Countdown to Default Reply

Article by Mike Whitney.
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Sometime in mid-May, the United States will hit the debt ceiling ($14.3 trillion) which is the legal limit that the country can borrow without congressional approval. If the ceiling isn’t raised, the US will default on its debt and the government will begin to shut down. But that appears to be less likely now than it was a week ago because Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has implemented a plan that will pay off bondholders and keep the government operating until early August. Geithner’s accounting maneuvers are designed to give the Obama administration and congress a little more time to hammer out the details on a final budget deal. But that’s not going to be easy, because Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on the issue of spending cuts, and neither party is willing to give ground. And that’s why Wall Street is so worried, because if a settlement isn’t reached soon, the uncertainty is liable to roil markets and send stocks plunging.

The conservative Republican Study Committee is calling for “immediate spending cuts, spending caps at about 18 percent of GDP and a balanced-budget amendment similar to the plan unveiled by Senate Republicans in March.” (Washington Post) That’s not the kind of “compromise” that the Obama team is looking for, nor will the Dems agree to slash spending and risk a double dip recession just to placate GOP deficit hawks. That’s a non-starter. So, the standoff will probably drag for a while longer while the looming August 2 deadline gets closer and closer. If negotiations break-down and policymakers aren’t able to reconcile their differences by early August, then the big steel door on the Treasury vault will slam shut, government payments will stop, and the United States of America will default.

No one expects that to happen. The US has never defaulted on its debt and it’s not going to now. But, guess what, it really doesn’t matter, because by the time congress agrees to a deal, the damage will have already been done. You see, foreign banks and financial institutions don’t base their investment decisions on what actually happens, but what they “think” will happen. So, if the political stalemate continues, investors will get increasingly nervous and move their money out of US Treasuries and into something else. And, that WILL happen because, every day that goes by, the uncertainty builds and investors grow more apprehensive.

Anarchism and British Islamism: Putting Things in Perspective Reply

Article by Steven Johns.
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Paul Stott opens his article stating that it “aims to kick-start a debate about how anarchists should respond to the development of Islam and Islamism in the United Kingdom. It is a debate that is long overdue.”

Jumping straight to his conclusion, I would first like to emphasise that I agree with his final points wholeheartedly:

There is a need to stress the type of alternative, bottom up multi-culturalism that we live with and support daily – getting on with neighbours, colleagues and school friends as people, not as identities based on their colour or creed. Joining together with people as fellow workers and fellow members of working class communities targeted by cuts will be a lot easier on that basis, than the multi-culturalism of the state and the left.

This being the case I hope that my disagreements with the rest of the article are taken in the constructive spirit they are intended.

My disagreements with the rest of the piece go right back to the opening paragraph, to the statement that this is “a debate that is long overdue”. Anarchists love nothing more than to argue incessantly over irrelevant issues (look at me now!), often the more irrelevant the better.

Islam and Islamism and our approach to them is one such issue. On the website I help run, libcom.org, for example we have dozens of articles about Islam, and we have had dozens of debates about it in our forums over the past eight years – far more than we have about any other world religion. Anarchists are certainly not immune to a media frenzy, unsurprisingly, as things we read about in the paper and end up discussing with friends and co-workers we want to discuss with one another as well.

However, we should always remember that the media is not neutral, it has an agenda, and so to counter this we should always try to put things in perspective. The main issue with Stott’s article is the complete lack of perspective.

The clear scale of the exaggeration of the issue is quite well illustrated by this statement:

[the global Islamic] resurgence was – and is – an event as important as the French or Russian revolutions.

Now I ask on what basis is this even close to being true? The French revolution was the triumph of capitalism over feudalism, setting the scene for the dominant new economic system for the entire planet. The Russian revolution was the world’s first major proletarian revolution and experiment in socialism, which was crushed and instead turned into the second imperialist superpower and led to the Cold War, which dominated much of the world’s political life, including class struggle, over the past 100 years.

The supposed growth of political Islam has had nowhere near as big an impact as either of these two events, no matter what the Daily Star says. I say “supposed” growth because despite a recent resurgence I would question whether political Islam now even has the same influence it did 30 years ago.

David Frum and the Winds of War Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.
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It may be unseemly for a pundit to highlight his own predictive powers, especially in the first sentence of a column, but propriety has never been much of a constraining factor for me, so here goes:

No sooner had I written that the High Mucka-Mucks of the “Kochtopus” would jump on the bandwagon of the Gary Johnson campaign, then there was David Boaz, looking particularly smug, singing Johnson’s praises (and making catty remarks about Ron Paul’s age) on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch less than twenty-four hours later.

Okay, so you don’t have to be Nostradamus reincarnated to have imagined the oily evasive Boaz would sidle up to the oily evasive Johnson: like attracts like and all that. But how about my prediction that the neocons War Party, bored with Afghanistan and eager to find fresh killing fields, would soon be focusing on Pakistan as the New Enemy in our eternal “war on terrorism”?

No sooner had my last column been posted, then CNN posted David Frum’s latest screed, in which the former speechwriter for George W. Bush asked: “Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete?”

Frum, who authored the “axis of evil” phraseology that set the tone for the Bush presidency, isn’t having second thoughts about the interventionist foreign policy he’s always championed: no, he’s just wondering if, as he puts it, “The world’s most important terrorist safe haven is visibly not Afghanistan, but instead next-door Pakistan.”

According to Frum, “Because the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires cooperation from Pakistan, the Afghanistan mission perversely inhibits the United States from taking more decisive action against Pakistan’s harboring of terrorism.” The US has got it “upside down,” he says: Pakistan is the real Enemy. He then goes into a laundry list of aggressive actions he would like us to engage in, including US military action to “disable” Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

This last is particularly crazy, even for a dyed-in-the-wool neocon like Frum: does this born again “moderate” Republican really want to start a war – bound to go nuclear – with Pakistan?

The World’s Largest Street Gang Reply

Article by William Norman Grigg.
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Sure, the “3,000 Boys” are a group of tattooed thugs from Los Angeles who spend a lot of time in jail, share cryptic hand signs, have a cultivated sensitivity to being “dissed,” routinely beat up people at parties and instigate fights in bars – but don’t you dare call them a “gang.”

While law enforcement officials will concede that the group engages in “gang-like activity,” they refuse to designate the group itself as a gang. This may have something to do with the fact that this little knot of miscreants is composed of LA County Sheriff’s Deputies employed at the Men’s Central Jail.

For years, inmates have complained about “horrific” conditions in the 3000 Block of the Men’s Central Jail, particularly the routine abuses carried out by the violent clique of guards called the 3,000 Boys. Those protests were consistently dismissed as ACLU grievance-mongering – until members of that officially sanctioned prison gang assaulted a fellow members of the sanctified guild of official coercion during a Christmas party at L.A.’s Quiet Cannon banquet hall last December.

A comment that was interpreted as a “diss” provoked seven of the 3,000 Boys to swarm and pummel two other deputies. A female officer who tried to intervene was punched in the face. “This was not mutual combat, this was not one-on-one,” related an attorney for the victims. “This was a beat-down.”

One of the participants in that assault was fired; six others were subject to various forms of “discipline.” None of them was brought up on criminal charges. A lawsuit filed by the victims accuses LA Sheriff Lee Baca of fomenting a culture of “lawlessness” among the deputies working as jail guards – an accusation made, it should be recalled, by two of Baca’s own deputies.

If the victims had been Mundanes, even the trivial, perfunctory “punishment” of termination most likely would have been avoided. This was demonstrated in the case of bar bouncer Chris Barton, who had a run-in with Deputy David Ortega, a member of the 3,000 Boys.

Barton was attempting to clear out the Slidebar in Fullerton at closing time. Many of the customers probably grumbled a bit when Barton made the familiar “I don’t care where you go but you can’t stay here” announcement, but nearly all of them left. Three sullen, uncooperative males lingered at a table, conspicuously ignoring Barton’s instruction that they leave so the business could comply with applicable local ordinances.

One of the loiterers truculently informed Barton that “he’s a cop, and it doesn’t matter what we say or what [the] laws are,” the bouncer recalled in a television interview. “He’s a police officer, and if he wants to do something, he can do it.”

Profiting From Our Loss Reply

Article by David D’Amato.
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A recent letter to the editor of the Boston Globe from an officer at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group asks, “We’ve already paid to bail out banks and other big corporations — is it fair to ask us to pay their taxes as well?” Her question comes in response to a Globe article from May 1 that reports on a number of big companies that “paid no federal income taxes last year, despite making millions of dollars in profits.”

Since market anarchists regard taxation as no different from any other form of theft, one might assume that we toast Big Business’s tax avoidance. After all, in a free market everyone is entitled to what they make, right? And the answer to that question is yes — again, assuming we were in anything remotely close to a free market.

Unlike a free market, today’s economic system is a product of what Murray Rothbard called “oligarchic rule: rule by a coercive elite which has managed to gain control of the State machinery.” What those elites make is in no way something they’re entitled to, something obtained through simple, mutually satisfactory trade in a market where all are allowed to compete.

In the accepted political lexicon, free market phraseology has long been applied in the service of a state capitalist system defined by constraints and controls on economic activity, poisoning the well against the ideas of genuine freedom. Likewise, the language of egalitarianism and social justice has been dominated by advocates of a statist status quo who are hardly motivated by justice for the productive class.

What we’re left with is a distorted ideological framework wherein economic exploitation is associated with free markets, equitable conditions for the worker with state intervention in the economy. But the American Enterprise Institute doesn’t stand for true free markets, and the Center for American Progress doesn’t stand for true social justice.

The truth, though perhaps most will find it counterintuitive, is that unbridled economic freedom leads to economic justice. The two are not at all in conflict, as we’ve been assured by the fallacies of “both sides,” but are naturally and inseparably bound. It is monopolization, possibly only through the state’s coercive restraints on consensual economic behavior, that allows a few to amass enormous hoards of wealth, that allows them to extract rents from the toils of industrious society.

Although we all implicitly understand the effects of monopoly, we have been instructed to believe that they arise naturally from the uncontrolled bedlam of “cutthroat competition.” Monopoly, though, is a creature of the state, requiring coercion to cordon off resources and limit our options for survival.

Where open competition generates choice for workers and drives prices down for consumers, the state’s obstruction of potential competitors allows a favored few to skim off the top. Without the external pressure that would accompany total economic freedom, elites are allowed to pocket the difference between the price as it would be and the price reflecting a state-created condition of undersupply.

Whatever the amount of that difference, it is owed to the state’s violent intrusion into the economy for the benefit of the ruling elite; it is decidedly not owed to Big Business “giving the consumer what she wants,” or coming out on top in anything like real competition. Next time you’re looking for something to blame for “corporate greed” as it exists within state capitalism, look no further than heap of “consumer protection” and “safety” rules that suppress real free market alternatives.

Regardless of what you need — be it food, a job, anything — if you have to genuflect before the plutocrat’s system to get it, you’re going to be paying more than you would if free people were allowed to use their labor and resources in any peaceful way. Within this nefarious context, corporate tax breaks are repugnant enough, but let’s also spotlight all of those structures of privilege that advantage Big Business every day.

From direct subsidies and intellectual property to government contracts and regulatory cartelization, privilege is literally all around us, forcing us into an arrangement created by the ruling class. Counter to prevailing myth, a free market it is not. As Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice rightly observes in the Globe article, “Our swashbuckling capitalists couldn’t live without the government subsidizing them.”

A Tale of Two Situations: On Doing Business in America. Reply

Article by Paul Schwennesen.
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Once upon a time selling a chicken was fraught with few if any legal implications. Remodeling a shed was equally simple from a regulatory standpoint. Today, however, we live in more enlightened times. Protected from our wayward desires by an empowered bureaucracy, we can rest easier knowing that decisions like what we eat and where we build is being carefully managed by authorities.

Playing Chicken with the Ag Department

Josh is a Mennonite friend who happens, by the grace of native talent and a powerful work ethic, to produce magnificent chickens. Raised on green growing pasture, they are never medicated, never fed artificial supplements or genetically selected to grow abnormally fast. They develop rich golden fat and a deep flavor, characteristics that have been more or less lost in modern, streamlined, highly efficient poultry production. Not surprisingly, Josh’s chickens are in high demand among food cognoscenti and fine restaurants. A couple of years ago I began bringing Josh’s chickens to my farmers’ market stand to sell alongside our equally popular grassfed beef. Josh and I, in a classic entrepreneurial endeavor, have made these wholesome chickens available to happy, discerning customers who would otherwise be unable to justify a three-hour commute to buy a bird for dinner.

Josh processes his chickens on his farm under a legal exemption allowing him to avoid industrial (and expensive) processing plants. Each chicken he produces is clearly labeled as to origin, method of production, added ingredients (none); the label also cites the statute that allows him operate unmolested.

Recently he was informed by the Food Safety Inspection Service, the regulatory arm of the USDA, that he faced a “situation.” They had discovered a chink in the otherwise protective “non-molestation” statute. Because he is marketing chickens to an intermediary (me), his product is therefore rendered illegal and he must desist. In a disturbing addendum the inspector also let slip that the USDA would be “willing and free of charge” to take over inspection of his facilities and that they would be “more than happy to help him get going,” presumably in the chicken business.

The same authority willing to allow a company to distribute (and I’m not making this up) a neon-green sugar drink with the word “sweetener” (in quotes) on the ingredient list believes that customers cannot be trusted to buy a natural chicken from a reputable farmer.

Raising the Roof

I have an old shed I’d like to turn into an office. It’s a small, uncomplicated project. I do not intend to host conventions there or otherwise expose innocents to my construction acumen.

Announcing "The Daily Attack"! 2

A brand new project from our Las Vegas ATS affiliate! Check it out.

There’s already an Alternative Right. Here comes the Alternative Left.

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The Daily Attack is an alternative news service providing constant coverage of the counter-economic, technological and political developments most capable of effectively challenging the system. We hold that parallel institutions can be formed to replace the government in areas where the government performed useful services. Whether competitive or cooperative, we believe many things can be done in radically different ways.

CROWLEY: THOUGHTS & PERSPECTIVES, VOLUME TWO Reply

My essay “The Whole of the Law: The Political Dimensions of Crowley’s Thought” is included in this volume.

Copies of CROWLEY: THOUGHTS & PERSPECTIVES, VOLUME TWO are now available to preorder. The book is over 200 pages in length and costs just £22 (UK), £24 (Europe) & £25 (America/Rest of World). All prices include postage and the Paypal address is: arktoslondon@yahoo.co.uk More details below.
OFT-MALIGNED and endlessly portrayed as the archetypal epitome of evil incarnate, there is little doubt that Aleister Crowley systematically cultivated and embellished his characteristic notoriety and even today he still performs an inadver…tently posthumous role as the perennial bête noire. This new book examines Crowley’s work in relation to Aiwass and Gnosticism, war and vengeance, Politics, Law and the Dionysian perspective, as well as discussing his mountaineering exploits, thoughts on self-mutilation and taking a more practical look at Thelemic magick itself. An illustrious roll-call of contributors includes David Beth, Troy Southgate, Dr. George J. Sieg, Vadge Moore, K.R. Bolton, Damon Zacharias, Keith Preston, Christopher Pankhurst, Hekate Perseia and Julius Evola.

Small Nation Neutrality Reply

Article by Tom Naylor.
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In stark contrast to the foreign policy of the United States, which is thoroughly grounded in the principles of full spectrum dominance and imperial overstretch, stands the foreign policy of four small European nations which are committed to political neutrality – Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland. In addition to their opposition to war, these democratic, nonviolent, affluent, socially responsible, cooperative, egalitarian, ecofriendly countries share a high degree of environmental integrity and a strong sense of community.

The United States, on the other hand, has over 1.6 million troops on active military duty stationed at over 1,000 bases in 153 countries. The combined active military force of the four neutral nations amounts to only 85,000 troops. The U.S. has nearly 80,000 troops stationed in Europe alone, not to mention 36,000 in Japan and nearly 30,000 in South Korea. Currently the U.S. is engaged in illegal wars in four Muslim countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. It also provides unconditional military support for the Likud government of Israel in its war against the Palestinians. Last, but by no means least, it promotes a highly racist war on terrorism aimed squarely at Muslims.

Switzerland has not been involved in a foreign war since 1515, and although it is heavily armed, it has remained neutral since 1815. It has never been part of a larger empire. Sweden became neutral in 1814.

Swiss foreign policy is based on four premises: (1) Switzerland will never initiate a war. (2) It will never enter a war on the side of a warring party. (3) It will never side in any way with one warring party against another. (4) It will vigorously defend itself against outside attack.

More…

On Saving America from the Horrors of Liberty and Community 10

“Preston’s vision emphasizes individuals choosing the communities they want and not bothering other people…”

A “watchdog” critic from the Left wants to save America from such a horrifying fate.  Read the whole thing at the New Politics site.

This critique by Lyons is actually quite good, and is light years ahead of previous efforts by leftists to critique my own work. I get the impression he is making an honest, serious, and intelligent effort to understand my own views and interpret them correctly. This is considerably different from the usual habit of my critics of either misrepresenting my work in a seemingly deliberate manner, or of simply lacking the level of skill, knowledge, or ability required to interpret my work correctly. There are not many actual quibbles I would have with this piece regarding facts alone, ideological differences aside. I do see some problems with matters of focus, emphasis, or proportionality. These problems affect the “big picture” analysis of my work by zeroing in on peripheral matters that are inconsequential to the most substantive aspects of my work. Lyons’ interpretation of the broader philosophical framework I adhere to is a bit crude, and he greatly oversimplifies some of my economic views. There are a few seeming contradictions in places. But all in all, it’s a good effort. I’ll have a thorough reply forthcoming relatively soon.

Canada: Parasite politicians & their police Reply

Article by Brandon Gray.
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I was the anarchist Doug Ford told to “get a job” at the People’s Delegation to City Hall – an action which resulted in a coalition of grassroots community organizations crashing a Toronto municipal budget committee meeting on February 10 to protest proposed cuts to social services.

This exchange occurred shortly before I was tackled by his armed thugs and imprisoned in the basement of the notorious 52 Division – whose notoriety stems, in part, from a 2004 probe which implicated a dozen of its officers in drug trafficking and the operation of an organized crime network. As I was being led to a small room, one of the officers on duty taunted that he wished he could be the one to administer my strip search. Later that night, after loudly asserting that we were “spoiled” for being placed one person per cell, another of “Toronto’s finest” took sick satisfaction out of turning off the heat for the evening.

This particularly sadistic individual then proceeded to mock my requests to be given my coat – as I was wearing sweaty, thin, ripped clothing that left me shivering the hours away on a steel slab in a concrete cell during a cold snap of -16.3 Celsius. I was released after 30 hours of illegitimate detention with abrasions down the left side of my face, my wrists cut and bruised from tight handcuffing; my left knee, already sore from recent reconstructive surgery following a workplace accident, was badly inflamed from the attack, and my right shoulder and neck were aching from being choked and kneed in the back.

My arrest and subsequent imprisonment are criminal transgressions on my liberty and safety that have caused my family, friends, and supporters much trouble and grief. According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I am supposed to have the right to public protest without being attacked by the police, but in reality – as many realized this past summer during the G20 – no such right actually exists. During last summer’s protests my spouse received a concussion from riot police, who charged her as she peacefully stood outside the police kettle at Queen and Spadina that I had been trapped inside. One billion dollars was spent on beating my friends and fellow activists, kidnappings in unmarked vans carried out by plainclothes cops, illegal detainment, sexual harassment and military interrogation techniques, and throwing many lives into shambles through outlandish judicial repression.

Ford’s ‘get a job’ quip, subsequently seized upon by the corporate media, is a common crutch used by cops and right-wingers to avoid responding intelligently to urgent social problems and the left-wing ideologies that set out to solve them. As an activist, I am quite familiar with this thoughtless rebuke – that is why I have made a habit of preemptively telling officers to ‘quit the force and get a real job’ at public demonstrations.

After Ford denied the quip, and was subsequently confronted with a recording, reporters then asked him if he would apologize. His response: “I don’t apologize to anarchists.”

A Volcano of Lies Reply

Article by Alexander Cockburn.
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Barack Obama, who pledged to restore ethical honor to the White House after the Bush years, is now burying himself under an active volcano of lies, mostly but not exclusively concerning the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

There was scarcely a sentence in the President’s Sunday night address, or in the subsequent briefing by John Brennan, his chief counter-terrorism coordinator, that has not been subsequently retracted by CIA director Leon Panetta or the White House press spokesman, Jay Carney, or by various documentary records.

• The White House photograph of Obama, Clinton and top security advisors supposedly watching real-time footage of the Navy Seals’ onslaught on the Abbottabad compound, their killing of two men and a woman (excuse for the latter killing: the standard “caught in crossfire”) and liquidation of OBL himself turns out to have been a phony. BO and friends could have been watching basketball replays. Panetta has admitted the real-time video link stopped working before the Seals got into the compound.

• Panetta also admits Osama bin Laden was not armed, and that he did not hide behind his young wife’s skirt. He conceded that under military rules of engagement Osama should have been taken prisoner, but then added vaguely that he showed some unspecified form of resistance. He probably reached for his walking stick, since he has been ailing from kidney and liver problems. As any black or brown resident in, say, the purview of the Ramparts Division of the LAPD knows full well, reaching for a walking stick or even holding a cell phone can be a death warrant; multiply that likelihood by a factor of 100 if you are the world’s most wanted terrorist in front of a score of heavily armed and homicidal Navy SEALs, no doubt amped up on amphetamine.

An admitted fan of the herb, Osama may have been stoned as part of his pain management program since there was a marijuana patch outside in the allotment and, like any world star in retirement, Osama liked to smoke a lot of weed and made DVDs of important speeches which stacked up forlornly on the bookshelf next to the bottles of pills and the Koran, hoping to get picked up by Al Jazeera or HBO. How his lieutenants must have yearned for his summary martyrdom as they received his importunate bulletins that they derail a train during Obama’s State of the Union and other madcap schemes.

• The White House claims that issues of delicacy prohibit the release of photographs of Osama’s bullet-riddled face and required that after an alleged match with a relative’s DNA he be given a swift but formal sea burial in a weighted body bag dropped from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the north Arabian Sea, presumably awaiting retrieval by salvagers with a fix on the Vinson’s position at the time of burial.

Maybe the Navy Seal photographer forgot to take his lens cap off. Obama’s claims of ethical sensitivity certainly ring hollow. He’s battling the wimp factor, and “Lo! The head of Osama” would be a nifty prop. There was lengthy display back in Bush-time of the mutilated bodies of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US special forces in 2003, plus filming of Saddam’s own execution by hanging.

Further back, when DNA matches were unknown, US special forces verified Che Guevara’s execution by permitting many photographs immediately post-mortem. They also cut off Che’s hands, for subsequent verification by the CIA. We’re not talking Miss Manners here.

Those Libyan “Freedom Fighters”: The Fix is On Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.
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In a column three months ago (“Egypt: Let the Looting Begin,” Feb. 4), I suggested that was really going on in Egypt was somewhat different from the official narrative. In quite a few of the “people power” revolutions in recent years — no matter how sincere the people on the streets — it turned out that there were attempts to orchestrate things by people behind the scenes, for whom “people power” was the very last thing on the agenda. In that column I reported that Frank Wisner — a veteran spook, described by Vijay Prashad at Counterpunch as a “bagman of empire,” was Obama’s man on the ground.

Wisner, a former Director at AIG and Enron with longstanding family ties to the OSS and CIA, had previously been involved in drafting the Bush administration’s postwar blueprint for Iraq. That agenda involved so-called “privatizations” of state industry that amounted to insider deals with global corporate interests for pennies on the dollar, “strong intellectual property protections” largely written by Monsanto and the RIAA, and draconian crackdowns on genuine freedom fighters in the labor movement and the Iraqi Freedom Congress. Paul Bremer, with the help of his Heritage Foundation boys in the Green Zone, basically oversaw the looting of everything that wasn’t nailed down.

In that light, some recent news from Libya is especially interesting. First, Alexander Cockburn (“What’s Really Going On in Libya?” Counterpunch, April 15) reported that a high priority for the NATO operation in Libya was to see to the central banking arrangements of the revolutionary government in Benghazi. On March 19 they authorized the Central Bank of Benghazi to handle monetary policy for the country, Qaddafi, it seems, had announced his intention to repudiate the dollar and the euro and encourage the use of the gold dinar as a common currency by all of Africa. He’d gained tentative buy-in, over the previous year, from a number of Arab and African regimes. The government-owned Libyan national bank in Tripoli, which is independent of the global banking industry, has been a thorn in the flesh for global financial elites for some time.

Things that make you go “Hmmmm….”

California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree Reply

Article by Allysia Finley.
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Roughly 2,000 students have to decide by Sunday whether to accept a spot at Harvard. Here’s some advice: Forget Harvard. If you want to earn big bucks and retire young, you’re better off becoming a California prison guard.

The job might not sound glamorous, but a brochure from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it “has been called ‘the greatest entry-level job in California’—and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can’t find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy.” That’s right—instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy.

It gets better.

Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. While Harvard-educated lawyers and consultants often have to work long hours with little recompense besides Chinese take-out, prison guards receive time-and-a-half whenever they work more than 40 hours a week. One sergeant with a base salary of $81,683 collected $114,334 in overtime and $8,648 in bonuses last year, and he’s not even the highest paid.

Sure, Harvard grads working in the private sector get bonuses, too, but only if they’re good at what they do. Prison guards receive a $1,560 “fitness” bonus just for getting an annual check-up.

Most Harvard grads only get three weeks of vacation each year, even after working for 20 years—and they’re often too busy to take a long trip. Prison guards, on the other hand, get seven weeks of vacation, five of them paid. If they’re too busy racking up overtime to use their vacation days, they can cash the days in when they retire. There’s no cap on how many vacation days they can cash in! Eighty officers last year cashed in over $100,000 at retirement.

The cherry on top is the defined-benefit pension. Unlike most Harvard grads working in the private sector, prison guards don’t have to delay retirement if their 401(k)s take a hit. Prison guards can retire at the age of 55 and earn 85% of their final year’s salary for the rest of their lives. They also continue to receive medical benefits.

Another Small Victory for Medical Marijuana in the War Against Cancer 1

by David Kramer.
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Today’s LRC posted a story about a boy who’s brain cancer seems to have been cured by his father when his father surreptitiously (i.e., against the wishes of the boy’s doctors) gave him medical marijuana. Now comes word from (of all places) Harvard University where a study showed that the active ingredient in marijuana (THC) “cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread.”

By the way, the article also states, “The only clinical trial testing THC as a treatment against cancer growth was a recently completed British pilot study in human glioblastoma.” Glioblastoma is a form of brain cancer. The LRC-posted story doesn’t state which brain cancer the boy had, but I found that fact about the British study in this article on lung cancer very intriguing.

60-day jail sentence for man who grew marijuana to help cancer-stricken wife Reply

Watch the news report.
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he 69-year-old who grew marijuana to help his cancer-stricken wife was sentenced to jail on Friday morning

Gary Burton must serve 60-days behind bars for growing two pot plants in Chippewa Lake. He will also serve 30 days house arrest and will undergo drug testing for two years.

Burton says he was growing the plants for medicinal purposes, to help ease his wife’s pain due to her breast cancer treatments.

Native “Terrorists” – Do we have your attention yet? Reply

From American Indian/Alaska Native – Attack The System.
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U.S. considers ‘Native Canadian groups’ as possible terror threats: embassy cables

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
OTTAWA-The U.S. has been keeping regular intelligence on potential security threats in Canada, including the activities of unnamed First Nations groups, according to two cables sent by the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and obtained by APTN National News.

The cables, labelled “secret,” were given to APTN by whistle-blower website Wikileaks. They were in a batch of about 800 cables that were not part of this week’s larger release of U.S. State Department cables originating in Canada.

They were embargoed until 9 p.m. ET Friday.

The cables, sent from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, and titled, Security Environmental Profile Response For Mission Canada, appear to be part of regular updates on the situation in the country.

The U.S. identified the involvement of Aboriginal groups in anti-U.S. demonstrations and as possible terror threats in a Feb. 27, 2009 cable.

In a Feb. 16, 2005 cable, Aboriginal groups are only identified as possible terror threats.

Of course, the US Government will apply the label of “terrorist” to just about anyone who criticizes its imperialism, especially if those critics are victims of said imperialism. Here’s a terrorist for you: Geronimo! – Fighting the Injuns in Afghanistan.

Private US firm aims for manned Mars landing in 10-20 years 5

Anarcho-futurism, anyone?
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NEW YORK (AFP) – Private US company SpaceX hopes to put an astronaut on Mars within 10 to 20 years, the head of the firm said.

“We’ll probably put a first man in space in about three years,” Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal Saturday. “We’re going all the way to Mars, I think… best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years.”

SpaceX is one of the two leading private space companies in the United States and has won $75 million from the US space agency NASA to help its pursuit of developing a spacecraft to replace the space shuttle.

The California-based company last year completed its first successful test of an unmanned space capsule into orbit and back.

“Our goal is to facilitate the transfer of people and cargo to other planets, and then it will be up to people if they want to go,” said Musk, who also runs the Tesla company which develops electric cars.

The US space shuttle program is winding down later this year with final flights of Endeavour set for next week and Atlantis in June, ending an era of American spaceflight that began with the first space shuttle mission in 1981.

When the shuttle program ends, the United States hopes private industry will be able to fill the gap by creating the next generation of spacecraft to transport astronauts into space.

Distributism and the Modern Economy Reply

From The Distributist Review.
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Capitalism fails on a number of levels philosophically; however, here we will limit ourselves to its failures due to its fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of human economy, based on the principles we’ve discussed previously.

When a society begins to mistake money for wealth, it begins to dedicate itself to the production of money rather than to the production of wealth. The accumulation of money is seen as the acquisition of wealth, and the constant flow of money is seen as the lifeblood of the economy. Because money must be constantly moving, this system requires the greatest amount of spending by the greatest number of people possible. This encourages everyone to continue accumulating still more money, and so on, ad infinitum.

The capitalist, of course, argues that this fact also encourages production. After all, people have to be spending their money on something, and someone has to produce that something. This argument, however, misses the material point, which is that the purpose of this corrupted system is to produce money, not wealth. While people certainly spend a good deal of their money on things, and that those things must be produced, people also spend large quantities of money on things which have little or no real wealth behind them.

The current system is interested in producing money, not necessarily in producing wealth. So men in our system naturally turn to those professions which can produce the greatest amount of money in the shortest amount of time. Needless to say, this does not include farming or shoemaking; rather, it consists largely in finance. Short selling, ludicrously complex derivative packages, credit default swaps, and various esoteric types of insurance are the lifeblood of such a system. Trading money back and forth to each other while selling each other insurance on the packages occupies an astoundingly large portion of our population. Meanwhile, the portion engaged in such tasks as growing food and making tools continues to dwindle.

In other words, it’s clear that people still consume as they always did; however, what they consume, how much they consume, and what’s behind that consumption are quite different.

Vanishing American Footprint Reply

Article by Pat Buchanan.
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Though their population, like Pakistan’s, is anti-American, neither Turkey nor Egypt is openly hostile. Yet both pursue policies that clash with U.S. policy. And this new distance from Washington is being met with the approval of Turks and Egyptians. For the one thing all of the uprisings of the Arab Spring have had in common is a desire of these peoples to be rid of American hegemony.

Indeed, taking inventory after four months of Arab revolts, it is difficult not to declare America a net loser.

Our ally of 30 years, Mubarak, was overthrown. The new government is moving away from us. Our ally in Tunisia was ousted.

Our unpopular and ruthless ally in Yemen is still fighting for survival. The brutality shown by our friend, Bahrain’s King Khalifa, against peaceful Shiite demonstrators probably means eventual loss of basing rights for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

We are to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan this summer and complete the withdrawal in 2014. We are down from 170,000 troops in Iraq to 50,000. All are to be gone by year’s end.

Americans have had their fill of nation-building. We cannot afford any more decade-long wars where the benefits to the American people have to be endlessly explained.

Why is America’s footprint shrinking in that part of the world?

First, Americans have never been less popular there, and one demand of every revolution is for a new government, independent of the United States, that will defend the national sovereignty.

Second, we are broke. We can no longer afford the bases. We can no longer afford the wars. We can no longer afford the aid.

Third, the true vital interest of the United States in this part of the world is that these Islamic countries not become base camps of terror, especially nuclear terror, targeted against the United States.

That end is surely better served by packing and departing than by staying and fighting.