DEA Agent Shoots Himself in the Foot… Reply

Literally. Watch the video
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Last week a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration by Lee Paige, the DEA agent who literally shot himself in the foot with an allegedly unloaded gun while talking about firearm safety to a roomful of Florida children—right after announcing, “I’m the only one in this room professional enough…to carry this Glock 40.” In a complaint he prepared on his own, Paige claimed DEA officials made him a “target of jokes, derision, ridicule, and disparaging comments,” ruining his career as an undercover agent and motivational speaker, by releasing a widely viewed video of the 2004 incident. U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom said Paige had failed to present any evidence regarding the source of the video. Rather than celebrate a court victory for the DEA, let’s just watch the video one more time.

Message from Colonel Mu'ummar Qaddafi Reply

His side of the story. Obviously, we’re not going to get this from the MSM.
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In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful…

For 40 years, or was it longer, I can’t remember, I did all I could to give people houses, hospitals, schools, and when they were hungry, I gave them food. I even made Benghazi into farmland from the desert, I stood up to attacks from that cowboy Reagan, when he killed my adopted orphaned daughter, he was trying to kill me, instead he killed that poor innocent child. Then I helped my brothers and sisters from Africa with money for the African Union.

I did all I could to help people understand the concept of real democracy, where people’s committees ran our country. But that was never enough, as some told me, even people who had 10 room homes, new suits and furniture, were never satisfied, as selfish as they were they wanted more. They told Americans and other visitors, that they needed “democracy” and “freedom” never realizing it was a cut throat system, where the biggest dog eats the rest, but they were enchanted with those words, never realizing that in America, there was no free medicine, no free hospitals, no free housing, no free education and no free food, except when people had to beg or go to long lines to get soup.

No, no matter what I did, it was never enough for some, but for others, they knew I was the son of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the only true Arab and Muslim leader we’ve had since Salah-al-Deen, when he claimed the Suez Canal for his people, as I claimed Libya, for my people, it was his footsteps I tried to follow, to keep my people free from colonial domination – from thieves who would steal from us.

Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history, my little African son, Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country, to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our free food, and replace it with American style thievery, called “capitalism,” but all of us in the Third World know what that means, it means corporations run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer. So, there is no alternative for me, I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following His path, the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters to work here with us, in the Libyan Jamahiriya.

I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all the thousands who are all my children, then so be it.

Let this testament be my voice to the world, that I stood up to crusader attacks of NATO, stood up to cruelty, stood up to betrayal, stood up to the West and its colonialist ambitions, and that I stood with my African brothers, my true Arab and Muslim brothers, as a beacon of light. When others were building castles, I lived in a modest house, and in a tent. I never forgot my youth in Sirte, I did not spend our national treasury foolishly, and like Salah-al-Deen, our great Muslim leader, who rescued Jerusalem for Islam, I took little for myself…

In the West, some have called me “mad”, “crazy”, but they know the truth yet continue to lie, they know that our land is independent and free, not in the colonial grip, that my vision, my path, is, and has been clear and for my people and that I will fight to my last breath to keep us free, may Allah almighty help us to remain faithful and free.

c: Col. Mu’ummar Qaddafi, 2011/05/04

Copyright Col. Mu’ummar Qaddafi, – Mathaba.Net

Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier Medical Alert! Reply

From the Leonard Peltier Defense/Offense Committee (LPDOC), Northwest Organizer’s Office.
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Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who was wrongfully convicted in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1977, and has been imprisoned for 35 years, is in dire need of medical attention and needs your help.

Sister Betty Solano reports that Peltier began exhibiting symptoms commonly attributed to prostate cancer over a year ago.

His age (he is 66 years old) and family history are risk factors for the disease.

Pressured by Peltier’s attorneys, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ran standard blood tests in June 2010.

Peltier received the results just last week, more than four months after the tests were ordered.

A physician only now says a biopsy is needed to make a diagnosis.

Medical experts agree that the cure rate for prostate cancer is high, but only if detected early.

A man dies from prostate cancer every 16 minutes in this country; why does my brother have to wait over a year to receive even a diagnosis?

Even if Peltier doesn’t have cancer, the symptoms indicate a serious medical condition and one that could lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Currently held at the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International.

Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, 55 members of the US congress and others, including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals, have all called for his immediate release.

Widely recognized for his humanitarian works and a six-time Nobel Prize nominee, Peltier also is an accomplished author and painter.

Please write letters to:
Harley G. Lappin, Director
US Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street NW
Washington, DC 20534

Ron is Running Again! 8

Richard Spencer gives us the news. I don’t think that trying to get “one of us” elected to the presidency is exactly the way to go…to say the least. But as Richard says in this piece, RP is one of the few public officials who is not a lying sociopath. A member of Congress who dares to call for the abolition of the empire, the police state, the Fed, corporate welfare, and the drug war is okay by me. I suspect Richard is also correct that the system will eventually collapse under its own weight rather be reformed through the conscious efforts of any political actors. The question is what will come afterward. The time to start building the lifeboats is now.
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Put frankly, Paul is one of the few political “representatives” who’s not a lying sociopath. Paul means what he says and says what he means. Most Republicans simply talk about their devotion to limited government. If president, Paul would actually attempt to bring the troops home, abolish non-Constitutional departments, and return to the gold standard. Paul also appears to buck the unfortunate libertarian consensus on open immigration.

Paul is a true liberal, in the older sense of the word. He’s what Wilmot Robertson called an “Old Believer”… in an Old America that hasn’t existed for at least a century. Paul sincerely wants to leave the citizenry well enough alone, trusting in the goodness of their intentions and their willingness to cooperate. On this and other matters, it’s hard to separate Paul’s great virtues and personal charm from his blind spots and naiveté.

More important, unlike every other candidate — though Trump is a wildcard — Ron Paul actually threatens what I’ll call, for brevity’s sake, “the Establishment.”

Though there’s no room to go into this here, suffice it to say, the egalitarian welfare state, unending foreign wars, bailouts and endless credit for the financial sector — and much else — is predicated on the Federal Reserve System. Without the Fed, what the government is currently doing would be significantly more difficult; to do it all simultaneous and on such a grandiose scale, would simply be impossible.

Paul’s central issue is “End the Fed.” This quest is, of course, quixotic — I think it’s more likely that the current system will implode than it will be rationally reformed. Nevertheless, the Establishment does not want thinking minds to contemplate the source of its power.

Whatever his limitations might be, a Paul presidency would truly amount to a Revolution.

Courtesy and Class Struggle at Jimmy John’s Reply

From Infoshop.Org. I worked in bars and restaurants for fifteen years. This is standard practice in the “food service” industry.
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It may come as a surprise to those who have never worked in the food industry to hear that not only Jimmy John’s sandwiches, but also the pizzas, salads, burgers and burritos that are consumed in many American restaurants often have a few secret ingredients: cold, flu and other germs. There is a simple reason for this. Jimmy John’s and many other fast food restaurants do not allow workers to take sick days. Management pressures sick workers to find a replacement or come to work.

Is Money Too Cheap, or Too Dear? Both Reply

Kevin Carson explains why.
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It’s ironic that left-wing money cranks like me and right-wing money cranks like von MIses’ gold bug followers have so much trouble getting along. Us left-wingers, or anyway those of us in the tradition of William Greene and Benjamin Tucker, argue that the state’s money monopoly enables banks to charge a monopoly price for credit, and thereby keep independent access to capital artificially expensive for workers. The result is that the means of production are artificially scarce and costly, so that workers are put at a bargaining disadvantage against their employers.

The right-wingers argue that the central banking system makes credit artificially cheap, and that our bubble-prone FIRE (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) economy is caused by “free money.” They call us left-wingers “money cranks” (despite the fact that, in the eyes of conventional economists, they’re as cranky as we are) who want to create prosperity with inflationary fiat money.

Not so. Although Mises’ disciple Rothbard was one of those who dismissed left-wing mutual banking proposals as inflationary fiat money schemes, they’re actually based on a critique of the money monopoly identical to Rothbard’s critique of the life insurance monopoly. State insurance regulations, he argued, mandate capital reserves for life insurance companies far in excess of what actuarial considerations would require. They thereby function as an entry barrier that reduces the number of competing companies and enable them to charge a monopoly markup on the service of provicing life insurance.

That’s exactly what the state’s bank licensing laws do. They mandate minimum capital reserves even for banks that are solely in the business of issuing secured loans against collateral. That means it’s illegal for a group of ordinary people to form a banking cooperative and issue purchasing power against the members’ own property, interest free, unless they can also raise millions of dollars in capital reserves. So instead they have to pay a monopoly rate of interest to a capitalist bank that issues credit against their property.

And any venture that amounts to issuing credit against future performance without maintaining capital reserves, like Tom Greco’s mutual credit clearing networks, risks being shut down as an “unlicensed bank” (although I have hopes that they’ll soon be able to operate with impunity under cover of encrypted darknets).

The money issued by capitalist banks is indeed fiat money, created out of thin air, as the right-wingers say. When the Fed reduces reserve requirements for banks, it increases the amount of money the banks can lend into existence — at interest.

So the money is artificially cheap for the privileged banking monopoly to create — but at the same time, it’s artificially expensive for those that depend on them as a source of credit. Thanks to the state’s legal tender laws and bank licensing laws, the banks are in the position of a monopolist, empowered to charge interest on additional money that they lent into existence at no additional cost to themselves. But because they have a legal monopoly on the power to issue credit, they can charge a price for the service that bears no relation to the cost of providing it.

In terms of the sheer degree of statism, this is about the worst of all possible worlds. If the state were going to create a money supply by fiat, it would be far less oppressive simply to create it by depositing it into existence in people’s checking accounts interest-free (as the Social Credit people advocate), or spending it into existence (Greenbackism). Instead, the state creates money out of thin air — but delegates the function to a privileged class of parasites that charge usury for the function. It’s a classic example of what passes for “privatization” on much of the fake “free market” Right (like the folks at AEI, Heritage, and the Adam Smith Institute): The framework is just as statist, but there’s an additional, nominally “private” layer of mouths to feed, on top of the state bureaucrats. In practical terms, the “business” component of such “public-private partnerships” is really just another part of the state.

So both the left-wing and right-wing money cranks are really right. Here’s to money crank love.

Urban Renewal and the Destruction of American Cities 1

Hat tip to Raven Warrior. Raven has some additional comments of his own at the American Indian/Alaskan Native Attack the System blog.
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Many of the ‘blighted’ neighborhoods targeted by urban renewal were in fact quite liveable places, safer and better-maintained than the average inner-city district today. The planners provide the proof of this themselves. Federal guidelines that mandated city planning fostered a common approach in survey techniques. Search the libraries, or the planning records of almost any city for the 40’s and 50’s, and you will find a set of look-alike maps divided by census tract, showing such statistics as density and housing deterioration. The worst areas, those doomed by the programs to come, will often show only 10% or 20% of buildings rated as ‘substandard’ or ‘deteriorated’; even where the percentages were higher, under the definitions of the time, this could have meant only the lack of fresh paint or up-to-date plumbing.

Nevertheless, at the time they were perceived as a threat to downtown real estate values. In urban renewal, as in housing, the new caste of experts would finally get a chance to show what they could do. When they were out of the government and back at the university for a spell, some of them wrote books, and a quick look at any of them is enough to grasp the juvenile utopianism that fueled the whole business of ‘conscious planning for better living’. We are shown (above) an air photo of downtown Milwaukee in the 40’s—the grand old City Hall, Wisconsin Avenue alive with shoppers, plenty of neon roof signs; little old buildings and big new ones peacefully coexisting, close-in residential neighborhoods all around. The caption beneath it reads: ‘…insufficient or obsolete traffic ways, parking facilities, spaces for recreation…A typical example of downtown building congestion.’ (the book is Miles Colean, Renewing Our Cities, 1954; the author, a certified ‘expert’ of the day, had been one of the drafters of the 1937 Housing Act)

This was the enemy, and the planners went after it with gusto. The first phase of federal urban renewal covered some 1,400 projects in 700 cities. Often, no developers had been lined up for any of the cleared land, and urban renewal became simply a pretext for demolition, especially in black areas. Nationwide, thousands of acres cleared in the 50’s and 60’s remain vacant to this day. As many as one million people were chased from their homes, and despite all the disclaimers, the hidden agenda of the planners and politicians was clear- 80% of the displaced were black. The ink was hardly dry on the first-phase plans before protesters started calling them ‘Negro removal’ projects. Local authorities consistently selected black areas for flattening over central white neighborhoods comparable in population and housing condition.

In all, urban renewal destroyed an estimated 383,000 units of housing from 1949 to 1967, and replaced them with only 107,000 new ones; of these, only 10,000 were low-income. Typically of federal programs, nobody knows for sure what the real figures are; some estimates put the number of the destroyed units as 425,000, which would mean about a million and a half refugees. Demolition also meant losses to people’s livelihoods; by 1971 some 100,000 businesses had been evicted, most of them small independent shops and services. Various estimates of the number that subsequently failed range from a third to half.

The Big Disconnect 15

When even a neocon mouthpiece like David Brooks admits the system is losing its legitimacy, then the system must really be in trouble. Of course, Brook’s call for a return to the “vital center” establishment consensus of the 1950s is pathetic. See William Houston’s response to Brooks as well.
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Over the past months, we’ve seen a fascinating phenomenon. The public mood has detached from the economic cycle. In normal times, economic recoveries produce psychological recoveries. At least at the moment, that seems not to be happening.

The U.S. has experienced nine straight months of slow economic growth. The unemployment rate has fallen, and, in March, the U.S. economy added a robust 216,000 jobs. Yet the public mood is darkening, not brightening. The New York Times/CBS News poll showed a 13 percentage point increase in the number of Americans who believe things are getting worse. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is now as low as it has been since the height of the recession.

Public opinion is not behaving the way it did after other recent recessions.

If you dive deeper into the polling, you see the country is not mobilized by this sense of crisis but immobilized by it. Raising taxes on the rich is popular, but nearly every other measure that might be taken to address the fiscal crisis is deeply unpopular. Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling; similar majorities oppose measures to make that sort of thing unnecessary.

There is a negativity bias in the country, especially among political independents and people earning between $30,000 and $75,000 (who have become extremely gloomy). It is hard to rally majorities behind immigration, energy or tax reform.

At some point something is going to happen to topple the political platform — maybe a debt crisis, maybe when China passes the United States as the world’s largest economy, perhaps as early as 2016. At that point, we could see changes that are unimaginable today.

New political forces will emerge from the outside or the inside. A semi-crackpot outsider like Donald Trump could storm the gates and achieve astonishing political stature. Alternatively, insiders like the Simpson-Bowles commission or the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Six” could assert authority and recreate a strong centrist political establishment, such as the nation enjoyed in the 1950s.

Neither seems likely now. But in these circumstances, rule out nothing.  

The Conservative Nanny State 1

Read Dean Baker’s book online.
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In his new book, economist Dean Baker debunks the myth that conservatives favor the market over government intervention. In fact, conservatives rely on a range of “nanny state” policies that ensure the rich get richer while leaving most Americans worse off. It’s time for the rules to change. Sound economic policy should harness the market in ways that produce desirable social outcomes – decent wages, good jobs and affordable health care.

African Americans Rally Against Obama Reply

From Press.TV
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Members of the New Black Panther Party and the Black is Back coalition converged in a neighborhood in DC’s Southeast quadrant for a National Day of Action, demanding attention to inequalities in education, housing and healthcare, a Press TV correspondent reported on Monday.

Protesters were particularly outraged by US President Barack Obama’s failure to address the black communities’ problems as figures show black unemployment hovers at staggering 16 percent nationwide.

“I’m very angry and disappointed because we supported him because he promised us change but he’s just the same,” an angry protester told Press TV.

According to the latest US Labor Department figures, overall jobless rates across the country fell to a better-than-expected 8.8 percent in March, but the unemployment rate also for black teenagers stood at 50 percent — more than double the national average.

Blacks were among the first to lose jobs when the US recession began and now they are the populations having the hardest time bouncing back despite the 216,000 jobs added nationwide last month.

In the protest, demonstrators also expressed their solidarity with the ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, and called for a free Palestine, a rejection of US intervention in the Middle East and an end to NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Is Libertarian Socialism an Oxymoron? Reply

From the Anarchist FAQ.
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Isn’t libertarian socialism an oxymoron?

No. As discussed in section A.1.3, the word “libertarian” has been used by anarchist socialists for far longer than the pro-free market right have been using it. This in itself does not, of course, prove that the term is free of contradiction. However, as we will show below, the claim that the term is self-contractory rests on the assumption that socialism requires the state in order to exist and that socialism is incompatible with liberty. This assumption, as is often true of objections to socialism, is based on a misconception of what socialism is, a misconception that many authoritarian socialists and the state capitalism of Soviet Russia have helped to foster. In reality it is the term “state socialism” which is an oxymoron.

The right (and many on the left) consider that, by definition, “socialism” is state ownership and control of the means of production, along with centrally planned determination of the national economy (and so social life). This definition has become common because many Social Democrats, Leninists, and other statists call themselves socialists. However, the fact that certain people call themselves socialists does not imply that the system they advocate is really socialism. We need to analyse and understand the systems in question, by applying critical, scientific thought, in order to determine whether their claims to the socialist label are justified. As we’ll see, to accept the above definition one has to ignore the overall history of the socialist movement and consider only certain trends within it as representing the movement as a whole.

Even a quick glance at the history of the socialist movement indicates that the identification of socialism with state ownership and control is not common. For example, Anarchists, many Guild Socialists, council communists, and other libertarian Marxists, as well as followers of Robert Owen, all rejected state ownership. Indeed, anarchists recognised that the means of production did not change their form as capital when the state took over their ownership, and hence that state ownership of capital was a tendency within, not opposed to, capitalism

World Government Aborning Reply

Article by Charles Coulombe.
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On a recent trip to New York, I did something radically different from my usual forays back to the city of my birth: I visited the UN headquarters. To be sure, my One-Worlder credentials are very poor; I did not even trick-or-treat for UNICEF as a child. But that very childhood in the early to mid-’60s gave me a certain interest in the UN. Part of this was the conflation in my young mind of the UN logo with the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s Unisphere—symbolizing one of my earliest Really Good Times. Another element was the space program, and a third was the never-ending cavalcade of newly independent states—most of which would go on to become “failed” in our day. The developing countries rarely seem ever to quite develop.

In recent months, I have taken to reading innumerable UN-related websites in detail. Even as one soon tires of phrases such as “transparency,” “sustainability,” and “good governance,” such ideas illumine the self-image of those who staff the UN’s innumerable offices around the globe. Although it was rather late at night, while on the website of one country’s UN team I swear I saw an article on the close connection between gender equality and biodiversity. (In retrospect, it must mean that admitting women to men’s clubs will prevent endangered species from dying out due to inbreeding.)

The furnishings at the UN’s New York headquarters immediately send one back to the early Bond movies and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The tour itself was conducted by an earnest young Spanish girl who spoke excellent English and was imbued with a true zeal for the organization. Apart from the General Assembly room, we saw a number of exhibits dealing with the UN’s history and its various humanitarian programs. There was also a wonderful gift shop filled with tchotchkes from all over the world. At the end, each of us had the chance to visit the Meditation Room.

It is easy to make fun of the starry-eyed “civilization of peace” rhetoric that the UN’s younger employees and innumerable volunteers at UN associations mouth. When one looks at so much of the UN’s agenda, from the “rights of the child” to population control to various gender-orientation-equality schemes, it is often difficult to repress a shudder. The prospect of a “One World Government” melting all humanity into a single mass of robots is truly frightening. Those blessed with a memory of the Cold War will recall how often UN bodies served Soviet propaganda and intelligence ends. If one is particularly pro-Israeli he will take a dim view of the organization’s Middle Eastern role.

Fair Trial for Manning Now Impossible Reply

Article by Kevin Zeese.
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The credibility of the military justice system is being undermined by the prosecution of Bradley Manning. His abusive punishment without trial violates his due process rights, his harsh treatment in solitary confinement violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and now the commander in chief has pronounced his guilt, making a fair trial impossible. A Bradley Manning exception to the Bill of Rights is developing as the Obama administration seeks Manning’s punishment no matter what constitutional protections they violate.

On Thursday, April 21, 2011, in San Francisco, a group of Bradley Manning supporters protested the prosecution of Manning at a Barack Obama fund-raising event. One of Manning’s supporters was able to question the president directly afterward, and during the conversation, Obama said on videotape that Manning was guilty.

Can you imagine if the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, pronounced an Iranian military whistleblower “guilty” before any trial was held? Khamenei is the commander in chief of all armed forces in Iran, just as President Obama is the commander in chief of the U.S. armed services. Would anyone in the United States think that a trial before Iranian military officers that followed such a pronouncement could be fair? The U.S. government would use the situation to make propaganda points about the phony justice system in Iran.

President Obama’s pronouncement about Manning—“He broke the law”—amounts to unlawful command influence, which is prohibited in military trials because it is devastating to the military justice system. Manning will be judged by a jury of military officers in a military court where everyone involved follows the orders of the commander in chief. How are these officers going to rule against their commander in chief, especially after Manning has been tortured in solitary confinement for almost a year? Any officer who finds Manning “not guilty” will have no chance of advancing his or her career after doing so.

The Empire Goes Down Reply

Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton.

Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent and author of War at the Top of the World and American Raj, discusses how a NATO defeat in Libya would be political disastrous for Obama and Sarkozy – meaning they’ll fight on til the bitter end; why the US spends trillions fighting little countries of no strategic value; the depth of interference in Syria’s demonstrations by the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel; why the next Syrian potentate probably lives in Virginia right now; fracturing the Arab world into its tribal components so Israel can rule the region; and why Iraq, for the most part, is not better now than under Saddam.

MP3 here. (23:40)

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles appear in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times and Dawn. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC.

As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq.

Margolis is the author of War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet and American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World.

Japan's Broken Windows Reply

Article by David D’Amato.
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On Friday (April 22), Bloomberg reported that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced plans for budget supplements targeted at rebuilding in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

If the economic contentions of statists hold true, then costly crises like the one that has ravaged Japan are a boon, an opportunity for the rebuilding process to stir economic activity that wouldn’t have otherwise have taken place. Instead of a expense of catastrophe, the almost $50 billion set aside by the Japanese state for reconstruction ought to be greeted, so we’re told, as an economic shot in the arm.

Economists — at least those who don’t buy it — call this the “broken window fallacy,” an allusion to nineteenth century political economist Frederic Bastiat’s famous story about the “seen” and the “unseen.” Bastiat’s vignette describes a shop owner whose storefront window is shattered by a rascally son, the result being some unexpected business for the glazier.

While that business, the contract for a new window, is the “seen,” Bastiat draws our attention to what is “unseen,” all of the productive activity that the shop owner would have engaged in but for the price of replacing his window.

Under the “devastation as stimulant” argument, whereby the destruction of valuable resources and infrastructure is (or can be) beneficial, there’s no reliable way of determining where to draw the line between economically “good” and “bad” misfortunes. If a cracked window is to be regarded favorably as a spur for productive activity, are we to regard the earthquake damage in Japan in the same way?

Or is there a point at which the damage is too extensive to be thought of as advantageous to that indeterminate thing called “the economy.” Properly understood, economic efficiency is a product of a market actor’s ability to use resources in a way that avoids waste and maximizes the productive output on her costs. Since each individual is actually an “economy” unto herself, allocating time and scarce resources to achieve particular ends, even a comparatively small harm like a broken window can’t ever result in a net gain for the community.

Is Georgia About to Execute an Innocent Man? Reply

From the Police Brutality and Atrocity Blog.
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Since Troy Davis’ 1991 conviction, numerous facts have emerged that introduce significant doubt as to his guilt. These facts include:

* All but two of the original witnesses against Troy Davis have signed affidavits recanting their earlier testimony. Most claim that their testimony was coerced by police officers.1
* Multiple witnesses say that another man — one of the original witnesses against Davis — has claimed to have slain the fallen officer.2
* The weapon used in the murder was never found. The only physical evidence connecting Davis to the crime was indirect, circumstantial — and new testimony disputes Davis’s connection to that evidence.3

In light of this evidence, the Supreme Court granted Davis another chance. But instead of an actual new trial before a jury, which would mean the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is on the prosecutor, he got an evidentiary hearing before a single federal judge where Davis’ lawyers had the burden to meet an impossibly high and undefined legal standard.

In light of this, it was sad — but no surprise — when the judge rejected the new evidence and cleared the way for Davis’ execution. However, even he acknowledged lingering doubt, noting that the case against Davis was not “ironclad.”

But “ironclad” is exactly what the evidence should be in order to put someone to death. If the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole doesn’t act to stop Davis’ execution, they’ll run a serious risk of putting an innocent man to death. That is not acceptable.

In Egypt, Revolution Moves Into The Factories Reply

From Infoshop.Org.
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Egypt’s popular revolution was launched from a public square. Now there’s an uprising on factory floors — with labor strikes across the country. Under the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, many industries were privatized as Egypt turned from a state-controlled to a market-driven economy. But government-owned factories were frequently given to loyalists or foreign buyers who had the right connections. Many of them got rich by cutting wages and benefits.

from NPR

Egypt’s popular revolution was launched from a public square. Now there’s an uprising on factory floors — with labor strikes across the country.

Under the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, many industries were privatized as Egypt turned from a state-controlled to a market-driven economy. But government-owned factories were frequently given to loyalists or foreign buyers who had the right connections. Many of them got rich by cutting wages and benefits.

Now, the workers are fighting back.

In Menoufia, about 90 miles from Cairo in the Nile Delta, the main employer is the Shebin spinning and weaving factory. For generations, local men have worked at the sprawling 150-acre plant, spinning Egyptian cotton into products for the world market.

But the factory is closed now. The workers are all on strike.

They have chanted and marched for more than a month, encouraged by the success of the popular uprising that forced Mubarak to resign, labor activist Hossam Hamalawi says.

“On all levels there is more organizing than I’ve seen before,” he says. “It has been given a boost by the revolution.”

Politicians from Cairo see which way the wind is blowing; these days they come to support the striking workers.

Being Dishonest About Abe Reply

Article by Paul Gottfried.
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In what may be described as the Dell comic-book version of “the Civil War’s true beginning,” Allen C. Guelzo, seated as Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College (I’ll bet my hat that the neocons are paying for this oddly named chair), explains in the New York Post what really happened at Fort Sumter 150 years ago. According to Guelzo, the Great Emancipator maneuvered the Southerners into taking the federal fort in Charleston Harbor in order to push us into a morally redemptive war made necessary because the Southern “slave states” were a threat to democracy everywhere:

The newly minted Confederacy was only worried about preserving slavery and the stiffly ranked society slavery created—but in Lincoln’s mind the issue was larger: Secession was anarchy—and no friend of democracy.

Apparently Lincoln was agonizing over democracy’s future in general. He knew full well that in Europe “struggles for democracy had been snuffed out by kings, emperors and dictators of various sorts.” To make matters worse, allowing the South to leave the Union would strengthen anti-democracy in the Old World:

If the American democracy shattered itself because seven states weren’t willing to abide by the outcome of the presidential election, then every one of those kings, emperors and dictators would be able to say to their nations, “See what democracy gets you? Instability. Disorder….”

Let’s see if I understand Guelzo’s picture of nineteenth-century history: Victoria in England, Victor Emmanuel in the nascent Italian kingdom, Franz Josef in Austria, and all their fellow monarchs were just waiting for the South to win its independence in order to shout to their subjects: “We told you so! That’s what democracy gets you.” Somehow Lincoln’s more gruesome accomplishments after he created a casus belli at Sumter—such as getting 636,000 young Americans mowed down in battle and many more permanently maimed and signing off on Sherman’s deliberate devastation of Georgia and South Carolina—would serve to dispel any lingering doubt about democratic government’s beneficence. All the carnage would prove to everyone in Europe that democracies are peaceful and that their subjects get along swimmingly well.

Why They Died in Vain Reply

Article by Laurence Vance.
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Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, I have unequivocally maintained several things about the deaths of U.S. troops. Every one of the 4,450 U.S. soldiers who has died so far in Iraq has died unnecessarily, senselessly, for a lie, and in vain.

This latter point struck a nerve with a reader of a recent article of mine on the Iraq war, “What If Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction?,” that was reprinted by LibertarianChristians.com. Although my critic didn’t “necessarily disagree” with some of my conclusions, he did “disagree on one major point”:

The soldiers did not die in vain. There is now a chance for freedom in a country that did not have it, if that is in vain then we all must question our purpose here on earth. I would not insult their families or their honor by reprinting such an inflammatory statement.

Does this mean there was no “chance for freedom” in Iraq before the United States invaded? A look at what has happened to oppressive regimes in the Middle East this year should answer that question. One bullet put by an Iraqi into the head of Saddam Hussein could have given Iraq a “chance for freedom.” There was always a “chance for freedom” in Iraq. And even if there wasn’t, who is to say that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of U.S. troops is a price that should have been paid to give Iraq a “chance for freedom”? Is my critic willing to sacrifice one of his children so Iraq can have a “chance for freedom”? I don’t think so.

Look at what has happened to our freedoms in this country since 9/11 and since the troops started defending our freedoms by fighting in Iraq. Our freedoms have gone down the drain. Is it worth giving up our freedoms – like the freedom to travel without being sexually molested – so that Iraqis can have a “chance for freedom”?

Exporting Tyranny through Foreign Aid Reply

Article by John Glaser.
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Before the successful ouster of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, Tahrir Square was filled with chants and handcrafted picket signs pleading with the U.S. to stop funding Mubarak’s repressive government. Rubber bullets, shotgun shells, and teargas canisters were collected by the largely peaceful protestors – and given to news agencies to show to the world – with the names of American military contractors branded on them. The Mubarak regime received approximately $60 billion in U.S. aid throughout his tenure.

Uprisings in Yemen and calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down have been intensifying. Reports in late March of non-violent protestors being shot with live rounds, killing and wounding hundreds, put in question the Obama administration’s escalation of support to Yemen. A June 2010 Amnesty International report published “images of a US-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions” aimed at “an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Yemen that killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children.” The bombings were later corroborated to have been launched on presidential orders and in conjunction with the Yemeni government, which has received over $300 million from the U.S. in the past five years.

In Bahrain in late February, when security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators and began to enforce martial law, similar revelations of U.S. backing came to the fore. The tens of millions of dollars sent to the Bahraini government each year in part help King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa maintain domestic stability – as well as compensate for his country hosting the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, one of the largest military forces in the region.

The recent onset of anti-government demonstrations across the Middle East has placed an integral pillar of U.S. foreign policy into flux. America’s consistent, decades-long policy of lavish support for Middle Eastern autocrats is becoming prominent enough in the national debate to shake it from its seemingly unshakable roots.

The maverick Tea Party Senator Rand Paul grabbed headlines in late January when he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he would end all aid to foreign governments, including Israel. Other congressional leaders, like Senator Patrick Leahy, exhibited similar scrutiny for foreign aid when he stated during Egyptian protests that “if [Mubarak] doesn’t leave, there will not be foreign aid; I mean, it’s as simple as that.”