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Member since: Wed Dec 11, 2013, 03:23 PM
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Amazon CEO now owns the Wash. Post: also has CIA contract.

Why the Washington Post's New Ties to the CIA Are So Ominous

American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain.

A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos -- who’s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder.

The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA.

The situation is unprecedented. But in an email exchange early this month, Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron told me that the newspaper doesn’t need to routinely inform readers of the CIA-Amazon-Bezos ties when reporting on the CIA. He wrote that such in-story acknowledgment would be “far outside the norm of disclosures about potential conflicts of interest at media organizations.”


Russia pokes fun at Olympic ring mishap during Closing Ceremony

Who says the Russians don’t have a sense of humor?

During the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, several dancers appeared in silver outfits pretending to be fish on what we assume was the Black Sea. It was truly beautiful.

And then it turned humorous.



Slavery and the origins of racism

IT IS commonly assumed that racism is as old as human society itself. As long as human beings have been around, the argument goes, they have always hated or feared people of a different nation or skin color. In other words, racism is just part of human nature. ..If racism is part of human nature, then socialists have a real challenge on their hands...Fortunately, racism isn’t part of human nature. The best evidence for this assertion is the fact that racism has not always existed.

Racism is a particular form of oppression. It stems from discrimination against a group of people based on the idea that some inherited characteristic, such as skin color, makes them inferior to their oppressors. Yet the concepts of “race” and “racism” are modern inventions. They arose and became part of the dominant ideology of society in the context of the African slave trade at the dawn of capitalism in the 1500s and 1600s.

Although it is a commonplace for academics and opponents of socialism to claim that Karl Marx ignored racism, Marx in fact described the processes that created modern racism. His explanation of the rise of capitalism placed the African slave trade, the European extermination of indigenous people in the Americas, and colonialism at its heart. In Capital, Marx writes:

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of the continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of black skins are all things that characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production.2

Marx connected his explanation of the role of the slave trade in the rise of capitalism to the social relations that produced racism against Africans. In Wage Labor and Capital, written twelve years before the American Civil War, he explains:

What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. The one explanation is as good as the other.

A Negro is a Negro. He only becomes a slave in certain relations. A cotton spinning jenny is a machine for spinning cotton. It only becomes capital in certain relations. Torn away from these conditions, it is as little capital as gold by itself is money, or as sugar is the price of sugar.3

In this passage, Marx shows no prejudice to Blacks (“a man of the black race,” “a Negro is a Negro”), but he mocks society’s equation of “Black” and “slave” (“one explanation is as good as another”). He shows how the economic and social relations of emerging capitalism thrust Blacks into slavery (“he only becomes a slave in certain relations”), which produce the dominant ideology that equates being African with being a slave.

These fragments of Marx’s writing give us a good start in understanding the Marxist explanation of the origins of racism. As the Trinidadian historian of slavery Eric Williams put it: “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.”4 And, one should add, the consequence of modern slavery at the dawn of capitalism. While slavery existed as an economic system for thousands of years before the conquest of America, racism as we understand it today did not exist...

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass understood this dynamic:

The hostility between the whites and blacks of the South is easily explained. It has its root and sap in the relation of slavery, and was incited on both sides by the poor whites and the blacks by putting enmity between them. They divided both to conquer each.Ö[Slaveholders denounced emancipation as] tending to put the white working man on an equality with Blacks, and by this means, they succeed in drawing off the minds of the poor whites from the real fact, that by the rich slave-master, they are already regarded as but a single remove from equality with the slave.25

Because racism is woven right into the fabric of capitalism, new forms of racism arose with changes in capitalism. As the U.S. economy expanded and underpinned U.S. imperial expansion, imperialist racism—which asserted that the U.S. had a right to dominate other peoples, such as Mexicans and Filipinos—developed. As the U.S. economy grew and sucked in millions of immigrant laborers, anti-immigrant racism developed. But these are both different forms of the same ideology—of white supremacy and division of the world into “superior” and “inferior” races—that had their origins in slavery.

What does this discussion mean for us today? First, racism is not part of some unchanging human nature. It was literally invented. And so it can be torn down. Second, despite the overwhelming ideological hold of white supremacy, people always resisted it—from the slaves themselves to white anti-racists. Understanding racism in this way informs the strategy that we use to combat racism. Antiracist education is essential, but it is not enough. Because it treats racism only as a question of “bad ideas” it does not address the underlying material conditions that give rise to the acceptance of racism among large sections of workers.32›Thoroughly undermining the hold of racism on large sections of workers requires three conditions: first, a broader class fightback that unites workers across racial lines; second, attacking the conditions (bad jobs, housing, education, etc.) that give rise to the appeal of racism among large sections of workers; and third, the conscious intervention of antiracists to oppose racism in all its manifestations and to win support for interracial class solidarity.


Since 1988, every US president has been a Harvard or Yale grad.

[4] Beginning in 1988, every US president has been a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Beginning in 2000, every losing presidential candidate has been a Harvard or Yale graduate, with the exception of John McCain in 2008.


Just thought it was an interesting data point.

Interesting facts I learned today: 2) Nestle's American founders

Nestlé, which we think of as a Swiss corporation, was founded as the merger of the Swiss Henri Nestlé's milk/baby food company and a putatively Swiss milk company founded by two brothers from Illinois, Charles and George Page. Charles was the US consul to Switzerland.


Of the partners, the Page brothers were by far the most important, as Nestle sold out to them in 1875 and the Page family continued to run the company until at least the 1920-30s (the latest I can trace them).

Interestingly, relatives of the Pages also ran milk companies in the US. For example, the Page Milk Company (KS, OK), which sponsored the singer Patti Page (nee Clara Fowler) early in her career and gave her her stage name:



Interesting facts I learned today: 1) American-founded Venezuelan anti-Chavez media corp

Empresas 1BC (also known as Grupo Phelps, Centro Corporativo 1BC, and Grupo 1BC), is a privately owned Venezuelan corporation which operates diverse media enterprises such as Radio Caracas Televisión... This conglomerate is headed by Marcel Granier and headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela.


Radio Caracas Televisión Internacional (RCTV Internacional) is a Venezuelan cable television network headquartered in the Caracas neighborhood of Quinta Crespo...On 27 May 2007, RCTV made headlines when the Government of Venezuela decided not to renew their radio broadcast license for what it said was the station's role in the 2002 coup which briefly overthrew Venezuela's democratically elected government.

RCTV lost its free-over the air broadcast licence, but it was not out of business. In an article in the 5 July 2007 edition of AM New York, the head of RCTV, Marcel Granier said that he was considering taking the network's programming to cable or satellite. This was accomplished in the Summer of 2007.


Marcel Granier

Marcel Granier Haydon (born July 4, 1941) is a Venezuelan businessperson. He is the President and CEO of Empresas 1BC and the General Director of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), which until becoming a cable TV-channel on May 27, 2007, was the most watched television channel in Venezuela.[1]

Marcel Granier was born on July 4, 1941 to Marcel Granier Doyeux and Brígida Haydon Urbaneja.[2][3] He attended law school and later married Dorothy Phelps Tovar, the granddaughter of the founder of Empresas 1BC and Radio Caracas Radio, William Henry Phelps.


William Henry Phelps (June 14, 1875 – December 8, 1965) was an American ornithologist and businessman...Born in New York City to Dudley F. Phelps, and of Louise Lander Prince Phelps, he attended Milton Academy and Harvard College..Once he finished his studies at Harvard, Phelps returned to Venezuela in 1897, to marry Alicia Elvira Tucker and settle in Maturín...William H. Phelps also founded Radio Caracas Radio.


William Henry Phelps, Jr. (December 25, 1902 – August 13, 1988) was a Venezuelan ornithologist and businessman. Along with his father, William Henry Phelps, he founded the first commercial radio station in Venezuela, 1 Broadcasting Caracas...After finishing his studies in Lawrenceville School and getting a B.Sc. in 1926 from Princeton University, he published over 78 books on the birds of Venezuela... In 1953 he founded one of the most important Venezuelan television stations, Radio Caracas Televisión, and served as its president for 34 years. He died in the city of Caracas.


Interestingly also, this Phelps family is related to the Phelps family of the mining corp, Phelps-Dodge:

Phelps Dodge Corporation was an American mining company founded in 1834 by Anson Greene Phelps and his two sons-in-law William Earle Dodge, Sr. and Daniel James who ran the Liverpool (England) based side of the organisation - Phelp, James & Co. On March 19, 2007, it was acquired by Freeport-McMoRan and now operates under the name Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.


International finance is a vast realm of fraud & theft.

Forex claims ‘as bad as Libor’, says FCA

The global investigation into the manipulation of the foreign exchange market is proving as serious as the Libor rigging probe, which has resulted in more than $6bn of fines for banks, the head of the UK’s financial watchdog warned on Tuesday.

Deutsche Bank fired three foreign exchange traders in New York as a result of the probe...That brings the tally of traders who have been suspended, placed on leave or fired to more than 18 at nine banks...

In the wake of Libor rigging, the FCA and other regulators have launched a broad review of the way prices are formed in other asset classes, especially those where the market is relatively illiquid or opaque.

BaFin, Germany’s financial regulator, confirmed in December that it was looking into potential manipulation of gold and silver prices. The European Commission began a probe of potential manipulation of oil prices last year; and the FCA has been looking with the CFTC at benchmark fixings for interest rate swaps.


KBOO Receives Grant to Investigate ALEC Ties to Oregon Legislation

KBOO Community Radio 90.7 FM has been awarded a five thousand dollar grant from the Fund For Investigative Journalism (FIJ) to conduct an investigation of Oregon legislation which has been influenced or created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

With this grant, KBOO volunteer investigative reporters will review Oregon state legislative activities to uncover ALEC influences on bills introduced in the Oregon state legislature between 2011 and 2014. KBOO investigative reporters have already, through their research, discovered direct links between three pieces of Oregon legislation, including the so-called 'Oregon GMO Protection Bill' passed as part of the special session in December 2013.

ALEC is an organization consisting of state legislators and corporate representatives, whose aim is to introduce legislation at the state level to advance the principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism.

The resulting data will be broadcast to KBOO’s listenership through audio reports, a special section on the KBOO website http://www.kboo.fm, and included in a publication by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Jenka Soderberg, News Director at KBOO community radio, says "Sometimes it seems like the only time KBOO gets mentioned in other media is when there's bickering. This grant, which recognizes KBOO's prowess as a local community news outlet, reminds Oregonians that KBOO has long been at the forefront of reporting news of importance to local residents.”

As both small and large media sources are folding throughout the region, KBOO news is increasingly a critical resource for those seeking uncensored, up-to-date, local information. Although KBOO has a shoestring budget, the station owns its own modest building, and is proud of its up-to-date studio and recording technologies, including three broadcasting transmitters in Portland, Hood River and Corvallis.


Occupy Wall Street leader now works for Google, wants to crowdfund a private militia

Remember Justine Tunney? The OWS-anarchist-turned-cultist-Google-employee who bashed my reporting on Google’s for-profit surveillance? Well, today she hit the big time.

Over the last few days, Tunney has been causing a Twitter outrage tsunami after she took full control of the main Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Twitter account, claimed to be the founder of OWS and then proceeded to tweet out stream of ridiculous anarcho-corporatist garbage. She railed against welfare, described the government as “just another corporation,” argued poverty was not a political problem but “an engineering problem” and told politicians to “get out of the way.” She also debunked what she thought was a misconception: people thought OWS activists were protesting against concentrated corporate power, and that, she claims, is simply not true.

As I wrote before, Tunney’s sudden epiphany that not all corporations are evil just happened to coincide with her decision to take a well-paid job at Google. Since then she has become an astroturfer par excellence for the company, including showing up in a comment section to bash my reporting on Google’s vast for-profit surveillance operation. “It never ceases to amaze me how far people have to stretch in order to denounce the one corporation that gives away everything for free,” she wrote.

It’s important to realize that, before taking her job at Google, Tunney wasn’t just an Occupy foot soldier, but a prominent spokesperson for the movement. She’s been written about in the New Yorker and The Nation as one of the founding members of OWS in Zuccotti Park, and was instrumental in setting up and running OWS’s main Internet communication hub, OccupyWallSt.org. In media profiles, Tunney described herself as “just another geek trying to help out with the revolution,” and you can see her in photographs with other hi-tech revolutionaries occupying a table in Zuccotti Park, hunched over laptops, wires and computer gear.

But actually Tunney’s claim that she founded Occupy is by far the least interesting part of the story. Buzzfeed’s Gray missed a much weirder and sinister development: Tunney — a Google employee — has been pushing a crazy crusade to fund a paid mercenary protester army to fight against Wall Street — all via KickStarter.

No joke, grrrrls and bros! Tunney wants to crowdsource a private army revolution!


60% of consumer spending is done by just the top 20% of income earners

America’s income inequality has grown so wide that the current “recovery” is driven primarily by the upper fifth of income earners, as revealed by the latest consumer spending data. Right now, more than 60% of all consumer spending is done by just the top 20% of income earners. And retailers are noticing.

This is the America that’s in recovery. Who is part of that 20% with most of the spending money? First, obviously, are the bigs (the Kochs, the Edelsteins, the Rubins and Dimons, the hedge fund kings and queens). The next level down includes their top retainers (those who are paid — or campaign-financed — to serve their financial interests … people like, well …). And finally, there’s the broad class of well-paid and needed professionals, those who get the real trickle-down, who earn real money when the economy is good. Doctors, lawyers, high-tech pros, engineers, sales types, the people at the airport on a weekday. Everyone with a needed skill who keeps the machine running and whose job can’t be outsourced.

Inflation-adjusted incomes below that point have collapsed, or gone flat with barely a hint of recovery. We’ll show this data in two ways below. Read on.


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