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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

US implicated in endless Middle East atrocities

Palestine, change in the air  
Excerpt, minor editing by Carolyn Bennett

Today on “Democracy Now!”, … as conflict again heightens and hits headlines, Palestinian-Lebanese American Middle East historian Rashid Khalidi and Israeli Defense Forces veteran turned researcher and “anti-occupation activist” Eran Efrati

Violence persists
Serious talks nonexistent

“In a lot of ways,” Eran Efrati said, “the United States completely controls the political situation in Israel. … The political atmosphere is extremely violent and fascist and the United States not only enabled that; it is backing it up with money and with support.”

Efrati said, large sums of money are being transferred into Israel, money that comes mostly but not only from “evangelicals.” The incessant violence, conflict and nonexistent substantive talks to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issues are the consequence of incitement by “right-wing Zionist movements” together with “the settlement movement in East Jerusalem, all over the West Bank, and to the right-wing parties in Israel”; and the ever-present weapons industry and their lobbyists.

The principal enabler 
USA
of violence, conflict and nonexistent substantive talks, Rashid Khalidi said, is the United States of America. “By its diplomatic support,” Khalidi said, the United States “prevents any real pressure on Israel to stop it from occupation, settlement and repression.”

Palestine
The United States is “running interference for Israel,” Khalidi said. “Whenever anybody tries to do anything—British Parliament, the Spanish Parliament, the Irish Parliament, the Swedish government—the United States objects. 

“Whenever anybody tries to do anything diplomatically or in a nonviolent manner, such as boycott, divestment and sanctions,” they (these actions and those who carry them out) are labeled “anti-Semitic.” In the meantime, “the Palestinians are supposed to lie down and let the bulldozers and the settlement enterprise and the repression run over them and return to negotiations, which Netanyahu has already told us can never lead to an end to occupation.”

Gaza Strip
The current state of affairs is, “to a very large extent” the “doing of the United States” – rhetoric of the US president notwithstanding. “As long as American money is used to support the repression of Palestinians,” as long as the US Department of Justice Department and US Treasury permit “US 501(c)(3), supposedly ‘charitable,’ organizations to funnel tens, hundreds of millions of dollars to settlement activities, to the repression of Palestinians,” presidential rhetoric, the president’s public words are “meaningless.”

East Jerusalem
We are complicit in repression. “This is an American-Israeli enterprise,” he says. “The money is largely from the U
nited States” and “the weapons are from the United States.”

U
sing the authorities, police and military, the former Israeli soldier says, “the goal is to make people’s life miserable.” Eran Efrati said soldiers were told they were preventing “terror attacks” so they needed “to make their (Palestinians') life miserable so they will be afraid all the time and they will not have time to plan terror attacks."

In reality, Efrati said, "The end goal” is “to make them want to leave,” also to make them “want to do crazy things like attacks on Jews and on Israelis.”


Middle East
Rashid Khalidi reflected on the fact that "you do not control a region by oppressing the people and turning them into your enemies, what Israel has been doing for 47 years.” And the international mood is changing. 

Change in the air

"Among younger people,” people on campuses, people who do not consume mainstream media, Khalidi observes, “there is an awakening…, an enormous change in public opinion below the level of the mainstream media. 

"In Europe, there is an enormous shift: four major European countries have had parliaments or governments actually take a stand.” While that has not yet been translated into “effective pressure to stop the acts of oppression,” he says, “…we are getting there.

“Everybody in Europe knows what’s going on. What the American media does not tell the Americans, the European media does tell Europeans”; so “at least from Europe and the rest of the world, you’re going to see increasing pressure on Israel. The problem is here,” Rashid Khalidi concludes,…in this country,” the United States of America.




Sources and notes

DEMOCRACY NOW! today

“‘Palestinians Always Live in Fear’: Jerusalem Killings Follow Months of Tensions, Settlement Growth,”  November 19, 2014,
http://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/19/palestinians_always_live_in_fear_jerusalem

RASHID KHALIDI

Author and academic Rashid Ismail Khalidi’s most recent books include Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004); The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006); Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East (2009): Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (2013). Khalidi’s research focuses on the history of the modern Middle East, on countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean, the emergence of various national identities and the role played by external powers in their development. His work also covers the effect of the press in forming sense of community; the role of education in construction of political identity; developing narratives in the region in the past centuries. This Palestinian-Lebanese American and Middle East historian served in 1994 as President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America; in later years editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashi

ERAN EFRATI

Former member of the Israeli Defense Forces (combat soldier to “anti-occupation activist”), Eran Efrati is an investigative researcher into the Israeli military; and formerly chief researcher of “Breaking the Silence,” an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers working to raise awareness about the reality in the Occupied Territories. Efrati has “collected testimonies from IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers, guided political tours to the West Bank, lectured before Israeli and international audiences. The collected testimonies appear in the booklet ‘Operation Cast Lead’ and their most recent release ‘Our Harsh Logic.’”  His current research focuses on “international military and police partnerships, and the global arms trade.” http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/eran-efrati



______________________________________

A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

US political system faces “crisis of legitimacy” – Kishore on civic participation, inequality

Tough to summon energy necessary to take part in a system you don't believe in, one comprised of entrenched, corrupt public officials who deliberately fail to serve the public good -- and whom you hold in contempt
Excerpt, minor edits by Carolyn Bennett

“T
Joseph Kishore 
he character of the American political system is an expression of underlying social relations,” Joseph Kishore writes. And the waning state of “the state and its agents is, above all, a product of” a pervasive, deepening “social inequality presided over by a parasitic oligarchy intent on war abroad and plunder at home.”

People

“Tens of millions of people in the United States have drawn the conclusion that the electoral process is a sham and no amount of participation will [correct or undo] the stranglehold of the financial aristocracy.” In the most recent mid-term election less than one-third of eligible voters – in 13 US states – went to the polls. Among these low-voting states were the three largest US states:

California (31.8 percent), Texas (28.5 percent) and New York (28.8 percent)—along with Indiana, Utah, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, West Virginia, Nevada, and Missouri.

US youth participation or lack of participation in the process was particularly illustrative of “the widespread alienation” among the citizenry: Among eligible voters aged 18-29, “only 21.3 percent voted” in the 2014 election.
 
Regime

Media organizations, trade unions and pseudo-left supporters of the Democratic Party in 2008 pushed for a Barack Obama presidency “as an agent of ‘change’ and a ‘transformative’ candidate.” Candidate Obama “made a series of promises signaling a sharp departure from the policies of the immediately preceding president, George W. Bush, who had left office the most hated president in American history.”

However, not only were none of these promises fulfilled “but there was never any intention of doing so.”

 T






he “change” candidate’s performance was a “campaign of lies, reflecting the arrogant belief within the American ruling class that it can simply fool the American people through a combination of chicanery and slick marketing.” And the president in six years “has … presided over the most rapid growth of social inequality in American history, a systematic assault on jobs, wages and social programs, endless and expanding wars, and the strengthening of a police-state apparatus of spying and repression.”

Result

The low turnout figures mean that many—perhaps the majority—of those elected received the votes of less than one fifth of eligible voters. And a cumulative effect of all data pertaining to the recent elections show “a political system facing a crisis of legitimacy.”  

Those who populate the White House, Capitol Hill and the various Governor’s mansions and state capitols have all the trappings of power, but any broad support for this power has eroded beneath their feet.

Approval rating of the combined bodies of the federal legislature (House and Senate) stays around “13 percent,” yet “more than 95 percent of all incumbents were reelected” in 2014. This means, Joseph Kishore concludes, that “despite the nearly universal contempt for the supposed representatives of the people, there is, in practice, no mechanism within the system for getting rid of them.”

Forward

“A qualitative turning point has been reached,” he says. “Millions of workers and youth unable to find any solutions within the established system will —and have already begun to—seek other means to defend their interests, e.g., with strikes, demonstrations, other forms of social struggle. They will increasingly search for political alternatives outside bourgeois politics.”

And “the responsibility of socialists,” he says, “is to actively intervene, prior to and in the midst of these struggles; to develop within the working class an understanding of the inextricable connection between the character of American politics and the nature of capitalism.

“T
he seething discontent that is building up in the United States in relation to both domestic and foreign policy must be given an ever-more conscious anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, internationalist, socialist, and revolutionary orientation.”



Sources and notes

“The illegitimate US election,” Joseph Kishore, World Socialist Web Site, wsws.org,
November 13, 2014, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/13/pers-n13.html

Writer Joseph Kishore is National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (United States) and contributor to World Socialist Website (WSWS)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Kishore


_______________________________________________

A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora

_______________________________________________

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

“Support the Troops”? End bloodshed, body bags, wars

US
OVER HERE
Abby Martin’s Compelling Veterans Day essay
Excerpt, editing, brief comments interspersed by Carolyn Bennett

“T
he rhetoric that those in uniform are protecting freedom is hammered into the psyche of Americans at every turn” – yellow ribbon magnets, patriotic anthems at sports games, and corporate marketing campaigns – “but no war fought by the US military has ever been about freedom.”

Year after year, “the Establishment hijacks Veterans Day – not only to audaciously commemorate the war criminals that send our brothers and sisters off to needlessly die – but to justify decades of bloodshed and militarism while paving the way for decades more.…” 

Neither Communism then nor Terrorism now is a threat to the United States of America. “The only reason Empire has ever fought wars is to maintain empire.”

Sons, daughters continue dying for lies.

People do not “join the military to be called heroes or because they think they are fighting evil incarnate … [and] calling all soldiers heroes, undermines those who actually are.” People who “throw themselves into the line of fire to save their battalions should not be generalized alongside those who pillage, rape and murder.” Contrary to any motive of heroism, “most people join the military because there are no jobs and no hope….” And they fall while trying to better themselves and support their relations.

W
ars in Afghanistan and Iraq have left “more than 6,800” US soldiers dead and Washington keeps sending men and women to die for a lie. Wars over there were the leading cause of soldier deaths up to 2011. Then soldiers started killing themselves at a rate of 22 a day.  “In 2012 and 2013,” soldiers were committing suicide “faster than they were dying [over there].” That means, Martin explains, “a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes -- or twenty-two every single day.”

Care less Character: Use, abuse, discard

Thousands of US soldiers wounded mentally and physically are simply “thrown back into society” to sink or swim, to fend for themselves, set adrift homeless under bridges, in homes where they seem no longer to fit in. A local Rochester, New York, merchant insultingly offers veterans “free haircuts” on Veterans Day. Thanks for your service, your sacrifice; we don’t need you any longer.

US
OVER THERE
After that comment of mine, Martin continues laying out the evidence of America’s (the Washington elite’s) carelessness: 


·         Back in March, the backlog of Veterans benefits was a staggering 400,000 cases with an average wait time of 125 days to process the claims, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

·         At least one million servicemen and women have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to 300 thousand during the Vietnam War, despite the lack of a draft.

·         The number could be even higher, but the VA abruptly stopped publishing the number of injured troops, citing national security reasons for the censorship.

‘The disgraceful way veterans are treated in this country exemplifies how little this government actually values life.
US
OVER THERE

“A
midst all the ritualistic pageantry immortalizing fallen soldiers, we lose sight of the military mind, one that dominates policy and breeds new generations of sadists who are taught that other human beings are of lesser value than they (the sadists). This toxic mindset seeps into every facet of American society, teaching every citizen that force is the answer to every problem.…”

Real heroes, Martin says, are those who resist war. Wars will cease when soldiers refuse to fight them. Hope begins in the minds of men and women when peace (nonviolence) is chosen over violence. All of us can contribute to this.

Martin suggests that the next time you hear people reciting the “Support the Troops” mantra, “Ask what they are doing to ensure that there will be no more senseless bloodshed. No more body bags. No more war.”


Sources and notes

“The Order to “Support the Troops” is Killing Veterans,” Abby Martin at Media Roots and RTs Breaking the Set, broadcast, November 12, 2014, http://www.mediaroots.org/how-supporting-the-troops-is-killing-veterans/
Abby Martin | @abbymartin

Abby Martin


Oakland, California, native Abigail Suzanne (Abby) Martin is a US journalist, artist and activist, and host of “Breaking the Set” on RT America network, working at the bureau in Washington, DC; earlier she was a correspondent for RT America. Martin is joint founder of the citizen journalism website, Media Roots; and a member of the Board of Directors for the Media Freedom Foundation, which manages Project Censored. She was co-director of “99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film.” Martin took her academic credentials at San Diego State University (concentrations Political Science and Spanish) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abby_Martin

_______________________________________________


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora

_______________________________________________

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Is so-called “Democracy” really democracy?

How does slavery fit
within construct, practice of
Democracy
Insight in Press TV doc “The Origin of Democracy”
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

“People do not like to have their knowledge questioned but I know that I do not know” – saying leading to Socrates' death in Athens. He was, said his student, Plato, “the first victim of democracy.”

From before the Common Era Fifth Century forward, Democracy underwent numerous ups and downs and varieties of interpretations, recalls the documentary's narrator: In some periods, it adopted the opposite of its original meaning.

These changes were part of the concept of democracy since the beginning – since its Athenian days, at the time when Socrates gathered young people in the Athens’ bazaar and encouraged them to doubt their gods, values, and themselves.

But the Athenian democracy could not tolerate any doubts in its principles, and [so democracy] sentences Socrates to death.

If democracy had let Socrates’ voice be heard at that time, perhaps we would have had a different world today. 

Athenian/Greek model
 
Dictators, Noblemen, Rich
rule ...
Though ancient Greece may be viewed as the model of democracy, a form of governance in which absolute authority vests in the people and moreover this authority consists in the people’s right to choose their leaders and make laws, this is not entirely true or reflective of reality, then or now. Classical Athens’ political system limited “democratic citizenship to an elite class of free men” and denied “political participation [to] slaves and women.”

Those who were allowed to participate were “noblemen, those who had Athenian origin,” Law History Expert Mohammad zaman Dariabiari said. “Women and slaves were excluded from decision-makings and taking part in determining their own political, social, economic and cultural fate.” Athenian democracy, Karim Mojtahedi said, “belonged to one-eighth of the people.”


“Democracy”, “Demagoguism” devoid of crucial Qualification

“Socrates believed that just as a shoemaker or mason needed skills to do his job, a governor [also] needed to be skilled, to have the political knowledge to rule.”
... Slaves, Women
need not apply

Socrates ridiculed Greece’s democracy. He “believed that competence and eligibility were needed for a government.”

However, “the biggest claimants to that eligibility were Athenian noblemen and wealthy people who thought their origin and pedigree [of itself] already provided them with that competence.…

“Socrates believed that this competence and knowledge [was] achieved by training and education.”

Western Philosophy Teacher Karim Mojtahedi said that this creates a situation in which “the reins of affairs [are given] to a bunch of people who are thirsty for fame, position and money; and they are destroying the main role of traditions.” Socrates believed the Athenian version of democracy was another form of Demagoguism.” Demagoguism [or demagoguery, making use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises to gain or retain power] is in fact the opposite form of democracy, Mojtahedi said.

None of these people “wanted to have anything to do with morality or justice. They wanted to have nothing to do with intelligence or knowledge. They wanted only power and a system based on the fight for political survival, even based on lies and deception.”

Is so-called “Democracy” really democracy”

Democracy
5th C BC
Athens and Greece
2014
USA
beyond the pale
Although “we remember the Athenians for their democracy,” the narrator says, “this is not their reality. Athens had three social groups: the rich and nobles (the rulers), the craftsmen and traders, and the farmers.” The “nobility and land owners” did almost nothing. Athens remained standing “by the labor of the slaves.” And social inequality and class difference sparked the first wave of change.

Using the example of Rome and Greece, “the problem of power, slavery, social advantages, slave exploitation, arrogance and dictatorship,” says philosophy and history researcher Behrooz Farno, was more prominent in the West than in the East. “Even in newer periods, in spite of the fact that people are supposedly involved in choosing their government, this public opinion is always inclined in favor of rich and powerful people, and it is power and wealth that defines public votes.”
Mohammadzaman Dariabiari reminds us that the most important concepts inherent in or crucial to democratic reality are freedom of human beings and equal rights for human beings to decide their own destiny in social, economic, cultural and political affairs.”

Given these requisites and existing conditions then and now, Karim Mojtahedi asks, “Can we really say that the system in Fifth Century BC, known as the Greek democracy” [or now known Western democracy or US democracy] really was [or now is] “democracy?”

I
 t is imperative that we ponder this question, answer it honestly. Then make substantive corrections in our own belief system, in our behavior, and in our governmental systems. 



Sources and notes

“The Origin of Democracy” Synopsis/Transcript [Synopsis: “Aristocracy or the rule of the elite is in [turn] the antonym of democracy.

“But while theoretically these definitions are in opposition, in practice the distinction has been blurred historically.

“Ancient Greece is perhaps viewed as the epithet of the origin of democracy; a form of governance where the mastership of the people is an absolute authority. And this authority consists in the people’s right to choose their leaders and legislate whatever laws they want.

“But is it really that simple?

“The political system of Classical Athens, for example, granted democratic citizenship to an elite class of free men and excluded slaves and women from political participation.

“This documentary takes a look at the not so benign origins of democracy and compares it to the government of Greece’s Easter neighbor: the Great Persia Empire.”], November 8, 2014, http://www.presstvdoc.com/Default/Detail/12954

Karim Mojtahedi: Iranian philosophy professor at Tehran University, Karim Mojtahedi is credited with more than 20 books on philosophy. He was awarded UNESCO’s Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science at the 4th International Farabi Festival and has received a plaque of honor from Iran’s Cultural Luminaries Association. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karim_Mojtahedi

Socrates

Classical Greek (Athenian, 470/469 BC – 399 BC) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates

Plato

Classical Greek philosopher and mathematician (428/427 or 424/423 BCE – 348/347 BCE), influential figure in Western philosophy; student of Socrates, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato

BCE

BCE is the abbreviation for Before the Common/Current/Christian Era (an alternative to Before Christ, abbreviated BC). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Era

Centuries-old non-democratic, employed constructs: “Anno Domini (AD or A.D., Medieval Latin translated ‘In the year of the Lord’) and Before Christ (BC or B.C.) are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars,” the latter the most widely used calendar in the world. “For decades, it has been the unofficial global standard, adopted for pragmatic interests of international communication, transportation, and commercial integration, and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union. There is no year zero in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating system was devised in 525, but was not widely used until after 800.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini


___________________________________________

A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora

 ___________________________________________

Friday, November 7, 2014

Faces facing high crime in high finance

Some Gov't lawyers place them
Out of reach of  Arm of Law
Cowards and the Courageous ● Care takers of public trust and the care less ● Criminals and catchers of criminals ● Whistleblowers and whitewashers
Editing, excerpt, brief comment by 
Carolyn Bennett

T
oday on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez were writer Matt Taibbi and whistleblower and finance lawyer Alayne Fleischmann. This is some of the salient insight from their discussion.

FACE OF COURAGE
CARE TAKING of public trust

The whistleblower says “at some stage …, sometimes you are involved in something that is bigger than you personally. 


Attorney Alayne Fleischmann
“…Right now there are still all sorts of suits out there by private investors, retirement funds, pension plans, trying to get their money back. In a lot of cases, they don’t know that I have information; so I now have in my email contacts [people] coming in, asking for help from me so that they can get this money that was stolen from their investors, [get it back to] those retirees.

“For me that is more important than anything that’s going to happen to me.”

The decision to blow the whistle was not kneejerk, not easy, not immediate. “For a long time,” Alayne Fleischmann said she believed "… the government would do their investigation and come forward with it. It has taken a really long time for me because … it is a little bit of an incredible thing to believe [government's failure to expose and prosecute those who have committed crimes].

“After watching all of these cases over and over again,” she says, “at some stage I am in the position where if I keep silent and the statute of limitation runs, or they do one of these agreements where they whitewash everything, then it’s too late – which is what’s happened over and over again so far.” She says, even when there have been “really strong cases—e.g., the JPMorgan-Madoff case, HSBC—no matter how strong the case, they still just get hushed away.”

Fleischmann sums up what she sees as her responsibility. She says she is “trying to change the pattern and come out first, so that they have to either follow these cases properly, the way they would for any other criminal defendant; or explain why they’re not doing it.”

FACE OF CORRUPTION
FACE OF COWARDICE

‘I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large. Again, I’m not talking about HSBC; this is just a more general comment. I think it has an inhibiting influence—impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate.’ – Top US law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder


W
Soon to be former
US Attorney General
Eric Holder
riter Matt Taibbi assesses Holder’s carelessness.

“It is a crazy thing when the leading law enforcement official in the nation comes out and says, ‘Well, some companies are just so big that we can’t prosecute them no matter what they do.’

“In that case, [the attorney general] was testifying in the wake of a settlement the government had entered into with the biggest bank in Europe and the biggest bank in Great Britain, HSBC  (or Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation), which had admitted to laundering over $800 million for a pair of Central and South American drug cartels.”

Taibbi continues, “If you cannot send someone to jail for laundering $800 million of drug money… because the company is too big— clearly something is very seriously wrong.”

Writer Matt Taibbi 
However, “this became sort of the unofficial official policy of the US Department of Justice and this greatly affected the way they dealt with companies like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup and Bank of America. They [the US government] tried to find a way to effect some kind of resolution that

did not involve criminal charges;
did not involve penalties to individuals; and also
did not put the facts of any of what they had actually done out into the public.
  
CRIMINALS AND WHITEWASHERS

With their smart lawyers and Ivy League learning, officials in the US government did not have to but they did permit, encourage, even create impunity – thus making themselves into co-conspirators in crime.

Alayne Fleischmann explains, “There is very little difference between civil securities fraud and criminal securities fraud or even how you can do this as a wire fraud case. Once you have that strong of a civil fraud case, the only real difference is that you need a little more intent … and you have to prove it to a higher standard.” And looking at these cases, she says, “These are some of the easiest white-collar crime cases that you are ever going to see.”
  
Referencing generally his Wall Street sources, Taibbi raps the US head of state for failing to seize “an incredible opportunity” on acceding to the presidency in 2008.


“With his communication skills,” Taibbi says, the president “could have gone to the American people and explained to them exactly what happened and said, ‘This is why the economy is bad. This is why you’re losing your job. There was massive criminal activity. It’s not just an accident.’ 

“He could have then gone and put a few people in jail and really put some teeth behind those words.

“Instead, they [the Obama government] swept it all under the rug.” And the American people have not been altogether fooled.  

In the light of this Midterm elections’ results, Taibbi concludes that “even if people do not completely understand what happened, they sense that nothing was done” to expose the truth, repair the injury, and bring the criminals to justice. “It is important to understand that,” he says.

INDEED.


Sources and notes

“Matt Taibbi and Bank Whistleblower on How JPMorgan Chase Helped Wreck the Economy, Avoid Prosecution” (Democracy Now Exclusive interview)  Program intro: “A year ago this month the US Department of Justice announced that banking giant JPMorgan Chase would avoid criminal charges by agreeing to pay $13 billion to settle claims that it had routinely overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling to investors.

“But how did the bank avoid prosecution for committing fraud that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis?

“Today [Democracy Now speaks with] JPMorgan Chase whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann in her first televised interview discussing how she witnessed ‘massive criminal securities fraud’ in the bank’s mortgage operations. Fleischmann is profiled in Matt Taibbi’s new Rolling Stone investigation ‘The $9 Billion Witness: Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American’” Friday, November 7, 2014,
http://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/7/matt_taibbi_and_bank_whistleblower_on

Alayne Fleischmann

Alayne Fleischmann (at http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/alayne-fleischmann/4a/873/32): Lawyer, Securities, M&A, Corporate Governance, Corporate Finance, Regulatory; Vancouver, British Columbia, CanadaLaw Practice; previously: Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Scotiabank, Bingham McCutchen ● Education: Cornell Law School

Alayne Fleischmann, attorney, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP (Calgary, Canada)
Alayne Fleischmann Employment History at http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Alayne-Fleischmann/419097181; at www.gowlings.com: Associate, McKee Nelson LLP; Associate, J.P. Morgan & Co.; Capital Markets Associate, Cadwalader , Wickersham & Taft LLP ● Education: J.D./LL.M. , Cornell Law School; B.A. , philosophy, University of British Columbia

Matt Taibbi

Author and journalist Matthew C. (Matt) Taibbi (/taɪˈiːbi/) has reported on politics, media, finance, and sports for Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal; and edited and written for The eXile, the New York Press, and The Beast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Taibbi


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A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rampant disease no surprise amid Anachronistic relations with Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa
21st century Colonialists go home; Give up gutting, gunning and running
Editing, brief comment by Carolyn Bennett

E
mira Woods is Global Client Principal for Social Impact Programs at a technology firm committed to social and economic justice (ThoughtWorks). From 2003 to 2014, she was co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and an expert on US foreign policy with a special emphasis on Africa and the developing world. She has written and interviewed in a variety of media on a range of issues from debt, trade and development to U.S. military policy. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Africa Action (Chair), Just Associates, Global Justice and the Financial Policy Forum. She is also a member of the advisory committee of the Zimbabwe Alliance, the Humanity United/Trustafrica Liberia program, and the Network Council of Jubilee USA.

Emira Woods’ many subject/issue interests include Africa, Debt Relief, Democratization, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Financial Flows and Investment, Food Aid, Foreign Aid, G8, International Financial Institutions, International Gender Issues, International Monetary Fund, Liberia, Organization for African Unity (OAU), US State Department, Structural Adjustment, Sudan, treasury, US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Economic/Trade Policy.  Emira Woods took academic credentials at US universities, Columbia and Harvard.

 
Colonial past meets “Modernity”


In the days of colonialism, European colonizers looked to Africa’s resources to drive Europe’s (the British Empire’s) economies and “the quest to dominate” expressed itself “most directly through military power and military might,” explains Emira Woods. And in contemporary times there is “a thirst for key resources for the global economy and access and control of those resources have often been the key determinant of foreign policy” — an old happening.

What is happening is “not a new phenomenon,” Woods says, “but it is increasingly worrisome in this twenty-first century that the dependence on vital resources, particularly natural resources coming from Africa – this dependence is not only a US dependence; but also European and Chinese and many other countries “looking to Africa’s resources as a means of growing their own economies.”


Rising oil and gas
Rising extraction
Rising aggression

In a January 2013 interview with Press TV, Emira Woods said there has been “an extended US military footprint in and around the African continent that coincides with the increased significance of resources from Africa over the past few years.”

Although countries of the continent such as South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria have opposed the militarist deployment of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the command has moved its headquarters to Stuttgart, Germany, US-Africa policy has grown in militarism commensurate with Africa’s growing significance as producer of oil, natural gas, and other vital resources. “The programs of AFRICOM,” Woods said, “have extended from training and equipping African armies to … increased use of drone technology — not only for intelligence gathering but also, particularly in places like Somalia, for more lethal purposes.”

War/Conflict-Forced Migration
Poverty
Disease
As the colonialists of old, the Americans today take (plunder, pillage) using lethal occupation, force and threat of force; yet Woods persists in asking the rhetorical “if”, “If the ultimate objective here is to secure African natural resources, whatever happened to investing within the economy, opening it to foreign market and investment?”

H
ad Europe, the British Empire, the United States, any one of these, invested in vital infrastructures on the continent of Africa, there would be no dire poverty today, no preventable and curable disease, no deplorable living conditions on the continent. What the West has done, and continues to do against the peoples of Africa is brutal, UNCONSCIONABLE. This is my opinion.

Africans are disappointed with the Obama tenure. What this government has done and failed to do, Woods says more moderately than I, has caused “concern and actual resentment.”

Africans’ “high hopes have been … dashed” in the absence of “bold leadership needed to actually change the status quo of how the United States engages with Africa to create a truly mutually beneficial relationship” – a mutually respectful foreign relations ethic “where Africa’s rise  …is actually supported and bolstered by visionary US leadership from the White House and beyond.”

 
Beyond colonialist past

The United States is out of step with the contemporary world and needs to embrace real change, Woods has suggested in other contexts.

If the United States wants to be in step with the twenty-first century and centuries to come, she says, its leaders must not only “pay attention to Africa,” but must also adopt new approaches: “trade and investment” policies with the continent that step “away from policies that favor extraction of Africa’s resources and militarization of the continent.”



Sources and notes

Emira Woods bio brief, http://www.ips-dc.org/authors/emira-woods/

Press TV

“Oil-hungry US planning drone bases across Africa: Emira Woods” Press TV interview with Emira Woods, January 29, 2013, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/29/286251/us-militarizing-africa-in-pursuit-of-oil/

Real News

“Is Obama’s Trip to Africa about Investment or the Extraction of African Resources?”  
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10366


“For Africa Trip, Obama Urged to Prioritize Development” – WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 (IPS) – “Advocacy groups here are urging U.S. President Barack Obama to focus on more than just economic development during his upcoming trip to Africa” by Cydney Hargis, http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/06/for-africa-trip-obama-urged-to-prioritise-development/


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A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora

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