Monday, May 21, 2012

ANS -- Romney campaign: Mitt bleeding companies to death just like President Obama saving auto industry

This is about interpreting what politicians are saying. it's short. 
Bad grammar warning.  :-)
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Mon May 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM PDT

Romney campaign: Mitt bleeding companies to death just like President Obama saving auto industry

by Jed Lewison Follow
permalink 59 Comments
Trigger alert: Your jaw is going to drop after you read this question from none other than Andrea Mitchell to Mitt Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstom (he of "Etch-A-Sketch" fame):
ANDREA MITCHELL: There are winners and losers, but isn't it fair to single out companies that might have survived if they had not been bleeded by the investors and the money taken out? Isn't there a way that they could have lasted longer if Bain had not pulled the plug on them?

Before I even get to Fehrnstrom's response (which you know is going to be gold), can we just pause for a moment and reflect on just how stunning it is to hear Andrea Mitchell casually talk about how Mitt Romney's business model includes bleeding companies to death, taking their money out and pulling the plug?

Okay, now pick your jaw back up and check out Fehrnstrom's response:
ERIC FEHRNSTROM: Look, sometimes when companies are in trouble they require corrective measures. Let's take an example: General Motors. When the government, when the Barack Obama administration was running General Motors, they had to take corrective measures to save the company. So what did they do? They shut down plants. They closed dealerships. They laid off employees. They had to change benefits for workers to make them less costly. That's the nature of free enterprise. And today, General Motors is a profitable company because of the steps that were taken to bring their costs in alignment with their revenues.

I'll give you a second to recollect your jaw because I know you dropped it after reading that nonsense.

I guess the good news is that Mitt Romney's campaign is finally conceding that it believes President Obama understands the nature of the free enterprise system, something they've denied since day one. Of course, General Motors needed to be bailed out because private markets had failed ... which brings us to the absurdity of Fehrnstrom's response, the premise of which is was that Mitt Romney's business model was no different than President Obama's.

Of course, there's a big difference: President Obama was taking a step to save hundreds of thousands of jobs and protect a vital national industry because it was the right thing to do. Mitt Romney was maximizing value for his investors. The fact that Mitt Romney sought to maximize profits is not inherently wrong. In fact, the quest for profits is one of the things that fuels economic growth. But the president's job isn't to maximize profits, it's to maximize the strength of the nation­and that's not something Mitt Romney or Eric Fehrnstom seem to understand.

President Obama measures the success of the auto bailout in terms of how many jobs it created and whether it saved the industry as a whole. By that metric, it's been a resounding success, with more than 100,000 jobs created in the auto sector since it hit bottom in 2009. Eric Fehrnstrom, who is Mitt Romney's closest aide, measures the success of President Obama's policy on the basis of General Motors' profitability.

In Mitt Romney's world, America's bottom-line is the corporation's bottom-line. In Barack Obama's world, America's bottom-line is its people's bottom-line. And Eric Fehrnstrom's response to Andrea Mitchell couldn't have made that distinction any more clear.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon May 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

ANS -- What Happens If Scott Walker Wins Is No Good at All

What is wrong with  the Democratic Party?  Why aren't they helping in the fight in Wisconsin?  Read this. It's short.
Find it here:


What Happens If Scott Walker Wins Is No Good at All

By Charles P. Pierce
at 4:03PM

Right now, if nothing else changes, it looks very much like Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, is going to keep his job. If that's the case, and assuming he doesn't go down in the ongoing John Doe investigation in Milwaukee, I predict that he will have an "exploratory committee" set up in Iowa within the month, and he will suddenly discover a deeply held desire to spend a lot of time in places like Nashua and Manchester. Make no mistake: If he hangs on, he will be the biggest star in the Republican party. Chris Christie yells at all the right people, but has he ever faced down the existential threat that schoolteachers and snowplow drivers brought to bear on Walker? Marco Rubio? Has he withstood the wrath of organized janitors and professors of the humanities? If Walker wins in June, it wouldn't take very much effort at all for Fox News and for the vast universe of conservative sugar-daddies and their organization to decide that Walker should be the odds-on choice for 2016.

Dear Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: That heinous future actually could happen if you don't get out of the Green Room and get the DNC off the stick here. I'm still not kidding. If the Democrats blow this one, and if it's proven that the DNC could have helped in any way and didn't, you should be fired before the sun goes down. In 1990, the DNC declined to help fully a congressional candidate named David Worley in Georgia. The Worley people were begging for money, for organizers, for a lifeline of any kind. Very little was forthcoming. Worley lost to Newt Gingrich by 978 votes. How would the subsequent 10 years have been different if Gingrich's political career had ended ignominiously in 1990? That's the kind of chance that you seem to be allowing to go a'glimmering in Wisconsin. Let Walker win, and Democrats not yet born will curse your name.

I am less than optimistic about Tom Barrett's chances because he's getting outspent about 20-1, and because the numbers stubbornly refuse to move. This should be a base-vs.-base election, but it's being played, at least by the Democrats, as yet another unicorn-hunt after "independent voters." Barrett keeps talking about the "civil war" that Walker incited in Wisconsin. But that's not the argument. There should have been a "civil war" over what Walker was trying to do. There wouldn't even be a recall without what Barrett calls "the civil war." The "civil war" was entirely appropriate. Sometimes, in politics, there are issues worth screaming about. I'm no expert, but the end of collective bargaining during an era of flat-lining wages would seem to be one of those. By citing the "civil war" as the reason for voting for him, and without, I believe, intending to do so, Barrett makes all those people standing in the cold last January marginally complicit in what he says as the problem the recall was meant to solve. But the problem with Scott Walker was not that he inspired an outburst of incivility. It's that he tried to screw the workers of the state of Wisconsin, and that he got more than halfway there, and that he apparently intends to go the rest of the way if he manages to survive the recall. It's not idle speculation to say that a lot more is riding on this than who gets to be governor of Wisconsin. This is the first real fight of the 2016 presidential election.

(Photo Illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr /Special to The Politics Blog)

ANS -- Study Shows Fructose Might Make You Dumber

One study does not a fact make, but it's intriguing.  We've been wondering why Americans seem to be getting dumber....   :-)  (We thought it was the downgrading of our educational system....)
Note, it's not the fructose in fruit, and it's dumbing down effect can be countered by anti-oxidants. 
Very short article.
Find it here:   

Study Shows Fructose Might Make You Dumber

85 comments Study Shows Fructose Might Make You Dumber

Add memory loss and brain fog to the growing list of health risks associated with the fructose found in soft drinks, applesauce, baby food and wherever manufacturers want extra sweetness. Scientists at the University of California Los Angeles have just published a study in the May 15th Journal of Physiology showing that rats given a diet high in fructose became steadily dumber.

The researchers set out to test the effect of fructose on the brain and to determine whether any harmful impacts could be lessened by diet. They chose fructose because it is so widely used by food manufacturers that Americans consume an average of 35 pounds annually of one form: high-fructose corn syrup.

Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, professor of neurosurgery and a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center, explained the study's focus:

We're less concerned about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants. We're more concerned about the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.

For five days, the rats were fed standard rat chow and trained in a maze. Then their drinking water was replaced with a fructose solution. They were divided into two groups. The second was given flaxseed oil and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) as well as their rat chow. Six weeks later the two groups of rats were tested to see how well they remembered the maze, with its visual cues and one escape route.

The UCLA study confirms the old adage, "You are what you eat." Gomez-Pinilla said:

The second group of rats navigated the maze much faster than the rats that did not receive omega-3 fatty acids. The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier.

Dr. Gomez-Pinilla points to fructose as the probable culprit. Consuming too much may disrupt insulin's ability to influence brain cells, leading to memory loss and impaired thinking.

So Dr. Gomez-Pinilla suggests those sweet indulgences be balanced with DHA, which is found in omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds. He says DHA is "like saving money in the bank. You want to build a reserve for your brain to tap when it requires extra fuel to fight off future diseases."

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Read more: chemicals, corn sugar, health, high fructose corn syrup, pop, soft drinks

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Friday, May 18, 2012

ANS -- Journalists, Wiki-Leakers, Anti-War Activists Overturn Domestic Military Detention in Major Civil Rights Victory

Here is some good news: the most obviously and sadly unconstitutional section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 has been declared unconstitutional.  Whew!  by the skin of our teeth....
Find it here:,_wiki-leakers,_anti-war_activists_overturn_domestic_military_detention_in_major_civil_rights_victory/  

AlterNet / By Steven Rosenfeld
comments_image   32 COMMENTS

Journalists, Wiki-Leakers, Anti-War Activists Overturn Domestic Military Detention in Major Civil Rights Victory

The government's conduct in federal court convinced a judge that the newest anti-terror law violated the constitutional rights of journalists and activists.
May 17, 2012  |  
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A federal district court in New York has ruled that the federal government cannot enforce the domestic military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 because it unconstitutionally infringes on the rights of journalists and activists to associate with people the government might consider terrorists­exposing them to arrest and indefinite detention without a trial.    

"This court is acutely aware that preliminarily enjoining an act of Congress must be done with great caution," wrote U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, in a 68-page decision handed down on Wednesday. "However, it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights."
The judicial suspension of the most controversial provision in the NDAA was a major and unexpected civil liberties victory. The government must now return to court and argue anew for the contested provisions, or Congress must pass new legislation if it wants the military to arrest and hold terrorism suspects on U.S. soil without trial, including U.S. citizens.
Plaintiff and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges called the ruling "courageous" in one report, but said that Judge Forrest "did what she was supposed to do" because "the law is so clearly unconstitutional."
"It's an extremely frightening step backwards for American democracy," Hedges told Democracy Now. "As someone who's spent 20 years overseas and has lived in countries where the military has that kind of power, I have friends who have disappeared into these military gulags. We have unleashed something that I think is truly terrifying."
Congress passed the 565-page NDAA in December amid much criticism from the civil libertarians over the domestic military detention provisions. The White House and top administration officials lobbied against the domestic military sections, saying they were unnecessary and unworkable. But Congress ignored those protests and passed the bill. When President Obama signed it into law, he issued a statement saying he would not enforce that part of the law without offering detained U.S. citizens access to American courts.
That pledge did not satisfy civil libertarians, activists and journalists covering the U.S.'s global war on terror. Many in Congress had called Wikileaks a "terrorist" group. Ex-private Bradley Manning's harsh military incarceration and charges for the Wikileaks disclosures, and government efforts to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the U.S. to face charges, were seen as showing the government's truer intentions­in contrast to Obama's signing statement. The NDAA's vague wording essentially said that anyone thought by the government to be colluding with terror suspects could be arrested and detained by the U.S. military.
Two weeks after NDAA became law, seven journalists, writers and anti-war activists sued, seeking to overturn NDAA's military detention section as unconstitutional because it impinged on their freedom of association under the First Amendment. They also claimed their due process rights were violated, because the law's ambiguous wording threatened their free speech activities. 
The government's lawyers treated the lawsuit with scorn and barely mounted a defense, expecting it to be thrown out on the simplest of legal grounds­that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because they were unharmed. They claimed the law's domestic detention provisions were "nothing new," and didn't even call any witnesses in its defense. 
Judge Forrest's ruling turned the government's response on its head. Since it claimed that NDAA's contested parts did nothing new, she said that stopping them from taking effect as the trial went ahead would not impact any anti-terror actions. 
"They [the plaintiffs] have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits with respect to their constitutional challenges; they have put forward specific evidence of actual and threatened irreparable harm; the balance of the equities and the public interest favors issuance of preliminary relief (particularly, but not only, in light of the fact that the Government's entire position is premised on the assertion that §1021 [the military detention section] does nothing new--that it simply reaffirms the AUMF [Congress's 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force]; in which case, preliminarily enjoining enforcement should not remove any enforcement tools from those the Government currently assumes are within its arsenal)."

The big-picture issue in the case was how far the federal government can go to suspend the Constitution in wartime. The NDAA's contested provisions treat the terror threat similar to the first year of the 9/11 attacks, which was more than a decade ago.  
During the early stages of responding to the attacks on 9/11, the Congress gave the Bush administration wide authority to wage war on Al Queda terrorists. Part of the administration's response was to create extra-judicial procedures, in which accused terrorists and their suspected supporters would be placed in military custody, avoiding interaction with civilian U.S. courts. Essentially, the administration declared that the entire world was a military battlefield, including U.S. territory.
In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the Congress, Supreme Court and White House have pushed back and forth with defining how the war on terror was to be conducted and what rights detainees had overseas and on U.S. shores. NDAA resurrected the ambiguities of the early war-on-terror responses and codified the president's authority to arrest and to indefinitely hold anyone suspected of being a terrorist in military custody, including American citizens. The bill's language came from GOP hardliners in Congress. Obama threatened a veto, but signed it anyway.
Hedges, a former New York Times foreign war correspondent and a Pulitzer Prize-winner, testified that some of the people he has interviewed in tracing terrorist plots have ended up in U.S. military custody. He had reported on 17 groups on the U.S. government's terrorist list, he told the court, and feared that under NDAA he could be held even if he was a public speaker in Europe at an event where Taliban or Al Queda members attended. Thus, he charged NDAA restrained his freedom of association, chilled his press freedoms and violated his due process rights.
Another plaintiff, Alexa O'Brien, told the court she had written 50 articles about war on terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay and was the founder of a Web site called U.S. Day of Rage. She testified that she had been followed and contacted by people working for the federal government who sought to link her site to fundamentalist Islamic groups. Some had left threatening messages to intimidate her, she told the court. These communications forced her to stop working as a journalist, she said, coupled with NDAA's vague wording that made someone seen as "supporting" terrorists susceptible to military arrest and detention.
Another plaintiff, Kai Wargalla, is an activist who lives in London and conducts online forums related to Wikileaks. Because several U.S. politicians have called Wikileaks a terror group, she did not know if she would be considered a "covered person" under the law and susceptible to arrest. Another plaintiff associated with Wikileaks was Brigitta Jonsdottir, a member of parliament in Iceland, who expressed similar fears in her prepared testimony from abroad.
Judge Forrest said the government was uncooperative in court and its stonewalling helped the plaintiff's case.
"The Government therefore knew well before the hearing the types of expressive and associational conduct in which each plaintiff would testify he/she engaged, and the conduct he/she asserted had already been or would imminently be chilled. In short, plaintiffs' positions should have come as no surprise to the Government.
"Nevertheless, when confronted with what the Court assumed was certainly among the critical questions likely to be posed at the hearing--i.e., whether plaintiffs' activities fell within § 1021's scope, the Government responded, "I can't make specific representations as to particular plaintiffs. I can't give particular people a promise of anything."

The government could have presented an argument that would have resulted in the court throwing out the case, she said. But instead it made the court believe that the journalists were national security threats and could be arrested.
"It must be said that it would have been a rather simple matter for the Government to have stated that as to these plaintiffs and the conduct as to which they would testify, that § 1021 did not and would not apply, if indeed it did or would not. That could have eliminated the standing of these plaintiffs and their claims of irreparable harm.
"Failure to be able to make such a representation given the prior notice of the activities at issue requires this Court to assume that, in fact, the Government takes the position that a wide swath of expressive and associational conduct is in fact encompassed by § 1021."

The ruling first declared that the defendants who testified did have standing to sue the federal government.
"Each of the four plaintiffs who presented evidence in connection with this motion therefore have specific, concrete past actions which they fear may already have brought them within the ambit of § 1021, to which the Government has not represented--and will not represent--otherwise. Each have also already experienced a chilling of specific associational and expressive conduct. On the record before the Court on this motion, those plaintiffs have shown actual, as well as imminent and particularized, invasion of legally-protected interests."

The plaintiffs then sought a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the NDAA's indefinite detention provisions. Judge Forrest said that was not to be taken lightly, but because the case involved protected First Amendment activities that it was called for in this case.
"This Court is left then, with the following conundrum: plaintiffs have put forward evidence that § 1021 has in fact chilled their expressive and associational activities; the Government will not represent that such activities are not covered by § 1021; plaintiffs' activities are constitutionally protected. Given that record and the protections afforded by the First Amendment, this Court finds that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of a facial challenge to § 1021."

Further, the court held that the NDAA's wording was so vague that it violated constitutional due process protections.
"Before anyone should be subjected to the possibility of indefinite military detention, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment requires that individuals be able to understand what conduct might cause him or her to run afoul of § 1021. Unfortunately, there are a number of terms that are sufficiently vague that no ordinary citizen can reliably define such conduct."

Judge Forrest also said that Obama's signing statement was insufficient against potential constitutional abuses.
"Rather, the Signing Statement simply assures the public that the Obama 'Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens' and 'will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.'"

Thus, in light of the government's arrogant defense, the court concluded it was appropriate to enjoin the detention provisions from taking effect until there was a further court hearing or until Congress acted to amend the law.

Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

Monday, May 14, 2012

ANS -- Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

Did you hear about this?  Bush and seven of his cohorts were convicted of war crimes.  Where is the main stream media on this?  Note the use of "the principle of universal jurisdiction".
Find it here:   

Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

by Yvonne Ridley

May 12, 2012


Kuala Lumpur ­ It's official; George W Bush is a war criminal.

In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They included testimony from British man Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Full transcripts of the charges, witness statements and other relevant material will now be sent to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission is also asking that the names of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee, Addington and Haynes be entered and included in the Commission's Register of War Criminals for public record.

The tribunal is the initiative of Malaysia's retired Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who staunchly opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He sat through the entire hearing as it took personal statements and testimonies of three witnesses namely Abbas Abid, Moazzam Begg and Jameelah Hameedi. The tribunal also heard two other Statutory Declarations of Iraqi citizen Ali Shalal and Rahul Ahmed, another British citizen.

After the guilty verdict reached by five senior judges was delivered, Mahathir Mohamad said: "Powerful countries are getting away with murder."

War crimes expert and lawyer Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law in America, was part of the prosecution team.

After the case he said: "This is the first conviction of these people anywhere in the world."

While the hearing is regarded by some as being purely symbolic, human rights activist Boyle said he was hopeful that Bush and Co could soon find themselves facing similar trials elsewhere in the world.

"We tried three times to get Bush in Canada but were thwarted by the Canadian Government, then we scared Bush out of going to Switzerland. The Spanish attempt failed because of the government there and the same happened in Germany."

Boyle then referenced the Nuremberg Charter which was used as the format for the tribunal when asked about the credibility of the initiative in Malaysia. He quoted: "Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit war crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any person in execution of such a plan."

The US is subject to customary international law and to the Principles of the Nuremberg Charter said Boyle who also believes the week-long trial was "almost certainly" being monitored closely by both Pentagon and White House officials.

Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, who headed the prosecution said: "The tribunal was very careful to adhere scrupulously to the regulations drawn up by the Nuremberg courts and the International Criminal Courts".

He added that he was optimistic the tribunal would be followed up elsewhere in the world where "countries have a duty to try war criminals" and he cited the case of the former Chilean dictator Augustine Pinochet who was arrested in Britain to be extradited to Spain on charges of war crimes.

"Pinochet was only eight years out of his presidency when that happened."

The Pinochet case was the first time that several European judges applied the principle of universal jurisdiction, declaring themselves competent to judge crimes committed by former heads of state, despite local amnesty laws.

Throughout the week the tribunal was packed with legal experts and law students as witnesses gave testimony and then cross examination by the defence led by lawyer Jason Kay Kit Leon.

 The court heard how
  • Abbas Abid, a 48-year-old engineer from Fallujah in Iraq had his fingernails removed by pliers.
  • Ali Shalal was attached with bare electrical wires and electrocuted and hung from a wall.
  • Moazzam Begg was beaten, hooded and put in solitary confinement.
  • Jameelah was stripped and humiliated, and was used as a human shield whilst being transported by helicopter.

The witnesses also detailed how they have residual injuries till today.

Moazzam Begg, now working as a director for the London-based human rights group Cageprisoners said he was delighted with the verdict, but added: "When people talk about Nuremberg you have to remember those tried were all prosecuted after the war.

"Right now Guantanamo is still open, people are still being held there and are still being tortured there."

In response to questions about the difference between the Bush and Obama Administrations, he added: "If President Bush was the President of extra-judicial torture then US President Barak Obama is the President of extra judicial killing through drone strikes. Our work has only just begun."

The prosecution case rested on proving how the decision-makers at the highest level President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld, aided and abetted by the lawyers and the other commanders and CIA officials – all acted in concert. Torture was systematically applied and became an accepted norm.

According to the prosecution, the testimony of all the witnesses exposed a sustained perpetration of brutal, barbaric, cruel and dehumanising course of conduct against them.

These acts of crimes were applied cumulatively to inflict the worst possible pain and suffering, said lawyers.

The president of the tribunal Tan Sri Dato Lamin bin Haji Mohd Yunus Lamin, found that the prosecution had established beyond a "reasonable doubt that the accused persons, former President George Bush and his co-conspirators engaged in a web of instructions, memos, directives, legal advice and action that established a common plan and purpose, joint enterprise and/or conspiracy to commit the crimes of Torture and War Crimes, including and not limited to a common plan and purpose to commit the following crimes in relation to the "War on Terror" and the wars launched by the U.S. and others in Afghanistan and Iraq."

President Lamin told a packed courtroom: "As a tribunal of conscience, the Tribunal is fully aware that its verdict is merely declaratory in nature. The tribunal has no power of enforcement, no power to impose any custodial sentence on any one or more of the 8 convicted persons. What we can do, under Article 31 of Chapter VI of Part 2 of the Charter is to recommend to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission to submit this finding of conviction by the Tribunal, together with a record of these proceedings, to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.

"The Tribunal also recommends to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission that the names of all the 8 convicted persons be entered and included in the Commission's Register of War Criminals and be publicised accordingly.

"The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions if any of these Accused persons may enter their jurisdictions".
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[]  British journalist Yvonne Ridley is the European President of the International Muslim Women's Union as well as being a patron of Cageprisoners.Read more articles by Yvonne Ridley.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

ANS -- Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

Sara Robinson has periodically assessed the danger of a fascist takeover in the US.  Here is her latest, and most upbeat, assessment. 
Find it here:  


Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

By Sara Robinson, AlterNet
Posted on May 1, 2012, Printed on May 13, 2012
America has never been without fascist wannabes. Research by Political Research Associates estimates that, at any given time in our history, roughly 10-12 percent of the country's population has been bred-in-the-bone right-wing authoritarians -- the people who are hard-wired to think in terms of fascist control and order. Our latter-day Christian Dominionists, sexual fundamentalists and white nationalists are the descendants -- sometimes, the literal blood descendants -- of the same people who joined the KKK in the 1920s, followed Father Coughlin in the 1930s, backed Joe McCarthy in the early '50s, joined the John Birch society in the '60s, and signed up for the Moral Majority in the 1970s and the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. 

Given its rather stunning durability, it's probably time to acknowledge that this proto-fascist strain is a permanent feature of the American body politic. Like ugly feet or ears that stick out, it's an unchanging piece of who we are. We are going to have to learn to live with it.

But it's also true that this faction's influence on the larger American culture ebbs and flows broadly over time. Our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with them much at all, because the far-right fringe was pushed back hard during the peak years of the New Deal. It broke out for just a few short years in the McCarthy era -- long enough to see the rise of the Birchers -- and then was firmly pushed back down into irrelevance again.

But the country's overall conservative drift since the Reagan years and the rise of the Internet (which enabled the right's network of regional and single-issue groups to crystallize into a single, unified, national right-wing culture over the course of the '90s and '00s) reenergized the extreme right as a political force. As a result, history may look back on George W. Bush's eight years as the "Peak Wingnut" era -- a high-water mark in radical right-wing influence and power in America.

Now, things are changing again. Every year or so for the past five years, I've written about the future prospects for America's would-be fascists on the far right. And it's time to take another look, because the political and cultural landscape they're working in now isn't at all the same one they were working in even three years ago.

Fascist America: We Were Very Nearly There

The last time I visited this subject in 2010, progressives were reaching a point of maximum despair. In 2008, the GOP had taken its most thorough drubbing since the FDR years. But, just two years on, the far right had not only regrouped; it had taken full control of the Republican Party under the resurgent Tea Party banner -- and was getting set to elect some of the country's most extreme political, social and economic Neanderthals. In the process, it was also about to retake Congress, along with control of over half of the state governorships and legislatures.

And take over it did. In the wake of this victory, the far right's new electees shifted into overdrive, immediately introducing brutally aggressive legislation to bust unions, disenfranchise Democratic voters and roll back a century of progress on reproductive rights. The speed and power of the onslaught was breathtaking -- but it was also driven by desperation. What most pundits missed was the fact that the far right had no time to waste, because both the mood of the country and its basic demographic realities were changing under their feet.

Polls over the past decade show that America is, at its core, a progressive nation in every way that matters, and that this trend is solidifying and expanding with time. As Nancy L. Cohen put it in Delirium: How The Sexual Counterrevolution Is Polarizing America:

Cultural progressivism is the new American way....A majority of all Americans now supports same-sex marriage. Americans strongly upholding Roe v. Wade, and strongly oppose the position of the Republican Party. Fully 62 percent think that abortion should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, in which 89 percent of abortions occur; only 15 percent favor outlawing abortion in all circumstances. Americans have become less religious and less culturally conservative over the past 40 years. Polling on birth control and sexual morality show that Americans unequivocally reject the sexual fundamentalists' attempt to take us back to a time when sex was stigmatized and only legitimate when confined within the traditional heterosexual marriage. The majority of Americans believe in the basic values underpinning a culturally progressive approach to matters of sex, gender, family, and culture: privacy, personal freedom, equality, and pluralism.

This progressive bent also extends to the country's attitudes on ending corporate dominance over our economy, supporting a robust middle class, and addressing climate change and other environmental crises. 

The conservatives know that the demographic trends are not on their side, and that whatever limited advantages they enjoy now are receding with every election cycle that passes. Right-wing America is old, white, rural, and religious -- a cohort that's shrinking with every passing year, and is even now in the process of being swamped by a tide of voters who are younger, urban, ethnically diverse, and largely non-churchgoing.  It was that tide, mobilized, that elected Obama -- the first time it's been heard from, but by no means the last.

So these hard-and-fast grabs for power are a Hail Mary play. The far right sees that the clock is running out. It's rushing to consolidate its gains as fast as it can, in the hope of slamming America as far to the right as possible in the time it has left -- and also building big, ugly legal obstacles that will make it much harder to undo the damage when the younger, more progressive wave that's rolling in finally does assume full control.

The Race for the Future

My past assessments of the far fascist fringe's political prospects were mostly predicated on which side would win this race for the future. 

Would the far right -- now mostly standing under the Tea Party banner  -- manage to consolidate power fast enough to hijack our democracy entirely, and institute the fascist theocracy of its dreams? In 2010, the signs were strong that it was on track to move quickly toward that goal.

Or, alternatively: would the basic decency, common sense and patriotism of the American people kick in in time to halt the fascist power grab and knock the country back toward its better, fairer and more democratic side? Despair was deep and time was growing short. There were few signs on the ground that this was even possible.

In the past, I warned gravely that the first scenario was our default future unless something changed radically. Fascism creeps; and one of its hallmarks is that by the time you realize you're in it, it's too late to do anything about it. The legislative agendas being pursued in statehouses all over the country -- not to mention the stated willingness of congressional Tea Partiers to crash the American economy, tear up constitutional protections, enable theocracy, and bring our government to a standstill -- were clear warnings that our country was in the hands of radical revolutionaries who will stop at nothing, up to and including destroying the country, to get their way.

More ominously: a political movement that's willing to take power through terrorist violence -- which the far right threatens constantly, and delivers on often enough for us to take that threat seriously -- doesn't need anything remotely like a majority to take over a country. When you're willing to use force, democracy becomes irrelevant.

In the dark hours of 2010, it was hard to even imagine that the second scenario was possible. Americans were apathetic, disengaged and resigned. Everybody saw where things were going, but it was like watching a train wreck -- that slow-motion horror in your head, the disbelief, the sense that nobody can hear you screaming, and the sickening knowledge that there's nothing you can do to stop what you know is coming.

Pulling Ahead

Now, from the vantage point of 2012, it's surprising how quickly the view changed. It's way too soon to call a winner in the race, but as it stands now, the second scenario has pulled into the more likely position, and the possibility of a fascist America is starting to fade back.

The difference is the same simple signal I was hoping to see back when I started tracking this in 2006. Finally, after years of impotence, average Americans have done the one thing that will make all the difference: they woke up and got pissed. Wisconsin was the first sign. Then came Occupy. Now, this spring, it's sprouting up everywhere, to the point where our would-be fascists can't take a step anywhere without getting their feet tangled up by protestors determined to hold them to account.

Mind you: our country's future still looks like that slow-motion train wreck. But, even though the train is still moving and the horror is still filling our heads, you can finally hear your own voice screaming. And so can everybody else. There's a gathering sense that even though there's still nothing we can do, we must do something. Standing on the sidelines and watching is no longer an option. We know the time has come to fight for our country's future -- and our own futures as well.

This uprising of American decency and vision is the critical difference that switches tracks, and puts us onto an entirely new future. As long as this pushback continues, the fascist future that loomed so large in the front window through the years of Peak Wingnut will continue to belong to the receding past.

The Timeline

It won't happen quickly. It could be another decade before we can fully shove the would-be fascists in our midst back into their box. Wrestling them in there will still be a long, ugly fight. 

A lot of the damage will come by attrition. They'll lose power with every election, as their base and funders (most of whom are quite old now) die off. They'll lose relevance as their talking heads retire, lose audiences and get canceled, or discredit themselves by saying outrageous things that are increasingly less tolerable to most Americans (and their own corporate sponsors). The fact that the most radical-right candidates in the GOP primary -- Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, and ultimately Santorum -- all flamed out in favor of Romney speaks volumes about the limits to the far right's ultimate power within the Republican party, even now. They may pack the state houses and stall Congress, but at the end of the day, they can't elect a president.

The Tea Party proto-fascists will probably hold onto some legislatures and congressional seats over the long haul in their home regions -- but they don't have anything like the momentum in 2012 that they did in 2010, and surveys of both voter attitudes and expected demographic shifts suggest that this decline is probably a long-term trend. They're on the wane.

To make matters worse (for them), they're also reacting to the loss of power by digging themselves ever deeper into their own hole. Most of the Republican establishment knew from the jump that the war on women was a political disaster in the making -- but the Tea Party extremists, driven by that ticking clock, couldn't be persuaded to let it go. That recklessness may well cost the GOP the election. Now that the pushback has started, the GOP has locked itself into a self-destructive cycle in which no change of course is possible. As long as it keeps spinning this way, the odds of a Fascist America will continue to diminish by the month.

In the meantime, the danger of political violence may actually get worse. Right-wing domestic terrorists are at their most virulent when they're furthest back on their heels politically. Over the course of the next decade -- as the very different priorities of that younger, more urban and diverse voter cohort come to dominate the nation's political agenda --  we can expect to see an uptick in violent retribution as the most militant members of the far right make a desperate last stand for their vision of the country's future.

As usual, the biggest trouble will likely come in the states where the friction between far-right conservatives and this new emergent electorate has already heated up to the flash point -- Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, and similar states where the old guard had been counting on fascist solutions to keep a new generation it fears under control. Alternatively, the violence will start in these states, but be directed against coastal big-city targets seen as representing the decadent society the far right refuses to accept. Either way, the more ground they lose, the wiser we'd be to expect them to try to take their frustration out on the rest of us.

A Final Word

Some may think that in saying we've probably passed the critical switch from a likely fascist future to a likely not-fascist one, I'm somehow suggesting that the threat is passed, or that struggle is no longer required, or that we can all pack up and go home now.

To be very clear: I am not saying that. In many ways, the real fight -- the one that pulls up the American economic, political and cultural order by its floorboards and lays down the foundation for something better, freer and more humane, fair and durable -- is only just beginning. What I am saying, however, is that the tide has turned to the point that we are not unreasonable to believe that our preferred future has a strong chance of coming to pass. Our enemies are noisy and well-funded, but they are also small in number, crazy and increasingly despised. Everywhere, the growing, rising, creative part of the country is soundly rejecting them, and the future they were offering. And on our side, there are signs of uprising everywhere -- the first green shoots of a new world in the making, one that will we will spend the next 20 years bringing into fruition.

As long as that vision continues to spread, there will be good reason to believe that the future will most likely belong to us.


Sara Robinson, MS, APF is a social futurist and the editor of AlterNet's Vision page. Follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to AlterNet's Vision newsletter for weekly updates.

© 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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ANS -- How the Ayn Rand-Loving Right Is Like a Bunch of Teen Boys Gone Crazy

Here is a rant by Sara Robinson on the immaturity of Libertarians.  It's right on -- it is such an adolescent male philosophy....
Find it here:  

AlterNet / By Sara Robinson
comments_image   474 COMMENTS

How the Ayn Rand-Loving Right Is Like a Bunch of Teen Boys Gone Crazy

Flowers are nice, but this Mother's Day, what I really want is for these immature boys to grow up already.
May 11, 2012  |  
Photo Credit:


If, as George Lakoff says, we view politics through the metaphor of family, then Mother's Day is a good time to ask the question: Where's Mom in this picture? What are all those dirty socks and pizza boxes doing in the living room? (Seriously: it looks like a frat house in here.) Who's been drinking the beer I hid in the basement fridge?

And, sweet mother of God: how did we end up letting the 16-year-old boys take over the entire household?

Make no mistake: all this Ayn Rand libertarian me-first-and-the-rest-of-you-go-to-hell stuff -- the there's-no-government-like-no-government theology that's now being piously intoned as Holy Received Truth by everybody, male and female, in the GOP -- is, very precisely, the kind of politics you'd come up with if you were a 16-year-old boy trying to explain away his dependence on Mom.

Parents? I don't have any parents. I raised myself, on roots and berries and small vermin I dug up in vacant lots. That lady hanging around, feeding me and nagging me and picking up my socks and driving me to practice? She's just the nanny state. That bitch. I hate her.

Society? There's no such thing as society. There's only what I want right now, which is the ultimate good in my universe. And what I want right now is more time on the XBox, pizza money, and the keys to the family car.

The future? If I pursue everything I want now, then the future will magically take care of its self. Dinner will appear. So will clean socks and the next-gen XBox.

Obligations? I am God's gift to the world. I don't owe it anything. In fact: it owes me -- just for being so magnificent, cute and special. (Even my mom thinks so.)

On behalf of America's mothers, let me say: I have had enough of this. I don't care how cute they are: it's high time these so-called "libertarian" freeloaders get off the couch, stand up, and show some respect to the rest of us who've done the hard work that makes their cushy lives possible.

You know what I want for Mother's Day? I want these so-called "self-made men" to grow up and get a life.

No More "Nanny State" -- Ever

Also: I'm putting them on notice: I don't ever want to hear one more word about the "nanny state." Not one. Not ever again.

First of all : It's ugly. It just reeks of that 16-year-old boy being told to clean up his mess. The big sigh. The dramatic eye-roll. The drawn-out, agonized, "yyezzzz, mommmm..." that lets you know you're about to spend the rest of the evening in a passive-aggressive battle during which your teenager will generate enough inertia to bring the rotation of this and several neighboring galaxies to a dead stop.

The "nanny state" is making you do the dishes, and then it wants you to clean out the garage. You poor persecuted darling. Go dial 1-976-WAAAAAH.

Second of all: It's sexist as hell. Anti-feminist at its very core. It says that the concerns that we most identify with mothers -- cleaning up your crap, minding your manners, not annoying other people, taking responsibility for your actions -- are intrusive and unwarranted infringements on your essential freedom, instead of the basic adult responsibilities that are required of everybody if society is going to remain free and functional.

It says that the power and authority by which mothers -- "nannies," in this construction -- set the rules within the family is illegitimate. It belittles women who are bossy enough to insist on adult behavior from men.

It suggests that the things women are stereotypically most bossy about -- politically, this would be issues like child welfare and education (looking after your little brother), the environment (housework), and peace and social justice (playing fair and being nice) are beneath the attention and dignity of men. You can almost hear John Wayne: "Don't you worry about what your Mom says, boys. Dad's here, and he'll set her straight. (Big fat wink. Deep chuckle.) You go right on ahead with what you were doing."

(Of course, when the Duke said stuff like this, the result was usually a shrieking, hair-pulling fight with Maureen O'Hara, which always ended with her turned triumphantly over his knee. And then, after a good, sound spanking that put the little lady firmly back in her place, he'd wrestle her tiny hands away so she couldn't slap him, and kiss her until she stopped struggling. And she'd love every minute of it, because in this deranged view of gender relationships, that kind of manhandling is just what all pissy women are really secretly asking for.)

It implies that Real Americans are honor-bound to resist any and all exercise of female bossiness in the sacred name of preserving their almighty "freedom."

And then, as the final insult, it identifies all government action with that exaggerated feminine weakness. Corporations: the domains of independent, active men who are busy creating a better world for themselves -- and therefore, automatically, for everybody else as well. Government: the domain of dependent, passive women who are fussing about everybody's business, insisting that they clean up their stuff, eat right, play nice, and get to bed at a decent hour.

Government, like Mom, is a real buzz-killer. And also powerless. You can safely ignore her. After all: all she can do is yell at you, ground you, and dock your allowance. And Dad (or, in the case of government, his lawyers and lobbyists) is the truly sane and powerful one around here, and can be counted on to set her straight when he gets home.

How to Tell the Men From the Boys

Conservatives completely fetishize masculinity. They idolize sports heroes, warriors and the Manly Jesus of modern evangelicalism. They eagerly seek the trappings that will buttress their sense of maleness in their own minds -- guns, big trucks, enough money and power to push other people around. The further right you go, the more exaggerated this focus on hypermasculinity becomes.

Psychiatrist Stephen Ducat explained this phenomenon at long length in his book, The Wimp Factor. Ducat's research shows that right-wing men are so obsessed with the external trappings of maleness precisely because they've failed to develop the inner qualities and accept the obligations that are required of actual adult men. It's all show, with nothing solid on the inside to back it up. And the more fragile their masculinity feels to them, the more exaggerated the outer display they put on is.

Given the insecurity that lies at the heart of this sad compensation, it's especially ironic that they've got the whole country buffaloed into thinking this is appropriate adult behavior. We've ended up with a culture of maleness that emphasizes the objectification and degredation of women, a lack of male accountability for anything that happens in the culture, and a definition of masculinity that's all about empty shows of dubious might -- like peacocks preening on parade.

For the record: This is a comic-book stereotype of manhood as it's imagined by little boys. But it's not the real deal -- not even close.

The essential difference that separates the men and the boys is that men understand and accept that they have an obligation to the greater good, and are willing to unflinchingly step up to that responsibility. They commit to their families. They work to improve their homes and communities, so they're safe and nurturing places for everyone to be. They take the long view as they plan for their kids' future. They look out for people around them who are weaker than they are. And they respect and cherish the co-parents of their children as their equal partners in that effort.

Adult men do not resent being asked to contribute to the collective whole. They know that their actions have consequences, and that they are responsible for the impact of those consequences on the greater good of the community.

As a veteran mom, I understand that it's totally developmentally appropriate for a teenage boy to desperately struggle to separate from his female parent as he begins to find his way toward his adult male identity. But at some point, that oppositional process is supposed to come to an end -- usually in the early- to mid-20s, with a reconciliation and renewed acceptance of Mom as a useful guide in his life. And, if he's straight, there will be a mature acceptance of his obligations to a female partner and their children as well.

A 50-year-old CEO who's still whining because Big Bad Government is asking him to clean up his shit, look after his little brother, and not act like a psychopath in public is flat-out suffering from arrested emotional and social development. He's not a grown man, despite his thousands of employees and millions in salary. He's still that teenager, hating on Mom because she dared to remind him that he's still deeply dependent on the resources of provided by his larger family. And as a mother, I'd invite other moms to join me in calling out this immaturity for what it is, wherever we see it.

What I really want for Mother's Day is for America's Lost Boys -- the libertarian Peter Pans, the free-market feral children, the neo-liberal ramblin' men -- to stop pretending that they're something special and uniquely free because they've managed to disassociate themselves from women's care and women's concerns.

I want respect for the role mothers play -- both in our personal families, and in our national one. I want some recognition of the fact that the issues that are typically dismissed by the masculine fetishists as "women's issues" or "nanny-state meddling" are, in fact, the issues that the future of our country most depends on. And I want the common wealth and the common good -- the health and wealth of our national family -- to get the same kind of loving respect that all mothers are entitled to.

Flowers and chocolate and a nice brunch are appreciated, too. But they're a meaningless insult -- a sop to authority we don't have, and aren't seen as entitled to -- long as we let the 16-year-olds run the household the other 364 days out of the year.
Sara Robinson, MS, APF is a social futurist and the editor of AlterNet's Vision page. Follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to AlterNet's Vision newsletter for weekly updates.

ANS -- Greek Democracy 2012: The Best Thing in Weeks

Here is a quick summary, Brad Hicks style, of what is going on in Greece.  The People are anti-austerity and anti-corruption, but they aren't really a modern democracy.....
There are some links in the comments to more news of Greece.
Find it here:    
The Infamous Brad

Previous Entry

Greek Democracy 2012: The Best Thing in Weeks

  • May. 13th, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Brad @ Burning Man
I cannot begin to express how much I'm enjoying watching the elections play out in Greece this year. I want to spend all day with a big old tub of popcorn, refreshing the Greek news tabs in my browser over and over again. This is the best show I've watched in years.

For those of you who don't follow overseas news:

Conservatives all over the world bleat about how awful and out of control Greek spending is, but truth be told, their government spending as a ratio of GDP is perfectly in line with the rest of the world's. The Greek economy is finally completely melting down because of corruption. Ever since Greece dropped the drachma and took up the euro, Deutsche Bank (and others, but mostly Deutsche Bank) has been running a sweet scam with elected Greek officials of both of the (previously) top two parties: Greek politicians borrow money from DB on behalf of the country, money that's supposed to pay for things that make the economy more productive like schools and roads and airports and docks and courts -- and while they do let some of that borrowed money go to those things, they steal a lot of it.

Nobody knows yet how much. Greek reporters over the years kept documenting huge swaths of big graft, giant overseas bank accounts and whole private islands and priceless archaeological treasures spirited away into private collections, all paid for with money corruptly lent by German banks. But a recent anti-corruption audit of what wasn't even thought to be one of the more corrupt agencies has turned up estimates that are making even Greek journalists' eyes pop, 30%, maybe as much as 50%, stolen. And the thing about that is that if you steal half the productive capital in a country, it doesn't reduce economic output by 50%. It reduces it by a lot more than that, because people who see with their own eyes that nobody is getting rich by working, that the only way to get rich is to be a politician or a politician's friend and steal, only a few noble fools actually still do any hard work. After a couple of decades of that, even after the lenders have (in desperation to get something back) offered to write off 71% of the face value of the loans, Greece can't even pay back the remaining 29%.

And so the usual international agencies, backed hard by the German and (outgoing) French governments, got the two corrupt parties to agree to a bipartisan deal: (a) None of the people who stole that money are to be inconvenienced in any way, because they're "job creators." (b) Their corrupt bankster partners must get back as much as possible, by disassembling every remaining productive asset in Greece and shipping it to Germany, and by closing down every public service from the hospitals to the schools to the police, so that the tax money that would normally pay for those things can go to the German banksters. And finally (c) since nobody even denies, any more, that this will destroy the Greek economy, the Greeks will pay those debts for all eternity. Presumably even if they do work hard enough to pay off those loans, decades from now, all that will happen is that new corruptocrats, new kleptocrats, will be installed by the banksters to take out new loans and steal those.

tl;dr version: French, German, and Greek bipartisan elites have voted unanimously to turn Greece into the Haiti of Europe.

Now, here's where it gets interesting:

Greece has a massively-multiparty democracy system. For the benefit of my American readers, let me somewhat dismissively and only slightly unfairly give the four big winners in the current round of elections new names that will make sense to Americans: the fascists, the Republicans, the Democrats, and the socialists (that would be Golden Dawn, New Democracy, PASOK, and and Syriza). This posed an interesting challenge to the Greek voters, in that only the facists and the socialists were anti-kleptocracy, anti-austerity, and anti-bailout. In the end, a lot of Democratic (PASOK) voters defected to the socialists (Syriza) and just enough Republican (New Democracy) voters defected to the fascists (Golden Dawn) that the two anti-austerity parties won a collective majority. So what's the problem? They hate each other even more than they hate the austerity and the bailouts; there is no plausible way that they can form a joint government, not even a temporary one. So the President of Greece has been locked all week in non-stop talks with the leaders of the four big parties, and a bunch of smaller parties, trying to find some compromise that will form a majority government. And they just can't do it.

The two pro-austerity, pro-bailout kleptocratic centrist parties are willing to form a coalition (since their commitment to looting the public treasury far exceeds their commitment to their own political principles), but can't do it without persuading one of the two main anti-austerity parties to go along. And it's just not working, they're having none of it. The two anti-austerity parties tried, earlier in the week, to form an anti-austerity coalition, and couldn't come up with any plausible way to get over their mutual loathing for each other, no way to form a government that's (say) 3/5ths socialist and 2/5ths fascist. So, constitutionally, they're going to have to hold new elections and hope that enough voters change their votes to give some plausible coalition a majority. This may or may not work, either.

But either way, the anti-austerity, anti-bailout, anti-kleptocrat voters win because they've already succeeded in the only thing they needed, in the short run: if a governing coalition isn't in place by Tuesday, if there isn't a government in place that still agrees to the bailout and austerity terms imposed on them by the German and (outgoing) French governments by the end of the day on Tuesday? The Greek government just flat-out defaults on its loans to Deutsche Bank, and Deutsche Bank is in even more trouble than the Greeks are. As the old saying goes, if you owe your bank a hundred dollars, and you can't pay, you're in a lot of trouble. But if you owe your bank a hundred million dollars, and you can't pay, your bank is in a lot of trouble.

Pass the popcorn!
  • Mood: good good



( 10 comments ­ Leave a comment )
[info] velvetpage wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
While I applaud the efforts of the Greek people to vote in an anti-austerity government and keep their economy running, I have to wonder: what will the failure of Deutche Bank do to the rest of the Eurozone economy and the world economy?

It seems that if Greece defaults, as they're almost certain to do, the whole eurozone economy, and possibly the entire world, enters yet another economic freefall, and everybody loses.
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[info] andrewducker wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
It's important to note that it wasn't just fraud on the governmental/bureaucracy side - there was massive non-payment of taxes, to the point where paying your taxes was almost considered odd.

You can't spent a decent percentage of your GDP on services if you aren't taking it off people in the first place!
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Why would people pay their taxes if half the money they pay is just going to get stolen? Better to join the thieves.
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[info] damiana_swan wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
According to our friends in Greece, there was a HUGE amount of resentment against the government, which, in addition to stealing all that money, was giving massive tax breaks to the rich while cutting constitutionally-mandated services.

It's not surprising people stopped paying their taxes.
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[info] interactiveleaf wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
I don't have time to make a real comment, so I'm just pointing you to this article that I hope you (and other readers) will find interesting, if you haven't already seen it: Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

It's at least a year and a half old, but it tells a great deal about the problems that are plaguing Greece today, that are precipitating the issues that Brad is only touching on.
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[info] andrewducker wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I read that when it first appeared. My favourite bit is this:
As he finishes his story the finance minister stresses that this isn't a simple matter of the government lying about its expenditures. "This wasn't all due to misreporting," he says. "In 2009, tax collection disintegrated, because it was an election year."


He smiles.

"The first thing a government does in an election year is to pull the tax collectors off the streets."
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[info] interactiveleaf wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
I figured you'd've prolly seen it. Hell, I probably got it from you. I hope others are as fascinated by it as I was.
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[info] andrewducker wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
I did read it and boggle. It basically made it clear that Greece is _not_ a modern democracy in the same way that most of Western Europe is.
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[info] discogravy wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
I'm assuming you've already seen/heard this, but This American Life did a show on the Greek financial omfgwtf mess that's worth hearing if you're unfamiliar.
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 13th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
Planet Money's been covering the hell out of it, too. I adore Planet Money.
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( 10 comments ­ Leave a comment )

Saturday, May 12, 2012

ANS -- When Law Isn't Enough to Stop Protest, NYPD Sexually Assaults and Tortures #OWS. NYT Yawns.

This is pretty radical.  I was raised in that era he spoke of.  I don't know if I believe this or not -- not because it doesn't sound real, but because I don't want to believe it......  He's saying the cops are not there to protect us, they are there to protect the property of the nobility. 
Find it here:  
"Bad" word warning.
The Infamous Brad

Previous Entry | Next Entry

When Law Isn't Enough to Stop Protest, NYPD Sexually Assaults and Tortures #OWS. NYT Yawns.

  • May. 5th, 2012 at 7:09 AM
Brad @ Burning Man
David Graeber of has made what ought to be a devastating accusation against the New York Police Department: " New Police Strategy in New York -- Sexual Assault against Peaceful Protesters." After interviewing many of the participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests of March 17th of this year, Graeber has concluded that NYPD officers are deliberately sexually assaulting female protesters, in plain sight of nearby male protesters, in hopes of provoking a violent reaction, that can then be used to justify torturing the protesters (boot-stomping already-restrained protesters in the head, hands, wrists, and ribs in order to cripple them) for the crime of "interfering with a law enforcement officer."

Graeber says that his interviews with the targeted protesters, many of whom have been with OWS since last fall, say that this cannot be the work of a few rogue officers, because it didn't happen with any regularity until March 17th, and then on the 17th it became something that multiple cops, widely separated from each other, all started to do at the same time. Graeber argues that the only way that's possible is if the effort was intentional and coordinated, meaning either something the officers conspired among themselves to do, or that they were ordered to do by someone above all of those officers in the chain of command. Either way, it's a criminal conspiracy. But so what?

I've been reading a lot of history lately, mostly related to the peak industrialization years of 1870 to 1950, and I'm starting to realize that there are ideas that I take for granted because of when I was born that are the product of a weird, and possibly unsustainable, anomaly in American history. Prior to the late 1950s, the idea that anything in the US Constitution, or that anything in written law anywhere, would be applied in such a way as to inconvenience a law enforcement officer who was doing his duty, was unthinkable.

And the duty of any cop or sheriff was not, prior to that time, "enforcing the law." His duty was making the complaints of land-owners and employers go away. And the main tool they had for making those complaints go away was to go to the person being complained about, tell them to stop doing whatever it is that the land-owner or employer is complaining about, and if they don't stop, hit them with a big stick. Whether what they were doing was legal or not was of no interest whatsoever to the police and sheriffs because, frankly, no court and no legislature was going to care. Any cop or sheriff who said to a land-owner or an employer, "I can't stop that person from annoying you, what they're doing is legal," was going to find himself unemployed and permanently unemployable. Land-owners and employers have always had plenty of power to make non-compliant cops' lives miserable.

The mass mobilization, and mass propaganda, that accompanied US entry into WW2, followed by the horror at the discovery of the Holocaust, left the "Greatest Generation" with a revulsion against arbitrary authority and a reverence for the rule of law that is entirely anomalous in human history. And the GI Bill made a lot of them into lawyers. As those law-school grads rose to power, from around 1955 on, they passed some really unpopular laws and some even more unpopular court rulings that can be summarized as, "I don't care what land-owners and employers want, if people aren't doing anything illegal, cops can't hit them with sticks."

A big part of what the 1980 election was about was an all-out revolt by everybody in America who owns even a tiny bit of land, or who employs even a couple of people, against those court rulings. And it's only aging liberals like me who take those court rulings as scriptural, because we were raised in the only generation of Americans who were told that "we are a nation ruled by laws, not men" isn't just an aspirational slogan, it's enforceable. Nobody before us was told this; since my generation were kids, fewer people have been told this every year. If you were born after around 1970, you were probably told what every American born before 1920 was told: if a land-owner or an employer tells a cop to stop you from doing something, the cop should pass that order along, and if you don't obey the cop, then whatever happens next is not the cop's fault or the land-owner's fault or the employer's fault, it's something you deserved for not doing what you were told.

But this isn't just hitting people with sticks. This is sexual assault and torture as an anti-protest tactic and, as Graeber points out in his article, that's something we saw recently used against people who were raised with no expectation of fair and impartial rule of law: the Egyptian anti-fascist, anti-secularist, anti-corruption protesters of Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. The Egyptian army and its closely-allied national cops made it clear to the protesters: bring your women into this, and we'll rape them, and then we'll torture you for defending them. They thought that would stop the protests, but it was so outrageously over the top that the revulsion against it was a major propaganda tool that the Islamists used to sweep the generals' hand-picked President from power, and it's revulsion that has lasted long enough that, if I'm interpreting the latest polls correctly, it looks like it's going to sweep a moderate Islamist into power there, as the accusation of sexual assault and torture as an anti-protest tactic has tainted even secularists who weren't directly involved.

So Graeber's accusation is a powerful and important one, one that you'd think that powerful people in New York City cannot dare ignore. It's an accusation that, once made, cannot be allowed to stand; if it can be refuted, the person who made it must be humiliated, and if it can't, then scapegoats must be found fast before political contagion spreads. (Although scapegoating cops is a dangerous tactic for people who can only stay in power through the loyalty of the cops.) When the New York Times was contacted by Graeber, and shown his evidence, the NYT reporter took that evidence to an editor. The reporter then told Graeber that the story got spiked. Why? "Because it's not news." That's what it's come to: police in America's largest city using a policy of widespread sexual assault and widespread torture isn't even news-worthy any more.

And why would it be? Occupy Wall Street annoyed land-owners and employers. Those land-owners and employers used the time-honored counter-tactic of making cops' lives miserable, and threatening their livelihood, until the cops used the time-honored tactic of telling them to stop annoying land-owners and employers, and when they wouldn't stop annoying the land-owners and employers, they hit them with sticks. Hitting them with sticks wasn't enough to stop them, and the land-owners and employers are complaining louder than ever. To any American born before around 1920, or after around 1970, what happened after that, if it happened? Probably isn't really news, at that.
  • Mood: depressed depressed



( 30 comments ­ Leave a comment )
[info] silk_noir wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
May I share this?
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
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[info] radiumhead wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
Sounds like bullshit to me. I believe a few cops could do some shit like this, but its not a fuckin conspiracy.
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
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[info] radiumhead wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
There is something to be said for past experience and common sense. If you read a second hand account on some unknown website, and no mention of it anywhere else, that doesnt mean its definately bullshit, but it usually is.
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
There is more to be said for independent eye-witness accounts, photographs, and video evidence. If Graeber musters that much evidence that it happens, and your only counter-evidence is "I don't believe it," then
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[info] chessdev wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Is there some video of this?

There were numerous video feeds and tons of people with cameras and
phones at these things... what is the likelihood of not seeing these videos

No offense, but the article you linked has lots of allegations and even video of other incidents
but very little evidence of these assaults -- which is even more amazing considering the extensive news
coverage these protests received from multiple channels, multiple angles and multiple sources

So where is a video showing these assaults?
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[info] jonathankorman wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
I'd like to see further reporting legwork on this as well, but I take David Graeber to be a reliable enough source that we should take this initial report seriously.
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[info] chessdev wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
You can take the report seriously -- but you still need more than just allegations. Reading through some of the comments I'm seeing comparisons to Nazi, etc... based on just allegations.

Just as bad I watched some of the video where "anarchists" were running through the town smashing up windows and cars. It's easy for people to try to classify the Occupy Movement as those guys...

likewise, I'm reading allegations but seeing very little evidence of these coordinated assaults happening, or that such attacks (so far, unsubstantiated) were beyond the actions of 1 or 2.

These are serious allegations and some legwork needs to be done here and I'm seeing lots of people jumping to conclusions but very little substantiation happening

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[info] drewkitty wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
Cops would never:

- block a bridge and shoot refugees trying to cross it,

- go door to door to confiscate legally owned firearms from homes,

- conspire in unlawful shootings, bank robbery, beatings, theft of drugs and planting of evidence,
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[info] radiumhead wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:35 pm (UTC)
Are any of those nyc? Its louisiana and l.a.
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[info] siege wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
Does that mean New York cops are all clean and perfect heroes?
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[info] radiumhead wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
No....any time you have a police force youre gonna have assholes-but we do have one of the more professional police forces in the country-i doubt their boss actually TOLD them to do this shit. too many people would know about it, even if most of the cops went along with it, somebody would rat, or theyd let it slip to someone who would.
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[info] nebris wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
The Gestapo and The KGB were also very 'professional'.

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[info] chaotic_nipple wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
Of course they didn't explicitly TELL anyone to grope and harass protestors. They just 'subtly' indicated that they wanted it done, a la "Boy, it would sure serve those damn hippies right if someone would (insert misdeed here), but of course WE wouldn't do that." Winking and nudging is purely optional.
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[info] dd_b wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
So you think places called "LA" in one way or another are fundamentally different from the place called "NYC"? Interesting theory, any evidence for it?
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[info] radiumhead wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
So youre gonna say cops everywhere are exactly the same? I live in nyc. I know the cops here are much less fucked up than the ones in LA. If i wanted to bother im sure i could find stats to back that up, too. But im lazy.
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[info] simulated_knave wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
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[info] fiat_knox wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Pretty much, yeah. There's an old saying from round these parts, from when cops who served in the Eighties had to beat up their own family on the picket lines during the Miners' Strike of 1984/85 - "Once a policeman, never again a man."
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[info] nebris wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC)
How about some anal rape with a broom handle?

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[info] ionotter wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
*ahem* Life-time Long Islander, here. You are full of horse-puckey.

I know what NY cops are like. I had one for an uncle, and I heard this sort of crap all...the...time. My own father, God rest his soul, once sold a handgun to a friend of his who was a cop. He'd been given the gun by one of his elderly customers who wanted to get rid of it. My dad was going to turn it in, but his friend said, "I can buy it off you? I'm a cop, I can take care of it."

Dad was only too happy to have it gone. He was well known in the town as a founding member of the rifle and pistol club, and nobody would give him any trouble over it? But doing it right was still a hassle. So this looked both right and easy. (Which should have been a warning sign, if you think about it.) After he sold it, he asked his friend how he was going to get it registered. "Oh, I'm not going to register this one. This is my 'nigger gun'."

Dad didn't get it and asked, "Your what?" His friend laughed and said, "Yeah, it's my nigger gun. If I end up shooting a nigger, I just pull this out and put it on him."

Dad lost a friend that day. And I learned a very valuable lesson.

Edited at 2012-05-05 11:56 pm (UTC)
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[info] chessdev wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
The question is not that cops would never do this... but rather
do we have more than allegations of this?
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[info] nancylebov wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
Another police abuse, perhaps of particular interest to geeks. I'm mentioning it here because someone in (now closed) comments mentioned that it might help if that sort of thing happened to politicians. There was a reply that it did happen to a politician, and police involved weren't punished. I have another link of the same sort handy.

If this problem can be solved at all, it won't be through routine politics.
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[info] dd_b wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
Just hitting my friends list from multiple angles this morning --
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[info] silveradept wrote:
May. 5th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
This wouldn't count as news - the public pretty well shrugged when it came to robo-signing and the rocket dockets that are basically pushing through the demands of the land owners and employers, regardless of whether it was legal or not.

After that flagrant disregard for the law was exposed and everyone yawned, that the next step into physically assaulting protesters who weren't doing anything like what they would be accused of seems like a much more easy one to take.
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[info] sylphslider wrote:
May. 6th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for recognizing that the cops aren't here to save us.

I have two degrees in US history and I teach it. The idea that the cops are around to protect ordinary people from criminals is largely laughable - it has very little historical basis.

The more I learned, the more I came to dislike police officers as a class. However, I'm white, and when I tell other white people I don't like cops, they look at me funny.

"The cops are here to protect us," they say. But I reply, "No, they're here to protect property." And since I have none, they're not here to protect me.
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 6th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
I learned, a long time ago, that in terms of allocation of time and resources, the priorities of every police department in history go something like this: #1 protect property values, #2 prevent or reverse the perception of anarchy, #3 placate politically dangerous complainers, #4 raise police department revenue, and, distantly, #5 grudgingly enforce written law.
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[info] nancylebov wrote:
May. 6th, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
"Property values" (real estate?) is clearer than "property"-- the government doesn't knock itself out to protect people from various sorts of theft and fraud.

Even the property values model doesn't cover the way the banks were permitted to engage in fraudulent foreclosures.
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Brad @ Burning Man
[info] bradhicks wrote:
May. 7th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
Because rent-a-cops mostly work for the rich, and rent-a-cops outnumber real cops by 3 to 1 in the US. If a cop got complaints from small-holders and proprietors that Len Blankenfein's business practices were wrecking property values in their neighborhood, and that cop even tried to go to Len Blankenfein and tell him, "if you don't stop dumping these NINJa teaser-rate loans into my neighborhood, I'll hit you with a stick," he wouldn't even get close enough to talk to him before Len Blankenfein's private cops stopped him.

Which is merely emblematic of something I left out, above, in the name of brevity: it has also never, ever, ever been the duty of ordinary police and sheriffs to do anything to (as opposed to "for") nobility. Police and sheriffs police disputes among the landless poor and the lower middle class, period. Think I'm being unnecessarily, obsoletely medieval here? Observe how rare it is, to this very day, that police get sent to the home of a rich criminal to collect him when he's indicted; rich criminals are instructed to turn themselves in, and typically given at least one working day to do so. Now, as then, the person of a nobleman is sacrosanct; he must be stripped of his nobility before the grubby hands of a policeman may be placed upon him.
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