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VIDEO: Austerity Is Crap: A Brief History of the #USMfuture Movement

2:01 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr


Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org

Written and produced by Asher Platts

Since the peak of the Great Society, on the first official Earth Day, captains of industry have engaged in a conspiracy to destroy the gains made for working people over the last century. These plans were laid out in the Powell Memo, which in addition to naming Ralph Nader as the most dangerous man in America, declared that a 30 year plan should be set in motion that seeks to place corporations and the wealthy elite that head them, firmly into positions of power within government, to remove the ability of the people to use government as an independent arbiter of law that would protect them against the abuses of the wealthy elite, and to stem the tide of citizen power that had grown throughout the 50′s and 60′s.

The strategy laid out in this memo is coming to its final fruition now. In feudal times, the nobility were educated in music, science, arts, and affairs of the state, and the peasants were simply there to toil in the fields and provide bounty for the nobility through their labor, and education of the working class outside of their particular field of labor was not valued by the nobility.

Today, we see everything that prevents us from backsliding into some sort of feudalistic society is currently under a very calculated attack under the manufactured crisis of Austerity.

Here in Maine, at my Alma Matter, the University of Southern Maine, the Austerity agenda has long been shoved down the throats of students, faculty, and staff alike. While I was a student from 2001 through 2010, I was a first-hand witness to the same conditions happening now.

To set the scene: USM, like most public universities in the United States, was seeing annual tuition hikes, while simultaneously cutting faculty and staff, fighting back against staff unionization.

Post 9-11, Democrats were obsessed with being the party of “fiscal responsibility” in order to win some sort of imaginary political messaging game against the Republicans, despite the Democrats holding control over all three branches of Government in Maine. Our “fiscally responsible” Democrats oversaw the giving away of tax dollars to business, under the pretext of jobs and growth. This lost revenue, with the addition of accounting errors in the Department of Health and Human Services led to a budget shortfall, which rather than addressing this budget shortfall through minor restructuring of Maine’s basically flat income tax brackets, Democrats instead led the charge to use the University of Maine System fund as their personal piggy-bank, which caused a budget shortfall in the U Maine system, which trickled down to the University of Southern Maine in the form of department consolidation, laid off faculty, and reduced staff.

When the USM Student Senate became concerned about how tuition was steadily rising, while faculty and departments were being cut, we used Student Activity Fee money, which was normally used to for planning 80s night dances and buying pizza, to pay for an independent audit of the University System. That’s when we discovered that while tuition was rising, so were the salaries of Administrators, creeping ever closer to the realm of the 1%. We learned that despite the growing ratio of students to professors in the classroom, there were fewer than four faculty for every one administrator.

We discovered that half of the tuition dollars that we paid to USM went to the “flagship” campus that had nearly half the enrollment numbers that USM had. We learned that members of administration at this flagship campus earned salaries similar to those working for Goldman Sachs, north of 300k a year.

We learned that one of the biggest cost for the university was paying for the healthcare benefits of its faculty and staff- Single Payer Healthcare would eliminate this entire line item from the Universities balance sheet.

We tried to mobilize the students, and only to discover that they did not care. They were here to get a diploma, and get into the workforce, and many assumed that they would be gone in four years, or that since cuts weren’t happening to their particular major, it didn’t affect them.

Cuts moved forwards, without much organized or vocal opposition from students, or faculty.

Post 2011, Occupy Wall Street had happened. Faculty and Students alike were present in Zuccotti Park, and even made trips on the MegaBus between Portland Maine and New York City. Professors from USM collaborated with ows activists in writing the Debt Resistors Handbook, and provided broader contextual illumination to system issues in several working groups.

After Zuccotti had been cleared by police, those connections remained in Occupy USM, which continued on through 2012. A concerted effort was made by student activists to build solidarity between students and faculty, to illustrate shared struggle. The University of Southern Maine was now facing deeper cuts as part of a “restructuring” program set forth by a corporate hatchet-woman, who had previously worked in the private sector doing the same sort of thing as Mitt Romney did at Bain Capital, and had recently taken the helm as President of the University.

For this round of cuts and consolidations, a solidarity between students and faculty had been well established, and grew and flourished under the recognition that we had shared goals in preserving the University of Maine System, not only for their jobs, or for our quality of education, but for the broader benefit of society that a liberal arts education provides, in allowing all working class people to lift themselves up into an intellectual realm that had until only recently in human history been reserved for priests and nobility.

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VIDEO: The Time For Obama To Pardon Snowden Is Now

6:51 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally posted at PopularResistance.org

Now that President Obama is proposing that the NSA end its bulk collection of data, it is time that Obama take this narrative to the next logical conclusion and offer a full and unconditional pardon to Edward Snowden.

President Obama’s war on whistleblowers (he has charged eight individuals with Espionage, compared to only three under all previous presidents) needs to end.  His recent proposal, even though it was forced by the courts, and even though Mark Zuckerberg and the other titans of the tech world warned the U.S. government that spying programs would hurt business, is still an admission that Edward Snowden’s actions were justified.

As Michael Maiello, writing in Esquire puts it:

This is the very essence of whistleblowing. Snowden brought information to   the public so that the public could reasonably demand changes from its leaders. Obama was seemingly happy to ignore the surveillance issue until forced, much as he was seemingly happy to hold an ambiguous view on same sex marriage until public opinion made vagaries impossible.

The moral courage of Edward Snowden’s act of whistleblowing and Glenn Greenwald’s unimpeachable reporting have revealed what Chris Hedges has labeled a government drunk with power:

drunk with the power to sweep up all your email correspondence, your tweets, your Web searches, your phone records, your file transfers, your live chats, your financial data, your medical data, your criminal and civil court records and your movements, those who are awash in billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars, those who have banks of sophisticated computer systems, along with biosensors, scanners, face recognition technologies and miniature drones, those who have obliterated your anonymity, your privacy and, yes, your liberty.

That the White House and Congressional leaders have recently unveiled similar proposals to end the NSA bulk collection of phone records has less to do with a come to Jesus sober up moment and more to do with the fact that they were given an ultimatum by a court (and a 6 month deadline) to defend the constitutionality of collecting the data related to every phone call made by every US citizen.

Our constitutional scholar of a president could, of course, make no such case to continuing the phone collection program, and now seeks, he says, to win back the public’s trust.

One step towards winning back the public’s trust would be by granting Edward Snowden a full pardon. In addition to being a tactical move to counter the growing understanding that Big Brother is watching, it has the added advantage of being the right thing to do.

snowden pardon

VIDEO: Does The U.S. Want War With Russia?

3:17 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Two weeks ago, when Liz Wahl quit her post as an RT host live on air claiming that she could not be part of a network that was “funded by the Russian Government” and was set on “whitewashing the crimes of Putin.”

Ms. Wahl then immediately went on a tour of all the 3 mainstream corporate outlets where she seemed to be auditioning for a role on a news show where she could whitewash the blowback inducing homicidal bull in a cultural religious and geopolitical china shop of U.S. foreign policy that I like to call Manifest Destiny’s Child.

Even Chris Hayes jumped on the bandwagon, celebrating Wahl as “incredibly badass”, but before you join the Liz Wahl fan club, take a moment to read the excellent follow up report from Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, which outlines how Wahl’s attempt at a Networkesque type of movement was coordinated by the Neo-Conservative think tank foreign policy initiative. Blumenthal and Khalek report:

Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup. Desperate to revive the Cold War, head off further cuts to the defense budget and restore the legitimacy they lost in the ruins of Iraq, the tightknit group of neoconservative writers and stewards had opened up a new PR front through Wahl’s resignation. And they succeeded with no shortage of help from an ossified media establishment struggling to maintain credibility in an increasingly anarchic online news environment. With isolated skeptics branded as useful idiots for Putin, the scene has been kept clean of neoconservative fingerprints, obscuring their interest in Wahl’s resignation and the broader push to deepen tensions with Russia.

Despite the depth of the Blumenthal/Khalek piece that lays bare the machinations of, among other things, the very sadistic dangers and Apocalyptic flirtations of the military industrial complex married to a Straussian Noble Lie wherein the real life Dr. Strangelove’s who launched a Global War on Terror, CORRECTION, Global War on brown people in lands that have not declared war on us and pose no threat to us CORRECTION Global War on everything everywhere including US Citizens because in the USA journalism is the new terrorism, and our charming peace prize winning President maintains a kill list and claims more autonomy in using it than a mafia don … DESPITE all this most people here in the United States can be split into 2 camps when it comes to Russia.

In the majority camp you have people who think the U.S. support for Ukraine and saber rattling with Russia is just another chapter in the story book tale of the U.S. as a superpower spreading good, protecting freedom lovers the world over from tyrants and monsters like Putin, and in the minority camp you have people who think Ukraine is a 12 seed in the Eastern Bracket of their March madness office pool. An even smaller group, recognize that while Putin may not be a knight in shining armor, that this story is in fact a bit more nuanced than the plot of a fairy tale.

For those of us able to look at the world without tint of nationalistic goggles the mainstream corporate media Liz Wahl so desperately wants a job working for demands that we wear, one thing is crystal clear: The world still has two major nuclear powers, the United States and Russia. For decades, it has been the United States who has been the aggressor in this relationship. As Diana Johnstone, writing at Counterpunch puts it:

Is Russia urging Quebec to secede from Canada so that the province can join a military alliance led by Moscow? Evidently not. That would be comparable, and yet mild compared to the recent U.S. gambit led by Victoria Nuland aimed at bringing Ukraine into the Western orbit. (…) Russia professes no hostile ideology, and only seeks normal relations with the West. What more can it do? It is up to Americans to come to their senses.

Asking Americans to come to their senses is easier said than done.

For a country whose birth was founded on an occupation and then a genocide, whose wealth was built on the backs of slaves, and whose expansion was justified through a perverse notion of manifest destiny, denial has become a dominant part of our collective identity.

Does the U.S. want war with Russia?

Judging by our actions the next front of our perpetual war never seems like an if, but a when.

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VIDEO: What Comes After Capitalism?

3:42 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org

What comes after Capitalism? Identifying the correct answer to that question, one I do not pretend to know, in addition to facing the fact that the question is a life or death one on a global scale, is a basic requirement for the life, liberty, and happiness of the human race.

The financial system is nearing another crash, like the sub-prime mortgage crash of 2007 and 2008, writes Steve Rushton at Occupy.com in his report summarizing a recently published European Green Party paper, “The Price of Doing Too Little Too Late.”

Rushton outlines how investors, pension funds and banks are so heavily invested in companies that earn money by destroying the planet that when the actual wake-up call comes, when the alarm clock goes off and the climate change deniers and their corporate blood sucking psychopaths who pay for the propaganda that enables climate change deniers to pretend that there is still a debate to be had over the Apocalyptic course that human induced climate change has us on – when those people and those beliefs that together want to extract fossil fuel reserves when we KNOW that if the human race is to survive we must leave at least half of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground if not three quarters — when, all the Sean Hannity’s, and Sarah Palin’s and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma – he who, parenthetically it should be noted, likes to quote quotes Genesis 8:22 (While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease”)  and added, ”God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we human beings would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous” – when Tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow all these aiding and abetting murders meet the fate of all our yesterdays that have lighted fools the way to dusty death and we wake collectively from our slumber brought on by the gears and the levers that operate the odious machine and we become so sick that we can not take part, even passively take part, and we come together like old flattop grooving up slowly to indicate to the people who own this capitalist machine that unless we are free, this machine will be prevented from working at all and we transition on a massive global shift towards more sustainable energy practices occurs, that funds with heavy carbon exposure- and that number is 95% of all global investment according to the study- will face a shock, that in fact, the carbon bubble will burst and bring own the global financial system.

Ok, that may have been a run on sentence.

To sum up: The economy will crash again, according to Rushton, because we are so addicted to constant growth, and quarterly capitalism that the global financial elite will march us to the edge of the 2 degree climate cliff just to squeeze some more profit from the products and systems that are killing us.

So add one more obstacle to slow the glacial pace (and I mean that in the pre-climate change era of the word) of a coordinated global effort to get the human race untied from the train tracks before the locomotive that is a 2 degree rise in global temperature: our inability to ditch the written and unwritten rules of capitalism.

Put that in your feedback loop and smoke it.

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VIDEO: Protesting Illegal in Australia?

6:10 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org

Last week, the Legislative Council of Victoria passed the Summary Offence Act 2013, which outlaws the right to protest in Victoria, by a vote of 20-18.

Several activists involved in the Tunnel Picket protests were arrested during in Parliament as the voting was taking place. One of those activists, Sean Bedlam, is the subject of our interview today.

From September onwards the police in Victoria will have the power to ‘move on’ groups of people at their will, including those involved in peaceful protests and pickets. Those who refuse to comply with these orders can be issued with fines of $750, exclusion orders, and jail terms of up to 2 years.

Sean Bedlam (interviewed here) is a comedian, artist and activist based in Melbourne. An active member of Occupy Melbourne and other social justice campaigns, Sean states:

Activists in Australia are reaching out to people all over the world, particularly in America, because Australia is a client state of the United States (while at the same time) we are reaching out to the Indigenous people of Australia, the first nations, and that has become a burning central issue. Now, the powers that be know that if we are making contact with the powers that be around the world and if we are making contact with indigenous Australians, you’ve got an incredibly powerful network, and they don’t want the network to form.

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VIDEO: Obama’s Drones Made Simple

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org

Before the 2012 election, Obama told John Stewart of The Daily Show:

one of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making.

In a development that will shock nobody, no such legal architecture has been put in place to “reign in” Obama or any future POTUS.

Obama’s drone wars have killed more than 2400 civilians in countries that pose no threat to us and with whom we are not at war, and continue to mock international law and the U.S. constitution.

Among those targeted and killed have been United States citizens.

So what version of legal twister could the White House staff come up with to justify the President to be judge, jury, and executioner of people- including American Citizens- all over the world? For those of you (including Obama, apparently) who justify our drone wars as self defense, then let me ask you this:

How do you define self-defense? Think about it for a second.

Perhaps we should frame the question differently: Under what conditions can we justify the use of violence in our personal lives? I’m certainly no legal expert, but say a person breaks into your house looking to do you harm. Before you know what has happened, they have killed your brother. Sequences of nerve cells fire off shooting adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. Somehow your mind remembers, and your body approximates, some middle school karate kata and you render the intruder defenseless. Scrubbing the blood drippings from your carpet, you call the police, and some form of justice is administered.

We would all agree that is self-defense, yes? A justified (in the moral and legal sense term) use of force.

Now imagine it is years later that it is you breaking into someone’s house. It is not the home of the person who broke into your house, but it is in the same zip code.

Well it might be.

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VIDEO: Did Obama Get Through To The Young ‘Invincibles’?

6:16 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

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Originally posted on PopularResistance.org

It is hard not to give Barack Obama points for his recent appearance on Between two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.

In genuinely disarming post-hipster fashion, the President was transparent about his reasons for appearing on the program. “I would not be here if I did not have something to plug, Zack,” the president informed his expertly inept host. And plug away he did, in a direct appeal to reach younger citizens to sign up at healthcare.gov.

Young people do not want to pay for health insurance.

Whether it is because they have better things to do with their disposable income or because, even after deferring on those student loans again, they do not have any disposable income because their McJob in this McConomy sucks, or whether it is because in their youth they feel invincible (or some combination of these reasons) young people are just not signing up. Which, in an insurance system that requires many people paying into the system who will not in fact use the system, is a major problem.

Baby Boomers, many of whom have long since left behind their bra burning days and traded in their revolutionary worldview for a hummer and a 3 car garage McMansion lifestyle, need to go to the doctor a lot more than the young invincibles, and need the young invincibles- whose suffering in the McConomy is a result, in large part, to the globalization the once revolutionary and now much more comfortable Baby boomers have by and large embraced, are not buying.

Which brings us to the absurd scenario in which President Obama, in a effort to meet the kids on their playing field, humbled himself to great comedic effect on funny or die to sell you me and just about everyone we know on INSURANCE REFORM – a massive theft from taxpayers and bonus to an industry that makes profit (and greed is good, right people?) only when it takes more money in (premiums) than it pays out (benefits).

In other words- Obama was in between two ferns selling you on the Mitt Romney program that benefits an industry that makes profits by denying people coverage.

What we need in this country is what every other developed country in the world already has- a single payer health care plan.  This would eliminate insurance for all but those who want to purchase supplemental plans and replace it with a health care program that treats health care as a human right.

Again, every other developed country in the world has bought into this, and it was sold to them without heads of state appearing on faux community TV programs.

VIDEO: Zimmerman, At Gun Show, Wonders Why World Is Mad With Him

4:22 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org

George Zimmerman, signing autographs at a gun show in Orlando, Florida over the weekend, wondered why people are angry with him.

Here is one possible answer:

Here is the thing, George, people know that it is not an aberration for a wanna be cop like you to patrol a neighborhood with a loaded gun and, upon seeing an African American kid whom you did not recognize, assume that kid was a threat, and then tail that kid with your itchy finger on the trigger of your loaded gun and initiate and then escalate a situation that resulted in that unarmed kid murdered and killed by you, Georgie.

It is more than that, however. People are angry at the ALEC written stand your ground laws that, while it played no direct role in your not guilty verdict, played a very direct role in the culture that empowered you to cruise around packing heat. In the case of stand your ground, the NRA wrote the law, and worked with ALEC to grease it through the legislature and get it passed into law in 2005, and the rate of legally justifiable homicides in Florida has tripled since then.

You see this is America, where corporate profits drive legislation. So George, in some ways, you are a lightning rod for something much bigger than even your cowardly murder. Even more than that, people are angry with you George for something that you did not do- they are angry with you because you are the beneficiary of a justice system that at every level oppresses people of color in general and African Americans in wildly disproportionate ways. The fact that you, George, are a person of color adds some nuance to this previous point, but it does not change the fact that you must know in you gut that if Trayvon Martin was named Cody and was popping an Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie above his blond surfer boy lochs, he would not be dead, and if you were stupid enough to have killed him, you would be in a jumpsuit behind bars, having been convicted of murder in a case that would not have made you famous.

Aura Bogado writing for The Nation after the Zimmerman verdict noted that it was White Supremacy that acquitted George Zimmerman- a view that  “one that is suspicious of black men in his neighborhood, is one that adheres to white supremacy. It was replicated in the courtroom by his defense, whose team tore away at Rachel Jeantel, questioning the young woman as if she was taking a Jim Crow–era literacy test.”

We are angry with you George, because you are the face of a horrible cancer on the body politic of American life.

Like any cancer victim George, we just want our cancer to go away, even as we ask ourselves what we could have done to bring this cancer upon ourselves.
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An Open Letter To The Middle Class (spoiler alert: F*ck You)

5:26 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally posted at PopularResistance.org

Dear Middle Class:

Fuck you.

Perhaps I should back up a bit and try that again.

One of the most frustrating things for me on those occasions when I get suckered into listening to the mainstream media is the lamentation and hand wringing over the shrinking middle class.

While I don’t have any money in the bank and the only assets I have are a computer a video camera and a rusty old mountain bike, most people would look at where I live and where my children go to school and label me squarely in the middle class.

I usually accept that label.

It is easier than telling the whole world that am in my mid forties with no savings, no retirement plan, no 401K- and I live the life of a new media freelancer; check to every increasingly small check. These facts would make my middle class friends uncomfortable.

But I digress. The reason I say “fuck you” to the middle class is that holding onto the status of middle class requires a poor class.

There would be no middle, without the poor. That 1 in 5 kids in the United States live below the poverty line is both immoral and a requirement of our system. This system holds as its very center, heartbeat and myth of the American Dream the cherished “middle class.”

George Carlin frames it this way:

“The upper class keeps all of the money and pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes (and) does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class… keep ‘em showing up at those jobs.”

So what is to be done? We hoist ourselves on our own petard when we allow the Koch brother fueled narrative that Wal-Mart and Fast Food workers who are struggling to attain a living wage should be grateful to have a job, any job, in this climate.

We know our elected officials are not responsive to the people, but to the ruling elite and yet we still argue over Obama or Romney or Pelosi or Boehner as if these politicians are even listening to us.

We cling, no worse, we teach our children to invest in the false American Dream that if we only work a little harder, or go into more educational debt that we would be able to grasp the brass ring and wear proudly the label of American Middle class.

That label would be made in Bangladesh, mind you, by a child working six days a week 16 hours a day and making 30 bucks a month but you would be proud to wear that middle class label just the same, and in doing so do you- we, I- not only endorse the conditions of poverty that, because of its very existence, defines the middle class, we insure that poverty will continue.

We need new language, a new system based on equity and fairness and not on exploitation and oppression and until then I say fuck the middle class.

I quit it.

Ukraine Uprising: U.S Hypocrisy + Russian Aggression VS. Movement of the Squares

6:56 pm in Uncategorized by Dennis Trainor Jr

Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org

After two months of protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has been ousted and yet, with support from Russia, remains defiant. As U.S Secretary of State offers aid to Ukraine, he managed to tell Face The Nation (with a straight face) ““You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.”

As Glenn Greenwald, writing at The Intercept points out:  The supremely sycophantic Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer – as he demanded to know how Russia would be punished – never once bothered Kerry (or his other Iraq-war-advocating guests, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius) by asking about any of that unpleasantness (is it hard at all for you to sermonize against invasions of sovereign countries given, you know, how often you yourself support them?)

Do the unfolding events in that country add up to a Revolution or an orchestrated coup? Kateryna Rubin, an expert in Ukraine and Russian history, joins the panel to discuss.

The Resistance Report panel for March 3 was made up of Nicole Carty (The Other 98%) Joel Northam (Acronym TV contributor) and Julianna Forlano(Absurdity Today). Dennis Trainor, Jr. served as host.