Wednesday, October 26, 2011


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October 26, 2011

Icelandic People Said No

Michael Hudson: Peoples of countries indebted without their consent should refuse to repay odious debts

More at The Real News

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Naomi Wolf: how I was arrested at Occupy Wall Street

Arresting a middle-aged writer in an evening gown for peaceable conduct is a far cry from when America was a free republic

• Naomi Wolf condemns 'Stalinist' erosion of protest rights,
Article history


Naomi Wolf is arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York.    Photograph: Mike Shane

Last night I was arrested in my home town, outside an event to which I had been invited, for standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown.

Let me explain; my partner and I were attending an event for the Huffington Post, for which I often write: Game Changers 2011, in a venue space on Hudson Street. As we entered the space, we saw that about 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters were peacefully assembled and were chanting. They wanted to address Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was going to be arriving at the event. They were using a technique that has become known as "the human mic" – by which the crowd laboriously repeats every word the speaker says – since they had been told that using real megaphones was illegal.

In my book Give Me Liberty, a blueprint for how to open up a closing civil society, I have a chapter on permits – which is a crucial subject to understand for anyone involved in protest in the US. In 70s America, protest used to be very effective, but in subsequent decades municipalities have sneakily created a web of "overpermiticisation" – requirements that were designed to stifle freedom of assembly and the right to petition government for redress of grievances, both of which are part of our first amendment. One of these made-up permit requirements, which are not transparent or accountable, is the megaphone restriction.

So I informed the group on Hudson Street that they had a first amendment right to use a megaphone and that the National Lawyers' Guild should appeal the issue if they got arrested. And I repeated the words of the first amendment, which the crowd repeated.

Then my partner suggested that I ask the group for their list of demands. Since we would be inside, we thought it would be helpful to take their list into the event and if I had a chance to talk with the governor I could pass the list on. That is how a democracy works, right? The people have the right to address their representatives.

We went inside, chatted with our friends, but needed to leave before the governor had arrived. I decided I would present their list to his office in the morning and write about the response. On our exit, I saw that the protesters had been cordoned off by a now-massive phalanx of NYPD cops and pinned against the far side of the street – far away from the event they sought to address.

I went up and asked them why. They replied that they had been informed that the Huffington Post event had a permit that forbade them to use the sidewalk. I knew from my investigative reporting on NYC permits that this was impossible: a private entity cannot lease the public sidewalks; even film crews must allow pedestrian traffic. I asked the police for clarification – no response.

I went over to the sidewalk at issue and identified myself as a NYC citizen and a reporter, and asked to see the permit in question or to locate the source on the police or event side that claimed it forbade citizen access to a public sidewalk. Finally a tall man, who seemed to be with the event, confessed that while it did have a permit, the permit did allow for protest so long as we did not block pedestrian passage.

I thanked him, returned to the protesters, and said: "The permit allows us to walk on the other side of the street if we don't block access. I am now going to walk on the public sidewalk and not block it. It is legal to do so. Please join me if you wish." My partner and I then returned to the event-side sidewalk and began to walk peacefully arm in arm, while about 30 or 40 people walked with us in single file, not blocking access.

Then a phalanx of perhaps 40 white-shirted senior officers descended out of seemingly nowhere and, with a megaphone (which was supposedly illegal for citizens to use), one said: "You are unlawfully creating a disruption. You are ordered to disperse." I approached him peacefully, slowly, gently and respectfully and said: "I am confused. I was told that the permit in question allows us to walk if we don't block pedestrian access and as you see we are complying with the permit."

He gave me a look of pure hate. "Are you going to back down?" he shouted. I stood, immobilised, for a moment. "Are you getting out of my way?" I did not even make a conscious decision not to "fall back" – I simply couldn't even will myself to do so, because I knew that he was not giving a lawful order and that if I stepped aside it would be not because of the law, which I was following, but as a capitulation to sheer force. In that moment's hesitation, he said, "OK," gestured, and my partner and I were surrounded by about 20 officers who pulled our hands behind our backs and cuffed us with plastic handcuffs.

We were taken in a van to the seventh precinct – the scary part about that is that the protesters and lawyers marched to the first precinct, which handles Hudson Street, but in the van the police got the message to avoid them by rerouting me. I understood later that the protesters were lied to about our whereabouts, which seemed to me to be a trickle-down of the Bush-era detention practice of unaccountable detentions.

The officers who had us in custody were very courteous, and several expressed sympathy for the movements' aims. Nonetheless, my partner and I had our possessions taken from us, our ID copied, and we were placed in separate cells for about half an hour. It was clear that by then the police knew there was scrutiny of this arrest so they handled us with great courtesy, but my phone was taken and for half an hour I was in a faeces- or blood-smeared cell, thinking at that moment the only thing that separates civil societies from barbaric states is the rule of law – that finds the prisoner, and holds the arresting officers and courts accountable.

Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – "frozen" they were told, "by Homeland Security". Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.

The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers "control of the sidewalks". I have asked to see the permit but still haven't been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the "other" – the "terrorist", the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.

Friday, October 21, 2011


October 21, 2011 at 00:50:48

Promoted to Headline (H3) on 10/21/11:


The End of History

By paul craig roberts (about the author)

Now that the CIA's proxy army has murdered Gaddafi, what next for Libya?

If Washington's plans succeed, Libya will become another American puppet state. Most of the cities, towns, and infrastructure have been destroyed by air strikes by the air forces of the US and Washington's NATO puppets. US and European firms will now get juicy contracts, financed by US taxpayers, to rebuild Libya. The new real estate will be carefully allocated to lubricate a new ruling class picked by Washington. This will put Libya firmly under Washington's thumb.

With Libya conquered, AFRICOM will start on the other African countries where China has energy and mineral investments. Obama has already sent US troops to Central Africa under the guise of defeating the Lord's Resistance Army, a small insurgency against the ruling dictator-for-life. The Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, welcomed the prospect of yet another war by declaring that sending US troops into Central Africa "furthers US national security interests and foreign policy." Republican Senator James Inhofe added a gallon of moral verbiage about saving "Ugandan children," a concern the senator did not have for Libya's children or Palestine's, Iraq's, Afghanistan's and Pakistan's.

Washington has revived the Great Power Game and is vying with China. Whereas China brings Africa investment and gifts of infrastructure, Washington sends troops, bombs and military bases. Sooner or later, Washington's aggressiveness toward China and Russia is going to explode in our faces.

Where is the money going to come from to finance Washington's African Empire? Not from Libya's oil. Big chunks of that have been promised to the French and British for providing cover for Washington's latest war of naked aggression. Not from tax revenues from a collapsing US economy where unemployment, if measured correctly, is 23 percent.

With Washington's annual budget deficit as huge as it is, the money can only come from the printing press.

Washington has already run the printing press enough to raise the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) to 3.9% for the year (as of the end of September), the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) to 4.4% for the year, and the producer price index (PPI) to 6.9% for the year.

As statistician John Williams ( has shown, the official inflation measures are rigged in order to hold down cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security recipients, thus saving money for Washington's wars. When measured correctly, the current rate of inflation in the US is 11.5%.

What interest rate can savers get without taking massive risks on Greek bonds? US banks pay less than one-half of one percent on FDIC-insured savings deposits. Short-term US government bond funds pay essentially zero.

Thus, according to official US government statistics American savers are losing between 3.9% and 4.4% of their capital yearly. According to John Williams' estimate of the real rate of inflation, US savers are losing 11.5% of their accumulated savings.

As retired Americans receive no interest on their savings, they are having to spend down their capital. The ability of even the most prudent retirees to survive the negative rate of interest they are receiving and the erosion by inflation of any pensions that they receive will come to an end once their accumulated assets are exhausted.

Except for Washington's favored mega-rich, the one percent that has captured all of the income gains of recent years, the rest of America has been assigned to the trash can. Nothing whatsoever has been done for them since the financial crisis hit in December 2007. Bush and Obama, Republican and Democrat, have focused on saving the 1 percent while giving the finger to the 99 percent.

Finally, some Americans, though not enough, have caught on to the flag-waving rah-rah "patriotism" that has consigned them to the trash bin of history. They are not going down without a fight and are in the streets. Occupy Wall Street has spread. What will be the fate of this movement?

Will the snow and ice of cold weather end the protests, or send them into public buildings? How long will the local authorities, subservient to Washington as they are, tolerate the obvious signal that the population lacks any confidence whatsoever in the government?

If the protests last, especially if they grow and don't decline, the authorities will infiltrate the protesters with police provocateurs who will fire on the police. This will be the excuse to shoot down the protesters and to arrest the survivors as "terrorists" or "domestic extremists" and to send them to the $385 million dollar camps built under US government contract by Cheney's Halliburton.

The Amerikan Police State will have taken its next step into the Amerikan Concentration Camp State.

Meanwhile, lost in their oblivion, conservatives will continue to bemoan the ruination of the country by homosexual marriage, abortion, and "the liberal media." Liberal organizations committed to civil liberty, such as the ACLU, will continue to rank a woman's right to an abortion with defense of the US Constitution. Amnesty International will assist Washington in demonizing its next target for military attack while turning a blind eye to the war crimes of President Obama.

When we consider what Israel has gotten away with, being as it is under Washington's bought protection -- the war crimes, the murders of children, the eviction in total disregard of international law of Palestinians from their ancestral homes, the bulldozing of their houses and uprooting of their olive groves in order to move in fanatical "settlers," the murderous invasions of Lebanon and Gaza, the wholesale slaughter of civilians -- we can only conclude that Washington, Israel's enabler, can get away with far more.

In the few opening years of the 21st century, Washington has destroyed the US Constitution, the separation of powers, international law, the accountability of government, and has sacrificed every moral principle to achieving hegemony over the world. This ambitious agenda is being attempted while simultaneously Washington removed all regulation over Wall Street, the home of massive greed, permitting Wall Street's short-term horizon to wreck the US economy, thus destroying the economic basis for Washington's assault on the world.

Will the US collapse in economic chaos before it rules the world?

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Bill Black: #OccupyWallStreet A Counter to White-Collar Fraud

October 20th, 2011

Broadcasting on the road from Kansas City, Missouri, we’re joined by William Black, a white-collar criminologist, former financial regulator, and author of “The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.” Black teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and recently took part in Occupy Kansas City. “If you look [at the Occupy protests], not just nationwide, but worldwide, you will see some pretty consistent themes developing,” Black says. “Those themes include: we have to deal with the systemically dangerous institutions, the 20 biggest banks that the administration is saying are ticking time bombs, that as soon as one of them fails, we go back into a global crisis. We should fix that. There’s no reason to have institutions that large. That’s a theme. That accountability is a theme, that we should put these felons in prison… That we should get jobs now, and that we should deal with the foreclosure crisis. So those are four very common themes that you can see in virtually any of these protest sites… I think, over time, you won’t necessarily have some grand written agenda, but you’ll have, as I say, increasing consensus. And it’s a very broad consensus.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


#OWS Interview: Prosecute the Wall Street Mafia! Bill Black, Dylan Ratigan & David DeGraw on the Destruction of the Rule of Law

October 18th, 2011

When it comes to prosecuting the lead players involved in the fraudulent financial activities that have led to the destruction of our economy, the Obama Administration, loaded with Wall Street campaign contributions and led by major financial firm operatives such as Tim Geithner and Bill Daley, has delivered empty rhetoric and minimal action. In the absence of leadership on this critical issue, it may come down to a new proposed OccupyWallStreet Department of Justice Working Group to restore the rule of law. The proposed group will feature members such as Bill Black, a man who has a strong track record of successfully prosecuting and jailing bankers during the S&L crisis.

In this video, David DeGraw joins Bill Black on the Dylan Ratigan Show to discuss the “epidemic of fraud” and the people who need to be held personally responsible for the destruction of our economic system.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Exclusive: Occupy Wall Street Activist Slams Fox News Producer In Un-Aired Interview [Video]

By Drew Grant 10/03 8:42am

Protester Jesse LaGreca schools Fox producer
Even if Geraldo Rivera was at the Zuccotti Park yesterday, Fox News has generally been a tad dismissive of the Occupy Wall Street movement. (as of this writing) has no coverage of this national event on their front page stories. (Hard to imagine for a network that was so gung-ho about the Tea Party!) Red Eye‘s Bill Schulz went out to try to “prank” the protesters. Bill O’Reilly sent a producer minion out with the same mission: to belittle OWS’s cause by cutting up interviews to make people sound stupid.

Well, here is an interview that Fox News filmed, but doesn’t want you to see. The segment was shot on Wednesday for Greta van Susteren‘s show, (though it looks like the same producer from this O’Reilly segment questioning Michael Moore‘s anti-capitalist agenda) though the decision was made to leave it on the cutting room floor. The reason should be obvious pretty quickly.

The speaker giving Fox News the buisness is Jesse LaGreca, a vocal member of the Occupy Wall Street protests. This video comes courtesy of Kyle Christopher from‘s media team.

Now, no news organization is under obligation to air every interview they’ve filmed, especially when it makes them look bad. But you’d think that a “Fair and Balanced” network (that tells an interviewee that they are here to give them fair coverage to get any message they’d like to get out) would try to include at least a couple of opposing viewpoints to Mr. Shulz’s smarmy jokes or O’Reilly’s “infiltration” of the camp.

The ball is in your court, Fox.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters

Hit bankers where it hurts

Protesters at the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement demonstrate in New York.
October 12, 2011 8:00 AM ET

I've been down to "Occupy Wall Street" twice now, and I love it. The protests building at Liberty Square and spreading over Lower Manhattan are a great thing, the logical answer to the Tea Party and a long-overdue middle finger to the financial elite. The protesters picked the right target and, through their refusal to disband after just one day, the right tactic, showing the public at large that the movement against Wall Street has stamina, resolve and growing popular appeal.

But... there's a but. And for me this is a deeply personal thing, because this issue of how to combat Wall Street corruption has consumed my life for years now, and it's hard for me not to see where Occupy Wall Street could be better and more dangerous. I'm guessing, for instance, that the banks were secretly thrilled in the early going of the protests, sure they'd won round one of the messaging war.

Why? Because after a decade of unparalleled thievery and corruption, with tens of millions entering the ranks of the hungry thanks to artificially inflated commodity prices, and millions more displaced from their homes by corruption in the mortgage markets, the headline from the first week of protests against the financial-services sector was an old cop macing a quartet of college girls.

That, to me, speaks volumes about the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption, which is that it's extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can't be seen by the public or put on TV. There just isn't going to be an iconic "Running Girl" photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or Bank of America – just 62 million Americans with zero or negative net worth, scratching their heads and wondering where the hell all their money went and why their votes seem to count less and less each and every year.

No matter what, I'll be supporting Occupy Wall Street. And I think the movement's basic strategy – to build numbers and stay in the fight, rather than tying itself to any particular set of principles – makes a lot of sense early on. But the time is rapidly approaching when the movement is going to have to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street. To do that, it will need a short but powerful list of demands. There are thousands one could make, but I'd suggest focusing on five:

1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called "Too Big to Fail" financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term "Systemically Dangerous Institutions" – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to go back to the job it's supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.

3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer's own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can't do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.

5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company's long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.

To quote the immortal political philosopher Matt Damon from Rounders, "The key to No Limit poker is to put a man to a decision for all his chips." The only reason the Lloyd Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world survive is that they're never forced, by the media or anyone else, to put all their cards on the table. If Occupy Wall Street can do that – if it can speak to the millions of people the banks have driven into foreclosure and joblessness – it has a chance to build a massive grassroots movement. All it has to do is light a match in the right place, and the overwhelming public support for real reform – not later, but right now – will be there in an instant.

This story is from the October 27, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Here’s a short (2 minute 30 second) effort to rebut the seven biggest whoppers now being told by those who want to take America backwards. The major points:

1. Tax cuts for the rich trickle down to everyone else. Baloney. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both sliced taxes on the rich and what happened? Most Americans’ wages (measured by the real median wage) began flattening under Reagan and have dropped since George W. Bush. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke.

2. Higher taxes on the rich would hurt the economy and slow job growth. False. From the end of World War II until 1981, the richest Americans faced a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent or above. Under Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent. Even after all deductions and credits, the top taxes on the very rich were far higher than they’ve been since. Yet the economy grew faster during those years than it has since. (Don’t believe small businesses would be hurt by a higher marginal tax; fewer than 2 percent of small business owners are in the highest tax bracket.)

3. Shrinking government generates more jobs. Wrong again. It means fewer government workers – everyone from teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and social workers at the state and local levels to safety inspectors and military personnel at the federal. And fewer government contractors, who would employ fewer private-sector workers. According to Moody’s economist Mark Zandi (a campaign advisor to John McCain), the $61 billion in spending cuts proposed by the House GOP will cost the economy 700,000 jobs this year and next.

4. Cutting the budget deficit now is more important than boosting the economy. Untrue. With so many Americans out of work, budget cuts now will shrink the economy. They’ll increase unemployment and reduce tax revenues. That will worsen the ratio of the debt to the total economy. The first priority must be getting jobs and growth back by boosting the economy. Only then, when jobs and growth are returning vigorously, should we turn to cutting the deficit.

5. Medicare and Medicaid are the major drivers of budget deficits. Wrong. Medicare and Medicaid spending is rising quickly, to be sure. But that’s because the nation’s health-care costs are rising so fast. One of the best ways of slowing these costs is to use Medicare and Medicaid’s bargaining power over drug companies and hospitals to reduce costs, and to move from a fee-for-service system to a fee-for-healthy outcomes system. And since Medicare has far lower administrative costs than private health insurers, we should make Medicare available to everyone.

6. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Don’t believe it. Social Security is solvent for the next 26 years. It could be solvent for the next century if we raised the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. That ceiling is now $106,800.

7. It’s unfair that lower-income Americans don’t pay income tax. Wrong. There’s nothing unfair about it. Lower-income Americans pay out a larger share of their paychecks in payroll taxes, sales taxes, user fees, and tolls than everyone else.

Demagogues through history have known that big lies, repeated often enough, start being believed — unless they’re rebutted. These seven economic whoppers are just plain wrong. Make sure you know the truth – and spread it on.


Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes. He is also Common Cause's board chairman.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Friday, October 07, 2011


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October 7, 2011

Occupy Wall St. to a Bank in the Public Interest

Michael Hudson: A public option in banking will be a structural answer to the power of finance

More at The Real News

Thursday, October 06, 2011



Flat-Lining the Middle Class

Economic Numbers to Die For
By Andy Kroll

Food pantries picked over. Incomes drying up. Shelters bursting with the homeless. Job seekers spilling out the doors of employment centers. College grads moving back in with their parents. The angry and disillusioned filling the streets.

Pan your camera from one coast to the other, from city to suburb to farm and back again, and you'll witness scenes like these. They are the legacy of the Great Recession, the Lesser Depression, or whatever you choose to call it.

In recent months, a blizzard of new data, the hardest of hard numbers, has laid bare the dilapidated condition of the American economy, and particularly of the once-mighty American middle class. Each report sparks a flurry of news stories and pundit chatter, but never much reflection on what it all means now that we have just enough distance to look back on the first decade of the twenty-first century and see how Americans fared in that turbulent period.

And yet the verdict couldn’t be more clear-cut. For the American middle class, long the pride of this country and the envy of the world, the past 10 years were a bust. A washout. A decade from hell.

Paychecks shrank. Household wealth melted away like so many sandcastles swept off by the incoming tide. Poverty spiked, swallowing an ever-greater share of the population, young and old. "This is truly a lost decade," Harvard University economist Lawrence Katz said of these last years. "We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we're looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s."

Poverty Swallows America

Not even a full year has passed and yet the signs of wreckage couldn’t be clearer. It’s as if Hurricane Irene had swept through the American economy. Consider this statistic: between 1999 and 2009, the net jobs gain in the American workforce was zero. In the six previous decades, the number of jobs added rose by at least 20% per decade.

Then there's income. In 2010, the average middle-class family took home $49,445, a drop of $3,719 or 7%, in yearly earnings from 10 years earlier. In other words, that family now earns the same amount as in 1996. After peaking in 1999, middle-class income dwindled through the early years of the George W. Bush presidency, climbing briefly during the housing boom, then nosediving in its aftermath.

In this lost decade, according to economist Jared Bernstein, poor families watched their income shrivel by 12%, falling from $13,538 to $11,904. Even families in the 90th percentile of earners suffered a 1% percent hit, dropping on average from $141,032 to $138,923. Only among the staggeringly wealthy was this not a lost decade: the top 1% of earners enjoyed 65% of all income growth in America for much of the decade, one hell of a run, only briefly interrupted by the financial meltdown of 2008 and now, by the look of things, back on track.

The swelling ranks of the American poor tell an even more dismal story. In September, the Census Bureau rolled out its latest snapshot of poverty in the United States, counting more than 46 million men, women, and children among this country's poor. In other words, 15.1% of all Americans are now living in officially defined poverty, the most since 1993. (Last year, the poverty line for a family of four was set at $22,113; for a single working-age person, $11,334.) Unlike in the lost decade, the poverty rate decreased for much of the 1990s, and in 2000 was at about 11%.

Even before the housing market imploded, during the post-dot-com-bust years of “recovery” from 2001 to 2007, poverty figures were the worst for any recovery on record, according to Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Brookings Institution, meanwhile, predicts that the ranks of the poor will continue to grow steadily during the years of the Great Recession, which officially began in December 2007, and are expected to reach 50 million by 2015, almost 10 million more than in 2007.

Hitting similar record highs are the numbers of "deep" poor, Americans living way below the poverty line. In 2010, 20.5 million people, or 6.7% of all Americans, scraped by with less than $11,157 for a family of four -- that is, less than half of the poverty line.

The ranks of the poor are no longer concentrated in inner cities or ghettos in the country’s major urban areas as in decades past. Poverty has now exploded in the suburbs. Last year, more than 15 million suburbanites -- or one-third of all poor Americans -- fell below the poverty line, an increase of 11.5% from the previous year.

This is a development of the last decade. Those suburbs, once the symbol of by-the-bootstraps mobility and economic prosperity in America, saw poverty spike by 53% since 2000.  Four of the ten poorest suburbs in America -- Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Modesto -- sit side by side on a map of California's Central Valley like a row of broken knuckles.  The poor are also concentrated in border towns like El Paso and McAllen, Texas, and urban areas cratered by the housing crash like Fort Myers and Lakeland, Florida.

The epidemic of poverty has hit minorities especially hard. According to Census data, between 2009 and 2010 alone the black poverty rate jumped from 25% to 27%. For Hispanics, it climbed from 25% to 26%, and for whites, from 9.4% to 9.9%. At 16.4 million, more children now live in poverty than at any time since 1962.  Put another way, 22% of kids currently live below the poverty line, a 17-year record.

America’s lost decade also did a remarkable job of destroying the wealth of nonwhite families, the Pew Research Center reported in July. Between 2005 and 2009, the household wealth of a typical black family dropped off a cliff, plunging by a whopping 53%; for a typical Hispanic family, it was even worse, at 66%. For white middle-class households, losses on average totaled “only” 16%.

Here's a more eye-opening way to look at it: in 2009, the median wealth for a white family was $113,149, for a black family $5,677, and for a Hispanic family $6,325. The second half of the lost decade, in other words, laid ruin to whatever wealth was possessed by blacks and Hispanics -- largely home ownership devastated by the popping of the housing bubble.

The New Lost Decade

As for this decade, less than two years in, we already know that the news isn't likely to be much better. The problems that plagued Americans in the previous decade show little sign of improvement.

Take the jobs market. Tally the number of jobs eliminated since the recession began and also the labor market's failure to create enough jobs to keep up with normal population growth, and you're left with an 11.2 million jobs deficit, a chasm between where the economy should be and where it is now. Filling that gap is the key to any recovery, but to do so by mid-2016 would mean adding 280,000 jobs a month -- a pipe dream in an economy limping along creating an average of just 35,000 jobs a month for the past three months. Unless the country's jobs engine were somehow jump-started, 11.2 million jobs in this decade would be a real stretch.

But few in Congress, and none of the controlling Republican politicians, will even think about using the jumper cables. President Obama's relatively modest American Jobs Act, for instance, was declared a corpse on arrival at the House of Representatives. On Monday, a reporter asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), "The $447 billion jobs package as a package: dead?" Yes, Cantor assured him, indeed it was.

The president and his administration watch despondently from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. And for the majority of Americans, a jobless “recovery” exacts an ever-greater toll on their earnings, their families, their health, their basic ability to make ends meet.

The question on many economists' minds is: Will the U.S. slump into a double-dip recession? But for so many Americans living outside the political and media hothouses of Washington and New York, this question is silly.  After all, how can the economy tumble back into recession if it never left in the first place?

No one can say for certain how many years will pass before America regains anything like its pre-recession swagger -- and even then, there's little to suggest that the devastating effects of the middle class's lost decade won’t have changed this country in ways that will prove permanent, or that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else will do anything but increase in good times or bad in the decade to come. The deep polarization between the very rich and everyone else has been decades in the making and is a global phenomenon. Reversing it could be the task of a lifetime.

In the meantime, the middle class has flat-lined. Life support is nowhere close to arriving. One lost decade may have ended, but the next one has likely only begun.

Andy Kroll is a staff reporter in the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones magazine and an associate editor at TomDispatch. He writes about the economy and national politics, and has appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
Copyright 2011 Andy Kroll


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October 6, 2011

1000 Protesters Storm Wall St Barricade

Occupy Wall Street movement gains support from unions, student groups and community organizers

Watch full multipart TRNN Occupy Wall St. Stories

More at The Real News

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


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October 4, 2011

Nonviolent Wall St. Protesters Face Mass Arrest

Occupy Wall St. enters third week as movement spreads across US

More at The Real News

October 4, 2011

Anti-Wall Street Protesters 'Get Organized'

EuroNews: The anti-Wall Street protest in New York has now produced copycat movements across the US

More at The Real News

Why the New Security Zone along the Canadian Border?

Monday, 03 October 2011, 5:53 pm
Article: Michael Collins

Photo credit: Icon Photography School (Original image)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just issued an environmental report on its enhanced security plan to cover an area extending from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the northern border of the United States to 100 miles south of the border. While there are few specifics on the new security measures, the environmental report offers enough to see how we will be protected against threats to national security coming from Canada. The Department of Homeland security will enhance efforts and technologies to reduce the danger from "known terrorist affiliates and extremist groups [that] have an undisputed presence along the Northern Border in both the United States and Canada." Northern Border Security Programs, p. 1-3, September 2011 (Northern Border) (Image: thelastminute)

In 2006 the American Civil Liberties Union exposed the expansion of border control activities to within 100 miles of any point on the U.S. border. ACLU labeled this area the Constitution Free Zone. Search and seizure options at border checkpoints are not constrained by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S Constitution, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. Now, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), just because they're within 100 miles of the nearest border nearly 200 million citizens are subject to searching and procedures that previously were used exclusively at border checkpoints.

What do they have in store for citizens on the northern border?

Some highlights of the program include: checkpoints far from the border (but within the 100-mile limit); increased patrol activity; remote video surveillance system systems; upgraded surveillance and telecommunications systems; high-powered X-ray machines of various kinds; and fencing or vehicle barriers at selected points along the border.

The new and improved "High-Energy X-Ray Imaging Scanners" (Northern Border, p. 2-12) expand national security radiation exposure from airline passengers to the much broader audience of drivers and their families, for example, who choose to visit and return from Canada, as well as those who choose to visit the United States from Canada, and anyone unlucky enough to drive into a checkpoint in the Constitution Free Zone.

Buried within the report was this findings, DHS asserts that even though “exposure to high levels of radiation would increase a person’s probability of developing cancer and hereditary genetic damage,” (Northern Border, 8-13-10, p. 201), the impacts of this program will be “negligible.” One wonders if their analysis has considered the kids sitting in the back seat of the car, protected by nothing more than that back seat and their clothing, while a CBP agents X-rays the car’s trunk with a mobile device. It’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy about impacts being negligible when you can’t see any analysis to support that assertion.

With the expanded territory and array of new technologies, one can argue that the security measures represent a militarization of the Canadian border. The following illustration from the environmental report makes that point:

Northern Report, 1-6
The possibilities for a one-sided encounter with those who claim to protect us are endless. You may be driving to visit a friend in a car once owned by someone one on the Automated Targeting System (ATS), "a security and tracking program for cargo that DHS has extended to travelers by assigning all who cross the nation's borders with a computer-generated risk assessment score that will be retained for 40 years -- and which is secret and unreviewable." A Homeland Security drone spots you and relays the message to the Customs and Border Protection command center. That alert sends a message to the "mobile data terminal" in a Border Patrol "agent vehicle" and it’s game on. You're pulled over. Good luck explaining why you're in a "dirty car."

O Canada!

"CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) is the largest law enforcement component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It has a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the United States." Introduction, p. 4

An enhanced security zone along the longest peaceful border in the world should raise suspicion. As Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out, there have been no successful terrorist attacks on the United States since 9/11, at least none conducted by foreign governments (arguably, the response to Hurricane Katrina can be seen as a de facto terror attack on the people of New Orleans). There were two cross-border threats intercepted in December, 1999 through the efforts of Customs and Border Protection agents and others at the Canadian border in Vermont and Washington state. But that was with the systems and technologies of that time.

Has Canada suddenly become a hotbed of virulent anti-American activity? Are the Mounties and other law enforcement agencies in Canada turning a blind eye to known threats? Are we expected to believe that the nation that turned down a featured role in the coalition of the willing has suddenly become lax on enforcing international law?

Keeping them out or us in? (Or is it all about the money?)

Is there another motive behind the seeming militarization of the Canadian border?
My choice for primary motive is enhanced revenue opportunities for the defense and national security industries. The U.S.-Canada border is over 4,000 miles long. The opportunities of a 100-mile ribbon along that border are expanded by all those people living there, approximately 50 million. This could be a huge payday. After all, Iraq and Afghanistan must end at some point. What better project to take up the slack for defense industry taxpayer subsidies than a massive border build up in areas that provide safe working conditions?

Look how quickly the government deployed full body scanners in airports across the country after the underpants bomber affair. Even though highly reliable witnesses saw that bomber bypass a security check at his point of departure, Amsterdam, the administration and security experts acted like a scanner would have somehow prevented events that had nothing to do with any type of security check.

The absurdity of government policies on war, defense spending, and the economy, and the elimination of more and more constitutional and other protections, opens the door for more sinister interpretations. There will be speculation that just maybe, the financial elite who run things see a total collapse of the economy. They should know, they created it. Or maybe they see a total loss of rights and an end to the pretense of freedom. Instead of letting all those consumers (aka citizens) cross the border in search of a reasonable life, they may just want to keep us around for the next big holiday shopping spree.

The border security program as prison bars for citizens is far-fetched but, arguably, it is no more far-fetched than a plan to beef up the border with a friendly, cooperative neighbor.

We live in a time of great decline. The cause of that decline is the ownership of virtually all of the tools of political control by those whose sole motive is to make more money than the huge sums they've already accumulated. For positive change to become an alternative, those who have failed so miserably need to be sent packing, replaced by true servants of the people.


Special thanks to the anonymous source who explained the significance of the report and to Cryptome, which listed the report summary and links on the date of publication.

The Money Party RSS

Appendix I: Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment, US Constitution, FindLaw

Appendix II: Becoming Part of the Process

Public Meetings

CBP will hold a series of public meetings on the environmental report in October. At these meetings you may learn more about the project and you may also submit comments. The public meetings will be held from 7-9 pm and are scheduled as follows:

Click for pdf of public meeting dates, city, and location. Source


Monday, October 03, 2011


October 3, 2011 at 00:47:26

Promoted to Headline (H3) on 10/3/11:

The Day America Died

By paul craig roberts (about the author)

September 30, 2011 was the day America was assassinated.

Some of us have watched this day approach and have warned of its coming, only to be greeted with boos and hisses from "patriots" who have come to regard the US Constitution as a device that coddles criminals and terrorists and gets in the way of the President who needs to act to keep us safe.

In our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Lawrence Stratton and I showed that long before 9/11, US law had ceased to be a shield of the people and had been turned into a weapon in the hands of the government. The event known as 9/11 was used to raise the executive branch above the law. As long as the President sanctions an illegal act, executive branch employees are no longer accountable to the law that prohibits the illegal act. On the president's authority, the executive branch can violate US laws against spying on Americans without warrants, indefinite detention, and torture -- and suffer no consequences.

Many expected President Obama to re-establish the accountability of government to law. Instead, he went further than Bush/Cheney and asserted the unconstitutional power not only to hold American citizens indefinitely in prison without bringing charges, but also to take their lives without convicting them in a court of law. Obama asserts that the US Constitution notwithstanding, he has the authority to assassinate US citizens he deems to be a "threat," without due process of law.

In other words, any American citizen who is moved into the threat category has no rights and can be executed without trial or evidence.

On September 30 Obama used this asserted new power of the president and had two American citizens, Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan, murdered. Khan was a wacky character associated with Inspire Magazine and does not readily come to mind as a serious threat.

Awlaki was a moderate American Muslim cleric who served as an adviser to the US government after 9/11 on ways to counter Muslim extremism. Awlaki was gradually radicalized by Washington's use of lies to justify military attacks on Muslim countries. He became a critic of the US government and told Muslims that they did not have to passively accept American aggression and had the right to resist and to fight back. As a result Awlaki was demonized and became a threat.

All we know that Awlaki did was to give sermons critical of Washington's indiscriminate assaults on Muslim peoples. Washington's argument is that his sermons might have had an influence on some who are accused of attempting terrorist acts, thus making Awlaki responsible for the attempts.

Obama's assertion that Awlaki was some kind of high-level Al Qaeda operative is merely an assertion. Jason Ditz concluded that the reason Awlaki was murdered rather than brought to trial is that the US government had no real evidence that Awlaki was an Al Qaeda operative.

Having murdered its critic, the Obama Regime is working hard to posthumously promote Awlaki to a leadership position in Al Qaeda. The presstitutes and the worshippers of America's First Black President have fallen in line and regurgitated the assertions that Awlaki was a high-level, dangerous Al Qaeda terrorist. If Al Qaeda sees value in Awlaki as a martyr, the organization will give credence to these claims. However, so far no one has provided any evidence. Keep in mind that all we know about Awlaki is what Washington claims, and that the US has been at war for a decade based on false claims.

But what Awlaki did or might have done is beside the point. The US Constitution requires that even the worst murderer cannot be punished until he is convicted in a court of law. When the American Civil Liberties Union challenged in federal court Obama's assertion that he had the power to order assassinations of American citizens, the Obama Justice (sic) Department argued that Obama's decision to have Americans murdered was an executive power beyond the reach of the judiciary.

In a decision that sealed America's fate, federal district court judge John Bates ignored the Constitution's requirement that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law and dismissed the case, saying that it was up to Congress to decide. Obama acted before an appeal could be heard, thus using Judge Bates' acquiescence to establish the power and advance the transformation of the president into a Caesar that began under George W. Bush.

Attorneys Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Turley point out that Awlaki's assassination terminated the Constitution's restraint on the power of government. Now the US government not only can seize a US citizen and confine him in prison for the rest of his life without ever presenting evidence and obtaining a conviction, but also can have him shot down in the street or blown up by a drone.

Before some readers write to declare that Awlaki's murder is no big deal because the US government has always had people murdered, keep in mind that CIA assassinations were of foreign opponents and were not publicly proclaimed events, much less a claim by the president to be above the law. Indeed, such assassinations were denied, not claimed as legitimate actions of the President of the United States.

The Ohio National Guardsmen who shot Kent State students as they protested the US invasion of Cambodia in 1970 made no claim to be carrying out an executive branch decision. Eight of the guardsmen were indicted by a grand jury. The guardsmen entered a self-defense plea. Most Americans were angry at war protestors and blamed the students. The judiciary got the message, and the criminal case was eventually dismissed. The civil case (wrongful death and injury) was settled for $675,000 and a statement of regret by the defendants

The point isn't that the government killed people. The point is that never prior to President Obama has a President asserted the power to murder citizens.

Over the last 20 years, the United States has had its own Mein Kampf transformation. Terry Eastland's book, Energy in the Executive: The Case for the Strong Presidency, presented ideas associated with the Federalist Society, an organization of Republican lawyers that works to reduce legislative and judicial restraints on executive power. Under the cover of wartime emergencies (the war on terror), the Bush/Cheney regime employed these arguments to free the president from accountability to law and to liberate Americans from their civil liberties. War and national security provided the opening for the asserted new powers, and a mixture of fear and desire for revenge for 9/11 led Congress, the judiciary, and the people to go along with the dangerous precedents.

As civilian and military leaders have been telling us for years, the war on terror is a 30-year project. After such time has passed, the presidency will have completed its transformation into Caesarism, and there will be no going back.

Indeed, as the neoconservative "Project For A New American Century" makes clear, the war on terror is only an opening for the neoconservative imperial ambition to establish US hegemony over the world.

As wars of aggression or imperial ambition are war crimes under international law, such wars require doctrines that elevate the leader above the law and the Geneva Conventions, as Bush was elevated by his Justice (sic) Department with minimal judicial and legislative interference.

Illegal and unconstitutional actions also require a silencing of critics and punishment of those who reveal government crimes. Thus Bradley Manning has been held for a year, mainly in solitary confinement under abusive conditions, without any charges being presented against him. A federal grand jury is at work concocting spy charges against Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange. Another federal grand jury is at work concocting terrorists charges against antiwar activists.

"Terrorist" and "giving aid to terrorists" are increasingly elastic concepts. Homeland Security has declared that the vast federal police bureaucracy has shifted its focus from terrorists to "domestic extremists."

It is possible that Awlaki was assassinated because he was an effective critic of the US government. Police states do not originate fully fledged. Initially, they justify their illegal acts by demonizing their targets, and in this way create the precedents for unaccountable power. Once the government equates critics with giving "aid and comfort" to terrorists, as they are doing with antiwar activists and Assange, or with terrorism itself, as Obama did with Awlaki, it will only be a short step to bringing accusations against Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU.

The Obama Regime, like the Bush/Cheney Regime, is a regime that does not want to be constrained by law. And neither will its successor. Those fighting to uphold the rule of law, humanity's greatest achievement, will find themselves lumped together with the regime's opponents and be treated as such.

This great danger that hovers over America is unrecognized by the majority of the people. When Obama announced before a military gathering his success in assassinating an American citizen, cheers erupted. The Obama regime and the media played the event as a repeat of the (claimed) killing of Osama bin Laden. Two "enemies of the people" have been triumphantly dispatched. That the President of the United States was proudly proclaiming to a cheering audience sworn to defend the Constitution that he was a murderer and that he had also assassinated the US Constitution is extraordinary evidence that Americans are incapable of recognizing the threat to their liberty.

Emotionally, the people have accepted the new powers of the president. If the president can have American citizens assassinated, there is no big deal about torturing them. Amnesty International has sent out an alert that the US Senate is poised to pass legislation that would keep Guantanamo Prison open indefinitely and that Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) might introduce a provision that would legalize "enhanced interrogation techniques," a euphemism for torture.

Instead of seeing the danger, most Americans will merely conclude that the government is getting tough on terrorists, and it will meet with their approval. Smiling with satisfaction over the demise of their enemies, Americans are being led down the garden path to rule by government unrestrained by law and armed with the weapons of the medieval dungeon.

Americans have overwhelming evidence from news reports and YouTube videos of US police brutally abusing women, children, and the elderly, of brutal treatment and murder of prisoners not only in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and secret CIA prisons abroad, but also in state and federal prisons in the US. Power over the defenseless attracts people of a brutal and evil disposition.

A brutal disposition now infects the US military. The leaked video of US soldiers delighting, as their words and actions reveal, in their murder from the air of civilians and news service camera men walking innocently along a city street shows soldiers and officers devoid of humanity and military discipline. Excited by the thrill of murder, our troops repeated their crime when a father with two small children stopped to give aid to the wounded and were machine-gunned.

So many instances: the rape of a young girl and murder of her entire family; innocent civilians murdered and AK-47s placed by their side as "evidence" of insurgency; the enjoyment experienced not only by high school dropouts from torturing they-knew-not-who in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but also by educated CIA operatives and Ph.D. psychologists. And no one held accountable for these crimes except two lowly soldiers prominently featured in some of the torture photographs.

What do Americans think will be their fate now that the "war on terror" has destroyed the protection once afforded them by the US Constitution? If Awlaki really needed to be assassinated, why did not President Obama protect American citizens from the precedent that their deaths can be ordered without due process of law by first stripping Awlaki of his US citizenship? If the government can strip Awlaki of his life, it certainly can strip him of citizenship. The implication is hard to avoid that the executive branch desires the power to terminate citizens without due process of law.

Governments escape the accountability of law in stages. Washington understands that its justifications for its wars are contrived and indefensible. President Obama even went so far as to declare that the military assault that he authorized on Libya without consulting Congress was not a war and, therefore, he could ignore the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a federal law intended to check the power of the President to commit the US to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress.

Americans are beginning to unwrap themselves from the flag. Some are beginning to grasp that initially they were led into Afghanistan for revenge for 9/11. From there they were led into Iraq for reasons that turned out to be false. They see more and more US military interventions: Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and now calls for invasion of Pakistan and continued saber rattling for attacks on Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. The financial cost of a decade of the "war against terror" is starting to come home. Exploding annual federal budget deficits and national debt threaten Medicare and Social Security. Debt ceiling limits threaten government shut-downs.

War critics are beginning to have an audience. The government cannot begin its silencing of critics by bringing charges against US Representatives Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. It begins with antiwar protestors, who are elevated into "antiwar activists," perhaps a step below "domestic extremists." Washington begins with citizens who are demonized Muslim clerics radicalized by Washington's wars on Muslims. In this way, Washington establishes the precedent that war protesters give encouragement and, thus, aid to terrorists. It establishes the precedent that those Americans deemed a threat are not protected by law. This is the slippery slope on which we now find ourselves.

Last year the Obama Regime tested the prospects of its strategy when Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, announced that the government had a list of American citizens that it was going to assassinate abroad. This announcement, had it been made in earlier times by, for example, Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, would have produced a national uproar and calls for impeachment. However, Blair's announcement caused hardly a ripple. All that remained for the regime to do was to establish the policy by exercising it.

Readers ask me what they can do. Americans not only feel powerless, they are powerless. They cannot do anything. The highly concentrated, corporate-owned, government-subservient print and TV media are useless and no longer capable of performing the historic role of protecting our rights and holding government accountable. Even many antiwar Internet sites shield the government from 9/11 skepticism, and most defend the government's "righteous intent" in its war on terror. Acceptable criticism has to be couched in words such as "it doesn't serve our interests."

Voting has no effect. President "Change" is worse than Bush/Cheney. As Jonathan Turley suggests, Obama is "the most disastrous president in our history." Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the Constitution to appreciate him.

To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country. The only future for Americans is a nightmare.