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Sunday, January 31, 2010

After Military BANKERS are biggest criminals

Bankers cause more destruction to the planet than the militaries do.
They finance the military, too.

Rule by the Rich - by Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research, January 27, 2010 - Creators Syndicate - 2010-01-25

The election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate by Democratic voters in Massachusetts sends President Obama a message. Voters perceive that Obama.s administration has morphed into a Bush-Cheney government. Obama has reneged on every promise he made, from ending wars, to closing Gitmo, to providing health care for Americans, to curtailing the domestic police state, to putting the interests of dispossessed Americans ahead of the interests of the rich banksters who robbed Americans of their homes and pensions.

But what can Obama do other then spout more rhetoric?

The Democrats were destroyed as an independent party by jobs offshoring and so-called free trade agreements such as NAFTA. The effect of"globalism" has been to destroy the industrial and manufacturing unions, thus leaving the Democrats without a power base and source of funding.

Obama and the Democrats cannot be an opposition party, because Democrats are as dependent as Republicans on corporate interest groups for campaign funding.
The Democrats have to support war and the police state if they want funding from the military/security complex. They have to make the health care bill into a subsidy for private insurance if they want funding from the insurance companies. They have to abandon the American people for the rich banksters if they want funding from the financial lobby.

Now that the five Republicans on the Supreme Court have overturned decades of U.S. law and given corporations the ability to buy every American election, Democrats and Republicans can be nothing but pawns for a plutocracy.

Most Americans are hard pressed, but the corporations have only begun to milk them.
Wars are too profitable for the armaments industry to ever end. High unemployment is now a permanent state in the U.S., thus coercing job seekers into military service.
The security industry profits from the police state and regards civil liberties as a hindrance to profits. By announcing that he intends to continue the Bush policy of indefinite detention, a violation of the Constitution and U.S. legal procedures, Obama has granted the Democratic Party.s consent to the Republicans. destruction of habeas corpus, the main bastion of individual liberty.

Jobs offshoring is too profitable for U.S. corporations for Obama to be able to save American jobs and restart the broken economy.
Americans are being squeezed out of health care not only by the loss of job benefits, but also by corporate takeover of medical practice from physicians. Today medical doctors are wage slaves of corporate health providers that leverage doctors by turning them into supervisors of physician assistants, lower-paid people without medical degrees who perform the services that doctors once provided. As neither doctor nor physician assistant has any independence, there is no one to represent the patient.s care against the profits of the corporation.

Even environmental concerns are being used to create "cap and trade" rights to buy and sell the ability to pollute. Wall Street is licking its lips over a new source of leveraged derivative instruments.

The American public cannot even get reliable information about their plight as the "MainStream Media" has been concentrated into a few corporate hands that do not permit independent reporting. The media is as dependent on corporate money as are politicians.

How can President Obama restart an economy that has been moved offshore? Millions of manufacturing jobs are gone, as are millions of jobs for college graduates, such as software engineering, Information Technology--indeed, any intellectual skill the product of which can be conveyed via the Internet. Even those intellectual skill jobs that do remain in the U.S. are filled increasingly by foreigners brought in on work visas. The wipeout of blue collar and middle class job growth has stopped the growth of American incomes except, of course, those of the super rich. For a decade American consumers substituted increased personal indebtedness for income growth. 
In order to maintain and to increase their consumption, Americans consumed their assets, such as their home equity. Americans reached their maximum debt load just as the real estate bubble burst and just as the banksters highly-leveraged, toxic financial instruments brought down the stock market and the values of Americans. pensions.

The enormous damage done to the U.S. economy by jobs offshoring, work visas, and financial deregulation cannot be offset by government stimulus plans, which expand the debt burdens that are crushing Americans. The federal government.s massive budget deficits and the Federal Reserve.s easy monetary policy are setting the stage for an inflationary depression to follow a deflationary depression.

The Federal Reserve chairman says not to worry about inflation, because the Fed can take the money back out of the economy. But can the Fed take the money out without contracting the economy?

The Federal Reserve says not to worry about financing the federal budget deficit. Banksters are buying the Treasury bonds with the proceeds from their sales of their toxic derivatives to the Fed.

So what is happening to the Federal Reserve.s balance sheet? And when will the Fed have no recourse but to print new money in order to finance the federal deficit?

How long can the dollar retain its reserve currency role in such circumstances, and how does the U.S. pay for its imports when this role is lost?

Don.t look to Washington for answers to these questions.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan.s first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand.
He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington;  Alienation and the Soviet Economyand Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Clickhere for Peter Brimelow.s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.==========


Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows

by David Reilly, January 29, 2010

The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week.s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.

Wednesday.s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials. talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system -- apart from the matter of AIG.s bailout -- deserves further congressional scrutiny.

The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.

That move came a few weeks after the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department propped up AIG in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc..s own mid-September bankruptcy filing.

Saving the System

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time of the AIG moves. He maintained during Wednesday.s hearing that the New York bank had to buy the insurance contracts, known as credit default swaps, to keep AIG from failing, which would have threatened the financial system.

The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also focused on what many in Congress believe was the New York Fed.s subsequent attempt to cover up buyout details and who benefited.

By pursuing this line of inquiry, the hearing revealed some of the inner workings of the New York Fed and the outsized role it plays in banking. This insight is especially valuable given that the New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isn.t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve.

This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed.s bailout programs. It.s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation.s central bank.

Geithner.s Bosses

The New York Fed is one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks that operate under the supervision of the Federal Reserve.s board of governors, chaired by Ben Bernanke. Member-bank presidents are appointed by nine-member boards, who themselves are appointed largely by other bankers.

As Representative Marcy Kaptur told Geithner at the hearing: "A lot of people think that the president of the New York Fed works for the xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />U.S. government. But in fact you work for the private banks that elected you."

And yet the New York Fed played an integral role in the government.s bailout of banks, often receiving surprisingly free rein to act as it saw fit.

Consider AIG. Let.s take Geithner at his word that a failure to resolve the insurer.s default swaps would have led to financial Armageddon. Given the stakes, you might think Geithner would have coordinated actions with then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Yet Paulson testified that he wasn.t in the loop.

"I had no involvement at all, in the payment to the counterparties, no involvement whatsoever," Paulson said.

Bernanke.s Denials

Fed Chairman Bernanke also wasn.t involved. In a written response to questions from Representative Darrell Issa, Bernanke said he "was not directly involved in the negotiations" with AIG.s counterparty banks.

You have to wonder then who really was in charge of our nation.s financial future if AIG posed as grave a threat as Geithner claimed.

Questions about the New York Fed.s accountability grew after Geithner on Nov. 24, 2008, was named by then-President- elect Barack Obama to be Treasury Secretary. Geither said he recused himself from the bank.s day-to-day activities, even though he never actually signed a formal letter of recusal.

That left issues related to disclosures about the deal in the hands of the bank.s lawyers and staff, rather than a top executive. Those staffers didn.t want details of the swaps purchase to become public.

New York Fed staff and outside lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardell edited AIG communications to investors and intervened with the Securities and Exchange Commission to shield details about the buyout transactions, according to a report by Issa.

That the New York Fed, a quasi-governmental body, was able to push around the SEC, an executive-branch agency, deserves a congressional hearing all by itself.

Later, when it became clear information would be disclosed, New York Fed legal group staffer James Bergin e-mailed colleagues saying: "I have to think this train is probably going to leave the station soon and we need to focus our efforts on explaining the story as best we can. There were too many people involved in the deals -- too many counterparties, too many lawyers and advisors, too many people from AIG -- to keep a determined Congress from the information."

Think of the enormity of that statement. A staffer at a body with little public accountability and that exists to serve bankers is lamenting the inability to keep Congress in the dark.

This belies the culture of secrecy obviously pervasive within the New York Fed. Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns noted during the hearing that the bank initially refused to disclose even the names of other banks that benefited from its actions, arguing this information would somehow harm AIG.

.Penchant for Secrecy.

"In fact, when the information was finally released, under pressure from Congress, nothing happened," Towns said. "It had absolutely no effect on AIG.s business or financial condition. But it did have an effect on the credibility of the Federal Reserve, and it called into question the Fed.s penchant for secrecy."

Now, I.m not saying Congress should be meddling in interest-rate decisions, or micro-managing bank regulation. Nor do I think we should all don tin-foil hats and start ranting about the Trilateral Commission.

Yet when unelected and unaccountable agencies pick banking winners while trying to end-run Congress, even as taxpayers are forced to lend, spend and guarantee about $8 trillion to prop up the financial system, our collective blood should boil.

David Reilly is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.


When "Conspiracy Theory" becomes Mainstream: Maybe A Secret Banking Cabal Does Run The World After All

Bloomberg reports on the New York Fed's backdoor bailoutby Paul Joseph Watson -- Global Research, January 31, 2010 Prison Planet - 2010-01-29

In another measure of how what the establishment labels "conspiracy theory" is quickly becoming mainstream, Bloomberg News carries a story today acknowledging that those derided as "crazy" for warning that the world is run by a secret banking cabal have largely been proven right in light of the AIG cover-up.

"The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week.s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all," writes Bloomberg.s David Reilly [January 29, 2010].

"Wednesday.s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials." Reilly goes on to describe how the New York Fed conducted a backdoor bailout (or in plainer terms a wholesale looting of the taxpayer) of banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, and then sought to keep it secret from the public. Reilly also highlights another telling quote by Representative Marcy Kaptur during the hearing on Wednesday, when she told Geithner, "A lot of people think that the president of the New York Fed works for the U.S. government. But in fact you work for the private banks that elected you."

Reilly savages Tim Geithner.s denial of any involvement in the scandal and concludes with stating, "When unelected and unaccountable agencies pick banking winners while trying to end-run Congress, even as taxpayers are forced to lend, spend and guarantee about $8 trillion to prop up the financial system, our collective blood should boil."

As we have constantly emphasized, as the global government and the financial takeover accelerates, it.s becoming harder and harder for the elite to hide the true intention of what they are doing, which is centralizing power into fewer hands, destroying sovereignty and creating a one world order run by an unelected, undemocratic authoritarian system.

So whereas "conspiracy theorists" were once sidelined as paranoid kooks, as more and more of what they warned about comes to fruition, they gain more credibility and the establishment finds it more difficult to neutralize what they are saying by means of character assassination.

The Bloomberg writer.s admission that the "conspiracy theorists" were probably right reminds us of former Clinton advisor Dick Morris. appearance on Fox News last year, when he pointed out that people who have been sounding the alarm bells over a global government takeover for decades have also been vindicated.

"Those people who have been yelling .oh the UN.s gonna take over, global government., been crazy but now . right!," stated Morris on Sean Hannity.s show.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Democracy In The U.S. Is A Useful Fiction

Democracy In The U.S. Is A Useful Fiction

Written by Chris Edges   

Tuesday, 26 January 2010 23:35

A backhanded salute to corporate Americaâ..s soft, home-grown coup

By Chris Hedges

(Ed. Note: The U.S. Supreme Court last week opened a financial flood gate that will most likely drown out what little opposition exists to corporate dominance of politics in the United States. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court ruled that corporate donations to political campaigns cannot be reigned in by Congressional legislation.  

As the writer of the essay below notes, the ruling amounts to â..icing on the cakeâ. for a U.S. business oligarchy already firmly in control of the U.S. ship of state.)

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court's decision last week in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d'état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place. The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest. Much of the outrage expressed about the court's ruling is the outrage of those who prefer this choreographed charade. As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin  calls our system of "inverted totalitarianism." Inverted totalitarianism represents "the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry," Wolin writes in "Democracy Incorporated." Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible. Inverted totalitarianism is not conceptualized as an ideology or objectified in public policy. It is furthered by "power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions," Wolin writes. But it is as dangerous as classical forms of totalitarianism. In a system of inverted totalitarianism, as this court ruling illustrates, it is not necessary to rewrite the Constitution, as fascist and communist regimes do. It is enough to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretation. This exploitation ensures that huge corporate campaign contributions are protected speech under the First Amendment. It ensures that heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations is interpreted as an application of the people's right to petition the government. The court again ratified the concept that corporations are persons, except in those cases where the "persons" agree to a "settlement." Those within corporations who commit crimes can avoid going to prison by paying large sums of money to the government while, according to this twisted judicial reasoning, not "admitting any wrongdoing." There is a word for this. It is called corruption. Corporations have 35,000 in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates. The financial sector, for example, spent more than $5 billion on political campaigns, influence peddling and lobbying during the past decade, which resulted in sweeping deregulation, the gouging of consumers, our global financial meltdown and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $26 million last year and drug companies such as Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly kicked in tens of millions more to buy off the two parties. These corporations have made sure our so-called health reform bill will force us to buy their predatory and defective products.

The oil and gas industry, the coal industry, defense contractors and telecommunications companies have thwarted the drive for sustainable energy and orchestrated the steady erosion of civil liberties. Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive. There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic. Citizens, rather than participate in power, are allowed to have virtual opinions to preordained questions, a kind of participatory fascism as meaningless as voting on "American Idol." Mass emotions are directed toward the raging culture wars. This allows us to take emotional stands on issues that are inconsequential to the power elite. Our transformation into an empire, as happened in ancient Athens and Rome, has seen the tyranny we practice abroad become the tyranny we practice at home. We, like all empires, have been eviscerated by our own expansionism. We utilize weapons of horrific destructive power, subsidize their development with billions in taxpayer dollars, and are the world's largest arms dealer. And the Constitution, as Wolin notes, is "conscripted to serve as power's apprentice rather than its conscience."
"Inverted totalitarianism reverses things," Wolin writes. "It is politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative government and public administration by a sea of cash."

Hollywood, the news industry and television, all corporate controlled, have become instruments of inverted totalitarianism. They censor or ridicule those who critique or challenge corporate structures and assumptions. They saturate the airwaves with manufactured controversy, whether it is Tiger Woods or the dispute between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. They manipulate images to make us confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge, which is how Barack Obama became president. And the draconian internal control employed by the Department of Homeland Security, the military and the police over any form of popular dissent, coupled with the corporate media's censorship, does for inverted totalitarianism what thugs and bonfires of books do in classical totalitarian regimes.

"It seems a replay of historical experience that the bias displayed by today's media should be aimed consistently at the shredded remains of liberalism," Wolin writes. "Recall that an element common to most 20th century totalitarianism, whether Fascist or Stalinist, was hostility towards the left. In the United States, the left is assumed to consist solely of liberals, occasionally of â..the left wing of the Democratic Party,' never of democrats."

Liberals, socialists, trade unionists, independent journalists and intellectuals, many of whom were once important voices in our society, have been silenced or targeted for elimination within corporate-controlled academia, the media and government. Wolin, who taught at Berkeley and later at Princeton, is arguably the country's foremost political philosopher. And yet his book was virtually ignored. This is also why Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney, along with intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, are not given a part in our national discourse.

The uniformity of opinion is reinforced by the skillfully orchestrated mass emotions of nationalism and patriotism, which paints all dissidents as "soft" or "unpatriotic." The "patriotic" citizen, plagued by fear of job losses and possible terrorist attacks, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and the militarized state. This means no questioning of the $1 trillion in defense-related spending. It means that the military and intelligence agencies are held above government, as if somehow they are not part of government. The most powerful instruments of state power and control are effectively removed from public discussion. We, as imperial citizens, are taught to be contemptuous of government bureaucracy, yet we stand like sheep before Homeland Security agents in airports and are mute when Congress permits our private correspondence and conversations to be monitored and archived. We endure more state control than at any time in American history.

The civic, patriotic and political language we use to describe ourselves remains unchanged. We pay fealty to the same national symbols and iconography. We find our collective identity in the same national myths. We continue to deify the Founding Fathers. But the America we celebrate is an illusion. It does not exist. Our government and judiciary have no real sovereignty. Our press provides diversion, not information.

Our organs of security and power keep us as domesticated and as fearful as most Iraqis. Capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, when it emasculates government, becomes a revolutionary force. And this revolutionary force, best described as inverted totalitarianism, is plunging us into a state of neo-feudalism, perpetual war and severe repression. The Supreme Court decision is part of our transformation by the corporate state from citizens to prisoners

Monday, January 25, 2010


Related Articles

January 14, 2010 -- Living in the End Times with Slavoj Zizek
January 9, 2010 -- The Coming Emergency State
January 2, 2010 -- A Leftist Critique of Liberal Tolerance (pt. 2 of 2)
November 21, 2009 -- The Traumatic Illusion of Free Speech
January 21, 2010 -- Did Somebody Say Police State?
November 25, 2009 -- Is Capitalism at a Breaking Point?
November 8, 2009 -- The War on Terror Does Not Exist
November 2, 2009 -- Reporting Castroâ..s Sister: Another Case of Historical Omission
January 6, 2010 -- Cheney Family Values
December 12, 2009 -- A Leftist Critique of Liberal Tolerance (pt. 1 of 2)

The Coming Emergency State

By Stephen Dufrechou

Jan 9, 2010 at 10:27 am

Capitalism was (and is) the first form of social organization in history that needed to perpetually reinvent (or "revolutionize") its own means of economic production, in order to survive. For example, from roughly the 1920.s to the 1950.s, capitalism saw its own internal revolution from a system, based largely on industrial production, to one based--"more and more--"on "technological development", in various forms. Politics, in the interest of furthering economic growth through the new paradigm, adapted to this shift in every way (e.g. rhetorically, legislatively, judicially, etc.)

This innate volatility--"this traumatic restructuring of itself--"is what gives capitalism its "dynamic" character. And on this matter, both critics and champions of capitalism agree. But regardless of our opinion, one thing is certain about capitalism: a new "reinventing" of itself is currently underway.-- All signs seem to suggest that this "reinvention" will result in a vast series of "Emergency States".

The "Emergency State" entails a political shift in governance. It is a shift of the ways, in which, state power addresses the population it oversees and, thus, controls. Under this model, governments often portray themselves as "post-ideological". They claim to -- be neither "liberal" nor "conservative", neither "Leftist" nor "Rightist". Instead, the message is borderline utopic: we are in a "post-racial", "post-partisan", even "post-political" world. Given this shift, Barak Obama--"with his "post-ideological" message of "HOPE" and "CHANGE"--"is a perfect politician to try to usher in these news forms of control in the US, especially given his "multi-cultural" background.

Given this "post-political" rhetoric, the new (think: ideological) emphasis is on "threat". Therefore, future polices in Western capitalist states will be validated as "counter-measures" to various, potential dangerers--"which can effect everyone, liberals and conservatives alike, so the claims will go. For instance: threats from illegal immigrants, threats from terrorist cells, threats from theocratic Muslim states, threats from godless sexual depravity, threats from the "backwards" values of invading foreign cultures, etc. And of course, since only this "reinvented" capitalism, alone, can to maintain public saftey--"threats from other political ideas must be included.

Sometimes these threats will be genuine, of course. Sometimes not. -- But the beauty of "Emergency State" logic (also called "bio-politics") is that the very certainty-- of these "threats" will be kept at the level of ambiguity, creating enough fear and paranoia to ensure the further erosion of civil liberties, under the patriotic-- banner of "public safety". -- And the-- emergency legislation, which ensures this erosion, will be cleverly-worded to speak in the interests of "the general welfare".

The Orwellian "Department of Homeland Security", and Obama.s maintenance of other Bush Administration polices, are but the earliest symptoms of this emerging "Emergency State". Other examples are systemic of both Europe and the US, for instance: the installation of digital cameras in major metropolitan intersections; the ongoing debates, regarding the "border crises" and the "immigration question", have lead both the US and Spain to consider erecting "border walls"--"as per Israel and (the now defunct) East Germany--"to block the flow of foreign nationals; the use of unmanned "spy drones", previously used in the "war on terror", to conduct domestic espionage against US citizens, as recently reported by an NJP article, is another example of this form of fear-validated population control.

The potential to see this erosion of civil liberties creep into the realm of "free speech" is now not unfounded. On December, 11, 2009, Army Specialist and Iraq war veteran Marc Hall was incarcerated by the US Army, at Liberty County Jail, Georgia, for recording a song that expresses his frustration over the Army.s stop-loss policy. The report, by Truthout. s Dahr Jamail, reads:

"Hall planned to leave the military at the end of his contract on February 27, before his commander, Captain Cross at Fort Stewart, moved to have him incarcerated for the song. The military currently intends to keep Hall in pre-trial confinement until he is court-martialed, which is expected to be several months from now."

The message this indictment sends is clear: the emerging "Emergency State" will treat soldiers like human cattle. But if soldiers express frustration about this treatment, they will find themselves headed to the cell block.-- This, indeed, is not logic foreign to totalitarian systems.

Yet, this does not mean that Emergency States are totalitarian ones. Far from it. In fact, one of the theories on Emergency States is that when they implement a harsh measure of population control--"one, say, reminiscent of twentieth century totalitarianism--"the state, after some public outcry, then repeals the contested measure, using the apparent "democratic" character of such a repeal to bolster favor for its "weak" measures (e.g. spy drones or airport body-scanners).

Thus, according to this logic, Army specialist Marc Hall.s case may be dismissed, having served its societal purpose. In general though, one could argue that the unexpected nature of such "harsh measures", as temporary tactics, equally feed the very paranoia which fuels the "bio-politics" of Emergency States.

This rather quick shift (as compared to slower "reinventions"),-- from "late-technological" to "Emergency State" capitalism, has not been lost on contemporary-- philosophers and cultural critics. Historian David Harvey has noted that the duration between "revolutions" of the means-- of production in capitalism have been becoming shorter, and more abrupt, in recent history. He equally has noted that, given the demands of the climate crisis, capitalism will have to die in order to save the planet. As he has said, 3% industrial growth--"indefinitly--"is not possible on a finite planet.

Other thinkers have wondered if the fear-based policies of Emergency States are but the final phase of capitalism, itself, wherein only paranoia and intimidation can be used to justify such an (obviously) irrational system of social organization. This potentially "final phase" is already being called out as "fact" by political philosopher Slavoj Zizek, a perspective which he argues for in his upcoming book, Living in the End Times (Verso Press, May 2010). Whether Zizek is correct or not remains to be seen. But for now, "end times" or not, the "Emergency State" seems to be the reality in which we will be living under for the next decade or two.

Stephen Dufrechou is a college professor in Memphis,


Did Somebody Say Police State?
By Stephen Dufrechou
Jan 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Franz Kafka.s novel, The Trial, opens with a troubling scene. The protagonist, a low-level civil service clerk named Joseph K, is awakened in his apartment one morning by two government agents. The agents first declare K under arrest. But while the two men fail to specify the conditions of K.s arrest, they nevertheless barrage K with a series of absurd, circular questions--"questions that imply K.s guilt of this vaguely-defined crime.

The agents, then, mysteriously leave K in his apartment; K is free to go about his life, as an obedient worker. But the remainder of the novel follows (the now highly paranoid) K, as he tries to figure out the meaning of his strange encounter.

What makes this novel so effective is Kafka.s ability to evoke, in the reader, K.s very paranoia. K.s sense of constantly being monitored, by an omnipresent state--"even though he finds no direct-- evidence of this surveilance--"stays with the reader long after the novel.s end.. And I imagine this is much how Paul Chambers, a 26-year old Twitter user-- feels today, after his own encounter.

Chambers, a British citizen, had found his vacation plans ruined when Robin Hood Airport had grounded flights, due to heavy snow. As a result, Chambers. trip to Ireland was definitively postponed, if not canceled. Venting his frustration over this matter, he posted the following message to his Twitter friends:

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. got a week and a bit to get your sh** together, otherwise I.m blowing the airport sky-high!!"

A week later, British police arrived at Chamber.s place of employment and arrested him for the post. The police claimed an "anonymous tip off" had informed them of the post.

"They said I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act and produced a piece of paper", Chambers later said. "It was a print-out of my--  Twitter page. That was when it dawned on me."

Chambers also stated that: "I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they.d never heard of it. [...] Then they asked all about my home life, and how work was going, and other personal things [...] The lead investigator kept asking, .Do you understand why this is happening?. and saying, .It is the world we live in.."

Chambers now faces prosecution for "conspiracy" and is permanently banned from Robin Hood Airport. Although he has been released on bail, detectives have confiscated Chambers.s iPhone, laptop, and home computer for investigative purposes.

Civil liberties advocate Tessa Mayes said of this case: "Making jokes about terrorism is considered a thought crime, mistakenly seen as a real act of harm or intention to commit harm."

Mayes equally noted that:

"The police.s actions seem laughable and suggest desperation in their efforts to combat terrorism, yet they have serious repercussions for all of us. In a democracy, our right to say what we please to each other should be non-negotiable, even on Twitter."

In response to the Chambers case, journalist Jason Walsh has also observed that:

"It is the unfortunate reality that such jokes are not viewed with levity in potential terrorist targets such as airports and train stations [...]-- Questions of public safety in crowded places are one thing, but is it really the case that making an off-hand remark on the internet is cause for an official investigation? [...] I have yet to hear of any terrorist quite stupid enough to announce his or her plans days in advance in an open forum such as Twitter."

Indeed, Mayes and Walsh.s comments, here, should be deeply reflected upon.

The World We Live In

The agent who interrogated Chambers kept saying, "Do you understand why this is happening? [...] It is the world we live in."

We might respond to this by asking yet another question--"a question first posed by philosopher Michel Foucault:-- "What.s going on just now? What.s happening to us? What is this world, this period, this precise moment in which we are living?"

The answer, here, can be made by reference to a previous NJP article, "The Coming Emergency State".

As we noted in that article, a shift of political governance is occurring before our very eyes. It is a shift of the ways, in which, state power addresses the population it oversees and, thus, controls.-- We had explained this new paradigm as an "Emergency State", which operates-- as such:

"future polices in Western capitalist states will be validated as --counter-measures-- to various, potential dangers [...]-- For instance: threats from illegal immigrants, threats from terrorist cells, threats from theocratic Muslim states, threats from godless sexual depravity, threats from the --backwards-- values of invading foreign cultures, etc".

According to this logic, we then suggested that, -- "Sometimes these threats will be genuine, of course. Sometimes not. But the [...] very certainty-- of these --threats-- will be kept at the level of ambiguity, creating enough fear and paranoia to ensure the further erosion of civil liberties, under the patriotic-- banner of --public safety-- ."

Given these dynamics, does not "Emergency State" logic match the state.s very logic in the Chambers case? Several facts compel us to answer "yes":

(1) The arrest was a "counter-measure" to a "potential" danger; (2) the "threat" was not confirmed as "genuine", yet the arrest was still made; and (3) the publicity of the Chambers case serves to instill paranoia in the citizenry, resulting in a population that will largely police itself, out of fear of an ever-watchful-- government--"a government-- which, itself, exhibits symptoms of paranoid behavior.

So, to clearly reply to Foucault.s question--"What is this world, this period, this precise moment in which we are living?--"we can answer by saying that we are living in the era of the "Emergency State".

Life in the "Panopticon"

On the other hand, Foucault would have already known this answer, if he was alive today. One of his many masterworks, Discipline and Punish, foresaw the development of a technocratic surveillance state. In this book, Foucault labels such a society a "disciplinary society". Indeed, the book even forwards a theory on how disciplinary societies function. Foucault called this theory of control "panopticism".

David Valliere.s five-minute student film, "Panopticon", offers a ready explanation of panopticism:

Foucault, himself, writes that: "the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates [i.e. citizens] should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers".

Later in Discipline and Punish, Foucault even discusses the component of social "threat", in the functioning of the panoptical society. He says that the panopticon:

"although it arranges power, although it is intended to make it more economic and more effective, it does so not for power itself, not for the immediate salvation of a threatened society: its aim is to strengthen the social forces--"to increase production, to develop the economy".

In other words: the panopticon, the disciplinary society, the "Emergency State", functions to maintain the power of the political status quo, through the illusion of a society which is under perpetual threat. Panopticism is a constructed mass-perception, used to maintain a specific social order; and this very paradigm is already entrenched and working in both Europe and the United States.

But we should be wary, when looking for where to place the blame for such a crisis of democracy. We should not blame "liberals"; we should not blame "conservatives"; we should not blame one political party, or another. We are all complicit in allowing this current a state of affairs to come to pass. We can only fault ourselves; we can only fault our vast political blindness and irresponsibility. To do otherwise, to place the blame elsewhere, is pure ignorance.

Yet, ignorant we are. Because we would not find ourselves in this situation if we were otherwise. For, as Thomas Jefferson once said: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of-- civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." And "free" is certainly not descriptive of our current society.

Thus, the question for us becomes this:

Now that we are aware of our ignorance, what are we going to do, in order to remedy it? How will we proceed?

[Author's Note: I would warmly like to thank David Valliere for his permission to use the film, "Panopticon", in this article.]

Stephen Dufrechou-- is a college professor in Memphis, TN.

The Philosophy of Martin Luther King
By Stephen Dufrechou
Jan 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Every semester without fail, something-- extraordinary-- happens in my classes. Having read Martin Luther King, Jr..s "Letter From a Birmingham" for homework, many of my undergraduates return to class transformed.

Students, who were previously disinterested in discussing literature, explode with vigor into the conversation about this reading. King.s "Letter", they tell me in so many words, spoke to them on a level that no other text had before. Indeed, the only way I can sum up this mass-awakening I witness each semester is through an ancient Greek word: "peripeteia"--"the term used for the moment, in Greek drama, when the protagonist realizes that everything he previously believed is false. And it is though this MLK-inspired "peripetia" that my students begin to see themselves, and the world, through new eyes..

In many ways, "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" is a kind of Rosetta Stone for understanding King.s ethical philosophy. As such, the essay illustrates that--"despite much miseducation on King.s thought today--"Martin Luther King was more than just a preacher, who spoke out against segregation, led civil rights protests, and delivered the "I Have a Dream" speech. It may be argued, even, that King is the most "radical" American political philosopher of the twentieth century.

Remembering these truths is more important than ever today: Despite the public comparisons between Barak Obama and Martin Luther King, these analogies are not only categorically absurd, but also quite insulting to the legacy of King.s life and work. Added to this, is the fact that the spirit of nonviolent resistance in the US--"which King had championed so-- fiercely--"is now all but dead.

In an attempt to combat these tragic facts, let.s revisit some of King.s arguments from "Letter From a Birmingham Jail", alongside interview footage featuring Dr. King, himself.

King.s Ethical Philosophy

The cornerstone of King.s ethical thought is the "Moral Law". King states that,-- "A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. [...] Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." This is how King claims we should judge all laws, not just segregation laws.

He also argues that if we conclude a given law, or a code of behavior, to be "unjust", then we have an obligation to break it--"via civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. He says, "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all.""

When we do break an unjust law, King says we "must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscious tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscious of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law." -- Here is King on this perspective:

The "sense of disturbance" King refers to, here, is crucial. The very purpose of nonviolent resistance is to create this "disturbance" in a community. He argues that, "Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and to foster such tension that a community which has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored."

Indeed, resistance is the very response to the continued presence of "injustice". For, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." King notes that "not a single gain in civil rights [has been made] without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily."

Because of this historical fact, the expectation for freedom and justice to occur, through a mere passage of "time", is a delusion; moral action is always required to combat injustice.

On this perspective, King asserts that "Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills." He says that, "Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. [...] We must use time time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. "

King, here, reflects on these facts to a detractor:

In further-- explaining-- why segregation is "unjust", King brilliantly writes that:

"Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I-it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship" and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is also morally wrong and sinful. [Theologian] Paul Tillich has said that sin is-- separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man.s tragic-- separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?"

It is not hard to take this quote and substitute the word "war" in place of "segregation"; we can then apply the same valid-- argument-- towards war, itself. In fact, King was as much against the Vietnam war as he was against segregation laws. We can also argue that war equally violates the "Moral Law", as well--"whether that war is in Vietnam or Afghanistan, in the 21st century. King, here, criticizes the the war in Vietnam:

We should observe that King sees an injustice in the minuscule amount of money spent on alleviating ongoing poverty, when this amount is compared to the vast sums spent on war. And we should ask ourselves what King would say of-- President Obama.s policies today, if King were still alive.

But, of course, King is no longer with us. It is thus our responsibility to pick up King.s message, to carry on the essence his nonviolent resistance against unjust forms of power, to once again openly resist all that is still unjust in our world.

And King.s final 1968 speech--"the last he gave, just before his death--"certainly holds the potential to compel us to act, in this spirit of nonviolent resistance, once again; for it is clear that most Americans, of every political nature, are in dire need of an MLK-inspired "peripetia" of their own:

Stephen Dufrechou is a college professor in Memphis, TN.
Living in the End Times with Slavoj Zizek
By Stephen Dufrechou
Jan 14, 2010 at 10:36 am

Political theorist and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek has been called "The Elvis cultural theory" and "The most dangerous philosopher in the West". By using a blend of psychoanalytic theory, political philosophy, jokes, and Hitchcock film references, Zizek has published over 30 books of philosophy. His criticisms have focused on everything from global capitalism to Islamic fundamentalism. Accordingly, his main target is dominant forms of political ideology--"which he has criticized through discussions of chocolate laxatives, Ridley Scott.s film "Alien", and the structure European toilets. Though, despite his frequent "off the wall" references, the philosopher is dead-serious about his stances.

Recently, Zizek hosted an engaging television documentary in the Netherlands, in which he discuses--"through his critical perspective--"current geo-political conflicts, global warming, and the financial crisis, among other relevant topics.

In the spirit of bringing challenging perspectives to current events, NJP has provided the full television show, here, in video clips. [Note: only the intro is in Dutch, the remaining program is in English].

Zizek begins with a critique of the current economic crisis, citing it as the crisis of "liberal democracy", itself.

He argues that capitalism has become an "everyday religion", and, as such, cannot solve the climate crisis.

Given our political situation, Zizek suggests that China.s "authoritarian capitalism" may be the future of all capitalist states.

The "War in Afghanistan", he asserts, underscores American political impotence. He compares this observation to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

After denouncing totalitarianism as an answer to our political crisis, Zizek argues that the Left is responsible for creating a sane alternative to capitalism.

Given all these conditions, he suggests that the absurd, technocratic "emergency state" of Berlusconi.s Italy could become a global phenomena. Thus, the Left needs to "reinvent" communism, as a response.

Slavoj Zizek is the author of "The Sublime Object of Ideology", "Welcome to the Desert of the Real", "First as Tragedy then as Farce", and the forthcoming "Living in the End Times". He also presented and wrote the acclaimed British documentary, "The Pervert.s Guide to Cinema" (2006).

Stephen Dufrechou is a college professor in Memphis, TN.

Obama Lists Cuba as a Terrorist State
By Stephen Dufrechou
Jan 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Cuba and the US share nasty historical relations, to say the least. Since Cuba.s 1959 Revolution, both sides have perennially crossed the line of sane, ethical behavior more times than we can count here--"with each state always blaming the other for its "necessary" violence against the other.

Such relations have resulted an endless cycle of aggression and death. On this matter, we should be staunchly critical of both governments, but not surprised by such behavior, either. All states--"capitalist or communist--"are inherently violent institutions. The only difference between them is who is chosen as the target of violence, and which ideology is used to justify the unjustifiable policy of state-sanctioned mass-murder, more commonly called --war-- .

Given this reality, we should not be shocked by the US failure to live up to last year.s promise of normalized relations--"and a "new beginning"--"with Cuba. Instead of this saner approach, the Obama Administration has recently included Cuba in its updated list of terrorist states. (Note: the countries specified as sponsors of terrorism are Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria while countries considered prone to terrorism are Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.)

The Cuban reaction to this inclusion was one of outrage in Havana. The Cuban Foreign Ministry responded by stating: "We categorically reject this new hostile action by the US government--.. The Ministry continued, claiming that the "list was politically motivated and its only goal is to justify the US policy of economic embargo against Cuba."

Havana.s response-- also highlighted its own efforts in fighting international terrorism; and-- it equally urged the US to act without double-standards against those who--"from the US.s own territory--"have planned and carried out terrorist acts against Cuba, itself.

Indeed, the US.s labeling of Cuba as a terrorist state recalls official statements in 2009, made by Barak Obama and Secy. of State Hillary Clinton. It was Obama, himself, who had called for a --new beginning-- with Cuba. And Secy. Clinton had echoed this gesture, claiming, --We are continuing to look for productive ways forward because we view the present policy as having failed.--

But as NJP noted last year, when we first reported these utterances: "These statements may be read as having a double meaning. The --new beginning-- may simply be to devise different --productive ways-- of bringing Cuba back under the orbit of [US influence]--"only time will tell."

Time as has obviously told. And this emphasizes that Obama.s message of "hope" and "change" means the opposite of what many individuals on the planet had (wrongly) believed. Obama.s "hope", rather, is proving to be the "hope" of furthering US imperialism through a "change" in US strategy.

Stephen Dufrechou is a college professor in Memphis, TN.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

INTERNET MEDIA (not) a Marxist Fantasy

MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

January 20, 2010



On January 4, Tim Luckhurst, former BBC journalist and current Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent, wrote an article in the Independent with the dramatic title, 'Demise of news barons is just a Marxist fantasy.' Luckhurst argued that leftist critics are gleefully predicting the end of corporate journalism:

"There will be no further need for newspapers or broadcasters to host debates and represent public opinion. The internet will let every citizen speak for themselves. The masses will seize the means of media production. We will witness an era of revolutionary change." (

But according to Luckhurst "there is an elementary delusion behind the idea that amateurs can report accurately". How so?:

"... the public right to know [cannot] depend on the dictates of an individual's conflicted conscience. Such decisions should be guided by professional priorities and ethics. The fallacy rests on the delusion that private ownership by capitalists has damaged journalism. The facts suggest the opposite. Since the first American newspaper baron, James Gordon Bennett I, created the New York Herald, and his British disciple Alfred Harmsworth followed with Britain's Daily Mail, profit-driven ownership has liberated reporters.

"Before the barons, journalism readily succumbed to direct sponsorship by political parties. Impoverished publications were bullied by powerful litigants. They could not afford professional reporters and printed opinions not facts. Afterwards, while journalism has often exercised power without responsibility, it has done so in the name of a version of the public interest that is gloriously independent of the state."

Luckhurst concluded:

"There is not yet a single one-size-fits-all model for profitable, professional journalism in the 21st century, but a powerful alliance of commerce, conscience and intellect is converging around the certainty that such journalism is essential if representative democracy is to endure."

We responded to the article on January 5:

Dear Tim Luckhurst

Hope you're well. I enjoyed your article in the Independent, 'Demise of news barons is just a Marxist fantasy.' You write:

"In fact, the people who now predict the end of professional journalism's reign of sovereignty have attacked edited, fact-based reporting for decades."

Who are these Marxists predicting the end of the reign of professional journalism? And who are the people who "have attacked edited, fact-based reporting for decades"?

You write that "there is an elementary delusion behind the idea that amateurs can report accurately". But isn't there an elementary delusion behind the idea that corporate professionals can report accurately and honestly? After all, corporate media are tasked to report on a world dominated by allied giant corporations. These are the corporations on which newspapers like the Independent and Guardian depend for fully 75% of their revenues (from advertising). Isn't the conflict of interest obvious and important?

Best wishes

David Edwards

We received no reply. We wrote again, twice, and again received no answer.

We asked Richard Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, what he thought of Luckhurst's piece. His reply was so interesting that we asked if he would expand it for a Guest Media Alert. This he has very kindly done. Sincere thanks to Richard for taking the trouble. We hope you enjoy his article.

Best wishes

The Editors - Media Lens

How Alternative Media Provide The Crucial Critique Of The Mainstream

By: Richard Keeble

I welcome Tim Luckhurst's contribution to the debate over the future of journalism ("Demise of press barons is just a Marxist fantasy", Independent, 4 January). But I disagree with him profoundly. Tim places far too much stress on the role of professional journalists in the current "crisis". It is clearly important to work for radical, progressive change to the corporate media from within.

The closeness of the mainstream to dominant economic, cultural and ideological forces means that the mainstream largely functions to promote the interests of the military/industrial/political complex. Yet within advanced capitalist economies, the contradictions and complexities of corporate media have provided certain spaces for the progressive journalism of such excellent writers in the US, UK, France and India as John Langdon-Davies (1897-1971), Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998); George Orwell (1903-1950), I. F. Stone (1907-1989), James Cameron (1911-1985), Albert Camus (1913-1960), Phillip Knightley (born 1929), Seymour Hersh (1937), Susan George (1939), John Pilger (1939), Barbara Ehrenreich (1941), Peter Wilby (1944), Arundhati Roy (1960), George Monbiot (1963) and Naomi Klein (1970). Many of these have combined an involvement in the corporate media with regular contributions to the "alternative", campaigning media.

Crucial Role Of Alternative Media

But most significantly Tim Luckhurst fails to acknowledge the crucial role of the non-corporate media in the development of progressive journalism. Historically, the alternative media have helped provide the basis on which an alternative, global, progressive public sphere has been built. For instance, John Hartley has highlighted the centrality of journalists such as Robespierre, Marat, Danton and Hébert to the French Revolution of the 1790s.

In the UK, in the first half of the 19th century a massively popular radical, unstamped (and hence illegal) press played a crucial role in the campaign for trade union rights and social and political reforms. In his seminal history of these early radical, "citizen" journalists, James Curran commented: "Unlike the institutionalised journalists of the later period they tended to see themselves as activists rather than as professionals. Indeed many of the paid correspondents of the Poor Man's Guardian, Northern Star and early Reynolds News were also political organisers for the National Union of Working Classes or Chartist movement. They sought to describe and expose the dynamics of power and inequality rather than to report 'hard news' as a series of disconnected events. They saw themselves as class representatives rather than as disinterested intermediaries and attempted to establish a relationship of real reciprocity with their readers."

Later on many feminists, suffragettes (such as Sylvia Pankhurst), trade unionists and anti-war activists were both radical journalists and political agitators.

Informal underground communication networks and newspapers (such as the Sowetan in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s) were crucial in the independent movements in Africa and India. Jonathan Neale, in his seminal study of the Vietnam War, identified around 300 anti-war newspapers in the armed services during the course of the conflict. Seymour Hersh's exposure of the My Lai massacre of March 1968, (when US soldiers slaughtered up to 504 men, women and children) was first published by the alternative news agency, Despatch News Service.

From 1963 to 1983, the Bolivian miners' radio stations highlighted the rights of workers. In Poland during the 1980s alternative publications of the Polish Roman Catholic Church and the samizdat publications of the Solidarity movement played crucial roles in the movement against the Soviet-backed government of the day. In Nicaragua during the 1980s and 1990s the Movement of Popular Correspondents produced reports by non-professional, voluntary reporters from poor rural area that were published in regional and national newspapers – and they helped inspire revolutionary education and political activities. In the 1990s, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan bravely reported on the abuse and execution of women under the Taliban producing audio cassettes, videos, a website and a magazine.

This century we have seen the use made of websites by reformist movements in Burma and more recently (with Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube) in Iran. Similarly, in Peru, in 2009, Indigenous activists used Twitter and YouTube to highlight human rights abuses as more than 50,000 Amazonians demonstrated and went on strike in protest over US-Peru trade laws which threatened to open up ancestral territories to exploitation by multinational companies.

Celebrating The Internet And Blogosphere

Today, the internet and the blogosphere provide enormous opportunities for the development of progressive journalism ideals in both the UK and globally. Stuart Allan, for instance, celebrates the bloggers and the "extraordinary contribution made by ordinary citizens offering their first hand reports, digital photographs, camcorder video footage, mobile telephone snapshots or audio clips". A great deal of this "citizen journalism" (while challenging the professional monopoly of the journalistic field) actually feeds into mainstream media routines and thus reinforces the dominant news value system. The internet and blogosphere only become interesting when they serve to challenge the mainstream as crucial elements in progressive social and political movements.

Moreover, we need to follow John Hartley in making a radical transformation of journalism theory. We need as both academics and citizens to move away from the concept of the audience as a passive consumer of a professional product to seeing the audience as producers of their own (written or visual) media. Hartley even draws on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which he suggests proclaims the radical utopian-liberal idea that everyone has the right not only to seek and receive but to "impart" (in other words communicate) information and ideas. If everyone, then, is a journalist then how can journalism be professed? "Journalism has transferred from a modern expert system to contemporary open innovation – from 'one-to-many' to 'many to many' communication." Let us see how this redefinition of journalism can incorporate many different forms of media activity into the alternative public sphere.

Firstly, there is the role of radical, non-mainstream journalists. George Orwell (1903-1950) is best known as the author of Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) but he was also a distinguished progressive journalist who concentrated most of his writing on obscure, alternative journals of the Left – such Controversy, New Leader, Left Forum, Left News, Polemic, Progressive, Politics and Letters. From 1943 to 1947 he was literary editor of the leftist journal, Tribune, and through writing his regular "As I Please" column, instinctively developed a close relationship with his audience. This relationship was crucial to the flowering of Orwell's journalistic imagination.

While he realised mainstream journalism was basically propaganda for wealthy newspaper proprietors, at Tribune he was engaging in the crucial political debate with people who mattered to him. They were an authentic audience compared with what Stuart Allan has called the "implied reader or imagined community of readers" of the mainstream media.

Today, in the United States, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffery St Clair produce Counterpunch, an alternative investigative website ( Out of their writings come many publications. There's also the excellent Middle East Report (, the Nation (, Mother Jones (, Z Magazine (, In These Times (; in Chennai, India, Frontline (; in London there's the investigative in the UK brings together many of the writings by radical journalists, campaigners and academics (such as Felicity Arbuthnot and William Blum). Dahr Jamail is a freelance journalist reporting regularly from a critical peace perspective on the Middle East ( while Democracy Now! is an alternative US radio station (with allied website and podcasts) run by Amy Goodman overtly committed to peace journalism.

Drawing Inspiration From Chomsky

Chris Atton argues that alternative media such as these often draw inspiration from Chomsky's critique of the corporate myths of "balance" and "objectivity" and stresses, instead, their explicitly partisan character. Moreover, they seek "to invert the hierarchy of access" to the news by explicitly foregrounding the viewpoints of "ordinary" people (activists, protestors, local residents), citizens whose visibility in the mainstream media tends to be obscured by the presence of elite groups and individuals.

Then there's the role of radical intellectuals such as the American historian Tom Engelhardt ( Other radical intellectuals prominent in the blogosphere have included the late Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Norman Solomon, James Winter, Mark Curtis and the recently deceased African intellectual campaigner and journalist Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem. In the UK, activists David Edwards and David Cromwell edit the radical media monitoring site which monitors the mainstream media from a radical Chomskyite/Buddhist perspective and in support of the global peace movement. Professor David Miller and William Dinan are part of the collective running which critiques the PR industry from a radical, peace perspective.

Some research centres play important roles in the formation of an alternative global public sphere. For instance, is the website of the Centre for Research and Globalisation, an independent research and media group based in Montreal. It carries excellent articles by Michel Chussodovsky, Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa. Special subjects on the site include US war agenda, crimes against humanity, militarisation and WMD, poverty and social inequality, media disinformation and intelligence. There is also the website produced by the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought (

Political activists often double as media activists. Take for instance IndyMedia ( It emerged during the "battle of Seattle" in 1999 when thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the World Trade Organisation and the impact of global free trade relations – and were met by armoured riot police. Violent clashes erupted with many injuries on both sides. In response 400 volunteers, rallying under the motto "Don't hate the media: be the media", created a site and a daily news sheet, the Blind Spot, which spelled out news of the demonstration from the perspective of the protestors. The site incorporated news, photographs, audio and video footage – and received 1.5 million hits in its first week. Today there are more than 150 independent media centres in around 45 countries over six continents. Their mission statement says:

"The Independent Media Centre is a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media's distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity."

In the UK, Peace News (for non-violent revolution), edited by author and political activist Milan Rai and Emily Johns, comes as both a hard copy magazine and a lively website ( combining analysis, cultural reviews and news of the extraordinarily brave activities of peace movement activities internationally. As its website stresses, it is "written and produced by and for activists, campaigners and radical academics from all over the world". Not only does their content differ radically from the mainstream. In their collaborative, non-hierarchical structures and sourcing techniques alternative media operations challenge the conventions of mainstream organisational routines. Atton describes the alternative journalism of the British video magazine Undercurrents and Indymedia as "native reporting". "Both privilege a journalism politicised through subjective testimony, through the subjects being represented by themselves."

Fitwatch: Monitoring The Monitors

Members of Fit Watch, a protest group opposed to police forward intelligence teams (Fits), the units that monitor demonstrations and meetings, similarly combine political and media activism in their "sousveillance" – the latest buzzword for taking videos and photographs of police activities and then uploading them on to the web. They are part of a growing international media activist, protest movement. In Palestine, for instance, B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, gave video cameras to 160 citizens in the West Bank and Gaza and their shocking footage of abuses by Israeli settlers and troops was broadcast on the country's television as well as internationally.

Citizens and campaigners in the UK and US who upload images of police surveillance or brutality on to YouTube or citizens who report on opposition movements via blogs, Twitter and websites in authoritarian societies such as China, Burma, Iran and Egypt can similarly be considered participants in the alternative media sphere. Commenting on the role of citizen blogs during the 2003 Iraq invasion, Stuart Allan stressed:

"... these emergent forms of journalism have the capacity to bring to bear alternative perspectives, contexts and ideological diversity to war reporting, providing users with the means to connect with distant voices otherwise being marginalised, if not silenced altogether, from across the globe."

And for Atton, participatory, amateur media production contests the concentration of institutional and professional media power "and challenges the media monopoly on producing symbolic forms".

Peace movement and international human rights organisations also produce excellent campaigning sites which can be viewed as forms of activist journalism. For instance, is the site of the International Peace Bureau founded in 1891 and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1910. It currently has 282 member organisations in 70 countries. Or there is the Campaign for the Abolition of War ( Formed in 2001 following the Hague Appeal for Peace in 1999, its founder president was Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat FRS, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; while its founder chair was Bruce Kent. They work closely with the International Peace Bureau in Geneva for an end to arms sales, economic justice, a more equitable United Nations, political rights for persecuted minorities, a world peace force (instead of gunboat democracy), conflict prevention and education for peace in schools, colleges and the media.

Exposing Human Rights Abuses

The organisation, Reprieve (, campaigns on behalf of those often unlawfully detained by the US and UK in the "war on terror" and its director Clive Stafford Smith writes regular pieces for the "quality" press and the leftist New Statesman magazine, highlighting cases of abuse. For instance, on 10 August 2009, he wrote in the Guardian of three cases of government cover-ups. In the first, the government was refusing to hand over to the High Court details about the horrific torture of Binyam Mohamed (in Morocco and at the notorious US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba) on the grounds that it would endanger future intelligence co-operation with the Americans.

In the second case, after the government admitted that two men had been taken for torture ("rendered" in the jargon) via the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, they were still refusing Reprieve's requests for their names. And the final case involved cover-ups over Britain's complicity in the renditions of prisoners from Iraq to abuse in Afghanistan. In the US, the American Civil Liberties Union (see has consistently campaigned to expose the human rights abuses which have accompanied the "war on terror" and produced a important series of reports on the issue.

Finally, Tim Luckhurst is wrong to suggest that advocates of alternative media are fired by "postmodern, Marxist fantasies". Certainly my own writings on journalism and teaching for 25 years have not been based on any fantasies but rather grounded, in part, on a real desire to problematise the notion of professionalism. So, while clearly acknowledging the many achievements of progressive professional journalists I have always seen it as one of my crucial responsibilities as an educator to present students with an alternative to professionalism – drawing, indeed, for inspiration on a critical engagement with Marxism and postmodernism amongst a range of important concepts.

Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, is the joint editor of Peace Journalism, War and Conflict Resolution, shortly to be published by Peter Lang. David Edwards, of Media Lens, has a chapter titled "Normalising the unthinking: The media's role in mass killing". Richard Keeble's chapter, "Peace journalism as political practice: A new, radical look at the theory", expands on some of the ideas in this piece. John Pilger provides a Foreword.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Tim Luckhurst

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A new Media Lens book, 'NEWSPEAK in the 21st Century,' by David Edwards and David Cromwell has just been published by Pluto Press. John Pilger writes of the book:

"Not since Orwell and Chomsky has perceived reality been so skilfully revealed in the cause of truth."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Western Spin about Venezuela - WHO OWNS THE MONEY-SUPPLY???

So something is up in Venezuela about Supermarket Ownership.

But we in the west are not allowed to know, we are mind-manipulated.

But here is what seem to be the case:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
President Hugo Chavez says there is too much capitalism on Venezuelan television, so he is urging producers to start making "socialist soap operas".

Monday, January 11, 2010
CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez has threatened to seize businesses that raise prices as a result of last week's devaluation of Venezuela's currency.

Wednesday Jan 20, 2010
Chavez eliminated the rate of 2.15 bolivars to the US dollar on January 8. His government set a new two-tiered rate: 2.6 per dollar for priority goods, such as food and medicine, and 4.3 for imports of non-essential items.

Mr. Chávez said he would maintain currency controls and create two different exchange rates for the currency, the bolívar. He also said he would clamp down on black-market currency trading in a bid to slow capital flight; officials have already increased audits of travelers abroad to limit spending of hard currency outside the country.

Planning Minister Jorge Giordani said the devaluation was intended to make exports like coffee and cacao more competitive in foreign markets. Independent economists here said the government could also benefit by receiving more bolívars for oil exports, allowing Mr. Chávez to bolster social spending.

A soldier walks through the Exito hypermarket branch in Valencia, Venezuela, as officials of the government's consumer protection agency take over management of the store on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. Chavez ordered on Sunday the expropriation of the French-owned Exito accusing it of price speculation following the country's currency devaluation. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Hernandez

a dozen people protested the nationalization, but THEY got to be in the Western News.

State ownership of mega-supermarkets? HOW DARE THEY!

Employees of the Exito hypermarket shout slogans to protest Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez's decision to expropriate the store in front of an Exito hypermarket in Caracas, Monday, Jan 18, 2010. Chavez said on Sunday his government would seize control of the French-owned hypermarket chain accusing it of price speculation following the country's currency devaluation.AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Chavez SUPPORTERS are black unsightly unwashed people with fat tin-pot dictator pictures. Funny that all former fat tinpot dictators were property of the CIA.

Employees of Exito hypermarket chain and supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez hold pictures of him as consumer protection agency officials take over management of the chain in Caracas, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. Chavez ordered on Sunday the expropriation of the French-owned chain that operates close to a dozen stores in Venezuela, accusing it of price speculation following the country's currency devaluation. AP Photo/Leonardo Ramirez)

Hah! Corporate Whore AP NEWS shows a photo of soldiers to intimate that Chavez sent armed soldiers into supermarkets to check on prices: (I think the people of Venezuela may be happy about soldiers. The threat of US/CIA/NSA/NED sponsored coup d'etat and economic warfare has been present every day for decades.

Soldiers check prices at a supermarket, accused of raising prices, in Caracas, Monday, Jan. 11, 2009. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to seize businesses that raise prices as a result of last week's devaluation of Venezuela's currency. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Soldiers check prices at a supermarket, accused of raising prices, in Caracas, Monday, Jan. 11, 2009. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to seize businesses that raise prices as a result of last week's devaluation of Venezuela's currency. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Customer are leaving! Soldiers! Help!

A customer leaves as soldiers get into a supermarket, accused of raising prices, in Caracas, Monday, Jan. 11, 2009. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to seize businesses that raise prices as a result of last week's devaluation of Venezuela's currency. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

An officer of the Venezuela's consumer protection agency checks prices as soldiers look on at a supermarket, accused of raising prices, in Caracas, Monday, Jan. 11, 2009. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to seize businesses that raise prices as a result of last week's devaluation of Venezuela's currency. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Evil Soldiers seize a shop (oh my god! HELP! The free world of shopping is endangered!!) , accused of raising prices (Shops do not raise prices, totalitarian corporations do!) , in Caracas, Monday, Jan. 11, 2009. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to seize businesses that raise prices as a result of last week's devaluation of Venezuela's currency. (result? as an attack on Chavez currency AUTARKY)

A cashier counts bolivar notes at a supermarket in Caracas January 12, 2010. Around 70 stores have been closed by the Venezuelan government for 24 hours after they repriced their goods following the recent devaluation of the bolivar. Venezuelan authorities backed by soldiers closed dozens of retail outlets for price gouging after a currency devaluation that has triggered a frenzy of shopping but meets with market approval. President Hugo Chavez announced the devaluation on Friday, cutting the exchange rate of the bolivar against the dollar by half for oil income and for goods deemed nonessential. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)


Which countries have sovereign money? Money where THEY determine the value against the US dollar etc?? (Not to be confused with )



Friedrich Hayek advocated denationalization of money reasoning that private enterprises which issued distinct currencies would have an incentive to maintain their currency’s purchasing power and that customers could choose from among competing offerings.

The value of Bolivar Fuerte (like Yuan Renminbi) are NOT determined by Wall Street and International Private Owners (IPO), but by the sovereigns.


CARACAS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Venezuelans rushed to the shops on Saturday, fearful of price rises after a currency devaluation that will let President Hugo Chavez boost government spending ahead of an election but feeds opposition charges of economic mismanagement.

In a bid to jump-start the recession-hit economy of South America's top oil exporter, Chavez on Friday announced a dual system for the fixed rate bolivar.

It devalues the currency to 4.3 and 2.6 against the dollar, from a rate of 2.15 per dollar in place since 2005, giving the better rate for basic goods in an attempt to limit the impact of the measure on consumer prices.

The opposition seized on fears that prices for imported goods will double as shoppers formed lines of more than a hundred people outside some stores in the capital Caracas.

"It was a Black Friday, tinted red," said sales executive Diana Sevillana in reference to the crimson color of Chavez's socialist party. She stood in a line of 30 people outside an electrical goods store in a middle class neighborhood.

The socialist Chavez believes the state should have a weighty role in managing the economy. During his 11 years in office he has nationalized most heavy industry, and business and finance are tightly regulated.

Last month, BMO Capital Markets cut ratings on Colgate-Palmolive Co (CL.N), Avon Products Inc (AVP.N) and Kimberly-Clark Corp (KMB.N) to "market perform" saying a possible devaluation in Venezuela could hurt the U.S. consumer goods makers' profits.

The new two-tiered exchange system offers the 2.6/dollar rate for goods deemed essential including food, medicine and industrial machinery. Other products, including cars and telephones, will be imported at the higher 4.3 rate

Chavez said on Friday that the Central Bank had transferred $7 billion of foreign reserves to a development fund used to finance investment projects.

Countries with foreign exchange controls are also known as "Article 14 countries," after the provision in the International Monetary Fund agreement allowing exchange controls for transitional economies. Such controls used to be common in most countries, particularly poorer ones, until the 1990s when free trade and globalization started a trend towards economic liberalization. Today, countries which still impose exchange controls are the exception rather than the rule.

Foreign exchange controls are various forms of controls imposed by a government on the purchase/sale of foreign currencies by residents or on the purchase/sale of local currency by nonresidents.

Common foreign exchange controls include:

* Banning the use of foreign currency within the country
* Banning locals from possessing foreign currency
* Restricting currency exchange to government-approved exchangers
* Fixed exchange rates
* Restrictions on the amount of currency that may be imported or exported
Tobin tax!

75% of U.S. notes in circulation, or more than $600 billion, are held outside the U.S.