Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dozens Arrested Challenging Corporate Influence in Iowa

Occupy the Caucus: Dozens Arrested Challenging Corporate Influence in Iowa

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Occupy protestors being arrested at Mitt Romney's headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, December 28, 2011. (Photo: WEBN-TV [3])

As voters in Iowa prepared to throw their support behind Republican presidential candidates last night, Occupy activists in Iowa are wrapping up a week of direct actions aimed at letting both political parties know that none of their corporate-sponsored candidates represent the 99 percent.

At least 62 arrests were made during nonviolent actions since Occupy Des Moines held a "Peoples Caucus" [4] a week ago to organize actions. Dozens of protesters have showed up at the front doors of every Republican candidate's campaign office in Des Moines during the past week.

A protest that blocked the entrance to the Democratic Party headquarters led to 12 arrests on Thursday, and on Sunday night, about a dozen activists attempted to swarm a Democratic "war room" in a downtown Des Moines hotel in an attempt to meet with Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Activists held a die-in at the hotel on Monday after Wasserman Schultz declined to meet with the protesters, according to Occupy activist David Goodner.

"Occupy Des Moines started the Occupy Iowa Caucus campaign largely to address the problem of big money in politics - the presidential candidates and their Super-PACs have spent $200 for every vote expected in tonight's Caucus," Goodner said. "Both the Democratic and Republican Parties are largely representing the interests of the major corporations."

Federal court rulings in 2010 allowed corporations, individuals and unions to give unlimited contributions to political actions committees and nonprofits supporting individual candidates. The Center for Public Integrity reports [5] that such groups, known as Super-PACs, spent $12.9 million supporting Republican presidential candidates in Iowa through New Year's Day, with most of the money paying for television ads. Top beneficiaries were Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, who enjoyed $4.6 million and $3.7 million in help from outside spending groups, respectively.

Super-PACs are not allowed to coordinate with a candidate's official campaign, but activists say millions in untold corporate donations gives big business too much influence over American democracy.

"Everyday people shouldn't have to wonder who the candidates work for," Goodner said.

A group called Occupy Iowa Caucus [6] has made national headlines [4] with its campaign asking both Democrats and Republicans to vote "uncommitted" or "no preference" to express their dissatisfaction with the political status quo.

"It's a great tactic to poke the political parties on both sides of the aisle to say that we are not happy with the corporations that are running politicians for office and the 99 percent needs real political representation," Goodner said of the campaign.

Occupy Iowa Caucus could make a dent in Democratic caucuses, where President Obama is considered the shoo-in candidate. In many precincts, the Occupiers could win "uncommitted" delegates if at least 15 percent of the caucusing Democrats vote uncommitted.

The momentum to "occupy the caucus" may have reached its peak in Iowa, but activists like Goodner hope Occupiers in other cities are taking note.

"The model we created in Iowa - taking on Wall Street greed and corruption by going after the political parties and politicians that serve the corporate agenda - is one path forward for the Occupy Wall Street movement as the eyes of the nation now turn to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and the Super Tuesday primary states," Goodner said. "The political system in this country must put communities before corporations and people before profits or prepare to be occupied."

FBI targeting political activists as terrorists

FBI targeting political activists as terrorists

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Anti-terrorism resources are being used to target environmentalists, peace, animal and political activists who hold different views than the government.

It was recently revealed that a counter-terrorism firm spied on individuals who attended film screenings of the documentary Gasland. The film focuses on the practice of natural gas fracking and what impact it has on the environment and in the communities where it is used.

The FBI and other government agencies are cracking down on those who are not willing to say in line with the status quo.

In Pennsylvania, activists have faced terrorism charges for writing slogans in chalk on sidewalks. In California, 27 individuals are set to go on trial stemming for protest actions Elsewhere 23 anti-war, pro-labor and international solidarity activists may face a grand jury on trumped up charged. The FBI boasts 164,000 suspicious activity reports that are made up of activists who do not follow the governments view on matters.

The US government is using taxpayer money to squash the competition as opposed to protecting the American people from true terrorist threats, all while stomping on freedom of speech rights.

Carlos Montes, a co-founder of the Brown Berets Chicano Movement explained there is a marked rise of the US government using tools at their disposal designed to fight terrorism to impose oppression on political activists.

The protest movements are directly exposing and challenging the lines that the US government puts out,” he said, yet law enforcement authorities continue to crack down without just cause. “It’s a war against dissent.”

The government is working to stop the movement which is merely seeking to exercise its right to free speech and the right to protest

They’re trying to stop us but we’re not going to let them do it,” Montes added.

Bahrain: Crushing Pro-Democracy Protests. American and British Police Chiefs Step Up State Repression

Bahrain: Crushing Pro-Democracy Protests. American and British Police Chiefs Step Up State Repression

Top Western appointments allegedly aimed at improving human rights...

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Two former police chiefs from the US and Britain have brought discernible Western “expertise” to the Bahraini force only weeks following their appointments – a surge in repression and state terrorism.

Former Miami police chief John Timoney and his British counterpart, John Yates, formerly commander at London’s Scotland Yard, were assigned last month by Bahrain’s royal rulers to “oversee reform” of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s security forces. Officially, the appointment of the American and Briton was to bring Western professional policing to the Bahraini force and specifically to upgrade the human rights record of Bahrain’s ministry of interior and National Security Agency.

The assignments were announced by King Hamad Al Khalifa following a report by an international commission of inquiry into widespread human rights violations in the US-backed oil kingdom since pro-democracy protests erupted there last February.

As reported earlier by Global Research, the inquiry report and the subsequent appointment of the US and British police chiefs appeared to be a public relations exercise to burnish the tarnished image of this key Persian Gulf ally of Washington and London [1].

However, only weeks into their jobs, the Western commanders appear to have been given a remit that goes well beyond public relations, namely, to sharpen the repression against the pro-democracy movement.

Human rights activists and several political sources say that state forces have dramatically stepped up violence towards protesters and targeting of the Shia community generally. The diminutive island state of less than 600,000 nationals is comprised mainly of Shia muslims (70 per cent) who are ruled over by a Sunni elite installed by Britain when the kingdom gained nominal independence in 1971. American and British government support for the unelected Al Khalifa monarchy is viewed by the majority of Bahrainis as being at odds with their claims for democratic rights.

Over the past year, Bahraini state forces have killed some 50 people; thousands have been maimed, wounded and detained, many of the latter tortured. Proportionate to its population, such state violence is comparable to what Washington and London have loudly denounced the Libyan and Syrian regimes for – indeed mounting a military invasion of the former and threatening to do so in the latter – under the guise of “protecting human rights”. By contrast, there is hardly a word of denunciation from Washington or London towards the Bahraini regime, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

“The violence is worse than ever,” said one Bahraini pro-democracy activist. “The state security forces are operating with new tactics and this change coincides with the arrival of the American and British police chiefs. But this is no coincidence. We believe that the Bahraini police are using more repression and terror under the orders of these police chiefs.”

Since the appointment of the American and British commanders, at least five more civilians have been killed at the hands of police, including a 15-year-old boy Sayed Hashim who was shot in the face with a teargas canister on New Year’s Eve, and a 27-year-old woman who was bludgeoned with an iron bar.

Not only has state violence on the streets been escalated, but so too has harassment and house raids in Shia villages and neighbourhoods. People detained at police checkpoints are reporting systematic abuses. The police ranks are predominantly made up of Sunni muslim expatriates from Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Pakistan. Bahraini police are also backed up by Saudi and Emirati forces – again Sunni – ever since those neighbouring Gulf monarchs sent in troops last March to suppress the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. People detained at checkpoints are being humiliated with profanities against their Shia faith, as well as being robbed of money, mobile phones and other possessions by police officers.

There has also been a leap in the number of house raids by police in Shia villages, especially in the early hours. The house raids have targeted towns and villages, such as Sitra and Nuwaidrat, which are deemed to be strongly supportive of the pro-democracy movement.

“We feel that the American and British cops have been brought into crush the pro-democracy movement with systematic tactics of repression and state terror,” said one activist. “The first anniversary of our uprising is coming up in February. The regime has so far failed to crush the uprising but with the anniversary approaching we think that the American and British police chiefs are pushing to do that.”

The past careers of Timoney and Yates indicate that they were a rather bizarre choice by the Bahraini regime – if the latter was genuinely aiming to reform the human rights record and ethical standards of its forces. Timoney was previously accused of deploying brutality against American street protests while commander of the Miami police; while Yates was forced to resign in ignominy over corruption involving phone tapping scams carried out by London’s Metropolitan Police in league with Murdoch’s gutter tabloid press.

It is also pretty certain that these appointments would not have been made without the sanction and, most probably, the suggestion of the US and British governments. That Washington and London would be overseeing a deliberate intensification of state terror in Bahrain should not be any surprise. The Bahraini regime has for decades earned an international reputation for police brutality and torture. The US State Department is well aware of this, according to its own reports, yet Washington continues to reward the Bahraini regime with the presence of its Fifth Fleet and, more recently, with a proposed arms deal worth $53 million, including weapons of repression, such as armoured cars and teargas.

Britain is also a major seller of weapons of repression to Bahrain. Historically, it also has played a crucial role in shaping the repressive apparatus of the Bahraini ministry of interior. The head of the notorious National Security Agency between 1968-1998 was British Colonel Ian Henderson who continues to act as an advisor to King Hamad. Several former British police officers work in Bahrain’s ministry of interior, including the newly appointed John Yates.

However, the signs are that the efforts to crush the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain are rebounding badly for Washington and London.

For a start the increased repression is serving to embolden the pro-democracy even more, with more and bigger street protests taking place. On 14 February, a demonstration is planned to make a major stand in the capital, Manama, to mark the first anniversary of the uprising.

Also, more worryingly for Washington and London, there is a growing contempt among protesters towards the American and British governments. Up until recently, protests have mainly focused on the Al Khalifa monarchy and the closely aligned House of Saud. But now Bahraini pro-democracy activists appear to be quickly learning that the higher sources of their grievances are in Washington and London. A new sight at protests across Bahrain recently is the burning of American flags.

If Bahrain’s uprising succeeds in replacing the unelected and venal Sunni elite with a democratic government that is mainly Shia, the US and British governments will no longer be welcome owing to their increasingly apparent nefarious misdeeds. The recent appointment of police chiefs Timoney and Yates with their malicious expertise is but one of many misdeeds that will be recalled by the people of Bahrain.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa correspondent


[1] Bahrain: Car Bomb in Capital Following Appointment of American and British Police Chiefs to Lead ‘Reforms’

Army goes after Ron Paul-supporting soldier

U.S. Army Corporal Jesse Thorsen (R) cheers on Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (L) at his Iowa Caucus night rally in Ankeny, Iowa, January 3, 2012 (Reuters / Jim Young)

U.S. Army Corporal Jesse Thorsen (R) cheers on Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (L) at his Iowa Caucus night rally in Ankeny, Iowa, January 3, 2012 (Reuters / Jim Young)

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There is a big difference between fighting for America and fighting for democracy. According to the US military, putting your life on the line for the country is an act of courage. Voicing your political opinion, however, is an absolute no-no.

Before Ron Paul came in a close third at the Iowa caucus, CNN cameras caught up with Jesse Thorsen, a serviceman with the Army Reserves. As RT reported earlier this week, however, the live interview from Iowa was abruptly halted just as Cpl. Thorsen began praising Ron Paul for his campaign for the Republican Party nomination and the promises he vows to make as president. Later that evening, Paul welcomed Thorsen onto the stage to finish speaking so the rest of America could hear his message of support that was aborted during the live broadcast.

Supporting Ron Paul, says the Army, can be a bit of a problem.

Attending a partisan political event while clad in military garb is a violation of Defense Department rules, says the Pentagon. Although Thorsen was allowed to wear his uniform on the battlefield, doing so at Ron Paul headquarters on national television is against the rules. Now the DoD says that they are investigating the soldier as they determine how to handle the case.

According to a spokeswoman for the armed forces branch, Thorsen "stands alone in his opinions regarding his political affiliation and beliefs, and his statements and beliefs in no way reflect that of the Army Reserve.”

Thorsen shared on television live from Ankeny, Iowa during the caucus that Paul should be saluted for his stance on foreign policy, which affects him as an active duty soldier. "His foreign policy is by far, hands down, better than any candidate's out there, and I'm sure you all know that. We don't need to be picking fights overseas and I think everybody else knows that too,” said Thorsen.

Paul has stood out among GOP hopefuls as the one candidate adamantly opposed to continuing immense and costly military operations overseas. The congressman himself served in the United States Air Force in the 1960s before entering medicine and eventually politics.

As a Veteran, Why I am so angered by the NDAA

As a Veteran, Why I am so angered by the NDAA

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I joined the Marine Corps directly out of high school. It was all I wanted to do for years as a kid. Go serve. I was one of those types that sought out a recruiter, not the other way around.

Now the NDAA and its provisions for indefinite detainment are stripping away everything I felt I was defending. And that's not the only culprit. SOPA, PIPA, EEA, and the Patriot Act seek to chip away at and remove our original Bill of Rights, perhaps one of our most revered foundations as a nation.

Our government has been gridlocked for three years now, unable to produce any legislation without bringing in a three ring circus of politics before the world on major news networks. But now, now they can find unity in stripping away our civil liberties and ignoring their oaths to the Constitution.

Do not be misled by intentionally distracting rhetoric from the mainstream media, or politicians. Senator Lindsey Graham has said, "If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer" in a clear interpretation of what the detainment clauses mean.

President Obama signed this into law on New Years Eve in Hawaii while everyone was busy celebrating the New Year; while no one was watching. Even in his signing statement he and his administration interpret the law to give him the authority to detain whomever he wants, but merely promises his administration won't do so. Just like he promised to close Gitmo and make the government more transparent.

I am one of the Few, the Proud. I am a United States Marine. I will stand always beside my Brothers and Sisters of the Corps, but I will not stand under the rule of tyranny. Now is the time to stand, resist, speak out, and be heard against this authoritarian rule.

The Streets of 2012

The streets of 2012

State and corporate actors everywhere are learning how to repress protesters while maintaining democratic facades.

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What does the New Year hold for the global wave of protest that erupted in 2011? Did the surge of anger that began in Tunisia crest in lower Manhattan, or is 2012 likely to see an escalation of the politics of dissent?

The answers are alarming, but quite predictable: We are likely to see much greater centralisation of top-down suppression - and a rash of laws around the developed and developing world that restrict human rights. But we are also likely to see significant grassroots reaction.

What we are witnessing in the drama of increasingly globalised protest and repression is the subplot that many cheerleaders for neoliberal globalisation never addressed: the power of globalised capital to wreak havoc with the authority of democratically elected governments. From the perspective of global corporate interests, closed societies like China are more business-friendly than troublesome democracies, where trade unions, high standards of human-rights protection, and a vigorous press increase costs.

All over the world, the pushback against protest looks similar, suggesting that state and corporate actors are learning "best practices" for repressing dissent while maintaining democratic facades.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron routinely impugns human-rights laws; the Metropolitan Police have sought authority to use baton rounds - foot-long projectiles that have caused roughly a dozen deaths, including that of children, in Northern Ireland - on peaceful protesters; and a police report on the threat of terrorism, distributed to "trusted partners" among London businesses, included updates about Occupy protests and referred to "suspected activists".

The UK has stringent internal-security legislation, but it never had a law like the United States Patriot Act. After anti-austerity protests in early 2011, followed by riots in major cities in August, the Metropolitan Police claimed powers to monitor private social-media accounts and smartphones. And, under the guise of protecting this summer's Olympics against terrorism, the British military is establishing a massive base in London from which SAS (special forces) teams will operate - a radical departure from Britain's traditional civil policing.

In Israel, Ha'aretz reports that Occupy-type protests have been met with police violence, including a beating of a 15-year-old girl, and threats of random arrest.

Israel, like Britain, has seen a push, seemingly out of nowhere, to enact new laws crippling newsgathering and criminalising dissent: A new law makes it potentially a crime to donate to left-wing organisations, human-rights laws have been weakened, and even investigative reporting has become more dangerous, owing to stricter libel penalties. Ha'aretz calls the push "the new feudalism".

Finally, in the US, the National Defence Authorisation Act, enacted by Congress in December, allows the president to suspend due process for US citizens, detain them indefinitely and render them for torture. One should not be surprised to see similar legislation adopted in democracies worldwide.

"It is easier to turn a foreigner's guns or batons against strangers than it is to turn the military or police against fellow citizens."

Not only are laws criminalising previously legal dissent, organising, and reporting being replicated in advanced democracies; so are violent tactics against protesters, backed by the increasing push in countries with long traditions of civil policing to militarise law enforcement.

Indeed, increasingly sophisticated weapons systems and protective equipment are being disseminated to civilian police officers. In the US, the federal government has spent an estimated $34bn since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to arm state and local police forces with battlefield-grade hardware. Investigative reporting has also revealed cross-pollination of anti-protest training: Local police from cities like Austin, Texas, have been sent to Israel for training in crowd control and other tactics.

The globalisation of mercenaries to crack down on dissent is also proceeding apace. Mercenaries are important in a time of global grassroots protest, because it is easier to turn a foreigner's guns or batons against strangers than it is to turn the military or police against fellow citizens.

Erik Prince, the head of the most infamous outfit, Academi (formerly Xe Services, formerly Blackwater), has relocated to the UAE, while Pakistani mercenaries have been recruited in large numbers to Bahrain, where protesters have been met with increasingly violent repression.

But this apparently coordinated pushback against global protest movements is not yet triumphant - not even in China, as the people of Wukan have shown. While the outcome of the villagers' protest against the local government's confiscation of their land remains uncertain, the standoff reveals new power at the grassroots level: Social media allows sharper, coordinated gatherings and the rapid dissemination of news unfiltered by official media. The internet is also disseminating templates of what real democracy looks like - instantly and worldwide.

Not surprisingly, people use this technology in ways that indicate that they have little interest in being cordoned off into conflicting and competing ethnicities, nationalities, or religious identities. Overwhelmingly, they want simple democracy and economic self-determination.

That agenda is in direct conflict with the interests of global capital and governments that have grown accustomed to operating without citizen oversight. It is a conflict that can be expected to heighten dramatically in 2012, as protesters' agendas - from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Moscow - gain further coherence.

Much is at stake. Depending on the outcome, the world will come to look either more like China - open for business, but closed for dissent - or more like Denmark.

With the Suppression of the Occupy Movement Encampments, the 1% Media Lies Return

With the Suppression of the Occupy Movement Encampments the False 1% Media Lies Return

Robert Kane Pappas directed the prescient documentary "Orwell Rolls in His Grave." He knows a bit about corporate control of the media frame, and he's deeply concerned that the nationwide crackdown on the Occupy movement was an attempt to divert news coverage back to the status quo frames of the 1 percent.

What concerns Pappas, he said in a conversation with BuzzFlash, is not so much that there might have been national coordination among cities who, within a few days of each other, evicted protesters to squash the physical presence of the Occupy campaign's encampments - an issue which BuzzFlash at Truthout has discussed before. Rather, Pappas is worried that, by depriving protesters of the pieces of land that created a visible image of the movement, the suppression has allowed the media to return to its numbing "process" coverage of politics and the acceptable terms of the DC/Wall Street debate ("debt" reduction, lower taxes for the wealthy, the "need" for more oil, global warming denial, etcetera).

True, the Republican caucuses are tomorrow and certainly deserve political coverage, but the frame that emerged during the "landed" days of the Occupy campaign - the plight of the 99 percent - has already greatly shifted back to mainstream DC lobbyist concerns.

The police crackdown on the nonviolent Occupy protesters fulfilled the number-one exception to corporate-owned television's usual echoing of the wealthy's mantras: violence that could be sensationalized because it portrayed conflict and drama: A crack on the head with a nightstick; a war veteran suffering traumatic brain injury at the hands of the police; women being pepper-sprayed by a commanding police officer for no reason. All of these incidents, and others, create more news viewers and higher advertising rates. The police "rioting" and over-reaction to persons asserting their First Amendment rights brought a new frame to the news: the inequality of the distribution of wealth in the United States, in which people who sat at desks and gambled with working people's money made off like bandits while the mass of America struggled to pay the bills.

Not only do the superwealthy indulge in gluttonous lifestyles, they also accumulate even more wealth as the working class and the poor go into debt and pay onerous interest rates to survive. Pappas' point is that the shutdown of Occupy's pieces of claimed land was a way to refocus news coverage on the perennial false frames of the "haves."

And judging from the coverage since the closure of the long-term physical encampments of the national Occupy movement, the powers that be have succeeded in reinstating the false frame of "debt," not greed, bringing down America.

2012 Will Be More Difficult Than 2011

2012 Will Be More Difficult Than 2011

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Do you believe that 2012 will be more difficult for the global economy than 2011 was? Well, that is what German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes. The woman that has become the most important politician in Europe recently declared that 2012 "will no doubt be more difficult than 2011". The funny thing is that she has generally been one of the most optimistic public figures in Europe throughout this debt crisis. But now even Merkel is openly admitting that 2012 is going to be a really, really bad year. Sadly, most Americans simply do not understand how important Europe is or how interconnected the global financial system has become. The United States actually has a smaller population and a smaller economy than the EU does. In fact, the EU has an economy that is nearly as large as the economies of the United States and China combined. The EU also is home to more Fortune 500 companies that the U.S. is, and the European banking system is far larger than the U.S. banking system. Anyone that does not believe that a financial collapse in Europe will have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy is living in a fantasy world. Americans better start paying attention to what is going on over there, because we are about to be broadsided by a massive financial tsunami originating out of Europe.

It is not just Angela Merkel that is warning that 2012 is going to be a difficult year. The following are several more very prominent individuals that are warning that bad times are on the way....

*Citigroup’s chief equity strategist, Tobias Levkovich, recently made the following statement....

"Europe is likely to have a meaningful recession in 2012"

*Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, recently said that we could soon see conditions "reminiscent of the 1930s depression" and that no country on earth "will be immune to the crisis".

* Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup, recently said the following....

"Time is running out fast. I think we have maybe a few months -- it could be weeks, it could be days -- before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it."

* Even Paul Krugman of the New York Times is sounding quite apocalyptic....

"At this point I’d guess soaring rates on Italian debt leading to a gigantic bank run, both because of solvency fears about Italian banks given a default and because of fear that Italy will end up leaving the euro. This then leads to emergency bank closing, and once that happens, a decision to drop the euro and install the new lira. Next stop, France."

I have written quite a bit recently about all of the signs that parts of Europe have already entered a recession.

Well, in just the past few days even more numbers have been released that indicate that a recession has now begun in Europe.....

-Manufacturing activity in the euro zone has fallen for five months in a row.

-Bad loans in Spain recently hit a 17-year high and the unemployment rate is at a 15-year high.

-Government revenues in Spain have not been up to the level that was expected. The Spanish government just announced that the budget deficit for 2011 is going to end up being much larger than anticipated.

-Unfortunately, it appears that virtually all sectors of the Spanish economy seem to be slowing down....

The central bank said early indicators show that Spanish tourism, exports, spending and investment have been hit, which is likely to have led to a contraction in GDP in the fourth quarter.

Of course one of the most alarming things happening in Europe is the rapid contraction of the money supply. It is almost impossible to avoid a recession when the money supply shrinks substantially. The following comes from an article a few days ago in the Telegraph....

Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said the ECB’s "narrow" M1 money figures - tracked for clues on shorter-term spending patterns - show a drastic divergence between the North and South of the eurozone. "Parts of the core may avoid recession but there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the periphery. Real M1 deposits in Greece and Portugal have been falling at an annual rate of roughly 20pc over the last six months," he said.

Right now, the rest of Europe is heading down the same road that Greece has been traveling on for several years.

Today, Greece is essentially bankrupt and is experiencing a full-blown depression. At this point, nobody in Europe is even pretending that Greece is going to be okay. The following comes from a recent Der Spiegel article....

"With debts amounting to 150 percent of GNP, Greece is de facto bankrupt. Over the course of 2011, even the leading representatives of the euro zone finally accepted this fact -- after having claimed its opposite a year previously."

Greece desperately needs relief from all of this debt, but the other nations in the eurozone do not want to provide that relief. Instead, it looks like Germany is going to ask private creditors to take an even bigger "haircut" on Greek debt than previously proposed. The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article....

"Germany’s government declined to comment on a report that it may push for creditors to accept bigger losses on Greek debt than previously agreed upon, saying only that talks on lowering Greece’s debt level may end soon.

Germany is studying a proposal to write down 75 percent of Greek government bonds held by private creditors as part of a planned debt swap to ensure greater debt sustainability"

If Germany ends up publicly proposing this, it will shatter what confidence is left in European sovereign bonds.

There is not that much of a difference between a 75 percent haircut and a full default. If investors are forced to take a 75 percent haircut on Greek debt, then the financial world will have to start wondering if it is just a matter of time before giant haircuts are proposed for Italian debt, Spanish debt, Portuguese debt and Irish debt as well.

Hopefully Germany will not be this stupid.

But something has to be done about Greece. Right now the IMF is projecting that Greek debt will reach 200% of GDP at some point in 2012 if changes are not made.

Of course Greece could cut government spending even more, but the cuts that have already been made have pushed that country into a total economic nightmare.

In a recent article, I discussed how the brutal austerity measures that we have seen have plunged the economy of Greece into a full-blown depression....

Just look at what happened to Greece. Greece was forced to raise taxes and implement brutal austerity measures. That caused the economy to slow down and tax revenues to decline and so government debt figures did not improve as much as anticipated. So Greece was forced to implement even more brutal austerity measures. Well, that caused the economy to slow down even more and tax revenues declined again. In Greece this cycle has been repeated several times and now Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. 100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is living in poverty. But now Germany and France intend to impose the "Greek solution" on the rest of Europe.

The "solution" that the EU and the IMF have imposed on Greece is not working.

So why are all of the other troubled nations in Europe being pushed down the same path?

Just consider the following statistics out of Greece....

*The unemployment rate for those under the age of 24 is 39 percent.

*The number of suicides has increased by 40 percent in the past year.

*Thefts and burglaries nearly doubled between 2007 and 2009.

Is that what we want to see throughout the rest of Europe?

The financial path that Europe is now on was criticized very harshly recently in the New York Times....

“Every government in Europe with the exception of Germany is bending over backwards to prove to the market that they won’t hesitate to do what it takes,” said Charles Wyplosz, a professor of economics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. “We’re going straight into a wall with this kind of policy. It’s sheer madness.”

Yes, it is sheer madness.

Right now, authorities in Europe are desperately trying to keep a lid on this crisis. The European Central Bank has been trying really hard to keep the yield on 10 year Italian bonds from rising above the very important 7 percent level. But unless the ECB is prepared to spend hundreds and hundreds of billions of euros buying up Italian debt in 2012, the yield on Italian bonds is likely to go much higher eventually.

At this point, it is hard to find any economist that is optimistic about Europe or about the euro in 2012.

One of the leading economic think tanks in Europe, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, is extremely pessimistic about the future of the euro as we enter 2012....

"It now looks as though 2012 will be the year when the euro starts to break up"

In fact, they say that there is a 99 percent chance that the eurozone will break up within the next ten years.

Terry Smith, the chief executive of Tullett Prebon, recently used language that was even more apocalyptic....

"If the eurozone crisis could be solved by confident pronouncements, it would already be saved. I would be shocked if Greece does not leave the eurozone in 2012 and this does not lead the markets to test the resolve to defend the positions of Portugal, Spain, Italy and, ultimately, France."

Yes, there are a whole lot of people out there saying that 2012 will be more difficult than 2011.

Fortunately, there are a few nations out there that are choosing to try some different things.

We aren't hearing much about it in the United States, but right now Hungary is actually taking some measures to get their central bank under control.

The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph....

Hungary passed laws for its central bank in a move that experts warned could jeopardise its chances of securing international bail-out funds if it needs them. Officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have warned about the rules which will undermine the independence of the central bank. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban the country would not bow to the "European fashion that the central bank must be in a sacred state of independence".

Of course the IMF is absolutely furious about this. The IMF is warning that there will be no bailouts for Hungary if they mess with the "independence" of the central bank.

But hopefully more countries out there will start going after their central banks. The truth is that it is the central banks and the endless debt spirals that they create that got us into this mess in the first place.

If central banking truly worked, Europe would not be in such a massive amount of trouble. The euro would not be dropping like a rock and the European financial system would not be paralyzed by panic and fear.

The reality is that central banking does not work and it a colossal failure.

For example, in the United States the U.S. dollar has lost well over 95 percent of its value since the Federal Reserve was created, and the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created.

It is amazing that there is anyone out there that is still willing to defend central banking.

2012 is going to be one of the most interesting years that we have seen in a long, long time.

Yes, 2012 will be more difficult than 2011 was, but it will also be a great opportunity to wake people up.

Our world is changing faster than ever before, and the Internet has made it possible for average people such as you and I to significantly participate in that change.

Resolve to do what you can to make a difference in this world in 2012, because time is rapidly running out.

The Revolution Begins in 2012

The Revolution Begins in 2012

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Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party were appetizers for what is to come. I have never seen the American people so disgruntled, and neither has anyone else. Every number is a record. Congressional approval is at a record low of 9%. Can it get lower? Can it go negative? The number of people satisfied with the candidates running for president is at a record low. Dissatisfaction in this category is four times higher than it was even in 2008.

The Tea Party might not know it but they are mad about the same thing that Occupy Wall Street is. They have a sense that our politicians have sold us out - and they are 100% right. The problem isn't Big Government or Big Money. The problem is when Big Money buys Big Government leading to Big Corruption.

It isn't personal corruption. No one is stuffing money into freezers (at least not a lot of people are). It isn't that Senator Ben Nelson or Senator Orrin Hatch is a bad person. It's that we have built a system that is built on systemic corruption. The only way you can get elected is by doing the bidding of huge donors. And those donors can control the process entirely because of the unlimited amount of money they can spend.

The average winning House candidate now spends $1.4 million per election. The average winning Senate candidate spends $10 million. Which average guy has that kind of money? You must raise the money from big donors - and then you are at their mercy. If you want to win, you need the money. If you want the money, you have to give them something in return.

How often does money control the outcome? An overwhelming amount of the time. The candidate with more money wins 93% of the time on the House side and 94% of the time on the Senate side. It's game, set and match.

So, of course, our representatives don't represent us, they represent the people who got them elected - the big donors.

This system cannot stand. It will not stand. I'm not saying that it falls in 2012. That is way too optimistic. But the battle is joined in 2012. There are now many constitutional amendments trying to address this problem. Those movements will only grow. And probably at surprising speed. Everything moves so much quicker now (just look at how many times and how quickly the Republican primaries have turned already). This movement is going to take the country by storm and Washington is going to be completely surprised by it. As usual, they will say "no one could have seen it coming."

I'm telling you now, it's coming! People are starting to become furious that we have in effect lost our representative democracy. It's time for a revolution. Not a physical one, but a political one. A revolution that turns over the establishment's apple cart, challenges this corrupt system and brings back our democracy. Get ready for 2012.

The American Empire Is Over & The Descent Is Going To Be Horrifying

How the Tax Code is Skewed in the 1%'s Favor

Tax Code Skewed in the Rich's Favor

The current tax code is skewed in the rich's favor

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Daniel Berger is a Philadelphia lawyer, philanthropist, blogger, and pundit on progressive economic, social, and political issues. He also is a member of Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength.

Although relatively straightforward to analyze, the issue of whether the rich pay their fair share in taxes has become mired in confusion. Much of the confusion stems from two facts which everyone acknowledges: First, the rich pay a (somewhat) larger share of total taxes than any other group of income earners; and second, they pay more proportionally on the federal level—but only on the federal level—than other groups. Despite these two facts, the overwhelming weight of evidence strongly suggests that, at this time, the rich do not pay their fair share and should pay more.

For simplicity sake, it is useful to define the rich as persons making $1 million a year or more. This designation corresponds to the top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers. So the issue can be framed as whether the top 1 percent pay their fair share in relation to the remaining 99 percent.

While there are a number of ways to assess the incidence of taxes in the United States, the soundest analytical approach is to determine the tax burden as a percentage of income on the average person in the top 1 percent and compare it with the tax burden of persons in other income groups, taking into account, at the same time, the difference in income between each income group. The reason that it is necessary to compare both tax rates and income differences is that persons paying taxes at higher rates may make disproportionally more in income so that their relative tax burden is less than persons in other income groups—even though they pay proportionally more in taxes. This type of analysis is known as an analysis of the relative burden of taxes.

The following two charts indicate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the top 1 percent pay similar shares of their income as taxpayers in all other income groups as a percentage of total income (Chart I) and that their effective tax rate was not dramatically higher than most other income groups, particularly relative to middle class income groups (Chart II).

Chart I shows that, in 2009, the top 1 percent paid approximately the same share in all taxes as they earned in income (as percentage of total revenue) (22 percent of income in taxes; 20 percent of total income of all income earners). The same is true for each of the other major income groups reflected in IRS figures.

Chart II shows that in 2009, the top 1 percent paid almost the same rate in taxes (federal, state, and local) as most of the other income groups. Only the lowest groups paid significantly lower tax rates than the top 1 percent.

[Read 10 things you didn't know about the Bush tax cuts.]

Thus, without even taking into account the income differences between income groups, all income groups pay about the same share in taxes as they earn as a percentage of total income including the top 1 percent and pay substantially the same tax rates. Because of the differences in income between the top 1 percent and the 99 percent which show that the affluent in the United States make disproportionately more (e.g., the top 10 percent makes 3,000 percent more than the remaining 90 percent and the top 1 percent makes 1,500 percent more than the rest of the 99 percent), these figures are truly astonishing. They are overwhelming evidence that the relative tax burden falls disproportionately on income groups below the top 1 percent and that the tax incidence of all taxes (federal, state, and local) on the 1 percent is unfairly skewed in their favor. Case Closed.

The same conclusion applies to the federal income tax by itself, even though it is more progressive in nature and involves higher tax rates on the top 1 percent than on other income groups.

Tyranny in the Forecast: The Outlook for the New Year

Tyranny in the Forecast: The Outlook for the New Year

This past year has not been a good one for the 99%, and the new year is likely to be even worse. This column deals with the outlook for liberty. The next will deal with the economic outlook.

The outlook for liberty is dismal. Those writers who are critical of Washington’s illegal wars and overthrow of the US Constitution could find themselves in indefinite detainment, because criticism of Washington’s policies can be alleged to be aiding Washington’s enemies, which might include charities that provide aid to bombed Palestinian children and flotillas that attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Bush/Obama regimes have put the foundation in place for imprisoning critics of the government without due process of law. The First Amendment is being all but restricted to rah-rah Americans who chant USA! USA! USA! Washington has set itself up as world prosecutor, forever berating other countries for human rights violations, while Washington alone bombs half a dozen countries into the stone age and threatens several more with the same treatment, all the while violating US statutory law and the Geneva Conventions by torturing detainees.

Washington rounds up assorted foreign politicians, whose countries were afflicted with civil wars, and sends them off to be tried as war criminals, while its own war crimes continue to mount. However, if a person exposes Washington’s war crimes, that person is held without charges in conditions that approximate torture.

Bradley Manning is the case in point. Manning, a US soldier, is alleged to be the person who released to WikiLeaks the “Collateral Murder” video, which, in the words of Marjorie Cohn, “depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists. People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed.”

One of the Good Samaritans was a father with two small children. The video reveals the delight that US military personnel experienced in blowing them away from the distant skies. When it became clear that the Warriors Bringing The People Democracy had blown away two small children, instead of remorse we hear an executioner’s voice saying: “that’s what he gets for bringing children into a war zone.”

The quote is from memory, but it is accurate enough. When I first saw this video, I was astonished at the brazen war crime. It is completely obvious that the dozen or so murdered people were simply people walking along a street, threatening no one, unarmed, doing nothing out of the ordinary. It was not a war zone. The horror is that the US soldiers were playing video games with live people. You can tell from their commentary that they were having fun by killing these unsuspecting people walking along the street. They enjoyed killing the father who stopped to help and shooting up his vehicle with the two small children inside.

This was not an accident of a drone, fed with bad information, blowing up a school full of children, or a hospital, or a farmer’s family. This was American soldiers having fun with high tech toys killing anyone that they could pretend might be an enemy.

When I saw this, I realized that America was lost. Evil had prevailed.

I was about to write that nothing has been done about the crime. But something was done about it. An American soldier who recognized the horrific war crime knew that the US military knew about it and had done nothing about it. He also knew that as a US soldier he was required to report war crimes. But to whom? War crimes dismissed as “collateral damage” are the greatest part of Washington’s 21st century wars.

A soldier with a moral conscience gave the video to WikiLeaks. We don’t know who the soldier is. Washington alleges that the soldier is Bradley Manning, but Washington lies every time it opens its mouth. So we will never know.

All we know is that retribution did not fall on the perpetrators of the war crime. It fell upon the two accused of revealing it--Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

Manning was held almost two years without charges being presented to a court.
In December’s pre-trial hearings all Washington could come up with was concocted accusations. No evidence whatsoever. The prosecutor, a Captain Fein, told the court, if that is what it is, that Manning had been “trained and trusted to use multiple intelligence systems, and he used that training to defy that trust. He abused our trust.”

In other words, Manning gave the world the truth of a war crime that was being covered up, and Washington and the Pentagon regard a truth teller doing his duty under the US military code as an “abuser of trust.”

In the 1970 My Lai Courts-Martial of Captain Ernest L. Medina, the Prosecution Brief states:

A combat commander has a duty, both as an individual and as a commander, to insure that humane treatment is accorded to noncombatants and surrendering combatants. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War specifically prohibits violence to life and person, particularly murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture. Also prohibited are the taking of hostages, outrages against personal dignity and summary judgment and sentence. It demands that the wounded and sick be cared for. These same provisions are found in the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. While these requirements for humanitarian treatment are placed upon each individual involved with the protected persons, it is especially incumbent upon the commanding officer to insure that proper treatment is given.

Additionally, all military personnel, regardless of rank or position, have the responsibility of reporting any incident or act thought to be a war crime to his commanding officer as soon as practicable after gaining such knowledge. Commanders receiving such reports must also make such facts known to the Staff Judge Advocate. It is quite clear that war crimes are not condoned and that every individual has the responsibility to refrain from, prevent and report such unwarranted conduct. While this individual responsibility is likewise placed upon the commander, he has the additional duty to insure that war crimes committed by his troops are promptly and adequately punished.

At the National Press Club on February 17, 2006, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.” General Pace said that the military is prohibited from committing crimes against humanity and that such orders and events must be made known.

However, when Manning followed the military code, his compliance with law was turned into a crime. Captain Fein goes on to tell the “court” [a real court would throw out the bogus charges, but Amerika no longer has real courts] that “ultimately, he aided the enemies of the United States by indirectly giving them intelligence through WikiLeaks.”

In other words, the “crime” is an unintended consequence of doing one’s duty--like the “collateral damage” of civilian casualties when drones, bombs, helicopter gunships, and trigger-happy troops kill women, children, aid workers, and village elders. Why is Washington only punishing Manning for the collateral damage attributed to him?

Captain Fein could not have put it any clearer. If you tell the truth and reveal Washington’s war crimes, you have aided the enemy. Captain Fein’s simple sentence has at one stroke abolished all whistleblower protections written into US statutory law and the First Amendment, and confined anyone with a moral conscience and sense of decency to indefinite detention and torture.

The illegal detention and treatment of Manning had a purpose, according to a number of informed people. Naomi Spencer, for example, writes that Manning’s long detention and delayed prosecution is designed to coerce Manning into implicating WikiLeaks in order that the US can extradite Julian Assange and either prosecute him as a terrorist or lock him away indefinitely in a military prison without any recourse to the courts, due process or the law.

Assange’s case is mysterious. Assange sought refuge in Sweden, where he was seduced by two women. Both admit that they had sexual intercourse with him voluntarily, but afterwards they have come forth with claims that as they were sleeping with him in the bed, he again had sexual intercourse with them, and that they had not approved this second helping and that he was asked to use a condom but did not.

The Swedish prosecutorial office, after investigating the charges, dismissed them. But, strangely, another Swedish prosecutor, a woman suspected of connections to Washington, resurrected the charges and is seeking to extradite Assange to Sweden from the UK for questioning.

The legal question is whether a prosecutor can seek extradition for investigative purposes. The UK Supreme Court thinks that this is a valid question, and has agreed to hear the case. Normally, extradition requests come from courts and are issued for persons formally charged with a crime. Sweden has not charged Assange with a crime.

The real question is whether the Swedish prosecutor is acting on behalf of Washington. Many who follow the case believe that Washington is behind the prosecutor’s re-opening of the case, and if Sweden gets hold of Assange Sweden will send him to Washington to be put in indefinite detention and tortured until he says what Washington wants him to say--that he is an Al Qaeda operative.

This is the way that Washington intends to absolve itself of its war crimes revealed, allegedly, by Manning and Assange.

Meanwhile, Washington in a brazen display of hypocrisy accuses other countries of human rights abuses, while Congress has passed and President Obama has signed an indefinite detention and torture bill that US Representative Ron Paul says will accelerate America’s “slip into tyranny” and “descent into totalitarianism.”

In signing the Bill of Tyranny, President Obama indicated that he thought that the tyranny established by the bill did not go far enough. He announced that he was signing the bill with signing statements that reserved his right, regardless of any law, to send American citizens, deprived of due process and constitutional protection, abroad to be tortured.

This is the US government that claims to be a government of “freedom and democracy” and to be bringing “freedom and democracy” to others with bombs and invasions.

The past year gave us other ominous tyrannical developments. President Obama announced that he had a list of Americans whom he intended to assassinate without due process of law, and Homeland Security, itself an Orwellian name, announced that it had shifted its attention from terrorists to “domestic extremists.” The latter are undefined and consist of whomever Homeland Security so designates.

None of this was done behind closed doors. The murder of the US Constitution was a public crime witnessed by all. But like Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death in New York in 1964 in front of onlookers who failed to come to her aid, the media, Congress, bar associations, law schools, and the American public failed to come to the defense of the Constitution.

In my lifetime the collapse in respect for, and authority of, the Constitution has been an horrific event. Compare the ho-hum response to the Obama regime’s police state announcements with the public anger at President Richard Nixon over his enemies list.
Try to imagine President Ronald Reagan announcing that he had a list of Americans marked for assassination without impeachment proceedings beginning forthwith.

Local and state police forces have been militarized not only in their equipment and armament but also in their attitude toward the public. Despite the absence of domestic terror attacks, Homeland Security conducts warrantless searches of cars and trucks on highways and of passengers using public transportation. A uniformed federal service is being trained to systematically violate the constitutional rights of citizens, and citizens are being trained to accept these violations as normal. The young have no memory of being able to board public transportation or use public roadways without intrusive searches or to gather in protest without being brutalized by the police. Liberty is being moved into the realm of myth and legend.

In such a system as is being constructed in public in front of our eyes, there is no freedom, no democracy, and no liberty. What stands before us is naked tyranny.

While America degenerates into a total police state, politicians constantly invoke “our values.” What are these values? Indefinite imprisonment without conviction in a court. Torture. Warrantless searches and home invasions. An epidemic of police brutality. Curtailment of free speech and peaceful assembly rights. Unprovoked aggression called “preemptive war.” Interference in the elections and internal affairs of other countries. Economic sanctions imposed on foreign populations whose leaders are not in Washington’s pocket.

If the American police state were merely an unintended consequence of a real war against terror, it could be dismantled when the war was over. However, the evidence is that the police state is an intended consequence. The PATRIOT Act is a voluminous and clever attack on the Constitution. It is not possible that it could have been written in the short time between 9/11 and its introduction in Congress. It was waiting on the shelf.

The dismantling of constitutionally protected civil liberties is purposeful, as is the accumulation of arbitrary and unaccountable powers in the executive branch of government. As there have been no terrorist events within the US in over a decade except for those known to have been organized by the FBI, there is no terrorist threat that justifies the establishment of a political regime of unaccountable power. It is being done on purpose under false pretenses, which means that there is an undeclared agenda. The threat that Americans face resides in Washington, D.C.

Of the presidential candidates, only Ron Paul addresses the Constitution’s demise.Yet, the electorate is concerned with matters unimportant by comparison. Propagandized 24/7 by the Ministry of Truth, Americans are not sufficiently aware of their plight to elect Ron Paul president.

It might be too late for even a President Ron Paul to turn things around. A president has no power unless his government supports him. What prospect would President Ron Paul have of getting his appointees confirmed by the Senate? The military/security complex is not going to vacate power. Powerful monied interests would block his appointments. If he persisted in being a problem for the Establishment, he would be victimized by a scandal and fail to be reelected if not forced to resign.

Remember what the Washington Establishment did to President Carter. His budget director and chief of staff were framed, thus depriving Carter of the powers of his office. Even Ronald Reagan had to give away more than half of his government, including the White House chief-of-staff and vice presidency, to the Establishment. President Reagan told me that he wanted to end stagflation in order that he could end the cold war, but that he could not sign a tax bill if I could not get one out of his administration that he could send to Congress.

I do not know, but I suspect that turning things around internally through the political system is not in the cards. Our chance to resurrect liberty might come from Washington’s hubris. Imperial ambitions and drive for power can produce unmanageable upheavals and a loss of allies. Overreach abroad with a demoralized, unemployed and downtrodden population at home are not the ingredients of success.

How much longer will the Russian government permit NGOs funded by the US Endowment for Democracy to interfere in its elections and to organize political protests? How much longer will China confuse its strategic interests with the American consumer market? How much longer will Japan, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and the Middle East oil states remain US puppets? How much longer can the dollar retain the reserve currency role when the Federal Reserve is monetizing vast quantities of debt?

How much longer can a “superpower” survive when it is incapable of producing political leadership?

America’s salvation will come when Washington suffers defeat of its hegemonic ambitions.

Many readers, especially those who watch Fox “News” and CNN and read the New York Times, might see hyperbole in my outlook for 2012. Surely, many believe, the draconian measures put in place will only be applied to terrorists. But how would we know? Indefinite detention and torture require no evidence to be presented. The American public has no way of knowing whether tortured detainees are terrorists or political opponents. The decision to detain and torture is an unaccountable decision. It relies on nothing but the subjective arbitrary decision of someone in the executive branch. Why are Americans prepared to take the word of a government that told them intentionally the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to America?

Like cancer, tyranny metastasizes. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet Union’s most famous writer, was a twice-decorated World War II Red Army commander. He made mild critical comments about Stalin’s conduct of the war in a private letter to a friend, and for this he was sentenced, not by a court, but in absentia by the NKVD, the secret police, to eight years in the Gulag Archipelago for “anti-Soviet propaganda.” Not even Stalin had indefinite detention. The closest the Soviets came to this medieval practice resurrected by the Bush and Obama regimes was internal exile in distant parts of the Soviet Union.

During much of the Soviet era, even art, literature and music were scrutinized for signs of “anit-Soviet propaganda.” America’s Dixie Chicks suffered a similar, but more frightening, fate. Bush did not need the NKVD. The American public did the job for the secret police. Wikipedia reports:

“During a London concert ten days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Maines said ‘we don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas.’ The statement offended many Americans, who thought it rude and unpatriotic, and the ensuing controversy cost the band half of their concert audience attendance in the United States. The incident negatively affected their career and led to accusations of the three women being "un-American", as well as hate mail, death threats, and the public destruction of their albums in protest.”
In Nazi Germany, the mildest criticism could bring a midnight knock at the door.

People with power use it. And power attracts the worst kind of persons. As Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prove, democracies are not immune to the evil use of power. Indeed, identical inhumane treatment of prisoners goes on inside the US prison system for ordinary criminals.

A December 30, 2011, search on Yahoo for police brutality produced 20 million results.
Over-fed goon cop thugs taser little children and people in wheel chairs. They body slam elderly grandmothers. The police are a horror. They represent a greater threat to citizens than do criminals.

Preventative war, indefinite imprisonment, rendition, torture of people alleged to be “suspects” (an undefined category), and assassination are all draconian punishments that require no evidence. Preventative war is an Orwellian concept.

How do you prevent a war by initiating a war?

How do we know that a country that did not attack us was going to attack us in the future?

Preventative war is like Jeremy Bentham’s concept of preventing crime by locking up those thought by the upper crust to be predisposed to criminal activity before they commit a crime. Punishment without crime is now the American Way.

The concepts that the Bush/Obama regimes have institutionalized are totally foreign to the Anglo-American concepts of law and liberty. In one decade the US has been transformed from a free society into a police state. The American population, to the extent it is aware of what has occurred, has simply accepted the revolution from the top.

Ron Paul is the only American seeking the presidency who opposes the tyranny that has been institutionalized, and he is not leading in the polls.
This tells us all we need to know about the value Americans place on liberty.

Americans seem to welcome the era of tyranny into which they are now entering.