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polly7

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Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 19,754

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Democracy or Bust in Europe

By Yanis Varoufakis
Source: Project Syndicate
April 3, 2016

“Europe will be democratized or it will disintegrate!” That maxim is more than a catchphrase from the manifesto of the Democracy in Europe Movement – DiEM25, the group I just helped to launch in Berlin. It is a simple, if under-acknowledged fact.

Europe’s current disintegration is all too real. New divisions are appearing seemingly everywhere one looks: along borders, within our societies and economies, and in the minds of Europe’s citizens.

Europe’s loss of integrity became painfully evident in the latest turn in the refugee crisis. European leaders called upon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open his country’s borders to refugees from the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo; in the same breath, they chastised Greece for letting the same refugees into “European” territory, and even threatened to erect fences along Greece’s borders with the rest of Europe.


Why is Europe disintegrating? And what can be done about it?

The answer lies in the EU’s origins. The EU began life as a cartel of heavy industries determined to manipulate prices and redistribute monopoly profits through a bureaucracy located in Brussels. To fix prices across European borders, there was a need to fix exchange rates as well. During the Bretton Woods era, the Unites States provided this “service.” But as soon as the US ditched Bretton Woods in the summer of 1971, the Brussels-based cartel’s administrators began to design a European fixed exchange-rate system. After a series of (often spectacular) failures, the euro was born to superglue exchange rates together.

As with all cartel managers, the EU technocrats treated genuine pan-European democracy as a threat. Patiently, methodically, a process of de-politicizing decision-making was put in place. National politicians were rewarded handsomely for their acquiescence, while anyone opposed to the cartel’s technocratic approach was labeled “un-European” and treated as an outsider.

Thus, although European countries remained democratic, the EU institutions, where sovereignty over crucial decisions was transferred, have remained democracy-free. As Margaret Thatcher explained during her last Parliamentary appearance as British Prime Minister, who controls money and interest rates controls the politics of Europe.


Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/democracy-or-bust-in-europe/

The video link-to on the launching of DiEM25 wouldn't work, for some reason, so:



This is a very long video but so interesting.


Who is Yanis Varoufakis?:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017246559

http://www.democraticunderground.com/111672236

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017303480

http://www.democraticunderground.com/111669246

Venezuela: Dismantling a Weapon of Mass Destruction

By Mark Weisbrot
SOurce: Triple Crisis
April 3, 2016

The government of Venezuela has often denounced an “economic war” against it, and of course this is part of the current situation. The primary weapon of mass destruction in this war is the black market for the dollar. It is no coincidence that the main source of information for this market — the extreme right-wing “DolarToday” — is run by someone who played an important role in the U.S.-backed military coup in 2002. He was then an army officer — Colonel Gustavo Díaz Vivas — and he now resides in Alabama, with DolarToday operating out of the U.S.

This is also no coincidence. Washington has been trying to topple the Venezuelan government for at least 15 years, and almost every journalist I have talked to during this time — including from every major international media outlet — has been well aware of this effort; although they almost never write about it.

The black market for the dollar is especially destructive because it is part of an inflation-depreciation spiral that has been growing since the fall of 2012. When the price of a dollar on the black market rises, importers must pay more for the dollars that they need, and this increases inflation. But then the higher inflation encourages more people to buy dollars on the black market, as a store of value. This pushes up the black market dollar price, which increases inflation, in a continuing spiral. In October 2012, inflation was at 18 percent and the black market dollar was at 13 Bf (Bolivares Fuertes). At the end of 2015, inflation hit 181 percent, and the black market dollar had passed 800.

The main reason that the current spiral does not get even worse is that the economy is in recession. It shrank by 5.7 percent last year. But attempts to stimulate the economy through government spending would likely feed the inflation-depreciation spiral. This means that the economy is currently trapped in recession.


Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/venezuela-dismantling-a-weapon-of-mass-destruction-2/

As Saudi and Allies Bombard Yemen US Clocks up $33 Billion Arms Sales in Eleven Months

by Felicity Arbuthnot / April 1st, 2016

As they lambast their latest “despot”, Syria’s President al-Assad — a man so popular in his country and the region that the US Embassy in Damascu had, by the end of 2006, devised a plan to oust him — arms sales to countries where human rights are not even a glimmer on the horizon have for the US (and UK) become an eye watering bonanza.

The latest jaw dropper, as Saudi Arabia continues to bombard Yemen with US and UK armaments dropped by US and UK-made aircraft, is sales worth $33 Billion in just eleven months to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) according to Defense News.


In the meantime as Yemen continues to be blitzed, with the UN stating that eighty percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance, 2-4 million are displaced and approaching four thousand dead.

It seems Saudi and its allies have more than enough ordinance to continue the slaughter and more than enough US and UK military advisors to help them in the decimation.


Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/04/as-saudi-and-allies-bombard-yemen-us-clocks-up-33-billion-arms-sales-in-eleven-months/

Where is NATO in all of this, surely the 80% in need of humanitarian assistance are worthy of at least a no-fly-zone? What about the R2P commitment, whose underlying premise assures that sovereignty entails a responsibility to protect all populations from mass atrocity crimes and human rights violations?

.......

:large

Oliver Stone Makes Impassioned Plea for Sanders: 'Hillary Clinton Has Effectively Closed the Door on

Peace'

Stone writes that Sanders has rescued him from complete despair about our political scene.

By Oliver Stone / Huffington Post April 1, 2016

When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming... The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way... We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction... because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening... Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk, The Art of Power

I’ve been in deep despair these last few months about our political landscape. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh recently elevated my spirit, and I share it with you. Because I am — we are — still here! Though it’s clear that the die is cast and that Clinton will win — that is, if you believe in numbers and materialism, but I don’t, not completely.

I enclose here (below) several recent articles, which you need to read to understand how difficult a situation we’ll be in if we continue with a harder-line version of Obama. Hillary Clinton has effectively closed the door on peace, blasting both the Palestinian peace process and the Russians in the same week. NATO is her god, the best thing the “exceptional” US has to export in this new “American Century.”


We’re going to war — either hybrid in nature to break the Russian state back to its 1990s subordination, or a hot war (which will destroy our country). Our citizens should know this, but they don’t because our media is dumbed down in its “Pravda”-like support for our “respectable,” highly aggressive government. We are being led, as C. Wright Mills said in the 1950s, by a government full of “crackpot realists: in the name of realism they’ve constructed a paranoid reality all their own.” Our media has credited Hillary Clinton with wonderful foreign policy experience, unlike Trump, without really noting the results of her power-mongering. She’s comparable to Bill Clinton’s choice of Cold War crackpot Madeleine Albright as one of the worst Secretary of States we’ve had since ... Condi Rice? Albright boasted, “If we have to use force it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.”

Hillary’s record includes supporting the barbaric “contras” against the Nicaraguan people in the 1980s, supporting the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia, supporting the ongoing Bush-Iraq War, the ongoing Afghan mess, and as Secretary of State the destruction of the secular state of Libya, the military coup in Honduras, and the present attempt at “regime change” in Syria. Every one of these situations has resulted in more extremism, more chaos in the world, and more danger to our country. Next will be the borders of Russia, China, and Iran. Look at the viciousness of her recent AIPAC speech (don’t say you haven’t been warned). Can we really bear to watch as Clinton “takes our alliance to the next level”? Where is our sense of proportion? Cannot the media, at the least, call her out on this extremism? The problem, I think, is this political miasma of “correctness” that dominates American thinking (i.e. Trump is extreme, therefore Hillary is not).

This is why I’m praying still for Bernie Sanders, because he’s the only one willing, at least in the name of fiscal sanity, to cut back on our foreign interventions, bring the troops home, and with these trillions of dollars no longer wasted on malice, try to protect the “homeland” by actually rebuilding it and putting money into its people, schools, and infrastructure.


Full article: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/oliver-stone-makes-impassioned-plea-sanders-hillary-clinton-has-effectively-closed?akid=14130.44541.sqCFcU&rd=1&src=newsletter1053718&t=8

Kunduz Killers Go Free

by Media Lens / March 31st, 2016

On the night of October 3, 2015, a United States Air Force AC-130 gunship repeatedly attacked a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Forty-two people were killed and dozens wounded. The US military plane had conducted five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack.



MSF154301The remains of a bed frame in a room on eastern wing of the main Outpatient Department building.

As we reported at the time, MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was ‘intentionally targeted’ in ‘a premeditated massacre’; it was a ‘war crime’. The medical charity rejected US assurances of three inquiries by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. MSF demanded instead an independent international investigation. It was to no avail. The US ignored public outrage and went ahead with its standard whitewashing procedures when it commits war crimes that get exposed. The outcome was announced on March 18. BBC News reported:

The US military has disciplined more than a dozen service members after an air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan killed 42 people last year.

‘The Pentagon has acknowledged that the clinic was targeted by mistake, but no personnel will face criminal charges.


Note that the BBC wording – ‘the Pentagon has acknowledged that the clinic was targeted by mistake‘ – is deceptive bias. The BBC made no mention that MSF had presented strong evidence that the clinic was ‘deliberately targeted’, that the attack was a ‘war crime’, and that there was an urgent need for an independent inquiry.

The BBC continued:


Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/kunduz-killers-go-free/

http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/815-kunduz-killers-go-free.html

New Veteran-led Campaign Challenges Islamophobia

by Brian J. Trautman / March 31st, 2016

Violence against American Muslims is growing faster than at any time since 9/11, with assaults on Muslim individuals and their places of worship having tripled since the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks. A New York Times article published last December cites several examples, which include shootings and vandalism. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), last year set a record for the highest number of incidents targeting U.S. Mosques. As a result of this violence, Muslims across the country, including women and children, have conveyed to the public that they genuinely fear for their safety and security.

Hostility toward Muslims because of their religious faith is fundamental to the root and expression of Islamophobia. A 1997 report of the Runnymede Trust defined Islamophobia as “an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination.” The report also identified eight common misconceptions about Islam, such as the religion is inferior, primitive, and barbaric and embodies a political ideology rather than a true religious faith. For these reasons, among others, it can be argued that Islamophobia is a form of racism.

The hate propaganda and political demagoguery observed in the current presidential election season has fueled Islamophobia and contributed to the sharp rise in hate crimes. Many public figures, social commentators and members of the media tragically conflate terrorism with Islam, despite the lack of credible evidence pointing to any connection between the two. Sadly, it is quite possible that the anti-Muslim responses to the terror attacks in Brussels from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others may have incited more Islamophobia and put Muslims at greater risk of victimization.


Determined to defy and combat Islamophobia before more innocent Muslims are targeted and harmed, Veterans For Peace (VFP), working closely with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), has organized a campaign called “Veterans Challenge Islamophobia” (VCI). This national campaign is a broad-based, action-oriented effort which calls on military veterans everywhere to defend the values of religious freedom, equality and individual rights – the very same values that are embedded in the U.S. Constitution. The campaign strives to prevent further abuse of our Muslim neighbors while building strong, positive relationships with Muslim communities to help guard them against hate-motivated threats and behavior.

VFP understands that terror groups like ISIL do not speak for Islam and, in fact, the vast majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslims. To quote Muslim Navy veteran and VFP member Nate Terani, ISIL’s atrocities represent “utter cowardice carried out by thugs who know NO religion except violence and destruction. They are NOT members of my faith which preaches the sanctity of creation.” In a recent op-ed, Paul K. Chappell, retired Army Captain and a member of VFP’s advisory board, argues that ISIL deliberately provokes Islamophobia for the purposes of recruitment. The terror organization requires two specific conditions before this objective can be fulfilled: “It needs to dehumanize the people it kills, and it also needs Western countries to dehumanize Muslims.” Chappell contends that ISIL “commits horrible atrocities against Westerners because it wants us to overreact by stereotyping, dehumanizing, and alienating Muslims.” Islamophobia, therefore, has the real potential of strengthening ISIL, especially if left unchallenged.


The formal statement of the VCI campaign reads as follows:

We are U.S. military veterans, many of whom saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, who are appalled by the current spate of bigotry, racism and hatred expressed toward Muslims, the huge majority of whom are law-abiding and productive citizens. ..............


Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/new-veteran-led-campaign-challenges-islamophobia/

Neoliberal Asphyxiation

by Robert Hunziker / March 31st, 2016

Neoliberalism sucks the air out of the middle class, and it suffocates politicians.


Neoliberalism alters the wealth-creation processes whereby opportunity is shifted from the middle and lower classes to an exclusive avenue populated by the wealthy. This is accomplished by elected politicians who utilize trade pacts (NAFTA), and manipulate taxation law (“15% carried-interest” tax rate for people like Mitt Romney), and deregulate protective public interests like abandonment of the Glass Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from market speculation, all in order to shift money from the pockets of the lower/middle to the upper class. The result is the rich get a lot richer, unbelievably richer, and everybody else gets really pissed off, signaling outright failure of this brand of capitalism; i.e., neoliberalism, to coexist within the precepts of a democratic republic.

It’s all about privatization and profit and deregulation whilst cutting average people off at the knees. It’s little wonder that people are casting votes of retribution. They’ve been had, turned upside down, sideways, and assailed from the rear. After a while, it hurts.


http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/neoliberal-asphyxiation/#more-62249

Fracking .........

Bernie and Hillary and Fracking:

https://


*********************************************************************

(and how she didn't appear to consider much at all those 'conditions' peddling it to other nations)


How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World

A trove of secret documents details the US government's global push for shale gas.

—By Mariah Blake | September/October 2014 Issue

ONE ICY MORNING in February 2012, Hillary Clinton's plane touched down in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which was just digging out from a fierce blizzard. Wrapped in a thick coat, the secretary of state descended the stairs to the snow-covered tarmac, where she and her aides piled into a motorcade bound for the presidential palace. That afternoon, they huddled with Bulgarian leaders, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, discussing everything from Syria's bloody civil war to their joint search for loose nukes. But the focus of the talks was fracking. The previous year, Bulgaria had signed a five-year, $68 million deal, granting US oil giant Chevron millions of acres in shale gas concessions. Bulgarians were outraged. Shortly before Clinton arrived, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets carrying placards that read "Stop fracking with our water" and "Chevron go home." Bulgaria's parliament responded by voting overwhelmingly for a fracking moratorium.


Clinton urged Bulgarian officials to give fracking another chance. According to Borissov, she agreed to help fly in the "best specialists on these new technologies to present the benefits to the Bulgarian people." But resistance only grew. The following month in neighboring Romania, thousands of people gathered to protest another Chevron fracking project, and Romania's parliament began weighing its own shale gas moratorium. Again Clinton intervened, dispatching her special envoy for energy in Eurasia, Richard Morningstar, to push back against the fracking bans. The State Depart­ment's lobbying effort culminated in late May 2012, when Morningstar held a series of meetings on fracking with top Bulgarian and Romanian officials. He also touted the technology in an interview on Bulgarian national radio, saying it could lead to a fivefold drop in the price of natural gas. A few weeks later, Romania's parliament voted down its proposed fracking ban and Bulgaria's eased its moratorium.



Hillary Clinton is welcomed to Sofia by Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikolay Mladenov, left. US Department of State/flickr

Goldwyn had a long history of promoting drilling overseas—both as a Department of Energy official under Bill Clinton and as a representative of the oil industry. From 2005 to 2009 he directed the US-Libya Business Association, an organization funded primarily by US oil companies—including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Marathon—clamoring to tap Libya's abundant supply. Goldwyn lobbied Congress for pro-Libyan policies and even battled legislation that would have allowed families of the Lockerbie bombing victims to sue the Libyan government for its alleged role in the attack.


But environmental groups were barely consulted, while industry played a crucial role. When Goldwyn unveiled the initiative in April 2010, it was at a meeting of the United States Energy Association, a trade organization representing Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and ConocoPhillips, all of which were pursuing fracking overseas. Among their top targets was Poland, which preliminary studies suggested had abundant shale gas. The day after Goldwyn's announcement, the US Embassy in Warsaw helped organize a shale gas conference, underwritten by these same companies (plus the oil field services company Halliburton) and attended by officials from the departments of State and Energy.


http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/hillary-clinton-fracking-shale-state-department-chevron

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/10/how-hillary-clintons-state-department-sold-fracking-to-the-world

Iraq Invasion: Anniversary of The Biggest Terrorist Attack in Modern History?

by Felicity Arbuthnot / March 28th, 2016

Since terrorism’s tragedy is again in the news, it is timely to revisit perhaps one of the biggest acts of terrorism in modern history — the illegal invasion and destruction, ongoing, of Iraq.

March 20th marked the thirteenth anniversary of an action resulting in the equivalent of a Paris, Brussels, London July 7th, 2005, often multiple times daily in Iraq ever since. As for September 11th, 2001, there has frequently been that death toll and heartbreak every several weeks, also ongoing.



Saddam Hussein and fundamentalism were two different planets and any inkling of a threat was instantly dealt with – yes, sometimes brutally, but Iraq and the region remained secular and apart from the domestic problems and criminalities common to near all nations, the streets were safe and life normal. In Baghdad, until the deprivation and desperation wrought by the 1990 embargo and the 1991 bombing, people did not even lock their doors.

“Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and traded around the world the carnage they could inflict to our economies, to our security, to world peace would be beyond our most vivid imagination”, Blair continued. Indeed. The US-UK spawned ISIS who obtained arms from the US disbanded Iraqi army, arms from the US provided and trained new Iraqi army as they fled multiple conflicts in multiple areas, leaving all behind and indeed have “obtained these weapons” which have been dropped from the air to them on multiple occasions — by the US.


The result of “removing Saddam” (read: lynching Saddam) has been a blood soaked daily litany for thirteen years. The majority of Iraqis in exile fled to send money back home to keep their families and extended families during the decimating embargo which had resulted in basic food stuffs increasing in price often over eleven thousand fold.

The “thousands of children” were indeed dying “every year” – from “embargo related causes” according to the UN. The government set up a ration distribution system to try and counter the food crisis (Iraq had imported 70% of near everything.) The UN called the efficiency of the system exemplary, but the embargo prevented food and essential imports. Even soap, toothpaste, shampoo and sanitary requirements had become luxury items. Prior to the embargo, the country had free health service, food was inexpensive and plentiful and water borne diseases mostly eradicated. Between the embargo and the bombing all was destroyed.


In Fallujah, besieged by militias and according to another contact: “ … bombed since January 1, 2014 by the government (armed by the USA and with US military advisers this whole time) and since August 2014 by the US Coalition”, the people are starving: “ On March 17th a husband threw himself his wife with their three children in to the river (Euphrates) from a bridge and drowned. They were desperate from hunger …” And the bodies of: “Nearly four thousand killed civilians have been taken to the hospital since January 2014.


On March 27th, Tony Blair was back giving his views. They broadly include invading Iraq, Syria and Libya to save Europe from ISIS, remarking of ISIS: “… This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance”, said the man who was interested in neither and enjoined a “Crusade” – an equally thousand year outdated fundamentalism.

Anyone who listens to the advise of the author who did so much to spawn the horror, genocide, destruction, insanity, barbarism and should be facing a War Crimes Tribunal for his part in bringing the all about, is arguably certifiably insane.


Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/iraq-invasion-anniversary-of-the-biggest-terrorist-attack-in-modern-history/

bbm
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