Friday, October 23, 2015

The US strategy to create a new global legal and economic system: TPP, TTIP, TISA

Empire of Disaster

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At what point does the ability of an empire to mask the imbecility of its operation to its own subjects become impossible? When, if ever, does its capacity to conceal, deny, or falsify the reality of its policies and actions simply break down and fail?

It may not. And it doesn’t seem to matter.

Louis XVI kept a hopeful public face nearly to the scaffold. Churchill vowed not to preside over the demise of the British Empire, but then did it, orating earnestly as it crumbled around him. Hitler kept the Nazi invincibility myth vital as Russians lustily tore the guts out of it from Stalingrad to Berlin.

Is it possible that the wildly out of control Smash and Destroy program of the American Empire–hayseed parochial, resolutely world-ignorant, and jejeunely conceited–can continue its undirected idiot thrashing indefinitely?

The evidence indicates it can. Having inflicted rape and degradation on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria, American hubris has strung end to end a succession of the most disastrous military adventure failures–on any terms one chooses–in the history of the world.

So enormous, so abysmal, have these disasters been–for the poor violated victim peoples as well as for morally torpid, braindead Americans whose money and future have been wasted in exercises in state mass murder–that official mouthpieces rarely mention them, as if countries, effectively destroyed, no longer exist. The whole world knows this gigantic failure.

But that’s the real deception. This series of bloody farces has been an unqualified success for the interests that own the Empire, for whose

benefit the appalling mayhem was devised and executed. America’s War Machine has profited to an extent that no victorious imperial army in history ever approached, financed by the fleecing of our stupid, spellbound citizenry.

Schumpeter described this phenomenon best long ago: “Created by the wars that required it, the machine now creates the wars it requires.”

There has been no disaster, only enrichment, for the owners of the system.

That’s why the Empire can weasel, stammer and lamely alibi the rocketing and murder of a hospital full of Doctors Without Borders and their bedbound patients while whiningly admonishing the Russians for punishing “moderate” jihadi throatcutters in such a violent and effective manner.

It’s also why Obama–in a patented piece of pratfall comedy–can attempt to persuade a bemused, sophisticated diplomatic audience at the UN, that he has any actual policy in Syria at all, and that he–steeped and reeking in noisome, signature fraud–represents the moral center of the human universe.

Absurd and repulsive as he is, it doesn’t matter to his owners, in the War Machine and the dummy government it operates. He’s their boy, and his “folks” are doing mighty fine, thank you. Nothing in war profiteering has succeeded like failure.

Besides, why fret about exposure when accountability is never demanded? And who would demand it? The Exceptional, The Indispensable People..? LOL, as they say on their iphones: We’re Number One!

Global Trade Is Collapsing As The Worldwide Economic Recession Deepens

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When the global economy is doing well, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes up, and when the global economy is in recession, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes down.  It is just basic economics.  Governments around the world have become very adept at manipulating other measures of economic activity such as GDP, but the trade numbers are more difficult to fudge.  Today, China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the entire planet, and we have just learned that Chinese exports and Chinese imports are both collapsing right now.  But this is just part of a larger trend.  As I discussed the other day, British banking giant HSBC has reported that total global trade is down 8.4 percent so far in 2015, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent.  The only other times global trade has plummeted this much has been during other global recessions, and it appears that this new downturn is only just beginning.
For many years, China has been leading the revolution in global trade.  But now we are witnessing something that is almost unprecedented.  Chinese exports are falling, and Chinese imports are absolutely imploding
Growth of exports from China has been dropping relentlessly, for years. Now this “growth” has actually turned negative. In September, exports were down 3.7% from a year earlier, the “inevitable fallout from China’s unsustainable and poorly executed credit splurge,” as Thomson Reuters’ Alpha Now puts it. Most of these exports are manufactured goods that are shipped by container to the rest of the world.
And imports into China – a mix of bulk and containerized freight – have been plunging: down 20.4% in September from a year earlier, after at a 13.8% drop in August.
This week it was announced that Chinese GDP growth had fallen to the lowest level since the last recession, and that makes sense.  Global economic activity is really slowing down, and this is deeply affecting China.
So what about the United States?
Well, based on the amount of stuff that is being shipped around in our country it appears that our economy is really slowing down too.  The following comes from Wolf Richter, and I shared some of it in a previous article, but I think that it bears repeating…
September is in the early phase of the make-or-break holiday shipping season. Shipments usually increase from August to September. They did this year too. The number of shipments in September inched up 1.7% from August, according to the Cass Freight Index.
But the index was down 1.5% from an already lousy September last year, when shipments had fallen from the prior month, instead of rising. And so, in terms of the number of shipments, it was the worst September since 2010.
It has been crummy all year: With the exception of January and February, the shipping volume has been lower year-over-year every month!
The index is broad. It tracks data from shippers, no matter what carrier they choose, whether truck, rail, or air, and includes carriers like FedEx and UPS.
What major retailers such as Wal-Mart are reporting also confirms that we are in a major economic slowdown.  Wal-Mart recently announced that its earnings would fall by as much as 12 percent during the next fiscal year, and that caused Wal-Mart stock to drop by the most in 27 years.
And of course this is going to have a huge ripple effect.  There are thousands of other companies that do business with Wal-Mart, and Reuters is reporting that they are starting to get squeezed…
Suppliers of everything from groceries to sports equipment are already being squeezed for price cuts and cost sharing by Wal-Mart Stores. Now they are bracing for the pressure to ratchet up even more after a shock earnings warning from the retailer last week.
The discount store behemoth has always had a reputation for demanding lower prices from vendors but Reuters has learned from interviews with suppliers and consultants, as well as reviewing some contracts, that even by its standards Wal-Mart has been turning up the heat on them this year.
“The ground is shaking here,” said Cameron Smith, head of Cameron Smith & Associates, a major recruiting firm for suppliers located close to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. “Suppliers are going to have to help Wal-Mart get back on track.”
Similar things are going on at some of the other biggest companies in America as well.
For instance, things have gotten so bad for McDonald’s that one franchise owner recently stated that the restaurant chain is “facing its final days”
“McDonald’s announced in April that it would be closing 700 ‘underperforming’ locations, but because of the company’s sheer size — it has 14,300 locations in the United States alone — this was not necessarily a reduction in the size of the company, especially because it continues to open locations around the world. It still has more than double the locations of Burger King, its closest competitor.”
However, for the franchisees, the picture looks much worse than simply 700 stores closing down.
“We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing,” a franchise owner wrote in response to a financial survey by Nomura Group. “Probably 30% of operators are insolvent.” One owner went as far as to speculate that McDonald’s is literally “facing its final days.”
Why would things be so bad at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s if the economy was “recovering”?
Come on now – let’s use some common sense here.
All of the numbers are screaming at us that we have entered a major economic downturn and that it is accelerating.
CNBC is reporting that the number of job openings in the U.S. is falling and that the number of layoffs is rising
Job openings fell 5.3 percent in August, while a 2.6 percent rise in layoffs and discharges offset a 0.3 percent gain in hires. Finally, the amount of quits — or what Convergex calls its “take this job and shove it” indicator because it shows the percentage of workers who left positions voluntarily — fell to 56.6 percent from 57.1 percent, indicating less confidence in mobility.
And as I discussed the other day, Challenger Gray is reporting that we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009.
We already have 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.  As this emerging worldwide recession deepens, a lot more Americans are going to lose their jobs.  That is going to cause the poverty and suffering in this country to spike even more, if you can imagine that.
Just consider what authorities discovered on the streets of Philadelphia just this week
Support is flooding in for a homeless Philadelphia family whose two-year-old son was found wandering alone in a park in the middle of the night.
Angelique Roland, 27, and Michael Jones, 24, were sleeping with their children behind cardboard boxes underneath the Fairmount Park Welcome Center in Love Park when the toddler slipped away.
The boy was found just before midnight and handed over to a nearby Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority police officer, who took him to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He was wearing a green, long sleeve shirt, black running pants and had a diaper on, but did not have shoes or socks.
Could you imagine sleeping on the streets and not even being able to provide your two-year-old child with shoes and socks?
These numbers that I write about every day are not a game.  They affect all of us on a very personal level.
Just like in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans that are living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle today will soon lose their jobs and will end up out in the streets.
In fact, there will be people that will read this article that this will happen to.
So no, none of us should be excited that the global economy is collapsing.  There is already so much pain all around us, and what is to come is beyond what most of us would even dare to imagine.

State Terror Against People of Color

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The police murder of poor people of color—occurring at a rate of roughly two a day across the country—is not only about the indiscriminate use of lethal force. It is also about maintaining an ongoing climate of terror in marginal communities. It is about making it impossible for the poor, cast aside by corporate capitalists as surplus labor, to organize and build meaningful lives and to resist. It is terror by design. And it will not stop until police are disarmed—the authority to use lethal force should be restricted to specialized, highly regulated police units—and finally held accountable under the law. Until the rule of law becomes a reality for those who live in marginal communities, until we obliterate the poverty—the mechanism that keeps people trapped in squalor like penned animals—until we stop gunning the poor down in our streets, the nightmare will not stop. In fact, as poverty and inequality expand, this nightmare will only grow.

Families, suffocating in grief, terrified for their children, unable to find justice, rendered invisible by the media and crushed by poverty—the worst of all crimes—endure a hell that is directly linked to the plague of mass incarceration, Jim and Jane Crow laws, sunset laws, lynching and slave patrols. This terror is the latest manifestation of white supremacy and the expression of a corporate capitalist state that consciously creates huge pools of unemployed and underemployed. The destitute, desperate for work and kept in a state of constant fear, are easily exploited and unable to rise up against their oppressors.

Several days ago I met three mothers in Santa Ana whose sons had been murdered by police here in Orange County, Calif.Manuel Diaz, who was unarmed, was shot to death July 21, 2012, by Anaheim police Officer Nicholas Bennallack, also responsible for a fatal shooting in 2012. Bennallack was cleared in both killings. During protests over the Diaz killing, Joel Acevedo, 21, was killed July 22, 2012, by Anaheim police Officer Kelly Phillips, who had been involved in the fatal shooting of Caesar Cruz in 2009. Phillips too was cleared twice. Paul Joseph Quintanar, 19, died when he was struck by freeway traffic as officers of the Tustin Police Department tried to arrest him on Sept. 8, 2011. He had been on his way to buy a bottle of water from a 7-Eleven. Marcel Ceja, on Nov. 4, 2011, was shot to death by a police officer in Anaheim as he was walking to a store with two friends.

In Anaheim alone, where Disneyland markets a fantasy vision of a happy America, the police shot 37 people between 2003 and 2011, killing 21 of them, mostly people of color. As is usual across the United States, all of the police officers involved were cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

“It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon—in the neighborhood, there was a couple of children’s parties going on,” said Genevieve Huizar, the mother of Manuel Diaz. “They had jumpers for children to play on. My son was in the alley talking to a couple of friends. A police car came into the alley. The police got out. They pointed at him for some reason. When they pointed at him he ran. He ran around our apartment building, to the right. He was blocked by a gate. Officer Nick Bennallack came around the corner. He said he thought my son had a gun in his hand. It turned out to be my son’s cellphone. My son was shot in the lower back. As Manuel was falling to his knees, the second bullet got him in the right side of the head.”

“How could the police do this in broad daylight in front of children?” she asked. “My son wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t on parole or probation. He wasn’t committing a crime.”

The Diaz shooting triggered an uprising in Anaheim. Residents hauled mattresses onto the streets and set them on fire. Crowds threw rocks, bottles and other projectiles at police. Police officers fanned out in the neighborhood to buy the cellphones of witnessesto the Diaz shooting in an attempt to keep any video of the killing from being made public, neighborhood residents told the media. The day after the killing, with protests still taking place, police chased and fatally shot Joel Acevedo. In response to the protests, members of the police force patrolled the streets in camouflage uniforms, as if they were at war.

“First they [the police] pushed him down,” Marie Sales said of her son Paul Quintanar. “They searched him. Then they started to rough him up. He was talking to them. He complied with everything that they wanted. Then two to three officers were on top of him. He got scared. He was chased onto the 5 Freeway. They pulled guns on him. He was hit [by vehicles] and thrown to the onramp on the 5 Freeway. The police were never investigated.”

Barbara Padilla lost her son Marcel Cejaon Nov. 4, 2011, in Anaheim as he was walking to the store with two friends. Anaheim police Officer David Garcia approached the young men. Ceja ran. Garcia shot him twice in the chest.

“My son was taken to UCI hospital,” Padilla said. “Nobody called me. He died alone at the hospital. The police then appeared at my house and searched it without a warrant. The officer was never charged. We went to trial twice [after filing lawsuits]. We lost both times.”

These killings do not end with the funerals of the young men. They reverberate, as they are meant to do, through poor neighborhoods, leaving in their wake constant stress, anxiety and fear that infect households.

The message this violence sends to poor people of color is this: We can kill you and your children with impunity. There is nothing you can do about it. You have no rights. You will never be safe. And if you attempt rise up and resist we will kill you and your children en masse.

“I’m constantly screaming, ‘Where are my kids?’ ” Sales said. “I am constantly calling them to make sure they’re not outside, or that they are at least inside the gate. Your mind is always on ‘it’s gonna happen again, it’s not gonna stop here.’ My son’s little brother was beaten by the cops two days before my son was killed. I think, ‘They are going to kill another one of my kids.’ I can’t get that out of my head. I constantly ask, ‘Who is next, what are they going to do to us next?’ I don’t have any ease. You can’t let your kids go down the street to the store because the cops are there. You don’t know if they are going to get stopped, or if they are going to get beat up, or worse. My son was just getting a bottle of water, no crime, no dispatch, no call, and now he’s not here. Who’s to say it won’t happen again?”

The killings routinely shatter and at times destroy the lives of families left behind.

“My daughter turned to drugs and alcohol because she misses her brother so much,” Huizar said. “She can’t stand to be sober. It impacts your whole family. It impacts her children.”

Huizar asked me if she could read some of the names of those killed by police in Anaheim and other cities in Orange County. She pulled out a paper and recited from the long list, made up almost entirely of the names of people of color. The women remained silent after she finished, grief etched across their faces.

After losing a child to police violence, said Padilla, “it is like you just barely exist.” She has two other sons. One is a U.S. Marine.

Orange County is divided between the wealthy white elites, notorious as conservative Republicans, and impoverished Hispanic and black populations, especially in Anaheim, Santa Ana and Tustin. Police shootings take place almost exclusively in the areas where poor people of color reside. Those who hold power, however, even in cities such as Anaheim, where Hispanics are at least half the population, are usually rich and white. And in cities where people of color are integrated into the power elite, such as Santa Ana, quislings doggedly protect the status quo.

It is common to see rows of poor black and brown men seated abjectly in a line along a curb in poor neighborhoods as police officers check their documents. Police routinely search backpacks as children leave schools, uttering threats, according to mothers, such as “You could be next.”

“I’ve lived in Anaheim my whole life, my parents were born in Anaheim,” Padilla said. “It’s been going on for forever. Anaheim has always been a racist city. The Ku Klux Klan used to meet at Pearson Park.”

“And it’s gotten worse,” she added. “The police are now on a killing spree.”

The mothers said they discovered online posts by gang-unit police officers boasting that they were part of a “shooting squad.” The posts included drawings of high-caliber weapons, skulls and the Grim Reaper. After the mothers used the downloaded images in a street protest against police violence, the images were hastily removed from the Internet.

“Revolt is simmering,” said Chicanos Unidos’ Gaby Hernandez, whose nephew’s father was murdered by police. “People don’t even want the police to come in anymore. They say, ‘We’ll handle our own issues. Stay away.’ ”

The killings and police intimidation in Anaheim are carried out within sight of Disneyland, a tourist attraction the women detest. And when the one-year anniversary of the uprising put protesters in the streets, the Anaheim Police Department brought in military-style gear and armored vehicles to protect Disneyland and intimidate the marchers.

“Disney is a corporation that wants to take these neighborhoods and pretty much wipe them out,” Huizar said, “even though we are the ones serving the food and cleaning up around Disney for minimal pay without medical benefits.”

“Disney functions as a Brave New World form of oppression,” Gabriel San Roman, a journalist for the OC Weekly, said to me in an interview. “There’s this corporate image of childhood innocence. Then, when riots happen, you have ‘1984.’ It’s the bludgeon of repression.”

San Roman said participants in a July 2012 street protest against police were startled to hear huge explosions. “There were people’s cathartic outbursts in the streets, yelling, people getting out their frustrations against what they’ve experienced for years, and at that very moment at 9:30 everyone heard explosions in the sky,” he said. “It was the Disneyland fireworks. That moment tells you everything you need to know about Anaheim and about corporations like Disneyland.”