11 Dec 2013 A coalition of media outlets is fighting to keep the courtroom open next week for a hearing about the sanity of Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting suspect [false flag patsy] James Holmes. Holmes’s attorneys have asked the judge to bar the public and the press from hearing pretrial testimony from the psychiatrist who evaluated Holmes’s sanity. The judge hasn’t ruled on the request.
Archive for the ‘law’ Category
Posted in criminal justice system, government, law, media, tagged Associated Press, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, Colorado, Denver, Holmes, insanity defense, Movie theater, Sanity on December 12, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in economics, law, tagged bailout, Bank of England, Banking, Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, economics, economy, European Union, FDIC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, federal reserve, Federal Reserve System, Gruenberg, Martin J. Gruenberg on December 11, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,255.25, EUR 912.05 and GBP 765.49 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,245.75, EUR 906.13 and GBP 757.76 per ounce.
Download our Bail-In Guide: Protecting your Savings In The Coming Bail-In Era(11 pages)
Gold rose $21.90 or 1.77% yesterday, closing at $1,262.50/oz. Silver soared $0.53 or 2.67% closing at $20.40/oz. Platinum climbed $15.25, or 1.1%, to $1,386.99/oz and palladium also rose $1.50 or 0.2%, to $735.20/oz.
Gold neared a three week high after climbing the most in 7 weeks, on strong physical buying in China and a weak dollar. Gold has recovered from a 5 month low on December 6 to reach $1,268/oz yesterday, its highest price since November 20. Physical demand, especially from Asia seems to be outweighing the jitters regarding the Federal Reserve’s much mooted ‘tapering’.
Shanghai Gold Exchange’s spot contract, rose for a third day to 15,224 kilograms yesterday showing continuing robust demand in the emerging global economic powerhouse.
Markets may have already priced in the possibility of a December tapering as prices did not show any weakness after last week’s stronger than expected non-farm payrolls data. Rather, gold has risen and hedge funds have rushed to cover their short positions ahead of the Fed meeting next week and due to growing concerns of a short squeeze.
However, market participants may again be proved wrong regarding tapering as there is a real risk that the Fed’s $85 billion bond buying programme continues. There is even a chance that the Fed’s bond buying programme increases due to the very fragile U.S. economy.
The dollar index is trading near a six-week low today as investors evaluate the uncertain outlook for the U.S. economy and dollar in 2014.
BOE Says U.S. “Could Do Today” And U.S Authorities Doing Simulation Exercises
The U.S. already has in place plans for bail-ins in the event of banks failing. Indeed, the U.S. has conducted simulation exercises with the U.K. in recent weeks and will do so again in 2014.
On October 12, Art Murton, the FDIC official in charge of planning for resolutions, and the Bank of England’s Deputy Governor Paul Tucker, both confirmed that the U.S. system is ready to handle a big-bank collapse.
The Bank of England’s Tucker, who has worked with U.S. regulators on the cross-border hurdles to taking down an international firm said that “U.S. authorities could do it today — and I mean today.”
“A global financial system will not survive if we don’t crack this problem”, said Tucker.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act empowered the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to seize a company or bank and dismantle it if regulators think a bankruptcy would pose a significant threat to the financial system.
This resolution authority hasn’t been tested, and the FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg, said his agency will disclose a full description of its approach by year-end — opening the idea to public comment.
Gruenberg said that China, Switzerland, Germany and Japan are among nations close to reaching arrangements with U.S. regulators with regard to dealing with mechanisms for failed banks.
U.S. regulators are working with German and Swiss counterparts on joint white papers similar to agreements already in place with the U.K. for how banks governed by multiple jurisdictions could be unwound by their host nations, Gruenberg said in remarks prepared for a speech in Washington on October 13. The FDIC will secure memorandums of understanding on bank resolutions with China and Japan soon, he said.
“It is critical that home and host jurisdictions understand well the approach to resolution of their counterpart and work together to develop a cooperative approach,” he said.
Germany and Switzerland share the U.S. preference for a so-called single point of entry, in which the host nation takes over a failed bank’s holding company, imposes losses on shareholders and lets healthy subsidiaries stay open. The approach depends on long term debt held in the parent to absorb losses and capitalise a healthy bridge company, Gruenberg said.
The agency is consulting with the Federal Reserve on a future rule to set a minimum and importantly it has conducted and is conducting simulation exercises.
U.S. regulators will run simulation exercises with U.K. counterparts this year and in 2014, Gruenberg said.
Gruenberg appeared to warn that the UK was vulnerable to bail-ins when he said that
“Nearly 70 percent of the on- and off-balance sheet assets of our major institutions are held in the U.K,” he said. “There is no close second.”
How Likely Are Bail-Ins?
There are differing opinions as to the severity of the on-going financial crisis, and whether it has turned a corner. There are two very broad ‘schools of thought’.
The first school believes that the U.S. Federal Reserve, along with partner central banks internationally, has successfully stabilised the global financial system through low interest rates and quantitative easing, while the EU has managed to help recapitalise banks and avoid bank insolvencies in the European Union and and the breakup of the European Monetary Union (EMU).
The second school is more skeptical of this view and believes that many banks globally remain vulnerable to insolvency because they are being kept on life-support due to extremely accommodating central bank measures including near zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing. Banks are also being supported through the use of almost fictional, though internationally endorsed, accounting treatment for their asset books, such as mark-to-model valuations for their over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives exposures and by failing to have realistic valuations on problematic property loan portfolios.
Many sovereigns nations remain vulnerable to sovereign debt crises. The Eurozone debt crisis and other sovereign debt crises have been solved for the moment through various forms of ultra loose monetary policies, quantitative easing or debt monetisation.
All short term panaceas have not addressed the root cause of the global debt crisis – too much debt.
Indeed, the concern is that the solution of socialising the debt and transferring it to the sovereign and taxpayers, has simply bought some time and may make the crisis much worse in the long term.
We believe the second school will be proved right in the coming months and years; therefore, depositors with deposits in certain banks, or planning to place deposits, must look at the likelihood of and how likely that bank is to get bailed in.
This likelihood would be a function of the strength of the individual bank, which jurisdiction that bank is governed by, which financial systems and economies the bank is exposed to, the extent to which the bank has potentially problematic property or derivatives exposure, and whether deposits are insured by deposit protection schemes, and to what extent are they insured.
In practice, the financial markets would normally do this analysis, but the previous approach of bail-outs and across the board central bank support appears to have clouded the analysis.
The movement by international monetary and financial institutions towards a bail-in regime and the extent of preparation for bail-ins suggest that bail-ins will happen should banks get into trouble again.
Recent statements by Mario Draghi suggest that depositors might be bailed-in in the future.
In a letter on the July 30th to Joaquín Almunia, the Vice President of the European Commission, Draghi suggested that bondholders might be spared in future, for fear that once burned bond investors may not return.
This would strongly suggest that sovereign governments would be required to make a decision as to whether they would absorb losses or instead force bailins on depositors. As do the preparations being put in place by the Bank of England and the FDIC.
Download our Bail-In Guide: Protecting your Savings In The Coming Bail-In Era(11 pages)
Posted in history, law, media, tagged Christian Identity, Gulf War, Jew, Osha Gray Davidson, Rust Belt, San Fernando Valley, United States, Upper Peninsula of Michigan on December 11, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Who are the white supremacists? There has been no formal survey, for obvious reasons, but there are several noticeable patterns. Geographically, they come from America’s heartland—small towns, rural cities, swelling suburban sprawl outside larger Sunbelt cities. These aren’t the prosperous towns, but the single-story working-class exurbs that stretch for what feels like forever in the corridor between Long Beach and San Diego (not the San Fernando Valley), or along the southern tier of Pennsylvania, or spread all through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, across the vast high plains of eastern Washington and Oregon, through Idaho and Montana. There are plenty in the declining cities of the Rust Belt, in Dearborn and Flint, Buffalo and Milwaukee, in the bars that remain in the shadows of the hulking deserted factories that once were America’s manufacturing centers. And that doesn’t even touch the former states of the Confederacy, where flying the Confederate flag is a culturally approved symbol of “southern pride”—in the same way that wearing a swastika would be a symbol of German “heritage” (except it’s illegal in Germany to wear a swastika).
There’s a large rural component. Although “the spread of far-right groups over the last decade has not been limited to rural areas alone,” writes Osha Gray Davidson, “the social and economic unraveling of rural communities—especially in the midwest—has provided far-right groups with new audiences for their messages of hate. Some of these groups have enjoyed considerable success in their rural campaign.” For many farmers facing foreclosures, the Far Right promises to help them save their land have been appealing, offering farmers various schemes and legal maneuvers to help prevent foreclosures, blaming the farmers’ troubles on Jewish bankers and the one-world government. “As rural communities started to collapse,” Davidson writes, the Far Right “could be seen at farm auctions comforting families . . . confirming what rural people knew to be true: that their livelihoods, their families, their communities—their very lives—were falling apart.” In stark contrast to the government indifference encountered by rural Americans, a range of Far Right groups, most recently the militias, have seemingly provided support, community, and answers.
In that sense, the contemporary militias and other white supremacist groups are following in the footsteps of the Ku Klux Klan, the Posse Comitatus, and other Far Right patriot groups who recruited members in rural America throughout the 1980s. They tap into a long history of racial and ethnic paranoia in rural America, as well as an equally long tradition of collective local action and vigilante justice. There remains a widespread notion that “Jews, African-Americans, and other minority-group members ‘do not entirely belong,’” which may, in part, “be responsible for rural people’s easy acceptance of the far right’s agenda of hate,” writes Matthew Snipp. “The far right didn’t create bigotry in the Midwest; it didn’t need to,” Davidson concludes. “It merely had to tap into the existing undercurrent of prejudice once this had been inflamed by widespread economic failure and social discontent.”
And many have moved from their deindustrializing cities, foreclosed suburban tracts, and wasted farmlands to smaller rural areas because they seek the companionship of like-minded fellows, in relatively remote areas far from large numbers of nonwhites and Jews and where they can organize, train, and build protective fortresses. Many groups have established refuge in rural communities, where they can practice military tactics, stockpile food and weapons, hone their survivalist skills, and become self-sufficient in preparation for Armageddon, the final race war, or whatever cataclysm they envision. Think of it as the twenty-first-century version of postwar suburban “white flight”—but on steroids.
They’re certainly Christian, but not just any Christian—they’re evangelical Protestant, Pentacostalist, and members of radical sects that preach racial purity as the Word of Jesus. (Catholicism is certainly stocked with conservatives on social issues, but white supremacists tap into such a long and ignoble tradition of anti-Catholicism that they tend to have their own right-wing organizations, mostly fighting against women’s rights and gay rights.) Some belong to churches like the Christian Identity Church, which gained a foothold on the Far Right in the early 1980s. Christian Identity’s focus on racism and anti-Semitism provides the theological underpinnings to the shift from a more “traditional agrarian protest” to paramilitarism. It is from the Christian Identity movement that the Far Right gets its theological claims that Adam is the ancestor of the Caucasian race, whereas non-whites are pre-Adamic “mud people,” without souls, and Jews are the children of Satan. According to this doctrine, Jesus was not Jewish and not from the Middle East; actually, he was northern European, his Second Coming is close at hand, and followers can hasten the apocalypse. It is the birthright of Anglo-Saxons to establish God’s kingdom on earth; America’s and Britain’s “birthright is to be the wealthiest, most powerful nations on earth . . . able, by divine right, to dominate and colonize the world.”
A large proportion of the extreme right wing are military veterans. Several leaders served in Vietnam and were shocked at the national disgust that greeted them as they returned home after that debacle. “America’s failure to win that war was a truly profound blow,” writes William J. Gibson. “If Americans were no longer winners, then who were they?” Some veterans believed they were sold out by the government, caving in to effeminate cowardly protesters; they can no longer trust the government to fight for what is right. Bo Gritz, a former Green Beret in Vietnam, returned to Southeast Asia several times in clandestine missions to search for prisoners of war and was the real-life basis for the film Rambo. He uses his military heroism to increase his credibility among potential recruits; one brochure describes him as “this country’s most decorated Vietnam veteran” who “killed some 400 Communists in his illustrious military career.” In 1993 Gritz began a traveling SPIKE (Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events) training program, a rigorous survival course in paramilitary techniques.
Many of the younger guys are veterans of the first Gulf War, a war that they came to believe was fought for no moral principles at all, but simply to make America’s oil supply safer and to protect Israel from possible Arab attack. They feel they’ve been used, pawns in a larger political game, serving their country honorably only to be spit out and stepped on when they returned home to slashed veteran benefits, bureaucratic indifference to post-traumatic stress disorder, and general social contempt for having fought in the war in the first place. They believed they were entitled to be hailed as heroes, as had earlier generations of American veterans, not to be scorned as outcasts. Now a guy like Bo Gritz symbolizes “true” warrior-style masculinity, and reclaiming their manhood is the reward for signing up with the Far Right.
THE CLASS ORIGINS OF RACIAL POLITICS
Perhaps what binds them all together, though, is class. Rural or small town, urban or suburban, the extreme Right is populated by downwardly mobile, lower-middle-class white men. All of the men I interviewed—all—fitted this class profile. When I compared with other ethnographies and other surveys, they all had the same profile as well.
In the United States, class is often a proxy for race. When politicians speak of the “urban poor,” we know it’s a code for black people. When they talk about “welfare queens,” we know the race of that woman driving the late-model Cadillac. In polite society, racism remains hidden behind a screen spelled CLASS.
On the extreme Right, by contrast, race is a proxy for class. Among the white supremacists, when they speak of race consciousness, defending white people, protesting for equal rights for white people, they actually don’t mean all white people. They don’t mean Wall Street bankers and lawyers, though they are pretty much entirely white and male. They don’t mean white male doctors, or lawyers, or architects, or even engineers. They don’t mean the legions of young white hipster guys, or computer geeks flocking to the Silicon Valley, or the legions of white preppies in their boat shoes and seersucker jackets “interning” at white-shoe law firms in major cities. Not at all. They mean middle-and working-class white people. Race consciousness is actually class consciousness without actually having to “see” class. “Race blindness” leads working-class people to turn right; if they did see class, they’d turn left and make common cause with different races in the same economic class.
That’s certainly what I found among them. Most are in their mid-thirties to early forties, educated at least through high school and often beyond. (The average age of the guys I talked with was thirty-six.) They are the sons of skilled workers in industries like textiles and tobacco, the sons of the owners of small farms, shops, and grocery stores. Buffeted by global political and economic forces, the sons have inherited little of their fathers’ legacies. The family farms have been lost to foreclosure, the small shops squeezed out by Walmarts and malls. These young men face a spiral of downward mobility and economic uncertainty. They complain that they are squeezed between the omnivorous jaws of global capital concentration and a federal bureaucracy that is at best indifferent to their plight and at worst complicit in their demise.
And they’re right. It is the lower middle class—that strata of independent farmers, small shopkeepers, craft and highly skilled workers, and small-scale entrepreneurs—that has been hit hardest by globalization. “Western industry has displaced traditional crafts—female as well as male—and large-scale multinational-controlled agriculture has downgraded the independent farmer to the status of hired hand,” writes journalist Barbara Ehrenreich. This has resulted in massive male displacement—migration, downward mobility. It has been felt the most not by the adult men who were the tradesmen, shopkeepers, and skilled workers, but by their sons, by the young men whose inheritance has been seemingly stolen from them. They feel entitled and deprived—and furious. These angry young men are the foot soldiers of the armies of rage that have sprung up around the world.
What’s important to note is that they are literally the sons. It was their fathers who closed the family store, who lost the family farm. Some are men who have worked all their adult lives, hoping to pass on the family farm to their sons and retire comfortably. They believed that if they worked hard, their legacy would be ensured, but they leave their sons little but a legacy of foreclosures, economic insecurity, and debt.
It was their status next to their father’s and grandfather’s names on the cabinetmaking storefront that said “Jones and Sons.” These were businesses that came not only with the ability to make a living, but came with dignity, with a sense of craft pride, a sense that you owned your own store or farm, owned and controlled your own labor—even employed some other people—and that this economic autonomy had been a source of great pride in the family for generations. In a near-throwaway footnote in his classic study of identity development, “Childhood and Society” (1950), Erik Erikson locates the origins of young men’s anger in a multigenerational story:
In psychoanalytic patients the overwhelming importance of the grandfather is often apparent. He may have been a blacksmith of the old world or a railroad builder of the new, and as yet proud Jew or an unreconstructed Southerner. What these grandfathers have in common is that fact that they were the last representatives of a more homogeneous world, masterly and cruel with good conscience, disciplined and pious without loss of self-esteem. Their world invented bigger and better machinery like gigantic playthings which were not expected to challenge the social values of the men who made them. Their mastery persists in their grandsons as a stubborn, an angry sense of superiority. Overtly inhibited, they yet can accept others only on terms of prearranged privilege.
“It wasn’t my daddy’s farm,” said Andy, “it was my granddaddy’s, and his daddy’s, and his daddy’s. Five generations of Hoosier farmers.” Generations of Hoosier men, who worked the farm, supported a family, made a living with dignity. They proved their masculinity in that most time-honored way in America: as family providers. And it was their fathers who lost it all, squandered their birthright. Instead of getting angry at their fathers, Andy and his comrades claim the mantle of the grandfathers, displace their rage outward, onto an impermeable and unfeeling government bureaucracy that didn’t offer help, onto soulless corporations that squeezed them mercilessly. By displacing their anger onto those enormous faceless entities, the sons justify their political rage and rescue their own fathers from their anger.
Some can’t do it. Some of the sons—and the fathers—turn their rage inward. We have already discussed the wave of suicides that rippled across the American heartland in the 1980s and 1990s—spawning widespread concern and a series of Farm Aid concerts to raise awareness. The number of suicides in America’s Midwest was higher in the 1990s than during the Great Depression; suicide was the leading cause of agricultural fatalities for two decades—by far. Men were five times more likely to kill themselves than die by accident. “To fail several generations of relatives (both backwards and forwards into those unborn descendants who will now not be able to farm), to see yourself as the one weak link in a strong chain that spans more than a century, is a terrible, and for some, an unbearable burden,” writes Osha Gray Davidson. “When a fellow in a steel mill loses his job, he has basically lost his paycheck,” a physician at the University of Iowa explained. “When an Iowa farmer loses his farm, he’s lost the guts of his life.”
One woman, speaking at a town meeting in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, in 1991, provided an eloquent narrative of this process:
I am a 46-year-old mother of three children. We have lost two farms since 1980, my mother in law’s farm as well as our own. We were forced to sell 160 acres of land that was very special to us. It was homesteaded by my husband’s great grandfather and for years had served as home to our cow and calf operation which we were forced to sell just a few months before we sold the land.
My husband became completely consumed by our circumstances caused by the farm crisis. He left me. Our family continued to deteriorate and our marriage ended in divorce. We had been through natural crises before—drought, flood, crop failure—these we accepted and went on.
But when the threat of losing everything comes to your doorstep because of the bad economy, low commodity prices and high interest on your base notes has left you hopelessly in debt, your faith is sometimes shaken. No one likes to consider that their life has been pointless.
Others direct this seething rage outward. “Many debt ridden farm families will become more suspicious of government, as their self-worth, their sense of belonging, their hope for the future deteriorates,” predicted Oklahoma psychologist Glen Wallace presciently in 1989. “The farms are gone,” writes Dyer, “yet the farmers remain. They’ve been transformed into a wildfire of rage, fueled by the grief of their loss and blown by the winds of conspiracy and hate-filled rhetoric.” “It is hardly surprising, then, that American men—lacking confidence in the government and the economy, troubled by the changing relations between the sexes, uncertain of their identity or their future—began to dream, to fantasize about the powers and features of another kind of man who could retake and reorder the world. And the hero of all these dreams was the paramilitary warrior.” The contemporary white supremacist movement is the embodiment of these warrior dreams.
Their plan is to get even. Unlike Joe Wesbecker, some guys don’t just get even by rampaging through their factory floor or their corporate offices, shooting at their former colleagues and coworkers. They get mad, and they get organized. They cobble together a theory that explains their plight—grafting together fringe elements of evangelical Christianity, traditional anti-Semitism and racism, and general right-wing paranoia into an amalgam that is loosely held together by a nostalgic vision of hardy, independent frontier manhood. Like the guys who go postal, they externalize their rage—their anguish is clearly the fault of someone else—but they don’t externalize it to their immediate surroundings, their boss, supervisor, or coworkers. Instead, it’s larger, more powerful, and pernicious social forces—Jews, Muslims, minorities generally, women.
These are the sons of small-town America, the Jeffersonian yeoman of the nineteenth century, disfigured by global restructuring and economic downturns. They come from the “large and growing number of US citizens disaffected from and alienated by a government that seems indifferent, if not hostile, to their interests. This predominantly white, male, and middle-and working-class sector has been buffeted by global economic restructuring with its attendant job losses, declining real wages, and social dislocations. While under economic stress, this sector has also seen its traditional privileges and status challenged by 1960s-style social movements, such as feminism, minority rights, and environmentalism.”
The sons of these farmers and shopkeepers expected to—and felt entitled to—inherit their fathers’ legacy. And when it became evident it was not going to happen, they became murderously angry—at a system that emasculated their fathers and threatens their manhood. They live in what they call a “Walmart economy” and are governed by a “nanny state” that doles out their birthright to ungrateful and undeserving immigrants. What they want, says one guy, is to “take back what is rightfully ours.”
So, who are they really, these hundred thousand white supremacists? They’re every white guy who believed that this land was his land, was made for you and me. They’re every down-on-his-luck guy who just wanted to live a decent life but got stepped on, every character in a Bruce Springsteen or Merle Haggard song, every cop, soldier, auto mechanic, steelworker, and construction worker in America’s small towns who can’t make ends meet and wonders why everyone else is getting a break except him. But instead of becoming Tom Joad, a left-leaning populist, they take a hard right turn, ultimately supporting the very people who have dispossessed them.
They’re America’s Everymen, whose pain at downward mobility and whose anger at what they see as an indifferent government have become twisted by a hate that tells them they are better than others, disfigured by a resentment so deep that there are no more bridges to be built, no more ladders of upward mobility to be climbed, a howl of pain mangled into the scream of a warrior. Their rage is as sad as it is frightening, as impotent as it is shrill.
WALKING THE PATRIOTIC CAPITALIST TIGHTROPE
You might think that the political ideology of the white supremacist movement is as simple as their list of enemies: put down minorities, expel immigrants, push the women out of the workplace, and round up and execute the gays and the Jews. But it’s not nearly so simple. Actually, they have to navigate some treacherous ideological waters and reconcile seemingly contradictory ideological visions with their emotions.
There are three parts to their ideological vision. For one thing, they are ferociously procapitalist. They are firm believers in the free market and free enterprise. They just don’t like what it’s brought. They like capitalism; they just hate corporations. They identify, often, as the vast middle class of office workers and white-collar employees, even though that is hardly their class background. (They’ve a fungible understanding of class warfare.) “For generations, white middle class men defined themselves by their careers, believing that loyalty to employers would be rewarded by job security and, therefore, the ability to provide for their families” is the way one issue of Racial Loyalty (a racist skinhead magazine) puts it. “But the past decade—marked by an epidemic of takeovers, mergers, downsizings and consolidations—has shattered that illusion.”
Aryans support capitalist enterprise and entrepreneurship, even those who make it rich, but especially the virtues of the small proprietor, but are vehemently antiurban, anticosmopolitan, and anticorporate. In their eyes, Wall Street is ruled by Jewish-influenced corporate plutocrats who hate “real” Americans. Theirs is the Jeffersonian vision of a nation of producers—not financiers, not bankers, and not those other “masters of the universe” whose entire careers consist of cutting the cake ever more finely and living on the crumbs. It’s Andrew Jackson’s producerist attack on the “parasitic” bankers. It is “the desire to own small property, to produce crops and foodstuffs, to control local affairs, to be served but never coerced by a representative government, and to have traditional ways of life and labor respected,” writes historian Catherine Stock.
White supremacists see themselves as squeezed between global capital and an emasculated state that supports voracious global profiteering. In the song “No Crime Being White,” Day of the Sword, a popular racist skinhead band, confronts the greedy class:
The birthplace is the death of our race.
Our brothers being laid off is a truth we have to face.
Take my job, it’s equal opportunity
The least I can do, you were so oppressed by me
I’ve only put in twenty years now.
Suddenly my country favors gooks and spicks and queers.
Fuck you, then, boy I hope you’re happy when your new employees are the reason why your business ends.
Second, the extreme Right is extremely patriotic. They love their country, their flag, and everything it stands for. These are the guys who get teary at the playing of the national anthem, who choke up when they hear the word America. They have bumper stickers on their pick ups that show the flag with the slogan “These colors don’t run.”
The problem is that the America they love doesn’t happen to be the America in which they live. They love America—but they hate its government. They believe that the government has become so un-American that it has joined in global institutions that undermine and threaten the American way of life. Many fuse critiques of international organizations such as the United Nations with protectionism and neoisolationism, arguing that all internationalisms are part of a larger Zionist conspiracy. Some embrace a grand imperial vision of American (and other Aryan) domination and the final subjugation of “inferior races.”
As he traveled through the rural West, journalist Joel Dyer constantly heard these refrains: “Environmentalists wouldn’t let me run my cows cause some damn little sparrow they said was endangered lived on my place,” “They took my farm,” “The IRS took everything I owned.” “These people believe the government is responsible for where they are, because they are finding themselves ignored, basically, by the economic system. People are losing their homes, their farms, their jobs, their sources of income. Corporations have been allowed to move wherever they want, and to take away jobs by the truckload. People are becoming economically dispossessed.”
NAFTA took away American jobs; what they see as the “Burger King” economy leaves no room at the top, so “many youngsters see themselves as being forced to compete with nonwhites for the available minimum wage, service economy jobs that have replaced their parents’ unionized industry opportunities.”
That such ardent patriots are so passionately antigovernment might strike the observer as contradictory. After all, are these not the same men who served their country in Vietnam or in the Gulf War? Are these not the same men who believe so passionately in the American Dream? Are they not the backbone of the Reagan Revolution? Indeed, they are. The extreme Right faces the difficult cognitive task of maintaining their faith in America and in capitalism and simultaneously providing an analysis of an indifferent state, at best, or an actively interventionist one, at worst, and a way to embrace capitalism, despite a cynical corporate logic that leaves them, often literally, out in the cold—homeless, jobless, hopeless.
Finally, they believe themselves to be the true heirs of the real America. They are the ones who are entitled to inherit the bounty of the American system. It’s their birthright—as native-born, white American men. As sociologist Lillian Rubin puts it, “It’s this confluence of forces—the racial and cultural diversity of our new immigrant population; the claims on the resources of the nation now being made by those minorities who, for generations, have called America their home; the failure of some of our basic institutions to serve the needs of our people; the contracting economy, which threatens the mobility aspirations of working class families—all these have come together to leave white workers feeling as if everyone else is getting a piece of the action while they get nothing.”
This persistent reversal—white men as victim, the “other” as undeservedly privileged—resounds through the rhetoric of the extreme Right. Take, for example, Pat Buchanan’s “A Brief for Whitey,” a response to candidate Barack Obama’s call for a national conversation about race in America: “It is the same old con, the same old shakedown. America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”
And now, I suppose, Buchanan would say, we’re supposed to apologize to them? Pay them reparations? They should be kissing our feet with gratitude! But no. We live in a fun-house version of America, Buchanan argues, where minorities rule and white folks are the new oppressed minority. It was ours, but it’s not anymore. It has been taken—because we let it! And the fact that it has been stolen from us leaves white American men feeling emasculated—and furious.
It is through a decidedly gendered and sexualized rhetoric of masculinity that this contradiction between loving America and hating its government, loving capitalism and hating its corporate iterations, is resolved. Racism, nativism, anti-Semitism, antifeminism—these discourses of hate provide an explanation for the feelings of entitlement thwarted, fixing the blame squarely on “others” whom the state must now serve at the expense of white men. The unifying theme is gender.
These men feel emasculated by big money and big government. In their eyes, most white American men collude in their emasculation. They’ve grown soft, feminized, weak. White supremacist websites abound with complaints about the “whimpering collapse of the blond male,” the “legions of sissies and weaklings, of flabby, limp-wristed, non-aggressive, non-physical, indecisive, slack-jawed, fearful males who, while still heterosexual in theory and practice, have not even a vestige of the old macho spirit.”
Excerpted from “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era” by Michael Kimmel. Published by Nation Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2013 by Michael Kimmel. All rights reserved.
“Nazis/Skinheads: The Holocaust by Bullets and Modern Antisemitism” in Ukraine is a feature-length documentary from director Daniel Reynolds Riveiro that explores antisemitism in Ukraine’s past and present, both in its role in the Holocaust and its modern skinhead movement.
The law, effective from next year, will: allow registered users to buy up to 40g of marijuana a month from a chemist’s; registered growers to keep up to six plants; and cannabis clubs to have up to 45 members and cultivate as many as 99 plants.
A government-run cannabis institute will set the price – initially likely to be close to the current black market rate of $1 a gramme – and monitor the impact of the programme, which aims to bring the industry under state control and push illegal traffickers out of business.
Julio Bango, one of the politicians who helped draft the bill, said it would probably be four months until the first harvest of legal cannabis, by which time the government would have a licensing system in place. “We know this has generated an international debate and we hope it brings another element to discussions about a model [the war on drugs] that has totally failed and that has generated the opposite results from what it set out to achieve.”
Before the passage of the bill, president José Mujica called on the international community to assist in what he admitted was an experiment aimed at finding an alternative to the deadly and unsuccessful war on drugs.
“We are asking the world to help us with this experience, which will allow the adoption of a social and political experiment to face a serious problem – drug trafficking,” he said earlier this month. “The effects of drug trafficking are worse than those of the drugs themselves.”
Posted in criminal justice system, government, law, tagged American way, Mississippi, National Rifle Association, police, police power, Sandy Hook Connecticut, School-to-prison pipeline, swat on December 10, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/JPL Designs
If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.
By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where “the War on Crime” and “the War on Drugs” are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. (All of this is ably reported on journalist Radley Balko’s blog and in his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.) But American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported up-armoring of your local precinct. It’s also the way police power has entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of American life into a police matter.
The School-to-Prison Pipeline
It starts in our schools, where discipline is increasingly outsourced to police personnel. What not long ago would have been seen as normal childhood misbehavior — doodling on a desk, farting in class, a kindergartener’s tantrum — can leave a kid in handcuffs, removed from school, or even booked at the local precinct. Such “criminals” can be as young as seven-year-old Wilson Reyes, a New Yorker who was handcuffed and interrogated under suspicion of stealing five dollars from a classmate. (Turned out he didn’t do it.)
Though it’s a national phenomenon, Mississippi currently leads the way in turning school behavior into a police issue. The Hospitality State has imposed felony charges on schoolchildren for “crimes” like throwing peanuts on a bus. Wearing the wrong color belt to school got one child handcuffed to a railing for several hours. All of this goes under the rubric of “zero-tolerance” discipline, which turns out to be just another form of violence legally imported into schools.
Despite a long-term drop in youth crime, the carceral style of education remains in style. Metal detectors — a horrible way for any child to start the day — are installed in ever more schools, even those with sterling disciplinary records, despite the demonstrable fact that such scanners provide no guarantee against shootings and stabbings.
Every school shooting, whether in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, or Littleton, Colorado, only leads to more police in schools and more arms as well. It’s the one thing the National Rifle Association and Democratic senators can agree on. There are plenty of successful ways to run an orderly school without criminalizing the classroom, but politicians and much of the media don’t seem to want to know about them. The “school-to-prison pipeline,” a jargon term coined by activists, is entering the vernacular.
Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go
Even as simple a matter as getting yourself from point A to point B can quickly become a law enforcement matter as travel and public space are ever more aggressively policed. Waiting for a bus? Such loitering just got three Rochester youths arrested. Driving without a seat belt can easily escalate into an arrest, even if the driver is a state judge. (Notably, all four of these men were black.) If the police think you might be carrying drugs, warrantless body cavity searches at the nearest hospital may be in the offing — you will be sent the bill later.
Air travel entails increasingly intimate pat-downs and arbitrary rules that many experts see as nothing more than “security theater.” As for staying at home, it carries its own risks as Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates found out when a Cambridge police officer mistook him for a burglar and hauled him away — a case that is hardly unique.
Overcriminalization at Work
Office and retail work might seem like an unpromising growth area for police and prosecutors, but criminal law has found its way into the white-collar workplace, too. Just ask Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin state employee targeted by a federal prosecutor for the “crime” of incorrectly processing a travel agency’s bid for state business. She spent four months in a federal prison before being sprung by a federal court. Or Judy Wilkinson, hauled away in handcuffs by an undercover cop for serving mimosas without a license to the customers in her bridal shop. Or George Norris, sentenced to 17 months in prison for selling orchids without the proper paperwork to an undercover federal agent.
Increasingly, basic economic transactions are being policed under the purview of criminal law. In Arkansas, for instance, Human Rights Watch reports that a new law funnels delinquent (or allegedly delinquent) rental tenants directly to the criminal courts, where failure to pay up can result in quick arrest and incarceration, even though debtor’s prison as an institution was supposed to have ended in the nineteenth century.
And the mood is spreading. Take the asset bubble collapse of 2008 and the rising cries of progressives for the criminal prosecution of Wall Street perpetrators, as if a fundamentally sound financial system had been abused by a small number of criminals who were running free after the debacle. Instead of pushing a debate about how to restructure our predatory financial system, liberals in their focus on individual prosecution are aping the punitive zeal of the authoritarians. A few high-profile prosecutions for insider trading (which had nothing to do with the last crash) have, of course, not changed Wall Street one bit.
The past decade has also seen immigration policy ingested by criminal law. According to another Human Rights Watch report — their U.S. division is increasingly busy — federal criminal prosecutions of immigrants for illegal entry have surged from 3,000 in 2002 to 48,000 last year. This novel application of police and prosecutors has broken up families and fueled the expansion of for-profit detention centers, even as it has failed to show any stronger deterrent effect on immigration than the civil law system that preceded it. Thanks to Arizona’s SB 1070 bill, police in that state are now licensed to stop and check the papers of anyone suspected of being undocumented — that is, who looks Latino.
Meanwhile, significant parts of the US-Mexico border are now militarized (as increasingly is the Canadian border), including what seem to resemble free-fire zones. And if anyone were to leave bottled water for migrants illegally crossing the desert and in danger of death from dehydration, that good Samaritan should expect to face criminal charges, too. Intensified policing with aggressive targets for arrests and deportations are guaranteed to be a part of any future bipartisan deal on immigration reform.
As for the Internet, for a time it was terra nova and so relatively free of a steroidal law enforcement presence. Not anymore. The late Aaron Swartz, a young Internet genius and activist affiliated with Harvard University, was caught downloading masses of scholarly articles (all publicly subsidized) from an open network on the MIT campus. Swartz was federally prosecuted under the capacious Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for violating a “terms and services agreement” — a transgression that anyone who has ever disabled a cookie on his or her laptop has also, technically, committed. Swartz committed suicide earlier this year while facing a possible 50-year sentence and up to a million dollars in fines.
Since the summer, thanks to whistleblowing contractor Edward Snowden, we have learned a great deal about the way the NSA stops and frisks our (and apparently everyone else’s) digital communications, both email and telephonic. The security benefits of such indiscriminate policing are far from clear, despite the government’s emphatic but inconsistent assurances otherwise. What comes into sharper focus with every volley of new revelations is the emerging digital infrastructure of what can only be called a police state.
Sex is another zone of police overkill in our post-Puritan land. Getting put on a sex offender registry is alarmingly easy — as has been done to children as young as 11 for “playing doctor” with a relative, again according to Human Rights Watch. But getting taken off the registry later is extraordinarily difficult. Across the nation, sex offender registries have expanded massively, especially in California, where one in every 380 adults is now a registered sex offender, creating a new pariah class with severe obstacles to employment, housing, or any kind of community life. The proper penalty for, say, an 18-year-old who has sex with a 14-year-old can be debated, but should that 18-year-old’s life really be ruined forever?
Equality Before the Cops?
It will surprise no one that Americans are not all treated equally by the police. Law enforcement picks on kids more than adults, the queer more than straight, Muslims more than Methodists — Muslims a lot more than Methodists — antiwar activists more than the apolitical. Above all, our punitive state targets the poor more than the wealthy and Blacks and Latinos more than white people.
A case in point: after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, a police presence, including surveillance cameras and metal detectors, was ratcheted up at schools around the country, particularly in urban areas with largely working-class black and Latino student bodies. It was all to “protect” the kids, of course. At Columbine itself, however, no metal detector was installed and no heavy police presence intruded. The reason was simple. At that school in the Colorado suburb of Littleton, the mostly well-heeled white families did not want their kids treated like potential felons, and they had the status and political power to get their way. But communities without such clout are less able to push back against the encroachments of police power.
Even Our Prisons Are Over-Policed
The over-criminalization of American life empties out into our vast, overcrowded prison system, which is itself over-policed. The ultimate form of punitive control (and torture) is long-term solitary confinement, in which 80,000 to 100,000 prisoners are encased at any given moment. Is this really necessary? Solitary is no longer reserved for the worst or the worst or most dangerous prisoners but can be inflicted on ones who wear Rastafari dreadlocks, have a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War in their cell, or are in any way suspected, no matter how tenuous the grounds, of gang affiliations.
Not every developed nation does things this way. Some 30 years ago, Great Britain shifted from isolating prisoners to, whenever possible, giving them greater responsibility and autonomy — with less violent results. But don’t even bring the subject up here. It will fall on deaf ears.
Extreme policing is exacerbated by extreme sentencing. For instance, more than 3,000 Americans have been sentenced to life terms without chance of parole for nonviolent offenses. These are mostly but not exclusively drug offenses, including life for a pound of cocaine that a boyfriend stashed in the attic; selling LSD at a Grateful Dead concert; and shoplifting three belts from a department store.
Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world, triple that of the now-defunct East Germany. The incarceration rate for African American men is about five times higher than that of the Soviet Union at the peak of the gulag.
The Destruction of Families
Prison may seem the logical finale for this litany of over-criminalization, but the story doesn’t actually end with those inmates. As prisons warehouse ever more Americans, often hundreds of miles from their local communities, family bonds weaken and disintegrate. In addition, once a parent goes into the criminal justice system, his or her family tends to end up on the radar screens of state agencies. “Being under surveillance by law enforcement makes a family much more vulnerable to Child Protective Services,” says Professor Dorothy Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania Law school. An incarcerated parent, especially an incarcerated mother, means a much stronger likelihood that children will be sent into foster care, where, according to one recent study, they will be twice as likely as war veterans to suffer from PTSD.
In New York State, the Administration for Child Services and the juvenile justice system recently merged, effectively putting thousands of children in a heavily policed, penalty-based environment until they age out. “Being in foster care makes you much more vulnerable to being picked up by the juvenile justice system,” says Roberts. “If you’re in a group home and you get in a fight, that could easily become a police matter.” In every respect, the creeping over-criminalization of everyday life exerts a corrosive effect on American families.
Do We Live in a Police State?
The term “police state” was once brushed off by mainstream intellectuals as the hyperbole of paranoids. Not so much anymore. Even in the tweediest precincts of the legal system, the over-criminalization of American life is remarked upon with greater frequency and intensity. “You’re probably a (federal) criminal” is the accusatory title of a widely read essay co-authored by Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. A Republican appointee, Kozinski surveys the morass of criminal laws that make virtually every American an easy target for law enforcement. Veteran defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate has written an entire book about how an average American professional could easily commit three felonies in a single day without knowing it.
The daily overkill of police power in the U.S. goes a long way toward explaining why more Americans aren’t outraged by the “excesses” of the war on terror, which, as one law professor has argued, are just our everyday domestic penal habits exported to more exotic venues. It is no less true that the growth of domestic police power is, in this positive feedback loop, the partial result of our distant foreign wars seeping back into the homeland (the “imperial boomerang” that Hannah Arendt warned against).
Many who have long railed against our country’s everyday police overkill have reacted to the revelations of NSA surveillance with detectable exasperation: of course we are over-policed! Some have even responded with peevish resentment: Why so much sympathy for this Snowden kid when the daily grind of our justice system destroys so many lives without comment or scandal? After all, in New York, the police department’s “stop and frisk” tactic, which targets African American and Latino working-class youth for routinized street searches, was until recently uncontroversial among the political and opinion-making class. If “the gloves came off” after September 11, 2001, many Americans were surprised to learn they had ever been on to begin with.
A hammer is necessary to any toolkit. But you don’t use a hammer to turn a screw, chop a tomato, or brush your teeth. And yet the hammer remains our instrument of choice, both in the conduct of our foreign policy and in our domestic order. The result is not peace, justice, or prosperity but rather a state that harasses and imprisons its own people while shouting ever less intelligibly about freedom.
Posted in economics, law, tagged Électricité de France, BBC, Big Six Energy Suppliers (UK), British Gas, charity, Comic Relief, Fuel poverty, Panorama, Save the Children on December 10, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Save the Children accused of suppressing criticism of corporate sponsor British Gas, while internal emails reveal how fuel poverty campaign was dropped to avoid offending EDF
Save the Children, one of the UK’s oldest NGOs, which raised almost £300m last year, is alleged to have repeatedly quashed press releases criticising British Gas price rises to avoid damaging its corporate partnership with the company, which was worth £1.5m over 10 years. The charity is also accused of dropping a potential campaign on the effects of fuel poverty on children while it was under consideration for funding from EDF.
Internal emails obtained by The Independent show senior staff were worried about publicity that could “risk the EDF partnership”. The accusations are part of a wider investigation into the operations of major NGOs to be broadcast tonight by the BBC’s Panorama, which criticises the investment practices or financial management of two other major charities – Comic Relief and Amnesty International UK. Amid the turmoil of the economic crisis and its impact on charity donations, Save the Children has been unapologetic in its pursuit of corporate partnerships. Income from large corporations has boosted its income more than five-fold, from £3.9m in 2009 to £22.5m this year.
The charity, which has a partnership with the drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline and a £23.5m deal with Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser to stop children dying from diarrhoea, said earlier this year that a key part of its strategy was “not being afraid to be commercially focused”.
It has also bucked a trend that saw cash donations from the corporate sector drop by 16 per cent to £622m last year.
But a former senior manager claims that in its pursuit of corporate funding, the charity went too far in its concern not to offend donors.
Dominic Nutt, the head of the press team at Save the Children until 2009, told Panorama he had been keen to campaign on fuel poverty because of the pressures it put on poor families but claimed press releases criticising price rises by British Gas were “spiked”.
Writing in The Independent, Mr Nutt says: “When British Gas put their prices up, our policy colleagues asked us to send out a press release condemning them… I wrote the release, got it approved by the policy experts and prepared to press ‘send’.
“But the release was spiked because, I was told, it would upset British Gas who were Save the Children donors. The quest for money is beginning to destroy the mission.”
Save the Children said it “totally refuted” Mr Nutt’s allegations, pointing out it ran a fuel-poverty campaign in January 2012 which was critical of the Big Six, including British Gas. The charity did not declare it had a commercial relationship with British Gas as part of the campaign.
The charity is alleged to have also avoided criticism of EDF in November last year at a time when it was down to the last three to become EDF’s NGO partner, a deal which would have been worth £600,000 over three years.
Internal emails from Save the Children’s corporate partnerships team reveal disquiet at “planned media coverage around energy affordability”.
One manager in charge of winning new partnerships wrote: “I am really conscious that this will need to be handled carefully so as not to jeopardise what could end up being a long-term partnership.”
A few days later a second email stated that the charity’s head of advocacy was “of the feeling we should not risk the EDF partnership”.
Save the Children acknowledged that a fuel-poverty campaign had been at the early stages of consideration but said the idea “didn’t get to first base” because of a separate campaign on UK child poverty. A spokesman said there was no connection between any publicity plans and the EDF funding, which eventually went to another charity.
Justin Forsyth, the chief executive of Save the Children, said: “It is simply wrong and misleading to suggest our silence can be bought. We will continue to campaign on all the areas we think matter most to saving children’s lives both at home and abroad. Save the Children would never put in jeopardy our values and our cause by pulling our punches on a campaign for money from a corporate partnership.”
Panorama also found that, between 2007 and 2009, Comic Relief invested in funds which bought shares in the alcohol, arms and tobacco industries – all sectors that the charity says damage lives. Comic Relief said it was legally obliged to maximise the return on its donations and could not impose “ethical screening” on its investments without putting at risk its ability to meet its £17m annual running costs.
Amnesty International UK was also found to have lost nearly £750,000 last year on its annual “Secret Policeman’s Ball” benefit show. The charity denied it had gone wrong.
Dear reader put away your charts and graphs. Forget about fundamental and technical analysis. Ignore financial statements and trends. The extraordinary agreement to share information between the National Security Agency [NSA], a host of European, Russian, Canadian and Chinese spy agencies and the world’s Central Banks will ensure that the only relevant force in Global Stock markets will be the trading activity of the world’s Central Banks. Thanks to the data gathering of the NSA and its subsidiary spy agencies around the world, the Central Banks will be privy to the most confidential conversations and communications from the boardroom, the bedroom and the trading floor. Central Banks will now be able to trade with inside information that could only be dreamed about in years gone by.
Market Assistance Directive [MAD]
In the past, only employees at the NSA, their friends and families were able to trade and profit using the confidential information captured in NSA’s confidential PRISM surveillance sweeping activities. The funds these individuals were able to devote to these insider trades were insignificant to the global markets. However this new agreement, [called the 'Market Assistance Directive' [MAD] will allow the Central Banks to use their unlimited resources to trade and profit based on inside information on an almost unimaginable scale.
Ask yourself one question
“Poppycock!” you say. “Balderdash!” you exclaim. Dear reader, I too shared your cynicism and disbelief regarding the possibility of such an agreement existing until I spoke with my good friend and trusted confidante Gustavo Laframboise-Pierre, Global Director of Statistical Creation at the European Central Bank [ECB]. Dear reader, before you click away in an indignant fit of outrage at the mere suggestion of this preposterous reality. I would encourage you to ask yourself one question. Would you or any of your trusted friends and honorable family members, if given access to inside information that would allow one to guarantee oneself untold wealth, without fear of legal reprisal, by trading in the stock market based on this inside information, would you or they turn the opportunity down? Dear reader, I thought so. Please continue reading.
It is the norm
Prior to the unique MAD agreement only the thousands of employees of the NSA and other security agencies, their friends and family, their political masters, paramours and twitter followers, have had the ability to use the PRISM surveillance capability to know every grain of inside information that exists in the world. Massive profits on their personal trading accounts are inevitable. It is a denial of human nature to believe that this activity is not only prevalent, it is the norm.
Statistics that would support whatever lunatic policies
But I digress; my conversation with Gustavo would enlighten me as to the New World Order that now permeates our capital markets and our global economy. For those of you not familiar with Gustavo, my friendship with such a highly placed member of the ECB executive traced its roots back to my days on Wall Street and to his days in New York when he was my bookie. His fortunes changed dramatically one day when a senior member of the ECB on a junket to New York placed an astonishingly large, incorrect and foolish bet on the outcome of the 2010 World Cup. The only way the debt could be settled was for the senior member of the ECB to offer Gustavo an obscenely highly paid sinecure at the ECB. Gustavo traded Brooklyn and Fulton Street for Paris and the Champs-Élysées. He became the ECB’s Global Director of Statistical Creation. His notional job was to make up statistics that would support whatever lunatic policies were being proposed by central banks around the world. Gustavo’s complete lack of moral fiber coupled with his gift for numbers allowed him to excel at his job.
Truthfully I had left my home in New York to avoid some rather inconvenient lawsuits
I was in Rome on business, [well truthfully I had left my home in New York to avoid some rather inconvenient lawsuits from my banks and other sundry creditors relating to my inability to make payments on my credit cards, lines of credit, loans, mortgages, and overdraft fees.] In any event, imagine my surprise as I strolled down the Via Veneto when I spied Gustavo [I surmised that he was in town visiting one of his mistresses] exiting the Gucci store, laden with what appeared to be their entire inventory.
We strolled to the uber-chic Rome Cavalieri Hotel
I greeted him with a smile and suggested we repair to the nearest bistro for a lunch and libation. I helped with his bags and we strolled to the uber-chic Rome Cavalieri Hotel on Via Alberto so that we might feast at la Pergola, perhaps the finest restaurant in Europe. Dear reader, I had dined with Gustavo before. I knew that the meal would be charged to his expense account at the ECB. Today my empty wallet and penury would not prevent me from enjoying a culinary delight. We were seated at a prestigious seat by the window that offered us a magnificent view of St. Peter’s Basilica. Gustavo’s legendary expense account ensured that we received premium service.
Have you won the lottery?
Gustavo, I enquired, “Have you won the lottery? You must have $50,000 of Gucci accessories in these bags?” “David” he giggled, “It is better than that”, he continued. “The central banks, thanks to an agreement with the world’s spy agencies, [this would be the aforementioned MAD agreement] we bankers are now privy to not only the emails and phone calls of all the world’s politicians, business leaders, journalists, accountants, lawyers but to the innermost thoughts of every citizen who uses an electronic device for communication”.
We relegate to destitution any soul who dares to challenge us
“With this information we can use our resources to control the global markets. Now there is no trade, no event, no market information that we bankers do not know in advance. We can literally make as much money as we want. At the same time we relegate to destitution any soul who dares to challenge us. All we had to do to finalize the agreement was to promise to kick back 20% of our profits to the senior members of the spy agencies and 10% of our profits to their political masters.”
Remy Martin Black Pearl Luis XIII
I almost choked on my Remy Martin Black Pearl Luis XIII Cognac as I digested Gustavo’s statement. Little did I know that this particular brand of Cognac that Gustavo had requested, was worth $30,000/bottle. [Oh, how glorious it must be to be a banker with an expense account.] However, as a frequent beneficiary of Gustavo’s largesse I guess I should not complain.] “Gustavo” I exclaimed, “Do the words insider trading, market manipulation, extortion, thievery, invasion of privacy, immoral, illegal and just plain wrong not mean anything to you bankers?” “Don’t you read the papers David?” He replied.
You cannot put bankers in jail
“Bankers have been given immunity from prosecution for any misdeed or imperfection no matter how damaging it is to the markets, the global economy and society. HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, European banks, the list goes on. Banks are fined but no individual banker goes to jail. How many times do bankers need to skate on corruption charges before you get it through your thick skull that you can fine the bank but you cannot put bankers in jail?” Gustavo postulated.
Richer than King Midas
He continued, “We central bankers will share the data gathering efforts with the world’s commercial or retail banks for a [big] fee. Our prudence will ensure that the inside information is shared fairly.” The profits the banks will make on these trades will guarantee their survival. Furthermore it will ensure the bank executives become richer than King Midas. It is truly a win-win situation.” I poked at the remainder of my appetizer, ‘scampi carpaccio with two caviars’, and eagerly awaited the first course, ‘liquorice consommé with sweet pepper cream and squid salad’. Gustavo had come a long way from his days making book from his car outside Madison Square Garden, I thought to myself. His notion of win-win was certainly unique.
There are two types of wealth in this world
“Gustavo”, I replied, “I don’t know where to begin. How does any of this help Main Street and the masses? This sounds like a conspiracy by the 1% to own the entire universe”. “I am glad you brought that up David” he slurred. [The effects of his overindulgence of the Cognac was starting to have the usual impact] “That whole silly Occupy movement and its childish 99% versus the 1% was our creation. The 1% is a phrase we coined to give us cover as we filled our pockets. You see David; there are two types of wealth in this world. The first is wealth created by innovators, creators, entrepreneurs, risk-takers, hard workers, savers: diligent, honest, principled, prudent, responsible men and woman”, Gustavo pontificated.
Bankers have ‘got your backs
“These remarkable people, as they created wealth also created jobs and enhanced their community. The world rightfully respects, celebrates, admires, encourages and emulates their efforts. The other type of wealth is created by creatures like me who scam, suck, pillage and plunder the public purse and Main Street’s wallets. We create nothing. We central bankers and our commercial and retail cousins contribute nothing. We take what we can while convincing the masses that we ‘have got their backs.’ Can you believe that bankers are still able to pay themselves tens of millions of dollars a year after the damage they have done to the global economy?” Gustavo opined.
Consultants, lobbyists and other assorted leeches
His sermon continued, “If the public ever thought about it for a moment, their anger would not be focused on the notional 1% who accumulated their wealth the old fashioned way [They earned it] Rather the anger would be focused on the ’10%.’ The scoundrels like myself: bankers, consultants, lobbyists and other assorted leeches who drain the public’s purse while adding to their own personal fortune”. I was quite taken aback. Candor, honesty and critical self analysis were not attributes I usually expected from Gustavo. I smiled at the waiter as he delivered my main course, a very appealing ‘soya poached fillet of beef with garlic dandelion and wasabi purée’. I continued my conversation with Gustavo by asking him why he was sharing all this information with me. Was he not concerned that I might publish some of this, clearly confidential, information? “David, have you heard nothing I have said, Bankers are immune from prosecution”. He said sardonically.
Unless you write your commentary in crayon and pass it out on street corners
He looked sternly in my eyes as he said, “Furthermore, unless you write your commentary in crayon and pass it out on street corners, either we or the NSA will become aware your attempt to undermine our dominance. We will simply disable your computer and delete your files. If you persist in inconveniencing us we will turn your file over to our ‘Blackmail’ department who will examine your life with a fine tooth comb, discover your secrets and threaten you with exposure unless you cease and desist.”
SPECTRE is in charge
Dear reader, like you, based on Gustavo’s insights, I could not help thinking that the players in our global capital markets were more reminiscent of James Bond’s nemesis, SPECTRE [SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion] than a functioning system for the free and fair exchange of goods and capital. I said as much to Gustavo as I had the first bite of my Caciocavallo Podolico. This cheese is the pride of Italy. At $500/lb, it has the same value by weight as silver. I would strongly recommend this taste sensation should you ever be dining with a banker and their expense account. As I waited for his response, [he was busy talking to his broker], I gazed out the window at the Vatican and wondered if there might be spiritual salvation to guide us through the financial quagmire we had entered. I then remembered that the Vatican Bank scandals indicated that there would be no guidance from that direction. [Oh please dear reader, curtail your disapproval. Just Google 'Vatican Bank scandals' and see for yourself.]
La Dolce Vita
Gustavo smiled at me as he hung up his phone. “I just made a million dollars in two hours based on information this new MAD Agreement’ provided me”, he boasted. “The best part is that because I have set up Trusts in tax havens around the world I will not have to pay any taxes. Isn’t life grand?” I sighed as gazed through the window and watched a beggar appealing for donations from shoppers on the Via Veneto. I guess this is what ‘la Dolce Vita’ is all about?
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
David has divided his time unequally for the last 30 years between the financial services, education, writing and comedy. He has spent time in financial services as an investment adviser, financial planner, sales trainer, corporate entertainer, and as a teacher of investment courses. He has also taught numerous financial courses. His work in comedy includes numerous corporate events and performances at comedy clubs. His background allows him to seamlessly move between the business world, higher education and the world of comedy and sometimes, to bring the two worlds together.
Posted in economics, government, law, media, politics, tagged Brunei, Iceland, New York Times, New Zealand, Politics of Iceland, Robber baron, United States, World Trade Organization on December 9, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
IMPOTENCE is where the world of 2013 is, at the moment.
Real POWER comes directly from our ability to “Let-Go” of greed and blatant arrogance in order to recognize and embrace the full-circle of life which actual power enables.
Iceland has been working on changing their country since 2007, in ways that will enable a participatory-society in which people have not just a voice, but have chosen to act in their own affairs and on their own behalf.
This knowledge has been purposely kept from Americans’ because their successful revolt against the obsolete planet, might have triggered the same kinds of actions in this country; if we had but known how much progress Iceland has been quietly making towards actually changing their world from a totally controlled power-base for global-corporations, into something that goes beyond just interests, all the way to living in a reality that has recognized the most basic laws of society that must be changed: If the world is going to be able to sustain itself beyond the end of 2013. Just clutching every cent in every system is no longer a sustainable-policy for any country in the world today.
“As Iceland struggles to regain its footing with a new government, U.S. citizens may or may not be able to look to Iceland as an example of perfect democracy in action. The real question, though, is why weren’t U.S. citizens given the information about the ousting of the Icelandic government and the jailing of the unscrupulous bankers? Are journalists in control of the mainstream media or is there some truth to accusations that big business may, in fact, be strong-arming reporters to keep quiet about world events that could inspire similar actions here in the U.S.?” (1)
Some of What is Really at Issue:
Iceland is trying to set a new global-standard of living in which ordinary people can take back their lives and their nations from the privatized-powers that have stolen everything from people everywhere else.
Obviously the ancient rule of the “Totally-corrupted ruling classes” worldwide must be stopped. Interestingly Americans did that when we put chains on the Robber-Barons after they crashed so many U.S. banks in 1929. Those Outlaws have been slaving away to since 1929 to regain their illegal-dominance over people everywhere, to the point now where they are about to “legalize” the unthinkable idea of Global-Corporate-Nationhood to go with the already-illegal idea of Global-Corporate-Personhood.
The scheme is called the Trans-Pacific-Partnership or TPP, which Obama is trying to fast-track in SECRET, as this comment is being written. If he succeeds then people will no longer have any rights at all in that criminal-world which will soon be run by privatized Corporate-Nations Only: You might want to think long and hard about that.
If this “plan” succeeds then the possibility of regaining a viable world will not be possible. Global-chaos will triumph over natural-balance as is shown below.
“The expansive plan is a proposed free-trade agreement between the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The agreement would create new guidelines for everything from food safety to fracking, financial markets, medical prices, copyright rules and Internet freedom.
The TPP negotiations have been criticized by politicians and advocacy groups alike for their secrecy. The few aspects of the partnership leaked to the public indicate an expansive agenda with highly limited congressional oversight…
A New York Times opinion piece previously called the deal the “most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.”
Last week, the White House website released a joint statement with the other proposed TPP signatories affirming “our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.”
“Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets,” the White House said.
The statement did not divulge details of the partnership other than to suggest a final TPP agreement “must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.”
In February, the Open the Government organization sent a letter to Obama blasting the lack of transparency surrounding the TPP talks, stating the negotiations have been “conducted in unprecedented secrecy.”
“Despite the fact the deal may significantly affect the way we live our lives by limiting our public protections, there has been no public access to even the most fundamental draft agreement texts and other documents,” read the letter…
…The groups warned issues being secretly negotiated include “patent and copyright, land use, food and product standards, natural resources, professional licensing, government procurement, financial practices, healthcare, energy, telecommunications, and other service sector regulations.”
Lack of oversight
Normally free -trade agreements must be authorized by a majority of the House and Senate, usually in lengthy proceedings.
However, the White House is seeking what is known as “trade promotion authority” which would fast track approval of the TPP by requiring Congress to vote on the likely lengthy trade agreement within 90 days and without any amendments.
The authority also allows Obama to sign the agreement before Congress even has a chance to vote on it, with lawmakers getting only a quick post-facto vote…
“The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden.
However, Obama has so far refused to give Congress a copy of the draft agreement.
Regulates food, Internet, medicine, commerce
The TPP is “more than just a trade deal,” wrote Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch in a New York Times op-ed last June.
“Only 5 of its 29 chapters cover traditional trade matters, like tariffs or quotas. The others impose parameters on nontrade policies. Existing and future American laws must be altered to conform with these terms, or trade sanctions can be imposed against American exports.”
Wallach and Beachy spotlighted several leaks in the proposed TPP text, including one that would regulate the price of medicine.
“Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as ‘advisers,’ have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal.”
Amnesty International USA warned draft TPP provisions related to patents for pharmaceuticals” (2)
Part of the key to this global-takeover resides in the fact that the Privatized-Outlaws have already stolen the real meaning and intent in the languages of the world. Lending themselves the right to use Newspeak and Double-Speak freely whenever they need to, to confound and confuse the public at will…
They have succeeded in turning all language into nothing but legalese that serves only the narrowest of interests and assures that all profits will be kept by the Ruling Oligarchs at the expense of every private person on the planet. This is one of the factors which the Icelandic idea has exposed, as they move toward Participatory-Public-Sustainability in a world where only privatized-outlaws and global-Corporate-Nationhood will be allowed to survive.
The sustainability of the planet is currently under threat by privatized-corporate interests. Their demand that requires corporate-interests to constantly-grow, without limitation, each and every quarter of every year is not sustainable in a world of finite resources.
Another clear requirement, if we are to survive in this world, is that media can no longer be privatized. The fact that this successful Icelandic project has been going on since 2007, with virtually no-word of their progress ever reaching American media, speaks for itself!
Turn the card back around, so that we can all share in what should have been ours all along?
The world has been reeling from the chaos of power-mad megalomaniacs for centuries: To the point that ordinary people have been totally left out of every discussion that has anything to do with the real-outcomes in any future that the global-ruling-classes seek!
Revisit these two articles and come to grips with the massive government lies that we’re actually living-in and under at this moment. Then maybe what’s happening in Iceland might not seem quite so unusual: In fact maybe with the truth of what we have been buying-into all this time might finally find enough real clarity to warrant taking action on your own? (3)
The public can no longer afford to put up with allowing the banks to be both Commercial Banks and Investment Banks at the same time. What we must do is to reinstate the laws that this government trashed: The final act of which came under Clinton’s destruction of the Glass-Stiegel Act. In brief we need to put the legislative chains back on that the bankers that were imposed after the 1929 phony-stock-market crash—immediately. But first we must kill the TPP dead in the water, forever!
1) Icelanders Overthrow Government and Rewrite Constitution After Banking Fraud-No Word From US Media – 1hr 43min 04 sec VIDEO
2) Obama secretly signing away U.S. sovereignty
3) Death of the Media
Government As God – 21min 07 sec VIDEO
09 Dec 2013 (AU) A former Qantas flight attendant is hoping to be able to sue the Commonwealth, claiming a connection between his Parkinson’s disease and mandated pesticide spraying on long-haul flights. Brett Vollus, 52, worked with the airline for 27 years and is claiming he developed the disease because of insecticide spraying on international flights arriving in Australia. His Sydney lawyer, Tanya Segelov, says there is medical evidence that the chemicals used are linked to the disease, and she is investigating a possible test case for airline workers to take action against the Commonwealth.
- Flight attendant says quarantine pesticide led to Parkinson’s (abc.net.au)
- Qantas steward to launch landmark pesticides lawsuit (dailystar.com.lb)
- Cabin Pesticide Exposure – Lawsuit From QF F/A (airliners.net)
Posted in government, law, military, tagged African National Congress, cold war, Mandela, Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, South Africa, terrorism, terrorist, United States, White House on December 9, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
07 Dec 2013 From the White House to the halls of Congress, U.S. government officials have responded to the death of Nelson Mandela with a hail of testimonials to the late South African president’s leadership in the struggle for freedom and human rights. Until five years ago, however, the U.S. officially considered Mandela a terrorist. During the Cold War, both the State and Defense departments dubbed Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress, a terrorist group, and Mandela’s name remained on the U.S. terrorism watch list till 2008.
Posted in health, law, media, religion, tagged 700 club, American Psychiatric Association, Bible, God, homosexuality, Mental disorder, Pat Robertson, Supreme Court of the United States on December 7, 2013 | 2 Comments »
ahhh urrrr here is another 700 club opinion for the books…………………………….
Televangelist Pat Robertson on Wednesday struggled to understand why homosexuality was no longer considered a mental illness, but said that he approved of gender reassignment surgery.
In response to a viewer who asked if her gay nephew needed to pray for himself to be helped, Robertson recalled that homosexuality was considered to be a personality disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1973.
“A few years ago the psychiatrists, the psychologists used to say that homosexuality was a mental illness,” the TV preacher remarked. “Now, the Supreme Court has said that it is a protected right.”
“So what’s he going to pray about? Is he going to say something is wrong and he’s unhappy? And if he’s unhappy and realizes he is doing something that makes him miserable, you might help him.”
Robertson said that the solution was to show the gay nephew the Bible because “the Bible is explicit” that homosexuality is a sin.
“Now I understand and I’ve mentioned on this program that people that need a sex change operation — in other words, it’s a woman that’s trapped in a man’s body, a man trapped in a woman’s body — and they really need some hormones and surgery to get the thing lined up, that’s one thing,” he opined. “But this other — many, many people are into this [homosexual] lifestyle because they have been abused as a child and so forth.”
“You can pray that the Lord will show him his love and his truth and out of that he will find an acceptance of where God has for him.”
Watch this video from The 700 Club, broadcast Dec. 4, 2013.
Rep. Alan Grayson asks the Federal Reserve Inspector General about the trillions of dollars lent or spent by the Federal Reserve and where it went, and the trillions of off balance sheet obligations. Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman responds that the IG does not know and is not tracking where this money is.