Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘abuse of power’ Category

Greece: #thisisacoup

Posted by Charles II on July 13, 2015

#thisisacoup

Coup_against_Greece

(Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio News)

Interview with Varofiakis here:

HL: What was it like? Did you like any aspect of it?

YV: Oh well a lot of it. But the inside information one gets… to have your worst fears confirmed … To have “the powers that be” speak to you directly, and it be as you feared – the situation was worse than you imagined! So that was fun, to have the front row seat.

HL: What are you referring to?

YV: The complete lack of any democratic scruples, on behalf of the supposed defenders of Europe’s democracy. The quite clear understanding on the other side that we are on the same page analytically – of course it will never come out at present. [And yet] To have very powerful figures look at you in the eye and say “You’re right in what you’re saying, but we’re going to crunch you anyway.

HL: You’ve said creditors objected to you because “I try and talk economics in the Eurogroup, which nobody does.” What happened when you did?

YV: It’s not that it didn’t go down well – it’s that there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. … You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on – to make sure it’s logically coherent – and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply. And that’s startling, for somebody who’s used to academic debate. … The other side always engages. Well there was no engagement at all. It was not even annoyance, it was as if one had not spoken.

Posted in abuse of power, economy, financial crisis, Greece | Leave a Comment »

Lies my leaders told me

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2015

Union of Concerned Scientists:

This report presents seven “deception dossiers”—collections containing some 85 internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While many of these documents have been analyzed by others (Oreskes 2011; Oreskes and Conway 2010; Gelbspan 1998), these dossiers offer the most complete and up-to-date collection yet available.

Each collection of internal documents reviewed here reveals a separate glimpse of a coordinated campaign
underwritten by the world’s major fossil fuel companies and their allies to spread climate misinformation and
block climate action. The campaign began decades ago and continues today. The fossil fuel industry—like the tobacco industry before it—is noteworthy for its use of active, intentional disinformation and deception to support its political aims and maintain its lucrative profits.

Since they used the tactics of the tobacco companies, let the oil companies be sued and regulated into oblivion… hopefully more effectively than has been done with the tobacco companies.

[Image from World Lung Foundation, Tobacco Atlas 4th ed.]

Posted in abuse of power, environment, Oil | Leave a Comment »

From the Dale Carnegie School…

Posted by Charles II on July 9, 2015

Markus Feldenkirchen, Der Spiegel:

The German-American friendship no longer exists. It may still remain
between citizens of both countries, but not between their governments.
Perhaps it has always been an illusion, perhaps the United States pulled
away over the course of time. But what binds these two nations today
cannot be considered friendship.

The German government has engaged in a devil’s pact with the US and its Orwellian spying machine.

Posted in abuse of power, NSA eavesdropping, wrong way to go about it | Leave a Comment »

Preserved for posterity: The lies of the IMF, Euro Commission, and ECB

Posted by Charles II on June 30, 2015

Alberto Nardelli, The Guardian:

Greece would face an unsustainable level of debt by 2030 even if it signs up to the full package of tax and spending reforms demanded of it, according to unpublished documents compiled by its three main creditors.

The documents, drawn up by the so-called troika of lenders, support Greece’s argument that it needs substantial debt relief for a lasting economic recovery.

The second document in the pack of six, titled Reforms for the Completion of the Current Programme and Beyond, show there was less to this offer than suggested by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Germany’s vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. The cash on offer is not an ad hoc investment but is actually an EU grant that is regularly available to all member states. And, as Süddeutsche Zeitung points out, accessing the cash requires a 15% co-financing in Greece’s case, which it cannot afford.

A third document outlines the “financing needs and draft disbursement schedule linked to the completion of the fifth review”, spelling out how Greece would have received €15bn to meet its obligations until the end of November. The cash would have been handed over in five tranches starting in June (as soon as the Greek parliament approved the proposals) to cover Greece’s financing needs. However, 93% of the funds would have gone straight to cover the cost of maturing debt for the duration of the extension.

So, the Troika handed Greece a time bomb and, in exchange, demanded that they slash pensions, raise health co-pays, and make their taxes more regressive. Unsurprisingly, Greece is handing the device back to Europe.

Added: Deutsche Welle has picked up this meme, though without the documents from Suddeutsche Zeitung that The Guardian reported.

And The Independent, again without mentioning the SZ.

Posted in abuse of power, banking, capitalism as cancer | 2 Comments »

Here, they die silently, invisible

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2015

Frances Ryan, The Guardian:

If the government would care for an insight into what its “safety net” has become, it could do worse than looking at the case of Nick Gaskin.

Gaskin, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), cannot walk, feed himself or talk but, last month, received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) informing him he should attend an interview about “the possibility” of getting a job.

People who have such severe disabilities they are unable to work are – by definition of being put in the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA) – not required to attend mandatory meetings. As Gaskin can only communicate through blinking, it was his wife, Tracy, who called the jobcentre in Loughborough to explain this. The DWP now says it will apologise over the “misunderstanding”. But not before Tracy was told that if her husband did not attend the interview his benefits would be stopped. [Had the crisis occurred earlier, in the midst of Tracy’s cancer therapy, it’s likely Nick Gaskin would have lost his benefits, endangering both him and Tracy.]

Currently, Iain Duncan Smith is embroiled in a row over burying figures that show how many people have died within six weeks of their benefits being stopped…. It gives an insight into Duncan Smith’s thinking that when confronted on the issue in the House of Commons, it was the campaign to disclose the statistics – rather than the deaths themselves – that he called “disgraceful”.

I have written about some of the people who fell past the edge. Malcolm Burge, the retired gardener who had his housing benefit cut by 50% and drove to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and set his car on fire. David Clapson, the diabetic jobseeker who had his benefits sanctioned and was found with no food in his stomach and CVs next to his body.

Here, helpless people shoved off of the SSI or Food Stamp/SNAP rolls die silently, invisible to our media. At least in the U.K., one newspaper mentions them.

Sure, there are cheaters on the rolls here. Partly that’s because the benefits that they provide are nopt enough to actually live on, so people supplement them with money made from hustling or by claiming more than they are entitled to. But, sure, there are some real out-and-out fraudsters. So… how many helpless people are we willing to kill in order to punish the undeserving?

The answer is that we don’t know and, with our current media, never will.

Posted in abuse of power, Media machine, poverty | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s TPP Betrayal

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2015

Michael Wessel, Politico:

“You need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,” a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He’s right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.

I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.

Via Avedon.

Posted in abuse of power, Obama Administration, TPP | 4 Comments »

Red Cross funds for Haitian relief have gone missing

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2015

(Via Eschaton)

Laura Sullivan, NPR:

When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever.

The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross’ legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It’s difficult to know where all the money went.

NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity’s internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.
NPR and ProPublica

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.

The organization, which in 2010 had a $100 million deficit, out-raised other charities by hundreds of millions of dollars — and kept raising money well after it had enough for its emergency relief. But where exactly did that money go?

Ask a lot of Haitians — even the country’s former prime minister — and they will tell you they don’t have any idea.

“Five hundred million in Haiti is a lot of money,” says Jean-Max Bellerive, who was prime minister until 2011. “I’m not a big mathematician, but I can make some additions. It doesn’t add up for me.”

On a recent day, Bellerive was sipping coffee in his living room, high above Port-au-Prince, with Joel Boutroue, who was the United Nations deputy special representative in Haiti before the earthquake and an advisor to the Haitian government afterward. Boutroue says he can’t account for where the nearly $500 million went either.

They considered the Red Cross’ claim on its website and press releases: That all the money went to help 4.5 million Haitians get “back on their feet.”

“No, no, not possible,” Bellerive says. “We don’t have that population in the area affected by the earthquake.”

The charity’s own documents, however, give some insight: Much of the money never reached people in need.

The Red Cross gave much of the money to other groups to do the hands-on work, resulting in additional fees.

First the Red Cross took a customary administrative cut, then the charities that received the money took their own fees. And then, according to the Red Cross’ records, the charity took out an additional amount to pay for what it calls the “program costs incurred in managing” these third-party projects.

In one of the programs reviewed by NPR and ProPublica, these costs ate up a third of the money that was supposed to help Haitians.

Posted in abuse of power, capitalism as cancer, Haiti | Leave a Comment »

National Security Apparatus: The law is for you to obey, not for us to obey

Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2015

From Democracy Now:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, ICWatch is a database of more than 27,000 profiles of people associated with the U.S. intelligence community or intelligence industry, so that includes people who work for government and people who work for private industry. It was created by a little journalism startup … called Transparency Toolkit. … This information was all originally … from LinkedIn, so these are CVs of people involved in various intelligence activities. By searching LinkedIn for key wor[d]s… say, Joint Priority Effects List, the assassination program in Afghanistan, these were scraped out and then linked together so you can easily see, for example, who claims that they had worked at the National Security Agency at some stage or on various code-worded projects that the National Security Agency uses.

JULIAN ASSANGE: [They faced death threats for] Indexing what was already public. An example of one of those death threats, from Washington, D.C., from a counterintelligence operative, who was also a former marine, saying that he would hunt them down and kill them no matter where they were in the world, and there’s no place in the world that they can hide.

JULIAN ASSANGE: … Now, I think this—it actually perfectly explains why the U.S. intelligence community must itself be scrutinized. What do we have in that statement? Murderous criminal arrogance…—and I should add one further point: and deeply incompetent […for a] a counterintelligence person […to] they themselves put that information on LinkedIn. They themselves are irritated about their own incompetence, to the degree where they get threatening to kill people involved with a journalism project.

That’s right: breach security by posting your claim to be a code-word program professional assassin onto LinkedIn and then get angry because someone notices. Please don’t give these people actual guns. They might hurt themselves.

And (ibid) in addition, a larger institutional hypocrisy, which could amount to a crime:

JULIAN ASSANGE:…So, the U.S. has kind of made a bit of a legal—the Pentagon has made a bit of a legal ruse in terms of how it describes these assassination lists. They always say it’s a kill/capture list. And this is to create some kind of ambiguity, which is you go in to capture them, but they resist, and then they’re killed. But, in fact…there’s no actual attempt to capture. And here we have evidence, confessions even… bragging on their CV about how they were involved in these programs to assassinate people.

So, when it comes down to the USG, they don’t have to obey the law. And this is nowhere more evident than in the persecution of Assange:

JULIAN ASSANGE:…There are some 500 information requests from the media and us, that have been blocked by the U.S. government, into what has been happening with WikiLeaks. And they’ve been blocked under the excuse that to release such information would be to help us resist the prosecution, and that they want to use that in the prosecution, and therefore they can’t release it to anyone. Now, the FBI has admitted that they have more than 42,135 pages just in the FBI file. There’s the DOJ file. There’s the grand jury file. And they’re not going to release a single sentence, not a single paragraph.

EPIC lost that case to get those documents, because the court accepted that to release any information about the WikiLeaks prosecution would affect the WikiLeaks prosecution, that we could use this to defend ourselves. And the argument used is quite incredible…. It is that …the court doesn’t have a right to, itself, make this determination [about what should be released and what restricted]

the government argues, “The court does not have a right to make this assessment. This is a question of a national security fact. Either it is a fact that the information held by the DOJ and held by the FBI would—about WikiLeaks, would affect national security or not. And it is the government that is best placed to determine this fact, not the court.” And so, in the judgment, the judge states that it is necessary to show, quote, “appropriate deference to the executive on matters of national security,” and therefore she is simply going to defer to the government’s claim without looking at the material at all.

If the Tea Party gave an actual d–n about overweening Executive actions, the Wikileaks case would be a central rallying point. The excuse of national security is being used to gut the power of the judiciary to oversee the Executive’s administration of the laws, pushing us quite close–since Congress is so ineffectual–to being a totalitarian state.

But just in case we didn’t get the point that our government is not just completely above the law, but totally incompetent,

the U.S. picked up a statement, a supportive statement made in Moscow by President Evo Morales, and appears to have picked up our codeword for the actual operation [to smuggle Edward Snowden to Latin America], and put two and two together and made 22, and then pressured France—successfully pressured France, Portugal and Spain to close their airspace to President Evo Morales’s jet in its flight from Moscow to the Canary Islands for refueling and then back to Bolivia. And as a result, it was forced to land in Vienna. And then, once in Vienna, there was pressure to search the plane.

So, it’s really a quite extraordinary situation that reveals the true nature of the relationship between Western Europe and the United States and what it claims are its values of human rights and asylum and the rights to asylum and so, and respecting the rule of law, the Vienna Convention. Just a phone call from U.S. intelligence was enough to close the airspace to a booked presidential flight, which has immunity. And they got it wrong.

The United States is a very powerful country. It does not have to get its way in everything, or suppress every bit of adverse publicity, or force every world leader to heel. By trying to do so, it–by which I mean the cabal inside the national security apparatus that is committing these abuses– shows how dangerous the government–by which I mean that cabal– itself has become.

And, on top of that, see how completely ineffectual it is at actually stopping terrorism, guarding secrets, or persuading other nations to join with us. How ashamed this nation’s Founders would be at what their dream has become.

Posted in abuse of power, NSA eavesdropping, totalitarianism, Wikileaks | 2 Comments »

MoJo Magazine: Baltimore Police Started the Riots

Posted by Charles II on April 29, 2015

Sam Brodey and Jenna McLaughlin, Mother Jones:

A teacher at Douglass High School, who asked not to be identified, tells a similar story: “When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord.” Those who didn’t depart early, she says, were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point, she notes, wanted to get out of the area and avoid any Purge-like violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by now, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. “I rode with another teacher home,” this teacher recalls, “and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the road… The majority of my students thought what was going to happen was stupid or were frightened at the idea. Very few seemed to want to participate in ‘the purge.'”

Posted in abuse of power | Comments Off on MoJo Magazine: Baltimore Police Started the Riots

When even Lawrence Fink agrees that Wall Street has gone too far…

Posted by Charles II on April 24, 2015

Lawrence Fink, CEO of Blackrock, is one of the great pirates of our age. So, when even he is saying that executives are looting their companies and destroying the middle class, maybe someone will listen. Rex Nutting, Marketwatch:

There’s something seriously wrong with an economy that nurtures a few billionaires but can’t sustain the middle class.

Last week, the CEOs of America’s 500 biggest companies received a letter from Lawrence Fink, CEO of BlackRock BLK, +0.25% the largest asset manager in the world, saying exactly the same thing.

“The effects of the short-termist phenomenon are troubling both to those seeking to save for long-term goals such as retirement and for our broader economy,” Fink wrote, adding that favoring shareholders comes at the expense of investing in “innovation, skilled work forces or essential capital expenditures necessary to sustain long-term growth.”

In case you have forgotten who Larry Fink is, click here.

Posted in abuse of power, economy, stock market | 2 Comments »

 
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