Can Liberalism Tolerate Islam? 1

Article by Abdal-Hakim Murad.

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Must one be liberal to belong to the West? For all the polite multiculturalist denials, this question is being put to us more and more insistently. The European Union, as it struggles to articulate a common cultural as well as economic vision, regularly toys with grand statements about Europe as a vision of human community, whose success underpins the universal model now being urged upon the rest of humanity. European liberals, with their Enlightenment, civil society, democratic institutions, and human rights codes, sometimes seem to self-define as a secular Messiah, willing and ready to save the world. To resist is, by implication, to align oneself with an unregenerate, sinful humanity.

Yet we Europeans are in fact in the middle of a difficult argument. We are constantly quarrelling with ourselves over definitions of belonging. We can unite to build an Airbus, but will we really unite around a moral or cultural ideal? What, after all, are the exact historic grounds for European cultural unity? And – this now looks like the continent’s greatest concern – how can Muslims fit in?

More…

Weekend News Digest Reply

Anti-Government “Sovereign Movement” on the Rise in the U.S.

A Welsh Dad is Facing Trial After Transforming Himself Into an Apache Indian

TSA Manager Arrested for Running a Prostitution Ring

U.S. Trial Program Would Spy on Internet Users to Prevent Animal Abuse

Pentagon Backs Expanding Israel’s Iron Dome

Judge Acquits 7 Hutaree Militia Members Accused of Terrorist Plot

Becoming Uzbekistan by Fred Reed

Insane Michigan Government Announces Plan to Destroy Ranch Livestock Based on Hair Color and Arrest Hundreds of Ranchers as Felons

Man Tased, Dragged Out of Airport

The CIA Wants to Spy on You Through Your TV

Sarkozy: Jail Those Who Browse Terror Websites

Minimum Alcohol Price Planned for England and Wales

Man Arrested Over Alleged Racist Twitter Remarks

Is the NDAA Illegal?

The Smoke Nazis

Executive Order Panic: Martial Law in U.S.?

Eric Holder: “We Must Brainwash People on Guns”

Cameras at U.K. Gas Stations Will Block Uninsured Drivers From Refueling

The Case for the Non-Revolutionary Ownership of Guns

What Isn’t for Sale?

11 Reasons America Would Be a Better Place Without Goldman-Sachs

Obama Campaign Gets More Air Force Aircraft

Spinning Business As Usual

NYPD Officer Thrown in Psych Ward by Superiors After Revealing Systemic Corruption

Exec: Goldman Official Called Clients “Muppets”

The Big Hoax by Thomas Sowell

Dante’s Divine Comedy is “Offensive and Should Be Banned”

Bill Introduced to Regulate Men’s Reproductive Health

Proponents of Gold Standard May Be Violent Extremists

Inflation to Rapidly Increase Around the World in 2012

U.S. Congress Shelled Out $250 Million for Israel’s Iron Dome Rocket System

FBI Director Checks if Obama Has the Right to Kill Americans on US Soil

School: No 1st Amendment Here

How to Get Anything Past TSA Nude Body Scanners

Why By the Cow?

 

Attack the System: Alternative Economics 6

Listen to the podcast.

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economic alternatives

Keith Preston discusses the present economic decline and the need for a new economic paradigm. Topics include:

  • Widening class divisions in the United States and the ongoing shift towards towards a two-tiered Third World model economy;
  • Aristotle’s observation that a healthy society needs to avoid extremes towards either plutocracy or egalitarianism in favor of a large middle class;
  • The writings of Paul Craig Roberts as a guide to the ongoing destruction of the working and middle classes;
  • How movements like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and the Ron Paul campaign represent rising economic frustrations;
  • The need for a new crop of political leaders who are able to pull discontented economic currents together towards the goal of attacking the system of corporate and state sponsored economic oppression;
  • How the conventional wisdom that portrays economic policy as a choice between only big government from the Left or corporate exploitation from the Right sets up a false dichotomy;
  • How big government and big business work hand in hand to protect ruling class privilege at the expense of ordinary working people;
  • The original aims of the classical socialist movement of the 19th century and how these have been corrupted and perverted by the state over time;
  • The ideas of several contemporary writers who have produced interesting works on alternative economics.

Corporate Welfare Sees Its Reflection and Grimaces Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

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In a preliminary finding issued last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce, acting through its International Trade Administration, announced new duties “applicable to all entries of Chinese solar cells.” The long-anticipated finding represents a first step toward a “final determination [of whether] imports of solar cells from China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry.”

With Chinese panels making up approximately half of the U.S. market — up by almost a multiple of five since 2009 — American companies like SolarWorld deemed it time to appeal to the government to lock out the competition. Tuesday’s decision is one result of their complaints, and concludes that Chinese companies have benefited from anti-competitive “subsidies ranging from 2.90 to 4.73 percent.”

It’s clear enough that the Chinese firms in question benefit from special assistance. What is perhaps less clear is the extent to which it outweighs the very similar aid that the United States government has given domestic firms. The question is thus how to strike the right balance, reaching a fair and equitable solution for all of the players in the solar panel market.

Conventional wisdom, worried about the perceived likely results of unbounded or cutthroat competition, bids us to beware the solutions of the free market. If commerce were let alone, without the checks of government, the argument goes, the powerful lords of industry would be free to exact upon society a congeries of abuses we couldn’t possibly imagine.

Accordingly, the state — public-spirited and benevolent — is regarded as the only institution capable of “finding the line” that separates the fair and competitive from the anti-competitive, that is, from unfair, special privilege. The flaw embedded in this account, however, is that it utterly misunderstands the role actually assumed by the state, one perfectly at odds with its putative role as minder of fairness and commercial equipoise.

As a group, well-connected economic interests haven’t favored the open competition of free markets in the least. Rather, economic license has been the chosen course of established economic elites, arranged strategically around the loci of coercive state power. Subsidies and tariffs on both sides of every international boundary are the natural results.

By constraining competition and impeding access to natural opportunities, big business is empowered to underpay and to collect hidden rents from the productive; for that reason, large corporations regularly lobby for and accept just the kinds of subsidies that are anathema to real free markets. All sorts of trade imbalances ensue, on both the micro and macro levels.

Writing in the nineteenth century, American anarchist Josiah Warren understood and explained the ways that coercive state involvement creates opportunities for unequal and unfair exchange. Warren contended — just as do today’s market anarchists — that without monopolization by force, “importing and vending would be paid in an equal amount of labor.” Of course unequal exchange would be possible, but without the intervention of authority, based in the state, trades would tend toward the fair and equitable.

Both Chinese and American companies use the state to benefit at the expense of ordinary, working people, that is, producers. Their interests naturally conflict, but only within the parameters of a system of monopolization that will continue to benefit them regardless of the International Trade Administration’s arbitrary rulings.

The best and only way to determine the real market price of a solar panel — or anything else — is to eliminate all privilege: No more subsidies of any kind, be they sweetheart loans, intellectual property protections, or cost barriers to entry.

Then we won’t need committees and panels, composed themselves of the privileged, to decide where the boundary line is between some supposed “free market” of “fair competition” and “anti-competitive practices.” We’ll see which manufacturers, Chinese or American (or both), can stay afloat while shouldering their own costs without government help.

C4SS News Analyst David S. D’Amato is a market anarchist and an attorney with an LL.M. in International Law and Business. His aversion to superstition and all permutations of political authority manifests itself atfirsttruths.org.

Landmark ruling legalizes Ontario brothels 1

From The Globe and Mail.

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Ontario’s highest court has legalized brothels in a sweeping decision that condemned current prostitution laws for adding to the hazards of a highly dangerous profession.

The Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the Crown just one victory, ruling that communicating for the purposes of prostitution will remain illegal.

 

 

The landmark decision is binding on Ontario courts and sets up a final showdown at the Supreme Court of Canada next fall or in early 2013.

Ontario Attorney-General John Gerretsen said on Monday that he intends to discuss appealing the decision with his federal counterparts. “Our main concern is that people feel safe in their communities, feel safe in their homes, and this kind of issue may very well need legislative action,” he said.

The five-judge appellate panel said unanimously that prostitutes may set up brothels and hire staff to protect them. They said that it is senseless to have a law that compels prostitutes to work in dangerous isolation, given that prostitution itself is legal.

The judges also explicitly rejected a Crown argument that prostitutes make an informed decision to enter a dangerous trade, saying that prostitutes deserve as much protection as other citizens who work in “dangerous, but legal, enterprises.”

However, the court majority – Mr. Justice David Doherty, Mr. Justice Marc Rosenberg and Madam Justice Kathryn Feldman – salvaged the communication provision on the basis that it has kept neighbourhoods free of organized crime, drugs, noise and unwanted solicitations.

They played down arguments from prostitution activists that those it hurts most are marginalized street prostitutes who work in the shadows and must assess potential clients hastily.

Mr. Justice James MacPherson and Madame Justice Eleanore Cronk took sharp issue with the majority on the point, arguing that the communication provision significantly worsens the plight of street prostitutes.

“The violence faced by street prostitutes across Canada is, in a word, overwhelming,” they said. “One does not need to conjure up the face of Robert Pickton to know that this is true.”

The brothel ruling takes effect in a year. However, as of April 25, prostitutes can engage bodyguards. The court remodelled the pimping provision to target only those who live off the avails of prostitution “in circumstances of exploitation.”

The Sex Professionals of Canada immediately urged Ontario municipalities to begin discussing licensing provisions that will ensure health and safety of brothel workers and their clients.

Municipalities are expected to create a patchwork of regulation. Many, such as Niagara Falls, already license body-rub parlours. About 40 workers are employed in the city’s four licensed parlours. Toronto has 25 body-rub parlours and 482 licensed workers.

Eddie Francis, mayor of Windsor, Ont., said his planning staff are looking at zoning issues that isolate brothels from schools and family neighbourhoods without creating red-light districts.

Meanwhile, police forces are split on the logic and propriety of continuing “sweeps” of body-rub parlours in search of prostitutes and their clients.

“We stopped doing sweeps after the last decision and told our people that if there were problems, there are other laws they could use to deal with them,” said Toronto Police Service spokesman Mark Pugash. “We see little reason to change that.”

However, York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said that his force “continues to be bound by the laws that exist today and our obligation is to uphold the law as it is now.”

Prostitution activists hailed Monday’s decision as a historic victory.

“Six out of six judges so far have concluded that the law does not work and is hurting people,” said York University law professor Alan Young, the lawyer for the women who launched the constitutional challenge.

Valerie Scott, one of the litigants, said that prostitutes have a sense of belonging for the first time. “I feel like a debutante,” she said. “I feel like a citizen.”

Ms. Scott said that brothels have always existed in the shadows. “There is a brothel on every block in every city, and there always has been,” she said.

Nikki Thomas, executive director of SPOC, told reporters that prostitutes will be normal citizens who file income taxes, purchase investments and quietly go about their work. “We are not going to have fire and brimstone and sex workers raining down from the sky,” she said.

The Court of Appeal noted on Monday that Parliament is not precluded from enacting new prostitution laws provided they do not heighten the danger to prostitutes.

With reports from Karen Howlett and Anna Mehler Paperny

Man Mistakes Woman’s Mohawk For Bird, Shoots Her In The Head Reply

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A 49-year-old  man who told police he shot a woman in the head after mistaking her large red mohawk for a large red bird that had been antagonizing his cats has been sentenced to five years probation.

Derrill Rockwell told police he spotted what he thought was the bullyish bird sitting on a hill near his home in the early morning hours of October 5, so he grabbed his .22 and went outside to confront it. His intent, he told police, was to “spook” it away.

Rockwell fired one shot, but didn’t see the bird fly away. Soon after, he told police, he heard a woman’s voice, moaning in pain. Turns out, it wasn’t a bird – it was a 23-year-old woman sportin’ a large red mohawk. And, well, a new gunshot wound to the head.

Rockwell later told police he ran to the woman’s aid and offered a wet towel for her gushin’ noggin. Then, he said, he rushed her to the emergency room, leaving his name and phone number with hospital staff.

Police say Rockwell did not admit to shooting the woman at that time, but told hospital staff he had found the strange and bloodied woman outside of his home.

After dropping the woman off at the ER, Rockell apparently rushed home and disposed of his rifle. It wasn’t until about six days after the shooting that he admitted that he had mistaken the woman for a bird and put a hole in her head.

After conducting a comprehensive investigation into Rockwell’s account, re-enactment included, police came to the conclusion that the woman was crouching at the top of the hill — her red mohawk exposed roughly 90 feet away — when she was shot.

Police also have reason to believe the woman sleeping off a drunk prior to being shot, and officers found a small bag of suspected meth in the area where she had been sleeping it off. The woman, believed to be a transient, left the area shortly after the shooting and was not in court to testify.

Initially charged with tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and false reporting, Rockwell was convicted on a charge of felony possession of a weapon by a prior offender and sentenced to five years probation. He was also ordered to pay more than $10,000 in restitution.

Rockwell had been prohibited from owning a firearm after a 1995 conviction for attempted burglary.

Why, yes, I did chuckle….

Anarchism and Confederate-Flag Culture: One Man’s Journey from Southern Heritage to Libertarian Socialism 11

Interesting.

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If you are someone who displays a Confederate flag out of overt racism, this text is not for you. In fact, we will fight you in the streets.

If, however, you are someone who insists that he is not racist, but you have at some point in your life displayed a Confederate Flag out of a general sense of rebellion against the government, the boss, parents, pompous Yankee liberals, or just against modern society in general, then this text is addressed to you. Especially, if you are a working class southerner who flies the Cross of St. Andrew as an in-your-face act of protest against the mass production of national “culture,” a McDonaldized product that has the effect of smothering and burying authentic local cultures that (some feel) are symbolized by the Confederate flag… especially, then, this brief sketch of one man’s odyssey from the glorification of southern heritage to an appreciation of anarchist ideas and values, may have something to say to you.

As a child I was raised by the school, television, church, and my parents, in roughly that order of importance. All of these authorities told me what it was appropriate for me to think, do and feel at any given moment. I was supposed to love and obey a God who never bothered to show his face to me, and in a similar vein I was supposed to love and obey a familial father who didn’t have time for me, either. Parents and teachers were to be respected, and for children who failed in that endeavor the “policeman would come and get you” (which proved to be all too true.)

But at least I had the television… Mr. TV was my buddy, my fellow sufferer in the face of all this authority. Mr. TV was the coolest kid on the block, the guy who knew his way around the social pit-falls of school, the ultimate arbiter of what was cool and what was, gasp, “lame” (can you imagine a crueler, more horrible expression?)

The problem was, it was all a bunch of lies, and I knew it. (Or at least, once I got old enough to think for myself, I knew it.) The meaning-of-it-all that the church offered meant, in fact, nothing at all. It was illogical, but served the purpose of telling me to be a good servant, because I would get my reward after I was dead from an invisible person in the sky. (I don’t think the unlikelihood of THAT little scenario requires too much commentary.) The school, with its sports programs and detention halls, which claimed to be opening my mind to the mysteries of the universe and the joys of great art, was in fact training to me to become a cog in the great corporate machine. And my parents were too much in the thrall of this corporate religion themselves, to do anything but reinforce it.

Even my best friend, the TV, turned against me. He begin to say that if I was born a white southerner, then I was to blame for all the racial ills of mankind. That’s right, I, little ole southern white boy, had done it all, from the Grecian slave societies of antiquity to the Boston busing riots, from the rape of Nanking to the Holocaust, all the racial ills of mankind could be laid at my doorstep. By this point in time the church (and my parents) had stuffed me so full of irrational guilt that I was inclined to believe it… but somehow, it just didn’t add up.

So I took a big horn from a bottle of (Kentucky) bourbon, hung a Confederate flag in the window, and told the world to kiss my ass. I was through apologizing for being born…

Here is the summary version: the American corporate titans that control the TV, newspapers, and grammar school textbooks have declared all things southern to be racist, and all things racist to be southern, in order to confuse the issue and evade their own responsibilities. They portray slavery as having been a purely southern institution, instead of as a single component of a universally oppressive white/Anglo economic system (that happened to find its worst excesses in the cotton fields of the southern United States in the 1800’s).

By painting slavery and racism as a uniquely southern phenomenon, the CEO’s manage to divert attention from the racist legacy that remains. When they falsely imply that racism is uniquely southern, and then correctly add that the racial situation in the south now mirrors that of the rest of the country, they declare the problem solved. Implicitly this has the effect of encouraging such reactionary nonsense as charges of “reverse discrimination.”

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The problem of white supremacy in America is anything but resolved. In fact, police officers all over America target people of color for searches and beatings, while the nation’s jails, prisons and housing projects are littered with the dark-skinned human refuse of the ultimate soulless commodity system, the great American labor market. In the 1850’s most blacks were subject to whips and chains, but a small portion were relatively “free”. In modern society, most people of color are impoverished or imprisoned, while a similarly small portion are middle-class, or relatively “well-off”. Very little has changed, other than the means of the enslavement.

These facts are what the “racism is a southern thing” myth is intended to obscure. Blacks, Latinos, and to a lesser extent, working-class southern whites are all harmed by this myth. It is time to place the responsibility for American racism and poverty squarely where it belongs, at the doorstep of the business class, and at the foot of the American flag (and all other Anglo-nationalist flags) which provide the business class with aid and comfort.

So, burn your Confederate flag — give it a respectful ceremony if you must, but really, get rid of it — and join the anarchist movement as we set out to combat, defeat and replace the racist, classist, patriarchal society that bores us with political speeches, numbs us with television, scares us with the superstitions of religion, hypnotizes us with the banalities of commercial advertising, and threatens us with the state-religion of patriotism. We are the “rebels” of the modern corporate-techno-nightmare age, and our ultimate goal is to replace the businesses, government and churches with a society of free equals, in which all live at peace with nature and each other.

Join us as we set out to build a new world, a world in which every man, woman and, yes, child is viewed and treated as a valuable part of the great whole of larger humanity, instead of as a competitor for money, sex, and power. Join us as we set out to build a world based on sharing and mutual respect, where local idiosyncrasies (that are supportive of human dignity) are respected, even celebrated. Join us, and be proud of the human being that you are, the community in which you live, and the planet on which you stand.

Down with McDonalds, Wal-Mart, ADM and the rest of the corporations! Up with your neighbors, and yourself!

Prole Cat

September, in the year of our store, 2003

American insanity: Minnesota man arrested, jailed without bond for incomplete siding on his house Reply

From The Activist Post.

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Recently I reported on the nearly unbelievable case of the man in Texas who was fined for not cutting the grass on his foreclosed home, but the shocking case of this individual in Minnesota makes that seem reasonable, which is saying quite a lot.

In fact, the case of Mitch Faber, from Burnsville, Minnesota, is so blatantly ludicrous that the Minnesota Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections – which investigates abuse at the local government level – has contacted the Fabers to investigate their case.

This case is a symptom of a deeply sick society which preys upon the weakexploits and abusesthe people of the United States as much as humanly possible, spies on us without any remote semblance of probable cause, assassinates us without due process, all while treating us all like suspected terrorists for the most innocent of activities.

KTSP, a local ABC affiliate, first reported on Faber’s trials and tribulations last week. They reportedthat Faber was unable to finish his stucco and decorative rock project on the exterior of his home after running into money troubles when the recession hit.

Having a restricted budget due to economic woes is hardly a rare experience in the United States these days, so Faber has quickly become a kind of poster child for the abuse so many Americans have received at the hands of a corrupt government.

After Faber had to halt construction, the city of Burnsville sent him multiple warning letters which told him that he had to get his house up to code.
Eventually, the city issued a citation and while Faber said that he was expecting a fine of some kind for the violation, he was instead ordered to appear in court.

The city of Burnsville has no authority to issue fines, instead it is up to a judge to decide whether or not to order a monetary penalty of some kind, or instead to order some alternative punishment.

On December 15, 2010, the first judge heard Faber’s case in the First Judicial District Court. Judge Mary J. Theisen said that she would rather see Faber put his money towards finishing the siding rather than paying a fine.

So, Judge Theisen proceeded to order him to finish the siding or face a whopping 30 days in jail.
“I left there thinking ‘you’ve got to be kidding’,” Faber said, according to KSTP. “Jail time for siding?”

More…

A vegan’s case for Ron Paul Reply

From Vegangirl.Com.

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Here in Asheville, NC, there’s an eclectic mix of people and political views. Yes, it is a liberal, new-ager oasis, but it is also up in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. In other words, there are all kinds of people here. Equally varied is the type of folks who come to the Asheville Ron Paul meetups, and who give me a wave and big thumbs up when I wear my Ron Paul 2008 t-shirt around town. Peace activists and gun enthusiasts alike, seem to be excited about Ron Paul.

Where I consistently run into opposition is from the animal activist community. “You know, libertarians aren’t supportive of animal cruelty legislation.” Yes, yes, I do know that. But maybe there is a bigger picture here that we’re missing. Namely, that a minority demographic like ours, shouldn’t be so gung ho about the federal government legislating morality.

Consider the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), which states, among other things, that anyone crossing state lines or using the federal mail system for “the purpose of causing physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise” is now considered a terrorist. Several activists are sitting in prison and labeled as terrorists for doing nothing more than making a speech or operating a website that talked about illegal actions against animal enterprises.

More…

MUNICIPAL DEMOCRATIZATION: A Corporate Versus a People's City Budget 1

Article by Shamus Cook. 

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How are government budgets created, and in whose interests? In Portland, Oregon the city recently held the second and last of its public budget forums, where the community could offer feedback to help craft the city’s budget. Over 200 people attended the meeting at Cleveland High School, much more than city officials anticipated based on the lack of chairs, food, and electronic remote controls that were handed out to attendees to provide answers to survey questions (this writer was among the many not fortunate enough to receive a clicker or a chair).

Those who had remote controls responded to the demographic questions that began the event, and revealed that much of the city was vastly under-represented; the poor, minorities, and the largest working class neighborhoods of North and outer East Portland.

The attendees spent the first hour of the two-hour event being talked to. What we were told was as much ideology as fact. For example, city officials based their budget on the following premise: Because the recession has caused a major drop in tax returns, large cuts in services and jobs had to be made. There was no alternative. Zero mention was made of raising taxes on those who could afford it — the wealthy and corporations. There was also zero mention of using the city’s large financial reserves to save jobs and prevent cuts. Shockingly, there was no mention of the layoffs the city was planning, or the immense need to create new jobs in a city that has a much higher unemployment rate than the nation’s average. With a “cuts only” budget, creating jobs cannot be a topic of conversation.

After the “cuts only” solution was presented, much of the event was dedicated to discovering the community’s “priorities,” presumably with the intention of having the least prioritized services being cut, since cuts were mandatory. This inevitably pitted the different attendees against each other, with large sections of the crowd cheering for parks and recreation or transportation instead, in the hopes that their services or jobs wouldn’t be cut. If one accepts the city’s premise of a “cuts only” budget, this must be the sad outcome.

Why did the city limit its options so? Unfortunately, Portland is simply following a national trend on a city, state, and federal level where Democrats and Republicans have agreed that taxing the wealthy and corporations must not be an option in addressing the social crisis that resulted from the Great Recession, regardless of the vast inequality of wealth that has erupted over the last 30 years. Presumably governmental officials have chosen this route because their political parties depend on the wealthy for campaign contributions to ensure winning elections and staying in power.

Because politicians tell us that we cannot take money from the wealthy, money must be taken instead from public workers through wage and benefit cuts or layoffs; or be taken from other working people in the form of fee increases, sales taxes, or cuts to services provided by public workers in the form of school, community center and park closures, transportation cuts (buses, trains and roads), crumbling infrastructure, library closings, etc.

Public comment at Portland’s budget meeting was severely restricted. After we gave the Mayor our budget “priorities” via remote control, we were split into large groups to talk with city officials who led large departments — each were mobbed by dozens of attendees begging not to have their programs cut.

This writer joined a large contingent of city workers who pinned down Portland’s Chief Accounting Officer, who was asked why the city refused to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars of reserve funds. The official revealed in coded language that much of the funds were needed to calm the fears of rich investors, who profited from buying Portland’s Municipal Bonds. Without maintaining a large cash horde Portland’s AAA bond rating could be threatened, and investors might worry about the return on their investment. This dynamic is present all over the U.S., as cities have chosen this “attract the wealthy” model of budgeting (so-called Urban Renewal), to the detriment of working and poor people.

On May 5th in Portland a coalition of community groups and labor unions are organizing a Community Assembly to create a People’s Budget. This event will begin with the exact opposite premise as the Mayor’s event; because the recession has caused a major drop in tax returns, we must raise revenue by taxing those who can afford it while using available reserve funds to save and create much needed jobs (the private sector has failed to solve the jobs depression; the public sector must step in to help relieve the crisis).

Instead of ignoring or blaming public workers for the recession, we plan to honor them and the services they provide to the public, while giving support to the various ongoing union campaigns that are fighting cuts. Instead of prioritizing a “cuts only” budget, we will prioritize our needs — for jobs and against cuts. Instead of hiding Portland’s Urban Renewal scheme, we plan to bring it into the light, along with other ways that the city has shaped its policies with the rich investor first in mind.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)

There Are Now More Americans In Jail Than There Were In Stalin's Gulag Archipelago Reply

From CNN.

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“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”

Is this hyperbole? Here are the facts. The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and ­Britain – with a rate among the ­highest – has 153….

This wide gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is relatively recent. In 1980 the U.S.’s prison population was about 150 per 100,000 adults. It has more than quadrupled since then. So something has happened in the past 30 years to push millions of Americans into prison.

That something, of course, is the war on drugs. Drug convictions went from 15 inmates per 100,000 adults in 1980 to 148 in 1996, an almost tenfold increase. More than half of America’s federal inmates today are in prison on drug convictions. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for possession….

Bipartisan forces have created the trend that we see. Conservatives and liberals love to sound tough on crime, and both sides agreed in the 1990s to a wide range of new federal infractions, many of them carrying mandatory sentences for time in state or federal prison. And as always in American politics, there is the money trail. Many state prisons are now run by private companies that have powerful lobbyists in state capitals. These firms can create jobs in places where steady work is rare; in many states, they have also helped create a conveyor belt of cash for prisons from treasuries to outlying counties.

Partly as a result, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20 years. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons vs. $5.7 billion on the UC system and state colleges. Since 1980, California has built one college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 a year.

The results are gruesome at every ­level. We are creating a vast prisoner under­class in this country at huge expense, increasingly unable to function in normal society, all in the name of a war we have already lost….

Read the full article at TIME.com.

Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil Reply

By Paul Craig Roberts.

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Dear Readers: This is the best speech I have come across in many years. PCR

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Why-Barack-Obama-is-the-Mo-by-Glen-Ford-120324-930.html

No matter how much evil Barack Obama actually accomplishes during his presidency, people that call themselves leftists insist on dubbing him the Lesser Evil. Not only is Obama not given proper credit for out-evil-ing George Bush, domestically and internationally, but the First Black President is awarded positive grades for his intentions versus the presumed intentions of Republicans. As the author says, this “is psycho-babble, not analysis. No real Left would engage in it.”

Glen Ford at the Left Forum

BAR executive editor Glen Ford made the following presentation at the Left Forum, Pace University, New York City, March 17. On the panel were Gloria Mattera, Margaret Kimberley (BAR), Suren Moodliar, John Nichols, and Victor Wallis. The discussion was titled, The 2012 Elections: Lesser Evil or Left Alternative?

“He has put both Wall Street and U.S. imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks — just as he hired himself out to do.”

Power to the people!

Let me say from the very beginning that we at Black Agenda Report do not think that Barack Obama is the Lesser Evil. He is the more Effective Evil.

He has been more effective in Evil-Doing than Bush in terms of protecting the citadels of corporate power, and advancing the imperial agenda. He has put both Wall Street and U.S. imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks — just as he hired himself out to do.

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Gay Donors, Key Group for Obama, to Plot Strategy in Washington 1

From The New York Times.

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Hundreds of leading gay donors will travel to Washington in late April to plan strategies and marshal financial commitments for state and federal elections around the country, according to people with knowledge of the meeting.

The conference, one of the largest ever gatherings of gay donors, is being organized by the Gill Action Fund, one of the country’s leading gay political organizations, which has played a quiet but pivotal role at the state level in recent years on gay marriage and other issues, including working to defeat lawmakers who oppose gay marriage. The fund is keeping quiet the details of the gathering, hoping to shield potential donors from unwanted scrutiny or attacks from opponents, and a spokesman for the fund declined to comment on the plan on Tuesday.

But the conferences comes as gay donors are rapidly becoming one of the most pivotal sources of campaign cash in next fall’s elections, with some groups and donors shifting their sights on the presidential and Congressional races after years of fighting against ballot initiatives outlawing gay marriage and advancing the issue in states like New York and Maryland.

A growing number of the top “bundlers” — volunteers who gather checks from friends and business associates — to President Obama are gay men or women, a constituency Mr. Obama has avidly courted in recent months as he seeks to find new sources of large donations to finance his re-election campaign. A “super PAC” supporting Mr. Obama, Priorities USA Action, is also avidly courting gay donors, as traditional sources of large checks, including Wall Street, prove more resistant to appeals.

Mr. Obama pushed successfully last year to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule barring openly gay men and women from serving in the military, while his administration has ceased to defend constitutional challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of benefits for same-sex couples.

But he also faces a day of reckoning over gay marriage, which he opposes but which is the top priority of many gay rights organizations. Many of his top supporters in the gay community are pressuring Mr. Obama to change his position, which aides to the president have signaled are “evolving.” Gay rights advocates, backed by a growing number of Democratic lawmakers, are also pushing to have support for gay marriage added to the party’s official platform later this year.

The Sarah Palin/Neocon Alliance Reply

From Truth-Out.

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“Game Change,” the HBO movie on John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, faults his Republican campaign for its slipshod vetting of the little-known Alaska governor, but leaves out the back story of big-time neocons from D.C. helping position Palin for her surprise rise and Palin manipulating everyone, writes Morgan Strong.

HBO’s “Game Change” is a revealing film on the rise of Sarah Palin to national prominence. It is also an indictment of her ignorance and of the Republicans’ folly in nominating her as their vice presidential candidate in 2008.

The film points out that she, in all her vacuous charm, would have been only a 72-year-old man’s heartbeat away from assuming the presidency, a potential calamity that Republican strategists around Sen. John McCain initially justified on grounds of political expediency, getting a bump in the polls.

Though that much is true, the “Game Change” story does skip over some key facts. The movie would have us believe that Palin was chosen from a narrow field of prominent Republican women more or less by chance, because she was a fresh face and a stand-out personality. According to the film’s narrative, McCain’s campaign – seeking a “game changer” – made the choice with very little involvement from the GOP presidential nominee himself.

The film also presents Palin as mostly an unsuspecting political naïf who is touring a county fair with her children when she receives McCain’s overture. It is a bolt out of the blue or – in her interpretation – God opening a door. However, there is a back story that was missed regarding how Palin and a number of influential neoconservatives helped create the opportunity for her.

Palin herself had sensed her potential for securing the Republican V.P. nomination immediately on winning Alaska’s 2006 gubernatorial election. She worked hard to draw the attention of Republican bigwigs and to gain their trust and support.

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Scientists confirm Extraterrestrial genes in Human DNA 2

WTF?

Collaborative research from a gathering of exo-scientists postulate that there are genes from over 20 extraterrestrials civilizations in Human DNA. These exo-scientists have continued the work of Nobel Prize winner Dr. Frances Crick, and other scholars in this area. Current findings are consistent with reports of Professor Sam Chang, who discreetly released information on his own apparent findings, in association with the Human Genome Project. Scientists are beginning to complain more and more about political attempts to compromise the integrity of their important work for humanity. The discreet releasing of findings, is one apparent way in which scientists try to cope with scientific peer pressures to conform to prevailing political pressures.

Details of findings have been published in part, by Dr. Michael Salla, who is a learned scholar on extraterrestrial research. Exo-scientists and other researchers base their findings, in part, on carefully collecting data, which includes well corroborated documented observations by contactees and “whistleblowers”, as well as other documentation. These verified reliable sources have come into contact with representatives of non-Earth Human civilizations living in human populations at-large, and also in official capacities.

J. Watson and F. Crick (right)
Francis Crick and partner, James Watson, startled the academic world in 1953 when they deciphered the structure of the DNA molecule.

“Exo-science” is the study of extraterrestrial phenomenon. “Exo-science” is further associated with “exopolitics” which embraces the need for humanity to have open contacts with Extraterrestrials on a representative democratic basis, that respects Earth’s sovereignty.

In today’s “global economy” an “official science” which denies the analytical study of spiritual phenomena, as a legitimate context for understanding human reality, has been created over time. The “science” which is legitimated by institutions that are closely linked to this “global economy”, tends to seek to analyse only certain aspects of ‘materiality’. Priorised subjects by this “official science” are limited to areas which complement the agenda of constituencies of individuals who seek to manipulate the “recognized” body of human knowledge for power and control. That scientific priorisation context, has notably sought to exclude extraterrestrial relationships to humanity, in order to keep humanity ignorant of its apparent potential “locked” heritage within its own DNA.

Dr. Francis Crick

Dr. Francis Crick concluded Extraterrestrial orgins in the Human Genome, in relation to his well renown DNA research.

Indeed, efforts to seek a scientific context for the appreciation of spiritual phenomena, has also been frowned upon by the elites of institutionalized religions, which like “official science”, seek to control humanity within systems of accepted doctrine and dogma.

Collaborative exo-scientific research efforts inspired by Dr. Michael Salla, suggest that within the estimated over 20 types of extraterrestrial genes within human DNA, lies psycho-kinetic abilities associated with the genetic memories of ancient extraterrestrial races. These apparent psycho-kinetic abilities are associated with the focusing of the creative collective consciousness of be-ing in the universe.

These psycho-kinetic abilities, for example, could be viewed to manifest from time to time, when human beings in the process of trying to save another life, for example, have been recorded as executing, “great physical and other acts” which seem to go beyond the realm of understanding by “official science”. The recorded healing abilities which individuals, for example, in aboriginal communities across the world have demonstrated in relation to their spirituality, which had also been recorded of Jesus, could be viewed to be associated with accessing this DNA “memory”. “Official science” which seeks to complement the interests of various companies who seek to commercially profit from drugs and other therapies, has apparently sought to deny the awesome potentials of humanity for an elevated quality-of-living, by accessing an apparent E.T. DNA memory.

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Big Brother is Back – ID Cards Were Nothing Compared to This Government’s Snooping Plans Reply

From The Void.

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Iain Duncan Smith’s new database, quietly being built in India, is set to be the most expansive data-mining operation every carried out by any Government against it’s citizens.

The Universal Credit system will contain an unprecedented amount of information on all aspects of our lives, much of which will be controlled by private companies.  In a chilling development it appears that the database will use ‘voice biometrics’ as part of it’s security protocols.

The new system, which is due to be launched in 2013, will dwarf the plans for a National Identity Register which was dropped by Labour after storms of protest.  With the advent of smart phone and hand held readers this new system could easily become an effective, electronic National Identity Card.

Universal Credit is the Government’s policy to replace all benefits and tax credits with one unified benefit.  The database set up to manage it will be built into the tax system and rely on the ‘real time reporting’ system for tax payments which is currently in development.  It is therefore likely that everyone,with or without a job, will find themselves on the database.

Under Real Time Reporting, the Government will require self-employed tax-payers and PAYE employers to submit monthly figures on earnings.  The Government will know where you are on a month to month basis, unlike the current system which only relies on annual returns.  This will create a huge amount of additional work and bureaucracy for self employed people and small firms alike. Like many aspects of the plans, this is something the Government hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about.

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No Jobs For Americans Reply

Article by Paul Craig Roberts.

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Today (March 9, 2012) the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that 227,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs were created by the economy during February. Is the government’s claim true?

No. Statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) reports that 44,000 of these jobs or 19% consist of an add-on factor derived from the BLS’s estimate that 44,000 more unreported jobs from new business start-ups were created than were lost by unreported business failures. The BLS’s estimate comes from the bureau’s “birth-death model,” which works better during normal times, but delivers erroneous results during troubled times such as the economy has been experiencing during the past four years.

Taking out the 44,000 added-on jobs reduces the February jobs number to 183,000, but does not provide a full correction. In an economy as troubled as the US economy is, most likely the deaths exceeded the births, but we don’t know what the number is. Was it 20,000? 50,000? What number do we deduct from the 183,000? We simply do not know.

Williams reports that seasonal adjustment factors do not work properly during troubled economic times and add their own overstatement to the jobs figure. If anyone could estimate the overestimate of new jobs that results from malfunctioning seasonal adjustments, it is John Williams, but he doesn’t provide an estimate.

Most likely, the new jobs did not exceed 150,000, a figure that would merely keep even with population growth and thus not reduce the rate of unemployment, which, consistent with this deduction, remained constant.

Let’s look now at the kind of jobs that were created. Of the new jobs reported by BLS,
92% are in services. Of this 92%, only 7% could possibly relate to exportable services–architectural, engineering, and computer systems services.

Of the reported new service jobs, 29% are in health care and social services. The categories that account for the health services jobs are ambulatory health care services and hospitals. Waitresses and bartenders account for 20% of the reported new jobs.

Employment services account for 29% of the new reported jobs. Transportation and warehousing accounted for 5% of the reported new jobs, despite a loss of 60,000 jobs in general merchandise and department stores.

In other words, the vast majority of the new jobs are low paying jobs, except for a few truck drivers.

Other conclusions that we can draw are:

The US has nothing to export to reduce its massive trade deficit, which has, sooner or later, disastrous implications for the US dollar.

Middle class income jobs are declining, with polarization at the two extremes.

US economic policy continues to focus on the mega-rich at the expense of 99% of the population. US interest rates are kept at, or near to, zero in order to maximize mega-bank earnings, while depriving tens of millions of retired Americans of interest income on their lifetime savings, forcing them to spend their capital in order to live, thus depriving their heavily indebted children of inheritance.

In short, the US is well on its way to becoming a third world country, as I predicted would be the case in 20 years at a Brookings Institution conference in Washington DC early in the 21st century.

America is no longer the land of the free and independent. It is the land of the 1% mega-rich.

Both The Market and Government Are Irrational Reply

Article by Paul Craig Roberts.

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One of the great economic myths is that markets are rational. Not a day passes without this myth being disproved scores of times, but the myth persists.

For example, today (March 14) Bank of America/Merrill Lynch reported that “yesterday US markets started the day off with a strong rally after the solid retail sales report. . . . tailwinds are helping boost global equity markets today.”

The “solid retail sales report” for February consists of 1% nominal gain. That is, the increase is not deflated by the month’s inflation rate, which will be released on March 16. In other words, if very much of the 1%nominal gain in retail sales is due to higher prices, the inflation adjusted gain will not be statistically significant. The “rational market” took off without waiting to find out whether the gain was real.

Moreover, as statistician John Williams has established, the official Consumer Price Index (CPI) understates inflation. If an honest measure of inflation was used, retail sales could be in negative territory.

The “rational market” loves deception as long as it provides an excuse for equities to rise. The Federal Reserve’s focus on “core inflation,” which does not include rising food and energy prices, allows Federal Reserve officials to maintain that the inflation rate remains below target. By pretending that there is no inflation, the Federal Reserve continues to support banks with near zero interest rates while depriving savers and retirees of interest income. With no income from savings, people are forced to consume their capital. Thus, the Federal Reserve’s policy makes bankers richer and the country poorer.

Meanwhile, those whose old age security is based on pensions are confronting insecurity. Many with private pensions were harmed by the financial crisis. Those dependent on Social Security and Medicare are finding that these programs are being blamed for budget deficits caused by multi-trillion dollar wars of choice. Those expecting pensions from state and local governments are finding that governments are unable to make good on underfunded pension benefits.

State and local governments counted on a growing economy and rising consumer incomes to provide the tax base to make good on underfunded pensions. These governments did not foresee that US corporations would destroy their tax base by moving manufacturing, engineering, IT, research and design jobs overseas. The absence of growth in real incomes for the vast majority of the people and the capture of productivity gains by capital at the expense of labor have added to the budget woes of most state and local governments.

John Rauh at Northwestern University estimates that the unfunded obligations of state and local governments amounts to $4,400,000,000,000, an amount that is within the ballpark of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes’ estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Money that could have saved Americans’ pensions instead was allocated to profits for armament corporations and to advance Israel’s territorial hegemony.

When the Occupy Wall Street movement says that Washington rules for the benefit of the 1%, OWS is not far off the mark.