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Hometown: Connecticut
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Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
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Journal Archives

The Bernie Buzz: Stop the Ugland House Scam

On April 15, the income tax deadline for most Americans, Bernie introduced a bill to stop corporations from avoiding their fair share of taxes by stashing profits in the Cayman islands, Bermuda and other tax havens. He spoke at a Capitol news conference in front of a photo of the notorious Ugland House, the Cayman Islands office that is the registered address of more than 18,000 companies. Yes. There are supposedly 18,000 companies doing business in one small building. Needless to say, it's all a scam to avoid paying taxes to the U.S. government.

Nobody is really doing business there. It's just a postal address to allow the companies to claim that they do business in the Cayman islands which has no corporate income tax. “At a time when we have an $18.2 trillion national debt; at a time when many of the largest corporations in America are paying no federal income taxes; and at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high, it is past time for corporate America to pay their fair share in taxes so that we can address the many problems which this country faces," Bernie said.


The reproduction of tyranny

Lamis Andoni

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The most painful aspect of the success of the post-Arab Spring counter-revolution is not only the return of tyranny across the Middle East, but also the reproduction of tyrannical culture by both media and society. It is almost as if tyranny were the natural state of things, and that justice and fairness are the exception, not the rule, in the Arab countries.

snip* Governments have resorted to intimidation and spreading panic by means of media outlets – a goal that would not have succeeded in recent months without the spectre of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other such terrorist organisations. This raises many questions regarding the true origins and purpose of such groups, especially since they can be seen to serve the interests of the counter-revolution, or even, can be considered an integral part of the regional counter-revolution that has driven many to support the return of oppression in search of safety.

The victory of the counter-revolution is also explained, to some extent, by the acceptance, and even encouragement of some elites for the return of colonialism under the pretexts of stability and the desire to get rid of the terrorist threat posed by ISIS and other armed militias ( some of whom actually work directly with the governments). These elites are, in fact, trying to prevent the destruction and barbarism that spares no one.

The deep psychological impact of what is currently happening – the shift from hope of freedom to the darkness of destruction, torture, killings and massacres – has restored subservience to the hearts of many. Such submission is the greatest tool for rallying the masses and driving them to accept tyranny and even participate in violence and murder, as we have seen throughout history, including during the Nazi era. This psychological impact will also be reflected in human interaction, as we have noticed that frustration and defeat leaves the impression that the calls for freedom and justice meant nothing and that the only rule that now applies is the survival of the fittest. It also leads people to believe that oppression and bulling, either in at home, work or school, are conditions that guarantee the preservation of power, status and control.

in full: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18054-the-reproduction-of-tyranny

In the Middle East, our enemy's enemy must be our friend

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 12 April 2015

World View: Al-Qaeda-type movements are gaining land and power, and there is only one way to stop them

The ghost of Osama bin Laden will have been chuckling this month as he watches the movements he inspired conquer swathes of the Middle East. He will be particularly gratified to see fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) storm into Al Mukalla, the capital of Yemen’s eastern province of Hadhramaut from which the bin Laden family originated before making their fortune in Saudi Arabia.

As happened in Mosul, Iraq last summer when the Iraqi army fled before a jihadi attack, Yemeni government soldiers abandoned their bases in Al Mukalla leaving US Humvees and other military equipment. Earlier, AQAP had seized the central prison in the city and freed 300 prisoners, including Khaled Batarfi, one of the most important jihadi leaders in Yemen.

It is a measure of the severity of the multiple crises engulfing the region that AQAP, previously said by the United States to be the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda, can capture a provincial capital without attracting more than cursory attention in the outside world. How different it was on 2 May 2011 when President Obama and much of his administration had themselves pictured watching the helicopter raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan where bin Laden was killed. The grandstanding gave the impression that his death meant that the perpetrators of 9/11 had finally been defeated.

But look at the map today as unitary Muslim states dissolve or weaken from the north-west frontier of Pakistan to the north-east corner of Nigeria. The beneficiaries are al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda inspired groups which are growing in power and influence. The US and its allies recognise this, but cannot work out how to prevent it.

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/in-the-middle-east-our-enemys-enemy-must-be-our-friend-10169984.html

The Libertarian Plea to Bring Back Jim Crow: An Oxymoron by a Regular Moron

By William K. Black
Quito: April 7, 2015

My April 4, 2015 column discussed the Wall Street Journal’s express endorsement of a right of merchants to discriminate against groups they detest. I explained that the WSJ was adopting the position of Richard Epstein and quoted Epstein about the policy question he found to be a “very hard question.” That question was “voluntary” hereditary slavery – he’s in favor of it as a “right” essential to “liberty.” But he admits that he finds it “very hard” to justify the impact of the “voluntary” contract of slavery on the “externalities” – and yes, he is talking about children as commodities. I quoted the passage from Epstein’s famous defense of discrimination in his book Forbidden Grounds to show how zany the policy views are that emerge like mold spores as soon as one endorses discrimination by merchants against groups they despise as a means of increasing “liberty.”

I also noted that, according to conservatives, every leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency rushed to embrace the right of merchants to discriminate in the Indiana Act as originally passed. I stressed that the Indiana’s Act allowed merchants to discriminate against any group – blacks, Jews, women wearing “immodest” dress, LBGT, or Latinos as long as the merchant phrased his bigotry as a product of his personal religious views. Republican Party strategists try valiantly every couple years to wean the Party from hostility to women and minorities, but the fear of losing in the Republican primary to someone to ultra-right has so terrorized every major Republican candidate for the presidential nomination that they keep on taking symbolic and substantive actions that constitute “revealed prejudices.” That same dynamic explains the Indiana legislature’s Republican members’ votes and Governor Mike Pence’s original enthusiastic support for authorizing merchants to discriminate on the basis of factors such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It is odd that a law that would allow a merchant to discriminate against customers on the basis of their religious beliefs could be labeled a bill protecting religious freedom. One might hope the media would point this out in their articles and on radio and television rather than parroting the original Indiana Act’s oxymoronic title.

I explained that this fear of the primary opponent from the ultra-right was acute in Indiana because the most respected Republican Senator, “Dick” Lugar, was annihilated in the primary by a loon. The loon was so extreme (describing women who were impregnated by their rapists as receiving a “gift” from G-d), that he lost in the general election even though Indiana is an infra-red state. The true “gift” that keeps on giving in terms of U.S. presidential elections is the Republican Party’s palpable hostility to enormous numbers of Americans. Mitt Romney even gave these people a number – he said that it was his job if elected not to represent the 47% of Americans.

My April 4 column was responding to the WSJ’s claim that such discrimination by merchants represented “dissent” and that “liberals” (by which they meant often conservative major business leaders) were acting outrageously because they did not “tolerate” such “dissent.” The great thing about the modern WSJ is that it only takes a few hours to start crazy and then spin into full zany. Sure enough, by April 6, 2015, William McGurn (WSJ alum gone even wackier as the New York Post’s editor), had written in the WSJ calling for libertarians to go full-Epstein and endorse merchants’ “right” to discriminate against groups they despise.

in full: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2015/04/the-libertarian-plea-to-bring-back-jim-crow-an-oxymoron-by-a-regular-moron.html

Unworthy victims: Western wars have killed four million Muslims since 1990


Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed as many as 2 million people, but this is a fraction of Western responsibility for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades.

Last month, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million.

The 97-page report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group is the first to tally up the total number of civilian casualties from US-led counter-terrorism interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The PSR report is authored by an interdisciplinary team of leading public health experts, including Dr. Robert Gould, director of health professional outreach and education at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Professor Tim Takaro of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Yet it has been almost completely blacked out by the English-language media, despite being the first effort by a world-leading public health organisation to produce a scientifically robust calculation of the number of people killed by the US-UK-led “war on terror”.

in full: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-killed-four-million-muslims-1990-39149394

Physicians for Social Responsibility

The Struggle for Palestine: What’s Winnable, What’s Not

Posted on Apr 7, 2015

By Jamie Stern-Weiner

How can the Palestine solidarity movement win? What demands should it make in order to achieve the maximum amount of justice within the constraints of what is politically feasible? And how should it frame those demands in order to reach a broad public?

These are questions of political judgment rather than science. But sound political judgment will be rooted, so far as possible, in a clear-eyed assessment of current (or incipient) public opinion. A movement that wants to persuade a mainstream audience will position itself within or just beyond the spectrum of mainstream public opinion, taking care not to isolate itself by adopting language and demands that lack political resonance.

What in the end matters is not merely public opinion but public opinion mobilized and expressed in the realm of formal politics.

The Swedish government’s decision in October 2014 to unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine triggered a succession of European parliamentary motions urging governments to follow suit. Lawmakers in the United Kingdom, France and Ireland called for immediate recognition while members of Portugal’s Parliament urged recognition “in coordination with the European Union.” Weaker motions were passed in Spain,1, Belgium2 and Italy while, in Denmark, a resolution calling for immediate recognition was rejected. [For footnotes, see the final page.]

in full: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_struggle_for_palestine_whats_winnable_whats_not_20150407

Hezbollah: Iran deal rules out specter of regional and world wars

Hezbollah leader says accord would prevent conflict as 'Israeli enemy was always threatening to bomb Iranian facilities that would definitely lead to regional war.'

By Laila Bassam and Oliver Holmes Apr. 7, 2015

REUTERS - The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Monday that a framework nuclear agreement that Iran reached with world powers last week rules out the specter of regional war.

"There is no doubt that the Iranian nuclear deal will be big and important to the region," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Syria's al-Ikhbariya television.

"The agreement, God willing, rules out the specter of regional war and world war," he said.

The tentative accord, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.


U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List
By Jack Moore 3/16/15

ISIS and What's at Stake for Saudi Arabia?

Madawi Al-Rasheed says the Saudis contend with ISIS to be the leaders of the Sunni world, but their interests converge as both regard Iran and the Shia as their enemy - April 5, 2015


Madawi Al-Rasheed is Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre at The London School of Economics and Political Science. She is originally from Saudi Arabia and currently lives in London. Her research focuses on history, society, religion and politics in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Her recent publications include A History of Saudi Arabia and A Most Masculine State .


ISIS and What's at Stake for Saudi Arabia? (2/3)PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay.

Continuing our series of discussions, Madawi al-Rasheed. She joins us, again, from London. Thanks for joining us, Madawi.


JAY: Once again, Madawi's a visiting professor at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

So in part one of this interview series, we talked about the Saudi stakes in Yemen. But as most countries, domestic politics sometimes is the most important determining factor about external policy. So today we're going to talk a little bit more about the situation in Saudi Arabia.

First of all, let's talk about the Shia in Saudi Arabia. First of all, as you mentioned in part one, the Saudis have incurred a couple of times actually in Bahrain to help the Bahraini monarchy suppress the rebellion there, or protests. There's a large minority Shia population in Saudi Arabia, and it happens to be very strategically located right where most of the oil is. Incurring this, the Yemen incursion, as the Houthis are Shia, how does this play out, in terms of Saudi domestic politics?

AL-RASHEED: I think the Saudi Shia started a kind of uprising protest movement. But they were suppressed. And until sort of recently, they continued to stage very small demonstrations in their villages in the Eastern province where the oil installations are, and the oil fields. But they failed to create any kind of cross-sectarian solidarities.


A young prince may cost Syria and Yemen dear

Sunday April 5, 2015

World View: As the US and Iran reach accord, Saudi Arabia endangers the status quo in the Middle East

A succession of crucially important military and diplomatic events are convulsing the political landscape of the Middle East. The most significant development is the understanding between the US and five other world powers with Iran on limiting Iran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions. But the muting of hostility between the US and Iran, a destabilising feature of Middle East politics since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, may not do much to stem the momentum towards ever greater violence in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

In any case, the benefits of a US-Iran agreement may be slow to come, if they come at all, as the Republicans in Congress, the Saudis and Israel try to torpedo it. And even if an accord is ratified and implemented, President Obama could be hedged in by its opponents from further co-operation with Iran in other parts of the Middle East. In contrast to this snail’s pace rapprochement, the crises in Yemen and Syria are getting worse by the day and, in Iraq, for all the government’s claims to have captured Tikrit, its forces are still only nibbling at the outer defences of Islamic State (Isis).

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies have the greatest self-interest in maintaining the status quo in the region, something they have been fairly successful in doing in the past. Who would have predicted in the late 1950s that Arab nationalist and socialist movements would pass away but Saudi Arabia would remain the theocratic absolute monarchy it has always been? What is striking about developments in the past few weeks is that it is Saudi Arabia that is seeking radical change in the region and is prepared to use military force to secure it. In Yemen, it has launched a devastating air war and, in Syria, it is collaborating with Turkey to support extreme jihadi movements led by Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate that last week captured its first provincial capital.

The Saudis are abandoning their tradition of pursuing extremely cautious policies, using their vast wealth to buy influence, working through proxies and keeping close to the US. In Yemen, it is the Saudi air force that is bombarding the Houthis, along with Yemeni army units still loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who was once seen as the Saudis’ and Americans’ man in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. As with many other air campaigns, the Saudis and their Gulf Co-operation Council allies are finding that air strikes without a reliable military partner on the ground do not get you very far. But if Saudi ground forces are deployed in Yemen they will be entering a country that has been just as much of a quagmire as Afghanistan and Iraq.


Obama: Iran accord will make the world safer

*An exceptionally good day for the whole world

WASHINGTON — The new deal between Iran, the United States and its allies Thursday is a "historic understanding" that paves the way for a final agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from making nuclear weapons, President Obama said.

"If this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer," Obama said at the White House.

Obama forcefully turned his 18-minute statement in the Rose Garden into a victory lap for his policies on Iran and the Middle East. He pledged to work with Congress and Israel, which are both skeptical of any deal with Iran, and with other nations to create a lasting agreement that negotiators have to reach by June 30.


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