Friday, September 04, 2015



What do Greek Athens, Ukrainian Kiev and US New Orleans have in common? All three (and many others) face crushing demands from a multinational financial elite, exercising corporate (and government) power to impose austerity, privatization and transform cities to serve the wealthy and the privileged few. When the 99% get restless, the elites deploy racial and religious bigotry to ensure that anger is targeted at the poor and the “other”. . .


CHRIS HEDGES: The Great Unraveling

The ideological and physical hold of American imperial power, buttressed by the utopian ideology of neoliberalism and global capitalism, is unraveling. Most, including many of those at the heart of the American empire, recognize that every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie. Global wealth, rather than being spread equitably, as neoliberal proponents promised, has been funneled upward into the hands of a rapacious, oligarchic elite, creating vast economic inequality. The working poor, whose unions and rights have been taken from them and whose wages have stagnated or declined over the past 40 years, have been thrust into chronic poverty and underemployment, making their lives one long, stress-ridden emergency. The middle class is evaporating. Cities that once manufactured products and offered factory jobs are boarded up-wastelands. Prisons are overflowing. Corporations have orchestrated the destruction of trade barriers, allowing them to stash $2.1 trillion in profits in overseas banks to avoid paying taxes. And the neoliberal order, despite its promise to build and spread democracy, has hollowed out democratic systems to turn them into corporate leviathans.   More



Since the levee failures, New Orleans has been ground zero for what on its face looks like a diverse cohort seeking to use the Katrina-produced “blank slateas a canvass on which to enact their vision of twenty-first century reform… New Orleans has not just been reconceived and reimagined — it has been rebuilt to serve and further specific material and ideological interests. It is a city increasingly designed not to produce equality but to give opportunity to the “worthy” while driving out as many “unworthy” as possible. (The exception of course being those needed to staff the low-wage hospitality and service industry, along with those whose labors produce the city’s appeal as something timeless and supposedly outside the market and the profit motive — an appeal that is one of market culture’s most valuable commodities in contemporary capitalism.)… Approximately 100,000 people, mostly African American, have not returned to the city… To put it bluntly, New Orleans has become a tremendously profitable model city for global capital.   More


Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insisted that Angela Merkel and French President Sarkozy pressure the IMF to go against the opposition of its own staff and join the European Central Bank’s hardline demands that Greece impose austerity. Geithner and Obama warned that if Greek bondholders were not paid in full, some giant U.S. banks would lose heavily on the default insurance contracts and derivatives they had written, and their losses could spread “contagion” to Europe… The tragic Greek experience should stand as a warning of the need to withdraw from the rules that have turned the eurozone into an economic dead zone, and the IMF and Troika into brutal debt collectors for European, U.S. and British banks and bondholders.  More long and beautiful speech well-worth reading in full…

Yanis Varoufakis: 'OUR ATHENS SPRING'

As Berthold Brecht once said, “Why send out murderers when we can employ bailiffs?” Why stage a coup d’├ętat when you can send to a freshly elected government the President of the Eurogroup to tell the new finance minister, three days after taking office, that he faces a choice: the pre-existing Austerity Program, which resulted in his country’s Great Depression, or the closure of the nation’s banks? Why send troops in when you can have monthly Troika visits for the explicit purpose of taking over every branch of government and writing each and every piece of a nation’s legislation? … Why do Greece’s creditors… ignore our reform proposals which they knew we could and wanted to implement? Why did they waste the great opportunity we presented them as the only government that had the support of the vast majority of the Greek people? … There is no economic answer here. The only answer is one that resides firmly in the realm of power politics. The Troika’s greatest fear was that our government might succeed. That its own superior wisdom and authority would then be questioned by you dear friends.  More


The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine

A new form of colonialism is emerging in Europe.  Not colonialism imposed by military conquest and occupation, as in the 19th century. Not even the more efficient form of economic colonialism pioneered by the U.S. in the post-1945 period, where the costs of direct administration and military occupation were replaced with compliant local elites allowed to share in the wealth extracted in exchange for being allowed to rule on behalf of the colonizers. In the 21st century, it is “colonialism by means of financial asset transfer.” It is colony wealth extraction by colonizing country managers, assigned to directly administer the processes in the colony by which financial assets are to be transferred. This new form of colonialism by direct management plus financial wealth transfer is now emerging in Greece and Ukraine.   More


776 People Killed By Police So Far in 2015, 161 Of Them Unarmed

Police killings in America have sparked a national movement for police reform, especially since the death of Mike Brown last year in Ferguson, Missouri. Based on The Guardian’s statistics, police killed more white people than any other race this year. A total 385 white people have been killed by police this year, and 66 of them were unarmed at the time of their death. However, activists like the members of the Black Lives Matter movement argue that police kill blacks at a rate disproportionate to their total percentage of the population — an assertion supported by The Guardian’s statistics. Police killed almost five black people per every million black residents of the U.S., compared with about 2 per million for both white and hispanic victims… Although police advocates claim the frequent use of force is necessary to protect officers from a highly dangerous job, the statistics don’t seem to back this up… Bureau of Labor Statistics released last year show that being a police officer is not even among the country’s 10 most dangerous professions. Indeed, those statistics show that loggers, roofers, pilots and farmers are all more likely to be killed on the job than police.   More


Prisoner REsistance Forces California to Scale Back Solitary Confinement

In a major victory for prisoners’ rights, California has agreed to greatly reduce the use of solitary confinement as a part of a legal settlement that may have major implications in prisons nationwide. On Tuesday, California reached a landmark legal settlement with a group of prisoners held in isolation for a decade or more at the Pelican Bay State Prison. California currently keeps nearly 3,000 prisoners alone for more than 22 hours a day in windowless cells. Human rights advocates have long maintained that the practice of solitary confinement is both inhumane and counterproductive. The settlement comes after years of prisoner hunger strikes and sustained protests by prisoners’ loved ones.  More


Islamophobia Rising: FBI Warns ‘Militia Extremists’ Are Targeting Muslims

The FBI issued an intelligence bulletin in May, warning that “militia extremists” are increasing their violent rhetoric against Muslims and even potentially making concrete plans to target them for violence. “The FBI makes these assessments with high confidence on the basis of a large body of source reporting generated mainly since 2013,” noted the bulletin. This marks a change from the militia’s usual targets, the agency notes, which typically include the government and any group perceived as a threat to Second Amendment rights… Among the disturbing examples the FBI cites, the most shocking occurred in Mississippi last September, where extremists “discussed kidnapping and beheading a Muslim and posting video of the attack to the Internet.”   More


LABOR DAY: We’ll never rebuild this country if we keep wasting money on war

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan together are projected to cost American taxpayers anywhere from $4 trillion to $6 trillion. And now the war on the Islamic State — a direct continuation of the last war in Iraq — has already racked up over $5.8 billion in costs, according to the National Priorities Project. And the tab’s running up at a rate of over $600,000 per hour. That’s money that isn’t available to put unemployed people back to work, fix our nation’s failing infrastructure, provide high quality public education, create a universal Medicare-for-all health care system, build affordable housing, or help transition to a sustainable [demilitarized] alternative economy, among many other major social needs identified by the labor movement. War, in other words, is bad for working people.   More


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