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newthinking

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Member since: Tue Feb 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
Number of posts: 2,006

About Me

Long time reader on DU and liberal/progressive. Up until recently I have not posted a lot. But I am very concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the people there. Liberals need to understand what is really happening, because Ukrainians are in a very dangerous situation and the geopolitical thing (US/Russia) is actually distracting from the realities that Ukrainians are facing on the ground there. So I have been posting a fair amount about that situation.

Journal Archives

The US is still the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave

The US is still the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave

The US supreme court is hearing a pregnancy discrimination case that could have far-reaching effects for American women who work through their pregnancies

Jessica Valenti: Why doesn’t the US do more to help pregnant women?


Link to interactive: http://interactive.guim.co.uk/embed/2014/12/2014-12-maternity-leave/

The US supreme court on Wednesday is hearing the case of 42-year-old Peggy Young, who sued her employer, UPS, for pregnancy discrimination. Young claims the shipping company refused to accommodate her pregnancy by giving her a temporary assignment to avoid lifting heavy packages.

But as the case unfolds, the US continues to shirk an even more basic pregnancy accommodation: maternity leave.

The US is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity or parental leave to workers. It’s an often-cited statistic, but one which should continue to shock us.



http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/03/-sp-america-only-developed-country-paid-maternity-leave


War by Media and the Triumph of Propaganda

Secrecy, Surveillance and Censorship
War by Media and the Triumph of Propaganda
by JOHN PILGER

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.

Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/05/war-by-media-and-the-triumph-of-propaganda/


Ukraine Elections Bring Society Closer to Brink of All Out War and Economic Collapse

Ukraine Elections Bring Society Closer to Brink of All Out War and Economic Collapse
by JO and DYLAN MURPHY
CounterPunch
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/04/ukraine-elections-bring-society-closer-to-brink-of-all-out-war-and-economic-collapse/

The parliamentary elections in Ukraine has been lavished with praise by Western politicians and the mainstream media as confirmation of the country’s turn towards democracy and a rejection of Putin’s evil Russian empire. What the media drones and corporate politicians won’t tell you is that these elections represent a disaster for the ordinary people of Ukraine.

Ukraine is bankrupt and its economy is rapidly collapsing. It has been promised billions in aid from the IMF and EU in return for the most vicious austerity measures that will make Greece look like a picnic. Industry and agriculture are suffering steep declines in production while austerity measures will lead to huge cuts in wages and welfare benefits. At the same time the rapid immiserisation of the masses is worsening due to massive price increases in basic foodstuffs and essential utilities such as electricity, gas and water.

All of the capitalist politicians elected to the new Rada have no solution to these devastating economic problems. Their economic programme can be summed up in the slogan; ”Austerity, austerity and yet more austerity.” Capitalism offers an extremely bleak future to the ordinary people of Ukraine.

The election will return a government that is committed to continuing the war against its own people in the rebel held regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. It confirms the splitting up of the country into several parts. Crimea will stay with Russia while the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk which make up Novorossia will continue to fight for their independence, which leaves the rest of Ukraine minus about 15% of its former population.

It would be more accurate to call this election the ”battle of the billionaires”. All of the political parties that got representation in the new Rada are puppets of the different billionaire oligarchs. It is these people who really call the shots in collaboration with their masters in Washington.

There is nothing remotely progressive about the motley collection of ultra-nationalists who will make up the new Rada. Most of the new MP’s are rabidly right wing and ultra hostile to Russia, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the trade unions, the Communist Party, the list goes on. It includes an assortment of Holocaust deniers and sympathisers for the Ukrainian Nazis who fought with the SS during World War Two. It would appear that even people wanted by Interpol for inciting terrorism and responsible for the Odessa massacre on 2 May, such as Right Sector fuhrer Dmitry Yarosh, can be elected to the new Rada.



Story continues and includes an Interview with Rozhin Boris
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/04/ukraine-elections-bring-society-closer-to-brink-of-all-out-war-and-economic-collapse/

The Washington Post's Putinology


The Washington Post's Putinology
By Peter Hart
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

http://fair.org/blog/2014/10/28/the-washington-posts-putinology/

We're supposed to know by now that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a really bad guy–so bad that anything that he says is further proof of his screeching hostility to the United States.

The Washington Post reported (10/24/14) on a recent Putin speech with this blistering lead sentence:

“Making clear that the Kremlin has no intention of backing down from the worst Russia/Western crisis since the Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of trying to "reshape the whole world" for its benefit, in a fiery speech that was one of the most anti-American of his 15 years as Russia's paramount leader.”


Fiery anti-Americanism!

It's not hard to believe that Putin was highly critical of the US foreign policy, but what precisely did he say? The Post called it "a bitter distillation of Putin's anti-American rhetoric." The Post Karoun Demirjian and Michael Birnbaum reported that the address was an:

“unsmiling, straightforward worldview that blasted the United States as taking advantage of its powerful post-Cold War position to dictate misguided terms to the rest of the world. Putin faulted the United States for a rise in global terrorism, a resumption of a global arms race and a general worsening of global security.

It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again," Putin said, accusing the United States of breeding terrorists by upsetting the established order in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.”


OK, so fiery anti-Americanism is the belief that the United States desires a unipolar world where it calls the shots. Does anyone doubt US elites think otherwise?

And the US, he thinks, bears some responsibility for fueling the global arms race. The United States is, according to some less than fiery and not particularly anti-American news outlets, the leading supplier of arms in the world ("US Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market," New York Times, 8/26/12; "US Doubles Down on Foreign Military Sales," Defense News, 7/19/14).

On the subject of nuclear arms, a key issue in US/Russia relations, the New York Times (9/21/14) recently reported on the US plan to increase its nuclear arsenal–a "nationwide wave of atomic revitalization" that could cost well over a trillion dollars.

And it's hard to argue with Putin's critique of US foreign policy accomplishments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; those countries have suffered extreme violence and instability due to US military actions. Would there even be an ISIS without the US invasion of Iraq?

None of that should be mistaken as an endorsement of anything Putin or Russia has done. But if the Post means to show us that a foreign leader is a fiery, bitter anti-American, it might want to make a stronger case.

The news article, though, was nothing compared to the Post's editorial (10/27/14). Under the Web headline "Putinoia on Full Display," the paper blasted Putin for his

“poisonous mix of lies, conspiracy theories, thinly veiled threats of further aggression and, above all, seething resentment toward the United States.”


Again, that's a pretty serious charge. It's not hard to imagine a politician telling lies; which ones did Putin tell?

The Post doesn't seem to want to tell us. It does say Putin claimed that the United States has:

“promoted a "unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries." According to Mr. Putin, Washington has created chaos across the world by conspiring to foment revolutions, including what he views as an armed "coup d'etat" in Ukraine.”


Again, the United States does see itself as the world's lone superpower, with a dominant military and an obvious record of attempting to use military force, directly or otherwise, to change the world to its liking (though these efforts are not always successful). In Ukraine, in particular, Washington certainly supported the violent overthrow of an elected government–whether you want to call that a "coup d'etat" or not.

The editorial began with this observation:

“Anyone wondering what Western leaders have been up against when they try to reason with Vladi­mir Putin need only read the transcript of the Russian ruler's three-hour performance at the annual Valdai conference in Sochi on Friday.”


The thing is, if you're going to say someone is a poisonous liar who traffics in conspiracy theories, then you should show that. That the Post doesn't seem to feel the need to do so either means the evidence isn't there, or that the burden of proof is very low when it comes to official enemies.




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Per the license the only changes made are some mid paragraph link citations and images. Please see the original page at:
http://fair.org/blog/2014/10/28/the-washington-posts-putinology/
You can follow the additional references there.

Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens

I am more and more convinced that citizen panels/commissions are the next evolution in Democracy. Democracy (and Republics) have been an improvement over previous forms of government, but it is still possible, some would argue inevitable, for the government to separate itself from the people, corrupt or stack the deck in the favor of an elite.

Personally it seems to me that Parliaments (more evolved since they allow the citizens to mount new parties if the current ones fail), combined with citizen panel "stewardship", and lessening the professional political class (not eliminating, we will always need specialists), would be the direction to move.

Anyone know of an organization who is focused on advocating for this approach?

This article by The Atlantic goes into this concept:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens

Eric Liu May 11 2012, 9:00 AM ET

America can't afford to leave its government in the hands of professionals.



This year I'll wrap up a decade as a trustee of the Seattle Public Library. Our board of five citizens has unusual authority. Appointed by the mayor, we are an independent operating body. The city council gives us a line in the budget, but how we spend those funds, on what programs, in what allocations across which neighborhoods, with what kinds of popular input, and under what policies -- all such decisions rest in the hands of our citizen board.

There's something very American about such a volunteer body. We celebrate the "citizen scientist" or "citizen diplomat" or "citizen soldier" on the idea that while the job -- scientist, diplomat, soldier -- requires professional expertise, amateurs who care can also step in and contribute. Indeed, this is something of a golden age for amateurs. With big data and social media amplifying their wisdom, crowds of amateurs are remaking astronomy, finance, biochemistry and other fields.

But not so much the field called democracy. The work of democratic life -- solving shared problems, shaping plans, pushing for change, making grievances heard -- has become ever more professionalized over the last generation. Money has gained outsize and self-compounding power in elections. A welter of lobbyists, regulators, consultants, bankrollers, wonks-for-hire, and "smart-ALECs" has crowded amateurs out of the daily work of self-government at every level. Bodies like the library board are the exception.

What we need today are more citizen citizens. Both the left and the right are coming to see this. It is the thread that connects the anti-elite 99 percent movement with the anti-elite Tea Party. It also animates an emerging web of civic-minded techies who want to "hack" citizenship and government.

Why is government in America so hack-worthy now? There is a giant literature on how interest groups have captured our politics, with touchstones texts by Mancur Olson, Jonathan Rauch, and Francis Fukuyama. The message of these studies is depressingly simple: democratic institutions tend toward what Rauch calls "demosclerosis" -- encrustation by a million little constituencies who clog the arteries of government and make it impossible for the state to move or adapt.


Full story:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/democracy-is-for-amateurs-why-we-need-more-citizen-citizens/256818/

WSWS: Right-wing nationalist parties dominate Ukrainian parliamentary elections

Right-wing nationalist parties dominate Ukrainian parliamentary elections
By Andrea Peters
27 October 2014

Parliamentary elections in Ukraine Sunday delivered victories to a number of right-wing nationalist parties in a vote that was boycotted by the vast majority of the electorate in the country’s east. Exit polls indicate that the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, obtained 23 percent of ballots cast, followed by the People’s Front of current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, which garnered upwards of 21 percent. Trailing behind these two blocs was the Self Help Party, which reportedly got just over 13 percent of the vote.

Polls closed at 8:00 pm local time, and as of this writing, turnout is estimated at about 40 percent, with large differences between the east and west of the country. If accurate, this would represent a major decline in the overall level of voter participation compared to previous elections. In Ukraine’s 2012 parliamentary race, 57.4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, according to data available from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

It is estimated that between three and five million eligible voters concentrated in the east and southeast of the country—between ten and twenty percent of the total electorate—did not participate in the elections. Elections were not held in Donetsk or the Luhansk People’s Republic, which declared the October 26 vote a “farce” and scheduled their own votes for early November.

Even in areas under the central government’s control, turnout was low in regions with widespread popular hostility towards the Kiev regime. The Central Election Committee estimated voter participation in the southwestern city of Odessa at just 13.2 percent, and in Donetsk and Luhansk at 14.6 and 13.1 percent respectively. In May, dozens were killed in Odessa when pro-Kiev fascist forces trapped anti-government protesters in the local trade union building, massacring them and then setting the building alight.

President Poroshenko has said he is prepared to form a government with the all of the “parties of the Maidan,” referring to those political forces that backed the right-wing coup that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych last February. In addition to his own bloc, the People’s Front, and the Self Help Party, this includes the far-right Radical Party of Oleh Lyaschko, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party, and the Fatherland Party of oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko, which respectively won 6.4 percent, 6.3 percent, and 5.6 percent of the vote, according to early estimates.


Full Story:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/10/27/elec-o27.html

The Neocons — Masters of Chaos

The Neocons — Masters of Chaos
October 17, 2014
America’s neoconservatives, by stirring up trouble in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, are creating risks for the world’s economy that are surfacing now in the turbulent stock markets, threatening another global recession, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/17/the-neocons-masters-of-chaos/

If you’re nervously watching the stock market gyrations and worrying about your declining portfolio or pension fund, part of the blame should go to America’s neocons who continue to be masters of chaos, endangering the world’s economy by instigating geopolitical confrontations in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Of course, there are other factors pushing Europe’s economy to the brink of a triple-dip recession and threatening to stop America’s fragile recovery, too. But the neocons’ “regime change” strategies, which have unleashed violence and confrontations across Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and most recently Ukraine, have added to the economic uncertainty.

This neocon destabilization of the world economy began with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under President George W. Bush who squandered some $1 trillion on the bloody folly. But the neocons’ strategies have continued through their still-pervasive influence in Official Washington during President Barack Obama’s administration.

The neocons and their “liberal interventionist” junior partners have kept the “regime change” pot boiling with the Western-orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.


Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)


Continued:
http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/17/the-neocons-masters-of-chaos/

Ukraine's former President &Prime Minister to formalize and strengthen alliance with Neo-Nazi groups

Things in Ukraine are getting incredibly ominous.

Yes, this is a shocking headline but this is what is happening. There are no longer any doubts that the new Ukrainian leadership wasn't allied with Svoboda and Right sector (Neo Nazi groups) as a "necessary temporary situation", but is so aligned with them that they are taking part of the "fatherhood" party and binding with Svoboda and Right sector to create a larger, more powerful coalition.

Facism, having been emboldened from the recent coup in Ukraine, is growing significantly there as the country further splits politically. This is only one strong front for Facism there, there are also other parties such as PM Lyashko's "Radical Party, which has been growing in influence as well; (Lyashko is the Parlimentary member that Amnesty International warned on):

Link to Amnesty's info:
Impunity reigns for abductions and ill-treatment by pro-Kyiv vigilantes in eastern Ukraine
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/Impunity-reigns-for-abductions-ill-treatment-eastern-Ukraine-06-08-2014


There was always a problem with the new government that came into power in Kiev having brought in Neo-Nazi "commanders" into the executive branch and in many other positions in government. But they claim all along was that it wasn't a significant thing, and not demonstrative of the major personalities involved.

But this is clear evidence that not only was is it a considerable problem, but power players in the existing government are going to actually **increase** the prominence of these groups by forming a parliamentary collation and running together in the elections. This is a serious development and needs to be exposed.

From the Kyiv Post:

Turchynov, Avakov, Parubiy and commanders of special battalions included in military council of People's Front


http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/turchynov-avakov-parubiy-and-commanders-of-special-battalions-included-in-military-council-of-peoples-front-364326.html

Parubiy is one of the heads of "Svoboda". This alliance also includes Andriy Biletsky, the head of the “Azov” battalion, the most openly fascist of the paramilitary battalions. Biletsky is also the leader of the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine and it’s paramilitary wing Patriot of Ukraine, (essentially the most violent and militant of the neo-nazi groups in Ukraine).


From wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_of_Ukraine)

"The Patriot of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Патріо́т Украї́ни is a Ukrainian nationalist organization with racist and neo-Nazi political beliefs. It constitutes a paramilitary wing of the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine (S.N.A.), an assemblage of neo-Nazi organizations and groups founded in 2008 that share the social-national ideology and agree upon building a social-national state in Ukraine. Both the “Patriot of Ukraine” and the S.N.A. engage in political violence against minorities and their political opponents. The leader of the “Patriot of Ukraine” and of the Social-National Assembly is Andriy Biletsky."





Here is a picture of the collation meeting. (Notice the banner in the background).
The former President and PM in the foreground.







Vice News - Poroshenko’s Promises of Safety and Peace Ring Hollow in Eastern Ukraine

(OP comment: Vice news reports seem to be taking a turn; This is a report you will not see on the mainstream media.)

Excerpt:


"Sloviansk, has become an increasingly difficult area for journalists operate in.

Both the pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian military operating in the city have sought to limit press access in the area as part of a jostle to win what is seen as an informational war.

The result is an under-reported humanitarian crisis."




Poroshenko’s Promises of Safety and Peace Ring Hollow in Eastern Ukraine

By Harriet Salem
June 7, 2014 | Vice News

Today, Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, took the reins of power with a powerful speech promising to bring the crisis-ridden country “lasting peace” and a “guarantee reliable safety."

"I do not want war, I am not seeking revenge, even though I can see before my eyes the great sacrifices made by the Ukrainian people. I am seeking peace and will achieve Ukraine's unity. This is why I am starting my work by proposing a peace plan," he said.

Officials from across Europe, Washington, and Moscow attending the ceremony in Kiev offered their applause to the new president.



Full Story at Vice News: https://news.vice.com/article/poroshenkos-promises-of-safety-and-peace-ring-hollow-in-eastern-ukraine

Spread the truth: SS Fund = Legal Federal Treasuries

Please, the next time you hear someone repeating the lie that the Social Security fund "was already spent" or it is just an "IOU" correct them. Don't let this POLITICAL lie pass.

Please read the Facts here.

Social Security funds exist and are US Treasuries, which are considered the most secure and tangible form of note that currently exists. Saying that it is not a real firm asset is like saying that the dollars in your wallet are just "Paper" and only worth the cost of printing.

Why should it be acceptable for our government and people to even consider DEFAULTING or Deflating those Treasuries, while not touching the Trillions in other Treasury obligations owned by the wealthy, other governments, and institutions, as some of our people and politicians freely speak of? They are the same form of currency with the same backing. They are all legal notes exchangeable for legal tender.


From the FAQ on SS funds linked above:

How are the trust funds invested?

By law, income to the trust funds must be invested, on a daily basis, in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the Federal government. All securities held by the trust funds are "special issues" of the United States Treasury. Such securities are available only to the trust funds.
In the past, the trust funds have held marketable Treasury securities, which are available to the general public. Unlike marketable securities, special issues can be redeemed at any time at face value. Marketable securities are subject to the forces of the open market and may suffer a loss, or enjoy a gain, if sold before maturity. Investment in special issues gives the trust funds the same flexibility as holding cash.

Why do some people describe the "special issue" securities held by the trust funds as worthless IOUs? What is SSA's reaction to this criticism?

As stated above, money flowing into the trust funds is invested in U. S. Government securities. Because the government spends this borrowed cash, some people see the trust fund assets as an accumulation of securities that the government will be unable to make good on in the future. Without legislation to restore long-range solvency of the trust funds, redemption of long-term securities prior to maturity would be necessary.
Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.

Many options are being considered to restore long-range trust fund solvency. These options are being considered now, over 20 years in advance of the year the funds are likely to be exhausted. It is thus likely that legislation will be enacted to restore long-term solvency, making it unlikely that the trust funds' securities will need to be redeemed on a large scale prior to maturity.

http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/fundFAQ.html
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