Commentaries http://english.irib.ir Tue, 17 Oct 2017 02:06:39 +0000 en-gb The logic of the police state http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/220406-the-logic-of-the-police-state http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/220406-the-logic-of-the-police-state

When it comes to the arming of the police in a country in which rural sheriffs proudly sport battlefield-grade mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles and new militarized urban police units like that one in New York City are being outfitted with Colt M4 semiautomatic assault rifles and machine guns.

A report said that 20 campus cops at Boston’s Northeastern University are going to be armed with semiautomatic rifles qualifies as distinctly ho-hum news. Or thought of another way, it catches the everyday reality of a country whose police have been up-arming with a kind of passion since 9/11.
In these years, the militarization of the police has taken place amid a striking upsurge of protest over police brutality, abuses, and in particular the endless killing of young black men, as well as a parallel growth in both the powers of and the protections afforded to police officers.

As TomDispatch regular Matthew Harwood, who has been covering the militarization of the police for this site, reports, all of this could easily add up to the building blocks for a developing police-state frame of mind. Matthew Harwood is senior writer/editor of the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU. He has more to say:
If you’ve been watching the national news dominated by panic and hysteria over domestic terrorism, including the shutting down of a major urban school system over an outlandish hoax threat of a terror attack, or the recent Republican debate over “national security,” which turned out to mean only “ISIS” and immigration; can there be any question that the way is being paved for institutionalizing a new kind of policing in this country in the name of American security and fear?

If you’ve been listening to various police agencies and their supporters, then you know what the future holds: anarchy is coming – and it’s all the fault of activists.

In May, a Wall Street Journal op-ed warned of a “new nationwide crime wave” thanks to “intense agitation against American police departments” over the previous year. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went further. Talking recently with the host of CBS’s Face the Nation, the Republican presidential hopeful asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t about reform but something far more sinister. He insisted: “They’ve been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers”.
Even the nation’s top cop, FBI Director James Comey, weighed in at the University of Chicago Law School, speaking of “a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

According to these figures and others like them, lawlessness has been sweeping the nation as the so-called Ferguson effect spreads. Criminals have been emboldened as police officers are forced to think twice about doing their jobs for fear of the infamy of starring in the next viral video. The police have supposedly become the targets of assassins intoxicated by “anti-cop rhetoric,” just as departments are being stripped of the kind of high-powered equipment they need to protect officers and communities. Even their funding streams have, it’s claimed, come under attack as anti-cop bias has infected Washington, D.C. Senator Ted Cruz caught the spirit of that critique by convening a Senate subcommittee hearing to which he gave the title, “The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement.”
According to him, the federal government, including the president and attorney general, has been vilifying the police, who are now being treated as if they, not the criminals, were the enemy.

Beyond the storm of commentary and criticism, however, quite a different reality presents itself. In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.

Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations in the United States are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do.

Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety.
In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control.

And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state.

It’s no mystery why so few police officers are investigated and prosecuted for using excessive force and violating someone’s rights. Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals. This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence.

Since 2005, according to an analysis by the Washington Post and Bowling Green State University, only 54 officers have been prosecuted nationwide, despite the thousands of fatal shootings by police. As Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green, puts it, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”
For many in law enforcement, however, none of this should concern any of us. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order appointing a special prosecutor to investigate police killings, for instance, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, insisted: “Given the many levels of oversight that already exist, both internally in the NYPD, New York Police Department, and externally in many forms, the appointment of a special prosecutor is unnecessary.” Even before the New York Governor’s decision, the chairman of New York’s District Attorneys Association called plans to appoint a special prosecutor for police killings “deeply insulting.”

Such pushback against the very idea of independently investigating police actions has, post-Ferguson, become everyday fare, and some law enforcement leaders have staked out a position significantly beyond that. The police, they clearly believe, should get ‘special’ treatment!

Mullins put forward a legal standard for officers accused of wrongdoing that he would never support for the average citizen – and in a situation in which cops already get what former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson calls “a super presumption of innocence." In addition, police unions in many states have aggressively pushed for their own bills of rights, which make it nearly impossible for police officers to be fired, much less charged with crimes when they violate an individual’s civil rights and liberties.

Put another way, there are two kinds of due process in America – one for cops and another for the rest of the Americans. This is the reason why the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights and civil liberties organizations regularly call on states to create a special prosecutor’s office to launch independent investigations when police seriously injure or kill someone.

As with the US wars abroad, think mission creep at home. A program started to wage the war on drugs, and strengthened after 9/11, is now being justified on the grounds that certain equipment is useful during disasters or emergencies. In reality, the police have clearly become hooked on a militarized look. Many departments are ever more attached to their weapons of war and evidently don’t mind the appearance of being an occupying force in their communities, which leaves groups like the sheriffs’ association fighting fiercely for a militarized future.

The post-Ferguson public clamor demanding better policing continues to get louder across the United States, and yet too many police departments have this to say in response: “Welcome to Cop Land. We make the rules around here.”

 EA

]]>
Commentaries Wed, 23 Dec 2015 11:26:53 +0000
US general Petraeus calls for recruiting Al Qaeda http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/215985-us-general-petraeus-calls-for-recruiting-al-qaeda http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/215985-us-general-petraeus-calls-for-recruiting-al-qaeda

Recently, US officials once again marked the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington with speeches vowing a never-ending war on terrorism.

President Barack Obama spoke to US troops at Fort Meade, Maryland about “significant threats coming from terrorist organizations and a terrorist ideology,” while US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter vowed at a Pentagon ceremony that “terrorists will not escape the long arm and the hard fist of American justice.”

Alongside this official 9/11 rhetoric, which grows more hollow with every passing year, a different discussion is taking place within the ruling political establishment and the military and intelligence apparatus. It centers on a proposal that Washington recruit factions of Al Qaeda—the group blamed for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 14 years ago—as its proxy troops in a simultaneous war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Bill Van Auken, a politician and activist and also a presidential candidate in the US election of 2004, has more revelations on the US’s hollow drumbeat of war against terrorism.

The point man for this scheme is David Petraeus, the retired four-star Army general who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency after postings as the US military commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The attention given to Petraeus’ proposal is indicative of the continuing influence that he wields within US ruling circles, despite his sacking as CIA director over illegally passing binders filled with highly classified information to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. He received only a misdemeanor conviction and a sentence of a $100,000 fine and two years probation for essentially the same offense for which Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. Manning leaked information documenting war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq in which Petraeus himself was among those most directly responsible.

In recent weeks, Petraeus has confirmed the thrust of a story that first appeared on the DailyBeast web site, which quoted unnamed sources in Washington to the effect that the retired general “has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria.”

Petraeus told CNN: “... it might be possible at some point to peel off so-called ‘reconcilables’ who would be willing to renounce Nusra and align with the moderate opposition, supported by the US and the coalition, to fight against Nusra, ISIL, and Assad.”

In promoting his plan, David Petraeus, the retired four-star Army general who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, boasts about the supposed “success” of his “surge” policy in Iraq. Some media liberals have feigned shock at Petraeus’ proposal to harness Al Qaeda to the US war wagon in Syria. In reality, the plan is fully in line with policies pursued both before and after 9/11 of using armed the so-called ‘Islamist’ factions to advance US imperialist interests in the Middle East.

Al Qaeda itself was the product of the CIA-orchestrated war waged by the so-called mujahideen against the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan that plunged that country into decades of war, costing millions of lives. Osama bin Laden worked closely with the CIA and its Pakistani and Saudi intelligence counterparts.

Well before that, US policy in the region was pursued through the support of the so-called ‘Islamist’ elements as a counterweight to nationalist and socialist movements in the Arab world. Washington covertly funded and mobilized right-wing elements as a crucial component of the CIA-backed 1953 coup that toppled the Mossadegh government, which had nationalized Western oil interests in Iran, ushering in the Shah’s 25-year dictatorship. In Egypt, it secretly supported some elements against the government of Col. Abdel Nasser, during the period when it nationalized the Suez Canal.

More recently, the Obama administration relied upon terrorist militias, including elements who had previously been targeted by Washington for their affiliation to Al Qaeda. Fresh from its “success” in murdering Gaddafi, destroying Libya’s government and plunging the country into bloody chaos that continues to this day, the White House and the CIA embarked on a similar venture in Syria, relying on similar elements.

Under the guiding hand of the CIA, Washington’s key regional allies—Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar—funneled billions of dollars worth of arms and aid into the Al-Nusra Front, ISIS and other terrorist militias, which have, from the beginning, served as the main fighting force in the Western-backed war for regime change in Syria.

With the rise of ISIS and its offensive in Iraq last year, the policy of aggression and subversion pursued by the Obama administration in the region produced a debacle. Billions of dollars more worth of US weaponry fell into the hands of ISIS from the Iraqi troops, who most probably been bribed or such a thing earlier.

The proposed turn to the Al-Nusra Front is a tacit admission that the so-called “moderate opposition,” touted for years by US officials, does not exist on the ground in Syria. The Pentagon’s abortive attempt to arm and train “vetted” rebels has proven an unmitigated fiasco, with the handful sent back into Syria being routed and captured by Al-Nusra, to which they swore fealty. The only indigenous force that has effectively resisted ISIS, the Kurdish militias, have themselves become the principal target of Washington’s main ally in the so-called war against ISIS, Turkey, which is concentrating its firepower on destroying them.

Petraeus is not alone in advocating a turn to Al Qaeda-linked elements to do Washington’s dirty work in Syria. Robert S. Ford, the US ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, drafted an article for Middle East Institute this summer calling for Washington to make an approach to Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of the Levant) another terrorist militia with its roots in Al Qaeda.
Ford acknowledges that Ahrar al-Sham advocates “an Islamic state in Syria” and a “theocracy,” but claims that it has “ideological and political differences” with Al-Nusra and Al Qaeda. He admits that its record is “problematic,” with its fighters massacring Alawi civilians and desecrating Christian sites, but points in their defense to a propaganda video showing “its fighters visiting priests.”

Ahrar al-Sham’s founders include Abu Khalid al Suri, who was designated as Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s representative in the Levant, and Abu Hafs al Masri, an Egyptian, who was a military commander and trainer for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Both have been killed in the last year fighting with the militia.

The call by key men of the state like the US general and Robert S. Ford, the US ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, for a more explicit turn to Al Qaeda-linked forces in Syria only underscores the complete fraud of the “war on terrorism.”
It likewise points to the real aims of US imperialism in its current war in Iraq and Syria. Washington is fighting neither against terrorism nor for “democracy” and “human rights.” It is prosecuting another predatory war of aggression aimed at securing a US stranglehold over the Middle East and its vast energy reserves; and thereby preparing for even more catastrophic conflicts with Russia and China.
EA

]]>
Commentaries Sun, 20 Sep 2015 11:15:32 +0000
Heated debates underway in US Congress on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/214731-heated-debates-underway-in-us-congress-on-joint-comprehensive-plan-of-action http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/214731-heated-debates-underway-in-us-congress-on-joint-comprehensive-plan-of-action

These days, heated debates are underway at the US Congress in opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. These debates forced the White House Spokesman, Josh Ernest, on Monday, to make a number of statements which are not appropriate as such for the White House. Ernest, in a press conference, on Monday, admitted that persuasion of the international community for re-implementation of sanctions against Iran, just because the US Congress has not approved the nuclear conclusion between Iran and 5+1 Group member states, is highly unlikely.

 

The White House spokesman also referred to wide-scale support of scientists, thinkers, engineers, experts, political and religious leaders, military and security advisers of the former US administrations and the international community for the historical nuclear conclusion between Iran and 5+1 Group member states.

On July 14, and at the end of Vienna negotiations, Iran and 5+1 Group member states reached a nuclear conclusion.

Currently, the number of US senators, supporting this agreement is on the rise. The US Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid, has voiced full support for the nuclear conclusion.

It can be said that the supporters of nuclear conclusion are rising in numbers in the US. According to Press TV News Network, more than fifty Christian leaders, in a letter to US Congress, have called on the Congressmen to approve the nuclear conclusion with Iran.

Meanwhile, the American officials are well-aware that the US can no longer impose its unilateral policies.

The fact of the matter is that Iran has never been and will never be after nuclear weapons. Such a baseless accusation has been leveled by the US against Iran in a futile bid to isolate Iran. But, this US strategy has been an utter failure.

Meanwhile, the US is the main nuclear threat and the only user of nuclear weapons. The US administration is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the region, creating terrorist outfits such as Al-Qaeda, and supporting the terrorist group, dubbed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL).

Meanwhile, the US president, Barack Obama, has also concluded that the 36-year enmity with Iran is doomed to fail.

MR/ME

]]>
Commentaries Tue, 25 Aug 2015 09:02:03 +0000
The US presidency for sale http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/213170-the-us-presidency-for-sale http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/213170-the-us-presidency-for-sale

The 2016 US presidential election will be the most expensive in history, costing an estimated $10 billion, when all spending by candidates, the Democratic and Republican parties, super PACs and other corporate lobbies and trade unions is arranged.

The vast sums being raised and spent by the Democratic and Republican candidates make a mockery of the claims that the United States is a democracy in which the people rule. It is big money that rules, dominating the entire process of selecting the candidates of the only two officially recognized parties and effectively determining the outcome of the vote on November 8, 2016. An article published by Counterpunch has more on the issue of a fact in the United States: Money Talks!

Of the $390 million raised so far, $300 million has gone to the 15 announced candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, while $90 million has gone to four Democrats, $71.5 million of that to the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The disparity is misleading: once the primary contest is over, and a Republican is selected to face Clinton, there will be billions spent on each side in the general election campaign.
The role of big money in the presidential campaign has become so obvious that even the corporate-controlled media can’t cover it up any longer. The Washington Post, for example, published a report July 16 whose headline left little to the imagination: “2016 fundraising shows power tilting to groups backed by wealthy elite.” The article noted that “independent” expenditures by so-called super PACs, political action committees loosely linked to the candidates, would for the first time exceed the spending by the candidates and their official campaign committees.
On the Republican side, the pace has been set by Jeb Bush, brother of former president George W. Bush and son of former president George H.W. Bush. His campaign and two associated super PACs raised $119 million during the second quarter of 2015, the largest amount ever raised for a presidential candidate so early in the campaign. Nearly all this money came from well-heeled donors: Bush himself gave more money to his own campaign than all of his small donors combined. Besides the billionaires and multi-millionaires who gave up to $1 million apiece to the super PAC, the limit set by the Bush campaign, Bush raked in cash from lobbyists representing finance, oil, wholesale, real estate and a raft of other industries.

Super PACs are the offspring of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and subsequent court actions, which effectively removed any limit on what billionaires and corporations can give to political action committees; donations to candidates themselves are still limited to $2,700.
Super PACs first played a significant role in 2012, mainly in the Republican primary campaign, where billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess kept Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in the field against Mitt Romney, himself a hedge fund boss and near-billionaire.
What is happening in 2016 is a further quantitative leap. Super PACs account for $230 million in funding for Republican candidates, compared to $65 million raised by the candidates themselves.
Every significant Republican candidate has a billionaire, except Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose occasional objections to US military adventures overseas have cut him off from such funding, causing his campaign prospects to fade rapidly.
Super PAC funding has made Jeb Bush the frontrunner, while also boosting Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio to the status of serious contenders. Another top Republican hopeful, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, collected in $20 million for his super PAC before declaring his candidacy July 13.

Super PACs will sustain at least another half dozen Republican candidates in the United States. Three billionaires are funding former Texas Governor Rick Perry, with $16 million of the $17 million he has raised. On the Democratic side, the same essential reality prevails, albeit masked by the pretense that the Democratic Party is the party of working people, and the populist rhetoric of some of the Democratic challengers to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Clinton’s fundraising has the same profile as the Republican candidates, with the difference that, not expecting a serious primary contest, Clinton’s strategists asked big money donors to hold their fire until the general election campaign. Most Democratic billionaires, like Warren Buffett, currency speculator George Soros, and investment banker Tom Steyer, are waiting until next year.
But Clinton has already collected in smaller amounts from media billionaires, hedge fund operators, and numerous other Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street moguls.
Just recently, Clinton posted on her campaign web site the names of 122 “bundlers” who raised at least $100,000 for her campaign in the second quarter. These included corporate lobbyists for Dow Chemical, Microsoft, Exxon, PepsiCo, Verizon and MasterCard, among many, many others. The identity of one “bundler” is telling: Steven Rattner, the investment banker who headed Obama’s auto task force that imposed 50 percent pay cuts on newly hired autoworkers.

Clinton’s main challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has no super PAC but raised $15.2 million anyway, mainly over the Internet. He actually raised more money than Clinton from small donors, those who gave less than $200. This shows that Sanders is performing his assigned function: using anti-billionaire rhetoric which includes refusing to have a super PAC, to attract those disaffected by the right-wing policies of the Obama administration, and bringing them back into the orbit of the Democratic Party.
This entire process has nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. It shows how the US financial aristocracy manipulates public opinion, seeking to preserve the illusion of popular choice in the presidential election behind the most transparent of fig leaves. In the meantime, the billionaires will put the candidates through their paces, selecting the individual they will install in the White House to do their bidding.
EA

]]>
Commentaries Thu, 23 Jul 2015 09:49:10 +0000
US presidential campaign begins: A travesty of democracy http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/207941-us-presidential-campaign-begins-a-travesty-of-democracy http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/207941-us-presidential-campaign-begins-a-travesty-of-democracy

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, formally announced her candidacy.

With a dozen candidates having announced or begun fundraising in the contest for the Republican nomination, Clinton’s official entry into the race marks the de facto beginning of the 2016 US presidential election campaign. A Canadian journalist and bureau chief for The Globe and Mail newspaper, Patrick Martin, has more disclosures on the outdated and money-based presidential campaign in the United States.

What will unfold over the next 19 months is a travesty of democracy. The American financial aristocracy will select the candidates of the two big-business parties, using its vast wealth and control of the media. This will culminate on November 8, 2016, when the voters will be given the “choice” between two individuals with nearly identical right-wing views, committed to the defense of Wall Street’s interests at home and abroad.
A staggering amount of money is required to be considered a “viable” presidential candidate. Ultra-right Texas Senator Ted Cruz vaulted onto that list by raising $31 million in the first week after announcing his candidacy. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother and son of former presidents, reportedly plans to raise $100 million in the April-June quarter alone, even before announcing his campaign for the Republican nomination.
By one published estimate, Hillary Clinton will raise and spend between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in the primary and general election campaigns, twice the amount Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each spent in 2012.
To raise these vast sums, all potential presidents must thus pass through a screening process that involves a few thousand billionaires and near-billionaires. According to a revealing report by the Washington Post, the so-called bundlers who played a vital role in earlier campaigns by combining donor checks into bundles totaling $100,000 or more are now generally ignored by the top candidates. Their cash input is considered insignificant compared to what the “super-PACs” can obtain in one check from billionaires such as the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and George Soros.
The financial oligarchy selects the possible candidates, a process now referred to as the “invisible primary,” and puts them through their paces, using various media-generated attacks and pseudo-scandals to determine which ones are best able to shake off external pressures, ignore public opinion and do the bidding of their corporate masters. Those selected are invariably right-wing, reliable defenders of corporate America, usually themselves millionaires or multimillionaires.

On the Republican side, the announced or likely candidates include four US senators—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham—and numerous governors and former governors, including Bush, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.
The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that Jeb Bush, who viciously attacked public education and supported the ultra-right campaign over the comatose Terri Schiavo, is now regarded as the leading “moderate.” His main competition for that role is Christie, promoted by the media as a “moderate” despite his savage attacks on social services and bullying of teachers and other public employees.
Those based primarily on ultra-right Tea Party and Christian fundamentalist elements include Cruz, who provoked a partial shutdown of the federal government in 2013, and Rand Paul, who recently called for a $190 billion increase in military spending. Those appealing to both the ultra-right and the Republican establishment include Rubio and Scott Walker. The Wisconsin governor, now running even or ahead of Bush in most polls, is best known for his attack on public employees in Wisconsin, which provoked a stormy mass movement in 2011.
On the Democratic side, Clinton is the prohibitive favorite, with the full backing of both the party establishment and Wall Street—and of the trade unions, which plan to spend several hundred million dollars squeezed out of their members to elect a Democratic president.

The former secretary of state and senator will seek to make much of her status as the first female presidential candidate of one of two corporate-controlled “major” parties. This merely copies the playbook of Obama, who became the first African-American commander-in-chief for American imperialism. While the American media—itself owned by giant corporations or billionaires like Rupert Murdoch—will portray the 2016 presidential as an exercise in democracy, the US political system can be more accurately described, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, as government “of the billionaires, by the billionaires and for the billionaires.”
There is little or no correlation between the political sentiments of the working people who constitute the vast majority of the American population and the policies advocated by the Democratic and Republican candidates for president.
By large margins, even in opinion polls conducted by the corporate-controlled media, the American people support sharp increases in taxes on the wealthy to fund social programs and provide jobs for the unemployed. They oppose cuts in Social Security and Medicare and view education, health care and other public services as basic rights; they oppose government spying on the telephone and Internet usage of ordinary Americans, as well as other police-state measures. The American people oppose overseas military interventions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates stand on the other side of the barricades on all these issues.

The electoral process effectively excludes any candidates who challenge the shabby capitalist system. Tens of millions of people support measures that can be achieved only through a struggle for the sake of the masses and not certain class of society. But the political monopoly of the two-party system prevents any consideration of such policies in the United States.
This political straitjacket has become increasingly intolerable. There are many signs of growing popular disaffection, from declining voter turnout to widespread support for courageous opponents of the emerging police state such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, the outbreak of strikes despite the efforts of the trade unions, and the wave of protests over police murders.
It requires ever-greater injections of media propaganda, fueled by billions in corporate cash, to maintain the domination of the Democrats and Republicans. But if nothing can be done through the existing political apparatus, this only means that mass discontent will find expression through an explosion that erupts outside of—and against—the state apparatus as a whole.

 

EA

]]>
Commentaries Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:02:45 +0000
Shutting down AIPAC: Removing Israel from American politics http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/206530-shutting-down-aipac-removing-israel-from-american-politics http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/206530-shutting-down-aipac-removing-israel-from-american-politics

The following is a lightly edited version of a speech Philip Giraldi gave on in Washington during the anti-AIPAC and Netanyahu visit demonstrations.

Two days later Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, cited later, was sitting in the House VIP visitors’ gallery beaming as he listened to Netanyahu’s love fest with Congress. It might have been the first time a clandestine agent for a foreign country who spied on the United States was so honored but Philip Giraldi would observe that the event was doubly significant in that the speaker Prime Minister Netanyahu was also involved in the same theft of American nuclear technology. Philip Giraldi, is a former military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. Let’s remind you that where ever we hear ‘I’ it is referring to Philip Giraldi.

I would like to concentrate on two issues. First is the nature of the special relationship between the Zionist regime of Israel and the United States and second is the role of the Israel Lobby and most particularly AIPAC in shaping that relationship. I was a foreign policy adviser for Ron Paul in 2008 and consider myself politically conservative. I respect the fact that nations must be responsive to their interests, but because of my personal experience of living and working overseas for many years I have come to recognize that the United States is an anomaly in that it persists in going around the world doing things that just do not make any sense. This has been particularly true during the past fourteen years, with invasions, interventions and targeted assassinations having become the preferred form of international discourse for Washington.
Many would agree with what I, Philip Giraldi, have just observed, but few recognize the role of the special relationship with Israel in shaping what the United States has become. Quite frankly, the relationship is both lopsided in terms of favoring perceived Israeli interests as well as being terrible for the long suffering Palestinians, very bad for the United States as it damages the American brand worldwide. I would first like to address the often repeated mantra that Israel is America’s best friend or closest ally as it is a bedrock issue that is frequently trotted out to excuse behavior that would otherwise be incomprehensible.

Apart from being a recipient of more than $3 billion per year from the US taxpayer, the usurper regime of Israel is no ally and never has been. There is no alliance of any kind with Israel, in part because Israel has a border that has been moving eastward for the past fifty years as it continues to absorb and usurp Palestinian land. Without an internationally recognized border it is impossible to define a relationship. Israel also has no strategic value to the United States, so to speak of an alliance, which posits reciprocity is ridiculous.
But that is not to say that Israel does not interact with Washington. Indeed, some might say that it is possesses a disproportionate voice relating to some foreign and domestic policies. The penchant to use force as a first option in international interactions is perhaps itself due to Washington imitating Tel Aviv or vice versa as neither the United States nor Israel seems any longer interested in diplomacy. American protection of Israel in international bodies like the United Nations is a disgrace, making the United States de facto complicit in Israeli violations of international law, to include its settlement expansion, as well as its war crimes. Under Bill Clinton the United States more or less adopted the Israeli model in dealing with oppositions, which consists of overwhelming armed response and no negotiations ever.
Deferring to Israel often results in U.S. policies that are absurd and highly damaging to other interests. One might well conclude that Israel is not only not an ally but also not much of a friend. It has run massive spying operations inside the United States to include hundreds of Art Students and celebrations by the employees of an Israeli moving firm located in New Jersey when the twin towers were going down. Israel is regularly named by the FBI as the most active friendly country in terms of running espionage operations against the U.S. but nothing ever happens. Israeli spies are sent home quietly and Americans who spy for Israel are rarely prosecuted.
Last year we witnessed Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen Arnon Milchan receiving an Oscar even as stories were circulating about his criminal collusion to obtain restricted American technology to enable Israel to build nuclear weapons. The US Justice Department has not seen fit to do anything about him.
Israel also has a hand in what is going on domestically in the United States. Many states now have their own departments of homeland security and many of the companies that obtain contracts to provide security services are Israeli. Airport security is a virtual Israeli monopoly. Increasingly militarized American police officers now use federal government grants to travel to occupied lands for training based on the Israeli experience with the Palestinians. Israelis have advised CIA and Pentagon torturers and Israeli advisers were also present at Abu Ghraib.

Israel’s influence over Washington policies frequently means war. American officials extremely close to the Israeli regime were behind the rush to war with Iraq. If Washington goes to war with any country, including peace-loving nation of Iran, it will not be because Tehran actually threatens America, it will be because Israel and its powerful lobby in the U.S. have succeeded in creating an essentially false case to mandate such action. Congress is obligingly advancing legislation that would commit the United States to intervene militarily in support of a unilateral Israeli attack anywhere, meaning that Israel could easily be empowered to make the decision on whether or not the U.S. goes to war.
The Zionist regime of Israel interferes in American elections, in 2012 on behalf of Mitt Romney, and also recently by aligning itself with the Republicans against the President of the United States to harden existing policy against Iran. Looking ahead to elections in 2016, two pro-Israel Zionist billionaires have already stated clearly that they will spend whatever they have to elect the candidate that is best for Israel. As Sheldon Adelson is a Republican and Haim Saban is a Democrat both major parties are covered and I would warn “Watch out for Hillary,” Saban’s candidate of choice.
Israel has corrupted the US congress. Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rebukes and belittles the US head of state, its government ministers insult and ridicule John Kerry, and its intelligence officers have free access to Capitol Hill where they provide alarmist and inaccurate private briefings for American legislators. In short, Israel has no reluctance to use its enormous political and media clout in the US to pressure successive administrations to conform to its own foreign and security policy views.
Philip Giraldi, is a former military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, went on to say: Beyond the corruption of the US political process, I believe many in this room would agree that the depiction and treatment of the Palestinians has been disgraceful. Israel has engaged in land and water theft and is doing its best to make Palestinian life so miserable that they will all decide to leave. Some would describe that as ethnic cleansing. Just a few days ago, there were reports of how Israeli authorities cut off water and electricity to parts of the West bank and also won a bogus court case in New York City that will bankrupt the Palestinian authority. Most Americans would be appalled if they knew how Palestinians really have been treated.
How does all this happen? Because of money which enables the Israel firsters to control the media and buy the US politicians. American media corporations and national politics are in fact totally corrupted by money and the control that it buys and not just on behalf of Israel. One would have to be blind not to recognize that fact. This is where groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee better known as AIPAC come in. AIPAC is only one part of the octopus like Israel Lobby but it might well be regarded as the most effective component. AIPAC has an annual budget of $70 million and 200 full time employees. Congressmen know that crossing the Israeli Lobby is career damaging.
Philip Giraldi, is a former CIA military intelligence officer, concluded saying: There is no easy solution to this, however. All the candidates were vetted for their views on Israel well before the voting took place. As it seems, the US Congress is an organization that is brazenly promoting the interests of a criminal regime at the expense of the American people.  
EA

]]>
Commentaries Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:24:32 +0000
The American Empire is a threat to every nation’s security http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/206300-the-american-empire-is-a-threat-to-every-nation’s-security http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/206300-the-american-empire-is-a-threat-to-every-nation’s-security

US President Barack Obama just declared Venezuela a threat to US national security, which is code word for any smaller, less powerful nation possessing balls enough to thumb its nose at the Empire bully America.

The lie of accusing another sovereign nation as a threat to US national security like clockwork is the first step toward levying economic sanctions. Cuba, Iran, Syria and Russia come readily to mind. This petty, tit for tat politics game comes only a week after Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro announced a drastic downsizing of US embassy employees and that tourist visas for any Americans traveling to his country would be required, not exactly actions posing much of a “threat” to America. In fact Maduro is exercising remarkable restraint considering that Canada and the US attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan president on Valentine’s Day last month. But with rejuvenated resolve and concerted focus the United States is once again intent on bringing Maduro down. Joachim Hagopian, a West Point graduate and former US Army officer, has written an informative article in this regard.

Obama has been hypocritically playing the ethics card again, accusing the Maduro government of being corrupt and guilty of egregious human rights violations, everything that the US is guilty of in spades. Again Obama can hardly take any higher moral ground on human rights issues when he leads the nation that imprisons one quarter of the world’s prison population despite comprising only 5% of the total global population. Civil liberties are fast disappearing in the prison-industrial complex of America amidst an increasing hostile police state where US law enforcement’s been steadily arming and militarizing to make war against its own citizens who risk death from police bullets at a rate 55 times greater than from any so-called terrorist and 100 times more likely to be killed by police than citizens from any other industrialized nation. Where half the current prison population is of the same race he is, Barack Obama should be the last one to criticize any nation for its human rights record when a stronger case can be argued that it’s the United States that is the worst human rights violator on the planet. No other nation on earth has violated and destroyed more human lives and nations than US Empire’s killing machine.
According to a study nearly a decade ago, the US has accounted for an estimated 30 million deaths around the globe just since World War II. With thousands more US inflicted casualties since that statistic was released, the murder capital of the world with all its exceptionalism just keeps on killing. And no other nation on earth even remotely comes close to the dubious distinction of being at war 93% of its time in existence.

Every single country in this world that in any way resists the Empire’s relentless onslaught to make it another indebted globalist puppet state is targeted in its crosshairs. While the neocon overthrow in Ukraine was unfolding last year, the double hat trick in-the-making to also remove from power Venezuela’s Maduro was barely being thwarted but successfully averted. All the same subversive US tactics were being simultaneously deployed in both countries with different outcomes – pouring unlimited cash into the nations through CIA and State Department NGO’s, inside false flag snipers murdering street protesters in order to blame government security forces. It is coupled with a steady feed of social media lies and propaganda, and monetary manipulation through high inflation while creating acute food supply shortages. It was close to a coup in Caracas but no cigar for the US neocon criminals last month or last year.
Similar to Syria’s Bashar al Assad, Nicolas Maduro’s post- Chavez government has remained in power much to Empire’s chagrin despite being permanently targeted for regime change. All the more reason a year later to hone in on twisting the screws a little tighter on Venezuela. With civil liberties and human rights declining across the boards globally, Venezuela has been among the nations close to democracy with its own nationalized oil company. Up until his death two years ago, during his 14 years as head of state despite a couple unsuccessful US sponsored coup attempts, Hugo Chavez brought significant economic and social progress to his country.

Containing the world’s largest reserves of crude oil and owning the US company Citgo as its subsidiary, the big boys like Exxon and Shell have been locked out of the rich oil nation on earth and for that reason alone, Chavez and Maduro’s Venezuela has long been the biggest hemispheric thorn in America’s side. Under Hugo Chavez, oil profits went to the people of Venezuela to build schools and hospitals and improve their quality of life rather than filling the rich pockets of Big Oil or certain OPEC allies that finance and sponsor terrorism. And that made war criminals George W. Bush and his pal, Dick Cheney, hopping mad, especially after Chavez addressing the United Nations General Assembly nearly a decade ago brazenly yet accurately “outed” Bush as “the devil.”  And ever since Chavez’ successor replaced him, the United States has been gunning to overthrow Nicolas Maduro.
But then seeking or more like causing regime changes at will has long been a United States foreign policy trademark. Even prior to this century, Wesley Clark’s 2007 revelation spilled the beans on that infamous neocon list to take down seven sovereign nations in five years that to this day under Obama is still being faithfully executed. Obama has dutifully followed the same neocon agenda as his Bush-Cheney predecessor. Be it through CIA and/or other government rogue agency insiders, US coups d’état through violent assassination of democratically elected leaders abound. Even more common are the dozens of politically conventional CIA-State Department induced overthrows like Ukraine last year.

For more than a century the US Empire has been steeped in the tradition of regime change all over the world in order to increase and maintain ruthless hegemonic control at all cost. Chalk it up to US exceptionalism. Be it Syria, Iran, Russia, North Korea or Cuba, all of these nations have shown far more resilience, self-sufficiency and defiant independence than the United States would ever care to admit. Despite years of economic sanctions, countless threats and demonizing propaganda, these nations have managed to survive and progress despite the relentless brute force tactics displayed by the global village bully turned self-anointed sole global superpower. All these nations have stood tall despite being targeted with nonstop superpower aggression.
But, the geopolitics chessboard is tipping decidedly in favor of the East now. With the hording gold run picking up momentum, China and India have accumulated thousands of tons of gold. According to renowned geopolitical expert F. William Engdahl, Russia is experiencing a surprisingly remarkable renaissance. The economic alliance of the emerging powerhouse BRICS nations merging behind the renewed partnership strength of Russia and China are leading the way toward global independence from the Western central banking cabal’s US dollar chokehold as standard international currency.
To sum, the global balance of power is dramatically shifting and the US Empire is desperately lashing out as it rapidly free falls towards impending collapse.

EA

]]>
Commentaries Sun, 15 Mar 2015 16:04:42 +0000
Political significance of US oil workers’ strike http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/204685-political-significance-of-us-oil-workers’-strike http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/204685-political-significance-of-us-oil-workers’-strike

More than 5,000 refinery workers in the United States are striking against the largest oil conglomerates in the world in a fight for improved living standards and working conditions.

Although the United Steelworkers, USW, leadership has deliberately limited the struggle—calling out less than one-fifth of the 30,000 oil workers it organizes—the strike is a harbinger of a renewal of open class struggle in the United States with far-reaching implications in the US and internationally. Jerry White, an American political activist and co-founder of Survivor Corps, has written an informative and disclosing feature in this regard. Jerry White is a recognized leader of the historic International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and co-founder of Survivor Corps.

The strike and other signs of working-class opposition, including the brewing struggle of West Coast dockworkers, are manifestations of the pent-up anger of workers who have suffered through the longest period of wage stagnation since the Great Depression, even as corporate profits and the stock markets soar in the sixth year of a supposed economic recovery.

In recent months, major think tanks and corporate-controlled publications have warned about the danger of “wages push” by American workers in 2015. Late last year, US President Barack Obama held a meeting with the Business Roundtable—which includes top executives from Big Oil—where he complained there was a “disquiet in the general public” over the fact that “wages and incomes still haven’t gone up significantly.”

While Obama has since issued meaningless rhetoric about “inclusive prosperity” and “middle class economics,” his policy has been to transform American workers into a highly exploited cheap labor force. The relentless lowering of wages, begun with Obama’s restructuring of the auto industry, has led to the record corporate profits.

Even though the drop in oil prices has affected their earnings, the big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell—made $89.7 billion in profits last year. While spending tens of billions on stock buybacks and dividends for their super-rich investors, they are drawing a line in the sand against any raises for workers.

The White House has urged the oil companies and the United Steelworkers “to resolve their differences using the time-tested process of collective bargaining.” This only means that Obama is looking to the “time-tested” United Steelworkers bureaucracy—whose president, Leo Gerard, sits on Obama’s corporate competitiveness board—to strangle the strike before it can become a catalyst for a wider movement over wages.

The fact that the oil strike has broken out at all is significant. For more than 30 years the class struggle in the US has been suppressed by trade unions, which have functioned as direct adjuncts of the corporations and the state in the systematic destruction of workers’ living standards. Every aspect of life—above all, the explosive growth of social inequality—has been affected by the virtual exclusion of any organized working-class resistance.

Nothing the working class ever gained—the right to organize, the eight-hour day, decent wages, pensions, public education and other social rights—was achieved through the beneficence of the ruling class and the government. It was only wrenched through mass struggles. So fierce were these battles—which characterized much of American history from the 1870s to the 1980s—that they were generally referred to as “labor wars.”

The breakthrough eighty years ago with the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, CIO, was the result of a series of semi-insurrectional struggles in Toledo, Minneapolis and San Francisco. This was followed by the sit-down strikes in Flint, Michigan, which implicitly challenged the private property of the capitalist owners. Then, in 1937, Chicago cops brutally attacked striking steelworkers, leaving 10 unarmed workers dead in the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.

However, the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations remained subordinate to the Democratic Party, and this political alliance had far-reaching implications for the labor movement. The alliance with the Democrats, a capitalist party, meant an abandonment of any fundamental change in social relations, and the new unions quickly made their peace with American capitalism. This was cemented in the purging of the socialist pioneers who built the industrial unions and the alliance of the Congress of Industrial Organizations with American imperialism. The merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1955 marked the final repudiation of any radical social struggle.  

The crisis of the labor movement was exacerbated by the decline in the global position of the United States in the 1960s and 1970s and the end of the period of the postwar boom, when American imperialism held unquestionable sway over the world economy. When the American ruling class abandoned its policy of class compromise and adopted an aggressive policy of class war—symbolized by Reagan’s 1981 firing of 13,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers—the trade unions not only capitulated; they aided and abetted these attacks.

In the name of boosting the “competitiveness” and profitability of US corporations, the AFL-CIO deliberately isolated and betrayed strike after strike—PATCO, Phelps Dodge, AT Massey, Hormel, Eastern Airlines, Pittston and countless others. The cumulative impact was the transformation of the unions into organizations that in no way represented the working class.

The betrayals provided a lucrative path for union bureaucrats, who had no association with any form of class struggle, directly into the structure of corporate management and the capitalist state. As a result, strikes, which were a common feature of American life for a century, have virtually disappeared. The United Steelworkers is a case in point. Far from opposing the dismantling of the steel industry, the United Steelworkers, USW, colluded with Wall Street and corporate asset strippers to wipe out the jobs and pensions of hundreds of thousands of workers, while preserving the interests of the union executives.

The dissolution of the American labor movement was part of an international process. The global integration of capitalist production undermined the nationally based unions in every country. In order to attract investment, the unions have all been transformed into a labor police force to suppress the class struggle and lower workers’ living standards.

Along with the degeneration of the unions there has been a parallel development in the ranks of the middle-class “left” organizations, which have written off the working class and obsessively focused their attention on race, gender and everything but class. Many of these pseudo-left forces have found lucrative careers trying to keep workers tied to the discredited trade unions.

Now this “sleeping giant”, the American working class, is stirring once again. This will bring to the fore the basic yet unmentionable contradictions of American political and social life: the class struggle. The reawakening of the working class, strategically located in the center of world imperialism, is a powerful threat to the American ruling elite, which will no longer be the unchallenged master in its own house.

The movement of the American masses, better to read ‘working class,’ is being driven by a profound economic logic. The myth of the land of unlimited opportunity has long been dissipated. Several generations of workers have known nothing but the relentless decay of their living standards. The long suppression of the class struggle by the trade unions has not done away with social tensions, but only ensured that, once released, they will take on an ever more revolutionary character. The reemergence of social struggle raises complex and difficult political questions. It is necessary to reconnect with the immense traditions of class conflict in the United States, while absorbing and learning from the lessons of history.

The development of efforts in the working class will require a relentless exposure of the role of the trade unions and a determined campaign to break their stranglehold over the working class. It requires the fight to develop an understanding among workers of the fundamental political questions at stake, that “to secure their interests workers must embark on a path aimed at taking political power” and “reorganizing society internationally on the basis of real principles of equality.

It is to this basic task that the masses are seemingly dedicated, as they displayed their hatred towards the imperialist, capitalist system of ruling in the United States through different sit-ins and rallies. However, the rallies turned violent most of the time with police heavy crackdown. The protestors chanted “We are the 99%”, which is a political slogan widely used and coined by the Occupy movement. The phrase directly refers to the US income inequality and wealth inequality in the US with a concentration of wealth among the top earning 1%. It reflects an opinion that the "99%" are paying the price for the mistakes of a tiny minority within the upper class.
EA

]]>
Commentaries Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:39:25 +0000
Americans threatened with home foreclosures http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/202656-americans-threatened-with-home-foreclosures http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/202656-americans-threatened-with-home-foreclosures

According to data compiled by Loveland Technologies, one in seven Detroit residents is threatened with eviction due to tax foreclosure in 2015.

Last fall, Michigan’s Wayne County, which includes the city of Detroit, served foreclosure notices on a record 75,000 homes, which will take effect later this year. Sixty-two thousand of the homes are in Detroit, and nearly 36,000 are confirmed occupied by an estimated 100,000 residents. Here’s more on this.

The mass foreclosures come in the wake of Detroit’s precedent-setting municipal bankruptcy proceedings—the largest in US history—in which city worker pensions were looted and the city’s assets hived off to private entities. They are part of the effort to squeeze every penny possible from the working class to ensure the continued flow of profits to the wealthy landowners, speculators, and creditors who control Detroit.

Last year, the city’s water department, under the direction of Detroit’s unelected emergency manager, shut off water service to tens of thousands of city residents behind on their water bills. During the bankruptcy hearing it was revealed that this brutal policy was carried out in coordination with several Wall Street credit rating agencies to clear up “delinquent” accounts, improve the city’s borrowing rates and make the water department a more attractive target for privatization.
Poor residents who were as little as $150 behind on their water bills were shut off immediately, while major corporate customers owing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, including GM and Chrysler, were not shut off. Both the water shutoffs and foreclosures are part of a long-standing plan to “downsize” Detroit by shutting off essential public services to entire neighborhoods deemed to under-populated or poor for commercial investment.

According to Michigan State law, properties with three years’ worth of unpaid back-taxes must be foreclosed and auctioned. However, many properties do not sell at auction. In 2014, Detroit’s tax auction resulted in the sale and closure of 8,453 out of more than 23,000 foreclosed homes. Roughly $198 million in taxes on the unsold homes were not collected.

Additionally, many of those who buy houses at the annual auctions are themselves unable to pay the back taxes, and the properties wind up back on the auction block with no taxes collected. While this scenario applies to many homeowners, it is also a way for real estate speculators and slumlords to purchase foreclosed property on the cheap at auction, pocket a year’s worth of rent from tenants, allow the property to return to auction and optionally bid on it again to repeat the process.

In December, Detroit’s Democratic Party mayor, Mike Duggan, succeeded in lobbying Michigan’s state legislature to pass legislation designed to increase the amount of taxes collected from delinquent homeowners. Duggan told the Michigan Senate’s Finance Committee “Nobody’s paying $17,000 in back taxes on a house that’s worth $40,000“. The bills would extend the amount of time for property owners to pay up, reduce the interest rate penalty for overdue bills from 18 percent to 6 percent, and cap bills at 25 percent of the home’s fair market value. While Duggan is presenting the legislation as a way to “keep people in their homes,” he admitted to the Finance Committee that even with the reduction in fines most homeowners will not be able to catch up and avoid foreclosure.

Wayne County’s chief deputy Treasurer, David Szymanski, estimated the fine reductions would allow just 11,000 of the Detroit homes, 18 percent, to avoid immediate foreclosure, leaving many tens of thousands facing eviction. He said “Basically this is a method of clearing out bad debt, debt that would otherwise be written off.”

There is also the potential for property owners to enroll in the new payment plan, begin paying off their back taxes, and then still fall behind and lose their homes anyway. The legislation’s interest rate penalty reduction is to be offered only through June 30, 2016. If homeowners default on their payments, the 18 percent rate is restored. Another Democrat State Representative Phil Cavanaugh said “The passage of these bills means that real relief is coming to those who need it without any more excuses of why it can’t be done.”
According to Curbed Detroit, the 75,000 Wayne County foreclosures set for 2015—up 34 percent from the 2014 figure—represent $326.4 million in total unpaid taxes. The fraction of this that is ultimately collected through Duggan’s payment plans will not be invested in improving city services or crumbling infrastructure, but rather will service the city’s debt to bondholders, and subsidize private business interests like Rock Ventures/Quicken Loans, DTE, Detroit Medical Center, and Comerica Bank.

In their study of the Detroit bankruptcy, think tank Demos reported that an estimated $20 million in subsidies doled out annually by the city to private business interests was a major factor in the city’s revenue shortfall, the justification for the bankruptcy. The City of Detroit also incurred $177 million in legal fees during the bankruptcy.

The figure of 100,000 potential foreclosures victims is likely an underestimation. Detroit is home to an unknown but large number of squatters living in homes that are supposedly unoccupied. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, John Adamo Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Detroit-based demolition company Adamo Group, estimated that squatters lived in five to ten percent of the 80,000 structures targeted by the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, DBRTF, for destruction.

The Obama White House-created DBRTF is co-chaired by multibillionaire real estate and home loan tycoon Dan Gilbert. It was provided half a billion dollars for demolition through the bankruptcy, for the essential purpose of raising the value of property in the city, including that of Gilbert’s own 60-plus buildings downtown.

Applying Adamo’s estimated squatting rates to the 26,000 foreclosure-threatened homes that are supposed to be vacant means thousands of more residents will be thrown into the streets. Approximately 20,000 Detroiters are already homeless, a staggering 2.9 percent of the city’s population. Twenty-five percent of the city’s homeless are children. A tent city appeared last month in Lafayette Park downtown.

Although the city is no longer under the control of an emergency manager, all economic decisions are overseen by a financial oversight committee, which consists of the mayor and city council president and several figures appointed by the governor.
For all intents and purposes it is a continuation of the financial dictatorship of the banks, with unilateral power to tear up labor agreements and other contracts and divert what little money is earmarked for the repair of the city’s decayed infrastructure to debt servicing.
EA

]]>
Commentaries Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:57:18 +0000
Cheney on CIA torture: “I’d do it again in a minute” http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/201453-cheney-on-cia-torture-“i’d-do-it-again-in-a-minute” http://english.irib.ir/voj/commentaries/item/201453-cheney-on-cia-torture-“i’d-do-it-again-in-a-minute”

The interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program showed both the unapologetic savagery of American imperialism and its deepening crisis.

Cheney defended the Bush administration’s CIA torture program against its partial exposure through the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report that documents the criminality of CIA operatives and their political masters, including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney himself. Patrick Martin, a Canadian journalist and bureau chief for The Globe and Mail newspaper, has more disclosures on the issue.

Asked about particular torture methods, Cheney repeatedly defended such horrific and illegal actions as waterboarding, hanging prisoners by their arms from an overhead bar for 22 hours straight, and the procedure described as “involuntary rectal feeding,” which he claimed was “done for medical reasons.”
One remarkable exchange with interviewer Chuck Todd went as follows:
Todd said: Let me read you another one here. With Abu Zubaydah, over a 20-day period, aggressive interrogations. Spent a total of 266 hours, 11 days, two hours, in a large coffin-sized confinement box, 29 hours in a small confinement box, width of 21 inches, depth of 2.5 feet, height of 2.5 feet. That's on page 42. Is that going to meet the standard of the definition of torture?
Cheney replied: “I think that was, in fact, one of the approved techniques”.
When asked about the CIA’s own admission that at least one-quarter of the prisoners detained and abused at its secret “black sites” were innocent of any connection to terrorism, Cheney replied, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.” He reiterated, “I’d do it again in a minute.”

The former vice president seemed especially infuriated by the suggestion that the CIA had lied to the White House about what it was doing at its secret prisons. He went out of his way to declare, even boast, that he and President George W. Bush were fully informed of what the CIA was doing and approved it every step of the way.

Again from the “Meet the Press” transcript:
Cheney went on to say: The notion that we were not notified at the White House about what was going on is not true. I sat through a lengthy session in ‘04 with the inspector general of the CIA as he reviewed the state of the program at that time. The suggestion, for example, that the president didn’t approve it, wrong. That’s a lie, that’s not true… There would be special meetings from time to time on various subjects that he would be directly involved in. This man knew what we were doing. He authorized it; he approved it.

These statements should be entered as evidence at a future war crimes prosecution of Bush, Cheney and all those associated with the American torture enterprise. When faced with the suggestion by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture that Bush administration officials—including himself—should be prosecuted, Cheney was contemptuous, but also defensive. He described it as “an outrageous proposition” that former US government officials even had to answer such questions.

On at least five occasions—particularly when pressed to respond to a specific method of torture—he tried to change the subject to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which have become the all-purpose excuse for every crime committed by American imperialism.

Cheney cited as proof that the Bush administration did not torture the legal opinions issued the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that “specifically authorized and okayed… exactly what we did.” In other words, the president’s own lawyers, acting on his instructions, found that his orders to the CIA were legal. In the same fashion, the Obama White House engineered a finding by the Office of Legal Counsel that the president could legally order the drone missile assassination of an American citizen.

There was little to distinguish Cheney’s arguments from the type of self-justification offered by the Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg Tribunal following World War II. Every action they took, Goering, Keitel, Frank and others declared, was justified by the necessities of war against a savage enemy. Every action was in accordance with the legal principles laid down by the Third Reich. Those further down the Nazi chain of command, like the CIA operatives and contractors who actually carried out the torture at the secret prisons, would plead that they were “just following orders.”

There is no reason to limit this comparison to the officials and operatives of the Bush administration. The Obama administration too consists of war criminals and their apologists. As one Bush defender pointed out in the panel discussion that followed Cheney’s appearance, under Obama, the US government is using drones to blow up its targets “and their families at picnics and weddings,” rather than capture them and torture them.

Obama himself reassured the torturers and murderers of both administrations that there would be no consequences for their actions, declaring within months of taking office that he would “look forward, not backward” on the crimes of the Bush era. This gave the green light to the CIA to shift its focus from waterboarding to drone missile assassinations.

The Obama’s Justice Department issued an official statement after the release of the 528-page unclassified executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee study, saying it had found no new information in either it or the full 6,700-page report. The department said “Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed”.

The US Justice Department said that if a foreign court took action against former or current US government officials, citing the evidence provided by the Senate report, the United States would raise “jurisdictional and other legal defenses to prevent unwarranted prosecution …”
These statements confirm that no government of the American financial aristocracy will take action against the crimes committed in its name. In order to hold the war criminals, murderers and torturers accountable, it is necessary to build up a broad-based movement from below, and of course an international body that works not under dominance of the world powers, the US in particular, and can be trusted on by all nations around the globe.

EA

]]>
Commentaries Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:24:12 +0000