leads to asset price inflation, and a giant boom in debt. This is all
well-worn territory to long-time Daily Reckoning readers.

If there’s anything comforting about the tenacity of Bernanke’s
stupidity it’s that you have time to narrow down your stock
holdings in a rising market.

It’s much better to exit the market when stocks are floating
along on a sea of liquidity than when they are crashing down.
But then that’s the issue now, isn’t it?

As scared as Bernanke is of the 1930s, he and his central banking
colleagues around the world are even more scared of another
Lehman Brothers. This was a point we made at our Sydney
conference.

The lesson of Lehman is that central bankers will simply not allow
another major financial institution to fail. They can’t afford to.

The financial system is still so leveraged and interconnected
(mostly through the derivatives market) that regular infusions
of credit and the monetization of government debt are required
to keep it at a steady level.

In some ways, the deflation you’d normally expect at the end of a
credit bubble is actually happening right now — it’s just disguised
by the huge growth in central bank balance sheets.

In other words, stock markets have become a giant charade. The
indexes don’t communicate useful or accurate information.

Prices have become more influenced by the supply of credit in the
system than the underlying earnings of the businesses on listed
exchanges.

The whole thing looks suspiciously like a racket designed only to
benefit the banks, the brokers, and the bureaucrats who nominally
regulate them.

It’s kind of refreshing to say that, although we concede we could be
wrong. It’s refreshing because once you acknowledge that the game
you’re being asked to play is rigged, you can choose not to play the
game.

This makes your asset allocation decisions a lot easier. For instance,
we bought more gold bullion this morning.

Not everyone agrees with our view that these periodic rallies are
great times to liquidate portions of your portfolio. For example,
Goldman Sachs released a report last week making the case for
stocks.

The report had a lot of big words and complicated arguments.
But the basic argument was that stocks will do better than
bonds, especially if the Fed keeps rates low.

People seem to forget that businesses exist to provide cash
flow to their owners by providing services to their customers.

Instead of an investment strategy that depends on the Fed’s monetary policy, why not invest in businesses that grow their earnings without using leverage?

That seems like a better long-term bet.

In any event, the Fed’s willingness to keep pumping credit into
the financial system gives you time, or at least the illusion of time.

Time is a valuable commodity.

It’s so valuable you can’t even buy it or sell it. You can only
maximize it by using it to your best advantage. These rallies
should be sold.

This brings us back to the code breakers of Bletchley Park.

These men were brilliant. But they would never have become important if it hadn’t been for the hubris and paranoia of Nazi Germany. Allow us to quickly explain.

You may be familiar with the story of Alan Turing. He was one
of the heroes of Bletchley Park.

He’s credited with breaking the code used on Germany’s Enigma
machines. Those machines were found especially in German U-
boats, but were used throughout the German war machine.

Turing, by the way, later became famous for being a sort of God-
father of information theory. His work led to the development of
the first real computers (Turing machines).

The video we linked to yesterday was so interesting because it
showed that the Colossus machine built by Tommy Flowers, and
based on the mathematics of Bill Tutte, was actually the world’s
first electronic and digital computer.

But the Enigma machines were not used by Hitler or the German
High Command for their most private and secret communications.

Those conversations were conducted via encrypted messages
sent by a Lorenz machine, or Hitler’s Blackberry, as one
historian has called it. The German word for this machine
is Geheimschreiber, or secret writer.

The British called the code generated by the Lorenz machines
“Tunny”. Bill Tutte cracked Tunny in 1941. It was an amazing
achievement, but it wouldn’t have been possible without a mistake.

On August 30th, 1941, the German high command sent the same
message twice from Athens to Vienna. It was a 4,000-character
message that wasn’t received correctly the first time.

When it was sent a second time, the operator in Athens
didn’t change the key in which the message was encrypted.
The result was two messages sent with the same encryption.

This provided cryptographers with what they call “depth”. Depth
allows for pattern detection, but obviously requires multiple
messages with the same encryption.

There are many fascinating aspects of the story.

For example, you’d think that if the Allies could read the messages
between Hitler and his commanders as early as 1941, the whole war
would have been shortened. And in fact, it probably was. But the
Allies had to be careful about how they used the intelligence they
gathered from Tunny.

If, for example, the Allies avoided every German ambush, were
prepared for every German attack, and shot down every airplane
carrying a German officer or general, it would have been obvious
to the Germans that their communications weren’t secure and
their code had been broken.

The Allies had to use the intelligence gathered from Tunny in a way
that looked random and improbable, not in a way that looked like
they knew exactly what was coming.

Another interesting aspect is the use of pattern detection in code
breaking. It would be nice if you could do the same with stock prices.

You can’t, of course. But it is some consolation to know that there
are patterns in economic and financial history you can study. They
aren’t predictive. But they can give you a picture of what has
happened in the past. Maybe this improves your probability of
correctly preparing for the booms and busts ahead. Or maybe not.

By far the most interesting aspect of the whole affair is how
trusting the Germans were in technology. This trust was born
of a mistrust of people.

The Nazis required machine-generated secrecy because the regime
was paranoid.

It never occurred to Hitler that his unbreakable machine had been
broken. His penchant for secrecy became the proverbial Achilles heel.

We would attribute this failing not just to Hitler or to human
psychology but to the entire idea of National Socialism, or top-
down central planning.

People who believe in their own ability (and moral right) to
organize society (and economy) according to their ideals and
prejudices are naturally arrogant and possibly psychopathic.

That’s why you should never vote for anyone who believes
themselves deserving of public office.

The Nazis’ paranoid self-belief cut them off from real thinking
people capable of making sound judgments and put them at the
mercy of, in this case, machines.

It’s no coincidence that the people who support regimes like this
are little more than Turing machines that follow orders as if they
had no free will.

The non-thinking and non-questioning people of the world are
generally more compliant of tyranny. In fact, tyranny wouldn’t
be possible with them.

By contrast, the British and American code-breaking effort was full
of people that would have been excluded from the Nazi hierarchy,
or exterminated in the death camps.

Jews, gays, loners, and eccentrics all flourished in the Allied war
effort, although Turing, who was gay, was later treated shamefully
by the British government.

These societies were not afraid of using every asset they had in
order to defeat their enemies.

Systems that allow human ingenuity to flourish are far more
likely to adapt and survive in a hostile environment and
produce prosperity (or prolong life, in simpler terms).

It’s probably a bit of a stretch to call Bletchley Park (or the
Manhattan Project, for that matter) open systems. They
were ultra-secret projects, of course.

But they did draw on all the talents and strengths produced by
American, British, and European society at the time. And those
societies were all stronger because of their commitment to political
and economic liberty.

We’re referring to the bedrock strengths of liberal democratic
societies: the belief in open and honest scientific inquiry, basic
political and religious liberty, and the rule of law committed to
the protection of private rights and low taxes.

Liberal systems must sometimes defend themselves from predatory
ideologies and nation states. In this instance, the strengths of
liberal society were put in the service of defending the system
against the Axis powers.

When not mobilized for war, these strengths, at least for most
of the last 300 years, have created innovation and prosperity
for individuals in the free market.

That should be encouraging. The intuitional DNA of the Western
world is strong.

If Aristotle is right that all men by nature desire what is good, then
we will survive this current experiment in centralized government
funded by unsound money and get back to a better, more resilient
system.

Today’s system of the world can hardly be described as liberal or
democratic or open or resilient.

Institutions have been corrupted by unsound money, an intrusive
State, and the myriad bad private decisions made by people and
corporations under the influence of too much credit.

Innovation and adaptation are stifled by a commitment to the debts
incurred by corrupt politicians and lazy voters.

Our system, in other words, has become inflexible.

This inflexibility makes it brittle and fragile, even as the stewards
of the system remain supremely confident in both it and themselves.

Hitler’s Blackberry and Bernanke’s printing press are both creations
of hubris and vulnerable in the same way. Their overconfidence is
their weakness.

But in a way, we’re thankful we’ve got Ben Bernanke on the job.

Bernanke is like some misguided Spartan guarding the pass at
Thermopylae (for his paymasters in the financial world).

He’s giving them time to exit the system at a profit, passing the
losses on to tax payers.

But his commitment to the dollar-standard and low interest rates
gives you time to prepare your portfolio for the world ahead…once
the money printers are overrun by their own creation.

Regards,

Dan Denning,


Dan Denning is the author of 2005's best-selling The Bull Hunter. A
specialist in small-cap stocks, Dan draws on his network of global
contacts from his base in Melbourne, Australia, and is a frequent
contributor to The Daily Reckoning Australia.

http://dailyreckoning.com/hitlers-blackberry/

Monday, March 26, 2012

Free Ride!

Meet the Companies That Don't Even Pretend to Pay Taxes

Need something to kickstart your American Spring protest?
Consider that big corporations are happy to take our tax
dollars -- while finding new ways to skip out on Uncle Sam.

By Lynn Parramore
Alternet.org
March 26, 2012

Like me, you’re probably knee-deep in receipts and forms right
now, getting ready to pay your share in taxes so that our country
can function.

Meanwhile, many giant corporations are getting a free ride.

Fairness is one of our most treasured American values, but “scam
and dodge” has become the mantra of our corporations and the pols
who protect them.

Big business apologists like to tell us that the U.S. corporate
tax rate of 35 percent is too high, and makes companies less
“competitive” with foreign firms.

Yet we all know that corporations hire legions of wily accountants
to find loopholes that often bring their tax rate down to next to
nothing.

In 2008, Goldman Sachs paid a laughable 1.1 percent of its income
in taxes.

That same year, it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an
$800 billion bailout, courtesy of you and me.

Let’s savor that irony for a moment, as we recall that the bailout is
not all we paid for Goldman Sachs to operate its rapacious business,
which, as the cynical editors of Bloomberg recently reminded us,
apparently has no obligation to serve humanity.

We pay for its employees to be educated. We pay for the
infrastructure required to facilitate its business.

We pay a gargantuan sum in “defense spending” which essentially
funnels our tax dollars into protections and path-smoothing that
allows Goldman Sachs to operate in, and to penetrate, foreign
markets.

Paying 1.1 percent for all this largesse is surely a joke.

And an even bigger travesty is that many outsized firms pay nothing
at all, as General Electric famously managed to do in 2010, despite
showing $10.5 billion in profits.

GE is not alone. According to a report from Citizens for Tax Justice,
37 of the biggest American corporations did not pay one red cent in
taxes in 2010.

Financial services, you’ll be thrilled to know, received the largest
share of all federal tax subsidies over the last three years, despite
the fact that the size and recklessness of that industry is one of the
greatest dangers to our economic well-being.

But increasingly, the biggest punchline of all is a growing breed of
firms that are classified as “non-taxable.”

That’s right. These firms pay zilch. Nada. Zippo.

Take the case of StoneMor Partners, a firm seeking to profit from
dying baby boomers, who will need an awful lot of cemetery real
estate.

The company, whose mission is "to memorialize each life with
dignity” might add a second motto to its mission statement: “to
capitalize on each tax break with alacrity.”

StoneMor takes advantage of a special structure known as a pass
through, in which profits are passed along to investors who pay
taxes on those sums through their individual returns.

The exception has been around for decades, but lately Congress
and state governments have broadened it to encourage “entrepreneurship.”

The idea is to help small businesses, which sounds like a good thing.

Until you realize that a mammoth private equity company like
Blackstone and a massive construction firm like Bechtel, among
others, are using this kind of business organization to avoid the
taxman altogether.

The percentage of U.S. corporations structured as “nontaxable
businesses” soared from about 24 percent in 1986 to about 69
percent as of 2008, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

If you include partnerships and sole proprietors, the number
gets even bigger.

And there’s more: Up to 60 percent of all U.S. businesses with
profits of $1 million are structured as pass-throughs.

In the Wall Street Journal, John D. McKinnon points out that their
enormous popularity is “one big reason why federal corporate tax
collections amounted to just 1.3% of GDP in 2010, well below their
mark of 2.7% in 2006 and far beneath their peak of 6.1% in 1952.”

Who is in favor of this gross unfairness? Democrats and Republicans
alike have failed to make taking it on a priority.

Unsurprisingly, a GOP-backed coalition of building contractors,
beer distributors, car dealers and funeral directors has been
the most vehement in arguing that changing the rules will block
“entrepreneurship.”

Does Blackstone, the world's fifth-largest private equity firm,
really need our assistance?

The pass-through structure, in addition to being unfair, encourages
fraud that the Internal Revenue Service has a hard time spotting.

S corporations, partnerships and other pass-throughs game the system by underreporting income and overstating deductions.

Billions in uncollected taxes each year are the result of this scamming.

In an era of laid-off school teachers, uninsured children,
widespread joblessness, and crumbling roads and bridges,
this is nothing short of obscene.

As economist William Lazonick, director of the U Mass Center
for Industrial Competitiveness, put it to me in an email:

"Ordinary taxpayers should be outraged by the obsession of
business executives with tax avoidance. Our tax dollars have
played a major role in funding the physical infrastructures
and human capital that support business enterprise. Then
they pull out every trick in the book to deprive us of our fair
share of business profits. Besides reflecting a profound moral
deficit on the part of our business 'leaders,' it is a recipe
for U.S. economic decline that calls for massive tax reform."

Obviously, reform to get rid of these loopholes is wildly overdue.

Once we decide as a nation what our government needs to spend
in order to have a decent and prosperous society and what share
of total tax revenues different types of economic actors should
pay, there should be no more excuses.

And businesses that refuse to pay their share should be called by
their proper name: parasites.


Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet contributing editor. She is cofounder
of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of
'Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary
Culture.' Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/154653/Free_Ride%21_Meet_
the_Companies_That_Don%27t_Even_Pretend_to_Pay_Taxes/?page=entire

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Choice: Apathetic Decay or the Decay of Apathy

Our Choice: Apathetic Decay or the Decay of Apathy

By Mike Cotugno
End The Lie.com
March 22, 2012

Economic, political and social strife are ramping up at an
exponential rate around the world as global production and
development atrophies, promising a further proliferation of
civil decay.

Wars rage on as the ministry of truth propaganda machine whips up
the Prozac-addicted populace into a xenophobic, jingoist frenzy to
send more and more of their young men and women to fight and die
for vague and specious ends.

We are denied due process of law while the most vile wretches in
society claim power over other men through the usurpation of the
state’s monopoly on law and force, over which they have profound
sway and influence.

Millions are losing their homes and jobs and depend on food stamps
for sustenance while the already opulent and affluent pigs on Wall
Street are somehow becoming more corpulent and voracious.

The “revolving door,” the term so nonchalantly coined by
the mainstream corporate whore media for the seamless
flux of professional titles from mega-bank CEO to senator,
is a testament to the blasé attitude of high fructose corn
syrup consuming automatons to the most blatant, brazen
theft in the history of humanity.

Many, if not all of the regulatory bodies have been thoroughly
infiltrated and captured or had been initially created to only
benefit the industries they were originally intended to regulate.

A well known bank executive is on record saying while
the true power brokers are screwing us royally through
fraud and corruption, they are only “doing God’s work;”
an appropriately logical conclusion to reach as these
sociopaths believe their right to plunder the whole of
civilization is derived from the divine right of kings.

Their rapaciousness for evermore intravenous monetary injections
from the fiat kingpin at the Federal Reserve erodes the standard
of living for all as we become serfs in a neo-feudal society;
forever bound to reap the consequences of the elite’s hedonistic
indulgences, indebted by the debts of our masters.

It doesn’t matter though.

I could go on ad nauseum about the CIA getting caught trafficking
drugs and running child prostitution rings or the president giving
himself the power to kill anyone indiscriminately without trial.

It would not change anything or change the mind of anyone who
was not already aware.

This type of willful ignorance is certainly bliss, and ironically,
these despots rely on that same ignorance of their crimes to further
their agendas, and when they see that there are no consequences
to their actions, they only become more audacious and dangerous.

Apathy is the true mortal coil of my generation. But fate is bullshit.

We were not destined to be in perpetual debt for our entire lives,
living paycheck to paycheck.

Why is it that our parents could come out of high school and be
successful while we are expected to spend up to 8 years in the
prime of our lives to get a piece of paper that we have to pay
off for years, which still does not guarantee career security?

Are we the first generation in America to accept a lower standard
of living than our parents?

No, first you have to realize you have been fleeced. Lied to,
herded and sheered.

You have to fully absorb the fact that the world is not a Disney
movie and we don’t get to be what we want to be and have a
nice house and two cars and 2.5 kids.

No, in fact, statistically speaking, it’s more likely that we will be
on some type of government welfare and will have to use credit
cards to finance our eating habits.

The gap between the rich and the poor a generation ago was merely
a crack in the sidewalk that could be easily stepped over compared
to the gorge wealth discrepancies have fissured into today.

Ours and our siblings’ futures have been mortgaged off by tyrants
to stay in office just a one more term, who in turn sell their vote
to the highest bidder.

Our obliviousness is what these mischievous bastards feed off of.

The indifference to who shapes our futures and how they plan on
executing their agendas gives psychopaths carte blanche to mold
society as they wish.

We have to snap out of it. We have to become enraged, aware,
and vengeful. Just anything so we know we are still alive.

Proclaim you will not allow some pedophiles to get together in
round table discussions where they extrapolate our future in secret.

Stand up for yourself and herald that you are human. Your life has
value.

You are not in a cog in a machine that you don’t understand, you
are a sentient body with free will teeming with potential.

It is not my goal or even my responsibility to shake people out of
their listlessness; my only ambition is to offer a choice, or rather,
to show people that the choice was always there.

The choice is to wake up or to stay asleep, become aware or
consciously choose not to think.

It is an arduous task to disseminate ideas to the masses that are
contrary to the status quo without economic and political support,
but it is not impossible.

Ideas play a significant role in society and the power
these criminals have over others is largely because of
public sentiment and a complete lack of engagement.

As Samuel Adams once said “it does not require a majority to
prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush
fires in people’s minds.”

A political and intellectual revolution is underway; choose carefully
which side are you on.


Mike Cotugno is an independent investigative researcher and writer
with a passion for objective analysis and truth and is a regular
contributor to EndtheLie.com.

http://endthelie.com/2012/03/13/our-choice-apathetic-decay-or-the-decay-of-apathy/#axzz1psu9Hl3J

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Social or Anti-Social Media?

Social or Anti-Social Media?

By Frank Scott
Dissident Voice.org
March 20th, 2012

"If we want to save life and humanity, we are obliged to end
the capitalist system." — Bolivian President Evo Morales

We hear and read that the economy is rebounding – again – and
this during a multi billion dollar presidential campaign. Gee.

Threats of more foreign wars are also unrelated to politics, nor are
the signs of mental and physical breakdowns in our military which
shouldn’t worry anyone now that the economy is rebounding. Again.

Unfortunately, the corporate perspective from which everything
is looking so good still rules our consciousness but among many
subjects of the system, critical thinking is advancing.

Though sometimes very slowly, as when decent people are swept up
in emotional tsunamis by a manipulation device called social media.

An online phenomena about Invisible Children recently caused
an offline tragedy among Invisible Adult Mentalities.

The same social media that help provoke changes among people
seeking democracy also offer opportunities for an opposition to
maintain an anti-social minority’s control.

By using new manipulation devices they can confuse massive
populations in seemingly individual ways that feed into self
obsessed, ego centered consumers of culture.

Personal messages for individuals who are urged to share them
almost without limits can be even more persuasive than older
one-way mass broadcasting media.

But even as they help bring people together texting, tweeting or
twiddling in ways still not understood by most users of electronic
devices, they offer advantages to controllers of this system taking
an increasing toll on the planet and all it’s inhabitants.

The time to heed the words of Morales has never been more urgent.

Present campaigns to militarily intervene in Syria and attack Iran
are stress signs in a global economy wildly enriching fewer people
while reducing greater majorities to indebtedness, warfare and poverty.

Popular confusion is not only due to major corporate media but
also to weapons of mass disinformation that can be sent directly
into our heads by the new social media.

And whether in the Middle East or the Middle West, suffering increases for many so that a few can live in luxury.

Palestinians continue to endure an apartheid settler state financed
with massive tax payer aid from the American public, but no
tweeted online miracle seems to bring that information into the
personal lives of celebrities and millions of other people with no
lives of their own but to follow celebrities.

Meanwhile, the supposed rebirth of the auto industry in the USA
is entirely due to a tax payer financed public bailout of a private
industry which has hired many new workers, but at half the wages
of its old work force.

In Tel Aviv , Detroit or Wall Street this is great for minority
investors but it’s bad for a global majority.

And that is how all alleged foreign threats and supposed recoveries
in stock markets should be seen: they profit very few at enormous
loss to the great majority and in doing so they increase danger to
everyone’s future.

The American election will offer voters their usual choice of
lesser evil and thereby guarantee continued evil, but needed
social policies to transform reality will not be on the ballot.

Calls for public banks, a maximum wage, a tax on wealth,
health insurance for all, much more social spending and much
less warfare waste, will continue to come from outside what
is called mainstream politics but is really two wings of one
corporate party representing minority capital.

The understandably angry majority, divided into a tea party,
an occupy movement and mistaken identity groups, needs to
ultimately find common ground in shaping a democracy that
meets the needs of an entire population and not just a cabal
of billionaires.

That may seem impossible to people schooled in double standards,
elitist division and contempt for others but most of them are
neither believers in, nor can they ever be practitioners of,
democracy.

They support the minority rule of master race/chosen people
doctrines with cosmetic language to cover that reality under
a cloak of perverted democratic politics and the patriarchal
religion of capitalist free markets.

Domination over public thinking is fading, even if not at a fast
enough speed to assure a positive outcome.

But once people gain control of their lives, their communities and
their environment, progress can be achieved far more quickly than
the regressive destruction that has taken so long to reveal its cause.

What is most important is that democracy seekers not succumb to
the terrible negativity of social doctrines that thrive on division,
opposition, combat and profit for national minorities only at
tremendous loss to the global majority.

This capitalist political economic disease has brought humanity to a
point of no return, but one that also offers a road to a better world
for all and not just some.

That will take real democracy which isn’t something we murder
foreigners to achieve but have to create in our own homelands
by organizing and uniting with fellow citizens.

This calls for more respect than we have been anti-socialized to
give one another but once we realize individual freedom is not
possible in isolation but only in community it may not be so
difficult to achieve.

First, the talk of war must be stopped before it leads to actual war,
and the power of minority money over the global system must be
countered by the power of majority people.

That will not happen as the result of a November election and
certainly not by allowing social media to be used for anti-social
purposes, but it needs to happen soon.


Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in print in
the Coastal Post and The Independent Monitor and online at the blog.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/03/social-or-anti-social-media/
#more-43255

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme

By Dr. Cornel West
Occupied Media.us
March 16, 2012

We the people of the global Occupy movement embody and enact
a deep democratic awakening with genuine joy and fierce
determination.

Our movement — leaderless and leaderful — is a soulful expression of a moral outrage at the ugly corporate greed that pushes our society and world to the brink of catastrophe.

We are aware that our actions have inaugurated a radical
enlightenment in a moment of undeniable distrust and disgust
with oligarchic economies, corrupt politicians, arbitrary rule
of law and corporate media weapons of mass distraction.

And we intend to sustain our momentum by nurturing our bonds of
trust, fortifying our bodies, hearts and minds and sticking together
through hell or high water in order to create a better world through
a deep democratic revolution.

We refuse to be mere echoes of the vicious lies that support an
illegitimate status quo.

Our deep democratic awakening takes the form of we everyday
people raising our individual and collective voices to tell the painful
truths about unjust systems and unfair structures that yield
unnecessary social misery.

The past thirty years of a top-down, one-sided class war on precious
poor and working people — with the greatest transfer of wealth
from bottom to top in human history — have taught us that we
either fight together in the name of truth and justice or we lose
our livelihoods and sacred honor.

In this sense, the movement is already victorious: our organizing
and mobilizing have shifted public discourses toward truth and
justice — towards a focus on corporate greed, wealth inequality,
escalating poverty, obscene levels of unemployment, the role of
big money in politics, and abusive military and police power.

But we have work ahead of us yet.

The full-scale bankruptcy of the neoliberal order — of deregulated
markets, unaccountable oligarchs, bribed politicians — is now an
established fact of life and history.

Its age is coming to an end.

Our deep democratic enlightenment must break us out of our
narrow intellectual frameworks and our parochial cultural
habitus.

Like the inventors of jazz, we must be open-minded, flexible, fluid,
inclusive, transparent, courageous, self-critical, compassionate and
visionary.

We must recast old notions of empire, class, race, gender, religion,
sexual orientation and nature into new ways of thinking and being.

Our movement is a precious, sublime, messy and funky form of
incubation.

Again like jazz, we must embody and enact a loving embrace of
the art of our collaborative creations.

We must embody a universal embrace of all those in the human
family, and sentient beings, and consolidate an unstoppable
fortitude in the face of systems of oppression and structures
of domination.

We will suffer, shudder and struggle together with smiles on our
faces and a love supreme in our souls.

Just as justice is what love looks like in public and tenderness is
what love feels like in private, deep democratic revolution is what
justice looks like in practice.

Revolution may scare some people because of its connotation of
violence.

And this is understandable in light of many past revolutions, such
as the American revolutions against monarchy in 1776 or against
slavery in 1861.

But the revolution in our time — against oligarchy and plutocracy — 
need not be an ugly and violent one.

The rich legacies of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, and
recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, have taught us that we
can deal with our social catastrophes with social compassion and
that we can transform unjust societies with courageous visions
and nonviolent strategies.

If we equip ourselves with truthful systemic analyses of power in
our minds, moral commitments of steel in our backs and a genuine
joy in serving others in our hearts, then our dream of a nascent
justice spread across the globe may be no mere illusion.

We are prisoners of a blood-stained, tear-soaked hope.

This means we are free to imagine and create a more deeply
democratic world than we have yet witnessed in history.


Dr. Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic
intellectual. He is the Class of 1943 University Professor at
Princeton University and he has taught at Union Theological
Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris. He has
written 19 books and edited 13 books and he is best known
for his classic Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and his new
memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.

http://occupiedmedia.us/2011/11/a-love-supreme/

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beware The Psychopath, My Son

Beware The Psychopath, My Son

By Clinton Callahan
Just-Stop.org
March 14, 2012

I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question:

Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice?

It doesn’t seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot.

Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths.

All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder.

Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the
development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie,
kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict
great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in
order to establish their own sense of security through domination.

The inventor of civilization – the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers – was almost certainly a genetic psychopath.

Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a
significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for
power in civilizational hierarchies – especially military hierarchies.

Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as their power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate.

We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld – the overlapping criminal syndicates that lurk above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it.

During the past fifty years, psychopaths have gained almost absolute control of all the branches of government.

You can notice this if you observe carefully that no matter what
illegal thing a modern politician does, no one will really take him
to task.

All of the so called scandals that have come up, any one of which
would have taken down an authentic administration, are just farces
played out for the public, to distract them, to make them think
that the democracy is still working.

One of the main factors to consider in terms of how a society
can be taken over by a group of pathological deviants is that the
psychopaths’ only limitation is the participation of susceptible
individuals within that given society.

Lobaczewski gives an average figure for the most active deviants of
approximately 6% of a given population. (1% essential psychopaths
and up to 5% other psychopathies and characteropathies.)

The essential psychopath is at the center of the web. The others
form the first tier of the psychopath’s control system.

The next tier of such a system is composed of individuals who
were born normal, but are either already warped by long-term
exposure to psychopathic material via familial or social
influences, or who, through psychic weakness have chosen to
meet the demands of psychopathy for their own selfish ends.

Numerically, according to Lobaczewski, this group is about 12%
of a given population under normal conditions.

So approximately 18% of any given population is active in the creation and imposition of a Pathocracy.

The 6% group constitutes the Pathocratic nobility and the 12% group forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous.

When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence,
that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating,
and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified,
but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense.

Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it
and who set the example are soulless – they literally have no
conscience.

In his book Political Oenology, Andrej Lobaczewski explains that
clinical psychopaths enjoy advantages even in non-violent
competitions to climb the ranks of social hierarchies.

Because they can lie without remorse (and without the telltale
physiological stress that is measured by lie detector tests),
psychopaths can always say whatever is necessary to get what
they want.

In court, for example, psychopaths can tell extreme bald-faced lies
in a plausible manner, while their sane opponents are handicapped
by an emotional predisposition to remain within hailing distance of
the truth.

Too often, the judge or jury imagines that the truth must
be somewhere in the middle, and then issues decisions that
benefit the psychopath.

As with judges and juries, so too with those charged with decisions concerning who to promote and who not to promote in corporate, military and governmental hierarchies.

The result is that all hierarchies inevitably become top-heavy with psychopaths.

Since psychopaths have no limitations on what they can or will do
to get to the top, the ones in charge are generally pathological.

It is not power that corrupts, it is that corrupt individuals seek power.

How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people?
What is the portrait of a true psychopath?

Such a dangerous question has almost never been successfully
asked. The reason is because we mistakenly confuse healthy for
normal.

Human psychological diversity is the health of our race. There is
no normal because healthy humans continuously evolve beyond
all normalizing standards.

The terrorism of searching through hierarchies for anyone deviating from normal is no different from witch hunts or Inquisitions.

You must remember that hierarchies thrive on such low dramas, torturing victims until they confess to evil beliefs.

Not so long ago the church and state ongoingly acquired significant income and property through witch hunts and Inquisitions.

This continued for over two hundred and fifty years. Ten generations of Europeans understood pogrom as normal life.

Let us not return to that nightmare. Testing for normal is
guaranteed to backfire in our face. There is no normal. But
there is conscience.

We have very little empirical evidence to support the idea that
true psychopathy is the result of an abused childhood, and much
empirical evidence to support that it is genetic.

The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of
being able to identify even the most devious psychopath.

Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans!

A missing internal connection between the feeling heart and the thinking brain is detectable. Psychopaths are incapable of authentic deep emotions.

In fact, when Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language.

They did not have an emotional reaction until they intellectually concluded that it would be better if they had one, and then they whipped up an emotional response just for show.

The simplest, clearest and truest portrait of the psychopath is
given in the titles of three seminal works on the subject:

Without Conscience by Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey
Cleckley, and Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak.

A psychopath is exactly that: conscienceless.

The most important thing to remember is that this lack of
conscience is hidden from view behind a mask of normality
that is often so convincing that even experts are deceived.

As a result, psychopaths become the Snakes in Suits that control
our world.

Psychopaths lack a sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey.

They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their problems or their mistakes.

Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies
what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate.

They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not
tell anyone about what they have done.

So another trait – and a very important one – is their ability to control the flow of information.

They also seem to have little real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires.

Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often
seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of
manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for
the rush of adrenaline.

Another trait of the psychopath is what Lobaczewski calls their
special psychological knowledge of normal people. They have
studied us.

They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us.

But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us.

When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our
ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some
sort of spell over us.

It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their
spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves
wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter
what they were doing.

Psychopaths learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to themselves.

They also become conscious of being of a different world from the majority of other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance.

Think about the ramifications of this statement: Psychopaths are,
to some extent, self-aware as a group even in childhood!

Recognizing their fundamental difference from the rest of
humanity, their allegiance would be to others of their kind,
that is, to other psychopaths.

Their own twisted sense of honor compels them to cheat and
revile non-psychopaths and their values.

In contradiction to the ideals of normal people, psychopaths
feel breaking promises and agreements is normal behavior.

Not only do they covet possessions and power and feel they have
the right to them just because they exist and can take them, but
they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others;
what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far
sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor.

They also learn very early how their personalities can have
traumatizing effects on the personalities of non-psychopaths,
and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes
of achieving their goals.

So now, imagine how human beings who are totally in the dark
about the presence of psychopaths can be easily deceived and
manipulated by these individuals, gaining power in different
countries, pretending to be loyal to the local populations
while at the same time playing up obvious and easily discernable
physical differences between groups (such as race, skin color,
religion, etc).

Psychologically normal humans would be set against one another on
the basis of unimportant differences (think of Rwanda 1994, think
of Israelis and Palestinians) while the deviants in power, with a
fundamental difference from the rest of us, a lack of conscience,
an inability to feel for another human being, reaped the benefits
and pulled the strings.

We are seeing the final desperate power-grab or endgame (Alex
Jones) of brutal, cunning gangs of CIA drug-runners and President-
killers; money-laundering international bankers and their hit-men –
economic and otherwise; corrupt military contractors and gung-ho
generals; corporate predators and their political enablers;
brainwashers and mind-rapists euphemistically known as psy-ops
and PR specialists – in short, the whole crew of certifiable
psychopaths running our so-called civilization.

And they are running scared.

Why does the Pathocracy fear it is losing control? Because it is threatened by the spread of knowledge. The greatest fear of any psychopath is of being found out.

Psychopaths go through life knowing that they are completely
different from other people. Deep down they know something
is missing in them.

They quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy, while carefully
studying others’ emotions so as to mimic normalcy while cold-
bloodedly manipulating the normals.

Today, thanks to new information technologies, we are on the
brink of unmasking the psychopaths and building a civilization
of, by and for the healthy human being – a civilization without
war, a civilization based on truth, a civilization in which the
saintly few rather than the diabolical few would gravitate to
positions of power.

We already have the knowledge necessary to diagnose psychopathic personalities and keep them out of power.

We have the knowledge necessary to dismantle the institutions in which psychopaths especially flourish – militaries, intelligence agencies, large corporations, and secret societies.

We simply need to disseminate this knowledge, and the will to
use it, as widely and as quickly as possible.

Until the knowledge and awareness of pathological human beings
is given the attention it deserves and becomes part of the general
knowledge of all human beings, there is no way that things can be
changed in any way that is effective and long-lasting.

If half the people agitating for truth or stopping the war or saving
the earth would focus their efforts, time and money on exposing
psychopathy, we might get somewhere.

One might ask if the weak point of our society has been our
tolerance of psychopathic behavior?

Our disbelief that someone could seem like an intelligent leader
and still be acting deceptively on their own behalf without
conscience? Or is it merely ignorance?

If the general voting public is not aware that there exists a category
of people we sometimes perceive as almost human, who look like
us, who work with us, who are found in every race, every culture,
speaking every language, but who are lacking conscience, how can
the general public take care to block them from taking over the
hierarchies?

General ignorance of psychopathology may prove to be the
downfall of civilization.

We stand by like grazing sheep as political/corporate elites throw
armies of our innocent sons and daughters against fabricated
enemies as a way of generating trillions in profits, vying against
each other for pathological hegemony.

Nearly everyone who has been part of an organization working for
social change has probably seen the same dynamic play out: The
good and sincere work of many can be destroyed by the actions of
one person.

That doesn’t bode well for bringing some sort of justice to the planet!

In fact, if psychopaths dominate political hierarchies, is it any wonder that peaceful demonstrations have zero impact on the outcome of political decisions?

Perhaps it is time to choose something other than massive,
distant hierarchies as a way of governing ourselves?

So many efforts to provide essays, research reports, exposés and
books to leaders so they might take the new information to heart
and change their behavior have come to naught.

For example, in the final paragraph of his revised edition of the
book, The Party’s Over, Richard Heinberg writes:

I still believe that if the people of the world can be helped to
understand the situation we are in, the options available, and the
consequences of the path we are currently on, then it is at least
possible that they can be persuaded to undertake the considerable
effort and sacrifice that will be entailed in a peaceful transition to
a sustainable, locally based, decentralized, low-energy, resource-
conserving social regime. But inspired leadership will be required.

And that is the just-murdered fantasy. There are no inspired leaders anymore. And in hierarchical structures there can’t be.

Assuming that you can elect men or women to office who
will see reason and the light of day, and who will change
and learn and grow, make compassionate decisions and
take conscientious actions… is a foolish, childish dream.

Continuing to dream it simply plays into psychopathic agendas.

Only when the 75% of humanity with a healthy conscience come to
understand that we have a natural predator, a group of people who
live amongst us, viewing us as powerless victims to be freely fed
upon for achieving their inhuman ends, only then will we take the
fierce and immediate actions needed to defend what is preciously
human.

Psychological deviants have to be removed from any position of power over people of conscience, period.

People must be made aware that such individuals exist and must learn how to spot them and their manipulations.

The hard part is that one must also struggle against those
tendencies to mercy and kindness in oneself in order not
to become prey.

The real problem is that the knowledge of psychopathy and
how psychopaths rule the world has been effectively hidden.

People do not have the adequate, nuanced knowledge they
need to really make a change from the bottom up.

Again and again, throughout history it has been meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

If there is any work that is deserving of full time efforts and
devotion for the sake of helping humanity in this present dark
time, it is the study of psychopathy and the propagation of this
information as far and wide and fast as possible.

There are only two things that can bring a psychopath under submission:

1. A bigger psychopath.

2. The non-violent, absolute refusal to submit to psychopathic controls no matter the consequences (non-violent noncompliance).

Let us choose path 2!

If individuals simply sat down and refused to lift a hand to further
one single aim of the psychopathic agenda, if people refused to
pay taxes, if soldiers refused to fight, if government workers and
corporate drones and prison guards refused to go to work, if doctors
refused to treat psychopathic elites and their families, the whole
system would grind to a screeching halt.

True change happens in the moment that a person becomes aware of psychopathy in all its chilling details.

From this new awareness, the world looks different, and entirely new actions can be taken.

Distinguishing between human and psychopathic qualities begins the foundation of responsibility upon which we have a real chance to create sustainable culture.


Clinton Callahan, originator of Possibility Management, author of Radiant Joy Brilliant Love, founder of Callahan Academy, empowers responsible creative leadership through authentic personal development. www.just-stop.org

http://www.whale.to/b/callahan1.html

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Crime of Truth

Obama's Persecution of the Peacemaker

By Chris Floyd
Chris Floyd.com
March 12, 2012

If any one person can be said to have ended the direct involvement
of the United States military in Iraq, it is not the man whose
champions claim this deed as one of his glorious accomplishments:
Barack Obama.

As we all know (and 99 percent of us have forgotten), Obama
fought doggedly to extend the murderous occupation of Iraq
into the indefinite future.

No, if you had to choose one person whose actions were the most instrumental in ending the overt phase of the war, it would not the commander-in-chief of the most powerful war machine in world history, but a lowly foot-soldier -- mocked, shackled, tortured, defenseless: Bradley Manning.

William Blum points this out in his latest "Anti-Empire Report," as
he recaps the impact of the revelations made by Manning and Wikileaks.

He begins by noting a painful irony:

Manning's own defense team is playing down the heroic nature
of this act and instead insisting that such a "sexually troubled"
young man should never have been sent to the homophobic
environment of the American occupation force in the first place.

He was under too much stress, acting irrationally, they say,
and thus should not be held accountable for his actions.

As Blum notes, this defense -- though doubtless well-intentioned, a
desperate bid to keep Obama's massive war machine from crushing
Manning completely under its wheels --partakes of the same
deceitful twisting of reality that has characterized the entire war
crime from the beginning. Blum:

It's unfortunate and disturbing that Bradley Manning's attorneys
have chosen to consistently base his legal defense upon the
premise that personal problems and shortcomings are what
motivated the young man to turn over hundreds of thousands
of classified government files to Wikileaks.

They should not be presenting him that way any more than Bradley
should be tried as a criminal or traitor.

He should be hailed as a national hero.

Yes, even when the lawyers are talking to the military mind. May as well try to penetrate that mind and find the freest and best person living there. Bradley also wears a military uniform.

Here are Manning's own words from an online chat:

"If you had free reign over classified networks ... and you saw
incredible things, awful things ... things that belonged in the
public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in
Washington DC ... what would you do? ... God knows what happens
now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms. ... I
want people to see the truth ... because without information, you
cannot make informed decisions as a public."

Is the world to believe that these are the words of a disturbed and irrational person?

Do not the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Geneva Conventions speak
of a higher duty than blind loyalty to one's government, a duty to
report the war crimes of that government?

Every scrap of evidence presented about Manning's alleged crimes
makes it clear that he was acting from rational, well-considered
motives, based on the highest ideals.

Indeed, wasn't Manning simply following the words of Jesus Christ
words carved in stone, with the most bitter irony, in the
entranceway of the original headquarters of the CIA:

"And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

In any case, as Blum points out, the effects of Manning's actions
were far-reaching:

It was after seeing American war crimes such as those depicted in
the video "Collateral Murder" and documented in the "Iraq War
Logs," made public by Manning and Wikileaks, that the Iraqis
refused to exempt US forces from prosecution for future crimes.

The video depicts an American helicopter indiscriminately
murdering several non-combatants in addition to two Reuters
journalists, and the wounding of two little children, while
the helicopter pilots cheer the attacks in a Baghdad suburb
like it was the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.

The insistence of the Iraqi government on legal jurisdiction over
American soldiers for violations of Iraqi law — something the United
States rarely, if ever, accepts in any of the many countries where
its military is stationed — forced the Obama administration to pull
the remaining American troops from the country.

If Manning had committed war crimes in Iraq instead of exposing
them, he would be a free man today...

But he is not a free man, of course. It is very likely that he will
never be free again.

He will spend the rest of his life in a federal prison for the
unforgiveable crime of telling the truth to people who don't
want to hear it.


NOTE: A tribute to Bradley and his fellow truth-tellers can be
found here: The Good Corporal: To the Exposers of Power and
the Troublers of Dreams.

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-lat
est-news/2224-the-crime-of-truth-obamas-persecution-of-the-peacemaker.html

Friday, March 9, 2012

A new role for the 1%

A new role for the 1%

By Douglas Rushkoff
CNN.com/opinion
Friday, March 9, 2012

A whole lot of us are stuck with credit-card debt that goes up each month, mortgages worth more than our homes and student loans that extend into infinity.

So it's only natural that we look at the debt crisis from the bottom up: from the perspective of the 99% who are getting screwed.

But what if we instead looked at this whole mess from the top down, from the point of view of the 1%: the billionaires and venture capitalists in Mitt Romney's world?

Maybe, just maybe, their problem is our problem.

In fact, as I have come to see it, short of civilization-ending
revolution, solving the debt crisis might actually mean saving
the 1%.

They have the power and the money, they own our government, and they won't go down without taking everyone and everything else with them.

Instead of backing them even further into the corner of fear and defensiveness, we need to help them find a way out. And that means helping them understand how they got there.

The debt crisis is not entirely President Bush's or President Obama's fault. It's not even Congress' fault.

It actually resulted from a short-term "fix" to the economy made about 700 years ago.

See, for pretty much the entire first millennium -- what we call the Middle Ages -- the 00.01%, the feudal lords, enjoyed total control over the land and its people.

The 99.99% worked the land and served the lords, who created no value at all.

But by around 1100, the Crusades moved a whole lot of people and stuff around Europe.

Peasants were exposed to sugar, cotton and all sorts of new weaving and milling technologies for the first time.

Former peasant farmers started to get smarter and more
productive. They established market days and traded what
they grew and made with one another.

They invented local currencies to store and exchange value instead of bartering.

Local currency then worked very differently from the money we use today.

Someone would simply bring grain they harvested to the grain store, and come out with a foil receipt. The receipt could be broken into smaller pieces, which served as money.

Since some grain was lost to spoilage, the currency's value went down over time. This meant it had to be spent instead of saved. So the money circulated very rapidly.

People got wealthy, invested in upkeep on their windmills, paid one another good wages, and got taller.

Little towns got so rich that they built cathedrals. That's how a peer-to-peer economy works.

But the aristocrats weren't participating in any of this wealth. Without a dependent peasant class, they had no way to survive.

They didn't know how to do anything themselves. They needed a way to make money simply by having money.

So they came up with some ways to force new kinds of dependence.

Their first trick was to outlaw local currency.

If people wanted to trade among themselves, they would have to borrow money from the central treasury, with interest.

Wars were fought, blood was spilled, but they got their way.

We have all but forgotten that the money we use today is a monopoly currency that costs us more than it's worth.

The second great idea was the chartered monopoly: the corporation.

It gave just one firm -- one friend of the king -- the authority to
do business in a certain industry. The British East India Trading
Company, for example, had all rights to cotton in America.

A farmer wasn't permitted to sell his cotton to neighbors, or to make it into anything.

He had to sell it at fixed prices to the company, which shipped it
to England and let some other chartered corporation make mittens
and hats, which were then shipped back to America for sale.

That's why we fought the Revolution.

The problem with this scheme is that it works by stifling innovation and competition.

The wealthy stay wealthy by extracting value instead of creating it.

The more value they extract, the more laws they write protecting the rights and privileges of the extractors.

As companies like General Electric realized, it was better to sell off productive assets and become more like a bank.

The system was created for people who have money to make money. The value creators are the chumps.

The most surprising victims in this whole saga, however, are the corporations themselves.

You think you're scared? Talk to the heads of America's corporations.

They have sucked all the money out of the system, and don't know how to create any more.

According to Deloitte, asset profitability for American firms has steadily fallen 75%over the last 40 years.

In other words, corporations have managed to absorb all the
money, but they don't know how to do anything with it. They
have no skills, no competencies and no vision.

It's not the 99% who need to retrain themselves in order to get jobs.

It's the 1% who need to face the fact that their 600-year
workaround of the value creation has reached the very
endpoint of diminishing returns.

They need to consider whether they might actually make more money at this stage of the game by helping people create value instead of actively preventing it.

What would that look like?

Right now, companies like Google, eBay, Square, Kickstarter and even PayPal and Apple are at least pointed in the right direction.

They create and sell tools and services that give people and small businesses the ability to create and exchange value with one another again.

They understand that real value creation comes by fostering the peer-to-peer transactions of a bottom-up marketplace rather than simply repressing such activity.

But we, the 99%, are the only ones who can show them the way.

We need to begin by abandoning the fruitless quest for gainful
corporate employment, and instead start working for ourselves
and one another.

We must stop outsourcing our savings and investments to bankrupt corporations, and instead invest in the people and businesses in our own communities -- however we define those.

In doing so, we will very quickly create demand for the kinds of
networks, supply chains and services that only larger companies
can provide.

We will give the 1% an opportunity to re-educate themselves, to find a path to success, and -- for the first time in centuries -- to experience the guilt-free satisfaction of working for a living.


Douglas Rushkoff writes a regular column for CNN.com. He is a
media theorist and the author of "Program or Be Programmed:
Ten Commands for a Digital Age" and "Life Inc: How Corporatism
Conquered the World and How We Can Take it Back."

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/08/opinion/rushkoff-one-percent/index.html

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Financial Parasites

Wall Street Speculators Continue To Rake In Billions

By Andre Damon
WSWS.org
March 07, 2012

Three and a half years after the eruption of the financial crisis, the Wall Street speculators responsible for the crash continue to rake in billions of dollars while benefiting from ongoing government bailouts and a de facto amnesty for their crimes.

The 40 highest-earning hedge fund managers took home a combined $13.2 billion last year, with the top 10 averaging more than $200 million each, according to a survey published last week by Forbes magazine.

Raymond Dalio, the head of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, made $3billion. Close behind was James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, who took in $2.1 billion. Third was the well-known corporate raider Carl Icahn, who pocketed $2 billion.

Dalio’s pay nearly equals this year’s $3.5 billion federal budget for home heating assistance.

The Obama administration has cut the program by $1.5 billion since 2010 on the grounds that “there is no money” to keep the poor from freezing.

The government policies that have enabled financial parasites to
continue to cash in despite the worst economic crisis since the
Great Depression are exemplified by the case of the insurance
giant American International Group (AIG).

Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times reported last week that the company, which received over $182.3 billion in taxpayer funds at the time of the bank bailout, was given a tax windfall of $17.7 billion last year.

This enabled the company—whose lucrative business speculating in credit default swaps played a central role in the financial meltdown—to report a fourth-quarter 2011 profit of $19.8 billion.

“The tax benefit is notable for more than simply its size,” Sorkin
wrote. “It is the result of a rule that the Treasury unilaterally
bent for AIG and several other hobbled companies in 2008 that
has largely been overlooked.”

That tax dodge will allow AIG to pay no taxes this year and likely for the next decade.

It will also enable AIG traders and executives to boost their bonuses, including CEO Robert H. Benmosche, who has been granted millions of dollars in stock options since 2009.

In 2009, when multimillion-dollar bonuses at the firm sparked a
public furor, Obama intervened to scuttle bills in Congress to
limit executive compensation at Wall Street firms that received
taxpayer bailouts.

Not only has the Obama administration continued to bankroll the corporate criminals who precipitated the global crisis, it has shielded them from prosecution for their actions.

So brazen is this whitewash, a few voices within the political establishment are calling for at least token legal moves to assuage popular indignation.

Phil Angelides, who headed the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission,
one of two major government inquiries into the causes of the
financial crisis, published an op-ed column last Friday in the New
York Times complaining of the refusal of the Obama administration
to investigate and indict the financial criminals.

He summed up the state of affairs as follows:

“Claims of financial fraud against companies like Citigroup and
Bank of America have been settled for pennies on the dollar, with
no admission of wrongdoing. Executives who ran companies that
made, packaged and sold trillions of dollars in toxic mortgages
and mortgage-backed securities remain largely unscathed.”

Angelides’ commission published a voluminous report last year documenting rampant fraud and criminality in the creation and marketing of toxic mortgage-backed securities.

These processes led to the bursting of the housing bubble and collapse of the US and international financial markets.

The Senate committee published a similar report. Both cited
specific securities and particular executives and, as Angelides
wrote, “both entities referred potential violations of law to the
Justice Department.”

The Obama Justice Department responded by doing nothing
and the two reports were buried by the media.

It is little wonder that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon could
declare at an investors’ conference last week, “We had record
profits this year, last year, and I’ll be damned if we don’t
have record profits in the next year or two.”

These facts are further proof of the dictatorship exercised by the financial aristocracy over the entire political system, including both major parties.

The Obama administration, packed with Wall Street figures, including the former president of the New York Federal Reserve and current treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, is itself an instrument of this oligarchy.

The working class can put an end to the plundering of society by the super-rich and secure its basic social rights—to decent-paying jobs, health care, education, housing, a secure retirement—only by mobilizing its strength against the Obama administration, the two parties of Wall Street, and the ruling elite whose interests they defend.

This means fighting for a socialist program to break the grip of
the financial oligarchs, expropriate their fortunes, and place
the corporations and banks under the common ownership and
democratic control of the working people.


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/mar2012/pers-m06.shtml

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Looking Back Towards The Future

from: ga@occupymn.org via eigbox.net
to: tony whitcomb expotera.ceo@gmail.com
date: Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 10:02 PM
subject: Re: Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Minnesota/Expotera
mailed-by: eigbox.net

Dear Tony,

Thank you for writing to us. We are very interested in meeting with you and welcoming you to our community.

I've just looked at your blog and you definitely seem to understand the ultimate endgame of all this.

With Revolution comes Collapse, and with Collapse comes the rapid
transition into a new economic system.

This is not a wide realization onsite yet.

Many folks can't imagine anything more sophisticated than
"taking back the money from the 1%".

Right now there are some de facto leaders - we are the people who
have been involved in this from the beginning. Three weeks ago. I am among them.

Now I rest at home because our nerves are frayed and patience
tested. The general goodwill towards this inner circle is fraying.

We are good at getting things done but only a few of us have sight
of the bigger picture of where this is all going and how to get there.

Gradually over the coming days and weeks, new unofficial leaders
will emerge.

People who keep cool heads, have great ideas, and nurture respect,
trust, and love amongst everyone in the community will empower
other leaders.

Leaders who try to assert authority over others will face rebellion after rebellion until they learn the new rules in this new civilization.

The flock has been spooked.

Everyone is already starting to calm down and look each other in the eyes.

Soon those with integrity will have a stronger gravitational pull than the charismatic and entrenched.

Be encouraged to come visit the GA area (NE corner of north plaza)
any time you like.

You should talk with Peat and myself. We'll have a picnic.

David