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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 14,350

Journal Archives

Fast-tracking TiSA: Stealth Block to Monetary Reform

by Ellen Hodgson Brown / June 12th, 2015

It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

— Attributed to Henry Ford

In March 2014, the Bank of England let the cat out of the bag: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it. So wrote David Graeber in The Guardian the same month, referring to a BOE paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy.” The paper stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong. The result, said Graeber, was to throw the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.

The revelation may have done more than that. The entire basis for maintaining our private extractive banking monopoly may have been thrown out the window. And that could help explain the desperate rush to “fast track” not only the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA would nip attempts to implement public banking and other monetary reforms in the bud.

The Banking Game Exposed

The BOE report confirmed what money reformers have been saying for decades: that banks do not act simply as intermediaries, taking in the deposits of “savers” and lending them to borrowers, keeping the spread in interest rates. Rather, banks actually create deposits when they make loans. The BOE report said that private banks now create 97 percent of the British money supply. The US money supply is created in the same way.

TiSA Exposed

TiSA involves 51 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The deal would liberalize global trade in services covering close to 80% of the US economy, including financial services, healthcare, education, engineering, telecommunications, and many more. It would restrict how governments can manage their public laws, and it could dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, turning those services over to the private sector.

Recall the secret plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials in the 1990s to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally, so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws. The vehicle used was the Financial Services Agreement concluded under the auspices of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The plan worked, and most countries were roped into this “liberalization” of their banking rules. The upshot was that the 2008 credit crisis took down not just the US economy but economies globally.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/fast-tracking-tisa-stealth-block-to-monetary-reform/



Expelled for Life

By Jen Marlowe
Source: TomDispatch.com
June 12, 2015

Nasser Nawaj’ah held Laith’s hand as, beside me, they walked down the dirt and pebble path of Old Susya. Nasser is 33 years old, his son six. Nasser’s jaw was set and every few moments he glanced over his shoulder to see if anyone was approaching. Until Laith piped up with his question, the only sounds were our footsteps and the wind, against which Nasser was wearing a wool hat and a pleated brown jacket.

“Why did they take our home?” the little boy asked.

“Why did they take it? Good question,” replied Nasser, pausing to choose his words carefully. “They don’t want Palestinians. They don’t want us here.”

Laith was, in fact, asking about something that had happened 29 years ago when his father was a young boy. But he could just as well have been referring to the imminent threat of expulsion facing his family and his community today.

I had spent the previous night with Nasser and his family in their tent on their farmland in Khirbet Susya in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank. Since 1986, they have have lived there, one-third of a mile from their old home, which is now an Israeli archeological park. Perched on the hill above us is an Israeli settlement built on land occupied by Israel in 1967. That settlement, which is considered illegal under international law, was established in 1983 and is also called Susya. Where we now are, a few hundred meters away across the road, was once Old Susya, the former village of Nasser’s family.

I asked Nasser how it felt to show his son the place of his birth. “I feel something, but there are no words for it,” he replied. He struggled for a moment to articulate his emotions, but broke off in mid-sentence, took Laith’s hand, and walked with him towards the cave’s exit. Father and son climbed the stairs out into the brightness of the cold winter day, where they would continue to explore Old Susya, before returning to their current home in Khirbet Susya — another home from which they may be expelled at any moment.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/expelled-for-life/

What Drives Governments to Keep TISA, TPP and TTIP Secret?

By Joe Emersberger
Source: teleSUR English
June 12, 2015

On this web page, the Canadian government asks if we are “Looking for a brief recap of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating rounds? “

This is a representative sample of what it offers to explain two years worth negotiations since Canada joined other governments in writing the TPP:

“Among the topics discussed in Washington were legal and institutional issues, textiles, rules of origin, state-owned enterprises, environment, goods market access, technical barriers to trade, and e-commerce.”

Feel better informed?

They might as well have said “we talked about a lot of stuff” and left it at that.

Here is something way more informative to read: a list of the 605 (overwhelmingly corporate) official “advisers” in the USA who have seen, and helped write, the TPP.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/zcommentary/what-drives-governments-to-keep-tisa-tpp-and-ttip-secret/

Germany is bluffing on Greece

By Mark Weisbrot
Source: Aljazeera America
June 12, 2015

You can ignore all the talk of a “Grexit,” the bluff and bluster of right-wing German ideologues such as Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble who would celebrate it, and repetitive, stubbornly dire warnings that time is running out. Did you notice that the much-hyped June 5 deadline for the Greece’s payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came and went, Greece didn’t pay and nobody fell off a cliff? Trust me, this is not a cliffhanger.

Although there have been numerous references to game theory in the ongoing commentary, it’s really not necessary if you look at the revealed preferences of those who the Syriza government is polite and diplomatic enough to call its European partners. Take partner-in-chief German Chancellor Angela Merkel: If there’s one thing she doesn’t want to be remembered as, it’s the politician who destroyed the eurozone.

Of course, we don’t know if a Greek exit would do that, but there’s a chance that it could. Even if the European Central Bank would be able to contain the resulting financial crisis, it is possible that Greece would, after an initial shock, ultimately do much better outside the euro, which might convince others to want to leave. Whatever the probability of that scenario, Merkel is, like most successful politicians, a risk-averse creature who won’t roll those dice.

And there is an elephant in the room that she is not going to ignore: the United States. There are scattered press reports that Barack Obama’s administration has put pressure on Merkel to reach an agreement with Greece, but the importance of that has been vastly understated. Unless it is a request that could get a German government voted out of office — such as George W. Bush’s bid for support of his invasion of Iraq in 2003 — something that is strategically important to Washington is extremely likely to find agreement in Berlin. And in this case, Merkel and Obama are basically on the same page.

The politics of empire are much more important than any economic concerns here. For the same reasons that the United States intervened in Greece’s civil war (1946 to ’49) and supported the brutal military dictatorship (1967 to ’74) — with all the murder, torture and repression that these involved — Washington does not want to have an independent government in Greece.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/germany-is-bluffing-on-greece/

If the eurozone thinks Greece can be blackmailed, it is wrong

By Costas Lapavitsas
Source: The Guardian
June 11, 2015

The never-ending Greek crisis witnessed a dramatic acceleration last week: the government submitted a list of proposals, the troika (the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank) came back with a list of its own, the Greek side rejected them out of hand, a parliamentary debate followed in Athens during which the prime minister repeated the rejection, and finally Greece failed to make a scheduled payment to the IMF on 5 June, presumably bundling all its payments for the end of the month.

After five years of catastrophic failure, there is a sense that the crisis is about to reach a denouement, perhaps involving default and exit. There is frustration among the population with what is perceived as the unbending attitude of the lenders. But there is also deep concern regarding the implications of default and exit.

The proposals by the Syriza government represent a painful compromise compared to its electoral promises. It has accepted tight fiscal targets, and to achieve them it is offering to raise VAT on several goods, while also imposing a substantial tax burden on the rich, thus achieving some redistribution. It has also toned down its policies on privatisation and pensions. In return it is asking the troika for an immediate injection of liquidity, as well as for a serious commitment to reduce Greek debt and to promote long-term investment. There is hardly anything revolutionary, nor even particularly radical, in these demands.

The response of the eurozone creditors, judging by a leaked “official” document, has been ruthless. They have set fiscal targets slightly above those of Syriza, but to achieve these they are demanding a substantial increase in VAT, including a rise of 10% on electricity, thus hitting the poorest where it hurts. They are also demanding the abolition of subsidies and tax relief measures (including for farmers and poor pensioners), and pension cuts. Finally they demand an end to collective bargaining, no increase of the minimum wage and sustained privatisations.

These are familiar measures proposed by the IMF on many occasions across the world. They represent failed and outdated economic thinking, and are likely to mean low growth, high unemployment and low incomes. Even worse, the troika is making no suggestions regarding the settlement of debt and future investment.

These are familiar measures proposed by the IMF on many occasions across the world. They represent failed and outdated economic thinking, and are likely to mean low growth, high unemployment and low incomes. Even worse, the troika is making no suggestions regarding the settlement of debt and future investment.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/if-the-eurozone-thinks-greece-can-be-blackmailed-it-is-wrong/

Homeless Man Drops Knowledge About The Prison Trap And Relationships In The Internet Age

A homeless man in Austin, TX was recently recorded speaking to a Youtuber outside of a gas station, not only about his own life and situation, but also about the state of society in general. The man seemed happy that someone came up to speak with him and discussed how sometimes he feels that no one really cares.

The man began by speaking about the prison system and the drug war, and how difficult it is, even for nonviolent offenders to get employment and housing once they leave prison.

“Going to prison wasn’t the hard part, it was getting out and being part of society again, that was the hard part,” he said.

He went on to tell the story of how he was once a contractor and had all of the material possessions that he could hope for, but that all came to a sudden end when he was forced to spend 12 years in prison on a nonviolent drug charge. That charge has prevented him from getting a house, or a job since his release, and he is just one of millions in the same position.

Full article: http://www.trueactivist.com/homeless-man-drops-knowlege-about-the-prison-trap-and-relationships-in-the-internet-age/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TrueActivist+%28True+Activist%29

New Bionic Lens Could Give You Vision BETTER Than 20/20 For Life

June 2, 2015 by Amanda Froelich

Credit: Ocumetics Technology Corp

Better-than-perfect vision is a thing of science-fiction, right? Not anymore!

According to Business Insider, the new Ocumuetics Bionic Lens implant could remedy impaired vision forever. Invented by Dr. Garth Webb of Ocumetics Technology Corp, the lens will go beyond offering standard 20/20 vision and give patients the super power of seeing three times better.

The innovative invention was presented last month at a cataract and refractive surgery conference after its development took over eight years of research and experimentation. The project itself cost a whopping $3 million in funding for research, international patents, and trials. Dr. Webb says that with his procedure, which takes just eight painless minutes, every person could have extraordinary vision.

Different than working like a contact lens, the Bionic Lens acts similarly to cataract surgery, adhering to the eye’s natural lens. The procedure can be done in an out patents office, its steps simply having a saline solution with the lens flushed into the eye with a syringe. After 10 seconds, the folded lens opens up and moves itself over the eye’s natural lens.

Webb says that immediately after the procedure, vision is totally corrected. It then should allow patients to see farther and more clearly.

Full article: http://www.trueactivist.com/new-bionic-lens-could-give-you-vision-better-than-2020-for-life/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TrueActivist+%28True+Activist%29

Russian firm to supply Iran S-300 missile system once deal agreed

Tue Jun 2, 2015 7:45am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian state arms producer Almaz-Antey said on Tuesday it would supply Iran with the advanced S-300 missile system once a commercial agreement is reached.

The company's chief executive, Yan Novikov, confirmed Moscow had removed restrictions on deliveries to Tehran that were imposed under pressure from the West in 2010.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in April ending the self-imposed ban on selling the S-300 system to Iran.

His decision came after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iran on curbing its nuclear program.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Lidia Kelly)


Gives some pause to further aggressive actions towards Iran when they're being equipped by, and have been partnering in training exercises with Russia and China for years. Neocon PNAC dreams of the Iran prize might best be scrapped - or the ME war, I'm afraid, will be 1000 times worse than they could probably ever imagine. I do believe the war was started the day of the invasion of Iraq, it's spread like a cancer. The west needs to end it's aggressive, atrocity-producing actions in a part of the world we have no business in, especially considering the horror we've already caused, and watch go on daily. We don't own the ME, Africa, Asia, Europe, South America or any other nation outside our own borders. I sometimes can't believe how much damage we've done.

Terror on Trial: Family of Drone Victims Vows to Fight German Court Ruling

Published on
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
by Common Dreams

Faisal bin Ali Jaber, whose relatives were killed in 2012 strike, says he 'will not give up... it is—quite simply—a matter of life and death for us.'

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Faisal bin Ali Jaber filed a constitutional claim against Germany last October following revelations that it helped the U.S. conduct covert drone strikes in Yemen, including one which killed two of Jaber's family members. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Three years after a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed two civilians attending a wedding, a German court on Wednesday ruled against a member of the victims' family in a case that challenges international support for the so-called "War on Terror."

Faisal bin Ali Jaber was granted permission to appeal the court's decision after judges rejected his constitutional claim against Germany, filed last October following the deaths of Jaber's nephew and brother-in-law, killed in a U.S. drone strike on August 29, 2012 in the village of Khashamir.

The claim was filed after revelations that Ramstein Air Base, situated in southwest Germany but operated by the U.S. Air Force, is "crucial to facilitating American covert drone strikes in Yemen," according to legal charity Reprieve. Jaber is represented by Reprieve and the European Center for Human Rights.

Jaber could not testify in person because travel restrictions in Yemen—implemented over the Saudi Arabia-led military assault against Houthi rebels—prevented him from leaving the country. He had his statement read before the court on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama and German officials previously denied that Germany was involved in drone operations. However, a top-secret intelligence document leaked earlier this year confirmed that Ramstein "is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries," as written by The Intercept, which published a report on the document in April.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/05/27/terror-trial-family-drone-victims-vows-fight-german-court-ruling

Food, Water, Health, Life: UN Experts Warn of Threats Posed by Secret 'Trade' Deals

Published on
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
byCommon Dreams

'All draft treaty texts should be published so that Parliamentarians and civil society have sufficient time to review them and to weigh the pros and cons in a democratic manner,' say officials

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

The human rights stakes are too high to keep so-called "free trade" deals secret, say UN experts. (Photo: Jerrick Romero-Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Echoing the protests of civil society organizations and social movements around the world, a panel of United Nations experts on Tuesday issued a stark warning about the threats that secret international "trade" agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pose to the most fundamental human rights.

"Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labor standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement," reads the statement, whose ten signatories include Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities and Ms. Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

In particular, the officials raise the alarm about the "investor-state dispute settlement" systems that have become the bedrock of so-called "free trade deals," included in 3,000 agreements world-wide, according to the count of The New York Times. Popularly known as corporate tribunals, ISDS frameworks constitute a parallel legal system in which corporations can sue state governments for allegedly impeding profits and thereby supersede democratic laws and protections.

The UN experts warn that "ISDS chapters are anomalous in that they provide protection for investors but not for States or for the population. They allow investors to sue States but not vice-versa." Under this framework, states have faced penalties for "for adopting regulations, for example to protect the environment, food security, access to generic and essential medicines, and reduction of smoking, as required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or raising the minimum wage," resulting in a "chilling effect," the officials warn.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/02/food-water-health-life-un-experts-warn-threats-posed-secret-trade-deals
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