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Whither Privacy? Physician Shadowing in an Age of Moral Bankruptcy

Amazing Things are Happening Here. — Motto of Weill Cornell and New York-Presbyterian Countless times as a patient both at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell in...

Puerto Rico's Bankruptcy Will Make Hurricane Recovery Brutal — Here's Why

Aerial photo of the floadings in the costal town of Loiza, in the north shore of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico...

Roads & pensions swept up in Puerto Rico’s $123bn bankruptcy

Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy process has spread to the territory’s pension system and highway authority, bringing the amount involved to over $120 billion and far...
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Video: Puerto Rico’s Financial Future Now in the Hands of a Single Judge Overseeing...

http://democracynow.org - Puerto Rico has announced plans to close 179 public schools just days after filing for a form of bankruptcy protection, seeking to...

Puerto Rico to shut 179 schools, relocate 27k students amid historic bankruptcy

The largest mass shuttering of public schools in Puerto Rico’s history follows the island declaring bankruptcy...

Biggest Losers From the Puerto Rican Bankruptcy

Back in 2013, markets tumbled (if briefly) on the news that Detroit would file for bankruptcy, at the time the biggest municipal bankruptcy in...

‘Breaking point’: Puerto Rico files for historic $70bn bankruptcy

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is seeking the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in US history, after failed negotiations with creditors over its $70 billion...

Nuclear Power Bums, Bailouts and Bankruptcy

Photo by Mark Goebel | CC BY 2.0 You have to hand it to the nuclear industry for socializing costs and privatizing profits. Last year,...

Westinghouse Bankruptcy Leaves Costly Nuclear Mess for Southern Utility Customers

Federal and state officials who oversee nuclear power can't say they weren't warned that financial disaster was a very real possibility should they approve...

Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding

(Photo: Jeffery Scism) You don't need an ad blocker to view Truthout, because we don't run advertisements. In fact, we refuse all corporate-interest...

Historic East Cleveland, Ohio: A city in decline faces bankruptcy

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. In the shadow of the Republican National Convention Leah Jeresova Cleveland, the second...

Organizers Say Peabody Coal Will Not Escape Justice Through Bankruptcy

Protesters shut down traffic outside Peabody Coal's headquarters during rush hour on on April 21, 2016 -- with a fence bearing their...

Obamacare bankrupting health insurers, too: Largest insurer loses $1 billion a year, says it’s...

Americans who are suffering rate increases and higher out-of-pocket expenses thanks to the healthcare "reforms" of the "Affordable" Care Act, are about to get...
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Video: Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis is Focus of 2 Congressional Hearings as Dems Propose...

http://democracynow.org - Democracy Now! co-host Juan González reports Congress held two hearings on the Puerto Rican debt crisis Thursday after House ... Via Youtube

Walter Energy bankruptcy threatens thousands of workers and retirees

By Shelley Connor Bankruptcy proceedings for Birmingham, Alabama-based Walter Energy could have serious consequences for both retired and current employees. Throughout 2015, the struggling company laid off...

Arch Coal Bankruptcy: The End of an Era

Longview, WA - Arch Coal, Inc., the second largest coal supplier in the United States, announced today that it would be filing for bankruptcy...

State officials, Wall Street target Detroit schools for bankruptcy restructuring

By Nancy Hanover The Detroit News revealed this week that Detroit Public Schools (DPS) debt payments will balloon from $6.6 million to $26.8 million a month...
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Video: Days of Revolt: The Moral Bankruptcy of the Left on Prostitution

In this episode of teleSUR's Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges and anti-prostitution advocates Lee Lakeman and Alice Lee discuss the Left's absence in confronting...

US bankruptcy judge overturns A&P supermarket labor agreements

By Alan Whyte A federal bankruptcy judge has recently made a number of rulings in favor of the US supermarket chain A&P (Great Atlantic & Pacific...

The G20 summit: A spectacle of political bankruptcy

Nick Beams The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers held in Ankara, Turkey over the weekend underscored the inability of the major capitalist...

Pennsylvania school district faces bankruptcy amid budget deficit

Many schools in the US state of Pennsylvania are on the brink of collapse due to the state government’s failure to pay subsidies. One of...

Second-largest US coal producer files for bankruptcy

By Andre Damon Alpha Natural Resources, America’s biggest producer of metallurgical coal and the country's second-largest coal producer, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday. The bankruptcy filing...

Pope Francis Calls for Global Bankruptcy Process

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis called for an international bankruptcy process in a news conference as he left Latin America on Monday. According to the...
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Video: Is Puerto Rico America’s Greece? U.S. Commonwealth Seeks Bankruptcy Help in Face of...

http://democracynow.org - Puerto Rico could be on the verge of following Greece in defaulting on its debt. Puerto Rico's government and the Puerto Rico...
April 16, 2015. British farmer John Kopiski, Russian citizen since 1997, during the annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin special broadcast in the main studio of Moscow

‘Bankruptcy closer every day, and you believe statistics?’

An expat Englishman, who runs a farm not far from Moscow, has grilled the Russian president and asked where Putin gets his statistics. The farmer...

Judge boasts of his “political” role in Detroit bankruptcy conspiracy

by Shannon Jones Recent remarks by US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes further confirm the assessment made by the World Socialist Web Site of the anti-democratic...

The US forced bankruptcy of Argentina

Ellen Brown  RINF Alternative News If Argentina were in a high-stakes chess match, the country’s actions this week would be the equivalent of flipping over all...

Financial meltdown threatened by bankruptcy of any Wall Street bank

Gabriel Black The US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in conjunction with the Federal Reserve, announced last week that the major banks had failed to...

‘Moral bankruptcy of capitalism’: UK’s top public doctor shames western society over Ebola

Western countries should tackle drugs firms’ “scandalous” reluctance to invest in research into the virus which has already killed over 700 people in West...

For a political struggle by Detroit workers against Orr’s bankruptcy plan

Jerry White The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is demanding a new labor agreement through 2018 that would strip DWSD workers of whatever job protection...

The Gaza war crimes and the bankruptcy of nationalism

The Palestinian territory of Gaza is the scene of war crimes committed by the state of Israel that defy words. What is to be...

General Motors CEO says company will use bankruptcy to shield itself from lawsuits

Gabriel Black Last Thursday, General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra told a Senate hearing that GM would use its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization to shield itself...

Detroit city worker union pushes bankruptcy restructuring plan

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union has reached a deal with Detroit’s emergency manager for new labor agreements covering...

Detroit officials agree at DIA press conference: Workers must pay for bankruptcy

Larry Porter and Jerry White A press conference at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Rivera Court on Monday was called by city officials to...

Bankruptcy court approves new appraisal of Detroit Institute of Arts collection

Thomas Gaist The city of Detroit’s bankruptcy lawyers are involved in renewed efforts to appraise the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts on behalf...

French neo-fascist victory in European elections exposes bankruptcy of ruling elite

Alex Lantier Sunday’s first-place finish by the neo-fascist National Front (FN) in the European elections in France is a devastating exposure of the bankruptcy of...

Detroit bankruptcy judge considers $85 million payment to global banks

Thomas Gaist at the Federal Court  US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes heard arguments Thursday over a proposed payment by the city Detroit of $85 million...

Rome at risk of Detroit-style bankruptcy

Marc Wells RINF Alternative News The newly appointed, unelected government of Democrat prime minister Matteo Renzi has approved a decree last Friday, the so-called Salva-Roma ter (Rescue Rome...

The Workers Inquiry into the bankruptcy of Detroit

On Saturday, the Socialist Equality Party in the US is holding a Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Attack on the DIA...

Exposing the Bankers’ Conspiracy: A Report on the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of...

RINF Alternative News Public Meetings at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and International Youth and Students for Social...

Week After West Virginia Chemical Spill, Company Files for Bankruptcy

Andrea Germanos RINF Alternative News Freedom Industries, the company behind the chemical leak last week in West Virginia's Elk River, filed for bankruptcy on Friday, the Charleston...

Video: Workers Inquiry into the Detroit Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy judge has rubber-stamped plans to steal the pensions of Detroit workers and sell off the city's cultural heritage. Now it's time for...

Democrats’ Moral-Political Bankruptcy

An end-of-year article in the New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Michael D. Shear's “Minimum Wage Key to Democrats' 2014 Strategy,” (30 Dec.), enables...

Amid Detroit’s Bankruptcy, A New Vibrancy Emerges

Here’s my article that was just published by the Heartland Institute, a conservative-libertarianish think tank in Chicago. In spite of the same-old, same-old media garbage about Detroit grabbing the usual headlines, it’s interesting to note that so many free-market organizations, online papers, magazines, websites, etc. are interested in all of the good things going on here [...]

Detroit bus drivers speak out on bankruptcy, crisis in city bus system

“What you have now is not a true government,...

The Bankruptcy of the West’s Syrian Policy

The final bankruptcy of American and British policy in Syria came 10 days ago as Islamic Front, a Saudi-backed Sunni jihadi group, overran the...

Detroit firefighters, city workers speak out on bankruptcy decision

Detroit fire firefighters and workers at the city's giant sewerage treatment plant spoke out last week on the December 3 decision by US Judge...

The Detroit “Bankruptcy” Distracts from Attack on Constitution: The Unelected “Czar of Detroit”:

“Through its provisions, Public Act 436 establishes a new form of local government, previously unknown within the United States or the State of Michigan,...

Before Detroit bankruptcy Democratic Party-led task force demanded huge pension cuts

By Thomas Gaist 11 December 2013 Last week's sanctioning of the Detroit bankruptcy by US Judge Steven Rhodes and his ruling that public employee pensions can...

Detroit bankruptcy bankrupts democracy

Protestors in Detroit last month objected to plans to cut pension benefits of city workers and retirees. Detroit elected a new mayor November 5 and...

Detroit bankruptcy ruling triggers calls for pension cuts across the US

By Jerry White6 December 2013 Within days of a federal judge's ruling in support of the Detroit bankruptcy, the devastating implications for the working...

The Detroit bankruptcy ruling

5 December 2013 The Detroit bankruptcy ruling handed down Tuesday is a turning point in class relations in the United States. Approving the largest...

Detroit workers denounce bankruptcy ruling and attack on pensions

By Thomas Gaist4 December 2013 As Judge Rhodes issued his ruling Tuesday morning in the Detroit bankruptcy case, workers outside the courtroom expressed anger...

Detroit eligible for bankruptcy: Judge

Protesters rally outside The Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit, Oct. 23, 2013. A federal judge has ruled that the city of Detroit is...

Judge OK’s Detroit Bankruptcy, Puts Public Pensions Under the Axe

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ruled Tuesday that the city of Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy after a long court battle between city appointed...

Detroit Bankruptcy: Unions Participate in Bankers’ Conspiracy Against the Working Class

Joseph Kishore Last week, the Michigan branch of the main US union for state and local government employees filed a joint motion in federal bankruptcy...

Detroit: The Conspirators Behind the Largest Municipal Bankruptcy Proceeding in US History

Thomas Gaist and Jerry White Two weeks of testimony in the Detroit bankruptcy case have exposed the premeditated character of the July 18 decision by Emergency Manager...

A who’s who of the conspirators behind the Detroit bankruptcy: Part three

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White27 November 2013 Two weeks of testimony in the Detroit bankruptcy case have exposed the premeditated character of the...

Manipulation of Economic Figures: Lies used to Justify Detroit Bankruptcy

A report issued Wednesday by the New York City-based liberal think tank Demos is a devastating refutation of the arguments used by Emergency Manager...

New report exposes lies used to justify Detroit bankruptcy

By Thomas Gaist22 November 2013 A report issued Wednesday by the New York City-based liberal think tank Demos is a devastating refutation of the...

The Detroit bankruptcy trial

14 November 2013 For more than two weeks, public attention in Detroit was focused on the courtroom of US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, where...

Detroit’s decision to fend off bankruptcy: pay pensions or banks?

Dominic Rushetheguardian.comNovember 13, 2013 This is David Allen's second visit to Engine 40′s fire station on Detroit's west side since February 2012 when a wall...

A Who’s Who of the Conspirators Behind the Detroit Bankruptcy

Two weeks of testimony in the Detroit bankruptcy case have exposed the pre-meditated character of the July 18 decision by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr...

Another US city mulls bankruptcy

Desert Hot Springs is running out of money by March 31. Desert Hot Springs, a city located 110 miles east of Los Angles, California, warned...

The Detroit Bankruptcy Case

A US federal court heard closing arguments from both sides (November 8) in the Detroit bankruptcy case. Judge Stephen Rhodes is now set to...

Former Michigan state treasurer testifies in Detroit bankruptcy trial

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White6 November 2013 Former Michigan State Treasurer Andrew Dillon testified as the trial on Detroit's eligibility for bankruptcy continued...

Paralyzed Detroit firefighter to lose health benefits due to city bankruptcy

The city of Detroit is facing a money crunch as its bankruptcy saga develops, but a severely injured local firefighter is seeing the tragedy...

Detroit EM defends bankruptcy decision

Detroit Emergency Manager testifies in court to prove he did not take the job to file for bankruptcy in the first place, and he...

Day two of Detroit bankruptcy hearings: Unions urge liquidation of city assets, including DIA

By Thomas Gaist25 October 2103 Lawyers representing the United Auto Workers (UAW), the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Detroit retirees...

Detroit’s arts victim of bankruptcy?

Detroit's world-class art collection may fall victim to the city's insolvency. The city's state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said that some of the...

Obama backs Detroit bankruptcy

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Forced into Bankruptcy, the Privatization of Detroit and the Protest Movement against the Banks

Detroit Gathering Internationalizes the Struggle Against the Banks and Austerity People from around the United States and the world express solidarity Grand Circus Park in...

The real causes of the New York City Opera bankruptcy

By Fred Mazelis 7 October 2013 The New York City Opera made it official last Thursday, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and setting in motion the...

New York City Opera faces bankruptcy

The New York City Opera, which has struggled financially for the last decade, is expected to file for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 2. The opera...

The Obama administration and the Detroit bankruptcy

30 September 2013 Top Obama administration officials visited Detroit, Michigan Friday to give their benediction to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's plans to use bankruptcy proceedings...

Detroit’s Bankruptcy Hastened by “13th Month” Checks Issued to Pensioners

When Kevyn Orr was appointed as Detroit's interim financial manager back in March, he launched an investigation into just how deep the city's financial...

Forces Bankruptcy and Privatization of the City of Detroit: Law Suit in Federal Court

Contradicting what the corporate media editorial boards have promoted in chorus with the multi-millionaire Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr,...

The unions and the Detroit bankruptcy

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The unions and the Detroit bankruptcy

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Detroit stopped issuing death, birth certificates after bankruptcy

Laura Berman The Detroit News August 29, 2013 Detroit’s funeral directors received this unusual text message last month. “FYI, city of Detroit can’t...

US city gets bankruptcy protection

A US federal judge granted bankruptcy protection to the California city of San Bernardino on Wednesday. The bankruptcy ruling by the US Bankruptcy Court for...

Judge to rule on San Bernardino bankruptcy

The Southern California city of San Bernardino expects to learn on Wednesday if it is eligible for bankruptcy protection or not. The city of...

How The Corrupt Establishment Is Selling Moral Bankruptcy To America

Morality is a highly misunderstood component of human nature. Some people believe they can create moral guidelines from thin air based on their personal biases and prejudices.

New York City runs risk of bankruptcy

As New York City wrestles with rising pension and health care costs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has warned that the city runs a real risk...

Build Detroit area workers committees to oppose bankruptcy

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Detroit workers outraged by bankruptcy

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The Detroit bankruptcy and the Jones Day law firm

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The Detroit bankruptcy and the drive toward dictatorship

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Detroit firefighters speak out on bankruptcy

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AFL-CIO shrugs off Detroit bankruptcy

The union apparatus will not lift a finger to defend Detroit workers. Republished from: World Socialist Web Site

American Roads files for bankruptcy

American Roads, operator of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, filed for bankruptcy. A key US company which is the operator of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel has filed...

Detroit firefighters protesting bankruptcy discuss expanding fight against pension and budget cuts

Scores of firefighters demonstrated in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit yesterday to voice their anger over last week’s bankruptcy filing by...

'Stop the Attack' say Detroit Workers as City's Bankruptcy Reviewed

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr speaks at a March 2013 news conference in Detroit next to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (Paul Sancya/AP)The fight over...

Detroit Bankruptcy Fight Reaches National Stage

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr speaks at a March 2013 news conference in Detroit next to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (Paul Sancya/AP)The fight over...

Leaked emails reveal conspiracy to throw Detroit into bankruptcy

Leaked emails show that as far back as January, there were backroom discussions being held between Detroit and Lansing public officials and corporate law firm Jones Day suggesting that the best course for Detroit would be to send it through Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Republicans Are Thrilled That Detroit Has Filed for...

In today's On the News segment: For the GOP - the fall of Detroit is a talking point goldmine; The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima...

Could Detroit's Bankruptcy Filing Be the First of Many?

Detroit, Michigan’s bankruptcy filing is causing fear that other major U.S. cities face a similar fate as they too are dealing with burdensome underfunded...

A call to action: Oppose the Detroit bankruptcy!

  23 July 2013 ...

Krugman: Detroit’s Bankruptcy “Just One of Those Things”

cato.orgJuly 22, 2013 Paul Krugman in the New York Times on the bankruptcy of my home town: There...

Detroit workers speak on city’s bankruptcy

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Detroit and the Bankruptcy of America’s Social Contract

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/detroit_and_the_bankruptcy_of_americas_social_contract_20130721/ Posted on Jul 21, 2013 ...

On the News With Thom Hartmann: The City of Detroit Files for Bankruptcy

Thom Hartmann here — on the news... You need to know this. Detroit is broke. On Thursday, the Motor City became the largest in U.S....

The Detroit bankruptcy

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Judge orders halt on Detroit bankruptcy filing

One day after Detroit’s Emergency Manager announced that city administrators were filing a petition to declare bankruptcy, a Michigan court has ordered that it...

Detroit Bankruptcy: No Winners

When Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced his approval for Detroit’s emergency manager Kevin Orr to file for a municipal Chapter 9 bankruptcy, he admitted...

In Detroit Bankruptcy, It's the Poor Who Lose

A third of all square mileage in Detroit sits empty in a city beset with poverty (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Chris Tobins)The Detroit emergency manager's...

Emergency manager throws Detroit into bankruptcy

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Detroit Becomes Largest US City to File for Bankruptcy

Detroit made dubious history on Thursday when it filed for bankruptcy becoming the largest U.S. city ever to do so. Photo: Michigan Municipal...

Detroit to file for federal bankruptcy, marking largest case in US history

The city of Detroit is said to be making the final preparations to file for federal bankruptcy, or Chapter 9 protection, and could submit...

Patriot Coal bankruptcy approved, thousands of retirees to lose health care

Patriot Coal has been granted permission to tear up its collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers (UMW) and escape its obligations to provide health care to its retirees.

Iraq Collapse Shows Bankruptcy of Interventionism

Ron PaulInfowars.comJune 3, 2013 May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with...

‘Detroit teeters on edge of bankruptcy’

File photo of the US city of Detroit, Michigan.Detroitâ„¢s emergency manager has warned that the city runs the risk of going bankrupt, with consequences...

With Gulf Oil Spill Raising BP Bankruptcy Fears, Amazon Shoppers are Helping With Cleanup

With Gulf Oil Spill Raising BP Bankruptcy Fears, Amazon Shoppers are Helping With Cleanup The Gulf oil spill disaster has been raising speculation on BP...

Record Corporate Bailout Reveals the Bankruptcy of American Capitalism

WSWS | The US government takeover of the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has dealt a shattering blow to the ideology of...

US govt brushes child abuse under the carpet in Afghanistan – ex-diplomat — RT...

The US government shrugs off child abuse in Afghanistan but is more than happy to push...

Daily Mail columnist says women ‘squawking about sex pests’ should wear a niqab —...

Controversial Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens has sparked a social media firestorm after comparing...

FBI investigating Whitefish Energy deal canceled by Puerto Rico — RT US News

Published time: 30 Oct, 2017 21:57 The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the $300 million contract...

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

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Despite Puerto Rico Disaster, Vulture Firms Relentlessly Seeking Billions in Debt Payments

As Puerto Rico continues its struggle to manage $95 billion in Hurricane Maria-related damage stacked atop its $74 billion of pre-existing debt, investigative journalists...

How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico’s Debt Without Hurting Bondholders

People rally outside of Trump Tower in support of Puerto Rico on the day that President Donald Trump visited the island, parts of...

How the elite and greedy corporations are destroying thousands of years of agriculture

The increasingly globalised industrial food system that transnational agribusiness promotes is not feeding the world and is responsible for some of the planet’s most pressing political, social...

Migration of the Tax Donkeys

We’re Failing the US Citizens of Puerto Rico

Hurricane-struck Puerto Rico wants “everything done for them,” says President Trump. Puerto Rico, an island of 3.5 million inhabitants — all of whom are...

We’re Failing the U.S. Citizens of Puerto Rico

Hurricane-struck Puerto Rico wants “everything done for them,” says President Trump. Puerto Rico, an island of 3.5 million inhabitants — all of whom are...

Trump says Puerto Rico’s debt needs to be wiped out

US President Donald Trump said that Puerto Rico’s $74 billion debt would have to be wiped...

Trump's Disgusting, Tone Deaf, Paper-Towel-Throwing Trip to Puerto Rico

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump alarmed critics during his long-awaited trip to the U.S. territory on Tuesday, during...

Puerto Rico asks for federal help to recover from Hurricane Maria

Food, water and medical aid are “top priorities” for Puerto Rico after a Category 4 storm...

Puerto Rican Catastrophe

Trade Panel Ruling Gives Trump Authority to Cripple Nation's Solar Industry

Lawmakers and the solar energy industry spoke out Friday against a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which voted in favor of...

1 dead in Puerto Rico as Irma sustains 185mph gusts – reports

One person has reportedly died and 300,000 are without power in Puerto Rico as a result...

Putting an End to the Rent Economy

Photo by Charleston’s TheDigitel | CC BY 2.0 Interview with Vlado Plaga in the German magazine FAIRCONOMY, September 2017. Originally, you didn’t want to become an...

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War and Install Viceroy to...

The White House is considering an unprecedented plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan at the urging of Erik Prince, founder of the now-defunct...

Liberals Strike Back… Against Single Payer

With the explosive growth of the movement for single payer healthcare, it should not be a surprise to see the Empire Strike Back. In the...

Is Capitalism in Crisis? Latest Trends of a System Run Amok

Capitalism has always been a highly irrational socioeconomic system, but the constant drive for accumulation has especially run amok in the age of high...

Puerto Rico banks on medical marijuana to counter fiscal crisis

Puerto Rico is pinning its future on medical marijuana production to lift it out of its...

New generation nuclear power project scrapped in SC amid soaring costs

Two South Carolina utilities have abandoned a pair of next generation nuclear reactors that would have...

Saudi Arabia: The Tragedy of the “Ships of the Desert”

After his visit to the Kingdom in May, Donald Trump decided to back the Saudi-led blockade of tiny Qatar (2015 population 2.235 million, but...

NYC: Front Line of Income Inequality

New York City faced a crisis four decades ago with a massive electrical failure and fear of crime. Now, it...

Wall Street wants rollback of Enron-era accounting rules

Financial executives have called on lawmakers to scale back securities regulations that they argue stifle the...

1984 at the Grocery Store

Wall Street analysts tell us that Amazon’s $14 billion buyout of Whole Foods isn't only a win-win for both of them, but also for...

Temer Signs Law That Could See Millions of Acres Lost in the Amazon

BRASILIA, Brazil: On 11 July, President Michel Temer signed into law important new legislation (MP 759) that paves the way for land thieves, who...

1984 at the Grocery Store

Wall Street analysts tell us that Amazon’s $14 billion buyout of Whole Foods isn’t only a win-win for both of them, but also for...

As Trumpcare Protests Grow, GOP Senators Duck and Dodge Determined Voters

As the Republican Senate leadership aims to push through a deeply unpopular healthcare bill, GOP senators across the country are spending their July 4th...

Trumpcare Is Not the Health Plan We Need (but Neither Is the ACA)

This week, the Senate’s plan to gut the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid was reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office. The verdict is...

California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again

Photo by Fibonacci Blue | CC BY 2.0 Nothing better illustrates the political bankruptcy of the Democratic Party—for all progressive intents and purposes—than California State...

Demand for US solar power may fall by 2/3rds over company’s plea for industry...

A new study is sending shockwaves throughout the US solar panel industry over fears of trade...

Political lessons of the French elections

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A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture

The plight of farmers in India has been well documented. A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift...

Derangement and Danger on the Potomac

APPIP ERROR:nodata[ (0) NO DATA APPIP ERROR:nodata[ (0) NO DATA The horrific shooting spree on the practice field of the GOP’s congressional baseball team...

Republicans Keep Missing the Point About Gun Violence—Even When They’re the Targets

Gun rights activists for years have fought for the free proliferation of firearms throughout the U.S., perhaps subconsciously imagining they were only arming themselves....

Forbes’ ‘Go Bust’ Prescription For Indian Farmers Is A Death Warrant

By Binu Mathew and Colin Todhunter Background Washington’s long-term plan has been to restructure indigenous agriculture across the world and tie it to an international system...

House Republicans vote to roll back major Wall Street regulations enacted after ‘08 crash

Against a unified Democratic Party in the US House, Republicans have passed a bill to undo...

Puerto Ricans to vote between statehood & independence

Puerto Rico is preparing to vote on becoming the 51st US state, but there are several...

Bank Failures

Grant’s Almost Daily reports that despite the seemingly calm economic winds, “Banco Popular has managed to run the ship aground. In order to shore...

High noon: Shadow of solar panels trade war looms over WTO

Published time: 30 May, 2017 21:01 Edited time: 31 May, 2017 11:21 The US has informed...

No.1 US automaker GM to cut jobs at Michigan plant

General Motors plans to cut more jobs, this time at a Warren, Michigan plant. Estimates are...

Revealed! Big money bankrolling Tory campaign linked to claims of fraud, tax dodging

Theresa May’s Conservative Party has scooped almost three times more in cash donations than Jeremy...

Is Charter School Fraud the Next Enron?

In 2001, Texas-based energy giant Enron shocked the world by declaring bankruptcy. Thousands of employees lost their jobs, and investors lost billions.  As a scholar who studies the...

‘Puerto Rico Is Emblematic of the Excesses of These Financial Systems’

Janine Jackson interviewed Ed Morales about Puerto Rico’s recent filing for bankruptcy amidst its debt crisis for the May 12, 2017 episode of CounterSpin. This...

Even With No Love from DNC, Sanders-Backed Montana Longshot Surges

Rob Quist, the once-longshot, banjo-strumming populist running for Montana's empty U.S. House seat, is giving Republicans a scare. On Thursday, Quist's campaign announced a startling...

To Regain People's Trust, the Democratic Party Must Support Single-Payer

Medical bills are a leading causes of bankruptcy, even for those who carry insurance. (Photo: Pixabay) $300 billion over 10 years. That's how much the...

Getting Out of Our Coal Hole

When you’re in a hole, it’s usually best to stop digging. But when President Trump told supporters at his 100th day rally in Pennsylvania...

Analysis Uncovers “Nearly $2 Billion in Errors” in Peabody’s Misleading Study About the Future...

WASHINGTON - A detailed analysis of a presentation made by Peabody Energy at an April 7 meeting of the Arizona Corporation Commission highlights major...

Trump’s Amateur Hour on Israel

Despite President Trump’s professed optimism, prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace remain dismal, partly because Trump shows no sign of deviating from...

Is Your State in Serious Financial Trouble?

By Joshua Krause Ready Nutrition Maybe you’re looking for a fresh start. Or perhaps you’re looking to find a different job, or you’re trying to get...

Airline De-Regulation

The American airline industry was de-regulated in 1978 under President Carter, not Reagan. This forced airlines to change. From this time on, they had to...

From Syria to Monsanto: A Moribund System of Deceit and Destruction

Today, as the dominant global power, the US rolls out its brand of unfettered capitalism across the world. US citizens constitute just five percent...

Talking About My Generation–So We Don’t Have to Talk About the Rich

The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top 1 percent’s...

With Epic GOP Failure, Dems Urged to Go Bold with Medicare-for-All

With the Republican attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) going down in flames Friday as Americans rallied to defend their right to...

After Speaker Ryan Pulls GOP ‘Slash and Burn’ Health Bill, Doctors Group Urges Passage...

WASHINGTON - Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit research and education organization of 20,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals, responded...

Senate confirms David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel

Published time: 24 Mar, 2017 01:48 In a narrow vote Thursday, the US Senate confirmed David Friedman,...

Trumpcare Is Very Destructive to Both Medicare and Medicaid

Janine Jackson: "Far from seamless" was how the Washington Post described the debut of House Republicans' much vaunted -- by them -- replacement for...

‘Trumpcare Is Very Destructive to Both Medicare and Medicaid’ – CounterSpin interview with Nancy...

Janine Jackson interviewed Nancy Altman about Trumpcare for the March 10, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Nancy Altman: “Paul Ryan,...

US Ambassador to Israel: “Great Advantage” to Netanyahu

David Friedman is known for his support for the most extreme elements in Israel’s settler movement The choice of US ambassador to Israel has never...

RadioShack closing 187 more stores

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Hey, Paul Ryan

The Republicans have a problem. Healthcare prices are so swollen by government imposed monopolies that most people cannot possibly afford to pay the crazy...

Sweat Shops, GMOs and Neoliberal Fundamentalism: The Agroecological Alternative to Global Capitalism

Much of the argument in favour of GM agriculture involves little more than misrepresentations and unscrupulous attacks on those who express concerns about the technology and its impacts....

Murray Energy Bucks Coal Mining Trend With Record Giving in 2016

President Donald Trump wasted little time attending to one of his constituencies: Less than a month after taking office, and surrounded by applauding coal...

Trump’s One-State Openness on Israel

The ugly reality in Israel/Palestine is that the Zionist leaders are engaging in a slow-walk ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, a...

5 times the mainstream media blatantly lied about President Trump

President Trump has been on the receiving end of a fierce campaign led by major media outlets to destroy his image. The mainstream media...

The new President’s questionable past

The impossible has now happened and complete outsider Donald J Trump is now in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the...

Side-By-Side: Obama's 2008 Speech on Race vs. Trump's 2017 Black History Month Remarks

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union... Two hundred and twenty-one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the...
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Video: “Nobody Speak”: New Documentary Probes Billionaire Peter Thiel’s Destruction of News Outlet Gawker

http://democracynow.org - Last year, the digital media outlet Gawker declared bankruptcy and put itself up for sale after it was ordered to pay $140...

Common Sense

“Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.” – John Adams Thomas Paine was...

New Student Lawsuit Details ITT Tech Scam

Former students from across the country Tuesday filed a blockbuster lawsuit against the collapsed for-profit college giant ITT Tech. The students' complaint, seeking to intervene in...

‘Make in USA or pay big border tax’: Trump blasts GM over cars made...

President-elect Donald Trump blasted General Motors Company for building some of its cars in Mexico, and...

Chicago Shootings and Deaths

Chicago shootings and deaths are in the news once again, thanks to the horrendous numbers in this regard racked up by the Second City....

The Reason the Fed is Raising Rates, and Why It Won’t Work 

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0 Why is the Fed creating incentives for US corporations to destroy themselves? Why is the Fed pushing insurance...

The Italian Banking Crisis: No Free Lunch — or Is There?

On December 4, 2016, Italian voters rejected a referendum to amend their constitution to give the government more power, and the Italian prime minister...

How Trump Kills the ‘Two-State Solution’

President-elect Trump’s choice of a backer of Israeli settlements to be ambassador to Israel may be the final death-blow to...

The Italian Banking Crisis

It has been called “a bigger risk than Brexit”– the Italian banking crisis that could take down the eurozone. Handwringing officials say “there is...

The Best Month To Buy a Car

I have been talking on my radio show about December being a great time to buy a new car. In spite of that, I...
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Video: Andrew Bacevich: Trump’s “Israel First” Policy Will Likely Lead to More Violence in...

http://democracynow.org - Donald Trump has tapped the far-right-wing bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Many are calling ... Via Youtube

Trump names David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate David Friedman, a prominent attorney who advised Trump on Israel during...

The Cost of Empire

With all these generals being called out of retirement to serve as Donald Trump’s “civilian” advisers, whether it’s General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as...

Sorry, I Can't Give Trump a Chance

As Donald Trump plans his transition into the White House, some have called for "unity." Let's "come together," they say. Let's "give him a...

Sorry, I Can’t Give Trump a Chance

As Donald Trump plans his transition into the White House, some have called for “unity.” Let’s “come together,” they say. Let’s “give him a...

Cancellation of RT UK’s bank account ‘crude British state propaganda’ – Galloway (VIDEO)

Former MP George Galloway has waded into the row over the cancellation of RT UK’s bank accounts by NatWest, dubbing the move “crude British...

‘We have a problem’: Podesta emails reveal Clinton staffer fears over Wall St speeches

WikiLeaks’ latest release of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta has given some insight...

Do You Use Magic Soap?

You’ve undoubtedly used Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling organic liquid and bar soap brand in North America. But how much do you know about the...

WikiLeaks: 10 Years of Pushing the Boundaries of Free Speech

“To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is… that’s what marks us...

On the Edge of a Black Hole

The world economy is now at its most dangerous point in history. In virtually every major country or region, there are problems of a...

Trump’s Missed Debate Opportunities

Donald Trump missed chances in the first debate, including failure to exploit a U.S. intelligence report that cited U.S. support...

‘Favors’ to Blacks

Back in the 1960s, as large numbers of black students were entering a certain Ivy League university for the first time, someone asked a...

A System Of Food Production For Human Need, Not Corporate Greed

Colin Todhunter There has been an adverse trend in the food and agriculture sector in recent times with the control of seeds and chemical inputs...

War as a Business Opportunity

A good friend passed along an article at Forbes from a month ago with the pregnant title, “U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within...

Protection from Looting Government

The autumn of 2016 has for some time looked like a period when dark clouds will move in over the world economy. Therefore, it...

Rebellion in the Suites: Tax Collectors and Businesspeople

Large-scale political and economic challenges are confronting the US multi-national corporate elite. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Pfizer and scores of other multinational tax...

How Jim Rogers Is Preparing

One week after RealVision brought us the latest Jeff Gundlach interview, in which the DoubleLine bond king explained why he is now “100% net short”,...

The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?

There is a pressing issue in American health care that warrants at least a modicum of airtime from radio talk show pundits—a softheaded lot...

Today’s gossip, tomorrow’s memories: 10 things we will (and won’t) miss about Gawker

Gawker will be no more. The blog network under the name revolutionized digital journalism and engaged...

Detroit to target banks, businesses with 600 lawsuits over $12mn+ in unpaid taxes

Detroit is threatening banks and businesses with nearly 600 lawsuits over more than $12 million in...

"When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers": How Private Equity Profits Off Our...

When you woke up this morning, chances are your morning routine was touched in some way by a private equity firm. From...

Monsanto in India: Meet the New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

In capitalism, the state’s primary role is to secure the interests of private capital. The institutions of globalised capitalism - from the World Bank,...

Revenge: Activists unleash 1,000s of locusts, cockroaches on Byron burger branches for migrant sting

Radical activists released thousands of cockroaches, crickets and locusts at two outlets of Byron Hamburgers,...

Robert Reich’s Fraud

Eric Zuesse Robert Reich, the proud friend of Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, says, "there has never been any finding that Hillary...

How New Jersey Has Embraced "State-Sanctioned Loan-Sharking" to Students

New Jersey has the country's largest state-based student loan program. It's also incredibly unforgiving. For this ProPublica Podcast, I talked with our...

Jesus forgives all – except for student debt

A woman hoping to devote her life to the Catholic Church is facing an unexpected barrier:...

Class action lawsuit seeks to curtail aggressive student debt collectors

Students of Everest College were found to have been so misled by the school that the...

DOJ Overruled Recommendation to Indict Money Launderer HSBC Over Too-Big-to-Fail Worries

The House of Representatives released a bombshell Tuesday out of its three-year investigation as to why the UK-based bank HSBC got off...

Bankrupt Coal Miner Peabody Energy Paid Climate Denialist to Write Greenhouse Gas Reports

A huge shoveling machine scoops coal at Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Campbell County, Wyoming, in 2013. (Photo: Eduardo Porter...

It’s Not the Brexit, Stupid

Just over a week ago the world was coming unglued, as enough British citizens grew a pair and spit in the face of the...

In Clinton Case, Obama Administration Nullifies 6 Criminal Laws

Eric Zuesse When the Obama Administration, on July 5th, ruled that in regard to Hillary Clinton’s privatized email system while she was Secretary of State,...

Hillary Clinton’s Email Operation Violated At Least Six Criminal Laws

Eric Zuesse This is not an exclusive list, nor does it relate to charges that might possibly be made against Ms. Clinton on grounds other...

Occupy Wilmington Not Wall Street

James Li has been on the run for eight years. His crime? Forging fake purchase orders to inflate his company’s sales and dumping 93...

Whom do we blame for our troubles?

A natural progression has arisen 40 years after billionaires laid plans for a cultural revolution, in large part by using fake organizations of philanthropy...

Lament for Humanity: A 50 Year Reflection

Robert J. Burrowes Deeply affected by the death of my two uncles in World War II, on 1 July 1966, the 24th anniversary of the...

Lewandowski Hire Makes Journalists Choose Between Defending Their Profession and Embracing Its Demise

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski depicted in the Washington Post, which reported that his hiring by CNN “could be very valuable” to the...

Treasury Secretary Warns Senate About Looming Puerto Rico Default

People play on the beach in Puerto Rico. If the Senate passes a version of a debt restructuring bill that varies from...

Neoliberalism and The Globalization of War. America’s Hegemonic Project 

The world is at a dangerous crossroads.  The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity....

Hate, Terror, and Collectivism Culminate in Orlando

The massacre in Orlando has the usual political narratives all jumbled up. It was gun violence against gays. Therefore, say Hillary Clinton supporters, it validates calls...

North Sea oil workers must wage unified struggle

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Steve James Sharp class tensions are emerging in both the British and...

Congress, Obama call for a Financial Control Board for Puerto Rico

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Rafael Azul On June 11, US President Barack Obama devoted his weekly...

How Corrupt America Is

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org The best reporting on the depth of America’s dictatorship is probably that being done by Atlanta Georgia’s NBC-affiliated, Gannett-owned,...

‘Grimy business’: John Oliver makes TV history, forgives $15m in medical debt he purchased

In a scathing attack on the lack of regulations in the debt-collection industry, HBO comedy host John Oliver announced that a debt collection agency...

Will Japan Nuke Pearl Harbor?

I was struck by something Donald Trump said on CNN this morning: “Until I got involved in this most people ...

Media Trumpwash Clinton’s Reckless Foreign Record

Hillary Clinton’s support for regime change in countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria and Honduras is seldom recalled when comparing her foreign policy to Donald...

Corporate Chicanery

Recently, you said, “I will fight my heart out to stop Trump.” We know you have a big heart.   A very big heart.   Why else...

Bernie comes to Vallejo

Vallejo is geographically close but economically far from more affluent San Francisco Bay Area cities to the south.  In 2008 the city of Vallejo...

Hillary and the Corporate Elite

“Mainstream” U.S. media is struck by the “strange bedfellows” phenomenon whereby a number of right wing foreign policy neoconservatives and top business elites –...

Trump, Debt, and Money Printing

During a lengthy interview on CNBC the week before last, Donald Trump, fresh from becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, came as close as any major...

Why Sanders Continues Campaigning

Eric Zuesse There are two realistic scenarios for Bernie Sanders to win the U.S. Presidency. One depends upon his receiving the Democratic Party’s nomination. The other...

Baghdad on military lockdown over fear of protests

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Bill Van Auken Security forces erected heavy concrete blast walls and strung...

The Old Oil Order Is Collapsing

(Photo: United Nations Information Centre / Flickr) Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment. The world’s leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline...

Puerto Rico will default on $370-million debt payments Monday

Puerto Rico’s governor declared a moratorium on a $370-million payback due on Monday. This is the largest default in a series of other bankruptcies,...

Michael Moore to Obama: Flint will riot ‘soon’ if you don’t #ArrestGovSnyder

Filmmaker Michael Moore has warned President Obama that riots will begin in the troubled Michigan city...

Debacle at Doha: The Collapse of the Old Oil Order

(Photo: Blake Thornberry) Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment. The world's leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline to the...

Economy In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales Plummet Dramatically

Michael Snyder (RINF) - Corporate revenues in the United States have been falling for quite some time, but now some of the biggest companies in...

Three Reasons Why "Too-Big-to-Fail" Banks Need to Be Broken Up

President Barack Obama with Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), center, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), waving, after signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform...

The 21st Century Greater Depression

I became interested in the question of how an organization whose business plan is theft can go bankrupt during the Enron debacle. I was...

We Can’t Save the Economy Unless We Fix Our Debt Addiction

Our economy has increasingly been financialized, and the result is a sluggish economy and stagnant wages. We need to decide whether to stop the...

Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Michael Snyder (RINF) - The Dow closed above 18,000 on Monday for the first time since July.  Isn’t that great news?  I truly wish that...

Hillary Clinton Agrees with the Citizens United Decision

Eric Zuesse On April 14th, Glenn Greenwald, a brilliant U.S. Constitutional lawyer, documented that Hillary Clinton actually agrees with the Citizens United decision by the five...

‘Not credible’: Big 5 US banks lack disaster-readiness, violate Dodd-Frank Act, regulators say

Wary of a repeat of taxpayer bailouts for “too big to fail” banks, the Federal Reserve...

‘No legal basis’: Michigan governor asks Flint water lawsuit targeting him be dismissed

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is seeking have a class action lawsuit filed against him by Flint...

Two Ways Hillary Clinton’s Email Operation Was Obviously Criminal

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org As I noted on March 10th, Hillary Clinton, and her aides who cooperated with her privatization of information from...

Is the Next Taxpayer Bailout the Coal Industry?

A coal mine in Gilette, Wyoming. (Photo: Greg Goebel; Edited: LW / TO) Eight years after we bailed the big banks to the...

Trump sparks NATO debate: ‘Obsolete’ or ‘tripwire that could lead to World War III’?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed NATO on the campaign trail this week, saying he can...

These Corporations Have Pillaged the Land and Robbed the People

(Photo: Parolan Harahap; Edited: LW / TO) Join the movement for independent media -- no ads, no sponsored content, just uncensored news and...

Rumbled? Tories ‘broke the law’ to win 2015 general election

Dozens of Conservative Party MPs broke the law during local campaigns to win seats in...

Corporate Debt Defaults Explode To Catastrophic Levels Not Seen Since The Last Financial Crisis

Michael Snyder (RINF) - If a new financial crisis had already begun, we would expect to see corporate debt defaults skyrocket, and that is precisely...

New study says entire regions of US will remain in slump until the 2020s

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Jerry White A new study by a University of California-Berkeley economist says...

NYT Promotes Study by Private Pension Company That Says Not to Trust Public Pensions

“Bankruptcy,” declares a New York Times photo. (photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters) Reputable newspapers try to avoid the self-serving studies that industry groups put out to try...

UAW discussing lower pay rate at Lear in Detroit

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Shannon Jones Officials of the United Auto Workers have confirmed that the...

Caught in the Corporate Feeding Frenzy

The “human resources” departments of huge corporations are known for issuing helpful bulletins to employees, such as this old joke: “The beatings will continue...

Kerry’s Secret War Plan for Syria

Secretary of State Kerry urged President Obama to launch secret missile attacks inside Syria without admitting the U.S. role, a...

Hillary Clinton’s Destruction of Emails Was a Federal Crime

Eric Zuesse However, our laws have been written so as to protect government officials, and corporate executives, if and when they are prosecuted for it....

Detroit Public Schools emergency managers cash in

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Marissa Ross and Nancy Hanover With Detroit Public Schools (DPS) facing insolvency...

Obama’s Former Doctor Who Stood Firmly for ‘Medicare For All’ Dies at 92

(Common Dreams) -Dr. Quentin Young, the Chicago-based physician who cared for Martin Luther King, Jr., Studs Terkel, and President Barack Obama and was described...

Bank for International Settlements warns of build-up of global debt

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Nick Beams The governing council of the European Central Bank (ECB) will...

Behind the Facade: America, The Bankrupt Hegemon

Fantasy and fairy tales can go only so far when it comes to the true condition of anything or anyone. Sooner or later the...

US employment report: Payrolls rise, wages fall

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Barry Grey President Barack Obama seized on the February employment report, released...

For an active boycott of the Brexit referendum!

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. For an active boycott of the Brexit referendum! Statement of the Socialist...

Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores

Michael Snyder Barack Obama recently stated that anyone that is claiming that America’s economy is in decline is “peddling fiction“.  Well, if the economy is...

Scalia’s Ghost Can’t Save Oil, Gas, and Coal

Bleak news for fossil fuels is piling up higher than an icy Washington snowbank in the capital’s most precipitation-challenged state. Peabody Energy, the nation’s biggest coal company,...

Can the New Left Govern Europe?

Irish water protesters rally carry banners against the country’s austerity regime. (Photo: Brian Fitzpatrick) Over the past year, left and center-left parties have taken control...

E-mails show Michigan state officials knew of Legionnaires’ outbreak in Flint in early 2015

James Brewer More e-mails have been made public showing that a year ago health officials were worried that the spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease...

Natural Gas Becomes a Fracking Mess

Until late last year, Laura Gideon’s family lived in Porter Ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles. “We didn’t ever want to leave,” Gideon...

Bernie’s Call to Rein in Wall Street, Artfully Clear

Donna Smith At the heart of the matter is Bernie calling out the way Wall Street money has corrupted our democracy and perhaps most especially...

Italy hit by banking crisis

Marianne Arens Sharp turbulence on the Milan stock exchange in January focused attention on Italy’s deep economic and financial crisis. At the same time, the...

Drowning the Oil Industry

With oil cheaper than bottled water, the average American driver saved $540 at the pump last year. But oil prices are also battering Alaska’s economy,...

‘Single Payer Saves Money by Saying No to the Insurance Industry’

Janine Jackson interviewed Steffie Woolhandler on single payer for the January 29, 2016, CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.   Steffie Woolhandler (photo: Rick Friedman) ...

2016 Market Meltdown: We Have Never Seen A Year Start Quite Like This…

Michael Snyder (RINF) - We are about three weeks into 2016, and we are witnessing things that we...

Digging Up a Mountain of Debt

For the first time in more than 30 years, the federal government has decided to hold off on authorizing new leases for coal mining on federal...

The State of Our Economy: What It Needs vs. What Washington Is Willing to...

The economy is likely to continue to grow at a weak pace in 2016, just as it did in 2015 and 2014. (Photo: US...

Hundreds of teachers’ fight to save public education

Jerry White The World Socialist Web Site salutes the fight by Detroit teachers against the deplorable conditions in their schools and urges workers throughout the...

The Financial Crisis Of 2016 Rolls On — China, Oil, Copper And Junk Bonds...

Michael Snyder (RINF) - Never before have we seen a year start like this. On Monday, Chinese stocks...
bank bail-ins implemented in UK

UK Banking Industry — Most Unstable in G7 Implements Depositor Bail-in Scheme

Back in September we published an article “Grand Theft Auto — UK and EU Bank Depositor Bail-In Regime Implemented” in which we described how...

The Trouble with For-Profit Healthcare: Even the Insured Face Mountains of Debt

New data outlines 'wide range of consequences and sacrifices' made by insured Americans who face burdensome medical bills by Deirdre Fulton For one in five Americans, just...

Financial Armageddon Approaches: U.S. Banks Have 247 Trillion Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives

Michael Snyder (RINF) - Did you know that there are 5 “too big to fail” banks in the United States that each have exposure to...

Ruthless cuts in West Virginia public employee health care

By Clement Daly The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), which provides health insurance coverage for more than 200,000 public employees and retirees throughout the...
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Video: Juan González: GOP to Puerto Rico – “Drop Dead”

On Tuesday, top Republicans in the Senate rejected a move by congressional Democrats to extend bankruptcy protection laws to Puerto Rico. This means ... Via...

Don’t Be a Fossil-Foolish Investor

Investors who choose to steer clear of oil, gas, and coal are protecting their portfolios in the short term and the long run. Who has...

After Paris attacks, neo-fascists surge in polls for French regional elections

By Kumaran Ira Since the November 13 terror attack in Paris, the neo-fascist National Front (FN) has emerged as the main beneficiary of the law-and-order hysteria...

Portugal: The Left Takes Charge

Portugal is the victim of the great 2008 international banking crisis, which saw speculators drove up the price of borrowing beyond what the country’s...

Kraft Heinz and Alcoa among companies cutting hundreds of jobs in upstate New York

By Steve Filips Last week Kraft Heinz announced plans to close seven plants nationwide and the layoff of an additional 2,600 workers over the next 12...

UAW using economic blackmail in effort to ram through sellout deal

By Jerry White With thousands of General Motors workers voting on a tentative agreement signed by the United Auto Workers for a new four-year labor deal,...

A crisis of global dimensions

In a Perspective column published at the beginning of 2015, the World Socialist Web Site commented on the frequency of crises convulsing the global...

Meet the Press on Clinton: Focusing on Image, Distracting From Issues

Meet the Press suggested that Hillary Clinton’s main political problem is that she isn’t Bill Clinton. On Meet the Press this week (9/20/15), host Chuck...

Greece Implodes

Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. With global financial markets still reeling, Greece announced in October...

UK Labour Party steps up purge of suspected Corbyn supporters

By Chris Marsden Jeremy Corbyn is standing for Labour leader based upon the claim that the party can be won back from the right-wing course it...

Sanding Down the Rough Edges of Capitalism Is Not Enough

The question now is whether we can peacefully change the system that has been rigged in favor of those who handsomely benefit from it....

Chicago Public Schools announces hundreds of teacher layoffs, spending and pension cuts

By Kristina Betinis Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released its 2015-2016 budget Monday, including $200 million in spending cuts and 479 additional teacher layoffs. In June, the...

‘Puerto Rico Is an Artificial Economy’ – CounterSpin interview with Ed Morales on Puerto...

Janine Jackson interviewed author Ed Morales about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis  for the July 31 CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Ed Morales: “The creation of...

Revolting World

There is much that is revolting about the current world and Andre Vltchek, Christopher Black and Peter Koenig are well placed to document it,...

GM officials unlikely to face criminal charges for coverup of deadly defects

By Shannon Jones Despite overwhelming evidence of a cover-up, General Motors officials are unlikely to face criminal charges in relation to an ignition defect tied to...

Mining job cuts: The destructive anarchy of the capitalist market

Nick Beams Friday’s announcement by two major global mining companies that they plan to slash tens of thousands of jobs points to the gathering crisis...

They’re All Government Motors Now

GM gets ribbed a lot (and rightly so) for being “government motors” … having accepted (no, demanded) enormous sums of taxpayer money in order to avoid...

Pew report: US unfunded public pension liabilities hit $1 trillion

By George Gallanis State and local public pension funds were underfunded by more than $1 trillion in 2013, a $54 billion increase from the year before,...

Why The Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Is Such A Huge Threat To The U.S....

Michael Snyder (RINF) - The debt crisis in Puerto Rico could potentially cost financial institutions in the United States tens of billions of dollars in...

The historical background of California’s water crisis

By Marc Wells and Evan Blake California’s ongoing drought has set new records for the lowest annual precipitation levels, while 2014 brought the highest calendar-year temperature...

The corporate media’s destructive agenda

by Stephen Lendman (RINF) - Britain, America and other Western nations disgracefully consider real news, information and analysis Russian media provide propaganda - in other...

‘Secret’ History of the Greek Crisis

The past may be prologue, but it is first necessary to know what that past is, a growing problem in a modern age when so...

Greek government approves brutal austerity measures in proposal to EU

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By Alex Lantier Greece’s Syriza-led government agreed to a massive new €13 billion...

Greece: No to Austerity, Yes to Democracy

The people of Greece are at a critical moment as the country teeters on the verge of financial default. This is a clear case...

The Vileness of the Clintons

‘Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour? When the storm is ended shall we find How softly but swiftly they have sidled back...

Wall Street’s legal offensive

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Wall Street’s legal offensive 18 June 2015 Recent months have seen a series...

Detroit’s “water affordability” plan guarantees profits to wealthy bondholders

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Detroit’s “water affordability” plan guarantees profits to wealthy bondholders By Zac Corrigan 18 June...

The revealing remarks of a central banker

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The revealing remarks of a central banker By Nick Beams 11 June 2015 Remarks last...

G7 leaders escalate war threats against Russia

  By Thomas Gaist (WSWS) - During their second day of discussions in the resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the German Alps on Monday, the leaders of the...

Fraud charges and shareholder revolt at Deutsche Bank

By Verena Nees (WSWS) - The annual general meeting of Deutsche Bank on May 21 took place against a background of severe turbulence due to the numerous...

The NY Times Is Going Bankrupt

For the first quarter of 2015, The New York Times Company reported a net loss of $14.4 million. The Times would have been profitable,...

Chicago Democrats prepare new attacks on public education

By Kristina Betinis (WSWS) - As the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Democratic administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel continue negotiations for a new contract covering 30,000...

Confidential Document: Soros’s Plan for Ukraine

Eric Zuesse A hacked document from the Ukrainian Government, in which George Soros, on 12 March 2015 (a month after the Hollande-Merkel Minsk II ceasefire agreement had been signed),...

Is The 505 Trillion Dollar Interest Rate Derivatives Bubble In Imminent Jeopardy?

Michael Snyder (RINF) - All over the planet, large banks are massively overexposed to derivatives contracts. Interest rate derivatives account for the biggest chunk of...

Banks and Punishments

(Common Dreams) - And watten penance will ye drie for that, Edward, Edward? A Scottish Ballad (about a man who killed his father) Occasionally people inquire as to...

Dear God, Please Just Say No To Gov. Bobby Jindal

(Common Dreams) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday announced he is praying over his decision whether to run for president. Yesterday he also issued an...

The deindustrialization of Baltimore

By Nick Barrickman (WSWS) - It has been more than a month since Freddie Gray was killed in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. The...

Michigan legislation would cut off welfare for families with truant children

By Kathleen Martin (WSWS) - The Michigan legislature is currently reviewing a bill that would cut off cash assistance to families with children who have poor...

Christie’s $1 billion week: Art market heads for the stratosphere

By J. Cooper (WSWS) - The week ending May 15 was a banner one for the high-end art market. Christie’s auction house alone set a new...

Politics, Financial Fraud and the “Big Three” Credit Ratings Agencies

China and Russia to Launch Credit Rating Agency that will Challenge U.S. Financial System Timothy Alexander Guzman (RINF) — The “Big Three” Credit rating Agencies Moody’s, Standard...

Ukraine’s Car-Production Plunges 96%; Many Banks Also Fail

Eric Zuesse On Tuesday April 7th, Ukravtoprome (the Ukrainian Association of Automobile Manufacturers) reported that, in the three-month period January-March 2015, as compared to the same three...

The student debt crisis time-bomb is about to implode

Chuck Collins There’s a generational time-bomb ticking – and the student debt crisis is the trip wire. Adults under 35 disproportionately bear the brunt of escalating...

BLOOMBERG: Putin Is to Blame for Ukraine, But West Owes Ukraine Bailout

Eric Zuesse The anti-Russian ‘news’ organization Bloomberg, owned by the former Mayor of Wall Street, Michael Bloomberg, says in a March 3rd editorial about Ukraine,...

The World’s Great Newspaper Reports on Ukraine

Eric Zuesse Here are summaries (translated by me into English) of the latest news-reports on Ukraine, in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or German Economic News. (Click on the...

US economy in deflation and slump

Andre Damon This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The US Commerce Department said Friday that gross domestic product, the broadest...

US Diplomats Paid to Lie

Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News If Washington ran want ads tor diplomatic posts, they'd read something like this: Wanted: Individuals for diplomatic positions. Foreign service experience preferred....

Financial War: US Wants to Trigger Wave of Russian Bankruptcies

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2015/02/23/finanz-krieg-usa-wollen-pleite-welle-von-russischen-unternehmen-ausloesen/ Financial War: US wants to trigger wave of Russian bankruptcies German Economic News  |  Published: 02/23/15 12:55 clock  |  42 Comments The US government insists on a tightening of sanctions against Russia, and...

USA: Republicans Want to Force Arms To Kiev

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2015/02/06/usa-republikaner-wollen-waffenlieferungen-an-kiew-durchsetzen/ “USA: Republicans want to force arms to Kiev” German Economic News | Published: 02/06/15 15:49 clock If Merkel and Hollande fail in Moscow, the Americans want...

Is Hillary Clinton in the Bottom 3 Percent? Turning the Corner on CEO Pay

Most of the people who have direct dealings with the former secretary of state seem to regard her very highly, certainly not in the...

Ukraine Stiffs China for Billions Owed

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On Monday the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that privately-owned corporations don’t have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the corporate owners’ religious beliefs.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs in the case, were always free to practice their religion. The Court bestowed religious freedom on their corporation as well – a leap of logic as absurd as giving corporations freedom of speech. Corporations aren’t people.

The deeper problem is the Court’s obliviousness to the growing imbalance of economic power between corporations and real people. By giving companies the right not offer employees contraceptive services otherwise mandated by law, the Court ignored the rights of employees to receive those services.

(Justice Alito’s suggestion that those services could be provided directly by the federal government is as politically likely as is a single-payer federal health-insurance plan – which presumably would be necessary to supply such contraceptives or any other Obamacare service corporations refuse to offer on religious grounds.)

The same imbalance of power rendered the Court’s decision in “Citizens United,” granting corporations freedom of speech, so perverse. In reality, corporate free speech drowns out the free speech of ordinary people who can’t flood the halls of Congress with campaign contributions.

Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s eroding the freedoms of most people.

This isn’t new. In the early 1930s, the Court trumped New Deal legislation with “freedom of contract” – the presumed right of people to make whatever deals they want unencumbered by federal regulations. Eventually (perhaps influenced by FDR’s threat to expand the Court and pack it with his own appointees) the Court relented. 

But the conservative mind has never incorporated economic power into its understanding of freedom. Conservatives still champion “free enterprise” and equate the so-called “free market” with liberty. To them, government “intrusions” on the market threaten freedom.

Yet the “free market” doesn’t exist in nature. There, only the fittest and strongest survive. The “free market” is the product of laws and rules continuously emanating from legislatures, executive departments, and courts. Government doesn’t “intrude” on the free market. It defines and organizes (and often reorganizes) it.

Here’s where the reality of power comes in. It’s one thing if these laws and rules are shaped democratically, reflecting the values and preferences of most people.

But anyone with half a brain can see the growing concentration of income and wealth at the top of America has concentrated political power there as well — generating laws and rules that tilt the playing field ever further in the direction of corporations and the wealthy.

Antitrust laws designed to constrain monopolies have been eviscerated. Competition among Internet service providers, for example, is rapidly disappearing – resulting in higher prices than in any other rich country. Companies are being allowed to prolong patents and trademarks, keeping drug prices higher here than in Canada or Europe.

Tax laws favor capital over labor, giving capital gains a lower rate than ordinary income. The rich get humongous mortgage interest deductions while renters get no deduction at all.

The value of real property (the major asset of the middle class) is taxed annually, but not the value of stocks and bonds (where the rich park most of their wealth).

Bankruptcy laws allow companies to smoothly reorganize, but not college graduates burdened by student loans.

The minimum wage is steadily losing value, while CEO pay is in the stratosphere. Under U.S. law, shareholders have only an “advisory” role in determining what CEOs rake in.  

Public goods paid for with tax revenues (public schools, affordable public universities, parks, roads, bridges) are deteriorating, while private goods paid for individually (private schools and colleges, health clubs, security guards, gated community amenities) are burgeoning. 

I could go on, but you get the point. The so-called “free market” is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending them for the few who are wealthy enough to influence how the market is organized.

Most of us remain “free” in limited sense of not being coerced into purchasing, say, the medications or Internet services that are unnecessarily expensive, or contraceptives they can no longer get under their employer’s insurance plan. We can just go without.

We’re likewise free not to be burdened with years of student debt payments; no one is required to attend college. And we’re free not to rent a place in a neighborhood with lousy schools and pot-holed roads; if we can’t afford better, we’re free to work harder so we can. 

But this is a very parched view of freedom. 

Conservatives who claim to be on the side of freedom while ignoring the growing imbalance of economic and political power in America are not in fact on the side of freedom. They are on the side of those with the power. 

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Sham Ukrainian Presidential Election

Sham Ukrainian Presidential Election

by Stephen Lendman

Presidential aspirants were all putschist-approved. They're fascists. Ballot choices excluded democrats.

Several legitimate candidates dropped out. They were threatened. They feared for their lives.

Ukrainians chose a president, Kiev mayor, Kiev Council deputies and six regional center mayors - in Mykolaiv, Odessa, Sumy, Kherson, Cherkasy and Chernivtsi.

If no presidential aspirant wins a majority, second round voting is scheduled for June 15.

About 35 million Ukrainians were eligible to vote. So were diaspora ones. They number around 470,000. Scores of polling stations opened in 75 countries. 

On election eve, coup-appointed prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk addressed Ukrainians. He pressured them to vote. 

"Tomorrow we will prove to the whole world, and first of all to ourselves, that it is not possible to intimidate us, that we are going to decide ourselves how to rebuild our home and how to work in it," he said.

"But we have fought for these elections. We are defending our land, restoring our military, rebuilding the destroyed industry, destroying the schemes that had been washing billions out of the country." 

"We are learning to control the power and laying the ground for further development…By our ballots we elect and thus win."

He addressed Donetsk and Lugansk freedom fighters, adding:

"I want to assure you. Not much time is left for the bandits, terrorizing your regions."

A previous article said expect billionaire oligarch Petro Proroshenko to win.

Expect electoral rubber-stamping anointment. So-called polls showed his support ranged from 33 - 44%. Vote tallies show he's heading for a first round victory.

It doesn't matter. Fascism won on Sunday. Hardline rule prevails. Police state authority reflects it.

Ukrainians had no say. Sunday's election masqueraded as legitimate. Farcical sham defined it.

Expected winner Poroshenko will serve five years. Presidential elections will next be held in March 2019.

Coop-appointed central election committee members approved 2,784 fascist-supporting observers. They include about 100 US ones.

Former Secretary of State/unindicted war criminal Madeleine Albright came. So did numerous Senate and House members. 

They support fascist illegitimacy. They endorsed sham elections. They mock democratic ones. Monied interests control US ones.

Russian observers didn't come. They were excluded. They weren't wanted. They weren't invited. For the first time in modern Ukraine history.

RT International listed 10 facts about Sunday's presidential election. It called doing so examining the campaign's dark "underbelly."

(1) Coup-appointed putschists significantly reduced presidential powers. Poroshenko may be more figurehead than leader.

(2) Former illegitimate Orange Revolution prime minister/convicted felon Yulia Tymoshenko threatened new street protests if Poroshenko wins.

(3) Twenty-three putschist-approved candidates competed. Seven others dropped out. Some after threats on their life. Vitaly Klitschko to run for Kiev's mayoralty.

(4) Two initial presidential aspirants were attacked. Oleg Tsarev was brutally beaten. He dropped out of contention. He was threatened. He feared for his life.

(5) Ukraine's war without mercy continues. Coup-appointed president Aleksadr Turchinov ludicrously claims it's to "bring peace and serenity." 

Election day was one of the bloodiest so far. Expect worse going forward.

(6) Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republic rejected sham elections. They didn't participate.

Putschists amended electoral rules. Turnout didn't matter. Results are considered valid if one constituency alone participates.

(7) Freedom fighting regions aren't the only ones rejecting sham elections. Ukraine's Communist Party may do so. 

Its leader Petr Simonyenk dropped out of contention. Why bother with fascism sure to win.

(8) Putschists barred Russian journalists from covering Sunday's election. They want credible voices silenced. They want their voice alone reported.

(9) RT estimated over 3,600 foreign observers. From 19 putschist-approved countries. From 19 international organizations they approved.

(10) Putin said he'll respect electoral results. He'll work with its leader. At the same time, he rejects putschist rule. More on his strategy below.

Moscow's post-electoral response depends on post-electoral Ukrainian policies. Mostly whether attacking Eastern freedom fighters stops.

At the same time, a viable Ukraine comes down to money. Kiev needs Moscow more than the reverse.

Its heavy industry depends on Russian markets. Some of Poroshenko's factories operate in its heartland.

On May 22, Brookings headlined "Ukraine: A Prize Neither Russia Nor the West Can Afford to Win."

At issue is "how much each side is willing to pay for their preferred outcome." The amount is huge. It's too great to bear.

Brookings estimates around $276 billion. An "unthinkable" amount. "(T)here can be no viable Ukraine without serious" Western and Russian contributions, it said.

"(A) Ukraine exclusively in the West is the least feasible. A Ukraine fully under Russian control and with severed links to the West is, unfortunately, possible."

Russia prefers Ukraine federalized. It wants national unity. Local autonomy. Weak central government. 

Findlandization is option two. Strong Russia influencing weak Ukrainian policy. According to Brookings, Kiev needs normalized Russian relations. 

Expect Poroshenko to go all-out to get it. He has to. He has no other choice. He'll have to pay the price. Expect it to include halting hostilities.

Neocon Obama administration planners miscalculated. They didn't see what unfolded. 

They misjudged. They failed. They missed the East/West split.

Ukraine is geopolitically disintegrating in plain sight. Aggressive war won't change things. It's not working.

Eastern Ukrainians are more resilient than they imagined. They're courageous. They fighting for rights too important to sacrifice.

They're going all-out to preserve them. They're gaining adherents. Scores of Ukrainian soldiers defected. Maybe hundreds will follow. Maybe many more.

They'e reluctant to attack their own people. Special hardline National Guard forces are involved. 

So are neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs. Foreign mercenaries were hired. How things turn out is hard to predict so far.

Conditions are fluid. They're up for grabs. The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. Expect whichever side with more staying power to prevail.

At the same time, Brookings wasn't encouraging overall saying:

"In the 23 years of its independence, the Ukraine has not succeeded in developing a viable economic model, and it failed to promote a higher standard of living for the almost totality of its inhabitants."

"Economic bankruptcy, demographic implosion, ubiquitous corruption, internal and external political polarisation, great power influence if not outright intervention…" 

"Ukraine has been walking on extremely thin ice for quite some time." 

"The weakness of the Ukrainian experimental state has generated a number of dangerous feedback mechanisms…" 

"(T)he weaker Kiev became, the more intense grew international pressure around it, and even inside it." 

"The more intense these international pressures, the weaker Kiev became."

Brookings called 2004 Orange Revolution destabilization "the beginning of the end." Political unrest followed.

Coupled with Kiev's inability to pay its energy bills. It's worse now than ever. Ukraine is bankrupt.

IMF billions are woefully inadequate. Kiev needs many multiples more than any source will provide. 

Protracted Greek-like Depression conditions are certain. Ordinary Ukrainians will suffer most. Unemployment will soar.

Millions will be deeply impoverished. They'll get little or no outside help. They'll be on their own to survive. 

They'll be stuck longterm. Under fascist rule. The worst of all outcomes. How they'll react remains to be seen.

When pain levels cross thresholds too great to bear, all hell breaking lose often follows. Perhaps this time. 

Perhaps Orange Resolution 3.0. A grassroots one this time. Maybe violent. Maybe bloody. With more uncertainty following.

Ukraine is one of Europe's worst basket cases. Economic, political, and socially destructive crises reflect it.

It's internally divided. It's politically unstable. It's despotically governed. 

It's bankrupt. It's hugely in a deepening hole. Russia is advantageously positioned. 

Putin can play a waiting game. Intervention isn't part of his strategy.

He can watch Ukraine disintegrate. See it self-destruct. Name his price for helping.

Ukraine has no choice. Or the West. He's in the catbird seat. He'll come out a winner. He already did.

Previous articles called him a master chess player. He keeps proving it. Bashing him accomplishes nothing.

Sanctions imposed cut both ways. EU countries increasingly realize it. They're more bark than bite.

Perhaps Washington will end up more increasingly isolated. Obama's strategy backfired. 

He picked the wrong adversary. Putin keeps besting him. He's running out of strategies. 

Everyone tried so far failed. Not just in Ukraine. He's by far America's worst ever president.

Its most lawless. It's most ruthless. It's most belligerent. It's most duplicitous.

It's most mendacious. Its most immoral. It's most hypocritical. Its most dishonest. Its own reckless. Perhaps heading for its most hated.

On Sunday, thousands rallied in central Donetsk's Lenin Square. They displayed People's Republic flags.

Speakers urged attendees to boycott illegitimate proceedings. Oplot militia members patrolled area streets to assure safety.

Polling stations closed in Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka and Druzhkovka.

Some opened elsewhere. It didn't matter. Ballots weren't available.

It bears repeating. Putschist-approved candidates alone competed. Ballot choices excluded democracy. Fascism won easily.

Ukrainians had no say whatever. Legitimacy was nowhere in sight.

A Final Comment

Runoff voting won't be needed if exit polls are accurate. Three were conducted.

Organizations involved included the Ilk Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives foundation, the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, and the Alexander Razumkov Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Research.

They had Petro Proroshenko at around 56%. Runner-up Yulia Tymoshenko scored 12%.

At 12:00 GMT, voter turnout was 40%. Some irregularities were reported. They included vote-buying. More information will be known later.

It's unclear how long before final vote tallies are known. On Friday, CyberBerkut hackers said they destroyed Ukraine's Central Election Commission electronic system.

If true and hand-counting follows, perhaps days are needed to complete it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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Even so, the bailout clearly did succeed, if success means avoiding another Great Depression.

But another Great Depression might have been avoided if the crisis had been handled differently — for example, by allowing the bankruptcy laws to do what they were intended to do, and forcing the big Wall Street banks to reorganize under them.

In fact, the bailout was a colossal failure in several respects Geithner barely mentions in his book, or avoids completely:  

(1) The biggest Wall Street banks are now bigger than ever, and no sane person on or off the Street now believes Washington will ever allow them to fail – which means they’ll continue to make big, risky bets because they know they can’t fail. And they’ll get even bigger because big depositors and lenders know they’ll never fail and therefore demand lower interest rates than demanded from smaller banks.

(2) No Wall Street executives have ever been prosecuted for what they did to the country, which means even more rampant irresponsibility in executive suites as well as even deeper cynicism in the public about the political power of Wall Street.

(3) The bailout helped the banks but did little or nothing for the tens of millions of Americans who lost billions of dollars in home equity and savings, and the millions more who lost their jobs. The toll was greatest on the poor and the middle class, who still haven’t recovered their losses, even though Wall Street has fully recovered (and then some). Nor have reforms been enacted that will help the middle class and the poor the next time Wall Street implodes.

So pardon me if I take issue with Tim Geithner. The bailout was a success in the narrowest terms. Seen more broadly it was a terrible failure.

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Odessa Massacre: Eyewitness Account

Odessa Massacre: Eyewitness Account 

by Stephen Lendman

Fascists wage wars their way. Dirty ones rage. America fights this way. 

It's done so throughout its existence. No-holds-barred barbarism reflects official policy.

Washington manipulates criminal events in Ukraine. Coup-appointed putschists are convenient stooges. They're murdering their own people. They're doing it in cold blood.

Donetsk People's Republic leaders said Mariupol self-defense forces were attacked with chemical weapons. A statement issued said:

"Kiev bears the entire responsibility not only for their state agencies' actions, but also for the actions by citizens who illegally apply means of chemical warfare."

"Armed groups controlled by Kiev used unidentified chemical weapons on May 6 while storming the City Council headquarters."

"The defenders of the City Council have left the contaminated area." 

"Many of them had their breathing systems damaged, which is likely to have consequences and probably be a danger to their lives."

A toxic choking agent was used. One victim was diagnosed with unidentified gas poisoning.

Others were affected. Symptoms include first-degree chemical-inflicted eye burns, alcoholic-like intoxication, bodily lacerations and fainting. Victims were hospitalized. 

At the same time, Kiev forces attacked Mariupol. They did so with tanks and other heavy weapons.

Federalization supporters screamed "Fascists." Armored vehicles fired on unarmed civilians. Reports suggest around 20 deaths. Many more were wounded.

The 0629.ua news service reported "a tank seized at the crossroads of Lenina and Torgovaya streets by the representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic."

"At 12.50, 14 tanks were spotted coming from the agricultural base towards Mariupol. According to medics, there are two dead and 8 wounded," the report added.

"(O)n Lenin avenue, two people were seriously wounded - one in the head and another in the stomach." 

"A huge pool of blood (was) next to the Arbat cafe. It's not known whether the wounded people have survived." 

"Witnesses sa(id) they were driven away in a passenger car. The fighting (went) on next to the main police department."

"Gunfire (was) heard. Two armored vehicles blocked Artyom street." Residents barricaded streets. They burned tires. They overturned cars.

They stormed Mariupol's Interior Ministry building. According to a self-defense force representative: 

"Camouflaged people...storm(ed) the building of the city’s interior ministry department. A bus with soldiers dr(ove) up."

"They (came) from a military unit located in the vicinity of Mariupol. Policemen who refuse to obey Kiev regime's orders (were) detained."

"Policemen of the city department refused to obey Kiev's orders and guard the building of the city council, which had been seized a day earlier by the Ukrainian security services." 

"As a result, Kiev authorities decided to storm the building of the city Interior Ministry department. Policemen are shooting back."

"The building (was) surrounded." Self-defense forces said "(a)rmored vehicles approached (it) and opened fire with heavy weapons."

"The building is old and has thick walls, so you can't penetrate it with machine-gun fire." A city resident added:

"On the central street of the city, I saw tanks and armored vehicles with the Ukrainian flags at around 11.40 am (local time)." 

"Then, the city residents started to gather near the city executive committee building." 

"Then some of the protesters tried to go to the district department of interior, but it seemed that the Kiev regime military was beginning to shoot at those who attempted to approach." 

"I don't know if they were shooting to kill, but at their legs - that's for sure."

A separate report said the Interior Ministry was set ablaze.

RT International reported what happened. Its stringer was wounded. He's identified only as Andrey for his safety.

It happened while filming. He sustained a stomach injury. His bulletproof vest didn't help. He's hospitalized in serious condition. Reports suggest he'll survive.

On Friday, gun battles raged. Ukrainian MP Oleg Lyashko said:

"The perimeter around the Interior Ministry department building in Mariupol is completely blocked by the armed forces." 

"Terrorists are barricaded inside and are now returning fire. An order has been issued not to take anyone alive."

Fascists fight this way. Friday was Victory Day. It commemorated Nazi Germany's defeat. Russia honored heroes of its Great Patriotic War.

Ukrainians did so nationwide. Many thousands were on city streets. Imagine waging war this day. Imagine attacking civilians. 

Imagine targeting unarmed ones. Imagine doing so with thousands in harm's way. 

Imagine US media scoundrels ignoring what happened. Imagine European ones misreporting it. 

Imagine them calling freedom fighters "terrorists." Imagine them ignoring civilian casualties.

Imagine fascists fighting this way. Imagine Washington supporting their worst brutality. Imagine direct orders to commit mass murder. One fascist regime supports another.

About 1,500 Mariupol residents participating in Victory Day commemoration marched on police headquarters.

They did so resisting Ukraine's military. According to a self-defense forces spokesman:

"Demonstrators - about 1,500 in all - rushed to the police department building." 

"Men wearing black camouflage walk(ed) towards them, firing shots in the air."

Other residents burned tires near City Council headquarters. Mariupol is one of many Eastern Ukrainian battlegrounds.

Kharkov is Ukraine's second largest city. On Friday, an anti-government rally was held. Around 1,500 residents participated.

One held a sign reading: "Referendum. We're not separatist!" Residents oppose Kiev's "junta." They called coup-appointed officials "US henchemen."

Putschists are waging "war against (their) own people," they said. Thousands of Donetsk residents rallied. They chanted greetings to Great Patriotic War veterans.

"Congratulations!" "Hurrah!" and "Russia!," they shouted. Self-defense forces leader Denis Pushilin thanked veterans for defeating fascism.

He urged people to vote in Sunday's referendum, saying:

"We must confirm our choice on May 11, confirm our holy duty to continue to carry the banner of Victory." 

"We are Russians. The great Russian heritage is awakening in us, and we will win a victory whatever the cost."

Police were supportive. They wore St. George's ribbons. City residents applauded them.

Thousands in Slavyansk rallied. They celebrated Victory Day. They did so despite Kiev-imposed martial law.

Recently released People's Governor Pavel Gubarev urged residents throughout Southeast Ukraine "to join the people's militia under the command of Igor Strelkov."

Slavyansk People's Mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev called on them to fight fascism. Vote in Sunday's referendum, he stressed.

Odessans displayed a red banner over the Trade Union House building. They did so honoring hundreds Right Sector thugs killed on May 2. Most were inside.

Crowds assembled in Taras Shevchenko Park. They did so to honor Soviet soldiers killed in the Great Patriotic War.

Others gathered in Kulikovo Field. Right Sector thugs burned activist tents on May 2. Doing so was prelude to murdering 300 unarmed civilians inside and outside the Trade Union House building.

Odessan mayoral candidate Aleksey Albu said:

"We have plans to put up a new tent camp after May 9. This time, there will be many more people there."

Odessa and other Eastern Ukrainian cities remain battlegrounds. Expect no end of fighting soon. Perhaps bloodbath conditions before things end.

Orders come straight from Washington. Eliminate opposition elements. Do it at all costs. 

Unleash violence without mercy. Use tanks, artillery, mortars, APCs, helicopter gunships, and other heavy weapons against civilians.

Murder them in cold blood. Lie. Claim they're terrorists. Say you're protecting Ukraine. 

Good journalism is the first casualty of war. It's a "weapon of war," said John Pilger. 

Censorship is longstanding policy. Truth-telling is verboten. Media scoundrels suppress what people most need to know.

Managed news misinformation substitutes. Reporting on Ukraine has been appalling and then some. It matches the worst against Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad.

Bad fiction substitutes for hard truths. It persists daily. Presstitutes make street whores look good by comparison. Marching in lockstep with US policy alone matters.

Expect lots more of the same ahead. Ukrainian crisis conditions promise to get worse. Perhaps much worse before things end.

Perhaps Obama bit off more than he can chew. Ukraine isn't the walkover he planned. He's his own worst enemy.

He may have shot himself in the foot. Putin makes him look amateurish by comparison. 

He outsmarted him since crisis erupted last November.  At times he made him look foolish. 

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland mocks the office she holds. 

She was caught on tape using obscene language. She admitted Washington spent over $5 billion dollars toppling Ukraine's democratically elected government.

On Thursday, House Foreign Affairs Committee members challenged her with tough questions on Ukraine.

Dana Rohrabacher (R. CA) said Ukrainians had a "legitimate election before, and the legitimate president was removed after we had major street violence." 

"There were pictures of people running around that we were told were neo-Nazis."

Nuland was hard-pressed to answer. Rohrabacher wanted straight talk. She failed to deliver. She lied saying:

"First of all, the vast majority of those who were participating on Maidan were peaceful protesters. There were mothers and grandmothers and veterans."

Rohrabacker interrupted her. He didn't mince words stressing:

"I saw those pictures, and I also saw a lot of people throwing fire bombs at groups of policemen." 

"There were people shooting into the ranks of police. So, yes, there were mothers with flowers, but there were also very dangerous street fighters engaged in those demonstrations." 

"The question is: were there neo-Nazi groups involved?"

Nuland was nonplussed. She couldn't deny credible video evidence. "There were many colors of Ukraine involved including very ugly colors," she said.

She stopped well short of truth, the whole truth, and nothing else. US-supported neo-Nazis bore full responsibility for Maidan violence. Likeminded extremists shared it.

Clear evidence proved it. Coverup and denial suppressed it. Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych had no involvement. Nor members of his government. 

Nuland didn't explain. She's a war criminal. She's guilty of high crimes. Her policy positions indict her. 

She belongs in prison doing hard time. So does Washington's entire criminal class. They mock legitimate governance. 

They shame positions they hold. Washington makes more enemies than friends. They're heading America for tyranny and ruin.

It's too late for mere scattered reforms. Hubris, arrogance and overreach assure ending imperial rampaging sooner or later.

America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires. It's spending itself to death. It's bullying nations into supporting what harms their own interests. 

It's threatening outliers that don't. It's increasingly having to work harder to accomplish less. It's falling short or failing more often. It's the world's top pariah state. 

It bears repeating. It's heading for tyranny, bankruptcy and ruin. Misguided policies wreck all empires. Washington is no exception. 

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. When America goes, the crash will resonate worldwide. It can't happen a moment too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Kiev Uses Chemical Weapons

Kiev Uses Chemical Weapons 

by Stephen Lendman

Fascists wage wars their way. Dirty ones rage. America fights this way. 

It's done so throughout its existence. No-holds-barred barbarism reflects official policy.

Washington manipulates criminal events in Ukraine. Coup-appointed putschists are convenient stooges. They're murdering their own people. They're doing it in cold blood.

Donetsk People's Republic leaders said Mariupol self-defense forces were attacked with chemical weapons. A statement issued said:

"Kiev bears the entire responsibility not only for their state agencies' actions, but also for the actions by citizens who illegally apply means of chemical warfare."

"Armed groups controlled by Kiev used unidentified chemical weapons on May 6 while storming the City Council headquarters."

"The defenders of the City Council have left the contaminated area." 

"Many of them had their breathing systems damaged, which is likely to have consequences and probably be a danger to their lives."

A toxic choking agent was used. One victim was diagnosed with unidentified gas poisoning.

Others were affected. Symptoms include first-degree chemical-inflicted eye burns, alcoholic-like intoxication, bodily lacerations and fainting. Victims were hospitalized. 

At the same time, Kiev forces attacked Mariupol. They did so with tanks and other heavy weapons.

Federalization supporters screamed "Fascists." Armored vehicles fired on unarmed civilians. Reports suggest around 20 deaths. Many more were wounded.

The 0629.ua news service reported "a tank seized at the crossroads of Lenina and Torgovaya streets by the representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic."

"At 12.50, 14 tanks were spotted coming from the agricultural base towards Mariupol. According to medics, there are two dead and 8 wounded," the report added.

"(O)n Lenin avenue, two people were seriously wounded - one in the head and another in the stomach." 

"A huge pool of blood (was) next to the Arbat cafe. It's not known whether the wounded people have survived." 

"Witnesses sa(id) they were driven away in a passenger car. The fighting (went) on next to the main police department."

"Gunfire (was) heard. Two armored vehicles blocked Artyom street." Residents barricaded streets. They burned tires. They overturned cars.

They stormed Mariupol's Interior Ministry building. According to a self-defense force representative: 

"Camouflaged people...storm(ed) the building of the city’s interior ministry department. A bus with soldiers dr(ove) up."

"They (came) from a military unit located in the vicinity of Mariupol. Policemen who refuse to obey Kiev regime's orders (were) detained."

"Policemen of the city department refused to obey Kiev's orders and guard the building of the city council, which had been seized a day earlier by the Ukrainian security services." 

"As a result, Kiev authorities decided to storm the building of the city Interior Ministry department. Policemen are shooting back."

"The building (was) surrounded." Self-defense forces said "(a)rmored vehicles approached (it) and opened fire with heavy weapons."

"The building is old and has thick walls, so you can't penetrate it with machine-gun fire." A city resident added:

"On the central street of the city, I saw tanks and armored vehicles with the Ukrainian flags at around 11.40 am (local time)." 

"Then, the city residents started to gather near the city executive committee building." 

"Then some of the protesters tried to go to the district department of interior, but it seemed that the Kiev regime military was beginning to shoot at those who attempted to approach." 

"I don't know if they were shooting to kill, but at their legs - that's for sure."

A separate report said the Interior Ministry was set ablaze.

RT International reported what happened. Its stringer was wounded. He's identified only as Andrey for his safety.

It happened while filming. He sustained a stomach injury. His bulletproof vest didn't help. He's hospitalized in serious condition. Reports suggest he'll survive.

On Friday, gun battles raged. Ukrainian MP Oleg Lyashko said:

"The perimeter around the Interior Ministry department building in Mariupol is completely blocked by the armed forces." 

"Terrorists are barricaded inside and are now returning fire. An order has been issued not to take anyone alive."

Fascists fight this way. Friday was Victory Day. It commemorated Nazi Germany's defeat. Russia honored heroes of its Great Patriotic War.

Ukrainians did so nationwide. Many thousands were on city streets. Imagine waging war this day. Imagine attacking civilians. 

Imagine targeting unarmed ones. Imagine doing so with thousands in harm's way. 

Imagine US media scoundrels ignoring what happened. Imagine European ones misreporting it. 

Imagine them calling freedom fighters "terrorists." Imagine them ignoring civilian casualties.

Imagine fascists fighting this way. Imagine Washington supporting their worst brutality. Imagine direct orders to commit mass murder. One fascist regime supports another.

About 1,500 Mariupol residents participating in Victory Day commemoration marched on police headquarters.

They did so resisting Ukraine's military. According to a self-defense forces spokesman:

"Demonstrators - about 1,500 in all - rushed to the police department building." 

"Men wearing black camouflage walk(ed) towards them, firing shots in the air."

Other residents burned tires near City Council headquarters. Mariupol is one of many Eastern Ukrainian battlegrounds.

Kharkov is Ukraine's second largest city. On Friday, an anti-government rally was held. Around 1,500 residents participated.

One held a sign reading: "Referendum. We're not separatist!" Residents oppose Kiev's "junta." They called coup-appointed officials "US henchemen."

Putschists are waging "war against (their) own people," they said. Thousands of Donetsk residents rallied. They chanted greetings to Great Patriotic War veterans.

"Congratulations!" "Hurrah!" and "Russia!," they shouted. Self-defense forces leader Denis Pushilin thanked veterans for defeating fascism.

He urged people to vote in Sunday's referendum, saying:

"We must confirm our choice on May 11, confirm our holy duty to continue to carry the banner of Victory." 

"We are Russians. The great Russian heritage is awakening in us, and we will win a victory whatever the cost."

Police were supportive. They wore St. George's ribbons. City residents applauded them.

Thousands in Slavyansk rallied. They celebrated Victory Day. They did so despite Kiev-imposed martial law.

Recently released People's Governor Pavel Gubarev urged residents throughout Southeast Ukraine "to join the people's militia under the command of Igor Strelkov."

Slavyansk People's Mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev called on them to fight fascism. Vote in Sunday's referendum, he stressed.

Odessans displayed a red banner over the Trade Union House building. They did so honoring hundreds Right Sector thugs killed on May 2. Most were inside.

Crowds assembled in Taras Shevchenko Park. They did so to honor Soviet soldiers killed in the Great Patriotic War.

Others gathered in Kulikovo Field. Right Sector thugs burned activist tents on May 2. Doing so was prelude to murdering 300 unarmed civilians inside and outside the Trade Union House building.

Odessan mayoral candidate Aleksey Albu said:

"We have plans to put up a new tent camp after May 9. This time, there will be many more people there."

Odessa and other Eastern Ukrainian cities remain battlegrounds. Expect no end of fighting soon. Perhaps bloodbath conditions before things end.

Orders come straight from Washington. Eliminate opposition elements. Do it at all costs. 

Unleash violence without mercy. Use tanks, artillery, mortars, APCs, helicopter gunships, and other heavy weapons against civilians.

Murder them in cold blood. Lie. Claim they're terrorists. Say you're protecting Ukraine. 

Good journalism is the first casualty of war. It's a "weapon of war," said John Pilger. 

Censorship is longstanding policy. Truth-telling is verboten. Media scoundrels suppress what people most need to know.

Managed news misinformation substitutes. Reporting on Ukraine has been appalling and then some. It matches the worst against Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad.

Bad fiction substitutes for hard truths. It persists daily. Presstitutes make street whores look good by comparison. Marching in lockstep with US policy alone matters.

Expect lots more of the same ahead. Ukrainian crisis conditions promise to get worse. Perhaps much worse before things end.

Perhaps Obama bit off more than he can chew. Ukraine isn't the walkover he planned. He's his own worst enemy.

He may have shot himself in the foot. Putin makes him look amateurish by comparison. 

He outsmarted him since crisis erupted last November.  At times he made him look foolish. 

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland mocks the office she holds. 

She was caught on tape using obscene language. She admitted Washington spent over $5 billion dollars toppling Ukraine's democratically elected government.

On Thursday, House Foreign Affairs Committee members challenged her with tough questions on Ukraine.

Dana Rohrabacher (R. CA) said Ukrainians had a "legitimate election before, and the legitimate president was removed after we had major street violence." 

"There were pictures of people running around that we were told were neo-Nazis."

Nuland was hard-pressed to answer. Rohrabacher wanted straight talk. She failed to deliver. She lied saying:

"First of all, the vast majority of those who were participating on Maidan were peaceful protesters. There were mothers and grandmothers and veterans."

Rohrabacker interrupted her. He didn't mince words stressing:

"I saw those pictures, and I also saw a lot of people throwing fire bombs at groups of policemen." 

"There were people shooting into the ranks of police. So, yes, there were mothers with flowers, but there were also very dangerous street fighters engaged in those demonstrations." 

"The question is: were there neo-Nazi groups involved?"

Nuland was nonplussed. She couldn't deny credible video evidence. "There were many colors of Ukraine involved including very ugly colors," she said.

She stopped well short of truth, the whole truth, and nothing else. US-supported neo-Nazis bore full responsibility for Maidan violence. Likeminded extremists shared it.

Clear evidence proved it. Coverup and denial suppressed it. Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych had no involvement. Nor members of his government. 

Nuland didn't explain. She's a war criminal. She's guilty of high crimes. Her policy positions indict her. 

She belongs in prison doing hard time. So does Washington's entire criminal class. They mock legitimate governance. 

They shame positions they hold. Washington makes more enemies than friends. They're heading America for tyranny and ruin.

It's too late for mere scattered reforms. Hubris, arrogance and overreach assure ending imperial rampaging sooner or later.

America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires. It's spending itself to death. It's bullying nations into supporting what harms their own interests. 

It's threatening outliers that don't. It's increasingly having to work harder to accomplish less. It's falling short or failing more often. It's the world's top pariah state. 

It bears repeating. It's heading for tyranny, bankruptcy and ruin. Misguided policies wreck all empires. Washington is no exception. 

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. When America goes, the crash will resonate worldwide. It can't happen a moment too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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The Treasury is hiring about 200 more tax specialists. Some of those will be checking on the books of businesses across the island, but some will be mystery shopping – making purchases at specially selected stores without identifying themselves to check for violators. 

Sales tax evaders could get slapped with a maximum $20,000 fine.

But $20,000 for a small business could mean a hefty chunk of revenues. That means a delicate balance for the government: Changing attitudes so that more businesses register and pay their taxes and fees, while not piling so many bills onto small businesses that they collapse

Can you imagine a $20,000 fine imposed on both small and large businesses by the Puerto Rican Government? This will destroy business activities all across the island; even if they managed to collect half of the debt at $35 billion not counting the added interest rates that accumulates over time would help the debt burden:

From the western mountain town of Lares to the capital San Juan, officials are wrestling with how to bring the underground economy out of the shadows and onto the tax rolls without creating such an onerous financial burden that thousands of small and medium businesses can’t survive.

More than a quarter of the island’s economy is informal, some studies say, from large companies evading taxes to individuals selling items for cash at roadside stands. But estimates vary widely because the activity can be so hard to track. 

While not new, the problem has become urgent of late. The government desperately needs to find new revenue to bolster a budget full of holes and turn around an economy now eight years in recession. It is scrambling to avoid a painful debt restructuring some view as almost inevitable

Imposing tax collections or even adding new taxes while Puerto Rico is in a deep recession to meet Wall Street’s demands would destroy whatever is left of the economy. Foreign investors including American and European companies both small and large are becoming more hesitant to invest in Puerto Rican Industries and its real estate markets as the debt crisis continues to spark major concerns. The Associated Press also reported in February that the government has set up a task force that would “target” business owners and individuals. The report stated the following:

Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta said a task force has been set up to target both business owners and individuals, adding that authorities are investigating more than 100 cases and more are expected to follow. Puerto Rico currently has only a 56 percent “capture” rate on tax revenues that should be taken in, losing some $800 million annually as a result, economist Gustavo Velez says.   

The Treasury Department already has referred 12 cases representing a total of more than $8 million in unpaid taxes to the island’s justice department. “This money belongs to the people of Puerto Rico,” Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said. “It represents a teacher’s salary, a town’s road, a police officer’s uniform.”  

Two business owners have been charged with 36 counts of tax evasion and illegal appropriation, and officials warned that dozens of others could face similar accusations 

Puerto Rico’s government is in a bind. They are indebted to Wall Street and its Hedge Fund partners as they are to Washington. Hedge funds do not include Puerto Rico’s Government officials in their meetings. Bloomberg News reported that Jones Law Firm (who was one of the law firms restructuring Detroit’s bankruptcy) had a meeting that did not include Puerto Rican officials, “Commonwealth officials aren’t involved in the Jones Day meeting and didn’t call for it, according to the statement.” But Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank’s statement said that “We made significant progress in implementing our fiscal and economic development plans in 2013, and are determined to continue that progress in 2014.” The Puerto Rico government will proceed to actions dictated by Washington and Wall Street duopoly that will undermine the economy.

$70 Billion in debt will increase as the islands residents continue to flee towards other depressed states for job opportunities within the US, including Florida, New York and Chicago. All states mentioned have high unemployment rates, foreclosures as more business and individual bankruptcies continue to rise. Florida now leads the United States in what you would call “Zombie Foreclosures.” In a 2014 article by www.Bizjournals.com called ‘Florida leads nation in ‘zombie foreclosures,’ RealtyTrac says’ claimed that “RealtyTrac considers a “Zombie Foreclosure” when a homeowner abandons a house that is facing a pending foreclosure action. There are about 55,000 of those in Florida, more than triple the nearest state of Illinois.” An economic situation Puerto Ricans arriving in Florida would find to be as dire as it was in their homeland. Increasing tax collections on Puerto Rican businesses and people would only elevate the economic situation to an even worst state of economic affairs. This would create insecurities even among the small business owners who sell produce or ice cream on the road. As you tax more businesses to pay the States debts, you reduce profits that would be used to reinvest in equipment, supplies and even create or maintain jobs to grow the economy.

Not only would it place the burden on the Puerto Rican people, it would frighten foreign businesses, private investors and individuals from investing on the island’s economy that can create jobs. Puerto Rico’s government under Governor Padilla is just another administration under Washington’s rule. Taxing businesses and individuals was the only option the Puerto Rican Government had with regards to their enormous debt burden they face. Besides, Puerto Rico’s largest employer is the government; a bureaucracy that does not produce any goods for trade besides Pharmaceuticals and a handful of other products for the US market. The new actions taken by the Padilla government on behalf of the financial elites is at the expense of those who are financially struggling. It is just business as usual.

 

Former Australian prime minister warns of US-provoked war danger

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by Stephen Lendman

US hostility toward Russia is unprecedented. It exceeds the worst of Cold War politics. John Kerry's Tuesday Senate testimony highlights what's ongoing. Big Lies substitute for truth.

Kerry hypes one after another. Credibility isn't his long suit. Or integrity. He represents the worst of imperial arrogance. His style reflects demagoguery, bullying, and bluster. 

He's contemptuous of rule of law principles. He deplores democratic values. He's committed to war, not peace. He's vying to become America's worst ever diplomat.

His Senate testimony was transparently dishonest. He turned truth on its head. He threatened more sanctions. He maliciously accused Moscow of "aggression" on Ukraine. 

He blamed nonexistent "Russian provocateurs" and special forces for spontaneous Eastern Ukrainian protests.

He lied saying "everything that we've seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they've been sent there determined to create chaos." 

"And that is absolutely unacceptable. These efforts are as ham-handed as they are transparent, frankly." 

"And quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary engaged in this initiative."

"Russia's clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing." 

"No one should be fooled, and believe me, no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea." 

"It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours." 

"Some have even been arrested and exposed. And equally as clear must be the reality that the United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st-century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th-century behavior." 

"We have stated again and again that our preference - and the preference of our friends and allies - is de-escalation and a diplomatic solution." 

"But Russia should not for a single solitary second mistake the expression of that preference as an unwillingness to do what is necessary to stop any violation of the international order."

Russia has a choice, Kerry added. Bow to Western demands or "face greater isolation."

Fact check

Washington bears full responsibility for toppling Ukraine's democratic government. It did so violently. 

It installed illegitimate fascist putschists replacing it. Eastern Ukrainians reject them. Perhaps Western ones will follow. 

It's likely once the full impact of repression combined with IMF neoliberal harshness hits home. People take only so much before rebelling. Perhaps it's coming nationwide.

Uprisings across Eastern Ukraine are significant. Ordinary people want their rights respected. They want local autonomy. 

They want democratic governance. They want what Washington won't tolerate at home or abroad. It remains to be seen what follows. 

Obama's new imperial trophy is far from secure. Throughout his tenure, his policies reflect one blunder after another. Perhaps Ukraine will turn out his worst.

He's already America's worst ever president. A previous article urged impeaching him. It called doing so a national imperative. World peace depends on it. The alternative is too unacceptable to tolerate.

America makes more enemies than friends. Its influence has been declining for decades. It's low heading lower. It may disappear altogether.

The late Chalmers Johnson was right. Militarism is "bankrupting" America. It's heading the country for "ruin."

He said "dismantling the empire (is its) last best hope." He called reliance on global imperialism a "suicide option."

Hubris and overreach assure self-destruction. It's unavoidable, he said. It's far too late for mere scattered reforms. Things are way too out-of-control to make a difference.

History is clear, said Johnson. Choose democracy and survive. Or continue as present and perish. America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change.

"(I)solation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy," he explained. Combined with growing despotism and loss of personal freedoms.

America is on a fast track to ruin. It's permanently at war with invented enemies. It's waging it against humanity. 

It seeks one imperial conquest after another. It's unaccountably repressive. It's the most ruthless government in world history. Bipartisan complicity supports it.

Monied interests decide things. Democracy is a convenient illusion. Media scoundrels stoke fear. They do it to manipulate public sentiment. It's to manufacture consent.

Johnson predicted military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent. "(T)he combination of huge standing armies, continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expen(ditures) destroyed…republican (governance)," he said.

Once down that path, destructive dynamics follow. Freedom is fast disappearing. World peace hangs in the balance. Potential global war looms. Humanity may not survive its destructiveness.

Kerry is Washington's diplomatic front man. He's unprincipled. He represents rogue state policies. NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge.

On April 8, he addressed an Allied Command Transformation seminar. He discussed Eastern Ukrainian events. 

His comments reflected US sentiment. He noted great concern. He irresponsibly blamed Russia, saying:

"Any further move into Eastern Ukraine would represent a serious escalation, rather than the de-escalation that we all seek." 

"We call on Russia to pull back the tens of thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine's borders, engage in a genuine dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities, and respect its international commitments."

"We must prepare a readiness action plan.  We must reinvest in our defence. And we must reinforce the transatlantic bond."

"Because from Sevastopol to Syria and the Sahel, we are facing a dangerous world. Where threats are complex, unpredictable and interconnected." 

"Newer challenges, such as terrorism, failed states, cyber and missile attacks. And old challenges in new guises, such as attempts to redraw borders by force."

"The current crisis poses a serious challenge to our common security.  But North America and Europe stand together in facing up to it. And we stand united in our firm response."

He barely stopped short of declaring war. Washington wants Russia marginalized, weakened, isolated, contained, and co-opted. It risks open conflict to achieve objectives.

US policies reflect madness. Johnson left one thing out of his analysis - possible mass annihilation. An ancient proverb said "(t)hose whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."

Perhaps they had Obama in mind. Perhaps neocons infesting his administration. Perhaps bipartisan complicity. Imperial madness is self-destructive. Super-weapons threaten humanity.

Confronting Russia belligerently risks mutually assured destruction. Cold warriors wouldn't risk it. Today's lunatics might do what they wouldn't dare. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.

Mumbo jumbo security threats don't exist. Power politics trumps reason. Russia prioritizes peace and stability. 

Aggression isn't in its vocabulary. Claiming otherwise turns truth on its head. Big Lies repeat one after another. 

Provocatively challenging Russia risks global war. Waging it risks armageddon. Push heads dangerously closer to shove.

Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Moscow didn't send troops cross border. It has no intention doing so. It's official statements fall on deaf ears.

A Tuesday Foreign Ministry statement said "everyday activity by Russian forces on its national territory does not threaten the security of the United States of America or other OSCE member states."

No evidence suggests otherwise. "The attempts to accuse Russia of building up armed forces are groundless," its FM added.

It accused Washington and Kiev putschists of waging propaganda war on Moscow. Doing so substitutes Big Lies for truth.

Provocative US policies persist. Increasing numbers of Pentagon assets are being deployed in Eastern Europe.

Doing so provocatively targets Russia. Around 300 marines are in Romania. Another 175 will join them. It's part of Washington's Eastern European buildup.

The USS Truxton guided missile destroyer provocatively patrols Black Sea waters. A second one will join it. The Donald Cook is set to be deployed. 

On April 9, US Assistant Defense Secretary Derek Chollet said it's being sent "within a week." It's in response to Ukrainian crisis conditions, he said.

Crimean reunification with Russia "challenges our vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace," he added.

Claiming it is polar opposite US policy. Chollet didn't explain. Lies substitute for truth. It's longstanding US practice.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren said America's buildup is "primarily to reassure our allies and partners in the region that we're committed to the region."

What's ongoing and planned targets Russia provocatively. Sergei Lavrov responded saying:

"There exists the Montreux Convention, which gives extremely clear criteria limiting the deployment of warships not belonging to the Black Sea governments in regard to tonnage and length of stay."

"We have noticed that US warships have extended their deployment beyond the set terms a couple of times lately, and at times they did not always comply with the regulations that are set within the Montreux Convention."

Itar Tass quoted Russia's Defense Ministry saying:

"It isn’t known yet if the ship will call into the port of Odessa to demonstrate the US support for the incumbent illegitimate authorities in Kiev, which owe so much to the Americans for arrival at power."

US actions reflect "an extreme intensification of visits of their warships fitted out with the antimissile system to the Black Sea."

Pentagon warships provocatively patrol Black Sea waters "on a regular basis. As soon as one ship leaves, (another) or sometimes a detachment of ships arrives."

Eastern Ukrainian protests continue. Right Sector thugs arrived to confront them. Dmytro Yarosh heads them. 

He has presidential aspirations. He's militantly anti-Russian. He openly boasts about "fighting Jews and Russians till I die."

Greystone Limited mercenaries were deployed in Eastern Ukraine. Reports say about 150. Maybe others will follow.

Greystone formerly was an Academi (aka Blackwater USA) owned company. Both firms maintain close ties. Elements involved are trained killers. They're terrorists.

They operate extrajudicially. They're unaccountable under local laws. Their mission is mischief. It's destabilization.

They represent America's imperial agenda. They operate covertly. They get away with murder. They came to suppress nonviolent protests.

They'll do whatever it takes to try. Expect bloodshed. It follows wherever they're deployed.

An earlier notorious incident reflected numerous lessor ones. In September 2007, Blackwater elements killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Another 20 or more were injured.

They were attacked in Baghdad's Nisour Square. No one was held accountable. Cold-blooded murder didn't matter.

Private military contractors (PMCs) operate under their own rules. Challengers face possible death.

PMC's are notorious. Expect Ukrainians to feel the brunt of their harshness. How they'll respond remains to be seen. 

Crisis Ukrainian conditions remain incendiary. Escalating them makes things worse. A potential East/West confrontation looms. Washington bears full responsibility.

A Final Comment

On April 8, illegitimate Kiev putschist parliamentarians targeted Eastern Ukrainian activists. They passed legislation criminalizing what they called "crimes against the foundations of the country's national security."

They threaten it. So do fascist ministers. They operate in collaboration with Washington and rogue EU partners. 

Pro-Russian protesters are targeted. Dozens were arrested. They face separatism charges.

During debate, Communist Party leader Piotr Simonenko was attacked. He voiced sympathy for Eastern Ukrainian protesters. 

He accused putschist officials of dismissiveness toward their rights. He urged respecting them. He was accosted while speaking. 

He was dragged from the rostrum. He was shoved. He was jostled. He was roughed up. He was denied his right to speak freely. Fighting followed between his supporters and Svoboda neo-Nazis.

Fascist regimes operate this way. Washington offers Kiev full support. Both countries partner in crime. A potential social explosion looms. Perhaps open conflict.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Reviewing James Petras’ The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East...

Reviewing James Petras' The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Part I) 

by Stephen Lendman

It's Petras at his best. It's important reading. It covers vital topics. Petras tells readers what they need to know. His analysis is masterful. Below is an account of what he said.

Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. Petras does some of the best analysis explaining it.

Overview: The State of the Empire

In the 1990s, imperial adventurism increased. Post-9/11, it accelerated. One war after another followed. They continue "unhampered by congressional or large-scale public opposition," said Petras.

At least so far. Popular opinion against Obama's Syria war postponed it. Resuming it could happen any time. Perhaps it's one major false flag attack away.

Other wars may follow. Iran's turn awaits. Ukraine's full-blown crisis and regime change aftermath happened largely beyond the timeline of Petras' book.

He's a valued contributor to a forthcoming Clarity Press (CP) account of Ukraine's crisis. It promises to be the definitive analysis of what happened, why it matters, and what may follow. Watch for CP's announced publishing date.

Zionists and militarists define their current imperial objectives as follows, says Petras:

"(1) destroying regimes and states (as well as their military, police and civil governing bureaucracies) which had opposed Israel’s annexation of Palestine; 

(2) deposing regimes which promoted independent nationalist policies, opposing or threatening the Gulf puppet monarchist regimes; and

(3) supporting anti-imperialist, secular or nationalist-Islamic movements around the world."

Resistance was greater than they thought. Washington's Afghan war is its longest in history. It shows no signs of ending.

Iraq and Libya remain cauldrons of violence. Obama's war on Syria enters its fourth year.

Israel's goal isn't creating "political vacuum(s)." It's devastating its enemies. What follows is someone else's problem.

Tel Aviv loves getting Washington to wage its wars. The one Israel most wants most is destroying Iran. Whether America will oblige remains to be seen.

US economic conditions were different earlier than now. Overreach makes US leaders pause before undertaking what may cause more harm than good.

At the same time, public opinion is tired of wars. Enormous sums spent waging them harm their well-being. 

A late 2013 Pew Research report confirms the gap between "elite and public opinion," says Petras.

"By a vast margin (52% to 38%), the public agree that the US 'should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,' " he explained.

In 2002, a scant 30% opposed foreign entanglements. Times changed dramatically.

Over 80% of Americans oppose Washington's Afghan war. Heading toward 14 years is too much.

Large majorities want domestic issues addressed. They want current jobs protected. They want new ones created. They want better ones. They want living wages. They want government serving their interests equitably.

They despise Wall Street. They reject new imperial wars. Whether they'll stop is another matter entirely.

America is addicted to war. It's the national pastime. Policymakers  believe war is peace. Out-of-control imperialism reflects it.

At the same time, public antipathy to Obama's wars weakened his ability to wage new ones. Whether 9/11 2.0 can change things perhaps remains to be seen.

In 2001, public appetite for war was keener than now. "Intervention fatigue," says Petras, makes most Americans crave peace. 

They're tired of endless imperial adventurism. They're suffering under the weight of pursuing it. According to Petras, they began to:

"(1) prioritize their choice of places of engagement; 

(2) diversify their diplomatic, political and economic instruments of coercion; and 

(3) limit large-scale, long-term military intervention to regions where US strategic interests are involved."

Washington isn't going soft by any means. A new page wasn't turned. Making the world safe for war profiteers is still policy.

Fear is stoked. It's used to manufacture consent. It's much tougher than before. It doesn't stop imperial rampagers from trying. Lots more effort is required.

Large-scale ground invasions are avoided. "Proliferation of special forces" substitutes. So do an array of destabilizing policies.

Ukraine is Exhibit A. Around $5 billion was spent replacing democratic governance with ultranationalist fascist extremists.

It's pocket change compared to trillions spent on Afghanistan and Iraq. It's changing Kiev on the cheap. 

It doesn't always work. Wars remain a bottom line option. Libya is the optimal model. Shock and awe supplemented proxy ground forces. 

Plans perhaps intend similar tactics against Syria. Objectives remain the same. Petras identified "at least eleven major or minor conflicts today engaging US empire builders to a greater or lesser extent."

They include "Ukraine, Thailand, Honduras, China-Japan-South Korea, Iran-Gulf States/Israel, Syria, Venezuela, Palestine-Israel, Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt."

Obama is more selective in choosing new targets. He's only got so much money to spend.

Debt reduction curtails open checkbook warmaking. Special forces in over 120 countries do it on the cheap if needed. So do CIA elements operating virtually everywhere. 

China and Russia comprise Washington's bottom line targets. It's hard imagining planned war on either of them. 

Co-opting neighboring states substitutes. So does surrounding them with US military bases. Weakening and isolating them matters most. 

Perhaps regime change by a thousand cuts is policy. Strategy is longterm. Overreach may defeat Washington's agenda.

Perhaps China and Russia intend letting America overspend until bankruptcy. They've got their own problems to resolve at the same time. 

Unity between them with likeminded allies is their best defense. America makes more enemies than friends. It's influence is declining. 

China's star is rising. Russia hopes to ascend at the same time. How it weathers things over Ukraine remains to be seen. Whether America prevails is unclear.

The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. It's longterm. Russia drew a red line. It's defending its vital issues responsibly. Putin isn't rolling over for Washington. Nor should he.

Obama has a tiger by the tail. He's in bed with fascist extremists. They've got a mind of their own. He may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Putin's patience may best him. Public Ukrainian anger may defeat him. It's unclear how things will go. Knowing either way won't happen soon. Nor in other parts of the world. 

Even superpowers can't prevail everywhere, all the time. Eventually they learn. Some do the hard way. 

Obama's wars made America weaker. New ones may be counterproductive. Nothing will be resolved any time soon. Major struggles are longterm.

Modern day Spartas may succumb like earlier ones. Living by the sword usually means perishing the same way. America may spend itself to death. Hegemons risk overreaching and failing.

Obama "relied on a wider variety of interventions than (his) predecessor," said Petras. He subcontracted more to European allies. 

France took the lead in Africa. Washington wants Japan and South Korea bearing a greater Asian burden.

It's "part of the long-term US strategy to encircle and limit China’s economic expansion," said Petras. 

Middle East control and "undermining Iran" is prioritized. "The principal strategic weakness in US empire building policy lies in the absence of domestic support."

Zionist power remains the wild card. It's deeply embedded in Washington. Media support is overwhelming. So are powerful monied interests.

War is their national pastime. Aroused public opinion is the best defense against it. Revving it up now is needed more than ever.

The Obama Regime's Military Metaphysics Rejects Diplomatic Opportunities

Obama prioritizes belligerence over diplomacy. He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to pursue peace. 

Replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones is prioritized. Adversaries are ravaged and destroyed. Hegemons operate this way.

Opportunities for peace are spurned. Bullying takes precedence. Obama sacrificed a "Grand Bargain" with Iran to serve Israel.

Israeli "land-grabbing" overrode Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Destabilizing Venezuela is prioritized. Regime change matters more than normalized relations.

"Obama's Snowden caper revive(d) the Cold War," said Petras.
Obama's war on Syria rages. He's allied with perhaps uncontrollable death squad extremists.

Afghanistan is a bottomless pit of war. It could continue for another decade or two. Taliban fighters show no battle fatigue.

Containing China may end up a losing proposition. Lost US opportunities overall may not resurface. At least not in the short run.

"The world view of the Obama regime is one of mirror looking in an echo chamber," said Petras. "(I)t cannot visualize and accommodate the interests of rivals, competitors or adversaries, no matter how absolutely central they are to any meaningful compromise." 

"The give and take of real world politics is totally foreign to the world's Chosen People." They only know how to " 'seize power' and create military facts, even as they then spend a dozen years and billions of dollars and millions of lives in endless wars, bemoaning lost markets amidst serial diplomatic failures." 

"The epitaph for the Obama regime will read:

They fought the Wars.
They lost.
They turned friends
into enemies.
Who became
Friends of our enemies.
They stood alone, in splendid isolation,
And said it was their only choice."

The Decline of the US (and everyone else...) 

Post-9/11, America "suffered a series of military defeats, experienced economic decline, and now faces severe competition and the prospect of further military losses," said Petras.

Some analysts believe US decline began decades earlier. The greater it overreaches, the faster its political and economic advantage wane.

America makes more enemies than friends. It aims to isolate Russia, China and other independent states. It may end up shooting itself in the foot trying.

Latin American countries reject US aggressiveness. They overwhelmingly oppose efforts to oust Venezuela's government.

In late March, Organization of American States (OAS) members  refused to hear fascist legislator Maria Corina Machado discuss ongoing Washington manipulated violence.

She opposes democratic governance. She backed the aborted April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.

She's involved in instigating ongoing violence. Venezuelan National Assembly members want her investigated. 

They want her charged with treason and incitement to crime. She's provoking civil war, they said. She's a Washington favorite.

Washington lost Asian influence to China. At the same time, it forged closer military ties with Japan, the Philippines and Australia.

The same holds in other areas. Empires don't fade easily. At the same time, they don't last forever. 

In the end, they all die. America won't be an exception. None existed earlier.

Washington stands "totally alone" against Cuba, says Petras. OAS nations are "no longer a US haven."

At the same time, reports of US imperial decline are "overstated…(T)here is no alternative imperial or modern anti-imperial tendency on the immediate horizon," Petras explains.

Longer-term tells a different story. The 21st century began as America's. It may end as China's.

Cyber-Imperialism: The Logic Behind Mass Spying: Empire and Cyber Imperialism

Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying connected important dots for millions. He's a gift that keeps on giving.

He explained what everyone needs to know. Doing so "provoked widespread protests and indignation and threatened ties between erstwhile imperial allies," said Petras.

Obama presides over a homeland police state apparatus. "One of (its) essential components (is) an all-pervasive spy apparatus operating independently of any legal or constitutional constraints," he explained.

Big Brother watches everyone. Claims otherwise don't wash. Electronic and telecommunications surveillance is sweeping. 

It's pervasive. It targets everyone of potential interest. It operates globally. It's a power unto itself. It's unaccountable.

As technology advances, it promises worse ahead. No one can escape its spying eye. It monitors world leaders. It cracks encryption protections.

It listens to phone calls. It monitors emails and text messages. It accesses financial and medical records. 

It conducts espionage to get a leg up on foreign competitors. It does so with electronic ease.

Huge stakes are involved. Empires need to do more to hold on to what they have. They want their power enhanced. 

They want total unchallenged control. They want what's not easy to get.

The " 'Global War on Terror" (GWOT), became an open-ended formula for the civilian warlords, militarists and Zionists to expand the scope and duration of overt and covert warfare and espionage," said Petras.

It "provided the ideological framework for a police state based on the totalitarian conception that 'everybody and everything is connected to each other' in a 'global system' threatening the state." 

"This 'totalistic view' informs the logic of the expanded NSA, linking enemies, adversaries, competitors and allies."

A Big Brother world is no fit one to live in. It exists. It seeks omnipotence. It wants total control. Civil liberties and human rights are discarded in the process. They're disappearing in plain sight. 

Police State: The Domestic Foundation of Empire - Fabricating Terror Conspiracies

America's only enemies are ones it creates. Its war on terror is fake. It's waged to stoke fear. 

Supportive propaganda rages. Media scoundrels march in lockstep. They hype what demands denunciation. 

They do it without supportive evidence. None exists. They regurgitate official lies. They repeat them ad nauseam. 

Alleged global and domestic threats are fraudulent on their face. Warnings repeat anyway. Lies substitute for truth. They wore thin long ago.

Most people are fooled anyway. Many pay no attention either way.

"By evoking a phony 'terrorist threat' abroad and its detection by the NSA, Obama hopes to re-legitimize his discredited police state apparatus," says Petras.

At the same time, he "seeks to cover-up (his) most disreputable policies, despicable 'show trials' and harsh imprisonment of government whistle blowers and political, diplomatic and military defeats and failures which have befallen the empire in the present period."

Petras calls Obama "the Master of Deceit." He's polar opposite what supporters want. He wages multiple imperial direct and proxy wars. He plans new ones.

He wrecked the economy. He looted the nation's wealth. He consigned millions to unemployment or underemployment. 

Poverty, homelessness and hunger increased on his watch. He heads America toward full-blown tyranny.

Monied interests own him. He supports wealth, power and privilege. He let popular needs go begging.

He destroyed hard-won labor rights. He wants education commodified. He wants it made another business profit center.

He wages war on whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists.

He's a con man. Petras nailed him before taking office. He called him "the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to war."

He spurns human need. He ignores rule of law principles. He deplores democratic values. He tolerates none at home or abroad. He wages war on freedom.

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

Recent US history witnessed "the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state," said Petras. Diktat power rules. No mass pro-democracy movement confronts it. It rages out-of-control.

Bipartisan complicity supports it. So do media scoundrels. It reflects McCarthyism writ large. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all.

Constitutional rights don't matter. Arbitrary rule replaced them. Police state powers reflect it.

It's "the dominant reality in US political life today," says Petras. It's largely unchallenged. Dismissiveness substitutes for mass outrage.

Obama gets away with murder and much more. Media scoundrels hype state-sponsored fear-mongering. Fake threats persist. Dissent is increasingly criminalized. Wars substitute for peace.

Part II continues discussing Petras' new book.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Banking Union Time Bomb: Eurocrats Authorize Bailouts AND Bail-Ins

As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.

 – Lord Skidelsky, House of Lords, UK Parliament, 31 March 2011)

On March 20, 2014, European Union officials reached an historic agreement to create a single agency to handle failing banks. Media attention has focused on the agreement involving the single resolution mechanism (SRM), a uniform system for closing failed banks. But the real story for taxpayers and depositors is the heightened threat to their pocketbooks of a deal that now authorizes both bailouts and “bail-ins” – the confiscation of depositor funds. The deal involves multiple concessions to different countries and may be illegal under the rules of the EU Parliament; but it is being rushed through to lock taxpayer and depositor liability into place before the dire state of Eurozone banks is exposed.

The bail-in provisions were agreed to last summer. According to Bruno Waterfield, writing in the UK Telegraph in June 2013:

 Under the deal, after 2018 bank shareholders will be first in line for assuming the losses of a failed bank before bondholders and certain large depositors. Insured deposits under £85,000 (€100,000) are exempt and, with specific exemptions, uninsured deposits of individuals and small companies are given preferred status in the bail-in pecking order for taking losses . . . Under the deal all unsecured bondholders must be hit for losses before a bank can be eligible to receive capital injections directly from the ESM, with no retrospective use of the fund before 2018.

As noted in my earlier articles, the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) imposes an open-ended debt on EU member governments, putting taxpayers on the hook for whatever the Eurocrats (EU officials) demand. And it’s not just the EU that has bail-in plans for their troubled too-big-to-fail banks. It is also the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other G20 nations. Recall that a depositor is an unsecured creditor of a bank. When you deposit money in a bank, the bank “owns” the money and you have an IOU or promise to pay.

Under the new EU banking union, before the taxpayer-financed single resolution fund can be deployed, shareholders and depositors will be “bailed in” for a significant portion of the losses. The bankers thus win both ways: they can tap up the taxpayers’ money and the depositors’ money.

 The Unsettled Question of Deposit Insurance

 But at least, you may say, it’s only the uninsured deposits that are at risk (those over €100,000—about $137,000). Right?

Not necessarily. According to ABC News, “Thursday’s result is a compromise that differs from the original banking union idea put forward in 2012. The original proposals had a third pillar, Europe-wide deposit insurance. But that idea has stalled.”

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, speaking before the March 20th meeting in the Belgian capital, hailed the compromise plan as “great progress for a better banking union. Two pillars are now in place” – two but not the third. And two are not enough to protect the public.As observed in The Economist in June 2013, without Europe-wide deposit insurance, the banking union is a failure:

[T]he third pillar, sadly ignored, [is] a joint deposit-guarantee scheme in which the costs of making insured depositors whole are shared among euro-zone members. Annual contributions from banks should cover depositors in normal years, but they cannot credibly protect the system in meltdown (America’s prefunded scheme would cover a mere 1.35% of insured deposits). Any deposit-insurance scheme must have recourse to government backing. . . . [T]he banking union—and thus the euro—will make little sense without it.

All deposits could be at risk in a meltdown. But how likely is that?

Pretty likely, it seems . . . .

What the Eurocrats Don’t Want You to Know

Mario Draghi was vice president of Goldman Sachs Europe before he became president of the ECB. He had a major hand in shaping the banking union. And according to Wolf Richter, writing in October 2013, the goal of Draghi and other Eurocrats is to lock taxpayer and depositor liability in place before the panic button is hit over the extreme vulnerability of Eurozone banks:

European banks, like all banks, have long been hermetically sealed black boxes. . . . The only thing known about the holes in the balance sheets of these black boxes, left behind by assets that have quietly decomposed, is that they’re deep. But no one knows how deep. And no one is allowed to know – not until Eurocrats decide who is going to pay for bailing out these banks.

When the ECB becomes the regulator of the 130 largest ECB banks, says Richter, it intends to subject them to more realistic evaluations than the earlier “stress tests” that were nothing but “banking agitprop.”  But these realistic evaluations won’t happen until the banking union is in place. How does Richter know? Draghi himself said so. Draghi said:

 “The effectiveness of this exercise will depend on the availability of necessary arrangements for recapitalizing banks … including through the provision of a public backstop. . . . These arrangements must be in place before we conclude our assessment.”

Richter translates that to mean:

The truth shall not be known until after the Eurocrats decided who would have to pay for the bailouts. And the bank examinations won’t be completed until then, because if any of it seeped out – Draghi forbid – the whole house of cards would collapse, with no taxpayers willing to pick up the tab as its magnificent size would finally be out in the open!

Only after the taxpayers – and the depositors – are stuck with the tab will the curtain be lifted and the crippling insolvency of the banks be revealed. Predictably, panic will then set in, credit will freeze, and the banks will collapse, leaving the unsuspecting public to foot the bill.

 What Happened to Nationalizing Failed Banks?

 Underlying all this frantic wheeling and dealing is the presumption that the “zombie banks” must be kept alive at all costs – alive and in the hands of private bankers, who can then continue to speculate and reap outsized bonuses while the people bear the losses.

But that’s not the only alternative. In the 1990s, the expectation even in the United States was that failed megabanks would be nationalized. That route was pursued quite successfully not only in Sweden and Finland but in the US in the case of Continental Illinois, then the fourth-largest bank in the country and the largest-ever bankruptcy. According to William Engdahl, writing in September 2008:

 [I]n almost every case of recent banking crises in which emergency action was needed to save the financial system, the most economical (to taxpayers) method was to have the Government, as in Sweden or Finland in the early 1990’s, nationalize the troubled banks [and] take over their management and assets … In the Swedish case the end cost to taxpayers was estimated to have been almost nil.

Typically, nationalization involves taking on the insolvent bank’s bad debts, getting the bank back on its feet, and returning it to private owners, who are then free to put depositors’ money at risk again. But better would be to keep the nationalized mega-bank as a public utility, serving the needs of the people because it is owned by the people.

As argued by George Irvin in Social Europe Journal in October 2011:

[T]he financial sector needs more than just regulation; it needs a large measure of public sector control—that’s right, the n-word: nationalisation. Finance is a public good, far too important to be run entirely for private bankers. At the very least, we need a large public investment bank tasked with modernising and greening our infrastructure . . . . [I]nstead of trashing the Eurozone and going back to a dozen minor currencies fluctuating daily, let’s have a Eurozone Ministry of Finance (Treasury) with the necessary fiscal muscle to deliver European public goods like more jobs, better wages and pensions and a sustainable environment.

A Third Alternative – Turn the Government Money Tap Back On

A giant flaw in the current banking scheme is that private banks, not governments, now create virtually the entire money supply; and they do it by creating interest-bearing debt. The debt inevitably grows faster than the money supply, because the interest is not created along with the principal in the original loan.

For a clever explanation of how all this works in graphic cartoon form, see the short French video “Government Debt Explained,” linked here.

The problem is exacerbated in the Eurozone, because no one has the power to create money ex nihilo as needed to balance the system, not even the central bank itself. This flaw could be remedied either by allowing nations individually to issue money debt-free or, as suggested by George Irvin, by giving a joint Eurozone Treasury that power.

The Bank of England just admitted in its Quarterly Bulletin that banks do not actually lend the money of their depositors. What they lend is bank credit created on their books. In the U.S. today, finance charges on this credit-money amount to between 30 and 40% of the economy, depending on whose numbers you believe.  In a monetary system in which money is issued by the government and credit is issued by public banks, this “rentiering” can be avoided. Government money will not come into existence as a debt at interest, and any finance costs incurred by the public banks’ debtors will represent Treasury income that offsets taxation.

New money can be added to the money supply without creating inflation, at least to the extent of the “output gap” – the difference between actual GDP or actual output and potential GDP. In the US, that figure is about $1 trillion annually; and for the EU is roughly €520 billion ($715 billion). A joint Eurozone Treasury could add this sum to the money supply debt-free, creating the euros necessary to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, protect the environment, and maintain a flourishing economy.

_________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Pacifica Radio’s Progressive Meltdown Continues

The Pacifica Foundation, a community radio network that includes WBAI-FM in New York, has dismissed its executive director, the latest tumultuous step for an organization that has been plagued by financial problems and acrimonious turnover among its management.

Summer Reese, who was named executive director in November after doing the job on an interim basis for more than a year, was fired by Pacifica’s national board on Thursday. In a brief statement on Friday, the board confirmed the move and thanked Ms. Reese “for her service to date,” but gave no explanation.

Ms. Reese’s dismissal is the latest in a series of changes in recent years that have destabilized Pacifica and its five stations. In August, WBAI, which operates a powerful signal at 99.5 FM but is millions of dollars in debt, laid off 19 of its 29 employees, including the entire news staff. The station, which is supported almost entirely by listener donations, has since been through two program directors and struggled publicly with its fund-raising.
- New York Times, March 18

"According to a media release Monday morning, Reese and a small group of supporters removed a padlock installed at Pacifica’s offices the previous day and “informed staffers that business would continue as usual.” (Tracy) Rosenberg claims the firing was illegal because of the three-year contract held by Reese, adding that she has “no doubt” that the board was planning to fire Reese for political reasons.
The forces currently aligned with Summer Reese, including Gary Null, and with Bernard White, Lydia Brazon and Dan Siegel were already engaged in a long-term struggle by the time I arrived in January 2006. Many of the players still remain the same, and "takeover" rumors are currently being circulated by both factions. 

Contract issues were also involved in my departure, although I ultimately chose to leave rather than extend what was becoming a stalemate. Essentially the same leadership that retook control of the PNB and dismissed Reese urged my early departure and the selection of Nicole Sawaya (without interviewing any other candidates). Not a great transition, as it turned out, and entirely avoidable.

That said, no one faction is exclusively responsible for the network's decline. But snap dismissals are no better than bolt cutters in solving Pacifica's real problem - a crippling deficit of trust. In light of recent developments, I thought these 2010 reflections might be relevant...
A lot has happened since I left my job as Pacifica Radio’s Executive Director at the end of 2007. Almost a decade after she was abruptly fired former KPFA General Manager Nicole Sawaya returned as my replacement with enthusiastic support from the Board and community – but resigned twice over the next year. As the network approached its 60th anniversary it faced the most serious organizational and financial crisis in years. On-air fund drives, which bring in over 80 percent of the network’s income, weren’t meeting their goals, most stations had meager cash reserves, and WBAI was a half a million behind its target and mired in an internal power struggle that had been building for several years.

According to Casey Peters, Pacifica’s National Election Supervisor in 2007, a “vacuum of power” developed after my departure. “With obvious instability at the top,” he wrote in his final report, “the election campaigns descended into chaos.” When he tried to meet with Sawaya to discuss the process, she declined and told him “she opposed Pacifica Bylaws provisions for elected boards.”

The problems intensified further when Sawaya resigned and corporate counsel Dan Siegel stepped in. “He applied intimidation regarding the still-pending certification of KPFA results,” Peters claimed, “telling me that I would be fired if I did not do so promptly. The problem was that criteria for certification had not been met due to irregularities in the campaign.” Peters came to believe that Siegel was attempting to control the outcome of the vote. On March 13, 2008, as Peters was about to fly to New York for the WBAI vote count he received a message from Chief Financial Officer Lonnie Hicks. The word was that Siegel didn’t want him counting votes in New York. Furthermore, he was being fired.

A few days later, according to Peters’ account, Siegel entered his home without notice and startled his wife. “His intent was to confiscate election equipment and materials,” Peters wrote. “Siegel had apparently been drinking, and sat in a rented SUV flashing his headlights into our bedroom. Marilyn called the police to stop the harassment. We seriously considered pressing trespass and assault charges, but felt any publicity about the incident would not look good for the Pacifica Foundation.” Nevertheless, after the elections a lawsuit was filed by one faction at WBAI against the network and its representatives.

In Spring 2008, a fight over financial control between Hicks and Sawaya, who had been wooed back after her first resignation, resulted in a Board decision to give her the right to directly supervise the national financial staff, something I’d sought without success. Unfortunately, after a three month absence she faced a rapidly worsening picture. Frustrated by a costly organizational structure that often blocked change, she openly called it “unsustainable.”

One of her first big decisions, made with Hicks’ agreement, was to cut the budget for Free Speech Radio News by 25 percent. What seemed to shock some people wasn’t so much the cutback (about $11,000 per month) but the fact that it was done without prior discussion. Sawaya explained that the financial crunch required strong and immediate action. The Board decided to let it stand.

The next surprises came in July, just as budgets for the next fiscal year were being developed. The National Board had voted to convene in person that month, but the national office didn’t follow up and the meeting had to be cancelled. Afterward, without explanation, Hicks disappeared from work. No announcement was issued, but news leaked out that he was on “paid leave to deal with family matters.” Later, rumors circulated that an investigation of his activities was being pursued – and also that he might sue. Sawaya meanwhile assumed responsibility for budget development, pushing for staff reductions and other budget cuts.

In the end, she left first, while Hicks returned to work in late 2008. He was ultimately terminated in early 2009, and replaced by an old nemesis, former National Finance Committee Chair LaVarn Williams. As predicted, he filed a lawsuit, alleging that he was dismissed because he was African American and a whistleblower. Clearly, Hicks had a sense of irony, considering his frequent warnings about escalating legal costs, the fact that a majority of Pacifica's National Board and staff – including his replacement – were people of color, and that he fought as hard as anyone to hold back information from the board and membership when he was in control.

Sawaya announced her second resignation in early August 2008, but asked those who knew not to say anything for a month. At meetings, she meanwhile tried to convince the Board and National Finance Committee that Pacifica should act like a network and “centralize” various functions, especially accounting and reporting. Directors listened but nothing changed.

As the national political conventions approached she turned her attention to Pacifica’s coverage. A radio journalist, Sawaya considered it a high priority. Still, people were surprised by her decision to leave the national office and personally cover the presidential race at a time when the main management issue was resolving its financial crisis. What they didn’t know was that she had already resigned.

Before she left for Denver, another confrontation intensified the situation. A volunteer programmer, allegedly “banned” from KPFA in Berkeley, showed up unexpectedly. The General Manager wasn’t around, but the Business Manager felt that something needed to be done. Calling the National Office next door, she asked for advice from the new Human Resources Director, Dominga Estrada, who advised her to call the police. According to witnesses, when the cops arrived excessive force was used. Sawaya was there and attempted to block videotaping of the event.

This deepened the existing divide at the station. Management defended its decision but said it wasn’t responsible for the overreaction of the police. Dozens of volunteers, and some on the staff, saw it as another example of a management out of step with Pacifica’s values and mission. A letter of no confidence in GM Lemlem Rijio was signed by dozens of people.

Soon afterward HR director Estrada left for a new job elsewhere and the National Board began to openly discuss what was called a “national office collapse.” The term actually referred to one of several options for how to address the overall problems. One alternative was to struggle on as is, a decision that would create a large budget deficit. Another was to cut some national positions and the salaries of others. The third and most radical option was to lay off almost everyone, retaining only enough staff to pay the bills and keep governance and the national office functioning.

The Board also had to decide what to do about the leadership vacuum. Some hoped to quickly recruit a new Executive Director. But the process would take months, and proposals to re-expand the CFO’s authority and apply strict performance standards to managers were likely to get in the way.

Even if a new chief executive could be found – and the Board overcame its divisions – there were elephants in the room. Pacifica’s leaders were far from agreement on how to resolve its financial crisis, and, even more difficult, restructure its programming and management to reverse the long-term decline in listenership and income.

By early 2009, as blogs and discussion forums speculated about receivership, bankruptcy, and breaking up the network, the balance of power shifted again. In New York and on the national board, the controversial Justice and Unity Coalition lost control. A new national chair, Grace Aaron of Los Angeles, stepped in as Interim ED. As the crisis deepened, she took dramatic action.

WBAI was facing eviction. It was $128,000 behind on the rent for its Wall Street office and studio space by April, and owed another $75,000 in back payments for its coveted transmitter atop the Empire State Building. It was losing at least $500,000 a year, required repeated short-term bailouts, and owed the national office almost $1 million in back payments for central services. WBAI had weathered storms and struggles before. But this time the troubles not only could bring down the station but also threaten the future of Pacifica itself.

To reduce the rent, Tony Riddle, the station’s fifth General Manager in seven years, renegotiated a long-term lease with Silverstein Properties – without getting Aaron’s approval. Under the new terms, WBAI had to pay $60,000 in May, another $75,000 in June, and $45,000 by July 25. If the station or Pacifica missed a payment, the consequence would be immediate eviction. It turned out to be one of Riddle’s last acts as GM.

In early May, Aaron removed him, but created a new “at home” job for Riddle as National Development Director. It was apparently a consolation prize for not making a stink. The new CFO, LaVarn Williams, was appointed Acting GM of the station. Almost immediately, Program Director Bernard White was removed. Aaron had already ordered the locks changed on the transmitter site. While some WBAI boosters cheered the changes as long overdue, others took to the streets, decrying a racist world view among opportunistic liberals.

In June, Aaron removed another GM, Ron Pinchback of WPFW in Washington, DC. The station had also lost listeners and fallen short on fundraising in recent years. Yet critics saw racial motives: like White and Hicks, Pinchback was African-American, suggesting to some that the changes were really a purge of top Black managers. The fact that most replacements were also Black was overlooked.

“WBAI was predominantly white in the 1960s and 1970s,” noted JUC leader Lederer. “And there has always been a rear guard of white listeners and programmers who want to go back.” JUC members and other Bernard White backers threatened to boycott and possibly sue unless this latest “national coup” was reversed. The station’s “race” war wasn’t over yet.

When Amy Goodman expressed “dismay” about White’s removal in a letter to Pacifica management, Williams replied that he and previous GMs were responsible for a “failure model” that jeopardized both “your program and the whole foundation.” Despite the popularity of Democracy Now!, Amy’s influence had become limited over the years, mainly governed by a mutually lucrative contract to air the show and assist with fundraising. Thus, barring a successful lawsuit, which could take years to resolve, or an LSB election that returned the JUC to power, Bernard White had seen his final days at Pacifica.

By 2010, Pacifica finally settled on a new Executive Director, Florida feminist radio host Arlene Engelhardt. The intensity of conflict was down a bit, but revenues from on-air fundraising continued to decline. KPFA’s GM Rijio was forced out and only KPFT in Houston had permanent management.

Upset about staff cutbacks, Kellia Ramares, long-time journalist and board operator at KPFA, delivered her own swan song at a Pacifica National Board meeting in July. After more than a decade with the network, including an arrest in the newsroom during the bad old “hijack” days, she announced that she was leaving. “Pacifica hires an election supervisor while they cannot keep a news tech at quarter-time hours?” she asked rhetorically. “Is this the business of elections or radio? To those who say that I should not criticize this expenditure, because ‘we must democratize Pacifica,’ I quote Confucius: “You cannot teach philosophy to a hungry man.”

The critique went deeper still. In an article for the Atlantic Free Press, Ramares added, “I now question the entire alleged movement that calls itself progressive.” She urged others similarly disillusioned to ask whether “progressivism is a philosophy that helps its adherents live healthy, secure, decent lives in the material world of today, or is it just pie-in-the-sky propaganda that institutions such as Pacifica use to get well-meaning people to give it money.”

Acknowledging that all media were taking an economic hit, she nevertheless had concluded that “citizen journalism, available across the political spectrum, but a special darling of the left because of its free speech nature and alleged purity of purpose, is destroying the ability of journalists to make a living. Paid journalists can’t compete with free. Is it progressive to expect, or even to demand, to receive free work in a society that demands that we pay for our food, clothing, housing and health care? Is it progressive to give donations to an institution for its infrastructure, but not to care about whether the workers in that institution can pay their bills?”

“Can we do well while we do good,” she concluded, “or is progressivism just a fancy name we give our struggle and poverty in order to make our marginalization seem noble?”

When rumors fly through Planet Pacifica or attacks get especially nasty, people often blame provocateurs and charge that the government is out to get radio’s voice of the people. There is some basis for this suspicion. The FBI had Pacifica in its sights as early as 1958, and took a special interest in 1962 when former Special Agent Jack Levine gave KPFA an interview. Levine exposed the Bureau as a threat to democracy and a tool of J. Edgar Hoover, its vain and obsessed director. According to Mathew Lasar, who reviewed Freedom of Information Act files, the Bureau poked, prodded, and harassed the organization for years, even planting agents disguised as private citizens.

In recent times, however, charges of counter-intelligence operations directed against the organization have been speculative at best, and occasionally excursions into free-range paranoia. As Executive Director, I was frequently asked to investigate such suspicions but found no solid evidence of a government operation. And even if a disinformation campaign was being pursued, it would be overkill. The Pacifica community is capable of destabilizing itself without a federal assist. Outside forces aren’t responsible for the bylaws or listener activist distrust of staff, the slow response to the digital age, disputes about the mission, programming gridlock, financial decline, or misbehavior by board members and volunteers.

Part of the problem is the version of democracy put in place in 2002. At this point, the five stations had about a million regular listeners (declining since then). Of this total, about 10 percent make financial or volunteer contributions, qualifying them to participate in local elections. Of that total, little more than 10 percent actually return ballots in the elections. In recent years it has sometimes been difficult to reach that bylaw-mandated threshold.

Due to instant runoff voting, it takes at most about 300 votes for someone to be elected to a station board. In other words, Local Station Board members draw their right to govern from less than one percent of the listeners. And in order to win, candidates often resort to negative appeals, especially charges that the process is corrupt and Pacifica isn’t democratic enough. In general, the elections have tended to perpetuate an atmosphere of confrontation and suspicion.

Board meetings also pose problems. They frequently feature rude outbursts and other disrespectful behavior. Roberts Rules are often abused, becoming weapons of obstruction rather than tools to promote rational discussion. Members use e-mails to spread rumors and promote debates of marginal relevance. In many cases, factional alliances manipulate the rules. Productivity suffers and questionable behavior opens the organization to legal liability. All this has had the effect of alienating potential supporters or future board members.

Touring the stations back in 2006, I repeatedly asked whether Pacifica was trying to operate a radio network or create a government. The reason was that it looked like the latter. Some even wanted quasi-judicial bodies – like the Committee to Investigate Allegations of Racism and Sexism formed in 2006 – and the equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act, as if Pacific was a National Security State. Anyone who questioned the “bold experiment” was considered out of step, possibly even a reactionary.

More than three years after I left, despite financial crisis, major staff turnover and a forceful exercise of executive power, progress remains elusive. Change is in the air, but the outcome is uncertain. Another round of contentious Board elections is underway, and whatever the results, they will likely either slow down the pace or again alter the direction.

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Warren’s Post Office Proposal: Palast Aims at the Wrong Target

Investigative reporter Greg Palast is usually pretty good at peering behind the rhetoric and seeing what is really going on. But in tearing into Senator Elizabeth Warren’s support of postal financial services, he has done a serious disservice to the underdogs – both the underbanked and the US Postal Service itself.

In his February 27 article “Liz Warren Goes Postal,” Palast attacked her support of the USPS Inspector General’s proposal to add “non-bank” financial services to the US Postal Service, calling it “cruel, stupid and frightening” and equating it with the unethical payday lending practices it seeks to eliminate.

After “several thousand tweets by enraged liberals,” he wrote a follow-up article called “Brains Lost in Mail—Postal Bank Bunkum,” in which he contends, “the Postal Governors are running a slick, slick campaign” to “use federal property to run illegal loan-sharking shops.” He says they would “team up with commercial banks to cash in on payday predation,” exempting themselves from Warren’s own consumer protection regulations.

His first article concludes:

While the USPS wants to “partner” with big banks, why not, instead, allow community credit unions to use post offices as annexes to provide full, complete, non-usurious neighborhood banking services? This is the type of full-service “postal banking” successful in Switzerland and Japan that is envisioned by Ellen Brown, not the payday predation proposed by the USPS.

I obviously agree with him on the full-service postal banking alternative, but that is not something Congress appears ready to approve. Palast has not looked closely at the white paper from the Inspector General’s office  relied on by Senator Warren, or at the research on payday lending and the inability of credit unions to service that market. The IG’s proposal, rather than fleecing the poor, would save them from being fleeced by offering basic financial services at much reduced rates. And that makes it a very good start.

The Straits and Strictures of the USPS

In analyzing the proposal, we need to consider the stressed circumstances and limitations of the Postal Service. It is fighting for its life, after the nefarious 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) rendered it insolvent. Apparently intended to force the privatization of the post office, the Act required the prefunding of postal retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future. That means funding workers not yet born, an onerous burden no other public or private company is required to carry.

Worse, as the white paper notes:

The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) generally prohibits the Postal Service from offering new nonpostal services. However, given that the Postal Service is already providing money orders and other types of non-bank financial services, it could explore additional options within its existing authority.

Given the hostility among conservatives in Congress to postal expansion of any sort, full-service banking (involving deposits, checking and savings accounts, and home and business loans) is unlikely to be authorized any time soon. But the proposed prepaid Postal Cards would simply be an electronic 21st century extension of paper money orders, and short-term Postal Loans could be construed as advances on those cards. According to the white paper, the proposed Postal Card would cost users less than half what they pay for prepaid cards now, and Postal Loans would cost them less than one-tenth the cost of a payday loan, a substantial savings for the poor.

It sounds good, but where will the post office get the money for the loans if it cannot branch into taking deposits? And where will it get the capital to back the loans when it is insolvent? The white paper states:

Electronic payment products like Postal Cards might be a wise entry point, and would expand upon existing services like paper money orders. . . . The right partners could bring much needed startup cash to the table as part of the deal, overcoming the Postal Service’s current funding limitations.

The white paper also suggests partnering with banks for the back-end network and expertise necessary to deal with a national or global card system. But the RIGHT partners are emphasized:

One important note of caution: the Postal Service should be very mindful to ensure that no partnership damages its reputation. The level of trust the Postal Service has earned from the public is an unmatched asset, and one that should not be jeopardized.

Billions More for the Poor

The white paper notes that more than a quarter of all US households do not have a bank account, or use costly services like payday loans and check-cashing exchanges just to make ends meet. People who filed for bankruptcy in 2012 were on average just $26 per month short of meeting their expenses, so even modest savings would make a major difference to them:

The average underserved household has an annual income of about $25,500 and spends about $2,412 of that just on alternative financial services fees and interest. That amounts to 9.5 percent of their income. To put that into perspective, that is about the same portion of income that the average American household spends on food in one year. In 2012 alone, the underserved paid some $89 billion in fees and interest.

Banks are closing branches all over the country, mostly in low-income areas; but post offices are still to be found everywhere. They could offer affordable financial services that would save the underserved billions of dollars in exorbitant fees and interest.

Postal Loans could be made for less than a tenth of the fees charged for a typical payday loan of the same size. The example is given of a $375 loan paid off in 5-1/2 months. A typical payday lender would charge annual interest of 391%, for a total of $520 in interest and fees. For a comparable Postal Loan, the borrower would pay a $25 upfront loan fee and 25% interest, making the total for interest and fees a mere $48 across the life of the loan. The white paper concludes:

If even one-tenth of the 12 million Americans who take out a payday loan each year got this hypothetical Postal Loan instead, they could collectively save more than half a billion dollars a year in fees and interest. And that is to say nothing of the benefits Postal Loans could bring to the 10 million unbanked U.S. households which cannot even get payday loans.

The proposed Postal Loan could save these marginal borrowers about $100 per month, potentially saving them from bankruptcy:

If this helped decrease personal bankruptcies by just 5%, it would not only help more than 50,000 people a year avoid the lasting stigma and financial effects of bankruptcy, it would also potentially keep some $10 billion a year in loans and other debts from being dragged through bankruptcy court, where much of it would be canceled at tremendous expense to creditors (most of whom are financial institutions). That would be good for American families, for banks, and for the entire country.

The Questionable Credit Union Alternative

Palast argues that his credit union can give the same loan for 10%, but this is doubtful. In a fall 2012 article titled “Are Payday Lending Markets Competitive?”, Victor Stango shows that credit unions, despite their claims, are generally not able to offer competitive payday loans. Few credit unions even offer them, because both credit unions and borrowers themselves find the credit union version unattractive. Stango’s survey found that borrowers actually preferred the higher-priced payday loans, because they had fewer restrictions.

Banks do not generally make small personal loans, even to creditworthy borrowers, because they are not cost-effective for the bank; and the underserved often cannot get credit cards because they have bad or nonexistent credit histories, making them a high credit risk. They therefore turn to payday loans, on which credit unions do offer lower rates; but they can offer them only by being more restrictive on approval and repayment terms and by adding fees. More restrictive terms mean credit union payday loans have lower default risk; but risk-adjusted prices on standard payday loans, says Stango, may actually be no higher than those on credit union payday loans.

The National Credit Union Administration now allows an APR of 28% on short-term small loans. Lenders can’t really afford to do it for less, because there are so many defaults.

As for big banks licking their chops at getting in on the USPS’ 25% short term loans, this hardly seems likely either. Big banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, are already major funders of payday lenders—the ones in the 391% bracket. The USPS returns will seem paltry by comparison.

Profits to the People

Postal Loans and Postal Cards are only two of a suite of non-bank financial services proposed in the white paper that could result in substantial savings for the poor, while at the same time generating much-needed profits for the struggling Postal Service itself. Postal profits serve the public by keeping the Pony Express running and postage stamps affordable.

The Inspector General’s white paper concludes, “As the Postal Service continues to look for new ways to serve the citizens of the 21st century, non-bank financial services may be the ‘killer app’ for diversifying its revenue base.”

It may also be the killer app for keeping both the poor and the Postal Service itself out of bankruptcy.

_____________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Critiquing Richmond’s eminent domain plan – Prof. Hockett’s response

The comment below to my eminent domain article merited a detailed response, so I sent it to Professor Robert Hockett, the Cornell University law professor who was the principal author of the Richmond plan.  His answer was so useful that I thought I would submit it as a separate post, also below.  Thanks Bob and Marc!

Marc Joffe, on March 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm said:

I am not in a position to debate the legal theory – which looks plausible. But I think you are missing certain facts which make this situation something far more murky than a plucky local government standing up for the little guy against evil banks.

First, Wall Street has already collected its profits from these securitization deals – in the form of fees paid when the mortgages were bundled 7 or more years ago. While we don’t know exactly who owns all the securities that would be negatively impacted by an eminent domain, we do know that a lot of it is held by public employee pension funds. So instead of taking it to the big banks, you may well be taking it to the humble public servant.

Second, not everyone who took on these mortgages is a poor innocent victim. Some wanted to take cash out of their properties for one reason or another, and actually got the money cheap due to the lending bubble. Also, many homeowners with underwater mortgages in Richmond are not poor. The original pool slated for eminent domain included 3000+ square foot McMansions and waterfront properties. Finally, with the recent rebound in home prices, many fewer homes are underwater and foreclosure rates are down – so you are addressing yesterday’s problem.

As for the council, they need to work with Mortgage Resolution Partners because they want someone to cover their legal costs during the inevitable litigation. The City could be driven into bankruptcy if it is forced into endless litigation or suffers an adverse judgement. More disturbing is the recent expose from the Center for Investigative Reporting showing that Richmond public housing – a Council responsibility – is dilapidated and infested with vermin. If we can’t trust elected officials to provide livable public housing why should we rely on them to resolve blight arising from private foreclosures.

Prof. Hockett’s response:

   It never ceases to amaze me how, even after years now of explaining and advocating the eminent domain approach to the underwater PLS loan problem and detailing precisely (a) when it is and when it is not called for, (b) how it works, and (c) the premises upon which it is predicated, people still seem to misunderstand or mischaracterize the plan and entirely overlook or breeze past its fundamental premise.  That premise is, again, that deeply underwater loans are subject to enormous default risk (just look at Fannie’s and Freddie’s 10K filings for a hint as to how high that risk is – nearly 70% for non-prime and 40% even for prime loans), such that one actually RAISES the actuarial value of the targeted loans by purchasing them and writing down principal so long as one targets the RIGHT loans.  That idea is transparently conveyed, I would have thought, in the VERY TITLE of the NY Fed piece: you can pay Paul AND Peter where these loans are concerned.  

    Why, then, do we continue to encounter, again and again, blithe references to ’securities that would be negatively impacted,’ ‘investors who would lose,’ etc.?  The whole POINT of the plan is to target ONLY deeply underwater loans and associated securities that will be POSITIVELY affected.  Those are EXACTLY the loans Richmond and other cities are looking at.  And they are getting the values of those loans appraised by the industry’s own favored appraiser – MIAC.   

    Next, on the ‘yesterday’s problem’ meme, this one entirely ignores the locally concentrated nature of the nation’s underwater mortgage loan problem.  Well more than half of Richmond’s, Irvington NJ’s, Newark NJ’s, Baltimore MD’s, Wayne County MI’s, … etc. etc. etc. … loans are deeply underwater.  (Take a look at the CoreLogic or Zillow ‘heat maps’ for a ‘big picture’ view of the problem’s distribution.)  There is no ‘recovery’ worth the name in these places.  Note moreover that even nationally the underwater rate is still around 20% – after having been between 25% and 30% at its worst.  All this even though we are now approaching year eight – EIGHT! – since home prices began tanking in the summer of ’06!  Are we to wait another 12-16 years for the remainder of the problem to ‘take care of itself?’  And just what is the source of future appreciation supposed to be, given continued real wage and income stagnation, continuing high unemployment, and Fed intentions to taper from historically low interest rates - rates that account for all ‘recovery’ that’s thus far occurred – in coming months?  

    Hope springs eternal, it seems, and that is a beautiful thing.  But it is quite beyond the pale to expect Richmond to watch helplessly – and indeed hopelessly - as thousands more of its own residents are rendered homeless in the name of the beautiful ‘hope’ of pontificating well-to-do financiers. 

    Like remarks hold of one commentator’s observation concerning Richmond’s recent public housing problem.  That is indeed a terrifying story, which I’ve followed carefully from the start, but people like this fellow are drawing the very contrary of the right lesson.  The lesson is not that ‘we can’t trust local government to manage public housing well, therefore let us sit back and watch thousands more lose their homes and be forced into public housing.’  The lesson, rather, is ‘let us finally end the foreclosure crisis, in order both that there be no more demand on scarce public housing resources and that there finally be a restoration of municipal revenue, which of course shrinks to the vanishing point when wave after wave of foreclosure destroys property value and with it the city revenue base – all while, with cruel irony, municipal abatement costs brought on by abandoned and dilapidating homes shoot through the roof.’ 

    There could be no more effective solution to Richmond’s challenges – including those with public housing – than to get its residents back into their own homes, and to prevent any more residents from needlessly LOSING their homes. 

    Finally, I don’t think that the ‘endless litigation’ meme deserves any credence either.  I have repeatedly assessed every one of the four to five putatively ‘legal’ objections that opponents have tried out over the past several years, and literally not a single one of them – not the Takings Clause ‘argument,’ not the Due Process Clause / jurisdictional ‘argument,’ not the ‘dormant’ Commerce Clause ‘argument,’ and not, funniest of all, the Contract Clause ‘argument’ - is serious.  They appear to be meant more to terrorize municipal counsel than actually to impugn the legal bona fides of the eminent domain plan.  (Surely that’s why they flew all over the internet on impressive law firm letterhead long before any suits were filed.)  Opponents have lost two suits against Richmond already on precisely the grounds that I said that they would within minutes of their filing them back last August and September.  I don’t think these opponents are irrational; at some point they are going to stop throwing millions of their own dollars away on comical ’Hail Mary’ lawsuits doomed ab initio to failure, and instead enter into constructive dialogue with the cities on how best to select, and then value, loans locked in PLS trusts whose values can be raised by writing down principal.  Surely Richmond’s reliance on MIAC in appraising its targeted loans ought to reassure them of the cities’ good faith. 

    Because value is now being needlessly lost in the form of continuing – yet avoidable – delinquencies, defaults, and costly foreclosures, what we are talking about here - and what I’ve been talking about all along - is value recoupment.  It’s about ending an ongoing, deadweight loss.  The salvaged value can be distributed solomonically over homeowner, bondholder, and all other stakeholders alike.  And it is precisely this distribution – as well as determining how best to maximize the surplus that is to be distributed – that those who now slander and carp at the cities ought to be JOINING the cities in effecting.  To do otherwise is simply to throw away value.

Editor’s comment: “distributed solomonically” – great image! That sums it up.

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