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The Privatization of the World

8:46 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Each day brings fresh revelations of aberrant human behavior on the part of the 1%, followed by on-line petitions, demonstrations and appeals to intelligence or good conscience. At some point, activists must come to the realization that their actions cannot bring meaningful results because the behaviors they wish to correct are not exceptions but part of an overarching new normal.
NO to DCWD Privatization
Take for example the intensive lobbying on the part of American private prison companies to increase sentences for non-violent crimes.  The privatization of activities that were hitherto the purview of government, or were regulated by government, or were at least required to conform to national or international laws, are part of a massive, coordinated, plan to harness all human activity for the benefit of a few. Governments to whom petitions are addressed provide merely a semblance of control.

The twentieth century saw the birth of fascism, an extreme form of capitalism in which the state is allied with a corporate oligarchy.  Hitler and Mussolini were defeated in World War II, but having discovered the goose that lays the golden egg, i.e., state-sponsored private enterprise, corporations have become so powerful that they no longer need a dictator to protect their activities. What President Eisenhower dubbed the military/industrial complex is now a many-headed hydra. Under the Reagan administration, it added finance, then George Bush continued Richard Nixon’s attack on legality by inventing the ‘unitary executive’; finally, under law professor Barack Obama the Imperial Presidency morphed into 21st century fascism, whose aim far outstrips that of Hitler’s crowd. They merely wanted to ‘rule’ the world: the one percent would privatize all activity in every conceivable area of human endeavor across the entire planet for profit.

The impossibility of achieving this through military means  was clear almost as soon as Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled, so while coping as best they could with the Pandora’s box of occupation, the Neo-Cons launched the Tea-Party to disrupt government at home, while crafting a diabolical plan to pimp the world using seemingly peaceful means. We’ll probably never know whether the 2008 financial debacle was a conspiracy, but one thing is certain: it created economic mayhem in our closest economic rival, Europe, which also offered its workers benefits that Americans might someday demand for themselves. Forced to implement ever greater austerity measures that have turned the welfare state upside down, stocking popular revolt, governments were finally offered a way out: their signatures on overarching treaties with the United States that would put paid to solidarity. The one intended to harness the Pacific community to America’s aims is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the one that will discipline Europe is the Trans-Atlantic Free trade Agreement (TAFTA). Drafted with major inputs from transnational corporations, they spell out the means by which the goals of the international 1% are to be implemented.

As I wrote in ‘The Fatal Loneliness of American  Exceptionalism’, “For centuries, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans kept the United States isolated from the give and take between neighbors on other continents. America remained alone and proud of it, interacting with other nations only to ensure that they served our needs, bought our products and agreed with our definition of freedom.“ Now, as the BRICS countries, led by China and Russia, increasingly threaten America’s lone superpower status,  it has codified these obligations.

Here are some slightly edited excerpts from an October paper on TAFTA by Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885:

“There is growing concern that the negotiations could open Europe’s floodgates to GMOs and shale gas (fracking),  threaten digital and labor rights and empower corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regula-tions which they dislike.

Recognition by the EU and the US of each others’ rules and regulations could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The US wants all so-called barriers to trade, including controversial regulations protecting agriculture, food and data privacy, to be removed. The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.

The European public does not want these things. Europeans want powerful corporations to be held to account and their practices regulated by elected representatives whom they trust to protect the public good. Under pretext of a legally binding treaty, TAFTA (would allow) corporations to impose unpopular and dangerous policies rejected by the democratic process.

Corporate demands include an ambitious liberalization of agricultural trade barriers with as few exceptions as possible. The lobbying group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies, Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc. supported by feed and grain giants Cargill, Bunge, ADM, the agribusiness lobby COPA-COGECA, and the biotech industry on both sides of the Atlantic, are pushing for acceptance of low levels of unapproved genetically modified crops.

The report also warns that the agreement could open the floodgates to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations who could challenge a country’s laws if they affect their bottom line. Read the rest of this entry →

Snowden and Malala

10:30 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

Will the Edward Snowden affair mark the beginning of a new press paradigm in the United States?  For decades the American media has dutifully relayed the government line, renouncing its role of watchdog charged with exposing government wrong-doing.  Whistle-blowers in effect emerged to fill the void. In an unusual incident, when during a press briefing Washington accused Russia of ‘providing a platform’ for Edward Snowden by allowing him to meet with human rights activists in the transit area of a Moscow airport to launch his request for asylum, an Associated Press reporter pointed out that when a person is accused of a crime he does not lose his right to free speech.  Will we see more press independence as the Obama administration looks ever more like Hitler’s Germany?

As the United States increasingly behaves like the ‘rogue states’ it professes to combat, one week keeping a Presidential plane from European airspace, and the next affirming that Edward Snowden should have no right to defend himself against charges of treason, the grownups in the room are shaking their heads, forced to admit that the American government has taken a fatal turn toward fascist dictatorship. For those who cling to the hope that this is all a passing aberration, the latest revelation consists of detailed guidelines requesting government employees to denounce suspicious co-workers. I’m hoping that some historian of the Second World War will step up to the plate and educate us as to the various methods by which Hitler subjugated his people as he turned against the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, we were privileged to witness the Pakistani student who was shot in the face by the Taliban for defending the right of girls to education, celebrating her sixteenth birthday with a stirring speech at the United Nations, affirming that “one girl, one book, one pen can change the world”. Malala was shepherded to her illustrious platform by none other than former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who beamed in the background as the girl spoke with an assurance that belied her pink sari and headscarf.

Malala, I hope you will benefit from the same tenacity that helped you to recover from a terrifying ordeal as you  progress to a position of leadership. That you will not remain a creature of the Browns and the Obamas, but join with the Snowdens of this world, who know how superficial their goodwill gestures are, and what lies beneath them.
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Obama Should Watch RT!

7:40 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

The ‘end user’ of the security state’s intelligence should also get information from Russia Today, Moscow’s English language channel. He might better realize the long-term significance of his decision to order Europe to close its airspace to the plane of a Latin American president. That initiative put the crowning touch on the transformation  of the continent once known as our ‘backyard’ into a world player. The process started fifty years ago, with the Cuban Revolution, and while Washington still clings to its embargo on the island, the rest of the continent appears to have reached a Cuban level of rejection of its American hegemon.

Fifth BRICS Summit, 26 Mar to 27 Mar

Fifth BRICS Summit, 26 Mar to 27 Mar

The largest Latin American country, Brazil, is also one of the BRICS – the group of fastest growing economies. RT revealed today that together with  China and Russia it has been the object of surveillance by the United States. (No doubt India and South Africa will be added to the list, courtesy of Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.)

The BRICS are only the biggest of a growing list of nations, large and small, that have different political systems but share a couple of basic ideas: war is bad, governments have responsibilities toward the many, and nothing is forever. President Obama should beware of his own administrations’s spin that dismisses the new international alignment.

It suggests that the 20th century is only now coming to an end, the teens ushering in a new era, as they did a century ago, when the Victorian Era didn’t really end until the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Coincidentally, that period marked the beginning of America’s rise as the most powerful nation the world has ever known.  Although we entered its wars late, the American policy of isolation from the affairs of an ever squabbling Europe was gradually transformed into one of domination. After coming to Europe’s rescue for the second time in 1942, from benefactor we became its economic and military tutor, guaranteeing the existence of its post-war liberal half against so-called threats of takeover by the Soviet Union. When unexpectedly, the ‘monolith’ fell apart, we assumed it was our doing and that we could go on to bigger and better triumphs ad infinitum.

Twenty years later, a God-like United States dispenses both life and death electronically. But having failed to take into account the cumulative effect of our ever bolder actions on populations around the globe, as daily reporting by a tough, talented multi-lingual staff gathered by Moscow shows, the world has reached another watershed: the American century is ending.

Ironically, Europe’s status has changed in tandem: when in the fifties Coca-Cola was introduced in France, it was so indignantly rejected by a population raised on wine that the formula had to be changed, giving French Coke a slightly different taste. Today, although French farmers led by Jose Bove represent a significant anti-globalization force, thanks to decades-long initiatives like the Fulbright Program, which brings opinion makers to the United States to experience the superiority of the American Way of Life, the French elite has largely been co-opted.

France has been alternately ruled by an Americanized (but caviar-loving) left and a no less Americanized right that knew it could not attack the welfare state. A similar situation exists throughout Western Europe, while Eastern Europe once liberated from Soviet domination has been more willing to scrap its protections. The 2008 economic probably had as much to do with Washington’s determination to finish off a welfare system that increasingly reveals America’s shame as it did with greedy banksters. But petrified by the growing threat of Islamization, Europe now puts its faith in snooping and the war on terror, just as previously it acquiesced in a growing American military presence, complete with Pershing missiles, to forestall a Soviet onslaught.

The alacrity with which three European countries acceded to Washington’s demand to deny their airspace to President Morales’ plane right after learning they were being extensively spied on by the United States, is related to the start of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which they hope will solve their unemployment problems without too many negative side-effects.  Delaying yet again a long-deferred adulthood, Europe has chosen to ignore the fact that in the twenty-first century, a finite planet calls for less trade and more self-reliance - as Bolivia’s president Evo Morales stated.
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Raining on Our Parade – and Europe’s

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

On this 237th anniversary of the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence from the British crown, the nations of Latin America have declared their independence from the United States.

The plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales home from a conference in Moscow saw its overflight permissions cancelled in mid-flight by France, Spain and Portugal, on American suspicions that Edward Snowden might be on board. Noting that no presidential plane has ever been denied airspace in the world since 1945, Latin American leaders have called a special meeting of their organization, UNASUR for tomorrow. (UNASUR includes virtually every Latin American country and is headquartered in Quito, Ecuador and Cochabamba, Bolivia, two countries considering granting asylum to Snowden….)

Meanwhile, France’s President Hollande reminded me of a childhood protest that amused my family when someone tickled me: “Stop it I like it!” France’s – and to a certain extent Europe’s – ‘street walker’ relationship to the United States belies affirmations of independence.  This particular instance of government kowtowing has infuriated all sides of the French political spectrum, who point out that France drafted the original Declaration of Human Rights. Lamely apologizing for ‘faulty intelligence’ about Morales’ plane, Hollande reacted to Snowden’s revelations of outrageous spying by the U.S. with an unconvincing call for the EU – also copiously spied upon – to delay the start of negotiations on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) destined to replace NATO as America’s controlling organization in Europe.

The extent of U.S. spying on countries it touts as allies underlines the fact that the Cold War is not over but has simply gone underground. No European took seriously the Soviet Union’s references to a ‘Common European House’ under Gorbachev. Twenty some odd years later, Russia pipes gas to Europe and signs all manner of economic deals with individual countries ever less keen to support America’s wars in the Middle East (except for Syria). The monumental spy scandal involving a country, not an individual, mock America’s tireless assertions of morality and respect for international law, providing Russia with a golden opportunity to defend them.

Sadly, it seems unlikely that this irrefutable proof of American duplicity will give Europe the spine to join the  movement of the most populous countries of the world toward independence from the American Empire. Read the rest of this entry →

Unraveling on Steroids

5:14 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

I cannot remember any time when so many things have gone wrong for one country.  Anti-American energy is accelerating in so many places around the globe that it’s hard to keep up. Starting with the most recent event and working backwards:

- The US leaned on European allies to deny their airspace to the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales home from a conference in Moscow.  The plane was forced to land in Vienna for fuel problems, and was searched for fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden. South American bigwigs like the Argentine president are calling for a special summit.

- The same European allies who denied airspace to Morales threatened to cancel a monumental free trade pact with the U.S. after learning they had been copiously spied upon by Washington’s security apparatus as much for economic reasons as terrorism.  Even EU headquarters in Brussels was bugged.

- Russia refuses to hand over Edward Snowden, allowing him to remain in a Moscow airport transit zone until he finds a safe haven.  They have no extradition treaty with the U.S. and if they did they would not comply because the U.S. has the death penalty.

- The Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, representing the moderate Sunni Moslem Brotherhood, was ousted by a popular revolt that has been gathering steam for several weeks over ineffective governance.  The U.S. cannot withdraw support for the army, as required by legislation, because Egypt is too important to the safety of Israel.

- Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan bowed to countrywide demonstrations lasting several weeks in opposition to his plans to sacrifice a park in central Istanbul to build a mall and a replica of an army barracks, as part of his commitment to what we could call ‘financial urbanization’.

- Reports of atrocities committed by radical Islamists fighting Syria’s secular president Assad make Washington’s commitment to arm the Syrian rebels look increasingly rash.

- President Obama’s trip to three African countries provided foreign media with an opportunity to showcase Africa’s preference for Chinese-style investment that comes without preaching or economic conditionalities, the ultimate example of a worldwide trend away from U.S. hegemony.

 

P.S. Don’t see any way to respond to comments on FDL, but do want to apologize if my comment on Julian Assange implied anything other than what the well-informed commentator spelled out.