Posts Tagged ‘#OWS’

Glenn Greenwald speaks via Skype to the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago regarding Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance program. Introductions by Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater and the filmmaker behind Dirty Wars, and Sherry Wolf, author of Sexuality and Socialism.

Additional Homework:
  • NYTimes: The Criminal NSA – “The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.”
  • NYTimes: Margaret Sullivan: Who’s a Journalist? A Question With Many Facets and One Sure Answer – “In a New York magazine piece, Mr. Rich wrote: “Is David Gregory a journalist? As a thought experiment, name one piece of news he has broken, one beat he’s covered with distinction, and any memorable interviews he’s conducted that were not with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin or Chuck Schumer.” And he derisively suggested that Mr. Gregory begin to host his network’s “Today” show, so that he can “speak truth to power by grilling Paula Deen.””
  • The Guardian: Thomas Drake: Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution – “It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. “You don’t understand,” I was told. “We just need the data.”” (2001)
  • Business Insider: Latest Glenn Greenwald Scoop Vindicates One Of The Original NSA Whistleblowers, William Binney – “Binney says that ThinThread was built to track electronic activities — phone calls, emails, banking and travel records, social media, etc. — and map them to collect “all the attributes that any individual has” in every type of activity and build a real-time profile based on that data.”
  • The Guardian: Senators’ letter to US director of national intelligence James Clapper – Bipartisan group of 26 US senators complain that the Obama administration is relying on a ‘body of secret law’ to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens
  • Hullabaloo: Chris Hayes on the leak double standard – “Barbara Starr and David Gregory can spout all the classified information they choose without fear of being arrested. But then they only disseminate the classified info that makes the government look good so it’s just fine.”
  • The Guardian: Wayne Madsen: Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America – “Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985 and over the next 12 years held several sensitive positions within the agency, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US. Madsen said the countries had “formal second and third party status” under signal intelligence (sigint) agreements that compels them to hand over data, including mobile phone and internet information to the NSA if requested.”
  • The Corbett Report/Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post: Compromised: How the National Security State Blackmails the Government – “The picture that is being painted by Tice and Edmond’s revelations is a grim one. It tells the tale of a government that is no longer “by and for the people” (to the extent that it ever was), but by and for a small intelligence establishment with the means to spy on and blackmail judges, lawyers, officials and even the President. Lest there be any doubt about the extent to which the FBI and the NSA collaborate and cover for each other in these operations, a telling moment was accidentally caught on microphone after NSA head General Keith Alexander’s testimony in front of a Congressional hearing. Alexander and the NSA was vigorously defended at the hearing by FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, and after the meeting Alexander was overheard thanking Joyce for the FBI’s part in covering for the NSA operations.”


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The man who forced the government of Iceland to resign and kicked out the IMF representatives from his country, Hordur Torfason, is now teaching meta-modern democracy throughout Europe.The rest of the world would benefit from following the example set by Iceland: Arresting the corrupt bankers who are responsible for the current economic turmoil.

Full employment contributes above all to achieving human dignity.

“It’s nice to be important, but is more important to be nice.”

People’s Congress Interview — Iceland’s Revolution Leader Hordur Torfason — June 3, 2012

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

This is the censored TED Talk that the wealthy 1% did not want us to see.

Income InequalityThe inequality of wealth and income in the US is greater than at any time since the 1920s. As Professor Elizabeth Warren has explained, “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.” Nobody. Not even Mitt Romney. As Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, noted recently, “the U.S. is unique…just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.” Today, we are told by the 1% and their political representatives in Washington DC that we can no longer afford money for public education and the social safety net, even as trillions go to Wall Street and the unending wars purportedly fighting terrorism (although it could easily be argued that terrorism begets terrorism, we must also consider who in the world really uses & traffics in Weapons of Mass Destruction?).

The Occupy Wall Street protests (the 99%) are a protest, a rebellion of human beings thinking reasonably and rationally. After all, isn’t government supposed to serve the People, and not the other way around? Government employees are “public servants” not corporate servants, and not solely servants of the 1%. The greater the disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else, the more unstable an economy becomes. Consumer demand is what drives a capitalist economy, and as more people sink into poverty, they are unable to buy products because they don’t have enough income to make those purchases.

In 1928, one year before the global economic collapse of the Great Depression, the wealthiest .001% of the U.S. population owned 892 times more than 90% of the nation’s citizens. Today, the top .001% of the U.S. population owns 976 times more than the entire bottom 90%.

Extreme Income Inequality

Chart courtesy of The Nation magazine. Click for full size.

As you can plainly see, there has been a radical redistribution of income to the top 1%. And yet, they don’t call this “socialism”. This dire economic situation just didn’t happen by accident either. The wealthiest 1% reaped 2/3rds of the economic benefits from Bush’s tax cuts. In 2010, top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%, its lowest level in nearly 30 years. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued in 2011-12 as the stock market has continued to recover. [For a more detailed description of these and other sources of income inequality data, please see Chad Stone, Hannah Shaw, Danilo Trisi, and Arloc Sherman, “A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 5, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-28-11pov.pdf.]

Poverty-In-AmericaOne out of every 5 children in the U.S. lives in poverty (21%) compared with approximately 4% in Sweden. One out of every 4 (25% of) children in the U.S. is receiving food stamps (SNAP). Social spending makes up most of the difference: in Sweden, social spending reduces child poverty by 70%, while in the U.S. it reduces child poverty only 5%, down from 26%. These differences arise as a result of policies that create these enormous inequalities in resources, or in the absence of policies that would bridge the inequalities.

This is a list of countries or dependencies by income inequality metrics, including Gini coefficients, according to the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the OECD. The tables there are sortable by column, but in pretty much every case, the United States ranks right near the bottom among both developed and developing countries, meaning it has the highest rate of income inequality. We might expect to see something like this in authoritarian dictatorships, but not in a country like the U.S.

A number of factors may help explain this increase in inequality, not only underlying technological changes but also the retreat of institutions developed during the New Deal and World War II – such as progressive tax policies, powerful labor unions (.pdf), corporate provision of wages/salaries, health and retirement benefits, and changing social norms regarding pay inequality. We need to decide as a society whether this increase in income inequality is efficient and acceptable and, if not, what mix of institutional and tax reforms should be developed to counter it. And we need to vote for politicians that will propose and support those policies.

Inside Job‘ is the first film to provide a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.

 

The Dodd-Frank pay disclosure mandate, the new PayWatch notes, has become more “needed now” than ever. Big-time CEO pay outpaced average worker pay by 380 times in 2011, the stats show, up from 343 times in 2010.

The gap at many individual corporations runs much higher than this overall 380-times average. But we can’t now identify which specific corporations sport the widest pay gaps between CEOs and workers since corporations — until the Dodd-Frank disclosure mandate goes into effect — don’t have to disclose how much they pay their most typical workers.

The SEC could have — and should have — written the rules necessary to put the Dodd-Frank pay ratio disclosure mandate into effect in time for this spring’s annual corporate meetings. The agency flubbed that deadline.

via Pay Ratios: Shoving CEOs under an Online Microscope.


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Menwith Hill, the largest intelligence gathering and surveillance center outside the US, in the heart of the UK’s Yorkshire Dales, is surrounded by protesters demonstrating against America’s planned missile defense system. The local residents, often camping outside, have been joined by members of the global Occupy movement, supporting ongoing local efforts. To keep up with new types of warfare, billions of dollars has been invested in Menwith Hill over the last decade. It has enabled the base to remain a vital component of the global US surveillance network.


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Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity examines the ideological roots of the “austerity” agenda and proposes revolutionary paths out of the current crisis. The film features original interviews with Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, Michael Hardt, Peter Gelderloos, Leo Panitch, David McNally, Richard J.F. Day, Imre Szeman, Wayne Price, and many more!

The 2008 “financial crisis” in the United States was a systemic fraud in which the wealthy finance capitalists stole trillions of public dollars. No one was jailed for this crime, the largest theft of public money in history.

Instead, the rich forced working people across the globe to pay for their “crisis” through punitive “austerity” programs that gutted public services and repealed workers’ rights.

Austerity was named “Word of the Year” for 2010.

This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future.

Special attention is devoted to the crisis in Greece, the 2010 G20 Summit protest in Toronto, Canada, and the remarkable surge of solidarity in Madison, Wisconsin.

It may be their crisis, but it’s our problem.


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It’s been almost two years since Private First Class Bradley Manning was arrested. He is being accused of releasing classified documents to Wikileaks. As a whistleblower Manning was held for nine months without being charged for a crime and starting Friday evening Occupy the Truth will kick off in Berkeley. At the conference Bradley Manning’s case will be an important topic and activist Cindy Sheehan brings us the latest about Occupy the Truth.