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In This Edition

Phil Rockstroh with a must read, "In The Name Of My Father."

Uri Avnery considers, "The New Protest."

Ralph Nader foresees, "The Rise Of Re-Use."

Matt Taibbi announces, "Accidentally Released - And Incredibly Embarrassing - Documents Show How Goldman et al Engaged In 'Naked Short Selling'."

Jim Hightower discovers a, "Snarling Banker."

Chris Floyd is, "Bringing It All Back Home."

James Donahue reports, "Congress Wants To Legally Feed Us Propaganda."

Dave Swanson finds, "Chicago - Peace Town."

David Sirota declares, "Yes, We Can Walk And Chew Gum."

Vincent L. Guarisco with a grave warning, "Get Ready To Shake, Rattle And Glow."

Paul Krugman explains, "Dimon's Deja Vu Debacle."

Paul Craig Roberts says of the economy, "Recovery or Collapse? Bet On Collapse,"

Robert Reich explicates, "Why Obama Should Be Attacking Casino Capitalism - Both Romney's Bain And JPMorgan."

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols covers, "Wisconsin's Recall."

Frank Scott returns with, "A World Without Capitalists Is Necessary."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion discovers, "Obama Blasts Obama's Evasive Stance On Gay Marriage" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "The NATO Five... And Counting!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Milt Priggee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Ralph Bakshi, Brian McFadden, Dave Granlund, Go Green, WGN, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, The Onion, 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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The NATO Five... And Counting!
By Ernest Stewart

Politicians sit yourself down
There's nothing for you here
Won't you please come to Chicago
For a ride

Don't ask Jack to help you
'Cause he'll turn the other ear
Won't you please come to Chicago
Or else join the other side
Chicago ~~~ Crosy, Stills, Nash & Young

"The vagueness of Section 1021 does not allow the average citizen, or even the government itself, to understand with the type of definiteness to which our citizens are entitled, or what conduct comes within its scope." ~~~ U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest

"There remains a strong desire within the defense establishment to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit, US national will." ~~~ Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis ~ US Army

"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." ~~~ Winston Churchill

Well, most of it is over, except maybe for the removing of stitches, the rebuilding of broken teeth, the mending of broken bones, time in prison for crimes never committed or considered, and, hopefully, the careers of Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel! This was their bright idea: turning Chicago into a third world police state. Trouble is, it's not really over; and, in fact, a lot of the new 1984 police state imposed on Chicago's citizens will remain firmly in place -- look out black folks!

Mayor Rahm Emanuel denied numerous protest permits and imposed other restrictions on the grounds that the expression of free speech by demonstrators would cause "inconveniences to traffic and ordinary businesses." Imagine that! At least Rahm made it official, i.e., saying that local ordinances trump your First Amendment rights. That in itself should lead to his impeachment and imprisonment; but long before that could happen, Rahm would no doubt go hide out in Israel!

While the Chicago cops didn't quite riot like they did when I went to protest there in 1968, I wouldn't exactly call them pussies. They did send scores of people to the hospital, and arrested hundreds on trumped-up charges, for the most part -- like the kids charged with terrorism for wanting to make some home brew.

The Chicago Police Department's Office of International Relations put out a document marked not intended for general distribution, but got posted online, anyway.

The three-page document outlines press behavior that will and will not be tolerated, including normally-acceptable media maneuvers that will no longer be considered acceptable, and actually might be grounds for arrest or having your head busted.

"No 'cutting' in and out of police lines will be permitted, or 'going up against their backs,'" the document states, quoting Debra Kirby, chief of the Chicago Police Department's Office of International Relations. "Those who follow protesters onto private property to document their actions are also will be [sic] subject to arrest!" Can I get a "Sieg Heil?"

So, that's two out of three violations of the peoples' rights as laid out by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, i.e., I'm quite surprised that they didn't try to establish a religion while they were committing treason. You'll recall that the First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

All in all, Chicago hasn't changed much; it's still a petty fiefdom, ruled by tyrants backed by the Gestapo, just like it was in 1968. While the local pigs, county pigs, state pigs, federal pigs, and pigs from all over America and the world tried their damnedest to maintain their cool, it was quite obvious if they had their way, there would been at least 100,000 deaths and as many disappearos as there is in any third world country with a fascist dictator that we support. Don't ask Barack to help you, cuz he'll turn the other ear, America!

In Other News

There was some good news for a change last week. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan ruled in favor of a group of writers and activists who sued President Obama, Secretary of Defense Panetta and the entire Defense Department, claiming a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Dec. 31, puts them in fear that they could be arrested and held by U.S. armed forces.

Section 1021 of the NDAA allows the military to arrest and hold American citizens, without due process, i.e., no warrants, no charges, no trial by a jury of your peers -- just off you go into the night, never to be heard of again. You may recall that when Barry signed this act of treason into law he said would never, ever, use it against an American citizen, unless he absolutely had to, or it was more convenient to, or he just wanted, too! Have no doubt that if Willard gets to use it, he will, and often, too!

The complaint was filed Jan. 13 by a group including former New York Times reporter and Issues & Alibis writer's Christopher Hedges, Naomi Wolf and Daniel Ellsberg. The plaintiffs contend that "a section of the law allows for detention of citizens and permanent residents taken into custody in the U.S. on suspicion of providing substantial support" to people engaged in hostilities against the U.S., such as al-Qaeda or liberal writers.

"The statute at issue places the public at undue risk of having their speech chilled for the purported protection from al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and 'associated forces' - i.e., 'foreign terrorist organizations,'" and the judge agreed. Forrest's order prevents enforcement of the provision of the statute pending further orders from a higher court or an amendment to the statute by Congress.

So, for the time being, they'll have to kidnap us, and disappear us, in the old fashioned way. Stay tuned for updates!

And Finally

Here's one from our, "It's Always Something" department. Those wonderful Tea-bagger wackos in the House slipped a little something in the latest "defense" bill. A bill which already included provisions for the indefinite detention of American citizens without a warrant or charges, or trial, or a jury of my peers and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations, Rethuglican Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Demoncrat Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State included their two cents worth and came up with this turkey at the behest of the Pentagoon, and any number of politicians who would like to lie to you about everything, with no pesky rules governing their lying asses!

Thanks to the Messers Thornberry and Smith Amendment, we have an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences, that has, for decades, been used only against foreign audiences. Yes, you might say, "So what?" After all, there has never been a time where the government hasn't lied its ass off in order to cover up some great act of treason, or to get Americans behind their newest illegal, immoral war. Can you think of any time in all our history where politicians told the truth? A single instance? I'll be damned if I can!

No, my problem is with the audacity of today's modern politicians -- their openness about stealing, lying, murdering, daring you to do something about it. Nyah nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!

Our laws only apply to the 99%, with no laws for the 1%; well, it's not against the law to do whatever outrage they want to; but everything is against the law for us! I was asked the other day why the unions don't do what they did back in the 20s and 30s to take back their rights? It's because everything they did in those days that was effective is now against the law! See how this works? Remember that everything Hitler did was legal according to German law -- a law that the Nazis changed in their favor, just as this law is doing -- removing a high crime from the list, so now they can use it against us! You'd think with the media already in their pocket, they would be satisfied, as they were able to get some initial support for our war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. With this new trillion dollar scheme the old adage of, "How can you tell when a politician or a Pentagoon spokes-weasel is lying? When his lips move," will be truer today than ever before! Ya'll elect a few more Tea-Baggers in November, and this country will be through. Perhaps that's what the Mayans saw in their 2012 prediction? Willard wins the presidency, the Tea-baggers take the Senate, and the world ends six weeks later! Makes perfect sense to me! How about you?

Up Date: After I sent Adam this section of my column he quickly came up with a little song and dance in in an email reply to me and then posted it on his blog page, where you can read it and my reply; if they haven't taken it down? Funny ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox or any other "news source" never thought to question him on this, a funny thing that, eh? Could it be because they are paid not to?

Keepin' On

To paraphrase Ringo, "If you want to tell the news, then you got to pay your dues, and you know it don't come easy!" That's for damn sure! Just to keep the lights on, we need to take in approximately $125 a week, just to break even. If it weren't for my sponsors, I'd need twice that. Also, if I were doing this for money, the price would go up to $10,000 a week; but I'm not, and what I do need each and every week is $125 to pay them dues, a.k.a., the bills.

You may recall that for the first five years I never asked for a dime in return for all the work that goes into this, and the cost for space, permission, copyrights etc. I picked that up out of my ever-shrinking bank book/retirement fund, which, alas, is long since gone! Bye bye, Golden Years!

Ergo, I need your help to keep doing this, and if you like what we do, and think that it's important to continue bringing you the truth, then send us what you can, whenever you can. We exist because 99 % of the Main Stream Media hasn't told the truth since Ray-Guns set them free in the 80's from having to be fair and equal according to the law. The government, which has always lied as often as not to the people, has a new law that lets them legally lie about anything -- anytime, anyplace or anybody as official policy! So, who ya gonna call for the truth, America, your Con-gressional critter or Fox News?


03-17-1941 ~ 05-22-2012
Thanks for the film!


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) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

In The Name Of My Father
Requiem and renewal in the shadow of Wall Street, in the light of a Georgia spring
By Phil Rockstroh

On May 1, after a day of May Day activities on the streets and avenues of Manhattan, my wife and I and a troop of other OWS celebrants marched into Zuccotti Park to jubilant exhortations of "welcome home" from a throng of fellow occupiers. The next day, my wife and I boarded a southbound Amtrak train to join family gathered at my dying father's bedside to bid him farewell.

May in Georgia... In this age of climate chaos, the local flora comes to bloom a full month earlier than in decades past. This season, magnolias and hydrangeas blossomed in early May. Their petals opened to the world as my father's life is fading. The magnolia petals have grown heavy; his body is shrinking. Soon he will drift from this world...carried by the scent of late spring blossoms.

In our once laboring class neighborhood, McMansions blot out the late spring sun. In the arrogant shadow of these shoddily constructed, bloated emblems of late capitalism, the neighborhood's remaining 1950's single level, brick homes seem to recede...fading like memory before the hurtling indifference of passing eras.

In late spring, veils of pollen merge with shrouds of Atlanta traffic exhaust. Timeless nature has awakened as the noxious capitalist certainties underpinning the aberration known as the New South are dying.

Hospice has arrived in the home of my father.

A death vigil has begun, as well, for our culture.

Lost, starving, wailing into a void of paternal abandonment, my father, left on the doorstep of a Baptist church adjacent to an Indian Reservation in rural Missouri, arrived into this keening world. Now, he is refusing to eat and is wailing, once again, into an abyss of helplessness...His bones, eaten by cancer, and his bowels seized up by the side effects of opiates, he is starving himself to death.

He now lies in his bedroom; his sight...set on the undiscovered realm of death. This world denied him succor; now Death offers the embrace that he was denied (and later) refused, as he proceeded through this life in a resentful fury. His wounds cauterized by rage-lit flames.

Now, I must comfort he did me, when I was a child, seized by night terrors...that he both placated and caused.

He whimpers into the air of the small home that he once shook with rage. Now, betrayed by his body, and again orphaned by fate, he will soon leave this world -- a place from which he was perpetually estranged.

I hope the womb of night will bestow a peace upon him that was denied to him by this world. I hope whatever dawn he meets will hold him in an embrace so all encompassing and gentle that he will shed his compulsion to bristle and retreat. I hope he will, at long last, know he was loved.

My father was born on an Indian reservation and abandoned on the doorsteps of a Baptist church in rural Missouri in the early years of the Great Depression. A Jewish mother and Protestant father adopted him. In those days, it was a standard practice of adoption agencies to offer up for adoption children of so-called mixed ancestry to interdenominational couples. Caucasian babies, the conventional wisdom of the time presumed, would carry a stigma for life from being raised in a home headed by such social deviants.

My mother escaped Hitler's Germany (barely) on a Kindertransport. My wife is from the rural South Carolina Low Country. She's a flat-lander, a swamp bunny. As for myself, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I'm an accidental Hillbilly...The lay of the land endowed me with a hill country perception of existence, yet I appreciate the mode of being evinced in places like Charleston and New Orleans...the humidity slowing down the pace of life...the mind as a gnat flurry.

My blood, as is the case with all of us, is composed of ancient oceans that long to know land and sky. On a personal basis, my atavistic blood is a sea of diverse ethnic consanguinity that meets the shore of a global polis. The waves of this body of water are changeable...sometimes, caressing the shoreline... placid, at ease in the world; sometimes, agitated and enraged by what I witness...becoming a series of antagonistic waves crashing against the insensate rocks of the mindless social circumstances that damaged my father so.

Soon, my father will return to the vast ocean of eternity. I consider it my duty to sing the song of my compose and give voice to sacred hymns, both of the personal and the collective.

This is my poet's prayer: Life rose from ancient oceans so that mollusks could gaze upon the evening sky. Likewise, we emerged from the cosmic brine to know physical embrace...made resonate because of its finite nature -- the loving limits imposed by Time. Accordingly, the immaterial longs for the caress of the summer breeze and to rage into a winter wind. Spiritus Mundi is dependent on us to cultivate our individual have our blood sing biographical ballads to audiences gathered in Eternity.

My father's song is almost at its end.

The endless song continues.

A song of tribute to the life of my father (or, for that matter, any human life) must combine elements of a fight song and a love song. One must love life enough to take a stand in its behalf.

During the Great Depression, my father was (again) left fatherless when his adopted father suffered a debilitating stroke, resulting in a protracted decline that left their small family penniless and homeless. Consequently, my father, along with his nearly incapacitated father and his mother managed to make their way from rural Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio, and then went on to find lodging with members of his mother's family who had settled in Birmingham, Alabama, where shortly thereafter his father died.

In the Deep South, the dark hue of my father's Native American skin marked him for abuse by belligerent locals. Although he had been deprived of detailed knowledge of his ancestry, his Comanche blood resisted intimidation. His tormentors wounded him deeply, but they also succeeded in opening deep reservoirs of ancestral rage.

My father harbored an abiding animus to bullies -- a trait he bequeathed to me by both blood and circumstance.

Apropos: At the foot of Broadway, on May Day, I stood near a bristling array of NYPD officers who were tasked with the crucial mission of protecting the statue of Wall Street's iconic "Charging Bull" -- where I heard one of the witless, uniformed thugs, through a smirk, opine, "These rich, lazy bums go to college and study women's studies and the history of Negroes -- then come out here in the real world and whine that they can't get a job...These brats should have thought about what they're going to do in life when they were in school?"

I turned to face him and averred,

"I guess they could follow your example and they could stand here on Wall Street...stroking a billy club...protecting ultra-wealthy criminals and their ill-gotten riches." Of course, he responded by calling me a socialist.

Even though that was, most likely, the first accurate statement he posited all day, I replied, "As opposed to following your noble example: choosing to spend your days as a mindless fascist bully?"

His smirk still in place, he spat, "As if you even know what a fascist is!"

I replied, "As a matter of fact, I do, and you, being posed as you are in front of that bull [with its bronze form cast to crouch in a stance of impending aggression; its form, permanently locked in a position of myopic fury] will serve as a perfect backdrop for me to illustrate the situation. Mussolini, who knew a bit about the subject, proclaimed fascism to be the merger of the corporation and the state. Therefore, since it follows that the state pays your salary, and you spend your days protecting the corporate order... that you, to a jackboot, fit the profile of a fascist...Don't you now?"

At that, his smirk solidified into a mask of belligerent stupid. He slapped his truncheon into his meaty palm, and told me that if I knew what was good for me I better move along.

I told him that he was probably right, due to the fact, I suspect, he could very accurately and with much relish impart to me the true nature of fascism with that nightstick of his.

His lipless, reptilian grin indicated he would be more than happy to take a personal interest in tutoring me on the subject.

"The ghetto that you built for me is the one you're living in." -- Bob Dylan, Dead Man, Dead Man

But the fight is not with this individual enforcer of the present, doomed order. The encounter is emblematic of what those who devote themselves to the unfolding struggle are up against: an armed and fortified wall of sneering arrogance -- a violent, human torrent of surging ignorance.

For us, the living, breaching Death's wall, possessed of the intention of changing its implacable order, is, of course, impossible -- but challenging the present, calcified order -- a death-addicted arrangement, created and maintained by mortal men that has existed well past its given and rightful time -- has become imperative.

For my father, the struggle is nearly at its end; for those of us who remain in this breathing world, the struggle has just begun.
(c) 2012 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The New Protest
By Uri Avnery

RABIN SQUARE in Tel Aviv has seen many demonstrations, but none quite like last Saturday's.

It has nothing to do with the event which gave the square its name: the huge rally for peace at the end of which Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. It was different in every respect.

It was a joyous occasion. Dozens of NGOs, many of them small, some of them slightly larger, each with a different agenda, came together in an effort to restart last year's social protest. But it was not a continuation of last year's Israeli Spring by any means.

Last year's upheaval was quite unplanned. A young woman, Daphni Leef, could not pay her rent and so she put up a small tent in Rothschild Boulevard, five minutes' walk from Rabin Square. She had obviously struck a chord, because within days hundreds of tents had sprung up in the boulevard and all over the country. It ended in a huge demonstration, called the "March of Half a Million", which led to the setting up of a government commission, which made a list of suggestions to relieve social injustice. Only a small fraction of them were put into practice.

The whole effort called itself "apolitical," rebuffed politicians of all stripes, and resolutely refused to deal with any national problem such as peace (what's that?), occupation, settlements and such.

All decisions were made by an anonymous leadership grouped around Daphni. Some of the names became known, others did not. The masses who took part were quite content to accept their dictates.

NO MORE. This year's new initiative has no obvious leadership at all. There was no central tribune, no central speakers. It resembled London's Hyde Park Corner, where anyone can climb on a chair and preach his or her gospel. Each group had its own stand where its flyers were displayed, each had its own name, its own agenda, its own speakers and its own guides (since we should not call them leaders).

Since the square is big and the audience amounted to some thousands, it worked. Many different - and some contradictory - versions of social justice were advocated, from a group called "Revolution of Love" (everybody should love everybody) to a group of anarchists (all governments are bad, elections are bad too).

They all agreed only on one point: they were all "apolitical", all shrank back from the taboo subjects (see above).

Gideon Levy called the scene "chaotic" and was immediately attacked by the protesters as lacking understanding (with a hint that he was too old to understand.) Chaos is wonderful. Chaos is real democracy. It gives the people their voice back. There are no leaders who steal and exploit the protest for their own careers and egos. It's the way the New Generation expresses itself.

IT ALL reminded me of a happy period - the 60s of the last century, when almost none of this week's protesters was yet born, or even "in the planning stage"' (as Israelis like to put it).

At the time, Paris was seized by a passion for social and political protest. There was no common ideology, no unified vision of a new social order. At the Odeon theatre an endless and uninterrupted debate was going on, day after day, while outside, demonstrators threw cobblestones at the police, who beat them up with the leaden seams of their overcoats. Everyone was elated, it was clear that a new epoch in human history had begun.

Claude Lanzmann, the secretary of Jean-Paul Sartre and lover of Simone de Beauvoir, and who later directed the monumental film "Shoah", described the atmosphere to me like this: "The students burnt the cars in the streets. In the evenings I parked my car at distant places. But one evening I told myself: What the hell, what do I need a car for? Let them burn it!"

But while the Left was talking, the Right gathered its forces under Charles de Gaulle, a million Rightists marched down the Champs Elisees. The protest petered out, leaving only a vague longing for a better world.

The protest was not limited to Paris. Its spirit infected many other cities and countries. In lower Manhattan, youth reigned supreme. Provocative posters were sold in the streets of the Village, young men and women wore humorous buttons on their chests.

On the whole, the vague movement had vague results. Without a concrete agenda, it had no concrete results. De Gaulle fell some time later for other reasons. In the US, the people elected Richard Nixon. In public consciousness, some things changed, but for all the revolutionary talk, there was no revolution.

ON SATURDAY'S rally, young Daphni Leef and her comrades wandered around in the crowd like a relic from the past, hardly noticed. After only one year, it seemed as if a new New Generation was taking over from yesteryear's New Generation.

It was not that they were unable to unite around a common agenda - rather, they did not see the virtue, or even the necessity of having a common agenda, a common organization, common leadership. All these are, in their eyes, bad things, attributes of the old, corrupt, discredited regime. Away with them!

I am not quite sure what I think about it.

On the one hand, I like it very much. New energies are released. A young generation that seemed egoistic, apathetic and indifferent, suddenly shows that it cares.

For years now, I have expressed my hope that the young people would create something new, with a new vocabulary, new definitions, new slogans, new leaders, that are totally divorced from today's party structures and government coalitions. A new beginning. The beginning of the Second Israeli Republic.

So I should be happy, watching a dream coming true.

And indeed, I am happy about this new development. Israel needs basic social reforms. The gap between very rich and very poor is intolerable. A broad new social movement, even with so much diversity, is a good thing.

Social Justice is a leftist demand and always has been. A demonstration shouting "The People Demand Social Justice" is leftist, even if it wants to avoid this stigma.

But the adamant refusal to enter the political arena and proclaim a political agenda is disturbing. This could mean that it will all peter out just like last year's effort.

When the demonstrators insist that they are "apolitical" - what do they mean? If it means that they do not identify themselves with any existing political party, I can only applaud. If it is a tactical ploy, in order to attract people from all existing camps, ditto. But if it is a serious determination to leave the political arena to others, I must condemn it.

Social justice is a political aim par excellence. It means, among other things, to take away money from other uses and devote it to social purposes. In Israel, it inevitably means taking away money from the huge military budget, as well as from the settlement drive, from the subsidies paid as a bribe to the Orthodox and from the parasitic tycoons.

Where can this be done? Only in the Knesset. To get there, you need a political party. So you have to be political. Period.

An "apolitical" protest, avoiding the burning questions of our national existence, is something that is outrageously divorced from reality.

Last year I compared the social protest to a mutiny on board the Titanic. I could expand on this. Imagine the wonderful ship on its maiden voyage with all the lively activity on board. The band throws away the old-fashioned music of Mozart and Schubert, replacing it with hard rock. Anarchists dismiss the captain and elect a new captain every day. Others reject the Boat Drill - a ridiculous exercise on the "unsinkable" ship - and organize sport events instead. Also the scandalous difference between first class and the steering passengers is abolished. And so on. All deserving causes.

But somewhere along the route there lurks an iceberg.

Israel is heading towards an iceberg, bigger than any of those in the path of the Titanic. It is not hidden. All its parts are clearly visible from afar. Yet we are sailing straight towards it, full steam ahead. If we don't change course, the State of Israel will destroy itself - turning first into an apartheid-state monster from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, and later, perhaps, into a bi-national Arab-majority state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

Does this mean that we must give up the struggle for social justice? Certainly not. The fight for social solidarity, for better education, for improved medical services, for the poor and the handicapped, must go on, every day, every hour.

But to be successful this struggle must be a part - politically and ideologically - of the wider struggle for the future of Israel, for ending the occupation, for peace.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Rise Of Re-Use
By Ralph Nader

Last week I read that the glitzy world of virtual reality created instant multi-millionaires and several billionaires when Facebook went public selling shares.E-waste packaged for transfer. What becomes of it is up to the policies we enact and the commitments we make.

Last week I also noted the important real world problem of some 250 million tons of solid waste a year in our country alone.

Guess which "world" gets the most investment, status, fame, klieg lights, and attention of the skilled classes and the power structure?

Guess which world is more important for our wellbeing and that of the planet?

You've heard of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's 900 million users exchanging gossip and other personal pleasantries or worries through a medium that inflates narcissism.

You've probably not heard of Ben Rose of the New York City Materials Exchange Development Program (NYC MEDP) or the equivalent organizations in your communities providing services to thousands of charitable non-profit groups which promote the donating and reusing of materials to avoid incineration, landfilling and recycling.

To grasp the enormity of modern society's waste products, Ann Leonard created a sparkling website, visited by millions of people. She also published a recent popular book titled The Story of Stuff that details every aspect of your environment and physical being. Air, water, food, soil and even your genes absorb the byproducts of processing mountains of stuff. The results are not pretty.

While recycling efforts in cities like San Francisco, Vancouver and Los Angeles rise above 50 percent, New York City has been slipping behind its own 2002 level and is still struggling to reach 20 percent. New York City has been a leader in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it still has dreaded incinerators producing toxic air and toxic residues.

In the early 90s, pragmatic environmental scientist, Professor Barry Commoner demonstrated in two operational pilot projects that the city could reach a residential recycling level of nearly 100 percent. Unfortunately, New York City missed a chance to become a world leader in recycling when its leaders, beginning with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, declined to establish a city-wide recycling program based on Professor Commoner's model.

The New York City recycling challenge still hasn't recovered from that devastatingly wrongheaded decision. Politicians and corporations cannot stop an even superior environmental cycle, presently driven by charitable associations, in Mr. Rose's words, "nimbly accepting, exchanging and distributing thousands of tons of reusable material each year," as they have done for generations, "all the while contributing to the social, economic and environmental fabric of New York City." Over the decades, the recipients have been communities in need, such as homeless shelters and poor populations.

The NYC Materials Exchange Development Program now sees a great potential to "organize, grow and advocate for the practice of donating and reusing materials for the benefit of all New Yorkers," creating local jobs and adding productivity without any tax dollars. They are rediscovering the past of a thrifty culture and expanding it mightily to contribute to the neighborhood and economic landscape.

Donating materials instead of trashing or recycling them enlarges the gifting culture and the beneficial human interactions that follow. As Ben Rose notes: "In contrast to recycling, where used materials are broken down into their raw elements to make new items, reuse takes useful products and exchanges them without reprocessing, thus saving time, money, energy and valuable resources."

The obstacles are obvious. First a throwaway economy of waste is profitable for sellers who want you to keep throwing away and buying. They plan product obsolescence and lure consumers with the convenience of disposable products. So we have to change habits: become more cunning about what manufacturers and vendors are up to and expand second hand, reuse and material exchange programs.

What are reusable materials? Just about everything you purchase that doesn't spoil or perish. Clothing, furniture, books, bicycles, containers, computers, tools, surplus construction materials and things you buy or grow that you do not use. Reuse outlets include Goodwill or Thrift stores, charitable book and clothing drives, ecology centers and creative arts programs.

Nothing less than a "New Age" for a burgeoning sub-economy of reusable products and materials is being envisioned by the collaborative likes of the New York City Sanitation Department and the City College of New York's Department of Civil Engineering. Collecting data which shows how much energy is saved, how many jobs can be created, how much better pricing systems can be, and how much solid waste can be prevented will elevate this subject and its social status within the "zero waste" movement. We should aspire to using resources, in the worlds of Paul Hawkins, "10 to 100 times more productively." Other countries are advancing in the reuse sector in ways we can learn from immediately. Holland is starting numerous "Repair Cafes," that are attracting increasing interest in "fixing" rather than dumping. These used to be called "Fix-It Shops" in the U.S. before the advent of our throw away corporate culture.
(c) 2012 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Accidentally Released - And Incredibly Embarrassing - Documents Show How Goldman et al Engaged In 'Naked Short Selling'
By Matt Taibbi

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes God smiles on us. Last week, he smiled on investigative reporters everywhere, when the lawyers for Goldman, Sachs slipped on one whopper of a legal banana peel, inadvertently delivering some of the bank's darker secrets into the hands of the public.

The lawyers for Goldman and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have been involved in a legal battle for some time - primarily with the retail giant, but also with Rolling Stone, the Economist, Bloomberg, and the New York Times. The banks have been fighting us to keep sealed certain documents that surfaced in the discovery process of an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Overstock against the banks.

Last week, in response to an motion to unseal certain documents, the banks' lawyers, apparently accidentally, filed an unredacted version of Overstock's motion as an exhibit in their declaration of opposition to that motion. In doing so, they inadvertently entered into the public record a sort of greatest-hits selection of the very material they've been fighting for years to keep sealed.

I contacted Morgan Lewis, the firm that represents Goldman in this matter, earlier today, but they haven't commented as of yet. I wonder if the poor lawyer who FUBARred this thing has already had his organs harvested; his panic is almost palpable in the air. It is both terrible and hilarious to contemplate. The bank has spent a fortune in legal fees trying to keep this material out of the public eye, and here one of their own lawyers goes and dumps it out on the street.

The lawsuit between Overstock and the banks concerned a phenomenon called naked short-selling, a kind of high-finance counterfeiting that, especially prior to the introduction of new regulations in 2008, short-sellers could use to artificially depress the value of the stocks they've bet against. The subject of naked short-selling is a) highly technical, and b) very controversial on Wall Street, with many pundits in the financial press for years treating the phenomenon as the stuff of myths and conspiracy theories.

Now, however, through the magic of this unredacted document, the public will be able to see for itself what the banks' attitudes are not just toward the "mythical" practice of naked short selling (hint: they volubly confess to the activity, in writing), but toward regulations and laws in general.

"Fuck the compliance area - procedures, schmecedures," chirps Peter Melz, former president of Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. (a.k.a. Merrill Pro), when a subordinate worries about the company failing to comply with the rules governing short sales.

We also find out here how Wall Street professionals manipulated public opinion by buying off and/or intimidating experts in their respective fields. In one email made public in this document, a lobbyist for SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, tells a Goldman executive how to engage an expert who otherwise would go work for "our more powerful enemies," i.e. would work with Overstock on the company's lawsuit.

"He should be someone we can work with, especially if he sees that cooperation results in resources, both data and funding," the lobbyist writes, "while resistance results in isolation."

There are even more troubling passages, some of which should raise a few eyebrows, in light of former Goldman executive Greg Smith's recent public resignation, in which he complained that the firm routinely screwed its own clients and denigrated them (by calling them "Muppets," among other things).

Here, the plaintiff's motion refers to an "exhibit 96," which refers to "an email from [Goldman executive] John Masterson that sends nonpublic data concerning customer short positions in Overstock and four other hard-to-borrow stocks to Maverick Capital, a large hedge fund that sells stocks short."

Was Goldman really disclosing "nonpublic data concerning customer short positions" to its big hedge fund clients? That would be something its smaller, "Muppet" customers would probably want to hear about.

When I contacted Goldman and asked if it was true that Masterson had shared nonpublic customer information with a big hedge fund client, their spokesperson Michael Duvally offered this explanation:

Among other services it provides, Securities Lending at Goldman provides market color information to clients regarding various activity in the securities lending marketplace on a security specific or sector specific basis. In accordance with the group's guidelines concerning the provision of market color, Mr. Masterson provided a client with certain aggregate information regarding short balances in certain securities. The information did not contain reference to any particular clients' short positions.

You can draw your own conclusions from that answer, but it's safe to say we'd like to hear more about these practices.

Anyway, the document is full of other interesting disclosures. Among the more compelling is the specter of executives from numerous companies admitting openly to engaging in naked short selling, a practice that, again, was often dismissed as mythical or unimportant.

A quick primer on what naked short selling is. First of all, short selling, which is a completely legal and often beneficial activity, is when an investor bets that the value of a stock will decline. You do this by first borrowing and then selling the stock at its current price; then, after the price drops, you go out, buy the same number of shares at the reduced price, and return the shares to your original lender. You then earn a profit on the difference between the original price and the new, lower price.

What matters here is the technical issue of how you borrow the stock. Typically, if you're a hedge fund and you want to short a company, you go to some big-shot investment bank like Goldman or Morgan Stanley and place the order. They then go out into the world, find the shares of the stock you want to short, borrow them for you, then physically settle the trade later.

But sometimes it's not easy to find those shares to borrow. Sometimes the shares are controlled by investors who might have no interest in lending them out. Sometimes there's such scarcity of borrowable shares that banks/brokers like Goldman have to pay a fee just to borrow the stock.

These hard-to-borrow stocks, stocks that cost money to borrow, are called negative rebate stocks. In some cases, these negative rebate stocks cost so much just to borrow that a short-seller would need to see a real price drop of 35 percent in the stock just to break even. So how do you short a stock when you can't find shares to borrow? Well, one solution is, you don't even bother to borrow them. And then, when the trade is done, you don't bother to deliver them. You just do the trade anyway without physically locating the stock.

Thus in this document we have another former Merrill Pro president, Thomas Tranfaglia, saying in a 2005 email: "We are NOT borrowing negatives... I have made that clear from the beginning. Why would we want to borrow them? We want to fail them."

Trafaglia, in other words, didn't want to bother paying the high cost of borrowing "negative rebate" stocks. Instead, he preferred to just sell stock he didn't actually possess. That is what is meant by, "We want to fail them." Trafaglia was talking about creating "fails" or "failed trades," which is what happens when you don't actually locate and borrow the stock within the time the law allows for trades to be settled.

If this sounds complicated, just focus on this: naked short selling, in essence, is selling stock you do not have. If you don't have to actually locate and borrow stock before you short it, you're creating an artificial supply of stock shares.

In this case, that resulted in absurdities like the following disclosure in this document, in which a Goldman executive admits in a 2006 email that just a little bit too much trading in Overstock was going on: "Two months ago 107% of the floating was short!"

In other words, 107% of all Overstock shares available for trade were short - a physical impossibility, unless someone was somehow creating artificial supply in the stock.

Goldman clearly knew there was a discrepancy between what it was telling regulators, and what it was actually doing. "We have to be careful not to link locates to fails [because] we have told the regulators we can't," one executive is quoted as saying, in the document.

One of the companies Goldman used to facilitate these trades was called SBA Trading, whose chief, Scott Arenstein, was fined $3.6 million in 2007 by the former American Stock Exchange for naked short selling.

The process of how banks circumvented federal clearing regulations is highly technical and incredibly difficult to follow. These companies were using obscure loopholes in regulations that allowed them to short companies by trading in shadows, or echoes, of real shares in their stock. They manipulated rules to avoid having to disclose these "failed" trades to regulators.

The import of this is that it made it cheaper and easier to bet down the value of a stock, while simultaneously devaluing the same stock by adding fake supply. This makes it easier to make money by destroying value, and is another example of how the over-financialization of the economy makes real, job-creating growth more difficult.

In any case, this document all by itself shows numerous executives from companies like Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing (GSEC) and Merrill Pro talking about a conscious strategy of "failing" trades - in other words, not bothering to locate, borrow, and deliver stock within the time alotted for legal settlement. For instance, in one email, GSEC tells a client, Wolverine Trading, "We will let you fail."

More damning is an email from a Goldman, Sachs hedge fund client, who remarked that when wanting to "short an impossible name and fully expecting not to receive it" he would then be "shocked to learn that [Goldman's representative] could get it for us."

Meaning: when an experienced hedge funder wanted to trade a very hard-to-find stock, he was continually surprised to find that Goldman, magically, could locate the stock. Obviously, it is not hard to locate a stock if you're just saying you located it, without really doing it.

As a hilarious side-note: when I contacted Goldman about this story, they couldn't resist using their usual P.R. playbook. In this case, Goldman hastened to point out that Overstock lost this lawsuit (it was dismissed because of a jurisdictional issue), and then had this to say about Overstock:

Overstock pursued the lawsuit as part of its longstanding self-described "Jihad" designed to distract attention from its own failure to meet its projected growth and profitability goals and the resulting sharp drop in its stock price during the 2005-2006 period.

Good old Goldman -- they can't answer any criticism without describing their critics as losers, conspiracy theorists, or, most frequently, both. Incidentally, Overstock rebounded from the 2005-2006 short attack to become a profitable company again, during the same period when Goldman was needing hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency Fed lending and federal bailouts to stave off extinction.

Anyway, this galactic screwup by usually-slick banker lawyers gives us a rare peek into the internal mindset of these companies, and their attitude toward regulations, the markets, even their own clients. The fact that they wanted to keep all of this information sealed is not surprising, since it's incredibly embarrassing stuff, if you understand the context.

More to come: until then, here's the motion, and pay particular attention to pages 14-19.

UPDATE: Well, I guess I shouldn't feel too badly for the lawyer who stepped on this land mine. For Morgan Lewis counsel Joe Floren, karma, it seems, really is a bitch.
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

Snarling Banker

Woody Guthrie wrote a song titled "Jolly Banker," a perfect-pitch parody of the propensity of Depression-era bankers to feel good about gouging their small borrowers.

Woody's song could also apply to the gouging we're getting from today's national chain banks, except the song's title should be "Snarling Banker." Only a couple of years ago, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and others were quite jolly, because they were piling up mountains of profits through such sneaky schemes as secretly enrolling customers in checking accounts that charged $35-a-pop for every overdrawn check, then rigging the flow of checks so unwitting customers would be overdrawn.

Public outrage exploded, especially because only a year earlier, We the People had bailed out these same banks. Thus, Congress shut down some of the worst gouges. This pinched bankers' exorbitant profits a bit, and they've been snarling ever since. "Banks aren't charities," they barked - apparently thinking that somone might've mistaken them as such.

One thing you can count on is that banker greed is bottomless, and it's now coming back with a vengeance. Of course, they could make money honestly (as community banks and credit unions do) by making good loans and delivering good service, but instead they're returning to what they call "creative banking." You would call it "fee gouging."

Wells Fargo now hits you for $15 a month just to have a checking account, unless you keep at least $7,500 in your account. Citibank charges $20 a month, unless you keep $15,000 on deposit - more than double last year's level. Bank fees for money orders have doubled, and fees for cashiers checks have quadrupled. There is a way out of this endless abuse-the-customer game: move your money out of their vaults! For help, go to
(c) 2012 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.

Bringing It All Back Home
Occupied Chicago is America's New Normal
By Chris Floyd

Gary Younge and Bernard Harcourt have good pieces in the Guardian about the "new normal" of America's militarized society, as exemplified by armed occupation of Chicago by a staggering array of "security" forces.

Younge notes the bitter irony of the word "security" in a city where the poor are being subjected to ever-increasing levels of violence both from private predators and public "protectors":

The dissonance between the global pretensions of the summit this weekend and the local realities of Chicago could not be more striking. NATO claims its purpose is to secure peace through security; in much of Chicago neither exists.

... The murder rate in Chicago in the first three months of this year increased by more than 50% compared with the same period last year, giving it almost twice the murder rate of New York. And the manner in which the city is policed gives many as great a reason to fear those charged with protecting them as the criminals. By the end of July last year police were shooting people at the rate of six a month and killing one person a fortnight.

This violence, be it at the hands of the state or gangs, is both compounded and underpinned by racial and economic disadvantage. The poorer the neighbourhood the more violent, the wealthier the safer. This is no coincidence. Much like the Nato summit - and the G8 summit that preceded it - the system is set up not to spread wealth but to preserve and protect it, not to relieve chaos but to contain and punish it.

Younge then gives us a few of the local fruits of this global system:

Chicago illustrates how the developing world is everywhere, not least in the heart of the developed. The mortality rate for black infants in the city is on a par with the West Bank; black life expectancy in Illinois is just below Egypt and just above Uzbekistan. More than a quarter of Chicagoans have no health insurance, one in five black male Chicagoans are unemployed and one in three live in poverty. Latinos do not fare much better.

Harcourt, meanwhile, focuses on the mechanics of the lockdown imposed on Chicago:

As one commentator suggests, Chicagoans are experiencing the "New Military Urbanism in Nato-Occupied Chicago". The extensive nature of these security measures (as reported by the US secret service), road closures and pedestrian restrictions included dozens of road closures (at least 7.5 miles of closed roads, by my calculation) ...

Eight-foot tall, anti-scale security fencing went up all over that perimeter and downtown, including Grant Park; and the Chicago police - as well as myriad other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI and the US secret service - were out in force on riot-geared horses, bikes, and patrols - batons at the ready. Philadelphia Police Department is sending over reinforcements to help out; Chicago has also asked for recruits from police departments in Milwaukee and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC. Meanwhile, F-16 warplanes "screamed through the skies as part of a pre-summit defense exercise" and helicopters hovered incessantly. ....

Plus, the Chicago Police Department will be deploying its two, new, expensive long-range acoustic device (LRAD) sound cannons - which it bought at $20,000 a pop. These are the type of devices that were used by the Pittsburgh police to deliver high-pitched alarm tones during the G20 summit meeting there in 2009.

Then, there is the "secret suburban Chicago" police control center where "officials from more than 40 different agencies sit side by side with a giant central screen before them," as reported by the Chicago Sun Times. From the multi-agency command center, all different types of federal, state and local law enforcement can "view live video feeds from security cameras that are already up and running throughout the city."

Harcourt makes the telling point that Mayor Rahm Emanuel denied numerous protest permits and imposed other restrictions on the grounds that the expression of free speech by demonstrators would cause "inconveniences to traffic and ordinary businesses" -- this, after closing off more than seven square miles of the city's commercial area himself. He makes the even more telling point that these hyper-draconian measures will, in many cases, stay in place once the power-players have finished their meaningless jaw-flapping and returned to their well-wadded entrenchments at home:

Third, and finally, all of this is, sadly, here to stay. Nato will come and go, but the new anti-protest laws, the new riot-gear, the two LRAD sound cannons, and all the normalization of this police state ... that will be with us for a long time.

(c) 2012 Chris Floyd

Congress Wants To Legally Feed Us Propaganda
By James Donahue

We have always known that the government and corporate propaganda machine has been working overtime when it comes to keeping the public informed. In spite of all of the alleged lying and twisting of facts, it has been technically illegal for our leaders to feed misinformation to the American people.

Now two members of Congress, Rep. Mark Thornberry (R) and Rep. Adam Smith (D) have slipped an amendment to the latest military defense bill that will neutralize existing laws - the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987 - that are supposed to protect us from government misinformation campaigns.

The defense bill has already passed the House. If this version gets through the Senate and is signed into law by President Barack Obama, the public mistrust of everything our government tells us will be fully justified.

This bit of Congressional misbehavior has been uncovered by writer Amy Sly on the website BuzzFeed.

In her story, Sly writes that amendment supporters argue that "informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home." They reason that the misinformation labeled as "new techniques" are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, the borderless terrorist organization blamed for 9-11 and other alleged attempts to conduct terrorist attacks on the United States.

In other words, the objective is to bombard us with government created lies to keep us safe from would-be terrorists. Does anybody think there is anything wrong with this line of thinking? Does anybody think this hasn't already been going on? Does anybody now believe that former President George W. Bush and his cronies were not lying to us when they said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was harboring "weapons of mass destruction" and used the lie as an excuse to invade Iraq?

Does anybody believe United States military forces and other NATO troops need to remain any longer in Afghanistan to fight the Al-Qaeda network, which left town years ago? Now we are told our troops are remaining to stabilize the Afghan government and train native military troops to fight terrorism. What appears to be the real reason is the discovery that great resources of gold, precious minerals and possibly even gas and oil deposits exist under that barren landscape. There is money in those hills and some big American corporate investors are clamoring for access. Tribal leaders are fighting hard to make sure that never happens. This seems to be the real reason our troops are still over there getting maimed and killed. It is not happening in the defense of our country. They are being sacrificed for corporate greed.

The new law, Sly wrote, "Would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push (misinformation via) television, radio, newspaper and social media onto the U.S. public." The story quotes one unnamed Pentagon official as saying "it removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false."

Because the public believes we have been consistently lied to over the years, even since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a general feeling of distrust of our government has been evolving. Thus we hear of a myriad of conspiracy theories that include the Kennedy Assassination, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Waco assault on the Branch Dravidians and 9-11.

Many do not believe the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan were justified. And the so-called "War on Terror" has only served to make Americans submissive to a line of legislation like the Patriot Act that stripped us of our Constitutional freedoms. Now we are hearing stories about new explosives that can be sewn into the underwear of potential suicide bombers and pass unseen at airport radar scanners. Does such a weapon exist or is it another attempt to increase the fear level among the people?

We appear to be plunging headlong into an Orwellian society and the American people seem oddly complacent about what has been happening. Have we all been brainwashed, are we being fed mind-dulling drugs in our food and water, or have our people been so cleverly dubbed by the propaganda machine that we are satisfied with giving up freedom for the alleged safety offered by Homeland Security?

We seem to have accepted the fact that government agents are reading our e-mails and all of our electronic communications. We have submitted to the extremely humiliating body searches before boarding aircraft. We have not complained about all of the little video cameras recording nearly every move we make in public. Are we also going to quietly submit to constant surveillance by a fleet of some 30,000 drones soon to be flying over our heads and possibly armed with guns, bombs and cameras?

How dare our legislators consider slipping a secret law on the books that gives our government the legal freedom to blatantly lie to us whenever it wishes?
(c) 2012 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

Chicago protesters

Chicago - Peace Town
By David Swanson

A huge crowd gathered for several hours and marched for over two miles in the hot sun to oppose NATO and U.S. wars on Sunday in Chicago. Finishing the march outside the NATO meeting, numerous U.S. veterans of current wars denounced their previous "service" and threw their medals over the fence, a scene not witnessed since the U.S. war on Vietnam.

This event, with massive turnout and tremendous energy, saw the participation of numerous groups from Chicago and the surrounding area, including students, teachers, and activists on a variety of issues, as well as anti-war activists and Occupiers from around the country and the world. No one can have been disappointed with the turnout, but it might have been bigger if not for the fear that was spread prior to Sunday. In the face of that fear, Sunday's action was remarkable.

The fear was the result of a massive militarized police build up, rumors of evacuations, the boarding up of windows, brutal police assaults on activists, preemptive arrests, disappearances, and charges of terrorism. A segment of the activist world plays into these police tactics, wearing bandanas, shouting curses, antagonizing police, and eroding credibility for claims that violence is all police-initiated.

Yet the vast majority of the crowd was disciplined, nonviolent, and effective. It is critical that the people of Afghanistan know the people of the U.S. oppose what NATO is doing to them. Speaking at the end of the march were members of Afghans for Peace, who read a message from Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.

It is also vital that the people of Russia know that we do not want to make their nation our enemy; only our government and our weapons makers do. And it is important that those who have been actively opposing NATO in Europe for years see that we in the nation that provides the bulk of NATO's forces are waking up to what that entails.

Americans cannot help but know more about NATO this week than they did a week ago. We've even received a small taste of the violence that NATO imposes on others -- courtesy of the Chicago police and various imported state, city, and federal police/soldiers. For NATO to meet in Chicago it was deemed necessary to import a few night raids and a great deal of brutality.

A massive crowd of activists was significantly outnumbered on Sunday by armed police, many in riot gear. They lined the march route. They swarmed off buses. They looked a little ridiculous as we marched nonviolently, just as we'd intended to do. The marching didn't harm anyone or destroy any accumulated riches or smash any of the windows that were not boarded up.

Police did not allow the day to end without any use of their training and weapons. Not long after I left, according to numerous reports, all hell broke loose. If it hadn't, think of how many of those people fearfully watching Sunday's march from their high balconies would have joined in the next one and invited their friends!

Am I suggesting that government officials try to manipulate public opinion? Well, let me just say this: there is a bipartisan effort in Congress to lift the official ban on using dishonest propaganda against U.S. citizens. The measure passed the House on Friday as part of the latest National "Defense" Authorization Act.

On Monday, Occupy Chicago will take the protest to Boeing:

"Occupy Celebrates Victory of Non-Violent Direct Action with March to Boeing, All-Day Rally: People Power Stops the War Machine as Boeing Corporation Directs Employees to Stay Home, Shuts Down!"

My kind of town.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Yes, We Can Walk And Chew Gum
By David Sirota

One of the most overused metaphors in a writer's arsenal is the one about "walking and chewing gum at the same time." As a hiker and Big League Chew enthusiast, I particularly hate this cliche. Nonetheless, I feel it is fitting right now because it so perfectly summarizes the argument being made by Republicans. They now insist that America cannot simultaneously walk the walk on equal rights and also chew economic gum.

In the last week, Colorado was the testing ground for this talking point. At the presidential level, Republican nominee Mitt Romney criticized a Denver television reporter for daring to ask about his position on, among other issues, same-sex marriage. Before restating his opposition, he scoffed at the question, asking: "Aren't there issues of significance that you'd like to talk about (like) the economy? The growth of jobs? The need to put people back to work?"

At the same time, Colorado's Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty twice blocked a vote on a bill to legalize civil unions. His rationale? "We should not be spending time on divisive social issues when unemployment remains far too high and (when) far too many Coloradans remain out of work," he said. Echoing that sentiment, the shadowy Republican front group Compass Colorado financed an automated telephone call telling thousands of voters that the push for civil unions was unacceptable because it is "promoting (a) divisive social agenda over Colorado job creation."

Obviously, it's perplexing to see the Republican Party allege that social issues are insignificant and "divisive." This is, after all, the party whose most recent presidential nominating contest was dominated by attacks on contraception - the same GOP whose politicians have made an art out of riding a "guns, god and gays" focused agenda to electoral victory.

But while such naked hypocrisy is enraging, the substance of the Republican rhetoric about gay rights is downright offensive.

Essentially, conservatives are asserting that we cannot extend equal rights to all Americans and fix the economy. In the process, they are deliberately insinuating that the twin goals are somehow contradictory.

Well, you might ask, do they have a point? History says no. Our country's story is the story of multitasking - a tale of extending the franchise to women while passing progressive legislation to deal with crushing economic inequality, a tale of both passing civil rights legislation and creating Medicare.

In light of such achievements, would anyone retroactively argue that America should have opposed the campaign to let women vote because the economy was so bad in the early 20th century? Would anyone insist that lawmakers should have halted civil rights legislation in the 1960s because there was a simultaneous need for a War on Poverty? Probably not, because most of us recognize such arguments for what they are: diversionary non-sequiturs whose real goal is to preserve institutional bigotry and prejudice.

That's the same objective of today's GOP when it comes to rights for same sex couples. For proof, just consider the abruptness of the shift: the Republican Party that spent the last decade insisting that we should simultaneously cut taxes, prosecute foreign wars and fight to limit a woman's right to choose an abortion now suddenly says we can't even discuss equal rights because of a recession.

The language changed not because the new "can't walk and chew gum" mantra makes sense (seriously - would any sane person really claim that a bad economy justifies continued persecution of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people?). It changed because the cause of equal rights is involved. And, clearly, that cause is what today's Republicans are now most committed to stopping - no matter how much their flawed logic indicts their credibility.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "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.

Get Ready To Shake, Rattle And Glow
The Worst Is Yet to Come at Japan's Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
By Vincent L. Guarisco

It's been over a year since the most powerful 9.0 earthquake in Japan's history struck and a monstrous tsunami reached an astonishing height of 133 feet, severely damaging the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. I published my first article about this disaster back in July, 2011. Since that fateful day on Friday, March 11, 2011, every second of every day, millions of unsuspecting people continue to be exposed to harmful amounts of radiation from three reactor meltdowns. This includes a host of fission products: Iodine, cesium, strontium, plutonium and uranium. Even as I type this essay, mass exposure is ongoing on multiple continents and, as a direct result, many healthy souls will get sick and die premature deaths. However, the worst may be forthcoming ...

I truly wish the worst was over, I do. But sadly, that's not the case. In addition to the ongoing three reactor meltdowns, an even greater tragedy is poised to unleash radioactive hell. The Reactor 4 building is on the verge of collapse. According to structural experts, seismicity standards rate the building at zero, meaning even a small earthquake could send it into a radiated heap of rubble. Plus -- here's the worst part -- sitting 100 feet above the ground in a pool at the top of the building that is cracked, leaning, leaking, and precarious, are 1,565 fuel rods (give or take a few), some of which are "fresh fuel" that was ready to go into the reactor on the morning the earthquake and tsunami hit. Fresh fuel will make the situation much worse. Former clinical researcher Christina Consolo published an informative article about this and, considering how "precarious" our monetary system is as well, her title asks a valid question -- "Which will collapse first, the economy or the spent fuel pool at Fukushima?" It's worth the time spent, you can read her sobering essay here.

In addition, Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar (and nuclear expert) who served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department's secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999, voiced his concern when he published an article at the Huffington Post stating the obvious, The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Is Far From Over. Mr. Alvarez wrote... "The irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins pose far greater dangers than the molten cores. This is why: Nearly all of the 10,893 spent fuel assemblies sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl."

Amazingly, all of this atomic danger begs the question: who the hell is in charge of safeguarding humanity from all this radioactive madness? You would think they could at least warn us of the danger?

Well, that's not the case. Perhaps if the institutions we put our trust in had their priorities in our corner, they would rightfully protect the public at large. Shamefully, the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), etc... are all quiet as a mouse on Christmas Eve. But all doubt has been removed. The entire world now knows what many of us have known for decades. That these bogus, lying institutions will never bite the filthy hand that feeds them. For if they do, it will destroy the credibility (and business) of the very industry that created a need for these same worthless institutions. So here we are, the world is in peril and what is the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) doing about it? Nothing. Even though they could easily do it, they refuse to cut loose with the needed funds to fix this big mess. The IAEA also has a stockpile of money they could easily access to help the situation. Regardless, no one is doing a damn thing. This is unreal!

And so the story goes, the madness of this nuclear fuel-rod storage bomb will continue until its eventual collapse, which will cause imminent global exposure. And offering even less than a pittance of concern for any of this is the heartless bastards employed at the many "proxy" institutions named above. You can always rely on them to continue unabated, providing "damage control" (like they have done since the very first day the industry split the atom) emphatically embracing their role as public relations "sluts" that (as needed) receive smooth hand-rubs from powerful corporate interests to ensure they remain obedient servants. Thus, the slut owners' manual reads as follows: "Protect thy business and safeguard thy nuclear industrial complex at any and all cost. And, even if everyone falls over f-ing dead in a burning heap of glowing melted flesh, minimize and/or eliminate all exposure ramifications whatsoever (that leads back to us) in the public domain."

See the picture here? So don't expect this trend to change anytime soon, because the profiteering business of all things nuclear -- the most dangerous business in all creation -- will silently operate with impunity while being protected from all public scrutiny or justice. Yes, the money rolls in, the isotopes spread out ... and the people be damned.

I know it's hard for most folks to wrap their minds around the severity of this situation -- to grasp that the whole system is corrupt inside and out, from top to bottom -- to fully understand that our fundamental birthright to inherit a healthy, livable environment is on the verge of forever being compromised -- to truly come to the realization that we are ruthlessly being poisoned on a cellular level by a radioactive assassin that is silent, invisible and has no smell or taste.

Although some of us will get to live a while longer, the most vulnerable among us -- infants and our youth -- will suffer the ultimate price because they have always been and remain the first casualties of radiation exposure. In fact (insert gasp here), not that many of them would want to live anyway after seeing how deformed they are; many fetuses will not even make it out of the womb to experience the miracle of birth and life. Sadly, hot radioactive particles or rays have no age boundaries when destroying the chain of life. They indiscriminately attack cells that are developing the fastest, so this is especially bad news for the youth of future generations.

Many of you may perceive this article as bit depressing, harsh or even hateful. However, before you cast judgment, perhaps you should take a moment and try to imagine walking in my shoes for the past five decades. For if you do, you may gain a clear understanding of why I can't paint a rosy picture about all of this. Perhaps you would if you had a father (as I do) who honorably served his country in two world wars, walked on the ashes of Hiroshima and afterwards, was ordered to go to the nuclear gallows and participate in atomic testing. Then, after doing so, as a kid and for most of your adult life, watch him get very sick and suffer as his spine painfully fuses together, partially paralyzing him. Throughout your whole life, you were forced to watch your government try to sweep your father under the carpet like a worthless piece of dirt, just as they had done with countless others. In truth, most everyone on the opposing side wished my father would keep his mouth shut and just quietly die. Indeed, stories such as this can hit a little closer to home than most prefer. It's life experiences such as this that gives a person a clear understanding in real terms of how the world precariously turns.

But the story does not end there, although to some degree, it did have an inspiring end. For decades, I also watched my parents fight the powers at the forefront of the anti-nuclear movement. I'm proud to say that after a lifetime of bureaucratic battle, they finally won and helped pass Federal Legislation that guaranteed that more than 250,000 Veterans got their needed healthcare and benefits. Something the Defense Department, the government, the VA, the entire nuclear industry and all the supposed watchdog organizations fought tooth and nail to prevent every step of the way. Unfortunately, this round, we don't have the luxury of a lifetime to cure this big problem. This time, we're in BIG f-ing trouble.

However, I refuse to give up all hope. I want to see my children and grandchildren live long and prosperous lives worth living. I suppose there is hope that a great awakening can quickly spark the mighty flame of activism that can save humanity from this pending disaster; that world governments can put their differences aside and come together as a world-wide consortium to contain this nuclear monster.

However ... thus far, I have seen no sparks, smelled no smoke, nor do I see any hint of flame happening. And for these many months, I have not even heard a tiny sound-bite in our mainstream media. So, for the love of God, for the sanctity of life and for everything good that is to occur in this journey, please get involved now and help us save the world for what could be our most tragic moment in human history. Stand with me and be the mighty architects of change! Let all of us assemble as one huge mass of movers and shakers and demand this disaster be dealt with, no matter the cost. It comes down to this -- either we come together NOW or suffer the consequences of inaction. The choice is ours.
(c) 2012 Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I'm wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word - its past time to take back what is ours -- the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back. For replies, contact:

Dimon's Deja Vu Debacle
By Paul Krugman

Sometimes it's hard to explain why we need strong financial regulation - especially in an era saturated with pro-business, pro-market propaganda. So we should always be grateful when someone makes the case for regulation more compelling and easier to understand. And this week, that means offering a special shout-out to two men: Jamie Dimon and Mitt Romney.

I'll come back shortly to the troubles at JPMorgan Chase, the bank Mr. Dimon runs. First, however, let me talk about Mr. Romney, whose remarks about those troubles were so off-point that they constitute a teachable moment.

Here's what the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said about JPMorgan's $2 billion loss (which may actually have been $3 billion, or $5 billion, or more, but who's counting?): "This was a loss to shareholders and owners of JPMorgan and that's the way America works. Some people experienced a loss in this case because of a bad decision. By the way, there was someone who made a gain."

What's wrong with this statement? Well, suppose that someone - say, Jimmy Stewart in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" - runs a bank that takes in deposits and invests the money in various ways. And suppose that one of those investments is a risky bet on some complex financial instrument, with Mr. Potter, the evil plutocrat, on the other side.

If Jimmy Stewart's bet pays off, we're in Romneyworld: he's made money, Mr. Potter has lost money, and that's that. But suppose Jimmy Stewart loses his bet. If the bet was big enough, he no longer has enough assets to pay off his depositors. His bank collapses, probably in a chaotic bank run that takes down the whole town's economy as collateral damage. Mr. Potter makes money on the deal, but so what?

The point is that it's not O.K. for banks to take the kinds of risks that are acceptable for individuals, because when banks take on too much risk they put the whole economy in jeopardy - unless they can count on being bailed out. And the prospect of such bailouts, of course, only strengthens the case that banks shouldn't be allowed to run wild, since they are in effect gambling with taxpayers' money.

Incidentally, how is it possible that Mr. Romney doesn't understand all of this? His whole candidacy is based on the claim that his experience at extracting money from troubled businesses means that he'll know how to run the economy - yet whenever he talks about economic policy, he comes across as completely clueless.

Anyway, it goes without saying that Jamie Dimon is no Jimmy Stewart. But he has, in a way, been playing Jimmy Stewart on TV, posing as a responsible banker who knows how to manage risk - and therefore the point man in Wall Street's fight to block any tightening of regulations despite the immense damage deregulated banks have already inflicted on our economy. Trust us, Mr. Dimon has in effect been saying, we've got this covered and it won't happen again.

Now the truth is coming out. That multibillion-dollar loss wasn't an isolated event; it was an accident waiting to happen. For even as Mr. Dimon was giving speeches about responsible banking, his own institution was heaping on the risk. "The unit at the center of JPMorgan's $2 billion trading loss," reports The Financial Times, "has built up positions totaling more than $100 billion in asset-backed securities and structured products - the complex, risky bonds at the center of the financial crisis in 2008. These holdings are in addition to those in credit derivatives which led to the losses."

And what was going on as these positions were being accumulated? According to a fascinating report in Sunday's Times, the reality behind JPMorgan's facade of competence was a scene all too reminiscent of the behavior that brought down firms like A.I.G. in 2008: arrogant executives shouting down anyone who tried to question their activities, top management that didn't ask questions as long as the money kept rolling in. It really is deja vu all over again.

The point, again, is that an institution like JPMorgan - a too-big-to-fail bank, not to mention a bank whose deposits are already guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers - shouldn't be engaged in this kind of speculative investment at all. And that's why we need a return to much stronger financial regulation, stronger even than the Dodd-Frank regulations passed back in 2010.

Will we get that kind of regulation? Not if Mr. Romney wins, obviously; he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and in general has made it clear that he would do everything in his power to set us up for another financial crisis. Even if President Obama is re-elected, getting the kind of regulation we need will be an uphill struggle. But as Mr. Dimon's debacle has just demonstrated, that struggle remains as necessary as ever.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"When people ask me, 'Why can't labor organize the way it did in the thirties?' the answer is simple: everything we did then is now illegal."
~~~ Thomas Geoghegan

Recovery or Collapse? Bet On Collapse
By Paul Craig Roberts

The US financial system and, probably, the financial system of Europe, like the police, no longer serves a useful social purpose.

In the US the police have proven themselves to be a greater threat to public safety than private sector criminals. I just googled "police brutality" and up came 183,000,000 results. (Here are two recent brutal assaults, one deadly, by police on hapless individuals: and )

The cost to society of the private financial system is even higher. Writing in CounterPunch (May 18), Rob Urie reports that two years ago Andrew Haldane, executive Director for Financial Stability at the Bank of England (the UK's version of the Federal Reserve) said that the financial crisis, now four years old, will in the end cost the world economy between $60 trillion and $200 trillion in lost GDP. If Urie's report is correct, this is an astonishing admission from a member of the ruling elite.

Try to get your mind around these figures. The US GDP, the largest in the world, is about 15 trillion. What Haldane is telling us is that the financial crisis will end up costing the world lost real income between 4 and 13 times the size of the current Gross Domestic Product of the United States. This could turn out to be an optimistic forecast.

In the end, the financial crisis could destroy Western civilization.

Even if Urie's report, or Haldane's calculation, is incorrect, the obvious large economic loss from the financial crisis is still unprecedented. The enormous cost of the financial crisis has one single source--financial deregulation. Financial deregulation is likely to prove to be the mistake that destroys Western civilization. While we quake in our boots from fear of "Muslim terrorists," it is financial deregulation that is destroying us, with help from jobs offshoring. Keep in mind that Haldane is a member of the ruling elite, not a critic of the system like myself, Gerald Celente, Michael Hudson, Pam Martins, and Nomi Prins. (This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of critics.)

Financial deregulation has had dangerous and adverse consequences. Deregulation permitted financial concentration that produced "banks too big to fail," thus requiring the general public to absorb the costs of the banks' mistakes and reckless gambling.

Deregulation permitted banks to leverage a small amount of capital with enormous debt in order to maximize return on equity, thereby maximizing the instability of the financial system and the cost to society of the banks' bad bets.

Deregulation allowed financial institutions to sweep aside the position limits on speculators and to dominate commodity markets, turning them into a gambling casino and driving up the prices of energy and food.

Deregulation permits financial institutions to sell naked shorts, which means to sell a company's stock or gold and silver bullion that the seller does not possess into the market in order to drive down the price.

The informed reader can add more items to this list.

The dollar in its role as world reserve currency is the source of Washington's power. It allows Washington to control the international payments system and to exclude from the financial system those countries that do not do Washington's bidding. It allows Washington to print money with which to pay its bills and to purchase the cooperation of foreign governments or to fund opposition within those countries whose governments Washington is unable to purchase, such as Iran, Russia, and China. If the dollar was not the world reserve currency and actually reflected its true depreciated value from the mounting US debt and running of the printing press, Washington's power would be dramatically curtailed.

The US dollar has come close to its demise several times recently. In 2011 the dollar's value fell as low as 72 Swiss cents. Investors seeking safety for the value of their money flooded into Swiss francs, pushing the value of the franc so high that Switzerland's exports began to suffer. The Swiss government responded to the inflow of dollars and euros seeking refuge in the franc by declaring that it would in the future print new francs to offset the inflows of foreign currency in order to prevent the rise in the value of the franc. In other words, currency flight from the US and Europe forced the Swiss to inflate in order to prevent the continuous rise in the exchange value of the Swiss currency.

Prior to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the dollar was also faced with a run-up in the value of the euro as foreign central banks and OPEC members shifted their reserves into euros from dollars. The euro was on its way to becoming an alternative reserve currency. However, Goldman Sachs, whose former employees dominate the US Treasury and financial regulatory agencies and also the European Central Bank and governments of Italy and, indirectly, Greece, helped the Greek government to disguise its true deficit, thus deceiving the private European banks who were purchasing the bonds of the Greek government. Once the European sovereign debt crisis was launched, Washington had an interest in keeping it going, as it sends holders of euros fleeing into "safe" dollars, thus boosting the exchange value of the dollar, despite the enormous rise in Washington's own debt and the doubling of the US money supply.

Last year gold and silver were rapidly rising in price (measured in US dollars), with gold hitting $1,900 an ounce and on its way to $2,000 when suddenly short sales began dominating the bullion markets. The naked shorts of gold and silver bullion succeeded in driving the price of gold down $350 per ounce from its peak. Many informed observers believe that the reason Washington has not prosecuted the banksters for their known financial crimes is that the banksters serve as an auxiliary to Washington by protecting the value of the dollar by shorting bullion and rival currencies.

What happens if Greece exits the EU on its own or by the German boot? What happens if the other EU members reject German Chancellor Merkel's austerity, as the new president of France promised to do? If Europe breaks apart, do more investors flee to the doomed US dollar?

Will a dollar bubble become the largest bubble in economic history?

When the dollar goes, interest rates will escalate, and bond prices will collapse. Everyone who sought safety in US Treasuries will be wiped out.

We should all be aware that such outcomes are not part of the public debate.

Recently Bill Moyers interviewed Simon Johnson, formerly chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and currently professor at MIT. It turns out that deregulation, which abolished the separation of investment banks from commercial banks, permitted Jamie Dimon's JPMorganChase to gamble with federally insured deposits. Despite this, Moyers reports that Republicans remain determined to kill the weak Dodd-Frank law and restore full deregulation.

Simon Johnson says: "I think it [deregulation] is a recipe for disaster." The problem is, Johnson says, that correct economic policy is blocked by the enormous donations banks make to political campaigns. This means Wall Street's attitudes and faulty risk models will result in an even bigger financial crisis than the one from which we are still suffering. And it will happen prior to recovery from the current crisis.

Johnson warns that the Republicans will distract everyone from the real crisis by concocting another "crisis" over the debt ceiling.

Johnson says that "a few people, particularly in and around the financial system, have become too powerful. They were allowed to take a lot of risk, and they did massive damage to the economy -- more than eight million jobs lost. We're still struggling to get back anywhere close to employment levels where we were before 2008. And they've done massive damage to the budget. This damage to the budget is long lasting; it undermines the budget when we need it to be stronger because the society is aging. We need to support Social Security and support Medicare on a fair basis. We need to restore and rebuild revenue, revenue that was absolutely devastated by the financial crisis. People need to understand the link between what the banks did and the budget. And too many people fail to do that."

Consequently, Johnson says, the banksters continue to receive mega-benefits while imposing enormous social costs on society.

Few Americans and no Washington policymakers understand the dire situation. They are too busy hyping a non-existent recovery and the next war. Statistician John Williams reports that when correctly measured as a cost of living indicator, which the CPI no longer is, the current inflation rate in the US is 5 to 7 percentage points higher than the officially reported rate, as every consumer knows. The unemployment rate falls because, and only because, people unable to find jobs drop out of the labor force and are no longer counted as unemployed. Every informed person knows that the official inflation and unemployment rates are fictions; yet, the presstitute media continue to report the rates with a straight face as fact.

The way the government has rigged the measure of unemployment, it is possible for the US to have a zero rate of unemployment and not a single person employed or in the work force.

The way the government has the measure of inflation rigged, it is possible for your living standing to fall while the government reports that you are better off.

Financial deregulation raises the returns from speculative schemes above the returns from productive activity. The highly leveraged debt and derivatives that gave us the financial crisis have nothing to do with financing businesses. The banks are not only risking their customers' deposits on gambling bets but also jeopardizing the country's financial stability and economic future.

With an eye on the approaching dollar crisis, which will wreck the international financial system, the presidents of China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, and the prime minister of India met last month to discuss forming a new bank that would shield their economies and commerce from mistakes made by Washington and the European Union. The five countries, known as the BRICS, intend to settle their trade with one another in their own currencies and cease relying on the dollar. The fact that Russia, the two Asian giants, and the largest economies in Africa and South America are leaving the dollar's orbit sends a powerful message of lack of confidence in Washington's handling of financial matters.

It is ironic that the outcome of financial deregulation in the US is the opposite of what its free market advocates promised. In place of highly competitive financial firms that live or die by their wits alone without government intervention, we have unprecedented financial concentration. Massive banks, "too big to fail," now send their multi-trillion dollar losses to Washington to be paid by heavily indebted US taxpayers whose real incomes have not risen in 20 years. The banksters take home fortunes in annual bonuses for their success in socializing the "free market" banks' losses and privatizing profits to the point of not even paying income taxes.

In the US free market economists unleashed avarice and permitted it to run amuck. Will the disastrous consequences discredit capitalism to the extent that the Soviet collapse discredited socialism?

Will Western civilization itself survive the financial tsunami that deregulated Wall Street has produced?

Ironic, isn't it, that the United States, the home of the "indispensable people," stands before us as the likely candidate whose government will be responsible for the collapse of the West.
(c) 2012 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. He can be reached at:

Why Obama Should Be Attacking Casino Capitalism - Both Romney's Bain And JPMorgan
By Robert Reich

I wish President Obama would draw the obvious connection between Bain Capital and JPMorgan Chase.

That way his so-called "attack" on private equity is neither a personal attack on Mitt Romney nor a generalized attack on American business.

It's an attack on a particular kind of capitalism that Romney and JPMorgan both practice: Using other peoples' money to make big bets which, if they go wrong, can wreak havoc on the economy.

It's the substitution of casino capitalism for real capitalism, the dominance of the betting parlor over the real business of America, financial innovation rather than product innovation.

It's been terrible for the American economy and for our democracy.

It's also why Obama has to come out swinging about JPMorgan. The JPMorgan Chase debacle would have been prevented if the Volcker Rule were sufficiently strict, prohibiting banks from using commercial deposits to make bets except very specific offsetting bets (hedges) on narrow classes of trades.

But Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan have been lobbying like mad to loosen the Volcker Rule and widen that exception to include the very kind of reckless bets JPMorgan made. And they're still at it, as evidenced by Dimon's current claim that the rule that eventually emerges would allow those bets.

As a practical matter, the Volcker Rule is hopeless. It was intended to be Glass-Steagall lite - a more nuanced version of the original Depression-era law that separated commercial from investment banking. But JPMorgan has proven that any nuance - any exception - will be stretched beyond recognition by the big banks.

So much money can be made when these bets turn out well that the big banks will stop at nothing to keep the spigot open.

There's no alternative but to resurrect Glass-Steagall as a whole. Even then, the biggest banks are still too big to fail or to regulate. We also need to heed the recent advice of the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve, and break them up.

At the same time, there's no point to the "carried interest" loophole that allows private-equity managers like Mitt Romney to treat their incomes as capital gains, taxed at only 15 percent, when they've risked no money of their own.

If private equity were good for America it wouldn't need this or the other tax preference it depends on, elevating debt over equity. But the private equity industry has huge political clout, which is why these tax preferences remain.

Get it? Bain Capital and JPMorgan are parts of the same problem. The President should be leading the charge against both.
(c) 2012 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.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Staatssekretar Bennett,

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 Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your threatening to keep the president off the Arizona ballot because of your birther beliefs, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican 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 05-28-2012. We salute you Herr Bennett, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Wisconsin's Recall
By John Nichols

Voters across Europe are rejecting politicians who have placed the mania for deficit cutting above all other needs, and the mainstream media are beginning to echo the mood, with even The Economist arguing that austerity is "strangling the eurozone's chances of recovery." As deeply flawed as the European experiment with austerity has been, however, at least it is commonly understood as a policy response to serious fiscal challenges. It's different in the United States, where there has been little honest debate about the reasons for or the failures of austerity. This is unfortunate, as such a discourse would make it much easier for pundits to understand the June 5 Wisconsin recall elections for what they are: a grassroots rebellion against the determination of Republican Governor Scott Walker and his legislative allies to destroy unions, slash public sector wages and benefits, cut education funding and shred the social safety net.

Part of the problem is Walker's steady refusal to be honest about his intentions. A year ago he claimed fiscal necessity required him to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees. That claim, which Walker still repeats, was called into question this May by the release of a damning videotape from January 2011 that shows the governor discussing with a billionaire campaign donor strategies to weaken public sector unions and then go after all labor organizations to make Wisconsin "a completely red state." The tape confirmed the worst suspicions of grassroots activists, who have demanded that Walker, his cronies and their crude fiscal and political intrigues be held to account.

It is because of that demand that Wisconsin is witnessing the most ambitious set of recall elections in American history: not just the executive branch but the most powerful legislative chamber could be flipped from Republican to Democratic control. If Walker and his allies are removed from office, the results will be seen across the country as a rejection of the false premise that cutting taxes for the rich while attacking unions and slashing services will somehow spur job growth. Walker promised that his policies would create 250,000 jobs. Instead of growth, the governor's austerity agenda has brought about what the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies as the worst pattern of job losses in the nation. Walker's Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, argues that the governor abandoned fiscal common sense and "created an ideological civil the State of Wisconsin."

Barrett, who handily won a crowded Democratic primary on May 8, is Walker's opposite. Former Senator Russ Feingold hails Barrett, a former Congressman, as "a lifelong progressive [who]... stood with me in voting against the deregulation that led to the Wall Street crash, opposing the Patriot Act, and reforming our system of campaign finance." Barrett also broke with Democratic and Republican presidents to oppose NAFTA and champion labor rights. But the Democrat is not just ideologically distinct from Walker. Whereas Walker's a my-way-or-the-highway pol, Barrett is known for getting people to work together. Though his pragmatic approach to balancing budgets frustrated some local unions in Milwaukee and led to a split in the labor movement over whom to back in the primary, Barrett has now united unions and the party in the campaign to defeat Walker.

The challenge is that Republicans are also united, not just in Wisconsin but nationally, in their support for a governor hailed by Mitt Romney as a hero and role model. Barrett spent around $1 million to win his primary; Walker has already burned through $21 million, and his billionaire backers have spent millions more on "independent" ads. The unprecedented spending on behalf of Walker and his allies has made these recall elections an example of what campaigning has come to look like in the Citizens United era: Democrats can't hope to match the staggering level of corporate cash raised by the GOP, so they will have to accelerate grassroots organizing and get-out-the-vote drives. Wisconsin will test the prospect that people power might yet beat money power. Despite Walker's cash advantage, his approval ratings are declining, and Barrett is running even with him in most polls. Why? Some of it has to do with the state's stagnant economy, as well as corruption scandals that have led to felony charges against Walker aides and donors. But Walker's big money from outside Wisconsin could probably spin those challenges away. What's tripping him up is the fury of organized labor-which is providing some of the resources to fight the TV wars and is most focused on a massive voter mobilization campaign-combined with the tens of thousands of grassroots Wisconsinites who are determined to oust the governor.

The movement that occupied the state Capitol a year ago to oppose Walker's attacks on unions and public services trained hordes of volunteers to gather the almost 1 million signatures that forced the recall election. Now those volunteers are countering Walker's advertising onslaught with a door-to-door campaign focusing on the jobs data, which confirms the failure of his austerity agenda. Walker admits that if he is beaten on June 5, he won't be the only loser. Other governors and policy-makers in Washington will, he says, be afraid of adopting his approach. He's right. If people power beats money power in Wisconsin, it's going to be a whole lot harder to sell the austerity lie as the fix for what ails America.
(c) 2012 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 publshed by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A World Without Capitalists Is Necessary
By Frank Scott

"A world without workers is impossible. A world without capitalists is necessary." ~~~ World Federation of Labor.

The unemployment rate in the USA is down to just over 8%. This is evidence that we are in a recovery from a recession. But that rate is actually higher than it was when this particular recession began.

The patient's temperature has gone up, a sure sign that the patient is getting better. Huh?

Living under the rules of a profit and loss religion in a market church controlled by private clergy, almost anything negative can be made to sound positive, especially to those who have not yet felt the full impact of a disintegrating political economy. But those who are experiencing its worst aspects find no relief in academic jargon about structural or cyclical problems, stagnation, supply/demand curves, unemployment blips and market equilibrium. None of this helps them find jobs or borrow enough money to pay their rent, mortgage, food bills or education loans. And as those people are not only in the USA but in the rest of the world, the global nature of the problem makes it more clear that a solution is far beyond a particular nation state and concerns all of humanity.

An old admonition to act local but think global has come to mean far more than was originally intended. Then it had almost nothing to do with economics but now, if we don't think and act economically we may assure failure for the planet and all its inhabitants. That's us, whatever market terminology may be used to hide that fact behind national, racial, religious or other divisive identity group labels that help keep power in minority hands. And that minority is doing better than ever, in the short run, amassing more power and money than any past godlike royalty in what were supposed to have been more primitive societies. How much has really changed since ancient times when peasants and slaves were ground underfoot so that royal families and their wealthy sponsors could live lives of luxury? Not much, in essence, though the material standard of living for workers became what was called middle class and assured far more material comfort than previous generations of common people enjoyed. That lasted until the present breakdown began decreasing the income of more people at a faster rate so that the wealth of less people could increase at a greater rate.

If people are murdered in wars, that is good for the weapons business. If illness and disease run rampant that is good for the medical business. If natural disaster ravages communities and kills people, that is good for the construction industry and the burial business. Such are the realities of the cold blooded economics by which the people of the world have been organized for hundreds of years. A profit for one always means a loss for many. The idea of keeping people healthy, safe, secure and alive is reduced to the private force of doing so only if they are able to create profits for those selling health, safety, security and life itself to the highest bidder in the market. If we can't afford to buy those things and charity does not exist for us, we can just drop dead.

Millions of us do, and not only in bloody wars which profit the war makers. Many of us starve for lack of food while others have to go on diets because they eat so much. Many of us sleep in doorways, on the street or under bridges, while dogs and cats have their own rooms in comfortable homes. None of this happens because of individuals who are thoughtless or cold hearted or murderous, although such do exist. But in a system which dictates that profit must be created in a market sale, the owner of a private firm that makes band aids can be the nicest person on earth but still only profit and prosper if lots of people are bleeding. The social concept of doing all that is possible to avoid bleeding would be terrible for his private business. That is the case for every single human endeavor in the capital dominated religious belief system of the market, an anti-human, anti-social core of political economics that is threatening the future of all people all over the world.

Criticism and rebellion to such injustice is the history of humanity but today it is growing far beyond the national minorities previously involved in such struggle. People organized to obey authority, work for others to survive, live in physical poverty or shop in moral poverty and vote for employees of wealthy rulers when allowed to and call it democracy, have remained unorganizable for the kind of change now necessary for the survival of humanity. But as the critical conditions grow worse, new methods of communication among the people are helping bring more rebellious response to this old order of great wealth for the few at cost of crippling poverty and debt for the many.

Under the threat of potential social collapse, environmental destruction and radical revolution, those who reap the greatest profits are exploiting, ravaging and murdering at insane rates in mindless desperation to maintain their power and wealth. That cannot continue and is no longer tolerable to billions of human beings nor the planet's natural support system.

All over the world of capitalist anti-social democracy, the collapsing structure has brought about calls for austerity from the rulers and their paid minions in government. This means further losses absorbed by the majority so that even greater profits can accrue to ruling minorities. Establishment philosophers of mass culture operating through corporate media still have enormous impact as they explain why the present reality is all that exists and must be experienced without substantial question. But when increasingly painful economic conditions for more people combine with increasingly dangerous conditions for much of the natural environment, the complex of events called material reality take on a new meaning well understood by growing numbers who face that reality in all its harshness and are less influenced by misinformation, propaganda and economic fairy tales.

Thus, many world citizens, even while their governing powers continue representing capital, wars and injustice, are rejecting the ugly burdens forced on them by their rich overlords. Elections in some places are small indications of change but far more indicative than the voting process which is still under the control of capital, are the rising multitudes all over the world all aiming for the same goal: a new world based on democratic power exercised by people taking action as members of the one and only human race and not simply as parties, religions, sects, cults or other labeled divisions which serve to keep minorities in control of majority created wealth.

Those tiny minorities are the capitalists who somehow own the fantastic wealth produced by enormous majorities of previously divided people. The divisions still exist and the power still is in the hands of those minorities whose days may be numbered, but so are those of humanity as well if action is not taken to create the world of democratic equality which has been the stuff of wishes and dreams but must become reality. Or else.

Doomsayers and doubters are in abundance and are to be expected, even when they are not on the payroll of the ruling minority. It's easy to look at the state of the world and surrender to present reality. But that is only possible for those not yet suffering the ever increasing misfortune of dependence on a political economics of profit for a few through loss, pain and misery for most. It is not just time for social change activists but for all citizens of the world's 99% to heed the words quoted at the beginning. An end to the reign of minority capitalism is necessary to save the earth and all its people so that we can begin a human society offering hope for all and not just some.
(c) 2012 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate

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'The President Needs To Come Clean On His Views,' Obama Says

Obama Blasts Obama's Evasive Stance On Gay Marriage

WASHINGTON-President Barack Obama lashed out at President Barack Obama's seemingly evasive stance on gay marriage Tuesday, calling the head-of-state's cagey position on the issue both "cowardly" and "an example of failed leadership."

Speaking to reporters from the White House East Room, Obama said that he has had enough of the president's endless hedging on same-sex marriage and that, as president of the United States, he can't just sit back and take a passive position on what he called the "most important civil rights issue of our time."

"President Obama's inability to simply state whether he's for or against gay marriage is unacceptable," Obama said during a spirited 30-minute address in which he sharply criticized the president for failing time and again to articulate his beliefs. "This nonsense where he says his views are 'evolving' isn't going to cut it anymore. It's patronizing and it's wrong."

"Mr. President," the president continued, "I am waiting for your answer. We all are."

Yesterday's speech comes on the heels of Vice President Joe Biden's recent announcement in support of same-sex marriage, an announcement Obama praised Tuesday, saying he was pleased "someone in the Obama administration was finally brave enough to take a clear-cut stand."

Throughout his remarks, Obama repeatedly questioned Obama's stance on gay rights, calling the president out for trying to play both sides of the issue by simultaneously voicing his support for gay rights yet consistently stopping short of endorsing gay marriage.

Obama went so far as to call the president's position "incoherent," and questioned how Obama could adamantly support the legalization of same-sex marriage on a state level but not a federal one.

"Tell me, how does that make any sense?" Obama said. "The truth is, it doesn't. I don't have a clue what the president means when he says things like that, and quite frankly, I don't think he does, either."

Though President Obama has yet to respond to Obama's remarks, Beltway insiders said the increased pressure from the White House has, in effect, put Obama on notice. Sources confirmed that by using the power of the presidency, Obama is ostensibly forcing Obama to make a decision sooner rather than later.

"When the president addresses you directly, you can't ignore him," NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker said. "I think what we can take away from today's remarks is that the president is genuinely frustrated, not just with Obama the president, but Obama the man. The section in his speech where he questioned how, as the first black president, Obama could fail to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians was particularly powerful."

While Obama praised Obama for repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell and extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners, Obama said the president's convoluted stance on gay marriage has less to do with the president wrestling with his moral convictions, and more to do with winning a second term in office.

During his address, Obama chastised the president for playing political games with the lives of homosexuals, saying that because Obama is convinced gays and lesbians will vote for him regardless of whether or not he makes a definitive decision, there is essentially no reason to make an announcement that could potentially hurt him with independents and conservative Democrats.

"You can't accuse President Obama of not being a shrewd politician," the president said. "But people aren't looking for a politician right now. They are looking for a leader. They are looking for the man they thought they elected to put politics aside and make the right decision."

"Personally, I think he's definitely for gay marriage," Obama continued. "I just think he's too afraid to say it."
(c) 2012 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 21 (c) 05/25/2012

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