Bhutto’s son and husband to lead party By Jo Johnson

Dandelion Salad

By Jo Johnson in Islamabad
FT.com
Published: December 30 2007

Political turmoil in Pakistan deepened on Sunday as Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal, a 19-year-old student at Oxford, was surprisingly chosen to succeed the slain opposition leader as chairman of Pakistan’s largest party.

But the teenager will initially be only a figurehead, with his controversial father, Asif Ali Zardari, set to lead the Pakistan People’s party as co-chairman into elections expected to be delayed beyond the planned date next month.

continued…

h/t: ICH

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Extreme Makeover: New Year’s Resolution Edition by The Other Katherine Harris

“A Scheme Is Not a Vision” by The Other Katherine Harris
BBC Censors Benazir Bhutto in Frost Interview (video)

Benazir Bhutto named her assassins almost two months ago by Rev. Richard Skaff

They Don’t Blame al-Qa’ida. They Blame Musharraf By Robert Fisk

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Now we are human commodities By Chris Maser

Dandelion Salad

By Chris Maser
12/30/07 “ICH

The corporation, it turns out, is an invention of the British Crown through the creation of the East India Company by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, which, being the original, transnational corporation, set today’s precedence for big businesses. The East India Company, “found India rich and left it poor,” says author Nick Robin. The corporate structure of the East India Company was deemed necessary to allow the British to exploit their colonies in such a way that the owner of the enterprise was, for the first time, separated from responsibility for how the enterprise behaved.

This conscious separation of personal responsibility from the act of looting is not surprising because “looting” is, theoretically as least, considered immoral in Christian circles. The corporation is thus a “legal fiction,” that lets the investors who own the business avoid personal responsibility whenever the business dealings are unethical or even blatantly illegal, despite the fact that such unscrupulous behavior profits them enormously.

A corporation, after all, has but one purpose—to make money for the owners. Economist Milton Friedman gave voice to this pinhole vision when he answered his own rhetorical question: “So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not.” In fact, the “corporate system,” say analysts, “has no room for beneficence toward employees, communities, or the environment,” a notion endlessly demonstrated on a daily global scale.

Founders of the United States, such as Thomas Jefferson, recognized the dangers of corporate greed, which accounts for why the founding fathers believed corporate charters should be granted only to those entities willing to serve the greater public interest. Throughout most of the 19th century, therefore, states typically restricted a corporation they chartered to the ownership of one kind of business and strictly limited the amount of capital it could amass. In addition, states required stockholders to be local residents, detailed specific benefits that were due the community, and placed a 20- to 50-year limit on the life of a corporation’s charter. Legislatures would withdraw a corporation’s charter if it strayed from its stated mission or acted in an irresponsible manner.

Although the power of modern corporations dates back to this era, it has been greatly augmented by two major legal dodges aimed at giving them unencumbered authority to serve only the self-interest of a few people. This was accomplished first by the piecemeal removal of those restrictions imposed to protect the welfare of the public from the self-serving interests of the few.

The second change came in 1886, when the U.S. Supreme Court made the corporation all but invulnerable by decreeing, in a case brought by the Southern Pacific Railroad against Santa Clara County, California, that a corporation has the right of “personhood” under the 14th Amendment (originally intended to protect the rights of freed slaves) and, as such, enjoys the same constitutional protections that you or I do as individuals. This second change was reaffirmed in 1906, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, “The Corporation is a creature of the state. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public.” Within a century, the corporation had been transfigured into a “superhuman creature of the law,” that is legally superior to any American citizen because the corporation has civil rights without civil responsibilities.1

When People become Commodities

We, as a society, are losing sight of one another as human beings—witness the Wall-Street money chase in which numerous, large corporations discount human value as they increasingly convert people into faceless commodities that are bought and sold on a whim to improve the corporate standing in the competitive marketplace. After all, market share translates into political power, which translates into higher profit margins, both of which exacerbate the corporate disregard for people, the rampant destruction of Nature, and the squandering of natural resources.

There was a time when people were valued for what they were as individuals. Although American workers have long had an enforced workweek of 40 hours, there currently is an insidious infringement into personal life due to pagers and cell phones, which allow corporations to “own” employees 24 hours a day. Businesses seem to have no moral compunctions about calling employees whenever they choose—”for the good of the company.” For those who would choose to live by the corporate proverb, “for the good of the company,” the Families and Work Institute said that in 2001 employees are more likely to:

• lose sleep
• have physical and emotional health problems
• make mistakes on the job
• feel and express anger at employers
• resent co-workers who they perceive are not pulling their weight
• look for different jobs

In the workplace, these feelings translate into more injuries and thus more claims for workers’ compensation, increased absenteeism, higher health insurance and health-care costs, impaired job performance, and greater employee turnover—all of which are counterproductive and costly not only for employees but also for employers.2 At home, these feelings are often converted into a sense of not enough time to care for once-loved pets. About four million pets were brought each year to 1,000 shelters surveyed during 1994, 1995, and 1996, the vast majority of which were dogs. Of those, about 64 percent were killed. Only 24 percent were adopted; others were primarily lost pets that were ultimately reunited with their families. Most of the owners who gave up pets were under 30 years of age. When asked why they were giving up their pet, many said that the hours they were being required to work disallow time to adequately care for their animal.3

Moreover, if American workers want more time with and for their families, the corporate response is: “If you aren’t willing to do the job the way we want, we’ll find someone who will.” This attitude raises the question of what comes first today in our land of opportunity, where supposedly one is free to seek liberty and the pursuit of happiness—love or money? This question seems all the more relevant in light of the Enron debacle.

The collapse of Enron highlights how some corporations are using people simply as commodities to boost company earnings. While Enron’s employees were both forced to purchase and simultaneously prohibited from selling company stock in their Enron-heavy 401(k) retirement accounts, Enron executives cashed out more than $1 billion in stocks when it was near its peak in value. Regular employees, however, had to watch helplessly as their Enron stock plummeted in value and their life savings disappeared.4

Clearly, the punishing free-for-all of globalization and open markets has not invited love into its house and thus is as much about the fear of lost opportunity as it is about maximizing profit. And now, as fear enters into the monetary counting houses, one must realize that any rosy face painted on the economy is done so with far too many temporary and dead-end jobs in the service sector.

The growing use of long-term, temporary workers by American businesses has created a new kind of employment discrimination, but not across the board because some people actively choose such an arrangement. Employers typically hire contingent workers, such as independent contractors and temporary workers, to fill gaps in personnel, especially to meet high seasonal demands in business. Because, technically, they are not “company employees,” long-term, temporary employees or “permatemps” can work at a job for years without being entitled to paid vacations, health insurance, pensions, and other benefits (such as rights and protections under federal labor statutes) enjoyed by permanent employees who do the same work.5 Although not all corporations operate this way, the arrangement is, nevertheless, desirable from the employer’s point of view because it holds down the cost of labor, which means higher profits.

The result is millions of employed people in the United States who cannot afford the basic necessities of food, housing, clothing, and medical care. This problem is well depicted in the movie “Hidden in America,” which shows that below the image of shining prosperity is a hidden layer of poverty with its desperate but proud parents and hungry children.

There is also a kind of sweatshop alive and well in the United States—faster and faster with no time to slow down. A Gallup Poll in the summer or 1999 found that 44 percent of working Americans referred to themselves as “workaholics.” Yet, 77 percent said they enjoyed their time away from work more than they did their time while working. In fact, our American quest for material wealth—the money chase—leads to profound unhappiness, emotional isolation, and higher divorce rates because we are so busy striving for income there is no time for normal, human relationships.6

Our American ration of irony, however, is that the more connected we become electronically, the more detached and isolated we become emotionally because we are losing the human elements of life: the sight of a human face, the sound of a human voice, a smile, a handshake, a touch on the shoulder, a kind word. In essence, we’re losing the human dimension of scale in terms of time, space, touch, sound, and size; we are physically and emotionally losing one another and ourselves. Nothing makes this clearer than such things as home fax machines, laptop computers, cell phones, beepers, Palms, BlackBerrys, and iPods.

People are now “on-line” at home; in transit to work; at work; in transit to home via cars, planes, trains, and on foot. In other words, people are virtually tethered to work. Such workaholism is not only expected by employers, it’s often demanded if one wants to keep their job, which has added “24/7” to our lexicon.

This kind of workaholism is especially hard on women because they are increasingly expected to work outside the home, juggle childcare, school activities for their children, and also maintain the home as though they had to nothing else to do. In addition, the 24/7 phenomenon hit the American work scene shortly after woman became a major part of the workforce.

As things pile endlessly upon one another, the whole of life seems to melt down into a gigantic obligation that becomes increasingly difficult to meet because there simply is not enough time to get everything done, let alone done well. A standard greeting today is: “I’m so busy.”

This greeting is worn like the “red badge of courage” was in the past, as though our exhaustion is proof of our worth and our ability to withstand stress, which, in turn, is a mark of our maturity. In fact, we seem to measure our importance by how busy we are. The busier we are, the more important we feel to ourselves and, we imagine, to others, which is reminiscent of the underlying theme of the British television program “Keeping up Appearances.”

If we do not rest, however, we will lose our way because action without time for reflection is seldom wise. Rest nourishes our minds, bodies, and souls, which are poisoned by the hypnotic trance of perpetual motion as accomplishment and social “success.” Therefore, we never truly rest, especially many who are self-employed.

In the quarter century following World War II, giant corporations like Ma Bell, General Motors, General Electric, and Westinghouse were the place to be, representing, as they did, the pinnacle of what capitalism had to offer workers: extraordinary job security and a cornucopia of benefits. In fact, college graduates tripped over one another seeking life-time careers with these bedrock corporations because they could expect a comfortable house, a generously financed retirement package, lifelong health insurance, and, more often than not, a 9 to 5 job that allowed an organized man to form a healthy balance between work and family.

That was the era when job security formed the underpinnings of the corporate operating principle. In 1962, Earl S. Willis, manager of employee benefits at General Electric, wrote, “Maximizing employee security is a prime company goal.” Later, he wrote, “The employee who can plan his economic future with reasonable certainty is an employer’s most productive asset.” In recent times, however, General Electric’s John F. Welch, Jr., was known as “Neutron Jack” for shedding 100,000 jobs at the company.

Job security has vanished at numerous companies. Today, chief executives dump thousands of workers in the blink of an eye, hoping such moves will please securities analysts and thus investors, so their stocks will inch up 5 percent on the stock exchange. In addition, corporate managers slash away at employee benefits as though employees have suddenly ceased to be humans and have become commodities that can be forced into a more efficient mode of production with less cost to the corporation. They also phase out “defined benefit” retirement plans in favor of the far-less expensive 401(K) “do it yourself plans.”

Many employees of the post World War II era, until the latter part of the 1960s, were true believers in their companies. They were also exemplary employees who worked 12 and 14 hours days, six and even seven days a week, whatever it took to ensure their company’s success. They did this enthusiastically because their company’s success was the foundation of their job security, and hence their success as family providers.

Then things changed. The corporate mind-set closed and corporate attitudes hardened. Now, despite their dedication, despite all the birthdays, bedtimes, and school events they have missed as their children grew up, many have been chopped from their company’s payroll in a “merger,” “re-engineering,” “rightsizing,” “downsizing,” and “re-deployment.” Bitter at the callous way they have been treated, many workers regret having been so dedicated, only to be treated like commodities that are discarded at will.7

“In a personal sense, it hurts, but in a macro sense, it is the action we’ve got to take to remain competitive,” says Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Ultimately the adjustments that the economy is making is going to set us up for the next strong period of growth.” What Naroff seems to be saying between the lines is: While it hurts to be fired, it’s not personal; it’s business.

Others contend, however, that companies may well harm themselves by firing the people who purchase their products, potentially damaging the economy in ways that cannot be rectified with quick fixes, such as tax cuts or lowering the interest rate. In other words, layoffs (especially large, continuous ones) can only hurt the economy.

An economist, on the other hand, would counter with the notion that what really matters is how consumers view the situation. Some would even suggest that workers have become relatively used to being fired for the market convenience of their employer, as though that makes it “acceptable,” even “okay.” One could also rationalize that many of the job cuts will be less painful than they sound, in part because companies in a tight labor market have scores of unfilled jobs that are easy to eliminate. And then there is the argument that many other cuts would be spread over years, and some might not even occur.8

While this all sounds very “rational,” workers and consumers act on emotions, not what passes for economic “logic,” and announced layoffs can lead them to panic, because uncertainty and fear of the unknown are powerful allies when it comes to irrational thinking and the often-unwise actions it spawns. Thus, even if nothing in a person’s own job changes, the fact that their company has fired people to increase the economic bottom line can, and often does, drastically change an employee’s attitude about the wisdom of loyalty to the company and thus cripples the company’s real wealth—the allegiance and imagination of its employees.

No wonder it ‘s called “downsizing.” The end result is that a worker’s dignity levels out near zero! And what does the corporation lose when employees are fired—especially older, long-term employees? The corporation loses its collective memory and its history, both accrued through years of loyal service.

All of this revolves around consumption and consumerism. Consumption to the economist is the “end-all and be-all” of production. It means economic growth. Consumption is the heart and soul of capitalism itself. The rate of consumption by a populace is also the standard economic measure of human welfare.

Consumption as an end it itself arose with the conceptualization of “the economy” as a macro-social entity and “economics” as a macro-social science—rather than as household management, which is the true meaning of the word economy. To this end, Adam Smith wrote: “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production.”

Because consumption and consumerism dominate social discourse and political agendas of all parties, consumerism hogs the limelight at center stage as the prime objective of Western industrialized societies, which, in the collective, are known as “consumer societies.” Within these consumer societies, the purpose of consumption is: variety, distraction from daily stresses, pleasure, power, and the status that one hopes will bring with them a measure of happiness and social security. None of this comes to pass, however, because people themselves are increasingly seen as economic commodities. How can a commodity find security from another commodity? In this sense, the marketplace satisfies only temporarily our collective neuroses, while hiding the values that give true meaning to human life.9

Author James B. Twitchell puts it nicely: “Once we are fed and sheltered, our needs are and have always been cultural, not natural. Until there is some other system to codify and satisfy those needs and yearnings, commercialism [consumerism]—and the culture it carries with it—will continue not just to thrive but to triumph.”10

In the final analysis, it is doubtful many people really subscribe to the economist’s notion that human happiness and contentment derives solely from, or even primarily from, the consumption of goods and services. It’s therefore surprising that such a notion has come to hold nearly dictatorial power over public policy and the way industrialized societies are governed.

We are today so ensnared in the process of selling and buying things in the market place, that we cannot imagine human life being otherwise. Even our notion of well-being and of despair are wedded to the flow and ebb of the markets. Why is this so much a part of our lives? It is largely because people have yet to understand the notion of conscious simplicity, which is based on the realization that there are two ways to wealth: want less or work more. Put differently, true wealth lies in the scarcity of one’s wants—as opposed to the abundance of one’s possessions.

Endnotes

1. The discussion of corporate beginnings is based on: (1) Jim Hightower. 1998. Chomp! Utne Reader. March-April: 57-61, 104, (2) Nick Robins. 2001. Loot. Resurgence 210:12-16, and (3) David C. Korten. 2001. What to Do When Corporations Rule the World. Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures. Summer:48-51.

2. Diane Stafford. 2001. Workers feeling overwhelmed. Knight Ridder Newspapers. In: Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR. May 21.

3. Dru Sefton. 1998. Busy owners are abandoning pets. Knight-Ridder Tribune News Service. In: Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR. June 7.

4. The Associated Press. 2001. Enron retirees: Collapse wiped out life savings. Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR. December 19.

5. Tony Pugh. 1999. Sad Ballad of the Long-Term Temp. Knight Ridder Newspapers. In: Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR. December 7.

6. The Editors. 2000. No time to slow down. U.S. News & World Report. June 26:14.

7. The preceding four paragraphs are based on: Steven Greenhouse. 2001. After the Downsizing, a Downward Spiral. The New York Times. April 8.

8. The preceding three paragraphs are based on: Adam Geller. 2001. Economists fear cuts will affect consumer spending. The Associated Press. In: Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR. February 1.

9. The preceding three paragraphs are based on: Paul Ekins. 1998. From Consumption to Satisfaction. Resurgence 191:16-19.

10. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. 2001. Sales Pitches That Put the M (for Mega) in Madison Ave. The New York Times. January 3

This essay is condensed from Chris Maser’s 2004 book The Perpetual Consequences of Fear and Violence: Rethinking the Future. Maisonneuve Press, Washington, D.C. 373 pp.

Chris has written several books that are showcased on his website, chrismaser.com. Chris lives in Corvallis, Oregon. He is a consultant on environmental land-use development, sustainable communities and forestry.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tony Benn Talks Democracy & health care (video; Sicko clip)

Dandelion Salad

replaced video August 24, 2009

wuppss
October 06, 2008

Free health care In England and Canada and yes even Cuba.

Added: December 30, 2007

see

US agency OKs slashing of health benefits for over-65 retirees By Bill Van Auken

American College of Physicians Endorses Single-Payer Health-Care System by Dennis Kucinich

BBC Censors Benazir Bhutto in Frost Interview (video)

Dandelion Salad

setfree69

Incredibly the BBC removes all reference to the “Man who murdered Bin Laden” WHY?

Guilty of censoring the NEWS, THIS is how the Media controlls the masses, subtle changes and omissions.

email them: newsonline.complaints@bbc.co.uk.
Let them know what you think.
Make a difference. Make a change

Added: December 30, 2007

see

Frost over the World: Benazir Bhutto 02 Nov 07 (video; bin Laden)

Benazir Bhutto named her assassins almost two months ago by Rev. Richard Skaff

The Post-Bush Regime: A Prognosis by Richard K. Moore

Dandelion Salad

by Richard K. Moore
Global Research, December 27, 2007

In order to understand anything about American political affairs, it is necessary to have some understanding of who it is that really makes the decisions behind the scenes, and what their interests are. In this way we have some hope of identifying the hidden agendas being served by government actions and programs, and some hope of identifying the longer-term strategies that are in play.

It turns out—and informed people should already know this—that the U.S. is essentially owned and managed by a small clique of wealthy families—the ones who own and control the Federal Reserve. The Rockefellers are the obvious and well-known members of this clique, but there are others less well-known, not all American, and some whose identity remains to this day a carefully guarded secret. We don’t even know exactly who it is that’s running the show.

Such has been the nature of our ‘democracy’ since 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act was snuck through Congress during Christmas recess, by the same folks who funded Woodrow Wilson’s campaign and who became the private owners of the new all-powerful central bank. The first major initiative of these folks, the ancestors of our current ruling clique, was to finance both sides in Europe during World War I, and then to connive the entrance of the US into the war just in time to tilt the balance to the side favored by the clique—the same pattern that later characterized World War II.

From that point forward American policy-making has been firmly in the hands of the original Federal Reserve clique and its descendants. The mainstream media is also under the thumb of the same clique, so that public opinion is never allowed to interfere with fundamental clique objectives. The media can be used to support sitting Presidents, or to undermine them, depending on which best enhances those objectives. No President who has turned on these people has survived long in office, as we saw most recently in the case of JFK. The tentacles of the clique reach also into the top echelons of all the Intelligence services and the Pentagon, and into those influential globalist forums, such as the WTO, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderbergers.

Bush and the neocons have been mere tools-of-the-day for this clique. The neocons happened to be promoting a package that appealed to the clique, that promised to advance some of its objectives. In selecting the neocons to be the drivers behind a new administration, the clique was by no means adopting the neocon philosophy, nor were they buying into the whole PNAC package. They were simply employing a convenient tool that was aligned tactically with clique interests for the time being. Any such tool can be discarded whenever its behavior becomes counter-productive, or when a better tool comes along. There is always a Plan B in the wings for any tool that might go rogue or go sour.

Bush, who has probably never even read the PNAC agenda, was selected for entirely different reasons. Knowing that the agenda would be highly unpopular, the clique decided that defending it logically would be very difficult, even with complete control over the media. An articulate and intelligent President would look like a fool if he tried to defend the insane policies. So, our clique slyly figured, why not put someone up there who is obviously a fool, right through his whole little soul, so that the public will believe they are struggling against the foolishness of one man, and have no understanding of what’s really going on. Of course Bush, being clueless on all matters apart from golf, looting, cocaine, and womanizing, would need to be kept far away from any role in running the White House. Hence the need for Cheney, the shadow real president, who leaves all the photo ops to Bush, who stays out of the public eye himself, and who carries the Black Armageddon Box with him everywhere he goes, something only official Presidents have done in the past.

This was the project that went operational in the form of Bush’s initial Presidential campaign. The ducks were all lined up for launching a major imperialist venture, the preparations for 9/11 were well underway, and no power on Earth was going to stop the Bush Show. Of course Bush The Clueless was going to win, no matter how much vote fixing and media lying was required, or how many Supreme Court Justices were needed to accomplish the task. As a last resort they wouldn’t have hesitated to off Gore, one of their own boys, if it was the only way to open the path for their current man, a tactic they used earlier with Bobby Kennedy. Of course now that we have Diebold machines, all of this can be accomplished by a single computer command message, specifying which candidates are to get which percentage of votes in each precinct. Exit polls have been abandoned since they provide hard statistical evidence of the systematic fix.

The neocons have accomplished much for their elite puppeteers, and have been given in return free reign to loot at will, funneling all those billions for the Iraq War into their own corporate coffers and investment portfolios. They for their part have established the foundations of a fascist state in the US and Canada, secured Iraq’s oil reserves, built permanent forward mega-bases in Iraq, successfully destabilized Iraq and prepared it for balkanization, secured pipeline routes in Afghanistan, restored the profitable opium trade, and made progress toward achieving the first-strike capability that will be needed when the time comes to take on Russia and China. Quite a bundle of major achievements in a very short time indeed. But to our clique, the question always is, “What have you done for me lately, Sunshine?”

The neocon intention to bomb Iran was the point where the tool went sour, and threatened to go rogue. Anyone who thought seriously about what bombing would lead to knew that an attack would quickly spiral out of anyone’s control—given the advanced arms that Russia has supplied to hot-headed Iran, and given the fact that the powder keg would involve a trigger-happy, nuclear potent, clinically-deranged Israel. Russia and China would of course be on ultra-high scrambled alert, poised to intervene with due force if the spiral crossed certain unspecified lines in the sand. The neocons knew this and the clique knew this. Any attack on Iran, no matter how well planned, limited, and executed, would be playing Russian roulette with World War III.

The neocons were ready to take this step, to play this game, and they were in a very advanced stage in their preparations, of both the military and the psy-op variety. Quite obviously they were not deterred by the possibility of all-out global nuclear war. This has nothing to do with Bush’s pretended belief in Revelations and the ascension of the elect, but rather with the neocons’ evident belief that they were ‘ready for the big one’, copying a page directly out of Dr. Strangelove, with the neocons in the role of Jack D. Ripper. Unlike the demented SAC base commander, however, the neocons were forced to telegraph their moves, and the clique was not pleased with the scenario. They knew the first-strike capability was not nearly ready—and Russian roulette is not a game they ever play. They play only when they hold all the top cards and own a controlling interest in the casino.

So the time had come to pull the plug on the neocon tool. It was surprisingly easy to do. The first step, taken who knows how long ago, was to put the word discreetly to the Joint Chiefs that the Iran project is off, regardless of what orders might come from the White House or the Black Box. This news, of course, was to be kept in the room, as it surely was. Once the castle was thereby made secretly safe, it was a trivial matter to plant the seeds that would unravel the whole gone-sour, rogue-threatening, neocon bandwagon. A simple but devastating Intelligence announcement, a few whispers to key Bilderberger players that it was open season on the American contingent at the next meeting, and various other subtle and quite easy moves. It takes little, after all, to bring down a house of cards, particularly one propped up by a weak joker. The clique as usual remains invisible.

Certain elements in the White House know what’s happening by now, while others seem to still think the neocon agenda is the order of the day. It seems pretty obvious that Cheney was briefed in advance, and has some kind of golden parachute in his Xmas stocking. I haven’t heard a peep from him since we first learned of the clique reversal, when the Intelligence announcement became public knowledge. Bush is by now imagining Cheney as a reincarnated Judas, and practicing how he’ll say “Et tu, Brute?” if the opportunity arises. And yet Bush evidently still hasn’t caught on that his chip has been turned off, him and that fellow Gates, both of whom still act as if the tractor is still in gear. I guess they’ll go down like the fellow in the Monte Python film…“Go ahead, cut off my other arm. I’ll still beat you.”

What happens next will be ratcheting in gains and preparing a fresh new story line. That is to say, none of the very impressive (ie, horrific) achievements of the neocons will be undone, and yet the American people will be led to believe that the evils are in the past—the same standard tactic that we saw work so well when Nixon resigned. The media will be filled with fresh new story lines, along with bright intelligent confident reassuring empathetic Earth-loving new faces, plus other new fantasies—and the Bush experience will fade from public memory, along with last season’s football scores. Such an advantage it is for our rulers, that we Americans have such tiny memory spans and such limited powers of independent observation, compared to the rest of the world’s population. I guess the purpose of the melting pot was to melt away our basic intuitive judgment.

It’s not quite time for the surprise attack on the Wicked Witches of the East. Space-based warfare is still in Beta Test. Nor is it necessary to proceed at the moment with the full unleashing of the Gestapo, the SS Storm Troopers, concentration camps, forced labor, and the whole nine yards. The neocons have diligently built the foundations for all this, both in concrete and in legal precedent, but the project is for the moment on hold and the neocons off mission. When the time comes to resume project, that will be perceived as a new response to an unexpected emergent scenario, and no deferred continuity with the Bush era will be noticed.

I suggest that we can see the focus of the next US administration by paying attention to Al Gore. He’s going around preaching the gospel of climate change, and that is rapidly becoming the new cause celebre for the ‘international community’. It’s more than a campaign by Gore, we’re seeing a campaign being supported by the mass media, by the powers that be. We are clearly being prepared for a ‘new show’, after the ‘Bush show’, and the ‘new show’ is going to be about carbon taxes and credits, new energy sources, more efficient cars, biofuels, and all those other things that are allegedly related to climate change and peak oil.

In order to clear the way for the new show, it seems pretty clear that the new administration will begin with some easy political wins, by rapidly cleaning up some of the obvious messes left by the neocons. Closing down Guantanamo, and declaring that rendition flights have been abandoned, would gain a lot of points at no real cost (secret flights and prisons would undoubtedly continue). Iraq has already been destabilized and prepared for balkanization, and permanent US bases have already been built. Another easy win will be for US troops to withdraw to their bases and the oil fields, for the war to be declared over, and for Iraq to be split up into ethnic provinces, leaving them to squabble among themselves. It can all be portrayed in the media as a ‘victory for peace and democracy’.

What then, can we expect from this new show? What consequences are likely to follow from implementing the kind of policies that Al Gore and the media have been talking about, around climate change, energy independence, etc.? What is our ruling clique really trying to accomplish?

At a general level, it is clear that those kinds of policies do not involve fundamental changes in how our societies operate. We’ll still have cars, only they might be a bit more efficient, and we’ll be paying more for fuel and taxes to operate them. We’ll still be shipping products from China that we could produce locally, and we’ll still be depending on long-distance trucking. We’ll still be using agricultural methods that are highly petroleum-dependent, for tractors, fertilizers, and pesticides. Research and development of new energy sources will lead to lots of government subsidies, and it may get us a bit more energy, but not nearly enough to replace petroleum. As long as our transport and other infrastructures remain basically unchanged, we remain unsustainable, dependent on petroleum, and none of the Gore-like initiatives change the overall energy picture, carbon picture, or climate picture in any significant way.

In order to begin figuring out what the real agenda is, behind Gore-like policies, let’s look first at one example: biofuels. Producing biofuels does give us another energy source, but it also removes land from food production. As a consequence of the already-existing biofuels market, market prices for grain and other potential biofuels are now being driven by energy prices. Global food prices are therefore rising rapidly, while at the same time food-production acreage is being reduced. These two things will directly and drastically increase world hunger and starvation, particularly in the poorest regions. A Gore-inspired administration will be promoting an expansion of biofuel programs on a global scale, and it will be patting itself on the back for its noble oil-saving deeds.

All of this will be occurring in a context where we are facing a global food crisis generally. We haven’t seen many headlines on this topic, but the world is sitting on the brink of a major food crisis. Emergency stockpiles are at low ebb, production levels are down, crop failures are up, etc. It’s a very nasty picture even without biofuels.

In this context, the net consequence of a major biofuel agenda comes down to intentional genocide. In order to provide marginally more fuel to the over-consuming industrialized nations, untold millions will starve in the third world, in addition to those untold millions that are already starving. The marginal energy gain is so small by comparison, that we must accept that the biofuels agenda is primarily about genocide. However when we begin reading about new famines breaking out, perhaps in Brazil where biofuels are now going into massive production, the headlines will blame it on droughts, or crop failures, or some other excuse, as they always do. We will meanwhile feel a ‘green glow’ every time we fill up our Prius with biofuels, unaware of what damage we are doing. And perhaps we’ll donate to Oxfam, or adopt some third world child and send them letters.

A Gore agenda is simply genocidal imperialism hiding under a new mask, a new show. Instead of killing off the Indians by killing their buffalo, it kills off populations by removing their access to food in other ways. Once again, ‘they’ must be sacrificed so that ‘our’ way of life can continue and expand. We might note here that more Iraqis died under Bill Clinton’s sanctions that have been killed in the current Iraq war. In Bill Clinton’s time the pattern was invisible genocide, rather than the more violent Bush variety. Apparently in Hillary Clinton’s time we are to return to that earlier invisible pattern.

Clearly the consequences of a Gore agenda are genocidal, but one might question whether that is a primary intended outcome. I’ve been suggesting that it is, and I think more elaboration is in order on that point. I haven’t made the case very well yet. I’ve merely presented some of the evidence and suggested a pattern. In order to get a proper perspective on this issue, we need to step back a bit, and consider the bigger picture of the industrialized world vis a vis the third world, in the face of a broad range of mounting resource shortages—the strategic perspective of our ruling clique.

It seems very clear that the industrialized nations have no intention of changing the basic path they are on, or of abandoning capitalism. We can expect only more industrial growth, more energy consumption, continued use of energy-intensive agricultural methods, etc. The energy band-aids of a Gore agenda make no significant difference in this picture whatever, they simply affirm the intention to proceed with business as usual.

The only way the industrialized North can continue on this path is by taking over more and more of the third world’s land, water, and resources for its own use. As the industrial appetite for resources continues to grow at a rapid rate, and as our global resources are increasingly stressed, we are going to see a very rapid expansion of third world hunger and starvation — the globalization of African-scale famines. This is inevitable while the North stays on this basic path, whether we have Gore-like policies or some other set of policies is of little consequence.

This ‘inevitability’ of mass die-offs in the third world is well known to those who run the industrial nations. From the perspective of the heights of power, the question becomes, “How can we manage these die-offs so that they cause the least disruption in the global economy, and so that they don’t arouse too much public outcry?” Of course once you begin managing die-offs, you are then engaging in genocide, ie, arranging for particular populations to die in preference to others.

The pattern for the management strategy has been made very clear in Sub-Saharan Africa, where all those civil wars, genocidal atrocities, droughts, and famines have been occurring. Not many people realize that these disasters have been systematically imposed on Africa, by means of IMF requirements, covert destabilization programs, denial of medical care, the widespread distribution of automatic weapons, the manipulations of international banks, the dedication of agricultural land and water to Northern consumption, and the list goes on. Not only is Africa being starved to death by market forces, but the process is being accelerated by covert genocidal interventions.

In Africa we see a full-scale Holocaust, a massive genocide program in process, or should I say we see it not. For in the media it’s nothing like that. We read that ‘tribal conflicts have flared up’, but we don’t hear about the two CIA bombings that were each blamed on the ‘other side’, and which ignited the fracas, a fracas that could become a civil war. We read about a famine due to ‘drought’, and we aren’t told that there would be plenty of water if it weren’t for all the coffee-export plantations using up the local water. We don’t see genocide, we see Africans befallen with unfortunate miseries, all due to the vagaries of Mother Nature.

Thus the pattern of managing die-offs becomes clear. It has been tested satisfactorily in Africa, and we can expect the proven pattern to be employed in future. They pick a population that they consider ‘redundant’, they undertake a program of acquiring that population’s resources, and then to speed up the process of removal they engage in various covert acts of genocide. In this way the world’s population can be whittled down piecemeal, and manageably, as the North gradually requires the utilization of ALL the world’s resources for its own exclusive use. Unfortunately for the North, even that won’t be enough to enable industrial growth to continue. The South is being killed off only that the unsustainable North can continue on its path a wee bit longer.

Meanwhile, the media in the North paints a picture in which only nature causes famines, and the role of the North is always to provide aid, to the extent it can. Concerned viewers are given convenient numbers to call, so they can dispel their concern with a simple donation that will ‘save a child’, or ‘give a family a goat’. No genocide around here; we’re the good guys. See no evil, feel just fine. By the way, too bad about those famines over there.

The Gore-style policies are not just genocidal, they are formidably genocidal. When they start taking massive amounts of land out of food production, and bring about a substantial increase in global food prices, in the face of an already stressed world food situation, they could bring about in a very short time—one bad harvest season—famine on a scale we have never seen before. How serious the outcome will be depends entirely on how aggressively the new administration pursues the Gore-style agenda. They’ve got genocide down to a science, with tunable parameters.

Apparently, having field-tested Holocaust tactics in Sub-Saharan Africa, a decision has been made to go global with the program. For this purpose, the Gore-style policies have the potential to be the appropriate Weapon of Mass Destruction, the equivalent in the starvation game to nukes in the kill-by-fire game. This decision to go global was evidently made some time ago, no doubt just before Gore was asked to make An Inconvenient Truth. The film was the first signal of which way the winds were going to blow, the first preview of the ‘new show’.

The primary mission of the Hillary administration, under the banners of ‘doing something about climate change and peak oil’, will evidently be to undertake a massive resource grab in the global South, leading to the selective and massive elimination of certain populations through starvation. In other words, the mission is to expand the starving-Africa model globally, a process that will presumably be helped along by the usual shadowy suspects in their usual destabilizing roles.

My big fear with the Bush regime was the likely attack on Iran…or was it the unleashing of the Gestapo? It was a close race in those dark days. Now we are on the verge of a regime bent on genocide on a scale that would put the Nazis to shame. I suggest that we have escaped the kettle only to fall into the frying pan.

I hope no one out there has any romantic notions about the new Administration, and I hope everyone realizes that the political process can never be used to solve our problems; that system is in fact the heart of our problem. I also hope it is clear to everyone that global genocide is an inevitable consequence of the continuation of this insane capitalist system, whether you agree with most of my analysis or not. And in the end, capitalism can’t last anyway.

Only when you have reached that deep level of hopelessness, where you see no avenue of escape, can you clear your mind enough to begin to see where the real problem lies. The real problem lies, my friends, in the fact that you and I have nothing to say about how our societies are run. Any one of us has more sense than the people who are running things, and we certainly have our fellow beings more at heart. Our problem lies in our own powerlessness, leaving power in the hands of those who always abuse it, in one way or another, in one age after another.

Our challenge as a sentient species, and our response if we seek to do anything about the growth-thru-genocide agenda, is to begin to empower ourselves, us ordinary people, without reference to the useless political process. How to pursue our empowerment must be the aim of our investigations, and pursuing that empowerment must be the point of our activism.

© Copyright Richard K. Moore, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7693

Crossing Over by Guadamour

GUADAMOUR

by Guadamour
Dandelion Salad
featured writer

Guadamour’s blog post
Dec. 30, 2007

Crossing Over

The dogs and I
Walk the same
Trail every morning
After I feed the mules

The sun sang its
Explosive song
In the violet clouds
This  morning
When ice filled
The water trough

I find a pink
Baby jacket
A white
Enfant’s shoe
Footprints of people

Crossing over
From desperation
To despair

The international boundary
Cuts across
A continuous desert
Three hundred yards
South

I  collect green
And blue stones
For cattle skulls
To graze on
While the dogs
Chase rabbits
And bark
At nothing

see

Illegal Immigration, with Context by Joey Shelton

Fox News: Dennis Kucinich and immigrants (video)

Unfortunately Racism Is Alive And Well And Hiding Out On The US Mexican Border by Guadamour

Virtual Folly Along the Border by Guadamour

Immigration Matters by Guadamour

Immigration

Illegal Immigration, with Context by Joey Shelton

Used with permission by the author.

Dandelion Salad

by Joey Shelton
Joey’s blog post

The debate over illegal immigration is emotionally charged and the contentious points are highly nuanced. The economic issues are argued back and forth by those who want a more tolerant immigration policy and those demanding further restrictions or an stricter upholding of the laws already in place. There are numerous justifications cited by both camps; some are valid and others are not. We should go into some background before we get into the facts and figures of today’s immigration debate.

SOME BACKGROUND

The origins of the so-called immigration crisis have roots in basic earthly struggles for survival. The competition for scarce resources is a battle waged by all species, humans included. What’s more, when we take a closer look at civilizations we see that fear of outsiders has been a common theme in world history. The Nazis considered Gypsies and Jews as outsiders to be eliminated. The Chinese built the Great Wall to keep out Mongol invaders. At different times, many Native American tribes enjoyed relations and trade with white settlers and later suffered starvation, disease, and annihilation. So while the antipathy against immigrants is to some extent natural, history shows us it is often based on hatred and paranoia, some instances are entirely legitimate, and that these feelings can alternate over time. In the historical discussion surrounding illegal immigration to the United States, the most paranoid assessments are often heard most piercingly.

The United States, while a relatively young nation, has a long history of selective exclusion of immigrants. Immigration barriers were directed against Chinese, Irish, Mexican, Jewish, and even many Southern Europeans deemed unworthy. Criminality, drunkenness, disease, and immorality have all been used as ammunition vilifying immigrants of various nationalities. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1878 meant to deport those calling for an end to the Quasi-War with France. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 sought to prohibit the Chinese due to their supposed wanton drug use and criminality, though overt racism was perhaps more significant. The policies enacted during the first Red Scare were a response to immigrants and other dissidents who challenged the U.S. economic system and foreign policies. The Immigration Act of 1918 was intended to do away with the unruly anarchists and communists in our nation. The huge numbers of Irish flooding the United States following the potato famine were resented for lowering the wages of native workers. There has never been a shortage of reasons to resent outsiders in our “nation of immigrants.”

While overt racism is seldom acceptable in today’s debate about Mexican immigration, the standard vitriolic accusations are employed. Now (again) it’s the Mexicans who are filling our prisons, desecrating the flag, having “anchor babies”, spreading leprosy, driving down wages, and increasing the tax burden on the native population. History repeats itself. While the sensational allegations usually merit disregard, some more sober inquiries concerning actual costs of illegal immigration should be openly discussed.

COSTS

There are many qualifiers that need to be specified before continuing. When we discuss illegal immigration, it is important to note who we are talking about. As investigative journalist Juan Gonzalez pointed out, “75% of the undocumented immigrant population in this country comes from Latin America. And not only that, 65% comes from one country: Mexico. So the crux of the illegal immigration problem in the United States is the question of Mexico and the United States.” (Fact-Checking Dobbs, 2007) The current debate is largely about Mexico. It is also useful to point out that nearly half of all immigrants residing in the United States illegally were legal immigrants until their visas expired. (Modes of Entry for the Unauthorized Migrant Population, 2006)

We should also identify the various actors involved and some of the real and/or perceived costs to them. It seems obvious that the costs and benefits to business, to political leaders, to native workers, consumers, and to the immigrants themselves will vary. For example, white nationalist groups* in our society might argue that the threat posed by the “criminal aliens” and “invaders” is the very destruction of our society. According to the Southern Poverty Law Institute, the immigrant community as a whole feels the implications of this. Citing hate crime statistics gathered by the FBI, “anti-Latino hate crimes rose by almost 35% between 2003 and 2006.” (Mock, 2007) Indeed, many different groups are paying a price. For simplicity’s sake, I will elaborate on the actual dollar costs of illegal immigration to the native population.

WAGES

According to our economic system, as the supply of a commodity grows the price drops. In this immigration discussion, workers are the commodities. The laws of capitalism suggest that an increase in available workers will decrease the overall wages of competitive workers. In their widely cited 2006 research paper, The Evolution of the Mexican-born Workforce in the United States, Harvard economists George Borjas and Lawrence Katz argued that there is a correlation between numbers of workers and fluctuations in wages. Since the 1970’s, average wages have declined. Borjas and Katz contend that the wage decrease of high-school dropouts since 1980 is caused exclusively by the increase in immigration. They further conclude, “The wage fell by 8.2 percent for high school dropouts and by 3.9 percent for college graduates… Overall, the immigrant influx from 1980 to 2000 is estimated to have reduced the wage of the typical native worker by 3.4 percent.” (Borjas and Katz, 2006) This includes all Mexican immigrants; not just undocumented ones. Theirs is one of the most cited, objective, and contemporary scholarly research articles on the subject. Those on the left and right of the immigration debate utilize it. Indeed, anti-immigrant CNN anchor Lou Dobbs cites it, as does liberal economist Paul Krugman.

Numerous studies concur with the findings. The 1997 study by the National Research Council found basically the same. The growth of the immigrant community “reduced the wages of all competing native-born workers by about 1 or 2 percent.” (Smith and Edmontson, 1997). The economic consequences of this “surplus population” are as real today as they were when Karl Marx scrutinized the system in 1867 concluding, “the general movements of wages are exclusively regulated by the expansion and contraction of the industrial reserve army.” But while Marx attacked the system, we often blame the workers.

TAXES AND SOCIAL SERVICES

There is a concern that undocumented workers are a drain on native taxpayers who foot the bill for food stamps, emergency medical care, schools, etc. Polls show that this is an area of resentment for many citizens. Depending on how the question is worded, 87% are, “very or somewhat concerned about illegal immigrants overburdening government programs and services.” (Teixeira, 2006) The National Research Council cited earlier found that in California, “immigrant households received an average net fiscal transfer of $3463… which amounted to an average fiscal burden on native households of $1178.” While services and taxes vary from state to state, Economist Gordon Hanson asserted, “The continuing increase in the immigrant population suggests that these transfers are likely to grow over time, raising the potential for political opposition to immigration from native taxpayers.” (2005) Even those who recognize the tax contributions of undocumented workers admit that immigrant families have more children than natives and thereby demand more resources from local schools. Pro-immigrant, liberal economist Paul Krugman admits, “Unfortunately, low-skill immigrants don’t pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive.” (2006) It’s important to note that Krugman didn’t specify the legal status of the immigrants in his estimate. So if legal immigrants don’t pay their fair share in taxes, what does this suggest for the undocumented workers who might escape federal taxes?

MORE TO CONSIDER

The issue is far from settled, as there are many other variables to consider. Even the notion that immigrants are solely to blame for wage decline is disputed. For example, figures from high immigration states like California found a 17% decrease in wages presumably from immigration. Economist Eduardo Porter cautions readers to look closer, “Ohio remains mostly free of illegal immigrants. And what happened to the wages of Ohio’s high school dropouts from 1980 to 2004? They fell 31 percent.” (Porter, 2006) Restructuring of the economy away from manufacturing and toward the service sector probably had far more to do with the drop in wages according to many economists.

Borjas does not stray from his assertion about falling wages, but he does admit an economic reimbursement from immigrants, “These wage changes also appear to have benefited U.S. consumers by reducing the prices of nontraded goods and services that intensively employ less-skilled immigrants.” This leads to a $5 billion boon to all consumers in the United States. Borjas believes that immigrants do use $1.1 billion more in social services than they contribute in taxes, nevertheless, “Subtracting this… from the $5 billion annual increase in national income, the United States benefits from immigration…” (2006)

Many critics fail to recognize that immigrants, regardless of legal status, do pay taxes. Property and sales taxes are paid by anyone who pays rent or buys anything in the formal economy. This means that the equitable contribution even from undocumented workers to fund local schools is being paid. One of the other major perceived tax drains is the use of Medicaid and Food Stamps. It is important to note that only citizens and some legal residents can receive these benefits. Undocumented workers need not apply. Still, the argument can be made that undocumented parents of children born in this country indirectly benefit from these programs as they are able to redirect resources away from those needs.

But we should take a closer look at the federal tax contributions of undocumented workers. Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, admitted that most undocumented workers pay income taxes using fake or stolen social security numbers during the employment process, “Our assumption is that about three-quarters of other-than-legal immigrants pay payroll taxes.” This $7 billion per year surplus ends up in the “earnings suspense file.” This means that ¾ of undocumented workers are paying federal income taxes and will not receive refunds. (Porter, 2005) What’s more, since 1996, the IRS offered Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) allowing undocumented workers to pay their share of federal taxes. Roughly a million and a half undocumented workers filed this way in 2006. (Toness, 2007)

We should also look at the allocation of tax revenues. Compared to the total defense budget, social programs make up a small portion of the federal budget. This is an important distinction because as economist C. Fred Bergsten states, “At the federal level, immigrants make a positive net fiscal contribution. Adding taxpayers through immigration lowers the effective amount the federal government must charge native taxpayers to cover defense outlays.” (2005)

The effect on wages requires further analysis and perhaps a solution involving economic restructuring. It is clear that immigrants do pay taxes and assist native consumers by lowering prices. So it is worth asking, do natives subsidize immigrants or is it the other way round?

SOME CONTEXT

One of the questions rarely asked is, why are all these people coming to the United States? Many think the United States is innocently exceptional and subsequently burdened by the envy of the world. But we seldom take the time to really investigate the push factors that cause people to leave their communities, homes, and families behind. We need to look at that picture, and the part we may have played.

Mexicans have been encouraged to come and work in the United States on multiple occasions. This happened during both world wars as millions of working age men were drafted to go overseas and fight. History professor and coordinator of Latin American Studies at Salem State College, Aviva Chomsky, explains another historical factor,

The United States took Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 as part of the Spanish-American War and ruled it as a colony until 1952. Globally, this kind of long-standing relationship is an important one to look at in understanding migration. People from India and Pakistan go to England; people from Senegal and Algeria go to France; people from Morocco go to Spain; people from Mexico and Puerto Rico come to the United States. Colonization sets the stage for later migration. (2007)

Many believe that economic colonization is still going on to this day.

Critics saw the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a blatant continuation of neocolonialism. Historians Benjamin Keen and Keith Haynes observed, “By eliminating tariff restrictions and restrictions on investment, [NAFTA] ensured that Mexico would become a cheap-labor preserve for U.S. industry, with a loss of better paying jobs in the United States.” They go on to point out, “Mexican workers’ wages fell by 29 percent since 1994. As a result of NAFTA, poverty rates in Mexico in 1999 rose to 60 percent from an annual average of 34 percent between 1984 and 1994.” (2004) As the economic situation in Mexico deteriorated (as expected), the rate of immigration north skyrocketed (as expected).

President George W. Bush is a vocal supporter of immigration, but his proposed guest worker programs, many of which are already in place, have been staunchly condemned by the Southern Poverty Law Center as being “Close to Slavery.” As there 2007 report states, “guest workers are routinely cheated out of wages, held virtually captive by employers or labor brokers who seize their documents, forced to live in squalid conditions, and denied medical benefits for on-the-job injuries.” (2007) The implications suggest a repeat of the historic exploitation of labor in this country. While slavery and child labor have been eliminated, the struggle for workers’ rights goes on. Andrew Barlow, author of Between Fear and Hope; Globalization and Race in the United States, offers this scathing analysis, “the… status of ‘illegal aliens’ meant that Mexicans could be compelled to accept low wages and horrendous work conditions, and lacked the legal and political means to do anything about it.” (2003) Surprisingly, this is the basic analysis of the more moderate George Borjas, “Immigration policy is just another redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group (workers) to another (employers).” (2006) The reserve army of labor, lacking basic rights, helps to keep wages and prices low while profits remain.

SOME SOLUTIONS

The economic difficulties surrounding the so-called immigration crisis can be worked out. We should first challenge our ingrained understanding of the way our economy works. We should question the very assumption that there will always be some class of people, high-school dropouts or immigrants for example, who will do the unwanted work of society and receive very little pay for it. As Aviva Chomsky put it,

Do immigrants compete with low-skilled workers for low-paying jobs? Yes. But the reason that this competition exists is because too many people are deprived of rights… The answer to the low-wage problem is not to restrict the rights of people at the bottom even more (through deportations, criminalizations, etc.) but to challenge the accord between business and government that promotes the low-wage, high-profit model. (2007)

We should welcome all workers into our ranks allowing them an equal say in the society they live in. The AFL-CIO, long opposed to immigration, has finally come around noting, “Immigrants are not the cause of our nation’s problems.” Their 1993 resolution encouraged the development “of programs to address the special needs of immigrant members” and cooperation with “immigrant advocacy groups and service organizations.” (quoted in Chomsky, 2007)

Minimum wage laws should be enforced for everyone, including the traditionally barred domestic and seasonal farm workers, and should be accurately adjusted for inflation. Had the minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be around $9 per hour. U.S. companies doing business in Mexico should be forced to comply with whichever labor and environmental standards are strictest. People would argue that such restrictions would put a burden on business that would raise prices. The same argument was used to deter the abolition of slavery. If consumer prices and a “healthy economy” are the most important factors when determining labor standards, then perhaps slavery should be reinstated starting with our brown skinned neighbors to the south.

I feel like blushing even discussing the possibility of rising prices due to equitable minimum wage laws. CEO salaries have seen a 400% increase over the past 30 years while workers’ wages have dropped below or have barely kept up with inflation. Where is the discussion about the upward pressure on prices caused by Exxon Mobile CEO, Lee Raymond’s $405 million pension? We exert too much energy on discussing the threat of raising the wages of the lowest paid workers and too little considering the possibility of paying everyone a just wage. As Warren Buffet, the second richest man on the planet, admitted, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Adam Smith, “the father of capitalism,” offered advise to those reviewing the economic policies advanced by the elites of the world,

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

On that note, we should dismantle NAFTA and question our economic policies in general. Here is a great irony in the debate; millions of our tax dollars go to subsidize multi-million dollar agribusiness firms whose products are sent south which then undercut Mexican farmers in turn pushing them north of the border. These Mexicans accept low wages in U.S. companies due to their legal status and then we complain about the economic costs associated with all these immigrants. If we want fewer immigrants entering the country, legally or otherwise, we should first dismantle the economic institutions instigating that migration.

POSSIBILITIES

But there are other benefits that don’t fit into the usual model. Polling attitudes of newly arrived Latin American immigrants show a consistent dissent concerning U.S. military policy. Latin America has a special understanding of U.S. military incursions and has repeatedly opposed U.S. invasions of Middle Eastern countries. When we talk about costs to whom we should consider the Iraqi and Afghan lives lost over the past five years. A 2006 Johns Hopkins study found that nearly one million Iraqis had died since the U.S invasion in 2003. What were these lives worth? To who? They seemed to be worth little to American pundits, nevertheless, these fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters were considered priceless by someone. Had recent Latin American immigrants been given a stronger voice in those foreign policy decisions, that awful toll might not have been paid.

The success of the immigrant rights movement could be another step in bringing about a more just world. The Abolitionist Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, and the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement were all efforts by disaffected minorities and their supporters to raise the bar of justice. These efforts changed the norms of acceptable behavior in significant ways. As the saying goes, “Liberty isn’t given, it’s taken.” As Sociologist Charles Gallagher rightly contends in Hispanics in a Multicultural Society: A New Dilemma?,

The challenge is for Hispanics to muster a unified response, drawing on all their resources and capabilities, and become an integral part of the movement to uncover complex forces intensifying inequality, poverty, political passivity, exploitation, and social isolation, not only within their own ranks but in the United States as a whole. This means reaching out and grasping every opportunity to share in the scholarly debate, policy assessment, and organized movement to restore priority to human rights objectives, despite the limitations under which all such initiatives now operate.” (2004).

There are indications that this is indeed happening. The largest mass protest in U.S. history took place on April 10, 2006 over the xenophobic immigration bill being discussed in congress at the time. If that demonstration is any indication of the immigrant community’s potential then perhaps a more inclusive nation is on the horizon.

*Membership in white nationalist groups has increased 600% over the past two years. (Mapping the New Nativism, 2007)

WORKS CITED
Barlow, Andrew L., Between Fear and Hope, Globalization and Race in the United States. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., Oxford, 2003.

Bergsten, C. Fred. The United States and the World Economy: Foreign Economic Policy for the Next Decade. Peterson Institute, New York, 2005.

Borjas, George. For a Few Dollars Less. Wall Street Journal. April 18, 2006.

Borjas, George and Lawrence Katz. The Evolution of the Mexican-born Workforce in the United States. Harvard University, March, 2006. http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/katz/files/mex_immig_nber_wp.pdf

Chomsky, Aviva. “They Take Our Jobs!” and 20 other myths about immigration. Beacon Press, Boston, 2007.

Close to Slavery, Guestworker Programs in the United States. Southern Poverty Law Center. 2007. http://www.splcenter.org/legal/guestreport/index.jsp

Democracy Now!, Fact-Checking Dobbs: CNN Anchor Lou Dobbs Challenged on Immigration Issues. December 4, 2007, http://www.democracynow.org/2007/12/4/fact_checking_dobbs_cnn_anchor_lou

Gallagher, Charles A. Hispanics in a Multicultural Society: A New Dilemma? Rethinking the Color Line, Readings in Race and Ethnicity, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2004.

Haerens, Margaret. Opposing Viewpoints, Illegal Immigration. Greenhaven Press, Detroit, 2006.

Hanson, Gordon H. Why Does Immigration Divide America? Public Finance and Political Opposition to Open Borders, Institute for International Economics, Massechusetts, 2005.

Krugman, Paul. North of the Border. New York Times, March 27, 2006.

Mapping the New Nativism, Center for New Community, January 11, 2007, http://www.buildingdemocracy.org/index.php?option=com_jmr_fmas&id=1&Itemid=91

Mock, Brentin. Immigration Backlash: Violence Engulfs Latinos, Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Project. 2007. http://www.splcenter.org/intel/news/item.jsp?site_area=1&aid=292

Modes of Entry for Unauthorized Migrant Population, Pew Hispanic Center. May 22, 2006. http://pewhispanic.org/files/factsheets/19.pdf

Porter, Eduardo. Cost of Illegal Immigration May Be Less Than Meets the Eye. New York Times. April 16, 2006.

Porter, Eduardo. Illigal Immigrants are Bolstering Social Security With Billions, New York Times, April 5, 2005.

Smith, James P., and Barry Edmontson, The New Americans-Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. National Research Council, 1997. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309063566

Teixeira, Ruy. What the Public Really Wants on Immigration. Center for American Progress, June 27, 2006. http://www.tcf.org/Publications/MediaPolitics/teixeira6-28-06.pdf

Toness, Bianca Vazquez. U.S. Tax Program for Illegal Immigrants Under Fire. All Things Considered, National Public Radio. March 5, 2007.

see

Fox News: Dennis Kucinich and immigrants (video)

Indymedia US NewsReal December 2007 (video)

Bones to Pick on Ron Paul by Guinea: The 1930’s Smut Peddler

Fact-Checking Dobbs: CNN Anchor Lou Dobbs Challenged on Immigration Issues (link)

Immigration

Dennis Kucinich: A peace-seeking idealist to the core By Amanda Paulson

Dandelion Salad

By Amanda Paulson
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the December 31, 2007 edition

The congressman from Ohio makes his second run for the White House, wanting healthcare for all Americans and peace for the world.

Washington – To understand the importance Dennis Kucinich places on spirituality, scan his generally spare Capitol Hill office: a white cloth from the Dalai Lama, a bust of Gandhi, and a picture representing “conscious light” – a gift from Brahma Kumaris nuns.

There’s a Tibetan dragon washbowl and, on his desk, two heavy crucifixes once worn by Catholic nuns who taught him and who, he says, “saved my life.”

“Obviously, I connect with all religions,” says Representative Kucinich (D) of Ohio, in the midst of his second presidential campaign. “All manners of belief and even non-belief come from a common font, and that is the transcendent power of the human heart…. All those things that would separate us are based on misunderstandings of our nature.”

They’re somewhat unusual religious views for someone who still considers himself essentially Roman Catholic. But then, little about Kucinich is orthodox.

While his colleagues in Congress recently voted for more military funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he is pushing for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and advocates cutting money from the defense budget. In the middle of the war on terror, he wants to establish a Department of Peace. He’s the only Democratic presidential candidate who wants a Medicare system for all Americans, supports gay marriage, and advocates repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdrawing from the World Trade Organization.

continued…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Dennis Kucinich on Iraq; trade; economy; nuclear power (videos)

Elizabeth Kucinich tells us about Dennis + Solar Energy (videos)

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo

Defining Israeli Zionist Racism: Part 2 by Kim Petersen & B.J. Sabri

Dandelion Salad

by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri
Dissident Voice
December 30th, 2007

Section 1: Analysis of Israeli Zionist Racism [Continuation]

C: An Analysis by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

Nafeez Ahmed is a political analyst and human rights activist based in London; he is also director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and a Researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission inn the same city. In his article: “Is Zionism racist?,” Ahmed offers not only a solid analysis of Zionist racism, but also details the connubial bond between this racism and western imperialist aims and strategies in the Middle East and the Arab world.1

Continue reading

Seriously Pissed Off Grannies Doves & Blood (video; Dylan song)

Excellent choice of background music.  ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

zebra334

Dec. 30, 2007

The Seriously Pissed Off Grannies leave paper (bloody) hand-prints and window (washable) “Peace On Earth” Message on Recruiting Center.
3900 soldiers have died, today the recruiting doors, that send fresh bodies, to occupied lands Bush has invaded, was locked at 10:30 am. The Grannies and Grandpa and supporters there today wanted “Peace on Earth.”

Dennis Kucinich on Iraq; trade; economy; nuclear power (videos)

Dandelion Salad

SentinelSourceDotCom

December 29, 2007

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) answers question on Iraq from Keene Sentinel Opinion Page Editor Guy R. MacMillin in an editorial board interview December 28, 2007. The full 58 minute interview available by noon on Monday, 12/31/07 at http://www.SentinelSource.com and http://www.NHElects.com as recorded by http://www.EventVideoTeam.com

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on trade

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) answers questions about trade from Keene Sentinel Editor Jim Rousmaniere in an editorial board interview December 28, 2007.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on subprime mortgages and economy

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) answers questions about subprime mortgages and the economy from Keene Sentinel reporter Sarah Palermo in an editorial board interview December 28, 2007.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on nuclear power

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) answers questions about nuclear power from Keene Sentinel Opinion Page Editor Guy R. MacMillin in an editorial board interview December 28, 2007.

h/t: Kucinich2008 (ORIGINAL UNOFFICIAL MySpace Profile)

see

Kucinich-Dennis

Benazir Bhutto named her assassins almost two months ago by Rev. Richard Skaff

Dandelion Salad

by Rev. Richard Skaff
Global Research, December 29, 2007

Pinning down the financiers of these extremists groups with their known connection to Pakistani intelligence

Benazir Bhutto the former Pakistani prime minister named her assassins almost two months ago during her interview on November 02, 2007 with the world famous interviewer and British establishment pundit David Frost on his show “Frost over the world” (interview available on youtube titled “Frost over the World: Benazir Bhutto 02 Nov 07).

The late Bhutto discussed with Frost the initial failed assassination attempt on her life that killed 158 Pakistanis two weeks after her return to Pakistan.

The return of the late Ms. Bhutto to Pakistan was encouraged by the Anglo-American establishment under the guise of re-establishing democracy to this artificial country that was originally created by the colonial powers as a toxic thorn in the heart of India, and as a prospective tool for the destabilization of the region.

In her interview with Frost, the late Ms. Bhutto also discussed her knowledge of three people in the Pakistani government who are in collusion with the Islamists, and who might have been behind this failed assassination attempt. She also specifically stated that she wanted the Musharraf government to trace the finances of the terrorists instead of just naming them.

She also added that one of these three men whom she suspected of orchestrating the assassination was a former military officer man who is also well connected to the Pakistani security agency, and who had dealings with another man named “Omar Sheikh” “who murdered Osama Bin Laden.” Ms. Bhutto did not make any attempt to correct herself about the murder of OBL, and the shrewd David Frost did not inquire either about this extraordinary statement, considering that the Anglo-American establishment’s war on terror has been totally choreographed around OBL. The late Ms.Bhutto also emphasized again in her interview the importance of pinning down the financiers of these extremists groups with their known connection to the ISI the Pakistani intelligence services. It is well known that the ISI was originally created and subsidized by western intelligence agencies to do their dirty work in the central Asian region. It has been the main mover and shaker of drug trafficking as well as the financing and training of Islamic militants since the Soviet-Afghani war in the late 70s and 80s. The ISI was also reportedly connected to 9/11.

Ms. Bhutto’s return to Pakistan was no accident, but a well orchestrated move by the global establishment to create further conflict in the region, knowing well that Pakistan is a nuclear power in which this same establishment had furnished these weapons to help Pakistan defends itself against its nemesis India , the largely populated other nuclear power. A conflict between these two countries will definitely help the population reduction process that the elite has always enthusiastically encouraged. It is also ironic that the Pakistan dictator (Musharraf) was given a contract by an American power house publisher “Simon and Shuster” to publish his book “In the Line of Fire” as a pay off for his services to the global establishment, or as an eventual retirement gift, once the turmoil totally engulfs Pakistan . Every Moslem country that has been infected with the fundamentalist virus will eventually self-destruct and re-mapped by the global establishment to fit the map of the new world order.

The nagging questions that many people have are the following: If Bin Laden was murdered, how come the corporate media has never picked up on it? How much collusion exists between the corporate media and the global establishment to perpetuate conflict and wars? Is the disinformation campaign is actually a war against the minds of the masses? Why is it, that the boogey man (OBL) must remain alive? Why is it that the war on terror myth (as called by the critically acclaimed BBC documentary “the power of nightmares,” also available on youtube) must proceed? Is martial law going to be implemented following a catastrophic event? Is every human being going to be micro-chipped and controlled?

Has the corporate media simply become a tool of the global government?

Has all programming become a strategy to perpetuate myth, ideology, and propaganda?

When will the public be told the truth?

Do people actually care about what happens internationally? Does the majority of the public even know what Pakistan is, or where it is located on a map?

Is the public’s apathy and ignorance for international affairs are the key ingredients that fuel the lies, the manipulation, and the globalization process?

Rev. Richard Skaff is author of the recently released book “The Human Manifesto”

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Richard Skaff, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7701

see

They Don’t Blame al-Qa’ida. They Blame Musharraf By Robert Fisk

Frost over the World: Benazir Bhutto 02 Nov 07 (video; bin Laden)

The Benazir Bhutto assassination by Trevor Murphy

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto heaps despair upon Pakistan: A tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy by Tariq Ali

Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan by Larry Chin

Bhutto Aide: The coverup begins + PROOF there was a shooter (videos)

Extreme Makeover: New Year’s Resolution Edition by The Other Katherine Harris

“A Scheme Is Not a Vision” by The Other Katherine Harris

They Don’t Blame al-Qa’ida. They Blame Musharraf By Robert Fisk

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Fisk
ICH
12/29/07 “The Independent

Weird, isn’t it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi – attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives – and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were “extremists” and “terrorists”. Well, you can’t dispute that.

But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa’ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.

Of course, given the childish coverage of this appalling tragedy – and however corrupt Ms Bhutto may have been, let us be under no illusions that this brave lady is indeed a true martyr – it’s not surprising that the “good-versus-evil” donkey can be trotted out to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi.

Who would have imagined, watching the BBC or CNN on Thursday, that her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, hijacked a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and flew it to Kabul where Murtaza demanded the release of political prisoners in Pakistan. Here, a military officer on the plane was murdered. There were Americans aboard the flight – which is probably why the prisoners were indeed released.

Only a few days ago – in one of the most remarkable (but typically unrecognised) scoops of the year – Tariq Ali published a brilliant dissection of Pakistan (and Bhutto) corruption in the London Review of Books, focusing on Benazir and headlined: “Daughter of the West”. In fact, the article was on my desk to photocopy as its subject was being murdered in Rawalpindi.

Towards the end of this report, Tariq Ali dwelt at length on the subsequent murder of Murtaza Bhutto by police close to his home at a time when Benazir was prime minister – and at a time when Benazir was enraged at Murtaza for demanding a return to PPP values and for condemning Benazir’s appointment of her own husband as minister for industry, a highly lucrative post.

In a passage which may yet be applied to the aftermath of Benazir’s murder, the report continues: “The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but, as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police log-books, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated – a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister’s brother had been taken at a very high level.”

When Murtaza’s 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested – rather than her father’s killers – she says Benazir told her: “Look, you’re very young. You don’t understand things.” Or so Tariq Ali’s exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan’s ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.

This vast institution – corrupt, venal and brutal – works for Musharraf.

But it also worked – and still works – for the Taliban. It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody. But it is the key which Musharraf can use to open talks with America’s enemies when he feels threatened or wants to put pressure on Afghanistan or wants to appease the ” extremists” and “terrorists” who so oppress George Bush. And let us remember, by the way, that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by his Islamist captors in Karachi, actually made his fatal appointment with his future murderers from an ISI commander’s office. Ahmed Rashid’s book Taliban provides riveting proof of the ISI’s web of corruption and violence. Read it, and all of the above makes more sense.

But back to the official narrative. George Bush announced on Thursday he was “looking forward” to talking to his old friend Musharraf. Of course, they would talk about Benazir. They certainly would not talk about the fact that Musharraf continues to protect his old acquaintance – a certain Mr Khan – who supplied all Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran. No, let’s not bring that bit of the “axis of evil” into this.

So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those “extremists” and “terrorists”, not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir’s assassination.

It doesn’t, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let’s run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman’s notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir’s supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a “murderer” were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto heaps despair upon Pakistan: A tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy by Tariq Ali

Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan by Larry Chin

Bhutto Aide: The coverup begins + PROOF there was a shooter (videos)

Extreme Makeover: New Year’s Resolution Edition by The Other Katherine Harris

“A Scheme Is Not a Vision” by The Other Katherine Harris

Tasers, Pepper Spray, and Arrests By Bill Quigley

Dandelion Salad

By Bill Quigley
12/29/07 “ICH

The Struggle for Affordable Housing in New Orleans

In a remarkable symbol of the injustices of post-Katrina reconstruction, hundreds of people were locked out of a public New Orleans City Council meeting addressing demolition of 4,500 public housing apartments. Some were tasered, many pepper sprayed, and a dozen arrested. Outside the chambers, iron gates were chained and padlocked even before the scheduled start.

The scene looked like one of those countries on TV that is undergoing a people’s revolution — and the similarities were only beginning.

Dozens of uniformed police secured the gates and other entrances. Only developers and those with special permission from council members were allowed in — the rest were kept locked outside the gates. Despite dozens of open seats in the council chambers, pleas to be allowed in were ignored.

Chants of “Housing is a human right!” and “Let us in!” thundered through the concrete breezeway.

Public housing residents came and spoke out despite an intense campaign of intimidation. Residents were warned by phone that if they publicly opposed the demolitions, they would lose all housing assistance. Residents opposed to the demolition had simple demands. If the authorities insisted on spending hundreds of millions to tear down hundreds of structurally sound buildings containing 4,500 public housing subsidized apartments, there should be a guarantee that every resident could return to a similarly subsidized apartment. Alternatively, the government should use the hundreds of millions to repair the apartments so people could come home. Neither alternative was acceptable to HUD. A plan of residents to partner with the AFL-CIO Housing Trust to save their homes was also ignored.

Outside, SWAT team members and police in riot gear and on horses began to arrive as rain started falling. Those locked out included public housing residents, a professor from Southern University, graduate students, the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, ministers, lawyers, law students, homeless people who lived in tents across the street from City Hall, affordable housing allies from across the country, and dozens of others.

Inside the chambers, Revered Torin Sanders and others insisted that the locked out be allowed to come and stand inside along the walls — a common practice for over 30 years. No one could recall any City Council locking people out of a public meeting. The request to allow people to stand was denied. The Council then demanded silence from those inside. Those who continued to demand that the others be let in were pointed out by police, physically taken down, and arrested. Ironically, some young men were tasered right in front of the speaker’s podium.

This was a meeting the council had repeatedly tried to avoid. It was only held after residents (100% African American and nearly all mothers and grandmothers) got an emergency court order stopping demolitions until the council acted. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced long ago it was going to demolish 4,500 public housing apartments despite the Katrina crisis of affordable housing, no matter what anyone said. HUD had no plans to ask the council or anyone else for approval. The judge said otherwise, so the meeting was scheduled.

Leaders of the U.S. Congress, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, asked that the decision be delayed 60 days so they could try to move forward on Senate Bill 1668, which would resolve many of the demolition problems. This request was backed by New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and Presidential candidates John Edwards and Barack Obama.

Opponents cited the affordable housing crisis in New Orleans. Homeless people camped across from City Hall and for blocks under the interstate. The number of homeless people have doubled since Katrina. Thousands of residents in FEMA trailers across the Gulf Coast were being evicted.

More on the reasons to oppose demolition can be found here.

Solidarity demonstrations opposing demolition were held in Washington DC, New York, Oakland, Minneapolis, Houston, North Carolina, Maine, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New Jersey, and Boston. Thousands of people across the country contacted city council members. Dozens of community, housing, and human rights groups petitioned the Council not to demolish until there was an enforceable requirement of one-for-one replacement of housing.

But hours before the meeting began, a majority of the council publicly announced on the front page of the local paper that they were going to approve demolition, no matter what people said at the meeting. The paper, the developers, and others were delighted. Residents and affordable housing allies were not.

Inside, the council started the meeting surrounded by armed police, National Guard, and undercover authorities from many law enforcement agencies.

Outside, the locked out could see the people who had been arrested on the inside being dragged away to police wagons. A few of the protesters then pulled open one of the gates. The police started shooting arcs of pepper spray into the crowd. A woman’s scream pierced the chaos as police fired tasers into the crowd. Medics wiped pepper spray from fallen people’s eyes. A young woman who was tasered in the back went into a seizure and was taken to the hospital.

Inside and out, a dozen people were arrested — most for disturbing the peace. They joined another dozen who had been arrested over the past week in protest actions against the demolitions.

The City Council meeting continued. Supporters of demolition were given careful, courteous attention and softball questions by council members. Opponents less so.

Despite pleas from displaced residents, dozens of community organizations, and federal elected officials, the New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to allow demolition to proceed. In their approval, the Council did promise to urge HUD to listen to residents and to work for one-for-one replacement of affordable housing. Several city council members read from typed statements about their reasons to support demolition: the deplorable state of public housing; the lack of available money for repair; the oral promises of all, the federal government and developers, to do something better for the community.

After the meeting, residents vowed to continue their struggle for affordable housing for everyone and to resist demolitions — putting their bodies before bulldozers if necessary.

The struggle for affordable housing continues as does the campaign to stop demolition until there is a real right to return and one-for-one replacement of housing. Residents and local advocates applaud and appreciate the support of allies from across the nation. Critics label national supporters as “outside agitators” — exactly the same charge leveled at civil rights activists historically. But people understand that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Public housing residents and local affordable housing advocates welcome the humble participation of social justice advocates of whatever age, of whatever race, from whatever place, who join and act in true solidarity.

Residents vow to make sure that the promises made by the Council and the Mayor are enforced. For example, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced that he would not allow HUD to demolish two of the four housing developments until HUD gave documentation of funded plans including one-for-one replacement of the housing demolished and details of the developments and their plans.

The Senate will continue to be lobbied to pass SB 1668 — which would really guarantee one-for-one replacement of housing. It is currently stalled in the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee because of opposition by Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter.

Litigation is still pending in state and federal courts to enforce Louisiana and U.S. laws that should protect residents from illegal demolitions. Investigations into the legality of locking people out of a public meeting, the legality of a law passed at such a meeting, the indiscriminate use of tasers and pepper spray, are all ongoing.

Padlocked and chained gates will only amplify the voices of the locked out calling for justice. Pepper spray and tasers illustrate the problems but will not deter people from protesting for just causes. Bulldozers may start up, but just people will resist and create a reality where housing is a real human right.

Stephanie Mingo, a working grandmother who is one of the leaders of the residents, promised to continue the resistance after the meeting: “We did not come this far to turn back now. This fight is far from over. We are not resting until everyone has the right to return home.”

Those wanting additional information should look to: justiceforneworleans.org or defendneworleanspublichousing.org

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

New Orleans City Council Bars Public From Housing Vote (video)

The Shock Doctrine in Action in New Orleans by Naomi Klein

New Orleans City Hall Protest – Dec 20, 2007 (videos)

Police Use Stun Guns on Citizens Opposed to Demolition of Houses in New Orleans By Cain Burdeau

The growth of local power is a bright spot in seven bleak years of Bush by Rebecca Solnit

Dandelion Salad

Rebecca Solnit in San Francisco
The Guardian
Friday December 28, 2007

American cities, counties and states have offered a crucial counterweight to the White House on the issues that really matter

The centre cannot hold, and that’s the good news in the United States these days. Quietly, doggedly, cities, regions, counties and states have refused to march to the Bush administration’s drum when it comes to climate change, the environment and the war. Some of the recent changes are so sweeping that they will probably drag the nation along with them – notably efforts by Vermont, Massachusetts and California to set higher vehicle emissions standards and generally treat climate change as an environmental problem that can be addressed by regulation. The Bush administration has notoriously dragged its feet on doing anything about climate change, and it will now be dragged along by the states, themselves prodded forward by citizens.

It wasn’t supposed to work that way. States’ rights was a rallying cry for conservatives for much of the 20th century, first in allowing segregation and racial discrimination across the south and then in allowing environmental destruction around the west. Rightwingers have usually believed in a weak federal government – except when they run it; and that weakness, or rather the strength of the local, has been one of the bright spots during the seven bleak years of life under Bush.

The changes operate on all scales. Across the country, quite a lot of cities and towns have passed measures condemning the Iraq war or calling for the troops to be brought home. A handful of California counties have banned GM agriculture, and others have tried but been defeated by industry money – but may try again. North Dakota farmers created so powerful a pact against the use of Monsanto’s GM wheat that the corporation eventually gave up on commercialising the invention worldwide.

continued…

h/t: Bon

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.