Lee Camp: (YouTube 5:30) World Bank President Complains that Internet is Exposing Worker Conditions Worldwide

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Apr 12

Berto Jongman: Frederick Kagan on Why US Has Failed to Defeat Al Qaeda

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Missing the Target: Why the US Has Not Defeated al Qaeda

Frederick W. Kagan, TESTIMONY

American Enterprise Institute, 8 April 2014

All conditions are set for a series of significant terrorist attacks against the US and its allies over the next few years. But that’s not the worst news. Conditions are also set for state collapse in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and possibly Jordan. Saudi Arabia, facing a complex succession soon, is likely to acquire nuclear weapons shortly, if it has not already done so. Turkey and Egypt confront major crises. Almost all of Northern and Equatorial Africa is violent, unstable, and facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine is likely to empower al Qaeda-aligned jihadists in Crimea and in Russia itself. That eventuality is, of course, less worrisome than the prospect of conventional and partisan war on the European continent, likely threatening NATO allies. The international order and global stability are collapsing in a way we have not seen since the 1930s. There is little prospect of this trend reversing of its own accord, and managing it will require massive efforts by the US and its allies over a generation or more.

This distressing context is essential for considering the al Qaeda threat today. On the one hand, it makes that threat look small. The long – term effects of global chaos and conflict among hundreds of millions of people across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on US security, interests, and way of life are surely greater than any damage al Qaeda is likely to do to us in the immediate future. Yet the two threats feed each other powerfully. Disorder and conflict in the Muslim world breed support for al Qaeda, which is starting to look like the strong horse in Iraq and even in Syria. Al Qaeda groups and their allies, on the other hand, powerfully contribute to the collapse of state structures and the emergence of horrific violence and Hobbesian chaos wherever they operate. They are benefiting greatly from the regional sectarian war they intentionally triggered (the destruction of the Samarra Mosque in 2006 was only the most spectacular of a long series of efforts by al Qaeda in Iraq to goad Iraq’s Shi’a into sectarian conflict , for which some Shi’a militants, to be sure, were already preparing) — and have been continuing to fuel.

Al Qaeda is like a virulent pathogen that opportunistically attacks bodies weakened by internal strife and poor governance, but that further weakens those bodies and infects others that would not otherwise have been susceptible to the disease. The problem of al Qaeda cannot be separated from the other crises of our age, nor can it be quarantined or rendered harmless through targeted therapies that ignore the larger problems.

Yet that is precisely how the Obama administration has been trying to deal with al Qaeda.

PDF (6 Pages): 20140408 Kagan on Why US Has Not Defeated Al Qaeda

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Apr 9

Jean Lievens: End of Money – No More Private Banking…

Jean Lievens

Jean Lievens

Heteconomist’s critique of Positive Money’s proposals

“The real question to me is not whether private banks should be allowed to create money through the lending process, but whether – and to what extent – there should be private banking at all. Nationalized banking, at least the nationalization of big banking, should be considered, in my opinion.”

A few days ago, we published a podcast-interview with Ben Dyson, of Positive Money. After sharing it on Facebook, Dmytri Kleiner suggested the following article, written by Peter Cooper and originally published in heteconomist.com, which criticises some of Positive Money’s proposals. Aside from his suggestion to stop playing nice with private banking altogether (which I agree with), Cooper states, “The biggest problem is the notion of an undemocratic, independent committee determining the government’s capacity to create new money”. Conversely, Positive Money argues that “… the MCC (Monetary Creation Committee) is a democratically accountable transparent public body with the remit to work in the public interest.”

Now, to me, “democratically accountable” isn’t the same thing as democratically elected, even if it arguably is, by proxy. Nor do I think that representative democracy is all that democratic, but I understand Positive Money’s choice to keep their narrative within mainstream ideology, even if a lot of it is quite subversive. They’re certainly doing a good job of opening Pandora’s box in exposing money creation, and it’s my hope that this will serve as a gateway drug to the work of Silvio Gesell or Charles Eisenstein, among others.

As an added bonus, and getting back to Kleiner, here are his reasons for not wallpapering a mainstream façade over what, in the end, are revolutionary notions.

Read full article.

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Mar 22

4th Media: World’s Richest 85 People Now Worth Same Amount as Poorest 3.5 Billion

4th media croppedWorld’s Richest 85 People Now Worth Same Amount as Poorest 3.5 Billion

Global capitalism, we have a problem.

We’ve long known that life isn’t fair and that the world’s wealth is unevenly distributed. But the latest factoid from Oxfam on global poverty and inequality is breathtaking. In a new report, the nonprofit reports that just 85 people—the richest of the world’s rich—hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That’s half the world’s population.

In other words, the top 0.00000001 percent are worth as much as the bottom 50 percent combined. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, control nearly half the world’s wealth, or 65 times as much as the world’s less-fortunate half.

Read full article.

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Mar 22

SchwartzReport: $1.2 Trillion in USG Corporate Welfare

Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

This kind of report should engender outrage. We can not feed little children nor care properly for the poor and disabled. But welfare for corporations knows no bounds. It is absolutely mad, and it is destroying us. Most of us are aware that the government gives mountains of cash to powerful corporations in the form of tax breaks, grants, loans and subsidies–what some have called “corporate welfare.” However, little has been revealed about exactly how much money Washington is forking over to mega businesses. Until now.

New Report: Fortune 100 Companies Have Received a Whopping $1.2 Trillion in Corporate Welfare Recently
AARON CANTÚ – AlterNet (U.S.)

A new venture called Open the Books, based in Illinois, was founded with a mission to bring transparency to how the federal budget is spent. And what they found is shocking: between 2000 and 2012, the top Fortune 100 companies received $1.2 trillion from the government. That doesn’t include all the billions of dollars doled out to housing, auto and banking enterprises in 2008-2009, nor does it include ethanol subsidies to agribusiness or tax breaks for wind turbine makers.

What Open the Book’s forthcoming report [3] does reveal is that the most valuable contracts between the government and private firms were for military procrument deals, including Lockheed Martin ($392 billion), General Dynamics ($170 billion), and United Technologies ($73 billion).

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Mar 20

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Transpacific Partnership (TPP) Screws Everybody Except the 1%

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz

On the Wrong Side of Globalization

By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

New York Times, 15 March 2014

Trade agreements are a subject that can cause the eyes to glaze over, but we should all be paying attention. Right now, there are trade proposals in the works that threaten to put most Americans on the wrong side of globalization.

The conflicting views about the agreements are actually tearing at the fabric of the Democratic Party, though you wouldn’t know it from President Obama’s rhetoric. In his State of the Union address, for example, he blandly referred to “new trade partnerships” that would “create more jobs.” Most immediately at issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which would bring together 12 countries along the Pacific Rim in what would be the largest free trade area in the world.

Negotiations for the TPP began in 2010, for the purpose, according to the United States Trade Representative, of increasing trade and investment, through lowering tariffs and other trade barriers among participating countries. But the TPP negotiations have been taking place in secret, forcing us to rely on leaked drafts to guess at the proposed provisions. At the same time, Congress introduced a bill this year that would grant the White House filibuster-proof fast-track authority, under which Congress simply approves or rejects whatever trade agreement is put before it, without revisions or amendments.

Controversy has erupted, and justifiably so. Based on the leaks — and the history of arrangements in past trade pacts — it is easy to infer the shape of the whole TPP, and it doesn’t look good. There is a real risk that it will benefit the wealthiest sliver of the American and global elite at the expense of everyone else. The fact that such a plan is under consideration at all is testament to how deeply inequality reverberates through our economic policies.

Worse, agreements like the TPP are only one aspect of a larger problem: our gross mismanagement of globalization.

Read full article.

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Mar 18

Sepp Hasslberger: Water Purification Disc

Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger

We need technology that makes the lives of the poor easier – got enough high tech gadgets. Here’s a decidedly smart but low tech way of doing water purification…

Students Invent Water Purification Disc That Could Revolutionize Clean Water Access – Video 3min

Students at the University of Virginia have developed a new way of purifying water that they say could bring improved water quality for millions in the developing world.  It’s called a Madi Drop. Field testing begins this month in South Africa.

What’s created is called a MadiDrop – a ceramic disc infused with silver.

When dropped in water, silver ions, which are atoms that have an electrical charge,, are released to purify the water.  And, testing here at the University of Virginia shows clean, safe water.

“It’s not just about making a really great technology that effectively removes or kills bacteria and pathogens.  It’s about making a low cost, simple to use one, tailored to people in developing countries who don’t have many resources,” said Beeta Ehdaie, a doctoral candidate at UVA.

Click to watch embedded video.

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Mar 4

SchwartzReport: US Atrocity – Debtor Prisons, Offender-Funded “Probation” Industry

Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

I find it hard to believe the United States is bringing back debtor prisons, but that appears to be the case, as reported in the Guardian, arguably the best and most independent newspaper in the English language. The elimination of debtor prisons was something the Founders took as a very serious goal for their new country. So much for the Founders, they are trumped by the new private for-profit prison trend.

Thrown in Jail for Being Poor: the Booming For-profit Probation Industry
LAUREN GAMBINO – The Guardian (U.K.)/ The Associated Press

Many poor Americans face jail when they can’t pay steep fines for nonviolent crimes, like $1,000 for stealing a $2 beer

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Mar 4

Berto Jongman: Time to Reassess Goals of Humanitarian Aid

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

It’s time to reassess the goals of humanitarian aid

Those caught in conflict and natural disasters are part of growing trend exemplified by Syria, South Sudan and the Philippines

David Miliband

The Guardian, 28 February 2014

For the first time the UN has declared three simultaneous crises – in South Sudan, Syria and the Philippines – as level 3, the highest band of emergency. So this is a period of intense activity for NGOs such as the International Rescue Committee. But it is also a good time to reflect on the goals and working methods of the humanitarian system.

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Mar 3

John Robb: Global Civil War Coming — 99% Against the 1% Kleptocracy [Switzerland May Be Safe, But Absentee Ownership and Rents Are Toast]

John Robb

John Robb

The Dream vs. the Kleptocracy

Here’s a strong motive for open source warfare — the model of warfare that has become the hallmark of 21st century conlfict, from potest movements to fullscale insurgencies.

It’s the driver of the recent conflict in Ukraine.

A conflict we’re going to see much more of.  A struggle between the people that want the opportunity to earn some prosperity, and those that want to take all of it.

In other words, a growing number of people around the world now want to make the American Dream their own.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

Unfortunately, they face a kleptocracy of government, business, and finance that wants to prevent that.

Here’s one story from that fight.  One that you should know.

It’s the story of a young man that pursued the Dream, only to have it stolen away from him.

Basboosa vs. the Kleptocracy

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Feb 20