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Member since: Wed Dec 11, 2013, 03:23 PM
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America Betrayed MLK for Condemning US Wars for Predatory Investments

On TV, the week-end before the Martin Luther King Jr.’ birthday holiday, see all the celebrities, Black, white, Asian, Latino. They will come to praise King and bury again King’s condemnation of US atrocity “wars meant to maintain unjust predatory investments on three continents.” [1]

They will hail King to heaven, loudly, to drown out anyone whispering that King called their dirty government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world...” [1]

But with the horrific carpet bombing of Laos and the holocaust Americans put upon Vietnam after paying the French army for eight years to retake the colony it had turned over to Japan during the Second World War, our now more worldly aware and politically informed successful hero Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in early 1967, now knew enough, AND HAD HAD ENOUGH.

He said:

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.” And that time has come for us. “They languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury.

“So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones? We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing — in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church.

“We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in the rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.” [1]

For forty years now, one had read and heard the highest admiration for Rev. King from the same New York Times, Washington Post, other newspapers and electronic media that in 1967, after Rev. King made embarrassing world headlines with his sermon “Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break Silence,” vilified him as “a traitor,” and “a disgrace to his race!”


By the time King made the "Beyond Vietnam" speech, Smiley tells host Neal Conan, "he had fallen off already the list of most-admired Americans as tallied by Gallup every year." Smiley continues, "it was the most controversial speech he ever gave. It was the speech he labored over the most."

After King delivered the speech, Smiley reports, "168 major newspapers the next day denounced him." Not only that, but then-President Lyndon Johnson disinvited King to the White House. "It basically ruins their relationship," says Smiley. "This was a huge, huge speech," he continues, "that got Martin King in more trouble than anything he had ever seen or done."


Kevyn Orr Indicates Big Banks Might Have Defrauded Detroit

Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press reports that Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr testified in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Friday that he had asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to consider prosecuting two global banks over a disastrous debt deal from 2005 that helped plunge Detroit into bankruptcy.

Bomey wrote:

Orr said this morning that he had conversations with the SEC about filing actions against UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which collectively provided interest-rate swaps on a $1.4 billion pension debt deal originating in 2005.

He did not say how the SEC responded to his request. The Free Press reported in September that the deal might have been illegal.

Orr said he thought the city might have a potential fraud claim against the bank, but added that the city decided to settle the swaps debt in lieu of a legal battle.


Today, Orr acknowledged "serious questions" about whether the city owes a dime on the deal, saying the city might have a "potential fraud claim" against the banks.

Still, he said the city decided to settle the swaps debt instead of pursuing a legal challenge, calling the chances of success 50-50.

The original swaps settlement collapsed last month after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes questioned the city’s decision to pay $230 million to settle the $293-million swaps debt, suggesting the deal might be too generous to the banks.

At the time, Rhodes also questioned the city’s decision not to disclose its legal assessment of the $1.4 billion pension obligation certificates of participation deal and related swaps.

Lawyers for Jones Day, the city’s bankruptcy law firm, told Rhodes that they were hiding the strategy because they might still sue the banks.

But this morning, Orr disclosed the city’s legal assessment in detail, marking an about-face from the city’s previous strategy.

Orr acknowledged:

--The city’s 2009 decision to pledge its casino tax revenue as collateral on the swaps might have been illegal because the Michigan Gaming Act may not allow the pledge.

--The original 2005 debt deal might have been illegal because it may have put the city over its legal debt limit.

--The city might have a fraud claim against the banks for effectively tricking the city into the swaps deal by leveraging "superior" information about future interest rates.

--UBS’ involvement in an interest-rate manipulation
scandal might have led to a fraud claim for the city.

Problematic for the city is that City Council at the time secured legal opinions approving the pension debt and swaps deals. The City Council also secured a letter of approval from the state’s gaming board approving the use of casino tax revenues as collateral.

Orr said it would be too risky to pursue a legal challenge against the swaps because it would take too long, cost too much and raise a serious chance of defeat....

The city has argued that getting rid of the swaps would free up cash flow to reinvest in public safety and blight removal, while also removing restrictions over the use of its vital casino tax revenue.


Attorney Jerome Goldberg, appearing on behalf of City of Detroit retiree David Sole, questions Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr regarding the interest rate swaps deal, viewed by many as another gift to the very banks that destroyed Detroit’s neighborhoods using subprime mortgages and that have been charged and convicted of fraud of all sorts.


Ibragim Todashev’s Father Writes Open Letter to Obama (Warning: Graphic death photos at link)

Abdul-Baki Todashev, the father of Ibragim Todashev, the Tamerlan Tsarnaev associate shot to death in his Orlando, Fla., apartment by a FBI agent in the company of two Massachusetts State Troopers in May, has released an open letter to President Obama calling for justice.

His letter includes photos of the bloodied Orlando apartment taken about a week and half after Ibragim was killed, images of his bullet-ridden body, and a photo of his knee following a surgery he had in March.

Federal prosecutors have officially stated the government’s contention that Todashev implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a 2011 triple murder in Waltham. Anonymous FBI sources also told reporters that Todashev implicated himself in those murders, along with conflicting reports about how Todashev died.

In the letter, Abdul-Baki Todashev accuses FBI agents of deliberately killing and torturing his son (citing bruise marks near his left eye) and threatening and deporting his son’s acquaintances. Todashev asks the president to ensure that the FBI does not interfere with the independent investigation into his son’s death.


That's pretty much the gist of it. The main interest of the photos is that they show a lot of bullet holes.

Afghan War blamed for child malnutrition

United Nations figures show that malnutrition among Afghan children has increased more than 50 percent since 2012, with doctors blaming the ongoing war in the country for the crisis.

Hospitals across Afghanistan have been registering significant increases in severe malnutrition among children, The New York Times reported on Sunday. Severe cases have been reported in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Kunar, Farah, Paktia and Paktika all places where the continuing war has wrecked people’s lives and pushed the poor over the nutritional edge, the report said.

Doctors and aid workers have mainly blamed continuing war and refugee displacement for the hunger crisis. “In 2001, it was even worse, but this is the worst I’ve seen since then,” said Dr. Saifullah Abasin, the head of the malnutrition ward at Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul.

Dr. Mohammad Dawood, a pediatrician at Bost Hospital, said there were seven or eight deaths a month there because of acute malnutrition from June through August, and five in September.
Doctors around the country have reported similar rates.

Officials at UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health have declined to characterize child malnutrition here as an emergency, however, according to the Times.

As defined internationally, that would mean severe acute malnutrition in more than 10 percent of children younger than 5; health officials in Afghanistan estimate the rate is more like 7 percent.

The US and its allies entered the war in Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but the war has ruined the lives of people of Afghanistan. The Times said, "What is clear is that, despite years of Western involvement and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, children’s health is not only still a problem, but also worsening...


Germany tries "stop & frisk"

After more than a week of daily protests and strong criticism against Hamburg police authorities, the police announced that the so-called “danger zones” (which are actually state of emergency zones where police are able to stop, search, ban and detain people as they please) were over on Monday.

Mainstream media criticized the excessive use of force by police, and the police fabrication of an attack on Davidwache police station at Hamburgs famous Reeperbahn. Protesters were reclaiming the streets on a daily basis, and because of the spontaneous nature of the protests – and the massive support of local residents – police forces couldn’t control the protests, and after 9 days of daily protests, authorities finally gave up. During the 9 days that the danger zone existed police had harassed 990 people, banned 195 people from the area, detained 66 people and made only 5 arrests.

For German activists, closure of the danger zone was an important win, as it was the first time police authorities installed a danger zone to suppress political protests. Many activists feared that other German cities might follow the pilot project of police authorities in Hamburg. On Monday afternoon and in the evening hours, there were still protests ongoing in Hamburg because people are mobilizing against the law that makes these danger zones possible, and also to make it clear that they have not forgotten their original demands. People demand the right to stay for the “Lampedusa in Hamburg” refugees, make clear that they are against the demolition of the Esso houses, and that they will defend the autonomous cultural center Rote Flora (which is still under threat of eviction).

Police authorities claim that activists started the clashes, but their lobby groups demanded rubber bullets and tasers for the police. Hysterical media supported the police so much that authorities decided to install the danger zones. But after the strong protests and the elimination of the danger zones, Hamburg’s ruling social-democratic SPD party made a U-turn on Tuesday, and are now blaming the owner Klaus-Martin Kretschmer of the Rote Flora building for the clashes. The SPD announced that the city of Hamburg wants to buy the building back for 1.1 million Euro. Kretschmer bought the from city authorities in 2001 for 190.000 Euro in order to make a huge profit. But on the same day, Kretschmer reacted and he said he would not sell the building back to the city, and that he will continue with his plans to evict the Rote Flora and to build a theater with a car park inside the building. In a leaked letter from the city of Hamburg to Kretschmer, the city is even threatening to force Kretschmer to sell the building. The SPD wants to buy the building to maintain its occupied status.


"Red Flora"

The Rote Flora is a former theater in the neighbourhood Schanzenviertel in Hamburg. It has been squatted in November 1989 in response to the decision to turn it into a musical theatre.

However, residents, shopkeepers and autonomous groups responded negatively and, within months, the protest grew. Nevertheless, the historical building was partly torn down in April 1988. Still, the protests went on and soon culminated in several violent assaults by militant groups. The need of police protection and the negative response in media eventually urged the investors to forfeit the plan.

Until following summer, the ruins and remaining parts were vacant, although several groups, involved in the prior protests, had ambitions of renovating and reusing the house again. In August 1989, the city unexpectedly offered a six-months lease to these groups. After the lease was official, the Rote Flora opened on September 23, 1989. However, the lease was soon declared obsolete and the Rote Flora was declared as squatted on November 1, 1989. Since then, the Rote Flora offers space for cultural and political events...


Top Ten Examples of Welfare for the Rich

One. State and Local Subsidies to Corporations. An excellent New York Times study by Louise Story calculated that state and local government provide at least $80 billion in subsidies to corporations...

Two. Direct Federal Subsidies to Corporations. The Cato Institute estimates that federal subsidies to corporations costs taxpayers almost $100 billion every year.

Three. Federal Tax Breaks for Corporations. The tax code gives corporations special tax breaks which reduced what is supposed to be a 35 percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

Four. Federal Tax Breaks for Wealthy Hedge Fund Managers. Special tax breaks for hedge fund managers allow them to pay only 15% rate while the people they earned the money for usually pay 35% rate. This is the break where the multimillionaire manager pays less of a percentage in taxes than her secretary. The National Priorities Project estimates this costs taxpayers $83 billion annually and 68% of those who receive this special tax break earn more than $462,500 per year (the top one percent of earners).

Five. Subsidy to Fast Food Industry. Research by the University of Illinois and UC Berkeley documents that taxpayers pay about $243 billion each year in indirect subsidies to the fast food industry because they pay wages so low that taxpayers must put up $243 billion to pay for public benefits for their workers...


On taming a revolution: the South African case

Any sober strategy for realizing progressive, let alone socialist, goals from the promising drama of the new struggles emerging in South Africa must necessarily begin with an interrogation of South Africa’s disappointing path to the present. Such an interrogation must, of course, be done with care. For one does not want to trivialize in any way that which, with the overthrow of apartheid, has been accomplished: the defeat of a bankrupt and evil system of institutionalized racism, a system entirely worthy of its consignment to the global scrapheap of history. Yet in what now looks like a classic case study of how to demobilize a potential revolution, the African National Congress (ANC), working with its new allies, both domestic and foreign, has succeeded in integrating South Africa firmly into the broader world of global capitalism.

As South Africa entered its key transition years (from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s) it would have been hard to imagine that a bald swap of apartheid for the country’s recolonization within the newly ascendant Empire of Capital could ever be seen as being a very impressive accomplishment. Yet it is just such an outcome that has occurred in South Africa, one that has produced – alongside some minimal narrowing of the economic gap between black and white (as a result, primarily, of a small minority of blacks moving up the income ladder) – both a marked widening of the gap between rich and poor (the latter mainly black) and a failure to realize any substantial progress towards tangible ‘development’ and meaningful popular empowerment. It is precisely this recolonization of South Africa, occurring on the ANC’s watch, that forms the context within which the left in that country now seeks to regroup and to struggle.

In this essay, then, we are left to pose some sobering questions about the country’s very transition away from apartheid: what kind of liberation has really occurred in South Africa anyway? How has what happened been allowed to happen? And how has the ANC managed, thus far, to get away with it?

The key to understanding this denouement was, in fact, provided in a deftly
illuminating commentary by none other than Steve Biko.
Asked, in 1972,
to reflect on the economy of the country, and identify ‘what trends or
factors in it … you feel are working towards the fulfillment of the long term
ends of blacks’, he suggested that the regime’s deep commitment to a racial
hierarchy had actually acted as ‘a great leveller’ of class formation amongst
the black population and dictated ‘a sort of similarity in the community’ –
such that the ‘constant jarring effect of the (apartheid) system’ produced a
‘common identification’ on the part of the people. Whereas, in the more
liberal system envisaged by the Progressive Party of the time, ‘you would
get stratification creeping in, with your masses remaining where they are or
getting poorer, and the cream of your leadership, which is invariably derived
from the so-called educated people, beginning to enter bourgeois ranks,
admitted into town, able to vote, developing new attitudes and new friends
… a completely different tone’.

Indeed, South Africa is
one country where it would be possible to create a capitalist black society,
if the whites were intelligent. If the Nationalists were intelligent. And that
capitalist black society, black middle-class, would be very effective at an
important stage. Primarily because a hell of a lot of blacks have got a bit
of education – I’m talking comparatively speaking to the so-called rest of
Africa – and a hell of a lot of them could compete favorably with whites
in the fields of industry, commerce and professions. And South Africa
could succeed to put across to the world a pretty convincing integrated
picture with still 70 per cent of the population being underdogs.
Indeed, it was precisely because the whites were so ‘terribly afraid of this’
that South Africa represented, to Biko, ‘the best economic system for
revolution’. For ‘the evils of it are so pointed and so clear, and therefore
make teaching of alternative methods, more meaningful methods, more
indigenous methods even, much easier under the present sort of setup’.3

Flash forward to the late 1980s, however. The reform (‘intelligent’) wing of the National
Party (NP) – together with those of the capitalist class, both of English and
Afrikaner origin, who increasingly claimed the allegiance of NP reformers
– had become just what Biko imagined the Progressive Party already to be
in his own time.

For the NP was then proving to be (at least at the top)For the NP was then proving to be (at least at the top) a party capable –
albeit with great caution and much obvious reluctance – of contemplating
the shedding of apartheid for a system designed, more straightforwardly, both
to empower a liberal capitalist regime and to move to facilitate black (even
black majority) participation within it. For ‘intelligent racists’ and capitalists
alike could begin to see capital’s link to the politics of racial domination
as having been a contingent one...
Not, needless to say, that the resultant
transition to a (tendentially) colour-blind capitalism would be simple
or entirely straightforward; there were genuinely dangerous alternative
possibilities that had to be overcome. Nonetheless, the ‘false decolonization’
evoked by Biko was to be, precisely, the ultimate outcome to which socialist
strategy for South Africa in the twenty-first century would have to address


"Do what you love"

“Do what you love. Love what you do.” The commands are framed and perched in a living room that can only be described as “well-curated.” A picture of this room appeared first on a popular design blog, but has been pinned, tumbl’d, and liked thousands of times by now. Lovingly lit and photographed, this room is styled to inspire Sehnsucht, roughly translatable from German as a pleasurable yearning for some utopian thing or place. Despite the fact that it introduces exhortations to labor into a space of leisure, the “do what you love” living room — where artful tchotchkes abound and work is not drudgery but love — is precisely the place all those pinners and likers long to be. The diptych arrangement suggests a secular version of a medieval house altar.

There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem is that it leads not to salvation, but to the devaluation of actual work, including the very work it pretends to elevate — and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? Who is the audience for this dictum? Who is not?

By keeping us focused on ourselves and our individual happiness, DWYL distracts us from the working conditions of others while validating our own choices and relieving us from obligations to all who labor, whether or not they love it. It is the secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.

Aphorisms have numerous origins and reincarnations, but the generic and hackneyed nature of DWYL confounds precise attribution. Oxford Reference links the phrase and variants of it to Martina Navratilova and François Rabelais, among others. The internet frequently attributes it to Confucius, locating it in a misty, Orientalized past. Oprah Winfrey and other peddlers of positivity have included it in their repertoires for decades, but the most important recent evangelist of the DWYL creed is deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs. His graduation speech to the Stanford University class of 2005 provides as good an origin myth as any, especially since Jobs had already been beatified as the patron saint of aestheticized work well before his early death...

But by portraying Apple as a labor of his individual love, Jobs elided the labor of untold thousands in Apple’s factories, conveniently hidden from sight on the other side of the planet — the very labor that allowed Jobs to actualize his love.

Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it’s critical to ask, “Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like non-work?” “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?” Historian Mario Liverani reminds us that “ideology has the function of presenting exploitation in a favorable light to the exploited, as advantageous to the disadvantaged.”


West Virginia: Freedom Industries has ties to Koch Brothers

In 2008, Freedom Industries was specially selected by Georgia-Pacific Chemicals as a distributor of G-P's Talon brand mining reagents for West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Minnesota, Kentucky and Michigan.

Georgia-Pacific Chemicals is, of course, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific, which was acquired by Koch Industries in 2005.

"We are excited to offer our customers inventive products like Talon that push past the status quo in coal recovery to bring profit and productivity benefits to mining preparation plants," said Joshua Herzing, director of business development for Freedom Industries. "Georgia Pacific's longstanding technical expertise and R&D capabilities combined with the industry knowledge, skill and reputation of Freedom Industries will provide an excellent platform for growth and development of new technology to meet existing and future customer demands. We are proud to be part of Georgia-Pacific's strategy as a global supplier of mining reagents in multiple market segments."


Koch-Funded Book Argues Against Mine Safety Laws In West Virginia

Paul Nyden, writing in the Charleston Gazette this Sunday, revealed that Koch Industries — the massive conglomerate of oil, chemical, manufacturing, timber, hedge fund, coal, and shipping interests run by the right-wing ideologues David and Charles Koch — has seeded West Virginia with several conservative front groups.

Koch foundations provide the cash for anti-government efforts in the Mountain State, including a right-wing “think tank” called the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia and for free-market faculty members at West Virginia University. Nyden notes that Russell Sobel, a local economist whose research and writing has been underwritten by Koch fronts, argues against the minimum wage and against mine safety laws...

The Koch-funded think tank recently started a phony news service in West Virginia, called the “West Virginia Watchdog.” Americans for Prosperity, the fake grassroots group founded and financed by David Koch, has been running television ads in West Virginia attacking progressive reforms.

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