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In This Edition

Greg Palast explains why, "I Upset My Least Favourite Big Fat Greek Minister."

Uri Avnery considers, "Women Of The Wall."

Glen Ford returns with, "Radicalized = Weaponized = Kill At Will."

Matt Taibbi has a, "Deja Vu On The Hill: Wall Street Lobbyists Roll Back Finance Reform, Again."

Jim Hightower points out, "Cantor's Con Would Steal Workers' Overtime Pay."

Mike Wrathell lectures the U of M regents on the, "U Of M, The NCAA & The 'C-Word.'"

James Donahue examines, "The Abnormal Concept Of Ownership."

John Nichols says, "Our Liberty Cannot Be Guarded But By The Freedom Of The Press."

Amy Goodman returns with, "Another Memorial Day In This Endless War."

Robert Reich explores, "Global Capital And The Nation State."

Paul Krugman finds, "German Wages And Portuguese Competitiveness (A Bit Wonkish)."

David Sirota alerts, "Texas Blast Exposes The New Normal."

David Swanson concludes, "CIA: An Idea Whose Time Has Gone."

Michael A. Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Chris Hedges warns us to, "Rise Up Or Die."

Adam Keller discovers Israel is still in, "The Stone Age."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Obama Denies Role In Government" but first Uncle Erniewatches, "Act Three: The Rise And Fall Of The American Empire."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Lester, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Mr. Fish, This Modern World, Jim Morin, Internet Weekly.Org, Mike Wrathell, Pete Souza, Jonathan Ernst, Anthony DiMieri, Palast Investigative Fund, Roots Action, Reuters, Parker Brothers, KTLA, Orion Pictures Corporation, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

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Act Three: The Rise And Fall Of The American Empire
By Ernest Stewart

"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson

"This a wanton power grab by the military. It's quite shocking actually because it violates the long-standing presumption that the military is under civilian control." ~~~ Bruce Afran, a civil liberties attorney and constitutional law professor at Rutgers University

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." ~~~ Albert Einstein

"We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth... For my part, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst; and to provide for it." ~~~ Patrick Henry

The stage is set, just a few minor adjustments before the curtain rises on the third act of "The Rise And Fall Of The American Empire." Barry and Eric have been very busy as of late snuffing out the final lights of American journalism. So much for the First Amendment, huh?

In fact, there isn't a single part of the First Amendment that's still constitutionally intact and functioning. In fact, you could say that about quite a few of the remaining amendments. Amendments Four, Five & Six spring to mind. Also, in addition to those, Amendments 22 & 24 are currently being dismantled right before our eyes.

Eric's and Barry's latest scam with Fox Spews And Associated Press would normally get me to give a "right on" as we'd all be better off without their evil presence; but, if they can go after them, then they can surely come after me in spades, as I dare to tell the truth, have no powerful friends, like Rupert or AP; so, instead, I'll just be "disappeared" into the night into a new Happy Camp where I'll try my best not to get in the line for the showers -- as long as the sawdust bread lasts!

Silencing the press from any thoughts of investigative journalism, to playing lap dog for the 1% and their governmental lackeys, is usually the last step before it hits the fan. If you can and will be prosecuted until death for daring to tell the truth about the Junta, that's it folks; that's all she wrote. When Thomas Jefferson wasn't busy abusing slaves, he understood the part the press must play to keep us free -- just to tell us the truth, so that we understand who to throw out of office in order for the people to retain power and be a government "by and for the people." Even a blind man could see the treason that abounds throughout the government if he was only paying attention, and therein lies the rub! The people could, even at this late date, stop this mayhem and murder; but they're not paying attention; they haven't a clue about what's happening right before their eyes. As Frank Zappa once urged in a song, "Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care!" As for me, like Geddy Lee once sang, "I will choose free will!" Which do you choose, America?

In Other News

Meanwhile, over at the Pentagoon, there's similar word that the Generals say they've now the right to intervene in the US anytime and any place they deem necessary in case of "civil disturbances." Forget about several centuries of having the military under civilian rule; it's now unilaterally granted itself authority, on it's own authority, I guess, to stage a military coup d'etat at it's leisure!

The reasoning is if for any reason the President can't respond, they will -- which, of course, goes directly against the 25th Amendment of the Constitution; and, by this old leftist's way of thinking, it's an act of treason to propose to do anything different than what's laid out by that Amendment! Did I mention they've control of all the H-Bombs?

But since Ray Guns took the office, we've been in a steady decline of our rights -- which has really taken off under Bush the lesser and Barry. I remember very well the riots of the 60s, being home on leave when they began in Detroit. They didn't call out the Army for that; but did call out the National Guard and their tanks and helicopters; and while they didn't fire their cannons, they did fire their heavy machine guns, a fate which will no doubt befall a lot of NRA types, next time around. So what's the big deal? The Guard was called out by the Governor, only after the Detroit police couldn't handle it and the Mayor asked him to do so. In other words, they were under civilian control, not a gang of Generals holed up inside the Pentagoon!

One of the most frightening aspects, other than no control, is what will be defined as a civil disturbance? I'm sure that the Occupy movements, even the most peaceful one, would be considered a civil disturbance. In fact, it reads that any gathering, whether legal or not, marches, parades and such, fit that bill, too; do they not? As I said above and many time of late before, it's about to hit the fan; and with this act of treason, they'll be ready for us when we do object. Welcome to Germany 1932, watch what happens next, America!

And Finally

Love him or hate him (I'm the latter), you have to admit he has balls. Of course, I'm talking about Michael A. Sheehan, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, who went before Con-gress recently to espouse the theory that the Pentagon has the legal right granted under the "Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)" to start and maintain wars anywhere on the planet, without any authorization from Congress!

Did I mention that these wars won't be lasting just a few years, or even decades, no measly 30 years war for the Pentagon, I'd hate to tell you where you can stuff your 100 years war! Nope, what we're in and won't be leaving ever is an endless war! I guess it ends when everyone on the planet, including you and me, are dead; but fear not, I'm sure our patriotic drones and robots will continue blowing up things from here to eternity!

This is prompting a few brave souls in the Senate to talk about rewriting AUMF to wrest the illegal power granted the President and Pentagoons by AUMF, which is not backed up at all by the Constitution, and is plainly illegal. Since both Barry and Eric have won the Vidkun Quisling Award on numerous occasions, we thought a junior member of the Cabal should get the honor this week! Congratulations, Michael; I bet your mama's proud? NOT!

Keepin' On

Stranger things have happened, so it's no surprise that we're back in the fight. The three weeks we were gone amounts to about half the time we've been off since 02-01-2001; pity I couldn't spend it in some tropical paradise sitting under a palm tree, toking on a number, while watching the ocean come in and go out, and come in and go out, instead of trying to recover from a near-death experience while moving heavy loads of furniture in low 90's temperatures. I did, however, take the coast road with the glimpses of deep blue shinning water (Lake Huron), on the road to and from the storage locker.

Still, I do have some good news to report on our financial situation, as, thanks to the usual suspects and a couple of newbies we've already paid June's bill and are halfway to making our July bill, i.e., we're still $800 short of worrying about September's bill; but we are close to being halfway to paying all of our bills; ergo, we'd like to thank "Tom from Arizona" who sent us a nice contribution, his first, and Nancy from Delaware who sent in an equally-nice contribution, but, who I find out upon further investigation, is not a newbie at all, but this was her second time. Isn't it always better the second time than the first? Thank you, Tom and Nancy! And what can I say about these next two men that I haven't said or at least hinted at before. I refer to two of our, Usual Suspects, Dr. Phil and the mysterious Mr. Jack, who've bailed us out time and time again, year after year, and without whose help we wouldn't be here today! Thanks, guys!

So far, so good; but this is no time to rest on our laurels; as it stands, we need to raise about $100 a week through the end of July and then about $200 a week for 8 weeks to pay off our last major bill. Our bills come to about $12,000 a year, chump change by most standards. Of those 12 Gs, about half is picked up by our advertisers; the rest we must raise to keep on, keeping on. If you think knowing what the truth is in this age of everything is a secret, whether it is or not, and if you dare to tell the truth, i.e., these secrets, we will put you in a "Happy Camp" is important, then send us what you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep fighting for you and yours!


06-09-1950 ~ 05-21-2013
Thanks for the music!

02-12-1939 ~ 05-20-2013
Thanks for the music!

10-20-1927 ~ 05-13-2013
Thanks for the thoughts!

06-29-1920 ~ 05-07-2013
Thanks for the wonder!

04-09-1928 ~ 05-07-2013
Thanks for the film!

01-31-1964 ~ 05-02-2013
Thanks for the jams!

08-16-1934 ~ 04-30-2013
Thanks for the read!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?


So how do you like Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

The author and Greek minister Theodoros Pangalos.

I Upset My Least Favourite Big Fat Greek Minister
By Greg Palast

It wasn't too difficult picking out the Fat Bastard in the crowd of Russian models, craven moochers and media mavens. Besides, Fat Bastard and I were both desperate for coffee and heading for the same empty urn.

(We'd both signed on for Kazakhstan's annual Eurasia Media Forum, a kind of Burning Man festival for Eastern oilgarchs and their media camp followers.)

Now, it is my policy never to mention an interlocutor's weight, nor question the legitimacy of their birth, given my own vulnerabilities. (A would-be groupie told me, "You could do a few sit-ups, you know." Yes, I know.)

But this particular Fat Bastard is asking for it. I had tried to put the belly of this beast out of my thoughts, but I still had a New York Times story folded in my pocket that begins:

ATHENS - As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

Fat Bastard - or Theodoros Pangalos, leading member of the Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK), Greece's equivalent to Labour - thinks the little Greek kiddies should stop belly-aching. Pangalos, as you can see from the photo below, is not bent over with hunger pains. In fact, he looks more likely to be bent over with labour pains, but in truth he probably just can't bend over at all.

Pangalos is best known for blaming the working people of Greece for the horror and the hunger among the ruins of what was once Greece's economy. However, it is, of course, not his fault; until last year, and through the core of the crisis, he was just Greece's Deputy Prime Minister - why should he be held accountable for anything?

Pangalos reclining.

Minister Pangalos is much loved by Europe's banking chieftains, by vulture speculators and by Prussian President Angela Merkel because they've got themselves a gigantic Greek who will mouth their mantra: that his nation's sudden collapse can be blamed squarely on olive-pit-spitting, lazy-ass Greeks who won't work more than three hours a week, then retire while they're still teenagers to swill state-subsidised ouzo.

Pangalos leads the Fifth Column of Greeks calling to accept Germany's terms of economic surrender: austerity, meaning cuts in food allowances, in pensions, in jobs. As of this week, more than one in four Greeks (27 percent) are out of work.

While we hunted for caffeine, Fat Bastard told me that anyone who complains about the austerity diktat, "Is a fascist or a communist or a conspiracy theorist." He didn't tell me which of these three categories the 11-year-old kids complaining of hunger pains fell into.

Just for the record, Greeks who can get a job work 619 more hours per year (see table) than the average German (and way, way more than Britons or Americans, as well).

But in the world according to Pangalos, Merkel and poobahs of the media, Greece went to hell in a handbag because the entire nation suddenly turned into work-shirking grifters.

But there's another explanation for wrack and ruin: Greece is a crime scene. And its working people are not the perpetrators of the crime, they are the victims - scammed, defrauded, their national industries looted and their treasury drained by financial flim-flam.

In 2001, Greece dropped the drachma for the euro. The drachma was good enough for Aristotle and very good for tourism, Greece's main industry. But when sun-and-fun was re-priced in euros, tourists swam across the Adriatic for kofte meatballs priced in dirt-cheap Turkish lira. Pre-euro tourist visits to Greece outnumbered those to Turkey by millions; but by last year, it was the just the opposite, with two-thirds of tourists tanning in Turkey.

With its Treasury bleeding hard currency, the government of Minister Pangalos's PASOK joined together with the opposition in a complex international currency kiting operation to conceal the losses from the public and, most importantly, from the European Central Bank.

German chancellor Angela Merkel with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaris.

Why the cover-up of the deficit? The answer is that the euro is more than a currency: it is a straitjacket, a set of constricting rules that, for example, prohibit any euro nation from running a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP.

That's impossible in a recession - not to mention plain insane - as it requires cutting public spending when spending is needed most. The USA, China, Brazil, India - the nations that pulled the world from depression's brink - all ran deficits way over the nutty 3 percent cap. I asked finance wiz Nomi Prins to calculate America's debt-to-GDP ratio using euro rules, and she estimates that Obama's deficits are now way down from recession's peak - to 10.2 percent of GDP.

Greece, fearing expulsion from the euro loony bin, turned to Goldman Sachs. For a mere $400 million (£263 million) in fees, plus golden sacks of ill-gotten trading gain, the investment was willing to cook the nation's books via a complex set of derivatives transactions. [For the particulars of the derivatives con, see "How Goldman Sacked Greece".]

Since the con was busted open in 2009, the Greek public has had to pay cheated bondholders a premium to insure against default of the nation's debts. The credit default insurance costs an average of $14,000 (£9,218) per family per year.

When I was a racketeering investigator working with the US Justice Department, in the days when we pretended America still had justice, we would have called the derivatives trick a "fraud on the market." We'd handcuff the perpetrators, lock 'em up, or, at the least, make them cough up their purloined profits.

So, should Goldman pay up? Not according to Pangalos, because - in the worldview of our rulers - the victims of the scam are as guilty as the victimisers. Pangalos even put it into a famous (or infamous) motto: mazi-ta-fagame. That's Greek for "We all ate it together" (a sample of which was used in a Plastic Flowers song).

But the visible evidence suggests Pangalos, not Pantelis - the kid doubled over with stomach pain - ate all the pies.

The mass privatisation of public property at wiener schnitzel prices has German speculators dipping in their spoons as well, though the Federation of German industry is complaining about Greece's own "princes" gobbling up the assets.

I was going to invite Minister Pangalos to lunch to test his theories, but he left in a pachydermic huff when I asked him about Geir Haarde. Haarde, the former Prime Minister of Iceland, was found guilty of criminally concealing his knowledge of the trickery used by Iceland's banks before they melted that nation's finances.

I asked Fat Bastard, "Do you think you too should be in prison for" similar conduct in the Greek government?

Maybe that's why Minister Pangalos didn't want to go to lunch with me.
(c) 2013 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

Women Of The Wall
By Uri Avnery

THERE WAS this Israeli man who from time to time put a slip of paper in the cracks between the stones of the Western Wall, asking God for favors - as Jews have been doing for centuries. They believe that the gates of heaven are located directly above the Wall, making it easy for their missives to arrive quickly.

The man always wondered what all the other petitioners were requesting from the Almighty. One night his curiosity got the better of him. In the wee hours of the morning he stole to the Wall, extracted all the pieces of paper and checked them. All of them were stamped "Request Denied."

This joke is typical for the attitude of a great many Israelis towards the edifice that every few months or so sets off a political and religious pandemonium.

NOW IT is happening again. A group of feminist Jewish women (mostly of American origin, of course) insists on praying at the Wall clad in praying shawls (talith) and wearing phylacteries (tefillin). They are physically attacked by the orthodox, the police have to restrain them, the Knesset and the courts intervene.

Why? According to Jewish religious law, women are not allowed to wear praying shawls, and certainly not phylacteries, which orthodox men put on their brow and forearm. They are not allowed to mingle with men at the holiest place of Judaism.

The part of the Wall set aside for prayer is about 60 meters long. 12 meters are reserved for women, separated by a low divide.

It seems that most religions are obsessed with sex. They assume that if a religious male sees a woman, whatever her age and looks, he is aroused and cannot think about anything else. So, logically, women must be hidden away.

The "Women of the Wall", many of whom are not religious at all, want to break the taboo by provocation. So there you are.

TWO YEARS before the birth of Israel, I went to look at the Western Wall for the first time . It was a moving experience.

To get to the place, you had to pass through a maze of narrow Arab alleys. In the end you found yourself in a narrow enclave, about three meters wide. To your left was the Wall - an awe-inspiring monumental structure, consisting of huge rocks. To see the top you had to lean back and look towards heaven.

On your other side was a much lower wall, behind which the ancient, poverty stricken Mugrabi (Maghribi, Moroccan) Quarter was lodged.

Very few people know - or care to know - that this enclosure did not come into being by accident. In 1516 Jerusalem was conquered by the rising world power, the Ottoman Empire, which was at the time one of the most modern and progressive states. Soon after, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built the - well, magnificent - wall of Jerusalem, as it stands today, a hugely expensive work which testifies to the immense devotion of the Ottoman Turks to this remote town in their realm. Suleiman's chief architect was Sinan, who also designed the Damascus Gate, which many people (including myself) consider the most beautiful structure in the entire country.

The benevolent Sultan instructed Sinan to set aside a special place of worship for the Jews in the town, so the architect created this enclosure at the Western Wall (not to be confused with the city wall). To make the wall more towering, he lowered the floor of the alley and put up the parallel low wall cutting it off from the surroundings. (Anyone interested in this history would be well advised to read the book "Jerusalem" by Karen Armstrong, a British ex-nun and historian.)

Legend has it that when the city wall, with all its 34 towers and seven gates, was finished in 1541, the Sultan was so overcome by its beauty the he had the architect killed. He did not want him to build anything else to compete with it.

UNTIL THEN, the Western Wall was not the main praying place for Jews.

Pilgrims from all over the world came to Jerusalem and prayed at the top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount. But this holy place had become unsafe, because while the preceding Mamluk Empire was crumbling, roaming Bedouins had been robbing the pilgrims. Also, for the local Jews, who lived side by side with the Muslims in the town, the Western Wall was much nearer to their homes. So the holy place on the Mount of Olives was abandoned. Today, a luxury hotel stands there.

Since then, the Western Wall remains the holiest place in the world for the Jews, a place where multitudes assemble on holy days, army units swear allegiance to the State of Israel, rich Jews from all over the world bring their sons for Bar Mitzva and the Women of the Wall are kicking up the latest ruckus.

But basically there is nothing holy about the Wall. It was built by King Herod, a great builder and bloody monster, who was not even a real Jew. He belonged to the people of Edom, who had only recently been forcibly converted to Judaism. I doubt whether the present Chief Rabbinate would have recognized him as a Jew and have allowed him to enter the country, marry a Jewish woman or be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Contrary to common belief, it was not a part of the Temple Herod built. To create the large platform on which the Temple stood, (and on which now stand the magnificent Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque) he had to bring in a lot of earth and raise the floor. To hold this mass together, he built a wall around it. The Western Wall is nothing but a remnant of this supporting wall. WHEN THE Israeli army conquered East Jerusalem in the June 1967 War, one of the state's first acts was an outrage. At the time, the mayor of West Jerusalem was Teddy Kollek, a convinced atheist. But he was quick to realize the political and touristic significance of the place and ordered the immediate expulsion of the entire population of the adjoining Mugrabi Quarter, some 650 Muslim human beings. He then razed the whole quarter to the ground.

I happened to be in the Old City of Jerusalem on that day, and I will never forget the sights - especially the tear-covered face of a 13-year old girl carrying a large cupboard on her back.

On the site of the destroyed quarter, a huge empty space was created. This is now the Western Wall piazza, resembling a huge parking lot, which attracts tourists and prayer-shawl-wearing women. It faces the Western Wall, which has completely lost its awe-inspiring character and now looks like just another large wall.

The late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an orthodox Jew, called it the Diskotel (kotel means wall). He was full of praise for the Wahhabis, a fundamentalist Sunni sect which, upon conquering Mecca, immediately destroyed the tomb of the prophet Muhammad, claiming that revering stones as holy places was nothing but idolatry. They would surely have condemned the Western Wall rabbis as rabid pagans.

In the Jewish myth, the burial site of Moses is unknown, so it could not become a site for adulation.

It must be mentioned to Kollek's credit that he prevented another outrage. After the destruction of the Mugrabi Quarter, David Ben-Gurion, by that time a simple member of the Knesset, demanded that the entire Old City Wall be also razed to the ground. In the newly united Jewish capital, he asserted, there was no place for a Turkish wall. Kollek, a former chief assistant to Ben-Gurion, calmed the old man down.

MANY ISRAELIS believe that the Western Wall should be declared a secular national monument, irrespective of its religious connotations. But the State of Israel declared it a holy place and put it under the sole jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate. Bad for the Wall Women.

Lately, Nathan Sharansky has proposed a compromise: clear an additional space near the wall and allow everybody - man or woman, with or without prayer shawl, and presumably straight or gay or Lesbian - to pray there. The Egg of Columbus.

(Sharansky, the former much admired rebel against the KGB in the Soviet Union and later a failed politician in Israel, has been secured a sinecure as chief of the Jewish Agency, an anachronistic institution mainly occupied with raising money for the settlers.)

The rabbis may accept the compromise or they may not. The women may be allowed to pray without risking arrest or not. But the real question is why the state gave complete control over this place, that is so important to so many people, to the orthodox rabbis. After all, they represent a minority in Israel, as well as among the world's Jews.

The answer may be political, but it touches upon a far more important aspect: the lack of separation between state and religion.

This situation is being justified - even by atheist Israelis - by the argument that Israel relies on the support of world Jewry. And what unites world Jewry? Religion. (By the way, Leibowitz once told me that the Jewish religion had been dead for 200 years, and that what united world Jewry was the memory of the Holocaust.)

Under state doctrine, Israel is the Nation-state of the Jewish people. Under Zionist doctrine, the Jewish people and the Jewish religion are one and the same. Ergo, there is and can be no separation.

Anyone wanting to turn Israel into a normal country must reject both these doctrines. Israelis are a nation, and the State of Israel belongs to this nation. Every citizen, male or female, should be able to pray to whoever he or she wants, in any public place, including the Western Wall.

The Temple Mount (known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the venerable shrine), including the Western Wall and, at a short distance, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, are of immense importance to billions of people and should be a factor for peace.

We can only hope that sometime in the future they will fulfill this mission.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Radicalized = Weaponized = Kill At Will
By Glen Ford

A Black Agenda Radio commentary.

"The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the 'radicalized' person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation."

Like all advanced police states, the U.S. national security regime has begun speaking its own, degenerate language. It is a mode of speech that simultaneously defines the "enemy" and justifies his or her destruction. The soulless, bureaucratic roots of National Security Speech belie the ruthless intent, which is to make the utter destruction of the targeted group or individual appear to be the natural order of things.

"Self-radicalization" is one of the terms coined by national security speakers. To people like President Obama, a guy who adds targets to his Kill List every Tuesday, "self-radicalization" represents a grave threat to the American state. "One of the dangers that we now face," said Obama, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, "are self-radicalized individuals who are already in the United States," because it is difficult to prevent them from carrying out "plots."

In this context, it is clear that to "radicalize" means very much the same as to "weaponize"; the radicalized person has been transformed into a weapon. A radical is no longer simply an individual "who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform," but someone who by their very thought processes represents a clear and present danger to the United States. The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the "radicalized" person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation. The operative word is "radical."

Obama is not talking about "Manchurian Candidates" who have been programmed against their will and without their knowledge to carry out acts dictated by others. He's talking about people who quite consciously object to U.S. policies, who might do something about it at some time in the future, or influence others' opinions about the United States. Obama's problem with the people he calls "self-radicalized" is that they cannot be easily entrapped or shown to be guilty by association with others who think as they do - and if they do act, their actions do not necessarily implicate others. For the fascist-minded, this must be quite frustrating.

"Assata remains radical."

Assata Shakur was radicalized [8] at least 45 years ago. An all-white jury convicted her of killing a New Jersey policeman. She escaped from prison, and has been under the protection of the Cuban government for the last 29 years, a political exile. The cop has been dead since 1973, Shakur's political party has long been defunct, and she is a grandmother far from home. But the FBI felt compelled to double the one million dollar reward for Shakur, and to elevate her to number one domestic terrorist. Why? Because Shakur continues to "maintain and promote her..."ideology" and "provides anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message." That is, she remains radical, and therefore, a weapon, even at the age of 65, isolated from her 40 million fellow African Americans, few of whom know her name. But the FBI pretends to fear that her "ideology" might go viral at any time.

They don't believe that, of course. The political police are simply determined to make radicalism - of the "self" or group inspired variety - synonymous with criminality, much in the way that "Black" is now inextricably linked with crime in the public mind. According to that formula, a Black woman radical makes the perfect poster for a political witch hunt.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Deja Vu On The Hill: Wall Street Lobbyists Roll Back Finance Reform, Again
By Matt Taibbi

It's becoming an annual tradition: Spring rolls around, and while nobody is looking, Wall Street quietly lays siege to Washington and reaches a hand out to yank the last remaining teeth out of the government's financial regulatory head.

In the last two weeks, we've seen two major developments here. There was a wave of deregulatory bills that snuck through the House with surprisingly bipartisan support, and a series of regulatory decisions by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that will seriously weaken the already-weak Dodd-Frank reform legislation, particularly with regard to derivatives trades.

If a story about a wave of bills designed to prevent the meager derivatives reforms passed in Dodd-Frank from being enacted sounds familiar, that's because it is. I wrote almost exactly the same story a year ago, in the middle of May, 2012, when a herd of Wall Street-friendly congresshumans teamed up in the House Financial Services Committee to push through a wave of nine ambitious bills targeting derivatives reform. This is from last spring:

The nine bills being contemplated by Congress take a variety of approaches to gutting Dodd-Frank. Two bills, H.R. 1840 and H.R. 2308, are essentially stalling tactics, requiring regulators to undertake more of those sweeping cost-benefit analy­ses that result in lengthy delays. Another bill, H.R. 3283, is more substantive: Sponsored by Connecticut Democrat and hedge-fund industry BFF Jim Himes, it exempts foreign affiliates of U.S. swaps dealers from all Dodd-Frank oversight.

The rule, if implemented, would make the next AIG possible, given that AIG was undone by half a trillion dollars in derivative bets produced by such a foreign affiliate - its London-based financial products outfit, AIGFP. If passed, says Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat from North Carolina, H.R. 3283 would leave a "massive, gaping hole" in Dodd-Frank. "It would be very easy to move those trades to whatever the most indulgent country would be," Miller explains.

After those bills escaped the House, most of them stalled on the way to the Senate, where of course the Democrats still hold a majority and are reluctant to openly scrap Dodd-Frank just yet.

But this is the key to understanding how financial lobbyists succeed in getting what it wants on the regulatory front: They never stop. It's not a war of ideas, it's a war of resources. You march up the Hill with some crazy idea about overturning a bill prohibiting bailouts of companies that engage in risky derivative trades, you get knocked down, and you march up again, then you march up again, and again . . .

With each successive attempt, you peel off a few more Committee members in the House, slowly but surely weakening resolve. And while you're attacking on the legislative front, you also file a series of lawsuits that tie up the process by targeting reforms in court, and then you also send armies of lobbyists to sit in the laps of regulators during the rule-making process, so that key new laws (like the Volcker rule, designed to separate risky trading from federally-insured depository banking) are either written in reams of industry-friendly language, or delayed altogether.

No matter how bad your ideas are, and how unpopular they are (or, rather, would be, if anyone in the general public understood them and/or cared enough about them to complain to their congressional reps), you can still score huge wins just by continually attacking and chipping away.

Which brings us to this month: A little while back, I got a call from someone in the House. "You wouldn't believe the shit they just pushed through the Financial Services Committee," he groaned. This person read off a list of bills, suggested I look them up, then specifically told me to look at how many Democrats voted "yea" on them.

"A lot of bad D votes on this one," was the editorial comment here.

Almost all of these bills turned out to be aimed directly at Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act, i.e. the derivatives portion. They included:

H.R. 992 would "repeal most of Dodd-Frank Section 716" of the Dodd-Frank Act. This section, also known as the "Lincoln Rule," was one of the hottest of hot potatoes during the negotiations for the Dodd-Frank bill (see here for more details).

That portion of Dodd-Frank began with a simple, bold statement:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law," it read, "no Federal assistance may be provided to any swaps entity with respect to any swap, security-based swap, or other activity of the swaps entity."

In other words, no matter what other laws are written, the federal government doesn't bail out any "swaps entities" or "activities of the swaps entities."

This sounds great, except Congress then decided on an exception or two to that law - among other things, federally-insured banks would be permitted to engage in swaps trading, so long as it was for "bona-fide hedging" and "risk-mitigation efforts."

Put another way, so long as the bank is merely guarding against loss, such behaviors are okay and bail-out-able.

But we've already seen that banks call pretty much anything hedging. In the case of the infamous London Whale trades - which were the very definition of stupid, reckless, doubling-and-tripling-down on insane billion-dollar bets high-stakes gambling - Chase and Jamie Dimon tried to call that activity hedging. Later, of course, in the Senate, Dimon was forced to admit that the trades, er, maybe were not hedging at all.

The lesson of this is that no law that allows "hedging" as an exemption will have much teeth, because most banks can find a way to call almost anything they do hedging.

But apparently this wasn't enough. This new bill in the House baldly expands the universe of trading activities that we may later have to bail out. It's actually written that way - check out this summary of H.R. 992, the "Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act" (God, I love the names):

Declares the prohibition against federal government bailouts of swaps entities inapplicable to: (1) a foreign banking organization supervised by the Federal Reserve; and (2) an insured depository institution or a U.S. uninsured branch or agency of a foreign bank that limits its swap and security-based swap activities to hedging and similar risk mitigating activities (as under current law), non-structured finance swap activities, and certain structured finance swap activities.

In English, this just means that in addition to hedging, which we banks think is pretty much everything we do, we'd like to be eligible for bailouts when we engage in "non-structured finance swap activities and certain structured finance swap activities."

If you read the fine print, what they mean by "certain structured finance swap activities" are swaps of a type and quality "to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules," i.e. to be determined later during the rule-making process.

So to sum up, we banks would like to remain eligible for bailouts when we engage in hedging, which we think is everything we do, and also additionally when we engage in "certain structured finance swap activities," which will mean whatever we tell the rule-makers it means after the bill is passed.

This bill passed by a vote of 53-6 in the Financial Services Committee. Only six House members voted against expanding the types of financial behaviors that we may later have to bail out. Go figure.

Also passing in committee:

H.R. 1062, the "SEC Regulatory Accountability Act," is the same bill as H.R. 2308 from last year, requiring the SEC to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of any new rule before it is adopted. These "cost-benefit analysis" bills are pure stalling tactics. They have absolutely no purpose other than to force the government to spend valuable time, effort and money engaging in pointless reviews of rules that already in some cases take years to craft, incidentally with the constant input of bank lobbyists.

Politically, these bills serve another function. They allow members that may have voted for a certain reform originally to recoup some status with the banks by left-handedly undermining the rule later on with these pointless cost-benefit delays. This one passed 31-28 in committee.

Then there was H.R. 1256, the "Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act," which:

. . . exempt[s] a non-U.S. person in compliance with the swaps regulatory requirements of a G20 member nation from U.S. swaps requirements unless the SEC and CFTC jointly determine that the regulatory requirements are not "broadly equivalent" to U.S. swaps requirements.

This is yet another leprechaun trick. What it basically means is that if you're Goldman or Chase and you have an office in some place like Mexico or Turkey or Russia or Saudi Arabia, you can do all the swaps business you want from there, under whatever film of derivatives regulation exists in that country, without having to comply with U.S. swaps rules.

That is, unless the SEC and the CFTC make a joint determination that that country's laws are not "broadly equivalent" to our own.

This really just gives banks permission to go around the world regulator shopping. "It just makes it harder for the SEC to prevent regulatory arbitrage," is how one analyst put it to me. "That's all it does."

That one passed 48-11.

There are six more such bills, and who knows, the Senate might hold the line on all of them. But even if it does, nobody can stop regulators from backtracking on reform by writing crappy rules, which is also happening.

This past week, the CFTC released a series of new rules governing the swaps business. The rules are highly technical and basically unintelligible to people who don't work in these markets. But there are some basic concepts that can be understood.

To backtrack a little, the aim of reformers going into the Dodd-Frank debates was to do what FDR did with stocks after the crash of 1929: put them on open exchanges. That reform worked and has made the stock market a safe, thriving financial arena ever since. Today, when you go to buy a share of IBM stock, anyone can see what the price is, and there's constant data on bids and offers being that is made available to anyone who wants to participate.

But in the existing "over the counter" market for derivatives, the whole thing is a black box. There's no exchange where you can see with the price of this or that interest rate swap or credit default swap is.

"It's basically just a bunch of people on the telephone," is how Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets puts it. And when the five biggest banks control most of the derivatives market, the potential is there for all sorts of abuses.

The anemic Dodd-Frank bill halted well shy of forcing derivatives onto exchanges (coupled with the failure to break up the TBTF banks, it was the largest failure in the bill). Instead, it set up a structure of what are called "Swap Execution Facilities," or SEFs, which are a step somewhere between a completely opaque black box and an open exchange.

In the SEF model, participants can see some pricing data, but it's far from a system like the stock market, in which data from all trades is immediately and transparently posted. In fact, Wall Street has been fighting tooth and nail ever since Dodd-Frank passed to keep the activity in the SEFs as close to the old black-box model as possible.

There are two main avenues for preventing transparent swap trades. One is through something called an RFQ, or "request for quote," which allows participants in the market to pursue trading on an essentially private, person-to-person basis, without broadcasting the transaction to everyone. The other is through "block trades," which are trades so big that they can be done outside of the exchanges.

Without getting too far into the weeds, the new CFTC rules will significantly expand the use of both loopholes. "Wall Street and its allies fought to get as few RFQs as possible and to allow as many block trades as possible in the final rules," says Kelleher, adding that this was done to "prevent a level playing field, competition and transparency."

Essentially, the rules as written will keep the derivatives market functioning in pretty much identical fashion to the old "bunch of guys on the telephone" model. "It's pretty much the same system," sighs Kelleher. Members of Congress, when they talk about having to vote on issues like derivative reform, express frustration about the political dynamics of this debate. When they go back to their districts, nobody is standing up at town halls and shaking fists about relaxing rules at Swap Execution Facilities.

On the other hand, when they return to Washington, they're inundated with bank lobbyists who offer extensive financial backing if they play ball on these votes, while simultaneously threatening to run primary candidates if they don't. Thus there are plenty of people in both parties who are extremely tempted to look the other way and accede to bank interests when it comes to the question of building the infrastructure for, say, the derivatives markets.

Moreover, the Democrats have become the victims of their own pusillanimity on these issues. The main Wall Street argument against these new rules is that they're excessive and onerously complicated. But they're only complicated because the Democrats didn't have the stones in the original Dodd-Frank debate to insist on simple concepts like putting all trades on open exchanges.

Instead, they built a system based upon a series of fiendishly complicated compromises. They keep adding more and more fine print to the infrastructural rules for things like Swap Execution Facilities and deriviatives clearing, and the more fine print there is, the more cracks and crevices Wall Street's lawyers can find to slither through.

Anyway, this is just a reminder that when it comes to getting transparency in the financial markets, this is what it takes. You have to fight the same fight over and over and over again. And again . . .
(c) 2013 Matt Taibbi

Cantor's Con Would Steal Workers' Overtime Pay

Little Eric Cantor, the prancing political prissy who serves as the GOP's House majority leader, apparently thinks he's too slick to get caught in an outright legislative lie - or maybe he thinks we rubes are too dumb to figure out that he's trying to slick us.

Either way, a crude deceit is at the very heart of his Working Families Flexibility Act," which he recently slid through the House. It eliminates a central piece of America's middle-class framework, namely the 8-hour workday and 40-hour week. Under the 1938 Fair Labor Law, bosses can make hourly employees work extra, but only by paying an overtime wage for the added hours.

Cantor claims his bill would improve this New Deal protection by letting corporate managers require extra hours on the job without overtime pay by offering "comp time" to the employees. In other words, work more hours now in exchange for taking-off those same number of hours later on.

With a wink at corporate lobbyists, Eric slyly refers to this switch as "women-friendly," allowing working moms the flexibility to decide when to take time off. Therein lies the lie.

It's not workers who get to decide, but bosses. Note that Cantor's bill does not guarantee employees the right to use the time-off they would earn by giving up extra pay. They can use the comp time only if and when the employer says it's okay - which might be never. Also, even if employees are granted time off, bosses can require them to be on-call during their "free" time.

Cantor's bill is a con. It hands workplace flexibility to corporations, not to "moms," while also stealing the hard-won right of workers to be assured of an 8-hour day, or extra pay. For more information, contact the National Partnership for Women and Families.
(c) 2013 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The May 2013 U of M Regents meeting was at the Fairlane Center in Dearborn, Mich.

U Of M, The NCAA & The 'C-Word'
By Mike Wrathell

"Did you ever have a sister? did you?" ~~~ William Faulkner ~ The Sound And The Fury

"Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount." ~~~ The Core Purpose of the NCAA from their Mission Statement

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Yes, I do, Mr. Faulkner. Thanks for asking. And so do Katie Hnida's brothers. Katie Hnida is the first woman to play Division I College Football, both at The University of Colorado Boulder, or CU-Boulder, or CU (where she was raped by a teammate and called a "cunt" during the despicable act) and at The University of New Mexico, or UNM, where she kicked two extra points in one game, becoming also the first woman to score points in a Division I football game.

A few months after Ms. Hnida was raped, President Betsy Hoffman of CU said about the word "cunt" in a deposition that "....I've actually heard it used as term of endearment." Perhaps U of M President Mary Sue Coleman and Ms. Hoffman playfully used that archaic sense of the term to each other at a tea and crumpets party; but Ms. Hnida insists in her book Still Kicking that when she was being raped it was said with hate and viciousness, as most people would think the word is usually used. Unfortunately, some college presidents are as out of it as the Laputans of Gulliver's Travels. I'm not sure what circles Former CU President Hoffman travels in; but to make such an insensitive comment in reference to the rape of one of her own students poignantly illustrates the dire need for the NCAA to implement a Bill of Rights for student-athletes and revise or abolish a few of their existing rules.

Ms. Hnida was so traumatized by being raped, and the subsequent lack of support from Coach Gary Barnett, who contemplated smearing her in an e-mail to the Athletic Director of CU after she came forward about the rape, writing, "How aggressive should I be re; Katie...sexual conquests by her etc." That was infamously followed by the bizarre comment of President Hoffman - forcing Ms. Hnida to decide to leave CU. Still Kicking well-documents the disgusting way in which the NCAA made Ms. Hnida jump through one hoop after another before she could finally play football again for NMU. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about collegiate student-athletes.

When I addressed the Regents of The University of Michigan at their monthly meeting this month at the Dearborn Campus on May 16, I told them I "highly recommend" they read Ms. Hnida's book. If you know any of them, or ever run into them, I'd appreciate it if you'd ask them if they've read it, and get back to me with their reply, in fact. There'll be a comment section after this article, and my email address is listed, to boot. I included in the supporting materials I presented the Regents and President Coleman before my address an excerpt from Still Kicking that contained the nefarious passage in which President Hoffman whitewashed the use of the word "cunt" during the rape of Ms. Hnida for the purpose of saving CU some money that would perhaps come out of her annual bonus. Can't have that! Here it is:

"CU president Betsy Hoffman had given testimony in a deposition early in June, and on the 15th, her testimony was released to the public. The deposition was for the case of the women suing the university, but I was also one of the topics of discussion. Specifically, Hoffman was asked if being called a "cunt" was sexual harassment. At first she answered that it wasn't really her place to determine whether or not it was sexual harassment.

The attorney then asked her if "cunt" was a "filthy, vile, offensive term."

"That word is...yeah. I mean, it's a swear word," she answered. But Hoffman then went on to say that the meaning of the word "cunt" actually depended on the context in which it was used. She was then asked if there were possibly any polite context where it might be used.

"Yes, I've actually heard it used as a term of endearment." Was she kidding? Hoffman had heard the word "cunt" used as a term of endearment? When the papers ran the story, the word was considered offensive enough that they didn't even use the term "cunt" --they simply referred to it as the "c-word."

University officials immediately went into damage control. A spokes- person defended Hoffman, saying she is a medieval scholar and knew that centuries ago, the word "cunt" was a compliment. Geoffrey Chaucer used the term in a positive way in his classic 12-century book The Canterbury Tales.

The player who called me the term was definitely not quoting Chaucer and we were living in an enlightened 21st century, or at least I thought we were.

Actually, I felt sorry for Hoffman. I don't believe she meant to be offensive when she said the word "cunt" could be a compliment. I think she got flustered under all the questioning and had something come out in a very wrong way." Pages 265-266, Still Kicking.

The honor of U of M and all member institutions of the NCAA is at stake. That includes CMU, WSU, WMU, OU, NMU, LSSU, UDM, and MSU. 1,281 members all told have their honor compromised as long as what happened to Ms. Hnida when she tried to transfer from CU can happen again. That Ms. Hnida had to grovel before the NCAA and use her own rape as a reason why she shouldn't be punished with the loss of one-year of athletic eligibility should never happen to another student-athlete anywhere ever. Supposedly, as stated in the Core Purpose of the NCAA, "...the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount." Really? If that is the case, why must a student-athlete lose a year of athletic eligibility if they transfer schools (absent a waiver one must grovel sufficiently for) while a football coach like Rich Rodriguez (who President Coleman proudly "enticed" to leave West Virginia University right before their appearance in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl) can actually coach the opposing team at said Bowl Game as far as the NCAA is concerned? So, not only does U of M tacitly endorse the Core Purpose of the NCAA being treated like mere boilerplate, it actively flaunts its contempt for the Core Purpose in the face of all student-athletes, past, present, and future.

How do you think the players on the UWV team's educational experience was enhanced by the defection of Coach Rodriguez a few days before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, leaving seniors in the lurch before the last game of their collegiate careers? I wonder if President Coleman had a fleeting thought about them when she met with Rich Rod in Toledo a week or so before his defection. I bet not. She was just interested in "sealing the deal" ala Donald Trump. Was it so important that U of M traumatize the UWV football team and the entire state of West Virginia days before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl when the new football season didn't start for eight more months? What ever happened to integrity and honor in Ann Arbor? In fact, one of the Core Values of the NCAA, and every member institution should be held accountable to said values is, "The highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship." Why is integrity such a hard thing for The University of Michigan to abide by? For the record, the time before I spoke to the Regents (the first two times being in Ann Arbor), I called for them to fire President Mary Sue Coleman. I didn't make such a demand this time as she is stepping down soon. By the way, I heard the Regents are saying their search for a new college president isn't subject to the Freedom of Information Act, even though U of M is a public university. Sound odd to you, too? With six of the eight Regents being fellow attorneys, you would think they would respect FOIA; but, like elected officials everywhere, I guess, once you get in office, you do everything in your power to see that the laws apply to everyone but you. Very sad.

Maybe if I bug the Regents enough, they'll get a clue. It's my hope that this article will show them the error of their ways, and give them proper guidance to restore the glory, integrity and honor, not only of the U of M, but also the NCAA. As a member institution, U of M and even me, as an alumnus, has a moral obligation, I think, to stand up and be heard, and not allow the NCAA to trample on the human rights of student-athletes. We all have the right to pursue happiness in America. It's a basic, human right, too - but it's even in the founding documents of our nation. The rule changes I'm proposing should be advocated at the next annual meeting of the NCAA this July in Indianapolis by a representative of the U of M. Is that too much to ask? If I am right, admit it and run with it. Is that so hard to understand, Regents? Need I add that standing up for the honor of student-athletes might help us land a few blue chips who might respect us for doing the right thing by showing some tangible courage?

NCAA President Mark Emmert in 2010 stated that, "We must be student-centered in all that we do. The Association was founded on the notion of integrating athletics into the educational experience, and we have to make sure we deliver on that 100-year-old promise. We have to remind ourselves that this is about the young men and women we asked to come to our schools for a great educational experience. We have to collectively deliver on those promises. That's what you care about. That's why we're in this business."

The NCAA talks the talk; but it sure doesn't walk the walk. U of M, as the owner of one of the all-time, most-hallowed college football programs, cannot sit idly by as student-athlete after student-athlete is humiliated and abused and spit out like a cherry pit by the NCAA. U of M can, and must, stand up and demand full enforcement of the Core Purpose and Core Values of the NCAA or its own honor is also impinged. Furthermore, I think it's high time for a Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, a Bill that includes the right to transfer colleges without reprisal, the right to retain an agent when testing the waters of a professional league draft, the right for all claims of abuse to be investigated thoroughly, and the right to be treated with integrity and honor at all times by college personnel. This is necessary, unfortunately, to provide back-up to the NCAA's Mission Statement, given the sad history of its boilerplatification and the spineless lack of will of member institutions - ignominiously afraid to stand up to the NCAA's bureaucracy. Afraid, perhaps, that the NCAA will decide to retaliate and investigate any school that stands up to them for recruiting violations and whatnot, costing said school millions of dollars in teevy revenue, etc. Even if they probably will do that (and I don't put anything past them), U of M still needs to demand the changes I am outlining here.

Why is U of M afraid of the NCAA's shadow? Don't we have enough money saved up? U of M's budget is $6 billion dollars a year - the highest budget of any public university in America. Okay, now and then, we get caught cheating and the penalty might be more severe if we sometimes call the NCAA out on their dung. This is the home of the brave, Regents; and if you're cowards, you don't belong in elective office; so do the right thing, and send a representative to the annual meeting to address these issues this July! If you don't, knowing the story of Katie Hnida, and the case of the U of M female cross country runner reportedly raped by a U of M football player, and threatened by another football player with another rape if she didn't drop the charge (both of whom are still active members of the 2013 team), how can you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you sleep? do you? The same goes for the Washtenaw County Prosecutor...grow a pair, dude!

As I told the Regents and President Coleman in Dearborn last Thursday (my third address to them on the subject), the reason why schools are so keen on "enticing" (President Coleman's word) football coaches from other member institutions before the end of Bowl Season is to augment the likelihood of landing blue chip high school players on National Letter of Intent Day, which is now not even a month after the Bowl Championship Game. The competition is fierce for top prospects, as you might imagine, so integrity and honor fly out the window as member institutions fight like punk rockers in a mosh pit for the McDonald's All-Stars. Who will sign Mayor McCheese? Will it be USC or Notre Dame? Will Michigan sneak through the pile like a hungry rat with radar? Go Blue!

The obvious and absolutely necessary solution, like I told the Regents, is to push forward the National Letter of Intent Day from the first week of February to March, or even April. There is no compelling reason the Day can't be moved closer to high school graduation day. None. If you think you have one, let's hear it, bucco! There is a comment section and you can post on Facebook, too!

One of the stated Core Values of the NCAA is "Respect for institutional autonomy and philosophical differences." Like I told the Regents, what about respecting the autonomy of student-athletes? That needs to be in their Bill of Rights, too! If a U of M pole vaulter falls in love with a Wake Forest hurdler at a track meet in Dayton and wants to transfer to Wake Forest, or vice versa, what compelling reason does the NCAA have in punishing one of the young lovers with the loss of one-year of athletic eligibility? I thought so! None! So much for Emmert's "student-centered in all we do" remark. Yet, when Rich Rod jumped ship, he didn't miss a beat. The double standard is nauseatingly hypocritical and lacking in any shred of integrity.

Another rule in dire need of change is if a student-athlete desires to test the waters of a professional draft with a sports agent by their side, they lose everything. All athletic eligibility and all scholarships. That exhibits the same cretinous mentality that presumes that if someone charged with a crime retains or requests an attorney, they must be guilty. As six of the eight Regents are attorneys, I hope my analogy isn't lost on them. The threshold for losing one's athletic eligibility and scholarships should be if, and only if, the student-athlete signs a professional contract. Furthermore, if said student-athlete is cut from the team and not signed elsewhere, never playing a professional contest, they should be able to go back and finish their degree with a "full pardon" and have their benefits reinstated if they want to come back. Otherwise, the words of President Emmert are a joke.

Lastly, I want to apologize to anyone whose minds were stunned into non-receptiveness for my use of the word "cunt" at the May 16, 2013 Regents' Meeting. It wasn't a premeditated act. I figured, on the spur of the moment, that Ms. Katie Hnida had to hear that word while she was being raped, and, there being no children at the meeting, but actually people who have the power to send a voting representative to the NCAA's annual meeting this July in my presence, it would be cowardly on my part to self-censor myself and deprive my presentation of its penultimate impact by sharing something of the pain Katie must've felt - using a facsimile of that pain to awaken dormant outrage that all Humanity must feel somewhere inside them at such a wrong done to a woman, whether you have a sister or not. That being said, I apologize to those who feel they need one. I realize you don't hear that word when you are watching your soap operas or listening to WOMC. Go back to your little world of Barbie and Ken dolls and peaceful strolls across the Diag on a Sunday afternoon when all that unpleasant riff raff aren't around.

Now then, what are you, my Regents, going to do to see that no woman ever has to endure the humiliation and pain inflicted on Katie Hnida by the NCAA? If you need a moment to gather your wits, go ahead and take it. Oh, and if President Coleman doesn't have the chutzpah to address the NCAA on these issues, delegate me! I'd be happy to go to Indy, and I promise not to say, well, you know....

And to the person who called me out after my address and accused me of cheap sensationalism by using the "c-word," try having a bit of empathy, dude, otherwise you come off as a shrill prude from Laputa.

Finally, Ms. Hninda states in her book that her dream is to one day kick in the NFL. She's been kicking on some semi-pro teams like the Colorado Cougars, the Fort Wayne FireHawks, and the KC Mustangs, but wouldn't it be cool if the Lions or the Broncos let her kick for them, even if only for one game? I mentioned that to U of M Athletic Director David Brandon and he scoffed at the idea. You need to read Still Kicking, dude, and work on your empathy skills, too. Shall I share your email to me with the world?
(c) 2013 Mike Wrathell is the editor of Issues & Alibis Magazine.

The Abnormal Concept Of Ownership
By James Donahue

The great wall of division among humanity has always been wealth. And wealth can be interpreted as ownership. Those with wealth possess land, the society's monetary supply, and consequently power.

Imagine living in a society where ownership of "things" does not exist. Believe it or not, such social groups really exist on Earth, but usually in primitive tribal settings. But their very existence strongly suggests that property ownership has been an invention resulting from the rise in social structure into collective behavior among larger numbers of people.

It has been said that when Europeans first stepped on American soil, the natives were puzzled at the idea of "owning land." Some of the languages lacked words to even describe personal ownership of anything.

When my wife and I lived among the Navajo people of the Southwest, we discovered that the natives were attempting to change the tribal name to Dine (pronounced Di-nay), which in the Navajo language means "people of the Earth." They complained that the Spanish give them the name Navajo, which meant "thief." This was obviously because the Navajo had no concept of personal ownership and used whatever they found to meet their personal needs.

An example of this behavior among the Navajo was often demonstrated during our time with them. While our Navajo hosts generously shared their home, food and resources during our time with them, we discovered that many of the personal items we brought with us, carefully stored in boxes in an out-building went missing by the time we left the reservation. We could not be angry because we understood the mindset of the people. Even the house we were sharing was provided by the United States government. There were no property boundaries in Navajo territory, which spaned four adjoining states. The great revolutionary socialist Karl Marx, whose books The Communist Manifesto and Capital helped spark the socialist movement, saw the disparity created by capitalism and property ownership. He defined the conflict between an ownership class that controls production and the proletariat, or laborers that slave to produce for the ownership class. He called capitalism the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" and said it was run by the wealthy classes for their own benefit.

The concepts of communism and some forms of socialism that have evolved since Marx's day go so far as to uphold the idea that private ownership of capital is inherently illegitimate. This is because it always benefits the wealthy over the poor, thus creating domination over the working class.

One unidentified commentator on an Internet website, in examining this subject, wrote: "We're used to thinking of ownership as a given mechanism in life because it's ingrained in the culture and language that forms our mindset."

Indeed, in industrialized nations, workers slave for the monetary rewards that provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families. The dream of every household is to own a small piece of land with a house on it, perhaps a car in the yard, and a collection of domestic comforts within the home. Thus the concept of "ownership" is truly engrained in our psyche.

But the world concept of private ownership is drastically changing as our numbers increase, the gluttony of having things spreads around the planet, we carelessly pollute and destroy our land, water and air, and the world's natural resources begin to run out.

There was a time when even those of us living in a capitalistic society believed that the air and water and sunlight were free for the taking. Had we lived at an earlier time, we might also have included ownership and use of the land. But even this is disappearing. The State of Oregon, for example, now has a law on the books that claims all of the water in the state to be government owned. If citizens wish to use the water to farm, divert its natural flow in a stream, or store it in a private pond, they must acquire permission to do so. In Oregon it is against the law to even collect rainwater from the roof of your home unless it is collected in a barrel or tub. Once it hits the ground, the water is state-owned.

As the demand for fresh water has been increasing, its availability has been on the decrease. Natural underground aquifers are drying up. Cities and rural homeowners are drilling deeper and deeper to find well water. Southern California draws water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Colorado River. New York City gets its fresh water from the Catskill Mountains located over 100 miles away.

The appearance of drinking water in plastic gallon bottles now can be found in stores across the land and more and more private corporations are acquiring private access to fresh water sources. As big corporations like Monsanto, Nestle Corp., True Alaska, and T. Bone Pickens buy up water rights around the world, the concept of having to buy the water we drink, and paying whatever the market will bear, is starting to sink in.

If that drink of water is no longer free, what is next? Will wealthy corporations soon find a way to sell us clean air to breathe? If we don't stop allowing industry to carelessly spew carbons and other toxins into the atmosphere, expect to soon be walking around with air tanks strapped to our backs and breathing masks on our faces.
(c) 2013 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Attorney General Eric Holder committing treason!

'Our Liberty Cannot Be Guarded But By The Freedom Of The Press'
By John Nichols

Democrats and Republicans working together in Washington to address abuses of basic liberties? Bipartisan responses to the challenges that arise in the grey area where balances are struck between constitutional guarantees and national security demands? Impossible. Can't happen. There is no way in these days of fury and scandal-mongering.

Actually, there is a way.

A genuine left-right coalition has developed over the past several days in response to the revelation that the Department of Justice seized Associated Press telephone records in its recent investigation of a CIA leak. And that coalition is likely to strengthen in light of the news that the DOJ investigated the reporting activities of Fox News's chief Washington correspondent as a potential crime-"solicitation" of leaks. The latter development, in many senses more troubling than the former, calls into question whether basic protections for both reporters and whistleblowers are crumbling after more than a decade of Patriot Act abuses, Bush and Obama administration excesses and the politicization of debates about what were once accepted standards for protecting the public's right to know and the privacy rights that underpin it.

In moments so rigorously partisan as these, many members of Congress will retreat to their corners, mounting attacks or making excuses. But there are some serious legislators, libertarian-leaning Republicans and progressive Democrats, who understand the urgency of the moment.

They get that the revelations about DOJ overreach reveal a threat not just to freedom of the press but to the most necessary of press functions: the work of revealing for citizens the details of what their government is doing in their name but without their informed consent. None of these members are foolish or casual in their approach; they understand that it is necessary for the government to protect against the leaking of information that could endanger people. But they also understand that it is possible to provide that protection within a constitutional context.

Perhaps most importantly, they get that the best way to protect the First Amendment guarantee of a free press is to protect the Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy. Journalists do not need-and should not seek-an array of special protections to do their jobs. But journalists and their sources do need to know that information can be shared without the threat of unwarranted-and self-serving-government surveillance of necessary conversations.

It is with this in mind that four very different members of Congress (Michigan Republican Justin Amash, South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney, California Democrat Zoe Lofgren and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis) have proposed a precise and appropriate response to the overreach by the Department of Justice. While the White House and key members of the Senate are backing a Shield Law, which protects journalists from being required to reveal sources, the House members are going deeper-to protect not just journalists but all citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures." They seek a Telephone Records Protection Act, which requires court approval when the government demands telephone records from service providers.

"The Justice Department's seizure of the AP's phone records-likely without the sign-off of a single judge-raises serious First and Fourth Amendment concerns," says Amash, who has emerged as a hero to libertarian-leaning conservatives. "Regardless of whether DOJ violates the legitimate privacy expectations of reporters or ordinary Americans, we deserve to know that the federal government can't seize our records without judicial review."

Polis, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says, "Americans of all political stripes were shocked to find out that the Department of Justice had been accessing telephone records of reporters at the Associated Press. The Department of Justice claims that they operated within the confines of the law, which makes it abundantly clear that we need to provide a higher level of protection against government intrusion into an individual's private records."

This is an essential equation for all Americans who value the right to privacy outlined in the Fourth Amendment. But it is especially essential when it comes to constructing a press system that serves the intention expressed by the founders: to inform citizens so that they can, with their votes, steer the affairs of state.

This is what Thomas Jefferson recognized more than 227 years ago when he wrote to John Jay, "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it."

Jefferson explained that "No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions."

Associated Press President Gary Pruitt updated the Jeffersonian premise when he explained that the Justice Department's actions were not just "unconstitutional" but destructive to the public's right to know, insofar as such monitoring of media makes sources less willing to talk to journalists and reduces the likelihood that citizens will learn what their government is up to.

"If they restrict that apparatus [of newsgathering about controversial government actions] the people of the United States will only know what the government wants them to know and that's not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment," explained the head of the country's largest news service.

Pruitt's right. No matter what action is taken, or not taken, journalists will continue to clog the corridors of the Capitol and crowd into White House press briefings. The question is whether those journalists will be present to challenge the status quo or as mere stenographers to power.

That's a distinction that members of Congress who take seriously their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States understand. Indeed, it is the distinction that James Madison, the essential player in the drafting of the core document and of the Bill of Rights, was getting at when he said, "A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Justin Amash and Jared Polis are not going to agree on most issues. Neither are Mick Mulvaney and Zoe Lofgren.

But they can agree on the basic outlines of the American experiment and how it must operate.

This is as the founders of that experiment intended: a free press providing a free people with the information they need to be their own governors.

Why trade happiness for anti-government malcontent?
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Another Memorial Day In This Endless War
By Amy Goodman

In a remarkable but little-noticed oversight hearing last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee looked at "The Law of Armed Conflict, the Use of Military Force, and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force." The 2001 AUMF is the act passed by Congress on Sept. 14, three days after the al-Qaida attacks on the United States.

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, opened his questioning of the military officials before him by stating: "Gentlemen, I've only been here five months, but this is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I've been to since I've been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today."

King's statement followed the questioning by longtime South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who recently pushed to have the Boston bombing suspect-a U.S. citizen accused of a violent crime on U.S. soil-named an "enemy combatant," denying him his constitutional rights. Graham enjoyed unanimous agreement from the panelists to his series of questions:

"Do you agree with me that when it comes to international terrorism, we're talking about a worldwide struggle?"

"Would you agree with me the battlefield is wherever the enemy chooses to make it?"

"And it could be anyplace on the planet, and we have to be aware and able to act."

The message was clear from the Pentagon: The world is a battlefield.

The AUMF reads, in part, "the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Only one member of Congress voted against that 2001 bill. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said from the floor of the House of Representatives: "I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. ... Some of us must urge the use of restraint ... and think through the implications of our actions today, so this does not spiral out of control."

Clearly, Sen. Angus King thinks things have spiraled out of control. As does journalist Jeremy Scahill, whose new book, "Dirty Wars," is subtitled, "The World Is a Battlefield." Scahill told me: "The concept of 'The World Is a Battlefield' actually is ... a military doctrine called 'Operational Preparation of the Battlespace,' which views the world as a battlefield. [If] the military predicts that conflicts are likely or that war is a possibility, [they] can forward deploy troops to those countries to prepare the battlefield. And under both Bush and Obama, the world has been declared the battlefield." His film "Dirty Wars," based on the book and directed by Richard Rowley, opens in theaters nationally this June.

Close to 12 years later, the AUMF remains in force, giving the Obama administration and the Pentagon carte blanche to wage war, to occupy nations, to kill people with drone "signature strikes," based not on guilt but on a remote analysis of a suspect's "patterns of life." As these wars become increasingly hidden, it becomes even more important for journalists to go to where the silence is, to hold those in power accountable.

Which is why the Obama administration seems to be waging low-intensity warfare on journalists at home, with dragnet surveillance of reporters to uncover protected sources, and targeting of whistle-blowers with unprecedented use of the espionage act. More than 100 prisoners at the U.S. base on Guantanamo are engaged in a life-threatening hunger strike. Most of them have never been charged and are cleared for release, but remain in that American gulag, with no hope, no change.

Memorial Day, while for many not much more than a three-day weekend, will be marked by many solemn ceremonies. At the time of this writing, the most recent U.S. deaths in Afghanistan were two soldiers from the Pacific island of Guam, Sgt. Eugene M. Aguon, 23, and Spc. Dwayne W. Flores, 22, killed by a so-called improvised explosive device on May 16. Unreported by the Pentagon are the hundreds of soldier and veteran suicides, which now account for more deaths than combat. The backlog at Veterans Affairs, as of May 20, was more than 873,000 benefits claims pending, 584,000 of which were pending for more than 125 days.

Thomas Paine wrote in the March 21, 1778, edition of his pamphlet The Crisis, "If there is a sin superior to every other, it is that of willful and offensive war ... he who is the author of a war, lets loose the whole contagion of hell, and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death."
(c) 2013 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Global Capital And The Nation State
By Robert Reich

As global capital becomes ever more powerful, giant corporations are holding governments and citizens up for ransom - eliciting subsidies and tax breaks from countries concerned about their nation's "competitiveness" - while sheltering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions they can find. Major advanced countries - and their citizens - need a comprehensive tax agreement that won't allow global corporations to get away with this.

Google, Amazon, Starbucks, every other major corporation, and every big Wall Street bank, are sheltering as much of their U.S. profits abroad as they can, while telling Washington that lower corporate taxes are necessary in order to keep the U.S. "competitive."

Baloney. The fact is, global corporations have no allegiance to any country; their only objective is to make as much money as possible - and play off one country against another to keep their taxes down and subsidies up, thereby shifting more of the tax burden to ordinary people whose wages are already shrinking because companies are playing workers off against each other.

I'm in London for a few days, and all the talk here is about how Goldman Sachs just negotiated a sweetheart deal to settle a tax dispute with the British government; Google is manipulating its British sales to pay almost no taxes here by using its low-tax Ireland subsidiary (the chair of the Parliamentary committee investigating this has just called the do-no-evil firm "devious, calculating, and unethical"); Amazon has been found to route its British sales through a subsidiary in low-tax Luxembourg, and now receives more in subsidies from the British government than it pays here in taxes; Starbucks' tax-avoidance strategy was so blatant British consumers began boycotting the firm until it reversed course.

Meanwhile, At a time when you'd expect nations to band together to gain bargaining power against global capital, the opposite is occurring: Xenophobia is breaking out all over.

Here in Britain, the UK Independence Party - which wants to get out of the European Union - is rapidly gaining ground, becoming the third most popular party in the country, according to a new poll for The Independent on Sunday. Almost one in five people plan to vote for it in the next general election. Ukip's overall ratings have risen four points to 19 per cent in the past month, despite Prime Minister David Cameron's efforts to wrest back control of the crucial debate over Britain's relationship with the European Union.

Right-wing nationalist parties are gaining ground elsewhere in Europe as well. In the U.S., not only are Republicans sounding more nationalistic of late (anti-immigrant, anti-trade), but they continue to push "states rights" - as states increasingly battle against one another to give global companies ever larger tax breaks and subsidies.

Nothing could strengthen the hand of global capital more than such breakups.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

German Wages And Portuguese Competitiveness (A Bit Wonkish)
By Paul Krugman

There's a three-cornered debate among Ryan Avent, Tyler Cowen, and Karl Smith over the extent to which a more expansionary ECB policy would help the European periphery.

I very much agree with Avent and Smith that Cowen, who worries that such a policy would largely lead to inflation in Germany rather than a boom in Portugal, is completely missing the point; that's a feature, not a bug.

But what really puzzles me about Cowen's exposition here is his misplaced focus on the extent to which Portugal and Germany are in direct competition with each other, or to which Germany is Portugal's main export market. This is very nearly irrelevant - because the point is that Germany and Portugal, for better or (mainly) worse, now share a currency, and what happens in Germany very much affects the value of that currency relative to other currencies.

Cowen writes that rising wages in Germany

solves (at best) only one of the core problems of the eurozone, namely incorrect relative prices between Portugal and Germany. It helps less with the "Portuguese nominal wages are too high" problem...

OK, stop right there. When you say "Portuguese nominal wages are too high", you have to explain, too high relative to what? As Rudi Dornbusch always used to say, it takes two nominals to make a real.

And the answer, clearly, is "too high relative to German wages." What else could it be?

But, you say, Portugal doesn't compete that much with Germany. Ahem. Suppose that I could wave a magic wand (or play a few notes on a a Magic Flute) and suddenly increase all German wages by 20 percent. What do you think would happen to the value of the euro against the dollar and other currencies? It would drop a lot, yes? And Portuguese exports would become a lot more competitive everywhere, including non-German and indeed non-Euro destinations.

I guess I thought this was obvious. Apparently not.

Again, as Ryan says, the crucial difference between German/ Portuguese economic relations and, say, US/ El Salvador (whoops: some central American countries have dollarized. But that was their choice, not part of a grand project like the euro) relations is that Germany and Portugal share a currency. This creates obligations for Germany, whether it likes them or not.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men"
~~~ Voltaire

Texas Blast Exposes The New Normal
By David Sirota

If I told you that government officials possessed ironclad proof that an imminent threat to this nation had the capacity to create a 9/11's worth of injuries and deaths every year at an annual economic cost of a quarter trillion dollars, ask yourself: Would you say we should do something about it?

I'm guessing you would. Out of a basic sense of patriotism, you would probably at minimum support some new security regulations and investments in enforcing those regulations, even if that meant paying slightly higher taxes. After all, you profess to love America, and that's the least we should do in the face of such a threat to our country, right?

Now ask yourself: Would your response to the original query change if you discovered that the threat at hand was not from a terrorist, but from unsafe workplaces - and that because of that unaddressed problem, these casualties and costs have already become a fact of life in America? Come on, admit it - your response probably would change. Yes, many who would reflexively support more regulations and enforcement in the face of a foreign terrorist threat would suddenly scoff at more regulations and enforcement in the face of unsafe workplaces. Why the double standard?

That's the troubling question raised by the reaction - or, really, lack thereof - to last month's catastrophic explosion in West, Texas.

Occurring in the heart of a nation whose government data documents 4,500 workplace deaths every year at a cost of $250 billion, the deadly blast originated at a fertilizer plant that had not been inspected by the chronically underfunded Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985.

The location of the plant is particularly significant. As the New York Times reports, Texas promotes an "antipathy toward regulations" as "the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers' compensation coverage" and a place where many counties "cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there."

As a result, Texas is not the nation's most populous state but nonetheless sports "the nation's highest number of workplace fatalities." When it comes to industrial disasters, the Times notes that Texas has only about a quarter more "high risk" sites than the state (Illinois) with the second most number of such facilities.

However, it has, according to the Times, "more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs" as that state.

If all this data was about a terrorist threat, the reaction would be swift - negligent federal agencies would be roundly criticized and the specific state's lax attitude toward security would be lambasted. Yet, after the fertilizer plant explosion, there has been no proactive reaction at all, other than Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry boasting about his state's "comfort with the amount of oversight" that already exists.

So, again, why the discrepancy? Simply put, because this is what now passes for acceptable in a deregulated economy whose laws are written by corporate interests.

Those interests are hostile to safety regulation and enforcement because they don't want to spend even a tiny bit more on making worksites secure for employees. So they, and the politicians whose campaigns they fund, have made an epithet out of the word "regulation" in order to guarantee that almost nobody asks whether we have to tolerate 4,500 dead American workers each year.

We don't have to tolerate that level of workplace carnage, of course. There are many obvious and constructive things we could do, starting with adding resources to regulatory agencies and beefing up workplace enforcement. But if even a blast as big as the one in West, Texas cannot make us realize that simple fact, then nothing will.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

CIA: An Idea Whose Time Has Gone
By David Swanson

There's a contradiction built into every campaign promise about transparent government beyond the failure to keep the promises. Our government is, in significant portion, made up of secret operations, operations that include warmaking, kidnapping, torture, assassination, and infiltrating and overthrowing governments. A growing movement is ready to see that end.

The Central Intelligence Agency is central to our foreign policy, but there is nothing intelligent about it, and there is no good news to be found regarding it. Its drone wars are humanitarian and strategic disasters. The piles of cash it keeps delivering to Hamid Karzai fuel corruption, not democracy. Whose idea was it that secret piles of cash could create democracy? (Nobody's, of course, democracy being the furthest thing from U.S. goals.) Lavishing money on potential Russian spies and getting caught helps no one, and not getting caught would have helped no one. Even scandals that avoid mentioning the CIA, like Benghazigate, are CIA blowback and worse than we're being told.

We've moved from the war on Iraq, about which the CIA lied, and its accompanying atrocities serving as the primary recruiting tool for anti-U.S. terrorists, to the drone wars filling that role. We've moved from kidnapping and torture to kidnapping and torture under a president who, we like to fantasize, doesn't really mean it. But the slave-owners who founded this country knew very well what virtually anyone would do if you gave them power, and framed the Constitution so as not to give presidents powers like these.

There are shelves full in your local bookstore of books pointing out the CIA's outrageous incompetence. The brilliant idea to give Iran plans for a nuclear bomb in order to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear bomb is one of my favorites.

But books that examine the illegality, immorality, and anti-democratic nature of even what the CIA so ham-handedly intends to do are rarer. A new book called Dirty Wars, also coming out as a film in June, does a superb job. I wrote a review a while back. Another book, decades old now, might be re-titled "Dirty Wars The Prequel." I'm thinking of Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program.

It you read The Phoenix Program about our (the CIA's and "special" forces') secret crimes in Eastern Asia and Dirty Wars about our secret crimes in Western Asia, and remember that similar efforts were focused on making life hell for millions of people in Latin America in between these twin catastrophes, and that some of those running Phoenix were brought away from similar sadistic pursuits in the Philippines, it becomes hard to play along with the continual pretense that each uncovered outrage is an aberration, that the ongoing focus of our government's foreign policy "isn't who we are."

Targeted murders with knives in Vietnam were justified with the same rhetoric that now justifies drone murders. The similarities include the failure of primary goals, the counterproductive blowback results, the breeding of corruption abroad and at home, the moral and political degradation, the erosion of democratic ways of thinking, and -- of course -- the racist arrogance and cultural ignorance that shape the programs and blind their participants to what they are engaged in. The primary difference between Phoenix and drone kills is that the drones don't suffer PTSD. The same, however, cannot be said for the drone pilots.

"The problem," wrote Valentine, "was one of using means which were antithetical to the desired end, of denying due process in order to create a democracy, of using terror and repression to foster freedom. When put into practice by soldiers taught to think in conventional military and moral terms, Contre Coup engendered transgressions on a massive scale. However, for those pressing the attack on VCI, the bloodbath was constructive, for indiscriminate air raids and artillery barrages obscured the shadow war being fought in urban back alleys and anonymous rural hamlets. The military shield allowed a CIA officer to sit behind a steel door in a room in the U.S. Embassy, insulated from human concern, skimming the Phoenix blacklist, selecting targets for assassination, distilling power from tragedy."

At some point, enough of us will recognize that government conducted behind a steel door can lead only to ever greater tragedy.

In an email that Valentine wrote for on Monday, he wrote: "Through its bottomless black bag of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA spreads corruption around the world. This corruption undermines our own government and public officials. And the drone killings of innocent men, women, and children generate fierce resentment.. . . Tell your representative and senators right now that the CIA is the antithesis of democracy and needs to be abolished."
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Abteilungsleiter im Verteidigungsministerium Sheehan,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your insistance that the Pentagon can do whatever it likes in the name of terrorism including start several new wars without any congressional say, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Democratic whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-25-2013. We salute you Herr Sheehan, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Rise Up Or Die
by Chris Hedges

Joe Sacco and I spent two years reporting from the poorest pockets of the United States for our book "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt." We went into our nation's impoverished "sacrifice zones"-the first areas forced to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace-to show what happens when unfettered corporate capitalism and ceaseless economic expansion no longer have external impediments. We wanted to illustrate what unrestrained corporate exploitation does to families, communities and the natural world. We wanted to challenge the reigning ideology of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism to illustrate what life becomes when human beings and the ecosystem are ruthlessly turned into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And we wanted to expose as impotent the formal liberal and governmental institutions that once made reform possible, institutions no longer equipped with enough authority to check the assault of corporate power.

What has taken place in these sacrifice zones-in postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., and Detroit, in coalfields of southern West Virginia where mining companies blast off mountaintops, in Indian reservations where the demented project of limitless economic expansion and exploitation worked some of its earliest evil, and in produce fields where laborers often endure conditions that replicate slavery-is now happening to much of the rest of the country. These sacrifice zones succumbed first. You and I are next.

Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform-the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions-we are left defenseless against corporate power.

The Department of Justice seizure of two months of records of phone calls to and from editors and reporters at The Associated Press is the latest in a series of dramatic assaults against our civil liberties. The DOJ move is part of an effort to hunt down the government official or officials who leaked information to the AP about the foiling of a plot to blow up a passenger jet. Information concerning phones of Associated Press bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., as well as the home and mobile phones of editors and reporters, was secretly confiscated. This, along with measures such as the use of the Espionage Act against whistle-blowers, will put a deep freeze on all independent investigations into abuses of government and corporate power.

Seizing the AP phone logs is part of the corporate state's broader efforts to silence all voices that defy the official narrative, the state's Newspeak, and hide from public view the inner workings, lies and crimes of empire. The person or persons who provided the classified information to the AP will, if arrested, mostly likely be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. That law was never intended when it was instituted in 1917 to silence whistle-blowers. And from 1917 until Barack Obama took office in 2009 it was employed against whistle-blowers only three times, the first time against Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The Espionage Act has been used six times by the Obama administration against government whistle-blowers, including Thomas Drake.

The government's fierce persecution of the press-an attack pressed by many of the governmental agencies that are arrayed against WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and activists such as Jeremy Hammond-dovetails with the government's use of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to carry out the assassination of U.S. citizens; of the FISA Amendments Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution was once illegal-the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of tens of millions of U.S. citizens; and of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which permits the government to have the military seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them in indefinite detention. These measures, taken together, mean there are almost no civil liberties left.

Ahandful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything-wealth, power and privilege-and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia.

We stand helpless before the corporate onslaught. There is no way to vote against corporate power. Citizens have no way to bring about the prosecution of Wall Street bankers and financiers for fraud, military and intelligence officials for torture and war crimes, or security and surveillance officers for human rights abuses. The Federal Reserve is reduced to printing money for banks and financiers and lending it to them at almost zero percent interest; corporate officers then lend it to us at usurious rates as high as 30 percent. I do not know what to call this system. It is certainly not capitalism. Extortion might be a better word. The fossil fuel industry, meanwhile, relentlessly trashes the ecosystem for profit. The melting of 40 percent of the summer Arctic sea ice is, to corporations, a business opportunity. Companies rush to the Arctic and extract the last vestiges of oil, natural gas, minerals and fish stocks, indifferent to the death pangs of the planet. The same corporate forces that give us endless soap operas that pass for news, from the latest court proceedings surrounding O.J. Simpson to the tawdry details of the Jodi Arias murder trial, also give us atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that surpass 400 parts per million. They entrance us with their electronic hallucinations as we waiver, as paralyzed with fear as Odysseus' sailors, between Scylla and Charybdis.

There is nothing in 5,000 years of economic history to justify the belief that human societies should structure their behavior around the demands of the marketplace. This is an absurd, utopian ideology. The airy promises of the market economy have, by now, all been exposed as lies. The ability of corporations to migrate overseas has decimated our manufacturing base. It has driven down wages, impoverishing our working class and ravaging our middle class. It has forced huge segments of the population-including those burdened by student loans-into decades of debt peonage. It has also opened the way to massive tax shelters that allow companies such as General Electric to pay no income tax. Corporations employ virtual slave labor in Bangladesh and China, making obscene profits. As corporations suck the last resources from communities and the natural world, they leave behind, as Joe Sacco and I saw in the sacrifice zones we wrote about, horrific human suffering and dead landscapes. The greater the destruction, the greater the apparatus crushes dissent.

More than 100 million Americans-one-third of the population-live in poverty or a category called "near poverty." Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations-Viacom, General Electric, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Clear Channel and Disney. The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible.

There is nothing in 5,000 years of economic history to justify the belief that human societies should structure their behavior around the demands of the marketplace.

In the Lakota Indian reservation at Pine Ridge, S.D., in the United States' second poorest county, the average life expectancy for a male is 48. This is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti. About 60 percent of the Pine Ridge dwellings, many of which are sod huts, lack electricity, running water, adequate insulation or sewage systems. In the old coal camps of southern West Virginia, amid poisoned air, soil and water, cancer is an epidemic. There are few jobs. And the Appalachian Mountains, which provide the headwaters for much of the Eastern Seaboard, are dotted with enormous impoundment ponds filled with heavy metals and toxic sludge. In order to breathe, children go to school in southern West Virginia clutching inhalers. Residents trapped in the internal colonies of our blighted cities endure levels of poverty and violence, as well as mass incarceration, that leave them psychologically and emotionally shattered. And the nation's agricultural workers, denied legal protection, are often forced to labor in conditions of unpaid bondage. This is the terrible algebra of corporate domination. This is where we are all headed. And in this accelerated race to the bottom we will end up as serfs or slaves.

Rebel. Even if you fail, even if we all fail, we will have asserted against the corporate forces of exploitation and death our ultimate dignity as human beings. We will have defended what is sacred. Rebellion means steadfast defiance. It means resisting just as have Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, just as has Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical journalist whom Cornel West, James Cone and I visited in prison last week in Frackville, Pa. It means refusing to succumb to fear. It means refusing to surrender, even if you find yourself, like Manning and Abu-Jamal, caged like an animal. It means saying no. To remain safe, to remain "innocent" in the eyes of the law in this moment in history is to be complicit in a monstrous evil. In his poem of resistance, "If We Must Die," Claude McKay knew that the odds were stacked against African-Americans who resisted white supremacy. But he also knew that resistance to tyranny saves our souls. McKay wrote:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none. It is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare. It is time to march to the beat of our own drum. The law historically has been a very imperfect tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word "hope."

Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick" grasps the dark soul of global capitalism. We are all aboard the doomed ship Pequod, a name connected to an Indian tribe eradicated by genocide, and Ahab is in charge. "All my means are sane," Ahab says, "my motive and my object mad." We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville's warning must become ours. Rise up or die.
(c) 2013 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Nathan Blanc & Uday Darwish

The Stone Age
By Adam Keller

A few weeks ago a military judge, Major Amir Dahan, acquitted four Palestinians of the charge of "attempted murder by throwing stones at vehicles." He stated that "throwing stones can, under some circumstances, have the character of a lethal offence, carrying the near certainty of a danger to human life - but under other circumstances it might be no more than a prank without the potential of serious damage, by a young person who had barely crossed into the age of criminal responsibility."

This verdict angered Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party, who said in the beginning of last week: "This is no way to render judgment in Israel. It is about such things that we daily utter the prayer 'O restore our judges, as of old.' We should not tolerate even one stone. We must not forgive even one stone . A stone kills."

Later this week, the head of the party joined Ariel. The well known Naftali Bennett, Minister of Economy, made a public call to change the rules of engagement so as to allow soldiers a much lighter trigger finger when facing Palestinians, since "travelling the roads of Judea and Samaria has turned into hell."

The press tycoon Shlomo Ben-Zvi, who a few months ago bought the failing "Ma'ariv" paper, also joined the fray. Already for several days the Ma'ariv headlines are mainly concerned with the stone age which had descended on the West Bank. Ma'ariv devotes pages upon pages to the cry of the settlers, stridently demanding that soldiers finally start shooting and killing stone throwers. The paper's reporters gathered the shocking testimonies of soldiers asserting that their hands are tied behind their backs by the military orders. "The best guys, the best fighters, salt of the earth," reporter Chen Kutas- Bar called them.

Also columnist Adi Arbel of the Institute for Zionist Strategies added his own account of a terrible event he had witnessed. Last week, at noon of the celebrated Jerusalem Day, several VIPs of the Israeli right wing camp went to the settler enclave at the heart of Silwan Village, to get there the Moskowitz Prize from the multi-millionaire Irving Moskowitz - the well known settler patron who for this occasion left for two days his flourishing gambling business in California. It happened that on their way to this event, the settlers and their friends went through the Palestinian neighborhood of A-Tur on Mount Olive, where a boy of about 18 threw a stone at their bus. And alas, laments the Zionist strategist, nothing happened to this boy, no policeman and no soldier thought of pulling a weapon and opening fire on him. Adi Arbel's sad conclusion: even after 46 years, East Jerusalem is not under Israeli sovereignty. Well, with that I am not going to dispute.

And what about when settlers gather alongside the highway and throw stones at each passing Palestinian car? What happens when they aim a whole barrage of stones at a school bus full of Palestinian girl pupils and wound some of them? Should that, too, be treated as a case where even one stone could not be tolerated or forgiven, because "a stone kills"? Is that also the kind of situation where the rules of engagement should be changed and soldiers' fingers become more loose on the trigger? Or perhaps this is exactly the case where stone-throwing is indeed no more than a prank without the potential of serious damage? Well, it's no use to pose too many questions to the honorable minister Uri Ariel and to the honorable minister Naftali Bennett and to Ma'ariv publisher Shlomo Ben-Zvi and his well-trained reporters.

By coincidence or not, it was just this week that a military court was hearing the case of a soldier who did not feel that his hands were tied and who had no particular problem to tighten his finger on the trigger. On 12 January this year - just in the midst of the Israeli elections campaign in which hardly anyone mentioned the Palestinians - this soldier (whose name is not published) was stationed in South Hebron Hills at a point where Palestinians are habitually trying to cross into Israel and find work. Many of them do succeed in their attempt. Unfortunately for the 21-year old Uday Darwish of the town of Dura, this particular soldier did open fire and he was hit and died a few hours later in the hospital, his funeral attended by thousands.

This particular soldier did not assert that army regulations had bound his hands. "This is the first time I encountered a shooting event, it never happened to me before. I never before got to such a situation of standing in front of 30 people I don't know. Earlier we had been on the border of Egypt where a lot of Sudanese were passing we were always warned that in any group of Sudanese who come to Israel there is the hazard that one would be wielding a stabbing knife or wearing an explosive belt or something like that." (As a matter of fact, among tens of thousands of Sudanese who arrived in Israel until now there had never been any such case...)

The Prosecution wants to treat this case severely, and therefore impose a full nine months' imprisonment and also demote the soldier one notch, from Staff Sergeant to an ordinary Sergeant. However, the soldier's attorney, Yechiel Lamesh, asked the court to content itself with a term of three months, since "We should send a message to the fighters who risk their lives for us. We should understand and make it clear to them that to err is human and that an error, even a severe one, need not draw upon them the full severity of the law." The defense attorney also asked that his client not be demoted, so as not to hurt the honor and dignity of this fighter of the Israel Defense Forces.

So, what the appropriate punishment for a soldier who shot and killed (not on purpose) a Palestinian worker who was going to sustain his family? Three months, or nine months, or something in between? Will he be demoted by one notch, or would the court take care not to hurt his honor and dignity? The Court is to convene again at the end of the month and make clear if they take up the prosecution's case or that of the defense.

But what about one who did not shoot and did not kill anyone and who in the first place refused to join the army of occupation and wear its uniform and swear allegiance to it? One who altogether refused to get himself into a situation where he would stand armed in front of thirty people whom he has never seen before and have their lives and deaths at the mercy of his finger on the trigger? What is the proper punishment for such a crime of refusal? Half a year? A year? Two years? That is not yet clear.

Half a year has already passed since Natan Blanc arrived at the IDF Recruitment Center on his call-up date, November 19, 2012, and provided the recruitment officer with a detailed and reasoned letter setting out the reasons for his refusal to enlist. Half a year in which he is going in and out of Military Prison 6, in and out, in and out, in and out and in again.

The army chose not to bring him to a military court, whose proceedings are held in public and where the defendant can have a defense attorney and set out legal arguments and also express from the dock a conscientious and principled position. Instead, Natan Blanc is being repeatedly brought before a military officer who had been authorized to serve as a Judging Officer. A trial by a Judging Officer is a much simpler and easier affair - without the presence of any public, without lawyers and without witnesses and without any complicated legal procedures. Court is held in the normal office of the Judging Officer, with nobody present except the judge and the defendant, and usually lasts all of three to five minutes. In exceptional cases it can drag on up to ten minutes. Natan Blanc has already passed through very many such mini-trials, being sent to jail sometimes for two weeks, sometimes three weeks, sometimes a month. Each time he gets out of jail and is given another order to enlist and returns again to the office of the Judging Officer. So far he already accumulated 150 days behind bars, which is definitely not the end.

Yesterday, Friday, May 17, 2013, Natan Blanc celebrated his twentieth birthday behind bars at Military Prison 6 in Atlit. The activists of the Yesh Gvul movement came in the afternoon to celebrate with him on the mountain opposite the prison, whose summit was seen from the prison yard by several generations of refusers since the first Lebanon War in 1982. "Let's celebrate! Come with your friends, bring refreshments and party accessories, especially those which can be seen or heard from very far: balloons, ribbons, signs, noise makers, whistles etc." was written in the invitation. On Tuesday there will be another demonstration, held in front of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and the case of Blanc also gets increasing international attention.

Blanc told the military officers and judges that, once released from the army (and jail) he is going to do civilian service at the Magen David Adom medical rescue service. But when is that going to happen? The office of the IDF spokesman was not very forthcoming "A person liable for military service, whose application for exemption on grounds of conscience is denied, must perform a term of military service as set out in the Defense Service Act. One who refuses to do would be treated in accordance with the regular procedures." Period.

It may very well that the soldier who murdered Uday Darwish will be set free earlier.
(c) 2013 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mike Lester ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Obama Denies Role In Government
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-President Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to reassure the American people that he has "played no role whatsoever" in the U.S. government over the past four years.

"Right now, many of you are angry at the government, and no one is angrier than I am," he said. "Quite frankly, I am glad that I have had no involvement in such an organization."

The President's outrage only increased, he said, when he "recently became aware of a part of that government called the Department of Justice."

"The more I learn about the activities of these individuals, the more certain I am that I would not want to be associated with them," he said. "They sound like bad news."

Mr. Obama closed his address by indicating that beginning next week he would enforce what he called a "zero tolerance policy on governing."

"If I find that any members of my Administration have had any intimate knowledge of, or involvement in, the workings of the United States government, they will be dealt with accordingly," he said.
(c) 2013 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 18 (c) 05/24/2013

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