Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The criminalization of political dissent in America

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In a series of prosecutions, precedents are being established for the criminalization of political dissent in America.
Last week, Massachusetts high school student Cameron D’Ambrosio was arrested and charged under “terrorism” laws merely for posting lyrics on Facebook that make reference to the Boston Marathon bombings. He faces 20 years in prison. A string of similar “terror” prosecutions around the country take aim at the First Amendment protection of free speech and political expression.
The authorities have already branded select participants in Occupy Wall Street and anti-NATO protests as “terrorists.” Last year, heavily-armed “domestic terrorism” commandos raided Occupy Wall Street protesters’ homes in Washington and Oregon, using battering rams and stun grenades. The commandos were authorized to seize all “anti-government or anarchist literature or material.”
As with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, also guaranteed under the First Amendment, has not been officially repealed. The reality, however, is that political assembly is already a semi-criminal activity in America. Political protests are routinely met with vastly disproportionate police mobilizations, confinement to oxymoronic “free speech zones,” “kettling” (in which protesters are surrounded and forcibly moved in one direction or prevented from leaving an area), beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades or rubber bullets. The standard government response to a political protest is a massive show of force, complete with police snipers on rooftops.
The drive towards the establishment of an American police state, initiated under the Bush administration, has shifted into high gear under Obama. For nearly twelve years, the phony “war on terror” has been used as the overarching pretext for illegal imperialist war abroad and a methodical assault on democratic rights at home. The basic structure of authoritarian rule is now emerging into plain view.
Over the recent period, the government has vastly expanded its warrantless surveillance of the population. The Obama administration has constructed a massive data center in Utah big enough to store the contents of every personal computer in the country. Already at a government agent’s fingertips--without a warrant--are all of a person’s Internet browsing activity, telephone conversations, text messages, credit card transactions, mobile phone GPS location data, travel itineraries, Skype and Facebook data, medical records, criminal records, financial records and surveillance camera footage.
Tens of thousands of drones are slated to be launched over the US mainland in the coming years, with thousands already buzzing overhead. These high-tech aircraft are able to monitor meetings and demonstrations, access wireless networks and record the movements of citizens. Obama’s recent appointee for the position of CIA director, John Brennan, expressly refused at his confirmation hearings to rule out the possibility that these drones could be armed and used for carrying out assassinations within the US.
While schools are being shuttered and teachers fired supposedly for lack of money, local police departments are awash in billions of dollars of military hardware and training provided by the Department of Homeland Security. When local police are mobilized to respond to a political protest, they now do so in coordination with the federal military and intelligence agencies. It is not a rarity for armored vehicles, body armor and military equipment to be deployed.
Under the precedent set by the recent events in Boston, the authorities now have the power to subject an entire city to a military siege, with the population ordered to “shelter in place,” while businesses and transportation are shut down and heavily armed SWAT teams are deployed to conduct warrantless house-to-house searches without regard for basic rights.
The Obama administration, in concert with state and local police departments, has sent untold numbers of “anti-terror” undercover spies into domestic political parties and protest groups. In addition to gathering information, the job of these spies is to divert, disrupt and prevent the emergence of organized social opposition.
A person can be designated a “terrorist” on the secret, unreviewable say-so of the president, without notice and without a trial. Under the “material support” for terrorism laws signed into law as part of the PATRIOT Act of 2001, a person may be jailed simply for offering vaguely-defined “material support” to any person or group labeled as “terrorist.”
Under the National Defense Authorization Acts of 2011 and 2012, as tested in the case of Jose Padilla, the US government asserts the power to subject a designated “terrorist” to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial. In the cases of Padilla and Bradley Manning, and at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and countless CIA “black sites” around the world, the US government subjects alleged terrorists to torture. Finally, in the cases of Anwar Al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, the US government tested out its asserted power to murder “terrorists” outright, even if they are US citizens.
Under these precedents, it would not be necessary to officially suspend the Constitution in order for the US government to meet future domestic opposition with military lockdowns, curfews, house-to-house searches, mass arrests, torture and even assassination. With political dissent labeled as “terrorism” or “material support for terrorism,” Congress, the president, the courts, the military, and the so-called “free press” could continue in their present roles.
In the second half of the 20th century, US-backed dictatorships in Argentina and Chile used the supposed struggle against “terrorism” as a political cover for the arrest and murder of tens of thousands of political opponents, youth, workers, intellectuals and other “enemies of the state.” Such is the inevitable logic of the American “war on terror.”
Two essential factors are driving the trampling of democratic rights and the shift towards authoritarian rule. The first is the massive growth of social inequality, which in turn is driven by the historic crisis of the world capitalist system. While it robs the population in order to pile up ever greater and more obscene levels of private wealth, the financial aristocracy is terrified of the emergence of social opposition. Not from a position of strength, but out of extreme fear and vulnerability, the billionaires look to police state repression as a means to preserve their status, power and wealth.
Second, just as democracy is incompatible with such levels of social inequality, it is incompatible with imperialist war. The US military and intelligence agencies have for twelve years been wading in blood in a drive to plunder the world's strategic resources. The dead, wounded and displaced number in the millions.
A professional military, divorced from and hostile to the population and resentful of civilian control, has immensely expanded its size, resources and political power, to the point where it and its intelligence counterpart, in league with Wall Street, dominate the workings of the state.
The ruling class is in the advanced stage of preparations for an inevitable confrontation with the working class. Working people must make their own preparations, central to which is the building of a new, revolutionary leadership. Only a conscious political struggle for a workers’ government can avert the threat of dictatorship and establish genuine democracy and social equality.

Eroding Freedom in America

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US democracy is illusory. America never was beautiful. It's not the land of the free and home of the brave. It wasn't created that way. More than ever, it's not now.

Freedom is a four-letter word. It's fast disappearing. It's an endangered species. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. America's war on terror priorities advance them. 

International, constitutional and US statute laws are spurned. Rogue state ruthlessness replaced them. Boston's unprecedented lockdown suggests what's coming. It covered a two hundred square mile area. An important threshold was crossed.

Martial law terrorized city residents. Constitutional rights were suspended. Perhaps it was prelude to what's coming. It can happen anywhere across America. It can show up nationwide. 

Thousands of heavily armed militarized police, National Guard troops, FBI Swat teams, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operatives, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and perhaps other federal, state and local enforcers showed what full-blown tyranny looks like. 

Defying public diktats risked arrest or getting shot. Helicopters hovered low over neighborhoods. House-to-house searches ordered pajama-clad families outside.

Without probable cause, some were handcuffed and/or placed face down on sidewalks. Others were publicly strip-searched. Imagine what's coming next time. Freedom in America's on the chopping block for elimination.

What's ongoing already includes:

  • numerous police state laws;

  • waging war on humanity;

  • indefinite detentions without evidence, charges or trials;

  • forced disappearances;

  • targeted assassinations;

  • torture and other forms of abuse;

  • Big Brother surveillance;

  • warrantless searches;

  • other privacy invasions;

  • false flag national security abuses;

  • war on terror fear-mongering;

  • military commission trials, including for US citizens;

  • domestic military force deployments;

  • secret FEMA concentration camps;

  • racial profiling and persecution;

  • militarized local police; 

  • criminalizing whistleblowers; and

  • targeting non-believers for supporting right over wrong.

Tyranny isn't in the eye of the beholder. It's escalating in plane sight. It's just a matter of time until it's full-blown. Washington's bipartisan criminal class plans it. 

It's hard-right, unbridled, reactionary, and pro-corporate. It's anti-democratic, anti-dissent, anti-freedom, anti-civil and human rights, anti-social justice, anti-environmental sanity, and anti-government of, by and for everyone.

It's dangerous living in America at the wrong time. Supporting right over wrong is threatened. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. Guilt by accusation is policy. Diktat authority has final say.

The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) includes national and local organizations. Its mission is:

"To educate the public about the erosion of civil and political freedoms in the society, and the abuses of prisoners within the US criminal justice system especially after 9/11, and to advocate for the preservation of those freedoms and to defend those rights according to the US Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its related UN Conventions, and the Geneva Conventions."

Civil liberties are threatened, it warns. Public safety at the expense of freedom assures neither.

Post-9/11, thought crime prosecutions followed. Individuals and groups were targeted for "their beliefs, thoughts, or associations."

Doing so violates constitutional protections. First Amendment freedoms are compromised. They're fundamental. Without them, all others are at risk.

They include free speech, a free press, free thought, culture and intellectual inquiry, assembly, freedom to practice the religion of one's choice, and to petition government for redress of grievances.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) "defend(s) the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by overbroad national security and counter-terrorism policies."

It "support(s) an ideologically, ethnically, geographically, and generationally diverse grassroots movement to protect and restore these principles by encouraging widespread civic participation; educating people about the significance of our rights; and cultivating grassroots networks to convert concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action."

Its "Campaign for the Constitution" headlines: "Building a Movement. Restoring Rights. Reclaiming Our Constitution." At issue is restoring lost rights. Bipartisan complicity compromised them en route to eliminating them altogether.

Rule of law protections "withered under warrantless surveillance, rampant racial and religious profiling, and torture - and even human experimentation - with impunity."   

The ACLU highlights lost digital age civil liberties. New technologies compromised existing protections. Post-9/11, they've undergone serious erosion.

Web site visits are tracked. Cell phones log our movements. Emails and social network communications are monitored and stored. Warrantless spying is policy.

"Things we once thought could only happen in far-away enemy states or distant dystopias are suddenly happening here in America" said ACLU.

Privacy laws haven't kept up with technology. War on terror priorities matter most.

Protecting civil liberties in the digital age requires "ensur(ing) that expressive, associational, and privacy rights are strengthened rather than compromised by new technology." 

It's also about "protect(ing) these core democratic rights against intrusive corporate and government practices that rely on new technology to invade these rights."

They're being systematically destroyed. According to theCenter for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Washington "consistently (doesn't) recognize the protections afforded by the US Constitution and international law, and in doing so, it has failed in its responsibility to maintain a democratic society that is both open to, and accountable to, the people."

Government is shrouded in secrecy. Checks and balances no longer matter. Bill of Rights freedoms are fading. They're fundamental in democratic societies.

War on terror priorities breached First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment freedoms. At issue are search and surveillance authority, indefinitely detaining citizens and non-citizens uncharged, and undermining free expression, due process, and equal protection. 

Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Ahead expect much worse. Old time radio listeners recall a memorable Jack Benny skit. "Your money or your life," a robber asked?

After a pause, he was asked again. He responded saying "I'm thinking it over."

Today no one's asked. It isn't either-or. It's both.

A Final Comment

Fixing America's dysfunctional system demands fundamental change. It starts by reforming the nation's sham electoral process. Throwing out bums assures new ones.

Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime's worth of difference separates them. Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Duopoly power rules. 

Party bosses chose candidates. Big money owns them. Voters have no say. They get the best democracy money can buy. It happens every time.

The entire process was constitutionally flawed by design. Over time, things got worse. Bipartisan politics serves serves wealth, power, and privilege. Popular interests go begging.

Money power runs America. It games the system. It does so destructively. Controlling money, credit and debt for private enrichment assures speculation, booms, busts, inflation, deflation, instability, crisis, recessions and depressions.

It assures transferring enormous amounts of wealth from ordinary people to corporate giants and super-rich elites already with too much.

Washington is Wall Street occupied territory. What financial giants want, they get. They're waging financial war on humanity. They're more powerful than standing armies. 

Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished and left out. Vital needs go begging.

Money power in private hands and democracy can't co-exist. Complicit politicians betray the public trust. They do so for benefits they derive.

Social injustice defines official policy. Class war rages more than ever. America's on a fast track toward tyranny. Stopping it requires free, fair and open elections. It's also about returning money to public hands where it belongs.

The Vicious New Bank Shakedown That Could Seriously Ruin Your Life

JPMorgan Chase and other big banks are accused of running a frightening scam collecting on credit card debt.

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10 Scenes From The Economic Collapse That Is Sweeping Across The Planet

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When is the economic collapse going to happen?  Just open up your eyes and take a look around the globe.  The next wave of the economic collapse may not have reached Wall Street yet, but it is already deeply affecting billions of lives all over the planet.  Much of Europe has already descended into a deep economic depression, very disturbing economic data is coming out of the second and third largest economies on the globe (China and Japan), and in most of the world economic inequality is growing even though 80 percent of the global population already lives on less than $10 a day.  Just because the Dow has been setting brand new all-time records lately does not mean that everything is okay.  Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts.  The next major wave of the economic collapse is already sweeping across Europe and Asia and it is going to devastate the United States as well.  I hope that you are ready.
The following are 10 scenes from the economic collapse that is sweeping across the planet...
#1 27 Percent Unemployment/60 Percent Youth Unemployment In Greece
The economic depression in Europe just continues to get worse with each passing month.  According to the Daily Mail, the unemployment rate in Greece has nearly tripled since 2009...
Greek youth unemployment rose above 60 per cent for the first time in February, reflecting the pain caused by the country's crippling recession after years of austerity under its international bailout.
Greece's jobless rate has almost tripled since the country's debt crisis emerged in 2009 and was more than twice the euro zone's average unemployment reading of 12.1 percent in March.
While the overall unemployment rate rose to 27 per cent, according to statistics service data released on Thursday, joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 jumped to 64.2 percent in February from 59.3 percent in January.
#2 Detroit, Michigan Is Insolvent And Is Rapidly Running Out Of Cash
I love to write about Detroit because it is a perfect example of where the rest of the country is headed.  They have just gotten there first.  At this point, Detroit is essentially bankrupt, and the new emergency financial manager is saying that Detroit may totally run out of cash next month...
Detroit may run out of cash next month and must cut long-term debt and retiree obligations, according to emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr’s preliminary plan to save Michigan’s largest city from bankruptcy.
Orr’s report says the cost of $9.4 billion in bond, pension and other long-term liabilities is sapping the ability to provide public safety and transportation. He listed cutting debt principal, retiree benefits and jobs among his options.
“No one should underestimate the severity of the financial crisis,” Orr said yesterday in a statement. He called his report “a sobering wake-up call about the dire financial straits the city of Detroit faces.”
#3 Economic Despair In France
France is going down the same path that Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy have gone.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Economist...
HELDER PEREIRA is a young man with no work and few prospects: a 21-year-old who failed to graduate from high school and lost his job on a building site four months ago. With his savings about to run out, he has come to his local employment centre in the Paris suburb of Sevran to sign on for benefits and to get help finding something to do. He’ll get the cash. Work is another matter. Youth unemployment in Sevran is over 40%.
#4 7,000 Abandoned Buildings In Dayton, Ohio
All over the upper Midwest, there are formerly great cities that are dealing with thousands of abandoned buildings.  Dayton, Ohio is one example...
Like many urban cities in recent years, Dayton still finds itself knee-deep in abandoned, dilapidated properties as the result of the foreclosure crisis and economic downturn five years ago.
Boarded up buildings that appear to be on their last legs litter the city as it attempts to recover.
Kevin Powell, the city’s acting manager of housing inspection, says officials plan to use $5.2 million — half from the state’s Moving Ohio Forward program and a matching grant from the city’s general fund — to raze 475 abandoned properties by the end of September.
That will scratch the surface of an estimated 7,000 abandoned property problem that is growing.
#5 Overwhelmed By Squatters In Spain
In Spain, unemployment is rampant and people have become incredibly desperate.  In fact, in some Spanish cities you can now find entire apartment buildings that are being overwhelmed by squatters...
A 285-unit apartment complex in Parla, less than half an hour’s drive from Madrid, should be an ideal target for investors seeking cheap property in Spain. Unfortunately, two thirds of the building generates zero revenue because it’s overrun by squatters.
“This is happening all over the country,” said Jose Maria Fraile, the town’s mayor, who estimates only 100 apartments in the block built for the council have rental contracts, and not all of those tenants are paying either. “People lost their jobs, they can’t pay mortgages or rent so they lost their homes and this has produced a tide of squatters.”
#6 The Collapse Of Chinese Power Consumption
Energy consumption tends to closely mirror economic activity.  That is why the recent collapse of Chinese power consumption is so alarming.  The following is from Zero Hedge...
According to CLSA's Chris Wood using NEA data, China's monthly power consumption (the most accurate proxy for underlying economic strength according to the current premier) growth slowed from 5.5% YoY in Jan-Feb 2013 to 1.9% YoY in March, the slowest growth rate since May 2009(as discussed in-depth here).
#7 Horrible Economic Data Coming Out Of The Second Largest Economy On The Planet
The economic data that has been coming out of the second largest economy on the globe has been quite alarming recently...
For starters, China’s recent economic data, as massaged as it is to the upside, is downright awful. China’s PMI numbers were the worst in two years. Staffing levels in the Chinese service sector decreased for the first time since January 2009(remember that year).
China’s LEI also shows no sign of recovery. If anything, it indicates China is heading towards an economic slowdown on par with that of 2008. And if you account for the rampant debt fueling China’s economy you could easily argue that China is posting 0% GDP growth today.
#8 One Out Of Every Five U.S. Households On Food Stamps
Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, even though we are supposedly in the midst of an "economic recovery", food stamp enrollment continues to soar to new highs.  The following is from CNS News...
The most recent Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) statistics of the number of households receiving food stamps shows that 23,087,886 households participated in January 2013 - an increase of 889,154 families from January 2012 when the number of households totaled 22,188,732.
The most recent statistics from the United States Census Bureau-- from December 2012-- puts the number of households in the United States at 115,310,000. If you divide 115,310,000 by 23,087,866, that equals one out of every five households now receiving food stamps.
#9 Child Hunger In America
Those that work for the big banks on Wall Street may have no problems feeding their children, but overall there is a rapidly growing child hunger crisis in America today.  Just check out the following statistics from one of my previous articles...
*For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percentsince the 2006-2007 school year.
*In Miami, 45 percent of all children are living in poverty.
*In Cleveland, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty.
*According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
#10 The Tremendous Suffering Of Hundreds Of Millions Of Desperately Poor People That We Never Hear About
There are billions of people around the globe that are deeply suffering but that do not have a voice.  We usually never hear about the desperate poverty that these people are living in, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist.  The following statistics that Stephen Lendman recently compiled should shock and alarm you...
At least 80% live on less than $10 a day. Over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 80% live in countries where income disparity is increasing.
The poorest 40% of world population has 5% of global income. The bottom fifth has $1.5%. The top 20% has 75%.
According to UNICEF, 22,000 impoverished children die daily. They "die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death."
An estimated 28% of children in developing countries are underweight, malnourished and/or stunted.
How can so many people be living like that in a world with such wealth?
Sadly, things are going to get much worse.  The economic and financial systems of the world are rapidly breaking down, and in a few years these are going to look like "the good old days".
And a growing number of people are starting to realize the direction that things are headed.  For example, according to a survey that has just been released, 48 percent of all Americans believe that the best days of America are now behind us.