I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the US–USSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.
Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.
In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.
Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.
Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years — 79% of his remaining life.
In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.
In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.
Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.
In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do — disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.
The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.
The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.
What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.
Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.
That’s all there is to it.
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts
“U.S. state on alert after nuclear waste leak” — Governor: “This is most disturbing news”… No ‘immediate’ public health threat #Hanford
US state on alert after nuclear waste leak […] HEIGHTENED radioactivity levels have been found outside a nuclear waste tank in the US state of Washington, officials say, in a new alert about a site used to make Cold War-era bombs. Governor Jay Inslee said there was no immediate public health threat […] A spokeswoman for Washington state’s Ecology Department explained why the new finding was so disturbing. “Until last night, it was thought the leak was contained in the outer shell, but workers detected elevated radioactivity levels within the leak detection pit,” Erica Holmes said.
The elevated reading, however, doesn’t pose an immediate public health threat, [Washington Gov. Jay Inslee] said. “This is most disturbing news for Washington,” the governor said in a statement. […]
KING 5 News
[…] It appears the most dangerous material on earth is out of its tank and out of their control, and there’s no immediate plan on how to solve the problem. […]
Now it appears the worst case scenario has happened, the waste has eaten through the outer tank wall. […]
But no one expected this […]
A crew working on the leak detection pit pulled a piece of equipment from it and measured a whopping contamination reading — 800,000 dpm,or disintegrations per minute. […]
Have you ever wondered how the government’s misinformation gains traction?
What I have noticed is that whenever a stunning episode occurs, such as 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing, most everyone whether on the right or left goes along with the government’s explanation, because they can hook their agenda to the government’s account.
The leftwing likes the official stories of Muslims creating terrorist mayhem in America, because it proves their blowback theory and satisfies them that the dispossessed and oppressed can fight back against imperialism.
The patriotic rightwing likes the official story, because it proves America is attacked for its goodness or because terrorists were allowed in by immigration authorities and nurtured by welfare, or because the government, which can’t do anything right, ignored plentiful warnings.
Whatever the government says, no matter how problematical, the official story gets its traction from its compatibility with existing predispositions and agendas.
In such a country, truth has no relevance. Only agendas are important.
A person can see this everywhere. I could write volumes illustrating how agenda-driven writers across the spectrum will support the most improbable government stories despite the absence of any evidence simply because the government’s line can be used to support their agendas.
For example, a conservative writer in the June issue of Chronicles uses the government’s story about the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, to argue against immigration, amnesty for illegals, and political asylum for Muslims. He writes: “Even the most high-tech security systems imaginable will inevitably fail as they are overwhelmed by a flood of often hostile and dangerous immigrants.”
The writer accepts all of the improbable government statements as proof that the brothers were guilty. The wounded brother who was unable to respond to the boat owner who discovered him and had to be put on life support somehow managed to write a confession on the inside of the boat.
As soon as the authorities have the brother locked up in a hospital on life support, “unnamed officials” and “authorities who remain anonymous” are planting the story in the media that the suspect is signing written confessions of his guilt while on life support. No one has seen any of these written confessions. But we know that they exist, because the government and media say so.
The conservative writer knows that Dzhokhar is guilty because he is Muslim and a Chechen. Therefore, it does not occur to the writer to wonder about the agenda of the unnamed sources who are busy at work creating belief in the brothers’ guilt. This insures that no juror would dare vote for acquittal and have to explain it to family and friends. Innocent until proven guilty in a court has been thrown out the window. This should disturb the conservative writer, but doesn’t.
The conservative writer sees Chechen ethnicity as an indication of guilt even though the brothers grew up in the US as normal Americans, because Chechens are “engaged in anti-Russian jihad.” But Chechens have no reason for hostility against the US. As evidence indicates, Washington supports the Chechens in their conflict with Russia. By supporting Chechen terrorism, Washington violates all of the laws that it ruthlessly applies to compassionate Americans who give donations to Palestinian charities that Washington alleges are run by Hamas, a Washington-declared terrorist organization.
It doesn’t occur to the conservative writer that something is amiss when martial law is established over one of America’s main cities and its metropolitan area, 10,000 heavily armed troops are put on the streets with tanks, and citizens are ordered out of their homes with their hands over their heads, all of this just to search for one wounded 19-year old suspect. Instead the writer blames the “surveillance state” on “the inevitable consequences of suicidal liberalism” which has embraced “the oldest sin in the world: rebellion against authority.” The writer is so pleased to use the government’s story line as a way of indulging the conservative’s romance with authority and striking a blow at liberalism that he does not notice that he has lined up against the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence and rebelled against authority.
I could just as easily have used a left-wing writer to illustrate the point that improbable explanations are acceptable if they fit with predispositions and can be employed in behalf of an agenda.
Think about it. Do you not think that it is extraordinary that the only investigations we have of such events as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing are private investigations, such as this investigation of the backpacks.
There was no investigation of 9/11. Indeed, the White House resisted any inquiry at all for one year despite the insistent demands from the 9/11 families. NIST did not investigate anything. NIST simply constructed a computer model that was consistent with the government’s story. The 9/11 Commission simply sat and listened to the government’s explanation and wrote it down. These are not investigations.
The only investigations have come from a physicist who proved that WTC 7 came down at free fall and was thus the result of controlled demolition, from a team of scientists who examined dust from the WTC towers and found nano-thermite, from high-rise architects and structural engineers with decades of experience, and from first responders and firefighters who were in the towers and experienced explosions throughout the towers, even in the sub-basements.
We have reached the point where evidence is no longer required. The government’s statements suffice. Only conspiracy kooks produce real evidence.
In America, government statements have a unique authority. This authority comes from the white hat that the US wore in World War II and in the subsequent Cold War. It was easy to demonize Nazi Germany, Soviet Communism and Maoist China. Even today when Russian publications interview me about the perilous state of civil liberty in the US and Washington’s endless illegal military attacks abroad, I sometimes receive reports that some Russians believe that it was an impostor who was interviewed, not the real Paul Craig Roberts. There are Russians who believe that it was President Reagan who brought freedom to Russia, and as I served in the Reagan administration these Russians associate me with their vision of America as a light unto the world. Some Russians actually believe that Washington’s wars are truly wars of liberation.
The same illusions reign among Chinese dissidents. Chen Guangcheng is the Chinese dissident who sought refuge in the US Embassy in China. Recently he was interviewed by the BBC World Service. Chen Guangcheng believes that the US protects human rights while China suppresses human rights. He complained to the BBC that in China police can arrest citizens and detain them for as long as six months without accounting for their detainment. He thought that the US and UK should publicly protest this violation of due process, a human right. Apparently, Chen Guangcheng is unaware that US citizens are subject to indefinite detention without due process and even to assassination without due process.
The Chinese government allowed Chen Guangcheng safe passage to leave China and live in the US. Chen Guangcheng is so dazzled by his illusions of America as a human rights beacon that it has never occurred to him that the oppressive, human rights-violating Chinese government gave him safe passage, but that Julian Assange, after being given political asylum by Ecuador is still confined to the Ecuadoran embassy in London, because Washington will not allow its UK puppet state to permit his safe passage to Ecuador.
Perhaps Chen Guangcheng and the Chinese and Russian dissidents who are so enamored of the US could gain some needed perspective if they were to read US soldier Terry Holdbrooks’ book about the treatment given to the Guantanamo prisoners. Holdbrooks was there on the scene, part of the process, and this is what he told RT: “The torture and information extraction methods that we used certainly created a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to whether or not this was my America. But when I thought about what we were doing there and how we go about doing it, it did not seem like the America I signed up to defend. It did not seem like the America I grew up in. And that in itself was a very disillusioning experience.”
In a May 17 Wall Street Journal.com article, Peggy Noonan wrote that President Obama has lost his patina of high-mindedness. What did Obama do that brought this loss upon himself? Is it because he sits in the Oval Office approving lists of US citizens to be assassinated without due process of law? Is it because he detains US citizens indefinitely in violation of habeas corpus? Is it because he has kept open the torture prison at Guantanamo? Is it because he continued the war that the neoconservatives started, despite his promise to end it, and started new wars?
Is it because he attacks with drones people in their homes, medical centers, and work places in countries with which the US is not at war? Is it because his corrupt administration spies on American citizens without warrants and without cause?
No. It is none of these reasons. In Noonan’s view these are not offenses for which presidents, even Democratic ones, lose their high-minded patina. Obama can no longer be trusted, because the IRS hassled some conservative political activists.
Noonan is a Republican, and what Obama did wrong was to use the IRS against some Republicans. Apparently, it has not occurred to Noonan that if Obama–or any president–can use the IRS against opponents, he can use Homeland Security and the police state against them. He can use indefinite detention against them. He can use drones against them.
All of these are much more drastic measures. Why isn’t Peggy Noonan concerned? Because she thinks these measures will only be used against terrorists, just as the IRS is only supposed to be used against tax evaders.
When a public and the commentators who inform it accept the collapse of the Constitution’s authority and the demise of their civil liberties, to complain about the IRS is pointless.
Apple paid almost no tax on earnings of more than $100bn over four years, US Senator Carl Levin and former presidential candidate John McCainclaimed last night.
One Apple subsidiary incorporated in Ireland paid no tax anywhere on a staggering $30bn of revenue between 2009 and 2012, the senators claim.
And a second incorporated in Ireland paid a tiny fraction – just five hundredths of one per cent in 2011 for example – on total reported income of $74bn over the same period.
The claims come ahead of the senate hearing today that will look at Apple’s tax activities and its relationship with Ireland going back over three decades.
The US senators published an explosive 40-page report last night, outlining what they claim is Apple’s use of Ireland and its different tax system to the US to avoid paying huge amounts of tax.
Apple’s Tim Cook is due to mount a strong defence at the public hearing today in Washington.
He will say that Apple pays more US tax than any other corporation, has a real presence in Ireland with 4,000 workers, and will deny the use of “gimmicks” to get out of paying a proper share of tax.
“Apple does not move its intellectual property into offshore tax havens and use it to sell products back into the US in order to avoid US tax; it does not use revolving loans from foreign subsidiaries to fund its domestic operations; it does not hold money on a Caribbean island; and it does not have a bank account in the Cayman Islands,” Apple said in a statement last night.
But the company admitted that its Irish subsidiary, Apple Operations International, has no presence or employees in Ireland and pays no tax here as a result, but neither is it tax resident in the US.
It is the kind of legal tax scheme that is infuriating political leaders in the US and in the UK desperate to tax the profits of big corporations.
It is even claimed that Irish authorities negotiated with Apple to cut the effective rate it pays in tax in some cases to just 2pc – a fraction of the standard 12.5pc.
via US senators accuse Apple of using Irish arm to avoid tax – Independent.ie.
via US senators accuse Apple of using Irish arm to avoid tax – Independent.ie.
Obama, who has betrayed democracy in America, unleashing execution on American citizens without due process of law and war without the consent of Congress, provoked Maduro’s response by suggesting that Maduro’s newly elected government might be fraudulent. Obviously, Obama is piqued that the millions of dollars his administration spent trying to elect an American puppet instead of Maduro failed to do the job.
If anyone has accurately summed up Washington, it is the Venezuelans.
Who can forget Chevez standing at the podium of the UN General Assembly in New York City speaking of George W. Bush? Quoting from memory: “Right here, yesterday, at this very podium stood Satan himself, speaking as if he owned the world. You can still smell the sulphur.”
Hegemonic Washington threw countless amounts of money into the last Venezuelan election, doing its best to deliver the governance of that country to a Washington puppet called Henrique Capriles, in my opinion a traitor to Venezuela. Why isn’t this American puppet arrested for treason? Why are not the Washington operatives against an independent country — the US ambassador, the counsels, the USAID/CIA personnel, the Washington funded NGOs — ordered to leave Venezuela immediately or arrested and tried for spying and high treason? Why allow any presence of Washington in Venezuela when it is clear that Washington’s intention is to make Venezuela a puppet state like the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Japan, and on and on.
There was a time, such as in the Allende-Pinochet era, when the American left-wing and a no longer extant liberal media would have been all over Washington for its illegal interference in the internal affairs of an independent country. But no more. As CounterPunch‘s Jeffrey St. Clair has recently made clear, the American left-wing remains “insensate to the moral and constitutional transgressions being committed by their champion” — the first black, or half-black, US president — leaving “Rand Paul to offer official denunciations concerning [Washington’s] malignant operations” against independent countries.
Against the Obama regime‘s acts of international and domestic violence, “the professional Left — from the progressive caucus to the robotic minions of Moveon.org — lodge no objections and launch no protests.” St. Clair has written a powerful article. Read it for yourself here.
I think the American left-wing lost its confidence when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Chinese communists and Indian socialists turned capitalist. Everyone misread the situation, especially the “end of history” idiots. The consequence is a world without strong protests of Washington’s and its puppet states’ war criminal military aggressions, murder, destruction of civil liberty and human rights, and transparent propaganda: “Last night Polish forces crossed the frontier and attacked Germany,” or so declared Adolf Hitler. Washington’s charges of “weapons of mass destruction” are even more transparent lies.
But hardly any care. The Western governments and Japan are all paid off and bought, and those that are not bought are begging to be bought because they want the money too. Truth, integrity, these are dead-letter words. No one any longer knows what they mean.
The moronic George W. Bush said, in Orwellian double-speak, they hate us for our freedom and democracy. They don’t hate us because we bomb them, invade them, kill them, destroy their way of life, culture, and infrastructure. They hate us because we are so good. How stupid does a person have to be to believe this BS?
Washington and Israel present the world with unmistakable evil. I don’t need to stand at the UN podium after Bush or Obama. I can smell Washington’s evil as far away as Florida. Jeffrey St. Clair can smell it in Oregon. Nicolas Maduro can smell it in Venezuela. Evo Morales can smell it in Bolivia from where he cast out CIA-infiltrated USAID. Putin can smell it in Russia, although he still permits the treasonous “Russian opposition” funded by US money to operate against Russia’s government. The Iranians can smell it in the Persian Gulf. The Chinese can smell it as far away as Beijing.
Homeland Security, a gestapo institution, has “crisis actors” to help it deceive the public in its false flag operations.
The Obama regime has drones with which to silence American citizens without due process of law.
Homeland Security has more than a billion rounds of ammunition, tanks, a para-military force. Detention camps have been built.
Are Americans so completely stupid that they believe this is all for “terrorists” whose sparse numbers require the FBI to manufacture “terrorists” in so-called “sting operations” in order to justify the FBI’s $3 billion special fund from Congress to combat domestic terrorism?
Congress has taxpayers paying the FBI to frame up innocents and send them to prison.
This is the kind of country American has become. This is the kind of “security” agencies it has, filling their pockets by destroying the lives of the innocent and downtrodden.
“In God we trust,” reads the coinage. It should read: “In Satan we follow
In America truth is offensive. If you tell the truth, you are offensive.
“Look for example at Bradley Manning, held for two years in prison without bail and without a trial in violation of the US Constitution, tortured for one year of his illegal confinement in violation of US and international law, and now put on trial by corrupt prosecutors for aiding “enemies of the US” by revealing the truth, as required of him by the US military code. US soldiers are required to report war crimes”.
I am offensive. Michael Hudson is offensive. Gerald Celente is offensive. Herman Daly is offensive. Nomi Prins is offensive. Pam Martens is offensive. Chris Hedges is offensive. Chris Floyd is offensive. John Pilger is offensive. Norm Chomsky is offensive. Harvey Silverglate is offensive. Naomi Wolf is offensive. Stephen Lendman is offensive. David Ray Griffin is offensive. Ellen Brown is offensive.
Fortunately, many others are offensive. But how long before being offensive becomes being “an enemy of the state”?
Throughout history truth tellers have suffered and court historians have prospered. It is the same today. Gerald Celente illustrates this brilliantly in the next issue of the Trends Journal.
Over the past 35 years I have learned this lesson as a columnist. If you tell readers what is really going on, they want to know why you can’t be positive. Why are you telling us that there are bad happenings that can’t be remedied? Don’t you know that God gave Americans the power to fix all wrongs? What are you? Some kind of idiot, an anti-American, a pinko-liberal-commie? If you hate America so much, why don’t you move to Cuba, Iran or China (or to wherever the current bogyman is located)?
The ancient Greeks understood this well. In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the prophetess who no one believed despite her 100 percent record of being right. Telling the truth to Americans or to Europeans is just as expensive as telling the truth to the Greeks in ancient mythology.
In America and everywhere in the Western world or the entire world, telling the truth is unpopular. Indeed, in the USA telling the truth has been criminalized. Look for example at Bradley Manning, held for two years in prison without bail and without a trial in violation of the US Constitution, tortured for one year of his illegal confinement in violation of US and international law, and now put on trial by corrupt prosecutors for aiding “enemies of the US” by revealing the truth, as required of him by the US military code. US soldiers are required to report war crimes. When Bradley Manning’s superiors showed themselves to be indifferent to war crimes, Manning reported the crimes via WikiLeaks. What else does a soldier with a sense of duty and a moral conscience do when the chain of command is corrupt?
Julian Assange is another example. WikiLeaks has taken up the reporting function that the Western media has abandoned. Remember, the New York Times did publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which undermined the lies Washington had told both to the public and to Congress to justify the costly Vietnam War. But today no newspaper or TV channel any longer accepts the responsibility to truthfully inform the public. Julian Assange stepped into the vacuum and was immediately demonized, not merely by Washington but also by left-wing and right-wing media, including Internet. It was a combination of jealousy, ignorance, and doing Washington’s bidding.
Without WikiLeaks and Assange, the world would know essentially nothing. Spin from Washington, the presstitute media, and the puppet state medias would prevail. So the word went out to destroy Julian Assange.
It is amazing how many people and Internet sites obeyed Washington’s command. Assange has been so demonized that even though he has been granted political asylum by Ecuador, the British government, obeying its Washington master, refuses to allow him safe passage out of the London Ecuador Embassy. Is Assange destined to live out his life inside the Ecuador Embassy in London?
Will Assange be a replay of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty who on November 4, 1956, sought asylum in the US embassy in Budapest as Soviet tanks poured into Hungary to put down the anti-communist revolution? Cardinal Mindszenty lived for 15 years in the US embassy. Today it is “freedom and democracy” amerika that is copying Soviet practices during the cold war.
In contrast with “freedom and democracy” US and UK, the “authoritarian,” “communist,” “oppressive” Chinese government when confronted with Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng’s defection to the US embassy in Beijing, let him go.
It is an upside-down world when America and the British refuse to obey international law, but the Chinese communists uphold international law.
Insouciant americans are undisturbed that alleged terrorists are tortured, held indefinitely in prison without due process, and executed on the whim of some executive branch official without due process of law.
Most americans go along with unaccountable murder, torture, and detention without evidence, which proclaims their gullibility to the entire world. There has never in history been a population as unaware as americans. The world is amazed that an insouciant people became, if only for a short time, a superpower.
The world needs intelligence and leadership in order to avoid catastrophe, but america can provide neither intelligence nor leadership. America is a lost land where nuclear weapons are in the hands of those who are concerned only with their own power. Washington is the enemy of the entire world and encompasses the largest concentration of evil on the planet.
Where is the good to rise up against the evil?
The economic news last week highlights what happens when governments are unable to confront the root cause of the financial collapse – the risky speculation and securities fraud of the big banks. What happens? They blame the people, cut their benefits, tax their savings and demand they work harder for less money.
In the United States there have been no criminal prosecutions for securities fraud in the big banks. Just as the Justice Department has made it clear that the big banks are too big to jail because doing so jeopardizes the stability of the banking system; financial fraud investigator Bill Black points out that the SEC cannot institute fines that are too big for the same reason. “The art is to make the number sound large to fool the rubes, but to insure that the fine poses only a modest inconvenience to our ‘most reputable’ fraudulent banks.” So, the SEC trumpets “more than 150 firms and individuals, with sanctions totaling $2.7 billion.” Black points out that this number sounds big, but it isn’t compared to the losses caused by the fraud epidemic in the US which are well in excess of $15 trillion. A trillion is a thousand billion. Are we, ‘the rubes’ or do we know that our government is in cahoots with big finance?
In fact, the big banks have been engaged in all sorts of nefarious activity for a long time, asWashington’s Blog points out with this jaw-dropping list of crimes, and are rife with fraud. And, this week the biggest of the too big to prosecute, JP Morgan, had its financial fraud and disrespect for government on display when the Senate Banking Committee issued a massive 300 page indictment, errr report, documenting the $6.2 billion “London Whale” scandal. The report traces the scandal right to the top, CEO Jamie Dimon, and shows how the bank lied to bank examiners and investors. Experts state the obvious from this evident fraud; investigations and fines, and possibly a large monetary settlement are possible but a prosecution by DOJ remains unlikely. Obvious because everyone knows the game in Washington is one of no criminal prosecutions.
Although, another too big to jail bank, Goldman Sachs did have a loss in court this week, when the US Supreme Court refused to overturn a Court of Appeals decision requiring the bank to defend a civil suit by investors claiming securities fraud. There are lots of hurdles ahead, but this provides a glimmer of hope.
This week our too big to prosecute philosophy of the (lack of) Justice Department was shown to apply to foreign banks as well. The second largest bank in Germany got a pass when it offered a job to an IRS agent who cut its tax burden. Again, the rubes were told that Commerzbank paid $210 million in tax liability, sounds good, but it was only 62% of what it owed. The day after the agreement the IRS officer was offered a job at Commerzbank. The agent pled guilty to charges this week, but the bank and the officers involved were not prosecuted.
Europe is showing us what happens when government fails to confront the big banks – the people pay and the economy collapses into depression. Is this our future?
The horror story of the week for struggling workers and poor countries has to be Cyprus. The country was being built up as a big banking area but when it all went sour, they went to the EU for a bailout. The EU hemmed and hawed and finally agreed, but with a very big requirement which takes structural adjustment to a new level of abuse – they required “a one-off 10 percent tax on savings over €100,000 and a 6.75 percent tax on small depositors. Senior bank bondholders and investors in Cyprus’ sovereign debt will be left untouched.” [See update below.]
This is causing a run on the banks in Cyprus, but is also raising red flags in many other struggling Euro countries. Can bank accounts in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal or any other country in Europe be safe? Are more and more people going to take their money out of the banks and keep it under their mattress? It may seem like the sane thing to do but a run on the banks will just weaken shaky banks further.
Leaders of the EU, IMF and Germany are all staying with their demand for more austerity and greater productivity (i.e. lower wages for greater output). At the same time they are urging bailout of the banking system which remains weak. This same leadership recognizes their approach may lead to a “social explosion” and Standard & Poors is also warning that the situation is socially explosive. The reality is that southern Europe is essentially in a depression and Germany, EU and IMF are demanding that they squeeze more money out of impoverished people.
In Washington, DC, the two Wall Street parties keep talking about cuts to the budget – austerity measures that will hurt the old, the poor, the young and working class – and disregard the fact that government spending is actually not the problem. While they push austerity, they remain silent as big business interests go into their sixth year of big tax avoidance. Paul Buchheit summarizes “For over 20 years, from 1987 to 2008, corporations paid an average of 22.5 percent in federal taxes. Since the recession, this has dropped to 10 percent – even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.” He highlights the worst of the worst. On top was Obama’s jobs czar, General Electric.
There is some sanity, but not much, among the US financial elite. Dallas Fed Chairman Richard Fisher told the Conservative Political Action Conference that it was time to break up the big banks and end the crony capitalism that protects them. Liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown has introduced a bill to do just that. Of course it is opposed by the administration so it will probably not go anywhere.
Instead, President Obama is pushing the anti-democratic Trans Pacific Partnership which is a gift to the big banks and other transnational corporate interests. For the big banks it will require countries to let capital flow in and out without restriction, not allow the banning or regulation of risky investments like derivatives and credit-default swaps and will prevent the formation of much-needed public banks. Our Wall Street government continues to serve Wall Street first at the expense of the people’s necessities.
All of this shows it is time to remake the banking system: hold security fraud violators criminally accountable, break up the too big to jail banks, support community banks and credit unions and create public banks at least at the state and local level; and make the Fed transparent and accountable to democracy. This would be a transformed banking system that would serve the people and the economy, move toward economic democracy and take power away from corrupt Wall Street. Failure to confront and remove the plague of Wall Street-centered banking will continue to infect the entire economy. Is Cyprus in our future? It doesn’t have to be.
Update: On Tuesday, March 19, the Parliament in Cyprus rejected the tax on bank accounts after mass protests by the people. This leaves Cyprus in a mess with no bailout and no money to contribute to a bailout. Will Russia invest in future oil found recently off the coast of Cyprus in return for the Parliament protecting $30 billion in Russian deposits that are in Cyprus banks? Will Germany and the EU bend, not requiring Cyprus to raise money for the bailout? Will Cyprus leave the EU? Lots of questions without answers right now, but the banks in the country will remain closed until they figure it out.
Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and were organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8via The Plague of Wall Street Banking » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.
By Corine Lesnes
WASHINGTON – Radioactive sludge has long been leaking from a nuclear site less than 10 kilometers from one of the West Coast’s biggest rivers, and no one seems to care.
According to Tom Carpenter, director of environmentalist organization Hanford Challenge, this virtual media blackout should come as no surprise. The consequences of the leak will only be visible on the long term: “It will be a burden for the future generations,” he says.
The Hanford nuclear site is well known to environmentalists: it is one of the oldest such facilities in the U.S., and was one of the two World War II Manhattan Project plants (with Oak Ridge, Tennessee) where the plutonium used for the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs was manufactured.
Hanford is a massive site that spreads over 1,500 square kilometers, 250 kilometers southeast of Seattle, Washington. “It is the most contaminated site in the whole country,” says Carpenter.
“Two-thirds of the U.S.’s nuclear waste is stored here,” says Carpenter. Since the plant was shut down in 1987, Hanford has become the symbol of the difficulties in the treatment of nuclear waste on the long term, especially at a time of budget cuts.
After the plant was decommissioned, the federal government and the state of Washington both agreed to clean up the site but encountered many problems. On Feb. 22, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, announced that at least six underground tanks containing highly radioactive matter had started leaking. Earlier statements by the Energy Secretary Steven Chu only mentioned one defective tank.
“The secretary (Chu) is very clear that there is no imminent public health threat with these leaks,” Inslee was quick to tell reporters.
Tom Carpenter doesn’t disagree – in the short term. No contamination has been detected in the Colombia River. But on the long term, he says, it’s a different matter – plutonium has a half-life of 250,000 years.
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, as it is called, was built in the 1940s with not much thought to contamination. Out of 177 tanks containing 200,000 cubic meters of highly radioactive sludge, 149 are single-shelled and a third have already experienced leaks, according to Carpenter: “378 million liters have already leaked from the tanks, a record for the U.S.”
A dirty bomb
Since it was decommissioned, the former military facility has been the subject of the largest environmental cleanup operation the country ever seen. To prevent plutonium from leaking into the ground, scientists recommend immediate decontamination but the new High-Level Waste Facility that will be used to “vitrify” the radioactive waste into big cylinders that will be buried, won’t be operational until 2019.
In the meantime, neither local nor federal authorities want to invest in a temporary solution. Even though, “there is still time to collect the toxic sludge leaking from the tanks,” says Carpenter.
One of the problems is the political context on nuclear regulation. The Energy Department is dragging its feet to the point that the Washington State decision makers are finding it very difficult to obtain any information on what is really happening at Hanford. “The Energy Department owns this site and sets its own rules. They simply don’t want to spend any money,” says Carpenter.
As for Congress, “It hasn’t paid any attention to the Hanford situation in ten years and has never asked for a hearing.” Ron Wyden, the new senator of the neighboring state of Oregon wants to change the situation. After visiting the Hanford site, he announced that he would ask for an audit at the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
While the announcement of new leaks did not make the front pages, local inhabitants are growing only more upset. “If a terrorist had dropped the dirty-bomb equivalent of this much radioactive material onto a major city, the entire country would be mobilized,” wrote a Seattle Times reader.
Another wrote: “Al Qaeda should save its time and money and forget about us. We’re going to kill ourselves before they do. No one seems to know what’s really going on at Hanford or how to handle the mess.”
They stomped on our right to know. Now it’s time to get even.
Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling initiative, was narrowly defeated last week thanks to a relentless, deceitful $46 million advertising blitz. Among the largest bankrollers of the NO on 37 campaign were huge multinational food and beverage companies whose subsidiaries make billions selling some of your favorite organic and “natural” brands. Brands like—Kashi, Honest Tea, Naked Juice, Muir Glen, Horizon, Silk and Morningstar Farms.
It’s time to boycott the companies and brands whose dirty money confused and scared millions of California voters into voting No on Prop 37. It’s time to plaster their facebook pages with this message:
We won’t support you until you support us.
It’s time to call their consumer hotlines, complain to the store managers where you buy your organic and natural products. It’s time to tarnish their holy organic and natural images, to expose their hypocrisy and greed.
It’s time to raise a little hell. If we raise enough hell, maybe their parent companies will come to their senses and stop carrying the water for Monsanto and the biotech industry. Maybe they’ll stay neutral in the upcoming labeling battles in Washington state and Vermont.
The OCA is calling on consumers to boycott these organic and “natural” traitor brands:
• PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M): Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic
• Kraft (Donated $2M): Boca Burgers and Back to Nature
• Safeway (Member of Grocery Manufacturers Association, which donated $2M):“O” Organics
• Coca-Cola (Donated $1.7M): Honest Tea, Odwalla
• General Mills (Donated $1.2M): Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar
• Con-Agra (Donated $1.2M): Orville Redenbacher’s Organic, Hunt’s Organic, Lightlife, Alexia
• Kellogg’s (Donated $791k): Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger
• Smucker’s (Donated $555k ): R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic
• Unilever (Donated $467k): Ben & Jerry’s
• Dean Foods (Donated $254k): Horizon, Silk, White Wave
Tell these companies that if they want your loyalty—and your grocery dollars±they must do two things:
1. Speak out publicly in favor of the pending GMO Labeling Ballot Initiative (I-522) in Washington State in 2013, as well as the pending GMO labeling bills coming up in Vermont and other states.
2. Contribute as much or more money to the Yes on I-522 Campaign in Washington than their parent corporations spent to defeat Prop 37 in California.
Prop 37 was narrowly defeated, by dirty money and dirty tricks. But it spawned a huge, national consumer movement that is fired up and more determined than ever to fight this battle until we win the right to know if our food has been genetically modified. We’re already collecting signatures in Washington State, talking to legislators in Vermont and Connecticut. A 30-state coalition is formulating a plan to collaborate on GMO-labeling laws and initiatives.
You are a part of this movement, and today we’re calling on you—on the millions of consumers who were outraged by the NO on 37′s dirty campaign—to send a clear message to the traitor brands who helped kill Prop 37, in the only language they understand—lost profits.
A not so Green story for St. Patricks day
The US House of Representatives is expected to weigh in on the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for Fiscal year 2013 this week, and included within the act lies the “Farmer Assurance Provision,” a small subsection that has so far earned opposition from hundreds of thousands family farmers, environmental interest groups and other advocates. Those hoping to defeat the bill have gone so far as to dub the provision the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Small time agriculturists have increasingly spoken out against biotech companies in recent years, as giants like Monsanto have made millions off of genetically engineering crops that traditional plants simply can’t match up with. Additionally, Monsanto has taken a slew of farmers to court over questionable patent infringement suits, almost always winning the help of high-powered attorneys. Now if the Farmer Assurance Provision is approved by Congress, GMO companies will once again be allowed an advantage from their friends in Washington.
If the provision is approved this week, biotech companies won’t have to wait for federal approval to test and plant laboratory-made crops, instead being allowed to carry on with even selling such crops until the government elects to tell them otherwise.
“The provision would strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE crop while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses those potential hazards,” explains a letter to the House that has been signed by dozens of food businesses and retailers, as well as interest groups and agencies representing family farmers. “Further, it would compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if in the course of its assessment the Department finds that it poses previously unrecognized risks.”
The group Food Democracy Now has started a campaign on their own and is asking opponents of the bill to sign on with an amendment to the appropriations bill, the DeFazio Amendment, which would ensure that judicial oversight will continue to apply to GMOS.
The Farmer Assurance Provision, says the group, “strips the rights of federal courts to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during the legal appeals process.”
“The judicial review process is an essential element of US law and serves as a vital check on any Federal Agency decision that may negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods. Yet this provision seeks an end-run around such judicial review by preemptively deciding that industry can set its own conditions to continue to sell biotech seeds, even if a court may find them to have been wrongfully approved.”
In the letter undersigned by the ACLU, National Organic Coalition and others, the signees say,
“Far from safeguarding farmers, the only parties whose interests are ‘assured’ by this rider are those of GE crop developers.”
Monsanto has already proven it has friends in Washington, as a landmark patent case currently before the Supreme Court is expected to go in favor of the biotech giants. Now opponents of the pro-GMO provision in the appropriations bill are calling the amendment the “Monsanto Protection Act” and hope that a grassroots campaign will keep the industry leaders from having one more unfair advantage over small time farmers.
Meanwhile, the market value for Monsanto Company hit a 52-week high on March 11, and is expected to continue with that kind of momentum throughout 2013, predicts Zacks Consensus Estimates.
Hundreds of marijuana enthusiasts huddled near Seattle’s famed Space Needle tower last night with pipes, bongs and hand-rolled joints to celebrate Washington’s new status as the first US state to legalise the drug for adult recreational use.
The public gathering at the downtown Seattle, like a smaller turnout at a nearby spot hours earlier, defied a key provision of the state’s landmark marijuana law, which allows possession of small amounts of cannabis but forbids users from lighting up outside the privacy of their homes.
Police kept their distance from both gatherings, underscoring mixed law enforcement messages about the new statute, known by its ballot designation as Initiative 502. The measure took effect yesterday.
Seattle’s city attorney issued a stern warning that public marijuana puffing would not be tolerated and that violators faced citations with $100 fines.
But the Seattle police department said its officers had been directed to limit any enforcement actions related to Initiative 502 to verbal warnings only, at least for now.
The new law, passed by voters last month in a move that could set the state up for a showdown with the federal government, removes criminal sanctions for anyone 21 or older possessing 1 ounce (28.5 grams) or less of pot for personal use.
Colorado voters likewise chose to legalise marijuana for personal recreational use, but that measure is not due to take effect until next month. Both states are among 18 that have already removed criminal sanctions for medical use of marijuana.
The Washington law also legalizes possession of up to 16 ounces of solid cannabis-infused goods – such as brownies – and up to 72 ounces of weed in liquid form.
But driving under the influence of cannabis or imbibing in public places where the consumption of alcohol is already banned remain illegal.
The new law ultimately will permit cannabis to be legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores in a system to be modeled after those in many states for alcohol sales. The state Liquor Control Board, along with agriculture and public health officials, have until next December to set up such a system.
For now, it remains a crime to sell, cultivate or even share one’s own stash, even though the law allows individuals to purchase a limited amount for personal possession.
Ironically, the first known court challenge of the law came from a medical marijuana patient in Olympia, who filed suit last week seeking to block enforcement of a new standard for marijuana impairment while driving, similar to the blood-alcohol standard for drunken driving.
The plaintiff, Arthur West, says the new legal limit – five nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC, pot’s active ingredient – would unfairly subject him to prosecution for a THC level at which he routinely drives without impairment. A hearing on his request for an injunction was set for today.
Little if any of the law’s fine points seemed to matter to the mellow group of about 300 people – from college-age tokers to middle-aged Baby Boomers – who assembled at the Seattle centre fountain, a short distance from the Space Needle.
Convivial laughter, laid-back conversation and occasional coughing filled the air as the pungent smell of marijuana wafted through the crowd, many wearing sweatshirt hoodies to ward off the chill, on a cold, crisp evening.
Convivial laughter, laid-back conversation and occasional coughing