Wednesday, May 30, 2012

be suspicious about Wall Street's Facebook Fiasco

So, until the Administration shows us some Wall Street indictments, the usual suspects will keep committing the usual offenses over and over. The Justice Department needs to get serious about investigating Wall Street fraud. And more states should join Massachusetts in investigating this deal.
This one goes to 11 ...
Do we know that's what happened with the Facebook IPO? No - and we won't know without a proper investigation. But we do know that the Facebook plunge reflects a classic scenario for shady traders who make money hyping a stock while secretly betting against it.
And we know that all three of these institutions are perfectly capable of doing it. They have the means, they have the motive, and - until our government does something about it - they have the opportunity.
So get on with it, Washington. You better update your status on those fraud investigations before it's too late.

Brazil: Slutwalks:

Nine Words Sum Up America's Corporate Welfare Queens

Vietnam: Fascism of Vietnam's 'Modern' Finance Is Just Like the West's ..

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 – by Staff Report, Daily Bell

Vietnam Stocks Seen Gaining as Interest Rates Fall ... Vietnamese stocks, Asia's biggest losers during the past five years, are rising the most in 2012 as the nation's largest money managers say falling interest rates will reverse the deepest earnings slump in three years. – Bloomberg
Dominant Social Theme: Look at the progress! Vietnam is a modern state now.
Free-Market Analysis: We at the Daily Bell are old enough to remember the rigid Marxism espoused by Vietnam and the fear espoused by America's top politicos that it would eventually be visited on the West.
If we don't stop them there, politicians intoned, we'll have to stop them here. This was merely another verbalization of the domino theory.
Look how Vietnam has grown. And matured. It was inevitable wasn't it? Today Vietnam has a well-capitalized stock market, a central bank, a Treasury apparatus and other accoutrements of the modern global state. Presumably it has inflation, difficulties balancing its budget and a growing consumerist population as well. These are all the ephemera of modern central banking economies.
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Austerity Being Defeated in the Elections

Prof. Jayati Ghosh: EU Zone Policies will have to Change

Prof. Jayati Ghosh, JNU discusses with Newsclick the impact of the elections in France and Greece on the fiscal and economic policies of Euro zone. She believes that though Greece is now nearing end-game, if Germany and the EU is willing to change its austerity regime, there is still a chance of Euro zone to continue. But it will require a fundamental change in its economic vision that is still tied to the neo-liberal framework.

How the "Job Creators" REALLY Spend Their Money

In his "Gospel of Wealth," Andrew Carnegie argued that average Americans should welcome the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, because the "superior wisdom, experience, and ability" of the rich would ensure benefits for all of us. More recently, Edward Conard, the author of "Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong, said: "As a society, we're not offering our talented few large enough rewards. We're underpaying our 'risk takers.'"(Photo:

Does wealthy America have a point, that giving them all the money will ensure it's disbursed properly, and that it will create jobs and stimulate small business investment while ultimately benefiting society? Big business CEOs certainly think so, claiming in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that an increase in the capital gains tax would reduce investment "when we need capital formation here in America to create jobs and expand our economy."

They don't cite evidence for their claims, because the evidence proves them wrong. Here are the facts:

The Very Rich Don't Like Making Risky Investments

Marketwatch estimates that over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate. According to economist Richard Wolff, about half of the assets of the richest 1% are held in unincorporated business equity (personal business accounts). The Wall Street Journal notes that over three-quarters of individuals worth over $20 million are invested in hedge funds.

Angel investing (capital provided by affluent individuals for business start-ups) accounted for less than 1% of the investable assets of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011.

The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey confirmed that the very rich spend less than two percent of their money on new business startups. The last thing most of them want, apparently, is the risky business of hiring people for new innovation.

The Very Rich Don't Like Taking On Risky Jobs

CEOs, upper management, and financial professionals made up about 60 percent of the richest 1% of Americans in 2005. Only 3 percent were entrepreneurs. A recent study found that less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs came from very rich or very poor backgrounds.The biggest investment by corporations is overseas, where they keep 57 percent of their cash and fill their factories with low-wage workers. Commerce Department figures show that U.S. companies cut their work forces by 2.9 million from 2000 to 2009 while increasing overseas employment by 2.4 million.

In fact, the very rich may not care about U.S. jobs in any form. Surveys reveal that 60 percent of investors worth $25 million or more are investing up to a third of their total assets overseas. Back home, the extra wealth created by the Bush tax cuts led to "worst track record" for jobs in recorded history. The true American job creator, as venture capitalist Nick Hanauer would agree, is the middle-class consumer.

The Very Rich Corporations Don't Like Spending On America

How do corporations spend their money? To a good extent, they don't. According to Moody's, cash holdings for U.S. non-financial firms rose 3 percent to $1.24 trillion in 2011. The corporate cash-to-assets ratio nearly tripled between 1980 and 2010. It has been estimated that the corporate stash of cash reserves held in America could employ 3.5 million more people for five years at an annual salary of $40,000.

The top holders of cash, including Apple and Google and Intel and Coca Cola and Chevron, are spending their money on stock buybacks (which increase stock option prices), dividends to investors, and subsidiary acquisitions. According to Bloomberg, share repurchasing is at one of its highest levels in 25 years.

Apple claims to have added 500,000 jobs to the economy, but that includes app-building tech enthusiasts and Fedex drivers delivering iPhones. The company actually has 47,000 U.S. employees, about one-tenth of General Motors' workforce in the 1990s.

The biggest investment by corporations is overseas, where they keep 57 percent of their cash and fill their factories with low-wage workers. Commerce Department figures show that U.S. companies cut their work forces by 2.9 million from 2000 to 2009 while increasing overseas employment by 2.4 million. They also tap into a "brain drain" of foreign entrepreneurs, scientists, and medical professionals rather than supporting education in America.

One last way corporations see fit to spend their money: executive bonuses. Especially at the banks, where the extra stipends are often paid for with zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve.

The richest individuals and corporations are really good at building up fortunes. They're even better at building up their "job creator" myth.
Paul Buchheit
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

Top Ten Reasons To Occupy Bilderberg by OzHouse

By J.G. Vibes
May 29, 2012
If you have decided to join the grassroots activist call to occupy Bilderberg, then you are most likely in the process of getting ready for your trip.
For those of you that are still on the fence about going I have one last article that will hopefully convince you to hit the road yourself, and be a part of the new media for this year’s event.
The following is a list that covers many of the points I have discussed, and some that I haven’t in a quick and easy format for easy reading and sharing.  I have appreciated all of the tips, suggestions and other emails I have gotten over the past month on this topic, and I have really enjoyed working with theintelhub bringing you this information…..So if you’re not already convinced, here are the top ten reasons to occupy Bilderberg (or atleast my top reasons):
1.  Cover many important issues in one spot - With so many different problems facing our species at the same time, getting involved in activism can seem like fighting an octopus with infinite tentacles, or more appropriately an “infinipus” as Madison Rupert described on end the lie radio this Sunday while discussing the global aristocracy with Bob Tuskin, Curt Williams and myself.  At the Bilderberg meeting you can find all of those tentacles (or at least most of them) in one place.
The power structure that exploits us does not start and end with Bilderberg, and is more philosophical in nature than anything.  However the people that do control the worlds land, resources, media and political control systems are all represented as this meeting, making it a “one stop shop” of sorts, in regards to activism.  As I have been saying all month, the military industrial complex, banking interests, royalty, mainstream media, and other predatory organizations are involved with this meeting.  This is not necessarily because these groups get along all of the time, they just happen to share the common goal of land, finance and resource centralization.
2.  Keep up the pressure – the only reason why Bilderberg is even talked about now is because of the hard work of independent media in the past.  Now that those involved with Bilderberg are finally admitting its existence, it’s time to overpower the mainstream media’s watered down and uninformative depiction of the group.  Especially with the recent surge in activism, this is a perfect opportunity to gain ground on an organization who has managed to stay out of the spotlight for all of these years.
3.  Outgrow the mainstream media – The mainstream media is a joke in so many ways.  Not only do they provide a completely fictional version of reality for the general population, but they have largely lost relevance due to the rise of the decentralized alternative media in the past decade.  In so many ways this meeting represents the incredible dishonesty of the mainstream media, and mainstream culture as a whole, but most people don’t even realize it because they don’t even know that this organization exists.  However, if they were to find out about this organization because thousands of independent people became the media themselves and did the work that the mainstream media hasn’t been doing, that would radically change the whole political paradigm in the entire world.
4.  Identify the real ruling class – As I discussed in detail in my article “Identify Bilderberg as the real 1%”, the Bilderberg group is a meeting of the world’s aristocracy, whose names are surprisingly absent in discussions about global inequality.  Unfortunately, “the ruling class” is just some vague abstraction for most people, but in reality there is a group of aristocrats who are descendants of the feudal slave masters from the Middle Ages.  These people have names and  they also have fortune 100 companies that all have ties to the Bilderberg group.  Bringing these names and organizations into the light would finally define “the ruling class”.
5.  Bring think tanks into the political discussion – While the general population is trapped in the arguments of the false left/right paradigm, there arethink tanks and policy institutes compiled of aristocrats who are literally writing all of the legislation that eventually gets forced through congress by lobbyists.  Getting the political discussion away from the meaningless politicians and towards the groups that give them their orders would be a huge step in the right direction for the freedom movement.
6.  Document ties between politicians, multinational corporations and royalty – This is the aspect that should be most appealing to occupy wall street, who has been justly speaking out against financial influence in Washington.  Bilderberg is a consolidation of some of the oldest money in the world, and they have openly admitted to setting global policy, from war to economic measures, to picking presidents.  Bilderberg is the very epitome of this corruption between political and financial interests that has taken center stage in the past year.  This is the group that owns wallstreet and Washington, so this is by far the most fitting place for occupy wall street to go next.  This is the perfect place to prove and document the corruption that is taken place, so the general public will no longer have the ability to deny it.
7.  Peaceful gathering  Thanks to the mainstream media, protesting in general has gotten a pretty bad wrap.  Overall, most protestors for any cause are generally peaceful, and I predict that Bilderberg will be even calmer than most.  From what I have seen of those supporting “occupy Bilderberg”, it seems like everyone is on the same page.  Everyone that I have come into contact with has been extremely well read and understands that violence accomplishes nothing, especially when fighting a propaganda battle against a group of people who have all of the military force in the world.  I am also predicting that the police wont be starting much trouble either, because the last thing that the Bilderberg group wants is a police riot on their behalf broadcasting worldwide.
8. Unify activists - It doesn’t matter if you think that wall street is to blame for our current crisis, or if you think that the government is to blame, either way this organization is in control of both of those institutions so this should be a mission that we can all agree on.  If we want to create a free society, we are going to need to find some common ground and work from there. With the world caught up in war, austerity and financial collapse many different people from many different walks of life have begun to speak up, all of us wanting freedom, but all of us also having different ideas about what freedom is and how to get there. There is no reason why the Bilderberg group cannot be that common ground from which we begin to clear a path towards freedom.
9. The ripple effect -  For far too long people who have cared about freedom and imagined a better world for our species have felt alone in their interests, and have been forced onto the fringes of society.  The attention that this year’s Bilderberg has gotten, and the increasing interest in activism should tell us that we are far from alone, and that our numbers are growing by the day.  There is still a lot of work to be done though, and every action that you take will have a ripple effect on other people and on the global situation as a whole.  The ripple effect that a strong turnout this year at Bilderberg would cause is unimaginable, so I’m sure that’s something that you would like to be a part of :-) 
10. Now or Never - It has been four years since Bilderberg has last met in the US, so chances are they won’t be back for a while…..Now is your chance….

Monday, May 28, 2012

Clinton Condemns ‘Rule by Murder’

No more, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday after a massacre in Syria by government forces left 32 children and more than 60 other people dead. “Those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account,” Clinton said. “And the United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said he wanted to see a “strong response” to the brutal attack. Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi denied that Syrian forces perpetrated the attack, saying that the killing of women and children is not “the hallmark of the heroic Syrian Army.”

Meghan is blasted calling for civility

Meghan McCain: Cut It Out, Internet Bullies!

After Meghan McCain spoke out on TV about the GOP’s extremists, Twitter and the blogosphere blew up with personal attacks. What will it take to stop name-calling and focus on the issues?

Last week, I went on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show PoliticsNation to talk about extremism in the Republican Party. As a socially liberal Republican, this happens to be a topic I know a lot about. On the show, I told Sharpton that many Republicans treat me like a freak, especially the extreme-right members of my party. I went on to say that I don’t understand the appeal of extreme bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and the late Andrew Breitbart. That’s all I said, but it only took a few hours before my comments were posted out of context on a variety of blogs that suggested I was viciously attacking Breitbart. My Twitter feed exploded with insults, including the suggestion that I should kill myself.

Instead of ignoring the hate projected at me, I elected to retweet some of the most vile responses. I wanted to show people what happens to me when I go on TV and voice my opinion. The Internet trolls weren’t interested in having a discussion about my opinion; they just wanted to eviscerate me. Here’s a watered-down version of some of the most hateful comments:

I am fat pig. I am ugly. I am disgusting. I am an embarrassment to my family, and they should be ashamed of me. I am an anti-American extremist. I am a clueless whore. I should drink a bottle of alcohol and pills and kill myself.

That’s only a small sampling, but you get the idea. You would think that by now, having gone through a presidential election with my father in 2008, I would be numb to this kind of name-calling. But I’m not. It hurts, it rattles me, it (understandably) concerns my mother, and it keeps me up at night. In a single day, Dan Abrams’s Mediaite found it necessary to post two full columns about me, questioning my career and suggesting I’m a problem for the Republican Party. By the way, each of the “columnists” behind these posts also vomited up a series of nasty Twitter posts following their columns. And they are supposed to be professionals.

Of all the blog posts I’ve seen in the last few days, my favorite headline is that I “slammed Andrew Breitbart as a hateful extremist.” I did not. It doesn’t matter what I actually said on television. All that matters is that Andrew Breitbart’s name came out of my mouth and I didn’t applaud him. His followers and the rest of the right-wing blogosphere saw blood—and went on the attack.

It’s no secret that the blogosphere is more vicious on women than it is on men.

Meghan McCain on Al Sharpton
McCain on MSNBC last week.

It’s no secret that the blogosphere is more vicious on women than it is on men. Recently, a Photoshopped picture of conservative pundit S.E. Cupp with a phallus in her mouth was printed in Hustler magazine. When Sandra Fluke talks about birth control, Rush Limbaugh calls her a “slut.”

I am often invited to speak at colleges, and whenever I do Q and A’s, a question that inevitably comes up is, how do you put up with the blogosphere? It’s a valid question, and I don’t really know what answer to give. The truth is that I don’t know what to do. When people don’t like my politics, I am happy to have a political discussion with them. But when they don’t like my politics and call me fat and say I should die, what’s left to say?

Bulgaria: President's Gift to the Pope Provokes Humorous Comments

On May 24, the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture, and the Slavonic Literature Day, the Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev visited the Vatican. At a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, President Plevneliev presented a huge Easter egg to him, the work of the Bulgarian sculptor Georgi Andreev.
The egg is made of inox steel and is gold-plated, studded with crystal stones (2,000 ruby-red crystals) in the colors of the rainbow, and consists of 11 sections in the form of diamonds, in the middle of which there is an inscribed cross. The egg is 2.3 meters high and weighs 200 kg - and is also engraved with the letters of the Bulgarian alphabet.
No one in the Bulgarian media wrote about the price of this precious gift. Bulgarian netizens, however, responded to the news with many questions.
On his blog, Bulgarian journalist Ivan Bedrov posted a picture of the Pope and the Bulgarian President standing next to the egg, and commented [bg]:
[…] At first glance, the thing is bigger than the President and the Pope combined. A golden cone? No, a Christmas tree? There was an egg, right? A huge “Fabergé” on the gear of an office chair, with an antenna stuck on top of it. But what is inside, will anyone reveal? […]
In the social media, the gift has become an object of jokes and humor. Here's a small selection:
#Terribly tasteless…
#What does Bulgaria have in common with an egg or Fabergé? What's the message? Maybe that we roost with hens?
#Huge kitsch. Literally.
#Such grandiosity… Looks like the Pope was frightened by the size of the egg.
#Seriously! Who made it? How much does it cost? Who paid the bill?
The good news is that the great gift is not paid for with the public funds. The question is what it symbolizes and what exactly Bulgaria is saying to the world with this gift. Because there's no doubt the photo has made an impression around the world. My first association was with Bulgarian weddings where there it is always more impressive to give a huge washing machine as a gift rather than a small picture. In English, this is called “excessive” […]. Such a gift would be a perfect fit for a visit of Georgi Parvanov [Rosen Plevneliev's predecessor at the President's post] to [Turkmenbashi]'s successor […].
Freelance journalist Martin Ivanov wrote this on his blog [bg]:
[…] In the past, the Vatican had tacitly refused to accept an ambassador sent by the [Bulgarian] President. If Plevneliev has decided to do diplomacy through such Kindersurprises, we can only speculate about what he would give to, say, [the German President Joachim Gauck], to [the U.S. President Barack Obama], or to the French President François Hollande. […]
Journalist Ruslan Yordanov commented in his column [bg] in that the “Vatican ‘Fabergé' amidst the [strongest earthquake] in our country is a sign that the president has completely lost.”
On Facebook, people are discussing another photo of the Bulgarian President, the Pope and the Egg:
Miguel Blank: I really do not understand why there is a giant fake Fabergé with letters?
Kockata Slavov:‎ I wonder where they got the money from to buy this “ovule”? From the Bulgarian people, no money for children and pensions - but we have money for such things. I can't stand these politicians……………
On the Facebook page “,” there was this criticism [bg] of the President's gift:
None of our business…. but Plevneliev gave the Pope a 200 kg egg, on the eve of May 24. The giant gift has been handcrafted for two years by 15 artists. Eheeee, that means that Plevneliev had planned and prepared his gifts before he became President, for the time when he would became President. How prescient, how profound.
In the comment section of the's article [bg] about the President's gift, one reader commented:
Hopefully, there will remain some living space for the people in the Vatican after the installation of the egg…
On Twitter, there were reactions, too.
@bang_limited wrote [bg]:
Plevneliev - A Kindersurprise of the Bulgarian diplomacy: President Rosen Plevneliev gives a 200 kg egg […]
@ssstto wrote [bg]:
Plevneliev has given the Pope a giant egg which will hatch Lady Gaga.
@PolinaPaunova wrote [bg]:
Kitsch as national policy. Plevneliev sharp like a school girl….
And a tweet [bg] from HBO Bulgaria:
Is President Plevneliev a fan of Game of Thrones, that he gave the Pope a dragon egg?
Written by Ruslan Trad Global Voices

Mexico: Occupy Moves South

[...] Mexico: #YoSoy132, The Beginning of the Mexican Spring?, Miguel Angel Guevara, English translation by Elizabeth Rivera (español aquí): The visit of presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto to the Iberoamericana University was marked with protests by students who rebuked the candidate in several occasions. This, along with the media coverage of the event, unleashed an explosive mixture that first found an outlet in social media and has now taken its energy to the streets of major Mexican cities. – La visita del candidato presidencial Enrique Peña Nieto a la Universidad Iberoamericana fue marcada por reclamos de los jóvenes que increparon al candidato. Esto, más la cobertura mediática de la visita desató una mezcla explosiva que expresó su indignación en las redes sociales, y ahora ha trasladado esa energía a las calles de las principales ciudades mexicanas.

Egypt: The Resurrection of Ahmed Shafiq

The initial results of the first stage of the Egyptian presidential election indicate that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq will take part in the runoff vote on June 16 and 17.
There has been widespread shock at the reemergence of Shafiq, one of the “feloul”, or “remnants” of Mubarak's regime. It seems that a majority of Copts as well as many others chose to vote for Shafiq fearing the Islamization of the country and seeking stability.
Netizens have been strongly divided over Ahmed Shafiq's success.
Ahmed Shafiq press conference, 14/5/2012. Image by Virginie Nguyen (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
In a blog post entitled “It is Time of Silence”, Zeinab Mohamed wrote:
My only consolation is that from 90 million Egyptians only 50% of the eligible voters in the country (50 million) participated in this election so we are speaking about 25 million voters only, the historical elections that reminds me of the Six-Day War defeat.
I do not have any words, it is like choosing between two hells: the Muslim brotherhood or Shafiq!!!
We are all to blame especially the #Jan25 Revolutionaries who sat back in bubbly Cairo ‘that voted for Shafiq’ and in their closed social networks realms. We are responsible for this without doubt.
I do not want to speak now but one thing for sure I feel my generation has the same feeling that the 1967 generation felt and I am afraid of that feeling.
Shafiq campaign poster near Shafiq headquarters sprayed with "feloul". Image from Al Jazeera Live Blog (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Hafsa Halawa tweeted angrily:
@Hhafoos: #mubarak is pissin his pants from laughter right now…
Caricature artist Ahmed El Massry expressed his disappointment:
@AElMassry: بعد النتيجه دى يبقى بقى ‎‫#احنا_اسفين_يا_شهداء‬‏
After this result, we are sorry, martyrs
Egyptian-American journalist Reem Abdellatif warned:
@Reem_Abdellatif: Political experts i've talked to expect #Egypt to head toward collision w/ “demos, violence, claims of fraud” if #Shafiq wins.
Other people, on the other hand, support Ahmed Shafiq and celebrated his win. Expatriate businessman Ashraf Ismail explained why he supports Shafiq:
Mr Shafiq has a both conservative and liberal way of thinking and is known to be a very practical person aiming to bring stability to the country and solid investments. Whereas Mr Morsi is an Islamist hardliner with an affiliation to a group that has a deceitful history full of violence.
In terms of future investments and socio-economic development programmes, it is widely envisaged that Egypt’s economy will rapidly grow under Mr Shafiq’s development progamme. Others do have reservations and fears about the state of affairs that Egypt will go through should Mr Morsi wins this race.
Ranya Khalifa pointed out:
@RanyaKhalifa: Stop blaming Copts for #Shafiq's rise!! If you want a “democracy” then don't take it piecemeal..Egyptians are free to choose whom they want!
Journalist Rawya Rageh quoted Shafiq:
@RawyaRageh: #Shafiq: No such thing as I'm affiliated to the old regime, if we say so, then the whole of #Egypt is. We need to grow up, drop this issue.
Although some revolutionary factions warned they will take to the streets if Ahmed Shafiq wins, the leader of Al Nour Party, Egypt's major Salafist party said that they would not protest.
This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/2012.
Written by Salah Almhamdi Global Voices

Brazil: Humiliation of Young Man Opens Media Debate

At the beginning of May, a televised interview of a young man who was accused by the reporter of trying to rape a woman ignited debate over the necessity of regulating the great Brazilian media and of imposing limits on the custom of stereotyping minorities and vulnerable people.

Read more on Global Voices »

Blatant Corruption Exposed as EU Blocks France’s Ban on Monsanto’s GMO Maize

by OzHouse
Just after France legislators and officials moved to ban Monsanto’s genetically modified strain of GMO maize over environmental and health concerns, the European Union has decided to step in and re-secure Monsanto’s presence in the country — against the very will of the nation itself. This should come as no surprise when considering the fact that the United States ambassador to France, a business partner to George W. Bush, stated back in 2007 that nations who did not accept Monsanto’s GMO crops will be ‘penalized’. In fact, ambassador Craig Stapleton went as far as to say that the nations should be threatened with military-styled trade wars.
That’s right, it appears the reason for the unprecedented move to maintain Monsanto’s deeply-rooted foothold in France has to do with the fact that the United States and other nations are continually pushing Monsanto’s agenda — even going as far as to threaten military-styled trade wars to those who oppose the company. Monsanto has major connections with political heads that have actually threatened trade wars against nations opposed to GMOs on record. As I reported back in January, WikiLeaks cables surfaced revealing and startling information concerning Monsanto’s deep involvement with back-end politics.
One of the most telling details involves a statement made by Craig Stapleton, in which he said:
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.”
And that is not even the most shocking part. WikiLeaks cables go on to state that United States diplomats actually work directly for Monsanto, furthering the agenda of the company across the globe. Is it any wonder that France is being assaulted by the EU over its decision to secure the health of its citizens?
It becomes even more obvious when examining the ridiculous reasoning as to why the EU had to step in and block France’s in-house legislation. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected the ban on the grounds that “there is no scientific evidence” that shows “risk to human and animal health or the environment.” Of course there is an overwhelming amount of research showing that Monsanto’s creations do in fact threaten not only human health, but the planet as a whole. Even the EPA has warned over the fact that Monsanto’s GMO crops are spawning ‘mutant’ resistant insects and subsequently requiring substantially more pesticides.
Consumers are waking up to Monsanto’s agenda and the dangers associated with their modified creations. Over 45,000 comments were submitted on the USDA website in opposition to Monsanto’s new genetically modified strain, and only 23 in favor. The corruption of Monsanto is now out in the open, and only serves to show how deeply rooted the company is within the United States government. Is it any coincidence that a major head of the FDA was a leading employee of Monsanto?
OzHouse | May 28, 2012 at 2:11 am | Tags: EU, France, GMO, law, monsanto | Categories: Global | URL:

The Oligarchy's Rule of Law: From Russia to Oklahoma

Sunday, 27 May 2012 09:48 By Mark Ames, The Daily Banter | News Analysis Chesapeake Energy Mercado site in Fort Worth, Texas. Aubrey McClendon, co-founder, CEO and until a few weeks ago Chairman of Chesapeake, was discovered running a hedge fund inside of Chesapeake.Chesapeake Energy Mercado site in Fort Worth, Texas. Aubrey McClendon, co-founder, CEO and until a few weeks ago Chairman of Chesapeake, was discovered running a hedge fund inside of Chesapeake. (Photo: Jim Domke) At the end of the 1990s, after the total collapse of the mass-privatization experiment in Boris Yeltin's Russia, some of the more earnest free-market proselytizers tried making sense of it all. The unprecedented collapse of Russia's economy and its capital markets, the wholesale looting, the quiet extermination of millions of Russians from the shock and destitution (Russian male life expectancy plummeted from 68 years to 56 years)—the terrible consequences of imposing radical libertarian free-market ideas on an alien culture—turned out worse than any worst-case-scenario imagined by the free-market true-believers.
Of all the disastrous results of that experiment, what troubled many Western free-market true-believers most wasn't so much the mass poverty and population collapse, but rather, the way things turned out so badly in Russia's newly-privatized companies and industries. That was the one thing that was supposed to go right. According to the operative theory—developed by the founding fathers of libertarianism/neoliberalism, Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and the rest—a privately-owned company will always outperform a state-run company because private ownership and the profit-motive incentivize the owners to make their companies stronger, more efficient, more competitive, and so on. The theory promises that everyone benefits except for the bad old state and the lazy.
That was the dominant libertarian theory framing the whole "shock doctrine" privatization experiment in Russia and elsewhere. In reality, as everyone was forced to admit by 1999, Russia's privatized companies were stripped and plundered as fast as their new private owners could loot them, leaving millions of workers without salaries, and most of Russia's industry in far worse shape than the Communists left it.
Most of the free-market proselytizers—ranging from Clinton neoliberal Michael McFaul (currently Obama's ambassador to Moscow) to libertarian Pinochet fanboy Andrei Illarionov (currently with the Cato Institute)– blamed everything but free-market experiments for Russia's collapse.
But some of the more earnest believers whose libertarian faith was shaken by what happened to Corporate Russia needed something more sophisticated than a crude historical whitewash.
Lucky for them, Milton Friedman provided the answer to a Cato Institute interviewer: Russia lacked "rule of law"—another neoliberal/libertarian catchphrase that went mainstream in the late 80s. Without "rule of law," Friedman and the rest of the free-market faithful argued, privatization was bound to fail. Here's Friedman's answer in the Cato Institute's 2002 Economic Freedom of the World Report:
CATO: If we reflect upon the fall of communism and the transition from the centrally planned economy to a market economy, what have we learned in the last decade of the importance of economic freedom and other institutions that may be necessary to support economic freedom?
MILTON FRIEDMAN: We have learned about the importance of private property and the rule of law as a basis for economic freedom. Just after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, I used to be asked a lot: "What do these ex-communist states have to do in order to become market economies?" And I used to say: "You can describe that in three words: privatize, privatize, privatize." But, I was wrong. That wasn't enough. The example of Russia shows that. Russia privatized but in a way that created private monopolies-private centralized economic controls that replaced government's centralized controls. It turns out that the rule of law is probably more basic than privatization. Privatization is meaningless if you don't have the rule of law. What does it mean to privatize if you do not have security of property, if you can't use your property as you want to?
Others expanded on Friedman's rationalization, arguing that without this "rule of law" to protect their private property, the new private owners of Russia's industries were incentivized to plunder their companies as quickly as possible for fear that the state would steal their companies back. Of course, all this rationalizing was undermined by fact that Russia's oligarchs stole their companies in the first place, and thieves do tend to steal what they've stolen. But never mind—the libertarian ideology was salvaged, as Russia's privatization experiment was declared "not a real free-market" without Friedrich Hayek's "rule of law" in place.
The reason I'm bringing this up now is because over the past month, one of America's most rapacious oligarchs, Aubrey McClendon, was exposed by Reuters for plundering Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest natural gas producer in the country after Exxon-Mobil. McClendon, co-founder, CEO and until a few weeks ago Chairman of Chesapeake, was discovered running a hedge fund inside of Chesapeake, personally profiting on the side from large trading positions that his public company Chesapeake took in the gas and oil markets.
Reuters also discovered that McClendon took small personal stakes in natural gas wells bought by Chesapeake, then borrowed against the wells' reserves from the same banks that Chesapeake borrowed from—basically, the banks kicked back sweet lending deals to McClendon on the side as McClendon arranged less-than-sweet loans to his publicly-owned company, Chesapeake, kicking profits from Chesapeake's shareholders and employees' pockets into the banks and into Aubrey's accounts.
The loser in all this, as always: Employees, retirees, and shareholders. As Reuters reported, Chespeake is one of a small handful of companies whose employee 401k retirement packages consist mostly of Chesapeake stock, and the company requires employees to hold on to their stock for the maximum amount of time allowed by law:
Thousands of Chesapeake workers have retirement portfolios that are heavily invested in Chesapeake stock, which has declined sharply following revelations about Chief Executive Aubrey K. McClendon's business dealings.
But while retail and institutional investors have sold the stock, employees don't always have that option.
It's not the first time McClendon has been caught plundering Chesapeake at the expense of shareholders, pension fund investors and employees: In 2008, McClendon bet and lost about $2 billion worth of Chesapeake Energy stock he owned—94% of Aubrey's personal stake in Chesapeake– on a margin call when natural gas prices collapsed. Aubrey bet that natural gas prices would continue soaring, you see.
But like his peers in the oligarchy class, Aubrey's loss became everyone but Aubrey's loss: He was awarded a "CEO bailout" by his board of directors, who honored Aubrey with a $75 million "bonus" to bring his total pay in 2008 to $112 million, making Aubrey McClendon the highest-paid CEO in Corporate America that year. Even though Chesapeake's earnings dropped in half, and its stock fell 60%, wiping out up to $33 billion in shareholder wealth.
Now, we're learning, Aubrey was profiting in other ways off of Chesapeake that same year.
There is so much more to hate about Aubrey McClendon than this—the millions McClendon poured into Gary Bauer's gay-bashing outfit "Americans United To Preserve Marriage" and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the role McClendon and his Whirlpool heiress wife played in stealing waterfront land from Benton Harbor, an African-American slum and the poorest city in Michigan, in order to expand an exclusive golf course country club for residents of St. Josephs, where McClendon owns several plots of land. McClendon's wife, Katie, is from St. Joseph's; so is Katie's cousin, Fred Upton, the Republican Congressman from St. Joseph's. Aubrey and his wife are what pass for royalty (sans noblesse oblige) these days: Katie from the Whirpool fortune, Aubrey an heir to the Kerr-McGee fortune. (If you've seen the movie Silkwood, you might remember Kerr-McGee as the company that iced the labor union activist played by Meryl Streep.)
This is just one of many stories about how publicly-traded companies have been and can be transformed into elaborate schemes to loot and steal from the public and enrich a tiny handful of oligarchs. We saw this in the 1980s when Reagan deregulated the Savings & Loans, which were quickly transformed into a means of looting, fraud and plunder; we saw it in the 2000s, after the de-regulation of the financial sector.
The problem goes much deeper than Milton Friedman's "rule of law" fetish. "Rule of law" is just another red herring diversion to provide cover for continued oligarchy plunder, failure and barbarism. The problem is systemic, and more importantly, ideological. We still operate under the same neoliberal/libertarian major premises we inherited from the Hayek-Mises-Friedman era, an ideology that considers notions like "the public good" to be quaint delusions at best—as opposed to today's still-dominant, still-standing foundational ideology, which says that freedom equals the ruthless pursuit of individual self-interest, the unlimited acquisition of private property and wealth, framed within a cold, dystopian "rule of law."
That is where the problem starts. That is why, every week, I could tell another story about another Aubrey McClendon or Dick Parsons, and it will never end until the ideology that enables them is buried.
Would you like to know more? Read previous "Class Warfare" columns by Mark Ames including "Failing Up With Citigroup's Dick Parsons" and "The One-Percent's Doctrine For The Rest Of Us: We Are Not Human Beings, But Livestock Whose Meat They Extract As 'Rent'".
Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine.

Goodbye Posse Comitatis:

Defense Department Seeks Legal Authority to Deploy Reservists onto American Streets

by OzHouse
Thanks to Posse Comitatis, the US military are forbidden from responding on the streets of America whenever the whim is announced.
The Posse Comitatus Act, Section 1385, states that only under “circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress” can the military presence on American streets is allowed.
Yet, if the Defense Department has their way, a new authorization act will give them the power to order the armed forces to be used against the American public.
Air Force reservists are slated to be the new response team for domestic disturbances. Disseminated from Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and other reserve agencies, these men and women could be called to be first response to natural disasters within the US. The legislation would extend mobilizations for indeterminate periods of time.
The AFRC affirms that reservists are traditionally not used in “homeland disaster response”. The governors of individual states can request the National Guard’s assistance during a natural disaster when local law enforcement becomes overwhelmed.
Our reservists have been asked and often volunteer to assist after disasters hit the homeland,” said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., chief of Air Force Reserve and AFRC commander. “Mobilizing needed reservists will help sustain their support for longer periods and make operations more efficient. We mobilize reservists to handle contingencies overseas, so it makes sense that we do that to take care of our own country.”
Because of the specialized training that reservists are given in dealing with disasters, the US government has decided they would be perfect as a first response team.
Earlier this month, in Crookston Minnesota, there were armed US National Guardsmen that were patrolling a residential neighborhood .
These functions are called “urban operations training” where military personnel carry armed weapons with the command not to “utilize armory or pyrotechnics”.
Within the Air Force Reserve, there are other specialized units such as response personnel, supplies and equipment focused on disaster scenarios.
As recent as 2008 saw our National Guard unit in America under NORTHCOM as “domestic security”.
Stenner proclaims that this new authority will allow the armed forces to make greater contributions to Americans should there be a natural disaster. He is referring to the frustration chiefs of reservist experience because they are “unable to help their communities.”
The push for over-reaching authority allocated to the armed forces will negate local reservist’s purpose by Title 10, which gives them federal power that supersedes state authority in Title 32.
Armed Forces chiefs claim that there were reserve-component Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who were close at hand with the capabilities needed, but they didn’t have the authority to act,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of Army Reserve. “Finally, we got the law changed. This new legislation says that now we can use Title 10 reserves.”
Without a declaration of emergency or disaster from the President, these armed forces could not act. With this new ability, they can . . . whenever and for whatever purpose they are ordered to.
The law specifies that local law enforcement is still mandated to provide initial response; yet if needed, the National Guard will become the first step requested by a state governor.
And then there is the matter of scenario that allows reservists to be deployed for a promised 120 days, which could be extended based upon request. “We just have to make sure we have the procedures and processes worked out,” Stultz remarked about the specifics that are now being worked out to avoid confusion of authority later on.
Stultz is very anxious to have this power at his fingertips. “Let’s not wait until a hurricane hits to say, ‘How do we do it?’”
These reservists are going to be the response team for any future (and assured) “overseas contingencies”.
As operations in the Middle East are winding down, Stultz can now refocus his attention on militarizing America.
OzHouse | May 28, 2012 at 2:48 am | Tags: conspiracy, NWO, Police State, US | Categories: USA | URL:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Germany: Eurozone a Bottomless Pit

Richard Ward said the London market had put in place a contingency plan to switch euro underwriting to multi-currency settlement if Greece abandoned the euro.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he also revealed that Lloyd's could have to take writedowns on its £58.9bn investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.
Europe accounts for 18pc of Lloyd's £23.5bn of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.
Lloyd's move comes as a major Franco-German provider of credit insurance for eurozone trade, Euler Hermes, said it was considering reducing cover for trade with Greece because of the risk the country might leave the eurozone.
When a company goes bust, it is often sparked by withdrawal of credit insurance for suppliers wanting to trade with it.
A spokesman for Euler Hermes, Bettina Sattler, told Bloomberg: "The outcome of the new elections in June remains highly uncertain. Consequently, the situation is further deteriorating. The risk of Greece exiting the eurozone has been revived.
"In light of the recent developments, Euler Hermes will most probably have to switch to a more prudent approach. [We have] maintained a high level of cover for [our] customers until today. But now we are confronted with a changing situation."
Lloyd's fears are likely to be shared by a number of European businesses, which are watching developments in Greece.
On Saturday, Juergen Fitschen, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, described Greece as a "failed state" run by corrupt politicians.
"I'm quite worried about Europe," Mr Ward said in one of the first admissions by a major UK business leader of the scale of the crisis that would be prompted by a eurozone collapse.
"With all the concerns around the eurozone at the moment, we've got to be careful doing business in Europe and there are a lot of question marks over writing business in the future in euros.
"I don't think that if Greece exited the euro it would lead to the collapse of the eurozone, but what we need to do is prepare for that eventuality."
Mr Ward says Lloyd's had been working hard on contingency planning and had the capability to switch settlement of European underwriting from euros to other currencies.
"We've got multi-currency functionality and we would switch to multi-currency settlement if the Greeks abandoned the euro and started using the drachma again," he said.
Lloyd's has de-risked its asset portfolio in recent years, with investments split equally into cash, corporate bonds and government bonds, mostly in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. "We have de-risked the asset portfolio as much as possible," he said.
The contingency planning comes as German politicians piled the pressure on Greece ahead of elections on June 17.
A conservative member of German chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet said today Germany would not "pour money into a bottomless pit".

Myanmar: Power Shortage Protests Spread

Power shortages are common during summer in Myanmar but the situation is much worse this year. Power plants can only provide six hours of electricity per day on rotational basis in most of the districts of the two largest cities in the country. The rotating power woes inconvenienced the public which sparked a rare but peaceful protest in Mandalay a few days ago.

Read more on Global Voices »

Greece: Europe's, World's Austerity: "Neoliberal shock experiment"

Alexis Tsipras Warns: Greek Crisis

- Common Dreams staff
The head of Greece's leftist party Syriza traveled to Paris on Monday to consolidate support from political allies for rejecting the radical austerity that is driving Greece to the brink of "collective suicide".
Alexis Tsipras (R), head of Greece's left SYRIZA party, and Jean-Luc Melenchon (L), leader of France's Parti de Gauche political party, attend a news conference at the National Assembly in Paris May 21, 2012. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes Alexis Tsipras, whose strong showing in Greece's May 6 elections shocked the financial establishment of Europe, is hoping to tap into shifting sentiment across the Continent that Europe should reject austerity policies.
"I am not here to blackmail, I am here to mobilize," he said. "Greece gave humanity democracy and today the Greek people will bring democracy back to Europe...The war we are fighting in Europe is not between people or nations, it is between the forces of work and the invisible forces of finance and banks."
Polls suggest Tsipras's party Syriza could be in a position to lead a coalition government in Greece after a second general election on June 17th.
* * *
The Guardian/UK reports:
The rising star of Europe Alexis Tsipras, the radical left Greek leader, has arrived in Paris to warn EU countries that their turn would come if they failed to oppose the radical austerity that is driving Greece to the brink of "collective suicide".
Tsipras reiterated his belief that Greece was being subjected to an austerity program as part of a "neoliberal shock experiment"Tsipras, who is leading an austerity-backlash, said the future of Europe and the euro depended on the outcome of the Greece debt crisis. And he said he could feel a "wind of change" blowing across the continent that he hoped would lead to the "complete re-founding of Europe based on social cohesion and solidarity".
To continue down the path of austerity, he warned, would turn the Greek tragedy into an European catastrophe.
"Greece is a link in a chain. If it breaks it is not just the link that is broken but the whole chain. What people have to understand is that the Greek crisis concerns not just Greece but all European people so a common European solution has to be found," he told a press conference in Paris.
"The public debt crisis is hitting the south of Europe but it will soon hit central Europe. People have to realize that their own country could be threatened.
"We are here to explain to people in Europe that we have nothing against them. We are fighting the battle in Greece not just for the Greek people but for people in France, Germany and all European countries."
"I am not here to blackmail, I am here to mobilize," he said.
"Greece gave humanity democracy and today the Greek people will bring democracy back to Europe."
Opinion polls suggest Tsipras's party Syriza could be in a position to lead a coalition government in Greece after a second general election next month. He was in the French capital to meet members of France's far left, including Front de Gauche firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who stood as a presidential candidate in April.
The young and charismatic Greek politician will travel to Berlin to reiterate his message; this is that Greece wants no more austerity and is willing to tear up the country's €130bn (£105bn) bailout agreement if necessary.
His defiance appears to be catching. Before Greece held a general election on 6 May, the 37 year old and his Syriza party were widely mocked as a motley collection of ex-Trotskyists, Maoists, champagne socialists and greens, who appealed to fewer than 5% of voters. After polling more than 25%, the Greeks and the rest of Europe have been forced to take him and his party seriously. [...]
Talking through an interpreter, and using his hands to emphasize his points, he was forceful and determined to enlist France in his anti-capitalist crusade.
"We [Syriza] are very happy to discover that even if we are not in government we can feel a wind of change blowing everywhere. Things that were yesterday considered impossible are today being discussed. Today they are being discussed, tomorrow they will be accepted."
"The war we are fighting in Europe is not between people or nations, it is between the forces of work and the invisible forces of finance and banks."He said if the left in Greece won a victory in the June general election it would be the "start of change and upheaval across the whole of Europe". [...]
Tsipras also reiterated his belief, aired in an interview with the Guardian at the weekend, that Greece was being subjected to an austerity program as part of a "neoliberal shock experiment".
"This has driven my country to an unprecedented crisis and a humanitarian crisis. If this experiment is successful in Greece it will be exported to other European countries," he said.
He added: "The war we are fighting in Europe is not between people or nations, it is between the forces of work and the invisible forces of finance and banks.
"It is difficult to be victorious over an enemy when that enemy has no face, no program, no political party but who governs us even so. If we perfect our victory in Greece it will sent a great message of hope throughout Europe."
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