Sunday, October 23, 2011

John Bolton Admits All Of These Wars Are For Oil

Imperialism and Democracy: White House or Liberty Square?

Imperialism and Democracy:
White House or Liberty Square?

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The relation between imperialism and democracy has been debated and discussed over 2500 years, from fifth century Athens to Liberty Park in Manhattan. Contemporary critics of imperialism (and capitalism) claim to find a fundamental incompatibility, citing the growing police state measures accompanying colonial wars, from Clinton’s anti-terrorist laws, and Bush’s “Patriot Act” to Obama’s ordering the extrajudicial assassination of overseas US citizens.

In the past, however, many theorists of imperialism of varying political persuasion, ranging from Max Weber to Vladimir Lenin, argued that imperialism unified the country, reduced internal class polarization and created privileged workers who actively supported and voted for imperial parties. A historical, comparative survey of the conditions under which imperialism and democratic institutions converge or diverge can throw some light on the challenges and choices faced by the burgeoning democratic movements erupting across the globe.

The Nineteenth Century

During the 19th century, European and US imperial expansion covered the world. In tandem, democratic institutions took root, the franchise was extended to the working class, competitive parties emerged, social legislation was passed, and the working class increased its representation in the legislative chambers.

Was the simultaneous growth of democracy and imperialism a spurious correlation reflecting divergent and conflicting underlying forces, one favoring overseas conquest and another promoting democratic politics? In fact, there was a great deal of overlap between pro-imperialist and democratic politics and not simply among the elites.

Throughout the 19th and especially in the 20th century, important sectors of the labor and social democratic parties and numerous prominent leftists and revolutionary socialists, at one time or another combined support for workers’ demands and imperial expansion. None other than Karl Marx, in his early journalistic writings in the New York Herald Tribune critically supported the British conquest of India as a “modernizing force” breaking down feudal barriers, even as he supported (with criticism) the European revolutions of 1848.

The ruling classes, the driving force of imperialism, were divided: Some saw the democratic reforms, “citizenship”, as a means of raising mass conscriptions for imperial wars; others feared that the democratic reforms would enhance social demands and undercut the accumulation of capital and rule by the elite. Both were right: Along with greater popular participation came virulent modern nationalism, which fueled empire building. At the same time mass access to democratic rights led to heightened class organizations, which threatened or challenged class rule. Within the ruling classes, democratic institutions were seen as an arena to peacefully resolve conflicts between competing sectoral elites. But once they took a mass character they were perceived as political threats.

Imperial and class-based parties competed for voters among the newly enfranchised urban workers and rural poor. In many cases, imperial and class allegiances “co-existed” within the same individuals. The question of which of the two, imperialist or class consciousness would become ‘operative’ or ‘salient’ was in part contingent on the success or failures of the larger competing political projects.

In other words, when imperial expansion succeeded in easy conquests resulting in lucrative colonies (especially settler colonies) democratic workers embraced the empire. This was the case because empire enhanced trade, namely profitable exports and cheap imports, while protecting local markets and manufacturers. These in turn expanded employment and wages for substantial sectors of the working class. As a result, labor and social democratic parties and trade unions did not oppose imperialism, indeed many supported it.

In contrast, when imperialist wars led to prolonged bloody and costly conflicts, the working class shifted from initial chauvinist enthusiasm to disenchantment and opposition. Democratic demands to ‘end the war’ led to strikes challenging unequal sacrifice. Democratic and anti-imperialist sentiments tended to fuse.

The conflict between democracy and imperialism became even more apparent in the case of an imperial defeat and military occupation. Both the defeat of France in the German-French war of 1870-71 and the German defeat in the Frist World War led to massive democratic socialist uprisings (the Paris Comune of 1871 and the German revolution of 1918) attacking militarism, ruling class domination and the entire imperial capitalist institutional framework.

The Imperialism and Democracy Debate and ‘History from Below’

Historians, especially practioners of the fashionable “history from below”, exaggerated the democratic values and struggles of the working class and understated the prolonged and deep felt support among important sectors for successful imperial expansion and conquest. The notion of ‘inherent’ or ‘instinctual’ class solidarity is belied by the active role of workers in imperial conquest as soldiers, overseas settlers, merchant mariners and overseers. Imperial collaborators and empire loyalists were numerous among English and French workers and, especially later, within the US labor movement.

The theoretical point is that the pre-eminence of democratic over imperial consciousness and action among workers is contingent on the practical material outcomes of imperial policies and democratic struggles.

Workers and Imperialism

Empire building makes demands on workers to produce more for less in order to export and invest profitably in colonized regions. This led to capital-labor conflict, especially in the initial phase of imperial expansion. As imperial rulers consolidated their control over the colonized countries they intensified exploitation of markets, labor and resources. Imperial exports destroyed local competitors. Profits rose, wages increased and workers turned from initial opposition toward imperialism to demanding a share of the increasing income of the export oriented manufacturers. Labor leaders and trade unionists approved of the policies of ‘imperial preference’, which protected local industries from competition and privileged monopoly control of colonial markets. They did so because imperial policies protected jobs and raised living standards.

Workers who were active in social struggles, blacklisted or jailed, voluntarily moved or were exiled to colonized countries. Once settled overseas, they were given privileged access to better paying jobs as overseers, skilled employees or promoted to managerial positions. Imperial based militant workers, once overseas, became colonial collaborators. Many encouraged former workmates, relatives and friends to join them as successful settlers or contract workers. The ‘domestication’ of workers and the reconciliation of democratic and imperialist sentiments was a cause and consequent of successful imperialism.

Empire Loyalism: Not by Bread Alone

While material benefits accruing to workers from “successful imperialism” are one factor enhancing workers’ imperial consciousness, this was reinforced by symbolic gratification, the sense of being a member of the “leading country in the world” where “the sun never sets on the empire”, was equally important. It is rare to find a country where the majority of workers express “solidarity” with the exploited miners, plantation workers or displaced peasants and indigenous small landholders in the ‘colonies’. The stronger the hold of the colonial power, the greater the ‘colonial opportunities’, the longer the colonial ties, the deeper the economic penetration, and the stronger the sense of imperial superiority among the imperial states’ workers. It is not surprising that the British workers, the unions and Labor Party raised few objections to the savagery of the imperial opium wars against China, the imperial induced genocidal famines in Ireland in the 19th century and India in the 20th century. Likewise, the French workers’ parties – Socialists especially – were in the forefront of the post WWII colonial wars against Indo-China and Algeria only turning against them in the face of imminent defeat and internal disintegration. In the same vein, US successful colonial wars against Cuba and the Philippines, its invasions of Caribbean and Central American countries were supported by the American Federation of Labor and many ‘ordinary workers’, even as a minority of radicalized workers opposed these wars. The ‘partial turn’ of labor against US colonial wars occurred during the Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan was a result of prolonged losses and high economic costs with no victory in sight. It should be added that US workers, in opposing the imperial wars, expressed no solidarity with the national liberation and workers movements of the colonized countries.

Imperialism and the “True Democrats”

To argue, as some on the Left have, that imperialism does not coexist with “true” democracy, is to argue that the last 150 years have been devoid of free elections, party competition and citizens rights, however abbreviated, especially over the past decade. The reality is that imperial intervention and expansion has drawn precisely from citizens’ sense of “obligation” to uphold the democratic institutions, which has enabled imperial leaders to elicit legitimacy and active citizen support or compliance in waging bloody, even genocidal, colonial wars.

If democracy has not usually been an obstacle to imperial expansion – indeed a facilitator under certain circumstances – under what conditions have workers and citizens movements turned against imperial wars? What has been the political response of the ruling class when the majority of electorate has turned against imperial wars? In other words: When the democratic institutions no longer function as vehicles for imperial policies, what gives?

From Imperial Democracy to Imperial Police State

The past ten years provide important lessons on the relation between imperialism and democracy in the United States.

Beginning with the controversial political circumstances surrounding known terrorists’ gaining access to the US and subsequently hijacking the airplanes on 9/11/2001, the US government launched two major colonial wars and numerous overt ‘clandestine’ ground and air attacks in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya and other countries. The “global war on terror”, launched under the Bush regime, and implemented by non-elected senior militarist – Zionist officials in co-operation with NATO and Israel was supported by the democratically elected Congress. For that matter the vast majority of the electorate, influenced by an immense propaganda campaign of fear, media manipulation and lies endorsed the wars on terror.

Given the unprecedented scope and breadth of the wars, (a global war on terror), the vast increase in military spending and the huge outlays for an all encompassing internal repressive (security) apparatus (Homeland Security), a new executive-centered police state was constructed which superseded the existing democratic institution and rights of citizens.

The trajectory of imperial politics moved from early military successes to problematic prolonged occupation. This led to escalating resistance, growing state expenditures , a deepening fiscal crises , social decay and rising political opposition.

As in the past, contemporary imperial wars that are prolonged, costly and with no decisive victory in sight, have led to citizen disenchantment, followed by increased open rejection. The wage and salaried majorities who voted for imperial policymakers and backed their enabling legislation, including laws (Patriot Act) which suspended basic civil and constitutional rights, have turned away from the imperial agenda. Today the democratic majority prioritize their class, economic interests, especially in the face of a prolonged recession and unemployment and underemployment of close to 20%. Beginning in 2008-2011 endless wars and prolonged crises have set in motion a conflict between democracy and imperialism.

In other words, the democratic majority has become an obstacle to the implementation and pursuit of imperial wars. Imperial military activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. did not lead to quick victories, the conquest of lucrative export markets and take-over of natural resource. Jobs were not created and no benefit accrued to employees and workers in the imperial country. High expenditures for arms undercut public investments in labor intensive employment in critically overdue infrastructures projects. The small number of dangerous jobs in occupied countries was unattractive and too risky for the unemployed.

In other words, unlike most previous imperial-colonial wars, none of the plundered wealth was used to secure workers loyalty to the empire. The burden of empire progressively undercut wage and salaried workers’ living standards. Over time, regressive taxation gradually eroded any sense of chauvinist grandeur or superiority. Instead citizens of the empire developed a political inferiority complex. Faced with determined Islamic opposition and China’s rising economic power, exaggerated bellicosity among a minority and critical introspection among the majority took hold. Popular consciousness of “something basically wrong” in Washington and Wall Street took over. The earlier war chants and mindless flag-waving, as the armies of Empire marched to Afghanistan and Iraq, were replaced by angry defeatism directed at misleaders. Over 80% of the public now articulates a negative view of Congress, rejecting both war parties. Similar negative views are held toward the White House, the Pentagon and Homeland Security.

After a decade of war and four years of economic crisis, mass protests erupted, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement puts new options on the table, displacing the imperial agenda with a powerful denunciation of the militarist-financial elite.

The executive rulers, especially the judicial, intelligence and police apparatuses increasingly implemented arbitrary police state measures. Tens of millions are subject to surveillance by Homeland Security. The police state intercepts billions of faxes, e-mails, web sites and taps telephone calls. The link between imperialism and democracy broke at the point where declining empire no longer could secure the electorate’s support or compliance.

More and more bizarre terrorist plots were fabricated by the intelligence agencies. The Iranian bomb plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington was the most primitive and crude effort to regain public support for imperial militarism in the Gulf region. Apart from the politically influential, but infinitely small, pro-Israel Zionist power configuration, US public opinion is not distracted from its domestic agenda; its quest for jobs at home and opposition to Wall Street.

As the conflict between imperialism and democracy intensifies, the previous ‘consensus” fractured. The White House and Congress opt for imperialism backed by a profoundly anti-democratic police state. The majority of the electorate presses forward, utilizing their remaining democratic rights to change the political agenda from empire toward a social republic.

Conclusion


We have argued that empire and democracy have been complementary in times of ascendant imperialism. We have shown that when wars of conquest have been short and inexpensive, and when the results have been lucrative for capital and job-creating for labor the democratic majorities joined in support of imperial elites. Democratic institutions flourished when overseas empires provided markets, cheap resources and raised living standards. Workers voted for imperial parties, held positive opinions of executive and legislative officials, and applauded the colonial war veterans (our troops). Some even volunteered and joined the military. With vast citizen support for empire, the state more or less ‘abided’ by the constitutional guarantees. But the marriage of democracy and imperialism is not ‘structural’. It is contingent on a series of variable conditions, which can cause a profound rupture between the two, as we are witnessing today.

Prolonged, losing, costly imperial wars that increasingly erode living standards for over a generation have undermined the consensus between imperial rulers and democratic citizens. Early signs of this potential divergence were evident during the latter period of the Korean War, when public opinion turned against President Truman, architect of the Cold War and the US invasion of Korea. More evidence emerged during the Vietnam War. Faced with a prolonged, losing war, which imperiled the lives and opportunities of tens of millions of draft age Americans, millions in civilian life and the military opted to end the war and question imperial interventions. The repressive state was still not organized sufficiently to terrorize and contain the democratic upsurge of the 1970’s. The end of the Vietnam war represented the high point in democratic America’s quest to counter imperialism and rebuild the republic.

Subsequent small, quick, low cost and militarily successful imperial interventions in Panama, Grenada, Haiti and elsewhere did not provoke any conflict between imperialism and democracy. Nor did imperial clandestine and surrogate wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan and the Balkans elicit any significant democratic opposition since they were low cost (in lives and funding) and were not accompanied by any sharp cuts in social expenditures and incomes.

The onset of the current Afghanistan, Iraq, and global offensive wars were seen by some imperial strategists in the same light: Quick, low cost victories with few domestic costs. One highly placed pro-Israel official in the Pentagon even argued that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would be “self-financing” via an oil grab.

The 21st century wars turned out otherwise: They followed the Korean-Vietnam pattern, not the Central American/Caribbean pattern. Immensely costly, the 21st century wars have not led to quick victories and, worse still, occurred in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, without the manufacturing and market boom of the 1950’s/1960’s which had cushioned the retreat from Korea and Vietnam.

The divergence between imperialism and democracy has become acute. Democratic dissent has increased and the police state has become more prominent and direct. Imperialism increasingly relies on “fabricated domestic and external terror plots” to augment the powers of the repressive machinery and rule by fiat. White House exhortations ring hollow. The public puts less and less credence in their rulers’ claims of ‘justifiable’ arbitrary detentions, massive surveillance and extrajudicial assassinations of US citizens (and even their children).

We now face long-term, large-scale dangers, inherent in imperial democracies. Not because of “internal contradictions” but because sooner or later imperial powers meet their match in the form of protracted struggles by anti-imperialist and national liberation movements. Only, when imperials wars take their toll on the wage and salaried majority, does the rupture between democracy and imperialism take place. Then and only then are democratic forces set in motion to create a democratic republic, with social justice and without empire.

The present danger is that imperial structures are deeply embedded in all the key political institutions and are backed by an unprecedented vast and sprawling police state apparatus, called Homeland Security. Perhaps it will take a major external political-military shock to ignite the kind of mass democratic uprising needed to transform an imperial police state into a democratic republic. A growing sense of isolation and impotence affects the ruling regime in the face of overseas military defeats and unyielding, deepening domestic economic crisis. The danger is that these fears and frustrations could induce the White House to attempt to regain popular support by attacking Iran under a manufactured pretext. A US/Israeli assault on Iran will result in a world-wide conflagration. Iran could and would retaliate. Saudi and Gulf oil wells would go up in flames. Vital shipping lanes would be blocked. Gas prices would skyrocket while Asian, EU and US economies crash. Iranian troops with their Iraqi allies would lay siege to the US garrisons in Baghdad. Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the Moslem world will take up arms. US forces would surrender or retreat. The war would shatter the US Treasury. Deficits would spiral out of control. Unemployment would double. This likely sequence of events would trigger a massive democratic movement and a decisive struggle between an emerging republic struggling to give birth and a decaying empire threatening to drag the world into the inferno of its own demise.

Bank of America Makes 6.2 Billion Tax Free Dollars in Third Quarter Profits

Bank of America Makes 6.2 Billion Tax Free Dollars in Third Quarter Profits

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Bank of America reported $6.2 billion in third quarter gains this year, nearly recouping a $7.3 billion loss from the same time last year. Bank of America ceded its ranking as the largest bank to J.P. Morgan & Co after CEO Brian Moynihan began a campaign of mass asset sales in an effort to boost the bank’s capital. Moynihan has suggested that new regulations mean the bank will have to start charging fees for services that have traditionally been free, such as debit cards and checking accounts. Wells Fargo, Citibank, and other major banks have also recently begun announcing similar plans for an increase in service and account fees.

Total employment at Bank of America rose to 288,739 in September, but 2,000 employees have received notice that they will be let go, and in August the bank announced that it was planning to lay off 3,500 in the near future. Revenue rose 6% since last year to $28.7 billion. The bank has been heavily criticized by grassroots communities such as US Uncut for spending millions of dollars to lobby for tax cuts and loopholes. Bank of America did not pay any corporate income taxes at all in 2009 and 2010.

President Obama spoke on the issue during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC/Yahoo! (see the complete transcript here), critizing the idea that they “have some inherent right just to, you know, get a certain amount of profit” even when it means their “customers are being mistreated.” He also expressed the belief that should be able to make a profit “the old-fashioned way, by earning it.”

Customers have been roiled by new and incoming fee requirements for basic banking services and in some cases have started migrating to banks that are not implementing them, or to credit unions which are not for-profit organizations.

Police Arrest 130 at Occupy Chicago

Police Arrest 130 at Occupy Chicago

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nti-Wall Street demonstrators of the Occupy Chicago movement stood their ground in a downtown park in noisy but peaceful defiance of police orders to clear out, prompting 130 arrests early Sunday, authorities said.

Occupy Chicago spokesman Joshua Kaunert vowed after the arrests that protests would continue in the Midwest city.

"We're not going anywhere. There are still plenty of us," Kaunert told The Associated Press after the arrests, which took police more than an hour to complete.

Elsewhere in the nation, police reported 11 arrests overnight in the Occupy Cincinnati protests. Police said those arrested had stayed in that city's Fountain Square after Sunday's 3 a.m. closing time and each was charged with criminal trespass.

In Chicago, police began taking people into custody just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Those arrested were led in groups to vans and two large white buses as others clamored to be arrested.

"Take me next! Take me next!" some shouted as police began the arrests. Others chanted as they were led away: "We'll be back!"

Officers had begun placing metal barricades around the area of Chicago's Grant Park known as Congress Plaza about 11:10 p.m. Saturday, minutes after the park had closed. Afterward, police then went through the crowd and warned people to leave or risk arrest for remaining in the closed park in violation of a city ordinance.

Several of the protesters who stayed inside the barricades in the park sat on the ground. Others locked arms as police circled and then began arresting people.

"One: We are the people! Two: We are united! Three: The occupation is not leaving!" demonstrators shouted. Others joined in from just outside the park.

Chicago police said Sunday morning that 130 arrests had been made.

Kaunert said none of those arrested had resisted.

"Everybody was very peaceful and smiling and there was no violence, though a lot of chanting," he said.

He urged authorities to let the people resume protesting peacefully against the perceived greed and other ills they see on Wall Street and elsewhere in corporate America. He noted it was the second straight weekend that arrests had been made in the park after 175 arrests the previous Sunday after protesters set up tents past public hours.

"The police came in and again took away our right to free speech and assembly," he said. "Several paddywagons left and they had two very large prison buses and those are gone now."

Paulina Jasczuk, a 24-year-old dental receptionist, watched as her boyfriend, Philip Devon, was led away in the night hours. She threw him a white sweater against the chill of a fall night in Chicago.

"I'm proud of everyone who got arrested tonight," she told AP, adding she hoped they would inspire more demonstrators to join in the movement in the weeks ahead.

Demonstrators were taken away one by one and handcuffed with white plastic ties. Some on the scene shouted: "This is what democracy looks like!"

Drums banged and some people clanged on metal.

Jonathan Sumner, 25, of Chicago, watched the arrests from outside the park and began shouting at officers: "Why are you doing this?"

"It's a sad day for the CPD" he said, referring to the Chicago Police Department.

Some said earlier that arrests only signal the importance of the Occupy movement.

"This movement will not be a serious movement until we take a stand, and getting arrested is just one way of taking a stand," said Max Farrar, 20, a junior political science major at DePaul University, speaking Saturday to a reporter.

About 1,500 people gathered for the protest that began Saturday. Demonstrators descended on the city park with hopes of making it the movement's permanent home. The group had started in Chicago's financial district before marching to the park.

Along the way, marchers chanted "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" and held signs that read "Greed Sucks" and "No War But The Class War" while police on horses blocked them from walking on the street on Michigan Avenue, leaving them with just the sidewalks to occupy.

Occupy Wall Street began a month ago in New York among a few young people, and has grown to tens of thousands around the country and the world.

In Cincinnati, Police Capt. Doug Wiesman said early Sunday that the 11 arrests carried out there were "straightforward" and without problems. A protester, Aaron Roco, told AP about 30 other protesters who remained on a sidewalk just outside the Cincinnati square during the police action weren't arrested.

The War on Libya and the Broader US-NATO Military Agenda

The War on Libya and the Broader US-NATO Military Agenda

Is a World War III Scenario Unfolding?

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With the killing of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi this past week, NATO is celebrating what, in their view, is a great victory. However, this so-called "victory" has nothing to do with democracy, freedom or justice; it is part of a broad, insidious geopolitical strategy that has been on NATO's drawing board for years. And what is even more frightening than the bloodlust being shamelessly splashed across the mainstream media is the fact that this latest manoeuver is merely a small part of a much wider military agenda with potentially catastrophic consequences.

In his latest e-book, "Towards a World War III Scenario", Prof. Michel Chossudovsky outlines the strategies and real motives behind the war on Libya, what we can expect next from NATO (the world's deadly "humanitarian" force), and the necessary steps for dispelling disinformation and preventing war on an unprecedented scale.

The object of this e-book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

The following extracts by Prof. Chossudovsky reveal several key issues facing humanity today. (The full version of "Towards a World War III Scenario" is available to purchase from Global Research in convenient PDF format.)



Towards a World War III Scenario

The war on Libya is an integral part of the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which until recently consisted of three distinct areas of conflict: Afghanistan and Pakistan (the AfPak War), Iraq, Palestine.

These four war theaters are interrelated. They are part of a broader region of conflict, which extends from North Africa and the Middle East, engulfing a large part of the Mediterranean basin, to China's Western frontier with Afghanistan, and Northern Pakistan.

The Battle for Oil

More than 60 percent of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves lie in Muslim lands. “The Battle for Oil” waged by the US-NATO-Israel military alliance requires the demonization of the inhabitants of those countries which possess these vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

Iran possesses ten percent of global oil and gas reserves. The US is the first and foremost military and nuclear power in the world, but it possesses less than two percent of global oil and gas reserves.

The US-led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region.

Demonization is applied to an enemy which possesses three-quarters of the world’s oil reserves. “Axis of evil”, “rogue states”, “failed nations”, “Islamic terrorists”: demonization and vilification are the ideological pillars of America’s “war on terror”. They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.

The Battle for Oil requires the demonization of those who possess the oil. The enemy is characterized as evil, with a view to justifying military action including the mass killing of civilians. The Middle East Central Asian region is heavily militarized. The oil fields are encircled by NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN “peacekeeping” operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea deployed as part of the “war on terrorism”.

The ultimate objective, combining military action, covert intelligence operations and war propaganda, is to break down the national fabric and transform sovereign countries into open economic territories, where natural resources can be plundered and confiscated under “free market” supervision. This control also extends to strategic oil and gas pipeline corridors (e.g. Afghanistan).

Demonization is a psy-op, used to sway public opinion and build a consensus in favor of war. Psychological warfare is directly sponsored by the Pentagon and the US intelligence apparatus. It is not limited to assassinating or executing the rulers of Muslim countries; it extends to entire populations. It also targets Muslims in Western Europe and North America. It purports to break national consciousness and the ability to resist the invader. It denigrates Islam. It creates social divisions. It is intended to divide national societies and ultimately trigger “civil war”.

Is a World War III Scenario Unfolding?

The US and its NATO allies are preparing to launch a nuclear war directed against both Iran and North Korea with devastating consequences. This military adventure in the real sense of the word threatens the future of humanity. While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality.

The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

It is not Iran and North Korea which are a threat to global security but the United States of America and Israel.

Humanity is at a dangerous crossroads. War preparations to attack Iran are in an advanced state of readiness. Hi-tech weapons systems including nuclear warheads are fully deployed.

This military adventure has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since the mid-1990s: first Iraq, then Iran, according to a declassified 1995 US Central Command document.

Escalation is part of the military agenda. While Iran is the next target together with Syria and Lebanon, this strategic military deployment also threatens North Korea, China and Russia.

The American Inquisition: Building a Political Consensus for War

In chorus, the Western media has branded Iran as a threat to global security in view of its alleged (non-existent) nuclear weapons program. Echoing official statements, the media is now demanding the implementation of punitive bombings directed against Iran so as to safeguard Israel’s security.

The Western media is beating the drums of war. The purpose is to tacitly instill, through repeated media reports, ad nauseam, within people’s inner consciousness, the notion that the Iranian threat is real and that the Islamic Republic should be “taken out”. A consensus-building process to wage war is similar to the Spanish Inquisition. It requires and demands submission to the notion that war is a humanitarian endeavor.

Known and documented, the real threat to global security emanates from the US-NATO-Israel alliance, yet realities in an inquisitorial environment are turned upside down: the warmongers are committed to peace, the victims of war are presented as the protagonists of war.

Reversing the Tide of War

A good-versus-evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims.

Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

When a US-sponsored nuclear war becomes an “instrument of peace”, condoned and accepted by the world’s institutions and the highest authority including the United Nations, there is no turning back: human society has indelibly been precipitated headlong onto the path of self-destruction.

The main factor which could prevent this war from occurring comes from the base of society, requiring forceful antiwar action by hundreds of millions of people across the land, nationally and internationally.

People must mobilize not only against this diabolical military agenda, the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

This war can be prevented if people forcefully confront their governments, pressure their elected representatives, organize at the local level in towns, villages and municipalities, spread the word, inform their fellow citizens as to the implications of a nuclear war, initiate debate and discussion within the armed forces.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network which challenges the structures of power and authority.

What is required is a mass movement of people which forcefully challenges the legitimacy of war and the New World Order, a global people’s movement which criminalizes war.

To reverse the tide, the spreading of information at all levels which counteracts the propaganda campaign is required.

The truth undermines and overshadows the lie.

Once this truth becomes fully understood, the legitimacy of the rulers will collapse like a deck of cards.

This is what has to be achieved. But we can only achieve it by effectively counteracting the official propaganda campaign. This initiative requires the spreading of information in an extensive grassroots network, with a view to weakening and ultimately disabling the administration’s propaganda machine.

When the lies – including those concerning September 11 – are fully revealed and understood by everybody, the legitimacy of the US-NATO-Israel military agenda will be broken.

What Has To Be Achieved

Reveal the criminal nature of this military project.

Break once and for all the lies and falsehoods which sustain the “political consensus” in favor of a pre-emptive nuclear war.

Undermine war propaganda, reveal the media lies, reverse the tide of disinformation, wage a consistent campaign against the corporate media.

Break the legitimacy of the warmongers in high office.

Dismantle the US-sponsored military adventure and its corporate sponsors.

Bring home the troops.

Repeal the illusion that the state is committed to protecting its citizens.

Expose the “fake crises”, such as the global flu pandemic, as a means to distract public opinion away from the dangers of a global war.

Uphold 9/11 Truth. Reveal the falsehoods behind 9/11 which are used to justify the Middle East/Central Asian war under the banner of the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

Expose how a profit-driven war serves the vested interests of the banks, the defense contractors, the oil giants, the media giants and the biotech conglomerates.

Challenge the corporate media which deliberately obfuscates the causes and consequences of this war.

Reveal and take cognizance of the unspoken and tragic outcome of a war waged with nuclear weapons.

Call for the Dismantling of NATO.

Implement the prosecution of war criminals in high office.

Close down the weapons assembly plants and implement the foreclosure of major weapons producers.

Close down all US military bases in the US and around the world.

Develop an antiwar movement within the armed forces and establish bridges between the armed forces and the civilian antiwar movement.

Forcefully pressure governments of both NATO and non-NATO countries to withdraw from the US-led global military agenda.

Develop a consistent antiwar movement in Israel. Inform the citizens of Israel of the likely consequences of a US-NATO-Israeli attack on Iran.

Target the pro-war lobby groups including the pro-Israeli groups in the US.

Dismantle the homeland security state, call for the repeal of the PATRIOT legislation.

The World is at the Crossroads of the Most Serious Crisis in Modern History

The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.

It is essential to bring the US war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

‘Free trade’ imperialism

‘Free trade’ imperialism

That the U.S. Senate took four years to endorse the “free trade” accords between U.S. imperialism and its vassals in Panama, Colombia and south Korea is no sign there was anything good about these agreements for working people in any of the countries.

A Free Trade Act sounds so harmless. It isn’t. It is not an agreement between peoples to work for their mutual benefit. It’s an agreement among the ruling classes in the countries signing the accord to better exploit the laboring masses, that is, the working class and the individual farmers. It enriches the 1 percent — or maybe the 1 percent of that richest 1 percent — who control areas of trade and finance at the expense of everyone else.

The biggest advantage from these agreements usually goes to the ruling class in the imperialist countries, who gain a commanding foothold in the “developing” countries that they never give up.

Some 163 years ago in the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels called attention to the ability of the capitalist ruling class to use the “cheap prices of commodities” they produce with their developed technology as “the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls” to penetrate any country.

In the current situation, U.S. agricultural technology — agribusiness — can produce many foodstuffs more cheaply than individual peasant farmers can. That’s one reason the south Korean farmers’ organizations have been fighting against the FTA. They know what happened in Mexico after the North American FTA went into effect in 1994. Within a few years the peasants growing corn in Mexico were undersold by U.S. corn and a million farmers were driven off the land.

Desperate to earn a living, many migrated north despite the dangers of the border, where the Senators who voted for NAFTA and for this new law could then insult them, persecute them and oppress them for daring to cross the border to stay alive.

Under the capitalist system — and especially during a capitalist crisis — these FTAs destroy jobs in both the imperialist and the oppressed countries. They drive workers and peasants to despair while a handful of people grow fabulously rich. They are everything that the occupiers of Wall Street are fighting against. And we join with the Occupy forces here as well as the movements in south Korea, Colombia and Panama that condemn this new round of FTAs.

Solidarity between the workers and farmers of all countries! Down with the FTAs!

Underemployed And Hating Life

Underemployed And Hating Life

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Today, millions of smart, hard working Americans are flipping burgers, waiting tables or working dead end retail jobs not because they want to, but because they have no other options. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14 million Americans are currently unemployed and another 9.3 million Americans are currently "underemployed". During this economic downturn, a lot of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because they have been unable to find full-time jobs. For many, this can be a soul-crushing experience. It can be easy to become very bitter when you have worked very hard all your life and yet you find yourself having to take a job that only pays you a fraction of what you used to make. A lot of young college graduates end up hating life because the only jobs that they can seem to find do not even require a college degree and don't even come close to enabling them to keep up with their crippling student loan debt payments. Sadly, the underemployment problem continues to grow even worse. In September alone, the number of underemployed Americans rose by close to half a million.

There are other measurements that indicate that unemployment in America is even worse that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is indicating.

For example, a recent Gallup poll found that approximately one out of every five Americans that currently have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.

In addition, according to author Paul Osterman about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

When you try as hard as you can and you still can't pay the bills, it is easy to end up hating life.

What some Americans are going through is absolutely heart breaking. Just consider the following story from a recent article on Fox News....

Damian Birkel, of Winston-Salem N.C., found himself in similar circumstances. He was a marketing manager at Sarah Lee in the early 1990s when he was downsized. Since then, he has been laid off from three other jobs, including one at a recruiting firm.

“I felt like I had ‘loser’ tattooed to my forehead, and ‘will work for food’ tattooed to my chest,” he says.

The hardest part was telling his young daughter that there might not be enough money to pay the bills -- among them, sending her to summer camp. “She brings her piggy bank and says, 'Daddy, why don’t you break into the piggy bank so that you can pay some of the bills.'”

How would you feel if your little daughter said that to you?

Unfortunately, the number of good jobs just continues to decrease.

There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

And the mix of jobs that our economy is producing continues to change.

Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

What that means is that the middle class is shrinking.

A lot of young people are coming out of college right now and are having their dreams absolutely crushed. Large numbers of them are entering the "real world" with nightmarish student loan debt burdens and only a limited number of them can find decent jobs.

A recent USA Today article told the story of one of these very frustrated young Americans....

Kate Wolfe chased a dream when she moved to New York after college, looking to break into acting while working as a maƮtre d'.

Her $50,000 worth of student loans were a distraction she could handle. Then the uninsured 25-year-old was mugged last year, and the final indignity was the $30,000 emergency room bill.

We are pumping out tons of college graduates, but we are not pumping out nearly enough jobs for all of them.

If you can believe it, in the United States today there are 317,000 waiters and waitresses that actually have college degrees.

That is an absolutely horrifying statistic.

But the truth is that the lack of good jobs is hitting every age level really hard.

For example, the average American family is under a tremendous amount of financial stress in this economy. Once you adjust it for inflation, median household income in the United States has declined approximately 10 percent since December 2007.

Meanwhile, the cost of food, gas, health insurance and just about everything else a family needs has gone up significantly.

Our politicians keep talking about "jobs, jobs, jobs" but the number of decent jobs continues on a very clear downward trend.

Back in 1980, 52 percent of all jobs in the United States were middle income jobs. Today, only 42 percent of all jobs in the United States are middle income jobs.

Sadly, it now looks like even the low income jobs are starting to dry up.

Mall vacancies recently hit a brand new all-time record. Major retail chains all over the country are announcing layoffs. Things do not look very promising for the upcoming holiday season.

So what are our leaders doing about all of this?

Well, unfortunately they continue to fumble the football very badly.

According to a recent ABC News report, the U.S. government actually gave a $529 million loan guarantee to an electric car company that decided to make its cars in Finland....

Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.

If we don't figure out how to stop millions of jobs from leaving this country we are going to be in a world of hurt.

The trade policies of the federal government are neither "free" nor "fair" and they are causing the standard of living of American workers to rapidly sink toward the level of the rest of the world.

We are told that it is "inevitable" that we are going to be deindustrialized and that we are going to become a service economy.

But guess what?

Service jobs generally pay a lot less than manufacturing jobs do.

A "one world economy" where our labor force is merged with the labor forces of the rest of the globe is not a good thing for the average American worker and it is not a good thing for America.

But of course trade is not the only reason why we are losing good jobs. There are a whole bunch of reasons why this is happening. For many more reasons, just check out this article.

A lot of you that are reading this article are unemployed or underemployed right now.

Unfortunately, there is not much hope that the U.S. economy is going to experience a significant turnaround any time soon.

In fact, it is likely that things are going to be getting even worse.

Our economic system is dying. Now is the time to try to get as independent of it as you can.

Don't count on a job ("just over broke") as your only source of income. In this economy, no job is safe.

There are millions upon millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans that never dreamed that their lives would go so horribly wrong.

But they did.

Our nation is experiencing the consequences of decades of very bad decisions.

There is no help on the horizon and the cavalry is not on the way to rescue us.

You better prepare accordingly.

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy

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Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that in this 10th month of the first year of His Majesty King John Hickenlooper’s reign, the sovereign governor of the Kingdom of Colorado handed down an edict closing the grounds of the Capitol palace to the public and ordering his praetorian guard to arrest the peaceful Occupy Denver protestors assembled at the castle gates.

This royal order, which made big headlines last week, was all about intimidating imagery. Just as King John had hoped, the iconic photograph to emerge from the sweep was a front-page Denver Post photo of a heavily armed police officer menacingly guarding the Capitol — a deliberate visual message telling the despot’s subjects to retreat or face consequences. He later told a reporter that he was aiming to preemptively crush “something that could easily catch on.”

Back on the East Coast, it was much the same, as His Majesty King Michael Bloomberg issued a decree stating that as a benevolent despot, he would “allow” his Manhattan subjects to occupy Wall Street (as if the mayor has the power to grant — or withhold — democratic rights). But then King Mike quickly sent his police force in for mass arrests, standing down only after a wave of outrage from the larger serfdom watching on television.

This might all sound like Medieval Europe, but it’s not. It’s America circa 2011, as these clashes are now taking place everywhere.

Alas, it’s a predictable situation. Horrifying economic inequality has prompted the bottom 99 percent of income earners to finally exercise their constitutional rights to protest. In response, the nobles in the top 1 percent are demanding their political puppets make clear that such dissent will not be tolerated — and they expect their demands to be followed. This country’s landed gentry, after all, spent a lot on campaign contributions to make sure their hand-picked autocrats were installed in governors’ and mayors’ offices, and now they’re having those autocrats engineer a whole new kind of bailout.

As opposed to merely cutting a check to the bankers, this bailout is all about resource allocation.

It has the kings preventing law enforcement from being deployed on financial criminals who destroyed the American economy. Instead, those finite law enforcement resources are being funneled into arresting more than 1,000 protestors and abrogating the vassals’ First Amendment rights to “peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In Colorado and New York, where the occupy-themed uprisings have been particularly intense, the gentry have two dictators well-schooled in using police power for this very purpose.

During his previous reign as mayor of Denver, King John ran a police department plagued by brutality scandals, threw peaceful Democratic National Convention protestors into cages, and oversaw indiscriminate arrests during that supposed celebration of democracy. King Mike, meanwhile, ordered similar mass arrests during the Republican Convention in 2004, unleashed an infamous “stop-and-frisk” policy against minorities, and created an unprecedented Muslim spying operation within the NYPD.

With such extra-judicial authoritarianism now being used against dissidents all over America, Denver and New York’s responses are indeed serving as a “model,” as King John himself predicted. And because of that, the United States is now emulating the very autocracy we originally waged our founding revolution against.

Ultimately, that’s why this historical moment is so important. Whatever you call the spontaneous uprisings against oligarchy — Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Denver or simply “We the People” — they prove that the only savior in these neo-feudal times is continued protest. Without it, the future of the economy and our freedoms are clearly at risk from King John, King Mike and every other self-styled monarch now waging war on the fundamental principles of American liberty.

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy

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Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that in this 10th month of the first year of His Majesty King John Hickenlooper’s reign, the sovereign governor of the Kingdom of Colorado handed down an edict closing the grounds of the Capitol palace to the public and ordering his praetorian guard to arrest the peaceful Occupy Denver protestors assembled at the castle gates.

This royal order, which made big headlines last week, was all about intimidating imagery. Just as King John had hoped, the iconic photograph to emerge from the sweep was a front-page Denver Post photo of a heavily armed police officer menacingly guarding the Capitol — a deliberate visual message telling the despot’s subjects to retreat or face consequences. He later told a reporter that he was aiming to preemptively crush “something that could easily catch on.”

Back on the East Coast, it was much the same, as His Majesty King Michael Bloomberg issued a decree stating that as a benevolent despot, he would “allow” his Manhattan subjects to occupy Wall Street (as if the mayor has the power to grant — or withhold — democratic rights). But then King Mike quickly sent his police force in for mass arrests, standing down only after a wave of outrage from the larger serfdom watching on television.

This might all sound like Medieval Europe, but it’s not. It’s America circa 2011, as these clashes are now taking place everywhere.

Alas, it’s a predictable situation. Horrifying economic inequality has prompted the bottom 99 percent of income earners to finally exercise their constitutional rights to protest. In response, the nobles in the top 1 percent are demanding their political puppets make clear that such dissent will not be tolerated — and they expect their demands to be followed. This country’s landed gentry, after all, spent a lot on campaign contributions to make sure their hand-picked autocrats were installed in governors’ and mayors’ offices, and now they’re having those autocrats engineer a whole new kind of bailout.

As opposed to merely cutting a check to the bankers, this bailout is all about resource allocation.

It has the kings preventing law enforcement from being deployed on financial criminals who destroyed the American economy. Instead, those finite law enforcement resources are being funneled into arresting more than 1,000 protestors and abrogating the vassals’ First Amendment rights to “peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In Colorado and New York, where the occupy-themed uprisings have been particularly intense, the gentry have two dictators well-schooled in using police power for this very purpose.

During his previous reign as mayor of Denver, King John ran a police department plagued by brutality scandals, threw peaceful Democratic National Convention protestors into cages, and oversaw indiscriminate arrests during that supposed celebration of democracy. King Mike, meanwhile, ordered similar mass arrests during the Republican Convention in 2004, unleashed an infamous “stop-and-frisk” policy against minorities, and created an unprecedented Muslim spying operation within the NYPD.

With such extra-judicial authoritarianism now being used against dissidents all over America, Denver and New York’s responses are indeed serving as a “model,” as King John himself predicted. And because of that, the United States is now emulating the very autocracy we originally waged our founding revolution against.

Ultimately, that’s why this historical moment is so important. Whatever you call the spontaneous uprisings against oligarchy — Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Denver or simply “We the People” — they prove that the only savior in these neo-feudal times is continued protest. Without it, the future of the economy and our freedoms are clearly at risk from King John, King Mike and every other self-styled monarch now waging war on the fundamental principles of American liberty.

How to Make Banks Really Mad: Occupy Foreclosures

How to Make Banks Really Mad: Occupy Foreclosures

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Could the next step after camping in Zuccotti Park be camping out in homes facing foreclosure?

As people think a bit more critically about what it means to “occupy” contested spaces that blur the public and the private and the boundaries between the 99% and the 1%, and as they also think through what Occupy Wall Street might do next, I would humbly suggest they check out the activism model of Project: No One Leaves. It exists in many places, especially in Massachusetts — check out this Springfield version of it — and grows out of activism pioneered by City Life Vida Urbana. It is similar to activism done by the group New Bottom Line and other foreclosure fighters. Here is PBS NewsHour’s coverage of the movement.

The major goal of Project: No One Leaves is to mobilize as many resources as possible to protect those going through foreclosure and keep them in their homes as long as possible in order to give them maximum bargaining power against the banks. For those focused on “weapons of the weak,” this moment — with banks and creditors using state power to conduct massive amounts of foreclosures, thus impoverishing poor neighborhoods through a financialized rationality — is a crucial opportunity for resistance. From the webpage:

Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense. We mobilize tenants and former homeowners living in recently or about to be foreclosed homes (bank tenants) to stop evictions, protect Springfield’s housing and communities, and mobilize bank tenants to fight back against major lending institutions and banks that are tearing our communities apart.

Their model, a two-step process known as the Sword and the Shield, works:

“The Sword”. Encouraging residents to stay in their homes, and to make their stories public, we organize blockades, vigils and other public actions to exert public pressure on the banks. The sword works together with:

“The Shield”: We inform bank tenants of their rights and work with legal services & progressive lawyers, to use aggressive post-foreclosure eviction defense to get eviction cases dismissed, win large move-out settlements (if it makes sense for that family/person), and force the banks to reconsider foreclosure evictions.

They use public action through blockades, protests, and marches, along with smart legal advice on how to maximize legal resistance to forced removal. Beyond the fact that this is a major space for resistance, it is also a great way to mobilize people. And as JW Mason notes, there is power in having a clear opponent as well as a special type of bargaining power people might not realize they have:

On Oct. 23, the FDR Library presents a free forum on FDR’s foreign policy advisers. Click here to find out how you can join the conversation!

Homeowners who still have title have a lot to lose and are understandably anxious to meet whatever conditions the lender or servicer sets. But once the foreclosure has happened, the homeowner, paradoxically, is in a stronger negotiating position; if they’re going to have to leave anyway, they have nothing to lose by dragging the process out, while for the bank, delay and bad publicity can be costly. So the idea is to help people in this situation organize to put pressure — both in court and through protest or civil disobedience — on the banks to agree to let them stay on as tenants more or less permanently, at a market rent.

But there’s another important thing about No One Leaves: They’re angry. The focus isn’t just on the legal rights of people facing foreclosure, or their real chance to stay in their homes if they organize and stick together, it’s on fighting the banks. There’s a very clear sense that this is not just a problem to be solved, but that the banks are the enemy. I was especially struck by one middle-aged guy who’d lost the home he’d lived in for some 20 years to foreclosure. “At this point, I don’t even care if I get to stay,” he said. “Look, I know I’m probably going to have to leave eventually. I just want to make this as slow, and expensive, and painful, for Bank of America as I can.” Everyone in the room cheered.

Slow, expensive and painful indeed — it’s like putting the banks through their own version of HAMP. Some may reply, “But wait, aren’t foreclosures healthy for the economy? Mitt Romney thinks so.” But according to the latest research using discontinuities across state lines, “estimates suggest that foreclosures were responsible for 15% to 30% of the decline in residential investment from 2007 to 2009 and 20% to 40% of the decline in auto sales over the same period.” This research is being debated, but the opposite evidence — that quicker foreclosures help the macroeconomy — can’t be found there or anywhere else.

So does this fit well with Occupy Wall Street’s agenda? Given the rampant fraud and abuses in the current foreclosure chain, from manufacturing documents to “robo-signing” to fee-stacking to everything else, the Obama administration’s refusal to support a serious investigation is a major example of the government-financial alliance and two-tier system of justice that those in Occupy Wall Street hate. Occupy Wall Street likes to pick spaces that are legally contestable — like private-public parks — and draw attention to real conflicts between those with power and those without. A residence post-foreclosure is one of those spaces.

This type of demand allows Occupy Wall Street to tap into already existing networks of foreclosure fighters, avoiding the risk of looking powerless by relying on Congress to do anything. And ultimately, it gets at the banks in a way occupations normally don’t: Banks may or may not feel that they aren’t appreciated enough because of these protests, but they’ll definitely be mad if someone is disrupting their foreclosure mills through occupation and refusal to leave.

#OccupyMarines are Preparing to Occupy America Nationwide

#OccupyMarines are Preparing to Occupy America Nationwide

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United States Marine Corps. Sergeant Shamar Thomas in a spectacular moment defended the protesters of Occupy Wall Street while staring into the faces of thirty NYPD officers, and now countless other Marines have organized in an amazing show of solidarity.

Sgt. Thomas’ gallant actions in standing up for American citizens being brutalized by the police were shown in a video which has gone viral with almost 2 million views. Marines have joined forces with #OccupyMarines in solidarity with the movement not just in New York, but nationwide:

“OccupyMARINES Are Currently Assessing The Current Situation To Ascertain What Is Currently Needed To Support OWS America. We Are Humbled At The Substantial Support OWS America Has Provided And Ask That Everyone Continue As You All Do While We Implement Organization Nationwide. As We All Know, ‘Occupy’ Groups Are Being Established Even Now And Would Like To See This Trend Continue.”

Their website OccupyMarines.org presents a post centering on continuing the Occupy movement throughout the upcoming winter. In their call for “Non-Active ‘Occupy’ Military Supporters Only” they’re organizing a dress code in order to identify their branch affiliation.

Instead of ostracizing the police, the Marines are attempting to reach out to them much like Sgt. Thomas did.

#OrganizeMarines states, “Security forces/police should be seen as potential recruits to our cause and message, not as adversaries. Ultimately, they are accountable to the people.”

During Sgt. Thomas’ bold speech, the police presence became suddenly solemn hanging on his every word. Perhaps the presence of Marines will awaken the Police force which has been overwhelming the protests.

Presenting their group and the Occupiers as a peaceful movement, no matter what, including verbal attacks and/or propaganda brought forth from those opposing the protest they state, “Defensive strategies never win. Do not respond to verbal attacks or hostile propaganda from Nay-Sayers by using the language of the opponent. Reframe.”

Meet Iraq veteran Alex E. Limkin:

“I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies both foreign, and domestic.”

Veteran Alex Limkin said:

“There is nothing more central to a free and democratic people than the right to dissent, the right to disagree, the right to stand up in the town square and be heard… I feel quite sure that in standing in solidarity with the peaceful Occupy Wall Street movement, I am doing no less than upholding my oath as an American soldier.”

Sgt. Shamar Thomas was the catalyst in this movie-like scenario with our inactive military standing with the protesters side by side.

These Marines’ actions are the definition of patriotism – not donning flagpins or waving Old Betsy — actions speak Red, White and Blue louder than feigning patriotism by displays which are born from a strong partisan stance.

Naysayers stand back, the Marines are coming.

#OccupyMarines, we are humbled.

Blogger Extraordinaire Anomaly100 is the owner of and progressive mastermind behind FreakOut Nation.

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg says to expect more Occupy Wall Street arrests

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg says to expect more OWS arrests

michael-bloomberg-wikimedia

New York City Major Mike Bloomberg suggested on Friday that he feels he’s been going too easy on the Occupy Wall Street protesters and that more arrests may lie in their future.

During his weekly appearance on WOR-AM radio, Bloomberg stated, “We will start enforcing that more,” with reference to regulations requiring permits for marches and rallies.

The meaning of Bloomberg’s remark was not immediately clear, since the protesters have already run into the risk of clashes with police and mass arrests almost any time they leave their home base of Zuccotti Park. Incidents of this sort have occurred in Union Square, on the Brooklyn Bridge, at Wall Street itself, in Times Square, and in Washington Square Park.

Bloomberg did praise the protesters for being “peaceful” and “generally obeying the law,” but he complained that the demonstrations were interfering with the rights of New Yorkers and insisted that “we’ll eventually have to work something out here.”

According to the New York Post, “The mayor’s office did not have an explanation for the meaning of Bloomberg’s threat.”

Gothamist notes, however, that Bloomberg “said that he had spoken with a landlord whose tenants want to ‘cancel’ their leases, because of proximity to Zuccotti Park” and adds that “earlier this week, he said that he doesn’t believe the OWS tents set up in Zuccotti Park are considered protected speech.”

In response to the mayor’s remarks, OWS media coordinator Thorin Caristo issued a statement charging that “his inability to create a clear and definitive opinion or position on OWS just shows he’s being tossed around like a bird in a storm. We all know what that storm is, that storm is the growing concern in the higher factions of Wall Street, that this movement might actually be making a difference.”

“The mayor’s statements sound hardline and I have no doubt he may actually try to enforce those,” the statement continued. “But we all know that every time excessive police force is used in this situation the movement grows exponentially.”

Protest causes GOP leader to cancel income inequality speech

Protest causes GOP leader to cancel income inequality speech

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gopleaderericcantor-flickruserMedillDC

Update: University disputes Cantor’s explanation for cancellation

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) canceled a planned speech about income inequality on Friday, after learning that his hosts at the University of Pennsylvania planned to make the event open to the public.

The speech, largely anticipated to be the first major Republican response to the rapidly growing 99 Percent movement, was being targeted by “Occupy” activists for a major march and rally. University officials planned to let the first 300 people in line attend the speech, and protesters had been waiting hours for that opportunity.

Rather than face them, Cantor canceled the speech just hours before it was to go on. His aides supposedly did not know it would be open to the public when he decided to give the speech, and they were worried the crowd would be almost entirely protesters.

In a later update, however, the University of Pennsylvania issued a statement insisting that the speech had always been billed as “open to the general public” and adding, “We very much regret if there was any misunderstanding with the Majority Leader’s office on the staging of his presentation.”

In a stroke of luck, Cantor’s abrupt cancellation came just one day after the U.S. Social Security Administration said that 50 percent of U.S. workers made less than $26,364 last year. That detail would only seem to only add fuel to the protests, which largely cite the growing income disparity between rich and poor, and the corruption on Wall Street that led to the 2008 financial collapse.

Cantor has previously called 99 Percent activists “growing mobs” that want to pit Americans against Americans. In speech excerpts obtained by Politico, the Republican leader was apparently prepared to double down on that point.

“There are politicians and others who want to demonize people that have earned success in certain sectors of our society,” he was planning to say. “They claim that these people have now made enough, and haven’t paid their fair share. But, pitting Americans against one another tends to deflate the aspirational spirit of our people and fade the American dream. I believe that the most successful among us are positioned to use their talents to help grow our economy and give everyone a hand up the ladder and the dignity of a job.”

Cantor and virtually all congressional Republicans have adamantly resisted raising the wealthiest Americans’ tax rates, which are currently at historic lows in spite of a massive budget deficit and growing national debt.

The vast majority of Americans, and even a majority of Republicans, are in favor of asking the wealthy to share in the nation’s sacrifice — something President Barack Obama has proposed repeatedly, only to see his ideas shot down in Congress.

Top banks accused of colluding on ATM fees

op banks accused of colluding on ATM fees

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A New Jersey man sued Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo on Wednesday on behalf of ATM users, accusing the banks of colluding to fix the fees they charge customers to withdraw money.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., is the third such suit seeking class action status on the issue of automated teller machine fees in the past week.

The latest suit alleges the banks worked with Visa and MasterCard to set artificially high rates on ATM fees.

The earlier lawsuits were filed against Visa and MasterCard, Wednesday's lawsuit is directed at both the card network firms and the banks.

Customers who use ATMs not operated by their bank are often charged both by the operating bank and by their own bank, as a "foreign ATM transaction" fee.

Successful ATM operators need access to the Visa and MasterCard networks, since the vast majority of debit cards are exclusive to them. Some cards can access alternate, cheaper networks.

The lawsuits accuse Visa and MasterCard of forcing ATM operators to charge the same access fee to customers regardless of which network they use, in order to get access to the Visa and MasterCard networks.

One of the other lawsuits was filed by a group representing the operators of ATMs.

Wednesday's lawsuit accused the banks, that collect the access fees, of colluding with Visa and MasterCard in setting the transaction price.

A spokesman for JPMorgan declined comment. Representatives for Bank of America and Wells Fargo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Justin Genese v Visa, MasterCard and others, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 11-01838.

50% of All Workers Made Less than $26,000 in 2010

50% of All Workers Made Less than $26,000 in 2010

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Today we get our first look at American wages in 2010 based on payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration. David Cay Johnston picks out the most important takeaways, including:

1) Half of all workers made less than $26,364, the median wage in 2010. That means the typical wage is at its lowest level since 1999, after adjusting for inflation.


2) The number of millionaires increased by about 20 percent.

3) The size of the missing workforce is 10 million. The number of working people fell by 5.2 million since 2007. But that's not the entire job deficit, because, based on population growth estimates, 4.5 million more would have joined the workforce between 2007 and 2011. Add it up, and you get a 10-million-worker gap.

What you see in the graph above is that median pay took a nosedive after 2007, effectively wiping out all gains made in the previous eight years. The macro explanation is that the economy shrunk, and middle class jobs disappeared and were replaced with (or outlasted by) lower-paying positions that companies kept on. But the economy isn't one giant corporation. It's thousands of giant, medium-sized, and small companies in industries that lived through very different recessions. Here's a look at pay on an industry-by-industry level from our friends at PayScale.

National Wages Since 2006

Payscale
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The industries with wages growing considerably slower than the rest of the country -- the ones really pulling down the national average -- are construction (huge bubble burst), food service (an unproductive industry that requires little advanced education) and sales and retail (another unproductive industry that requires little advanced education). So one thing that's keeping wages low is the fact that the most important stimulus of the last decade blew up in our face, and another big thing is that lots of workers without college degrees don't have the skills to demand higher wages in more productive professions. I'm as astounded as Johnston about these wage numbers, but I'm less optimistic that is the kind of trend we can reverse in an election.

Update: There are some reasonable questions about how many of these workers are part-time. I don't know the answer to that question. Our official measures of part-time workers are inconsistent, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data on workers by hours-per-week is here. What we know: About 24 million people worked less than 29 hours a week in 2010. About 35 million people worked 34 hours a week or less in 2010