Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012-04-30 "Five Tax Fallacies Invented by the 1%" by Paul Buchheit
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.
We hear these claims often, even though they're entirely false. An analysis of the facts should make that clear.

1. The Rich Pay Almost All the Taxes -
 That's simply not true. The percentage of total taxes paid by the very rich (the top 1%) is approximately the same as the percentage paid by middle class Americans (the 4th quintile, average income $68,700). Here are the details:
Internal Revenue Service figures show that the very rich paid 23% of their incomes in federal income taxes in 2006. The middle class paid about 8% of their incomes in federal income taxes. Based on U.S. Congressional Budget Office figures [http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8885/12-11-historicaltaxrates.pdf], the very rich pay just under 2% of their incomes toward social security, while the middle class pays just under 10%. According to a study by The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the very rich pay about 7% of their incomes in state and sales and property and excise taxes, while the middle class pays approximately 10%. Another year of Bush tax cuts will reduce the taxes of the very rich by at least 3% more than the middle class.
 So total taxes for the very rich are 29% of their incomes (23% + 2% + 7% - 3%). Total taxes for the middle class are 28% of their incomes (8% + 10% + 10%). These figures agree with CTJ's 2011 estimate of total taxes paid [http://www.ctj.org/pdf/taxday2012.pdf].

2. Tax Rates Are Too High -
 In 2009, the United States ranked 26th out of 28 OECD countries in total federal, state, and local taxes as a percent of GDP. Only Chile and Mexico had lower tax rates.
 According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows." For taxpayers in the top 1%, the tax burden has fallen dramatically in recent years [http://www.offthechartsblog.org/yes-there’s-real-money-at-the-top/].
 At very high income levels, beginning at about the million dollar range, federal income tax actually becomes regressive. Effective tax rates level off at about 25%, and then go down from there. This is because all incomes over $388,000 are subject to the same 35% maximum. The $4 billion hedge fund manager pays no more, percentagewise, than the $400,000 doctor. In fact, even less. At the highest levels most of the income comes from capital gains, which are taxed at 15%.
 How about corporations? Even worse. They paid only 12.1% in 2011 [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/03/418171/corporate-taxes-40-year-low/], dramatically lower than the 25% average since 1987. According to U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) figures, they're paying about a THIRD of the inflation-adjusted share of GDP paid by corporations in the 1960s [http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=205].
 Compared to foreign countries, U.S. corporations paid a smaller rate of income taxes than 24 of 25 OECD countries analyzed by the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau [http://ctj.org/pdf/oecd201106.pdf].
 Most stunning is the shift in taxpaying responsibility from corporations to workers over the years. For every dollar of workers' payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it's 22 cents [http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=203].

3. Tax Cuts Boost the Economy -
 In the 1970s, University of Chicago economist Arthur Laffer convinced Dick Cheney and other Republican officials that lowering taxes on the rich would generate more revenue. The delusion has persisted to this day.
 Soon after the Reagan tax cuts, in 1984, the U.S. Treasury Department came to the logical conclusion that tax cuts cause a loss of revenue [http://www.tax.org/www/features.nsf/Articles/0C8BC4485C2F0BD5852579AC005A95AE?OpenDocument].
A 2006 Treasury Department study found that extending the Bush tax cuts would have no beneficial effect on the U.S. economy [http://www.ctj.org/taxonomists/taxonomist20060728.pdf].
Other sources confirm that economic growth was fastest in years with relatively high top marginal tax rates.
 The reality is that supply-side, trickle-down economics simply hasn't worked. Various economic studies have concluded that the revenue-maximizing top income tax rate is anywhere from 50% to 75% [http://www.tax.org/www/features.nsf/Articles/0C8BC4485C2F0BD5852579AC005A95AE?OpenDocument].

4. Eliminating Tax Breaks for the Rich Wouldn't Significantly Reduce the Deficit -
 First of all, just eliminating the Bush tax cuts on the highest-earning 5% of Americans could knock $150 billion off the deficit. Congressional Budget Office data shows that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the return of substantial budget deficits in recent years [http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=692].
 But there's so much more. The IRS estimates that 17 percent of taxes owed were not paid, leaving an underpayment of $450 billion [http://finance.yahoo.com/news/irs-estimate-17-percent-taxes-204637410.html].
 Most of the annual $1.3 trillion in "tax expenditures" (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, and loopholes) goes to the top quintile of taxpayers [http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/04/13/opinion/sunday/0415web-leonhardt2.html?ref=sunday-review]. One estimate is $250 billion a year just to the richest 1% [http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/04/17/tax-deductions-or-tax-expenditures/].
 Another $100 billion could be retrieved by collecting taxes from Fortune 500 companies at the 26% rate paid from 1987 to 2008. CTJ puts the figure at over $200 billion [http://www.ctj.org/pdf/USP-RepTax-Report.pdf].
 Worse yet is the loss from tax havens, which the Tax Justice Network estimates as $337 billion [http://www.tackletaxhavens.com/Cost_of_Tax_Abuse_TJN_Research_23rd_Nov_2011.pdf].
 Despite some overlap in these figures, it all adds up to a pretty good chunk of the deficit.

5. A Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) Would Hurt the Economy -
 This fallacy would have us believe that a tiny tax on financial transactions is going to hurt the economy, even though the underlying reason for our economic collapse was the excessive, reckless, unrestrained, free-for-all trading of trillions of dollars of speculative derivatives [http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/02/the-speculator-tax].
 The inventiveness of this fallacy is impressive, with claims of lost jobs, harm to ordinary investors, and the threat of exchanges moving overseas [http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/01/impact-of-financial-transactions-tax-on-the-economy-and-jobs#_edn2].
The Wall Street Journal calls the FTT a "sin tax." [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204224604577029793292855040.html]
 An FTT isn't likely to interrupt the global trading frenzy or cause any sudden defections from financial megacenters. The United Kingdom has had a tax on stock trades for decades, and the London Stock Exchange is humming along as the third largest exchange in the world [http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/06/23/uk-borsa-takeover-factbox-idUSL2224181520070623]. The CME Group, made up of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, had a profit margin higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation from 2008 to 2010.
 On the contrary, the FTT has extraordinary revenue-generating potential, on a global scale. The Bank for International Settlements reported in 2008 that annual trading in derivatives had surpassed $1.14 quadrillion (a thousand trillion dollars!). For the U.S. alone, revenue estimates by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Chicago Political Economy Group approach a half-trillion dollars annually.
 And at the more basic level of simple fairness, it should be noted that while an American mother pays nearly a 10% sales tax on shoes for her kids [http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/17/average-sales-tax-rate-record-high-shopping-arizona-25-highest-sales-taxes.html], millionaire investors pay .002 percent (2-thousandths of a percent) for a financial instrument [http://www.sec.gov/answers/sec31.htm]. That kind of tax disparity is what really hurts.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012-04-29 "How to Destroy Education While Making a Trillion Dollars" by Robert Freeman
Robert Freeman teaches history and economics at a public high school in northern California. He is the founder of One Dollar For Life, a national non-profit that helps American schools build schools in the developing world with donations of one dollar. He can be reached at robertfreeman10@yahoo.com
The Vietnam War produced more than its share of iconic idiocies. Perhaps the most revelatory was the psychotic assertion of an army major explaining the U.S. bombing of the provincial hamlet of Ben Tre: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” If only such self-extinguishing claims for intelligence were confined to military war.
The U.S is ratcheting up a societal-level war on public education. At issue is whether we are going to make it better — build it into something estimable, a social asset that undergirds a noble and prosperous society — or whether we’re going to tear it down so that private investors can get their hands on the almost $1 trillion we spend on it every year. The tear-it-down option is the civilian equivalent of Ben Tre, but on a vastly larger scale and with incomparably greater stakes: we must destroy public education in order to save it. It’s still early in the game, but right now the momentum is with the wreckers because that’s where the money is. Whether they succeed or not will be up to you.
Here’s a three-step recipe for how to destroy education. It maps perfectly to how to make a prodigious profit by privatizing it. It is the essential game plan of the big money boys.
First, lower the costs so you can jack up the profits. Since the overwhelming cost in education is the salaries of the teachers, this means firing the experienced teachers, for they are the most expensive. Replace them with “teachers” who are young, inexperienced, and inexpensive. Better yet, waive requirements that they have to have any training, that is to say, that they be credentialed. That way, you can get the absolute cheapest workers available. Roll them over frequently so they don’t develop any expectation that they’ll ever make a career out of it.
Second, make the curriculum as narrow, rote, and regimented as you can. This makes it possible for low-skilled “teachers” to “teach.” All they need do is maintain order while drilling students in mindless memorization and robotic repetition. By all means avoid messy things like context, nuance, values, complexity, reflection, depth, ambiguity—all the things that actually make for true intelligence. It’s too hard to teach those things and, besides, you need intelligent, experienced people to be able to do it. Stick with the model: Profitable equals simplistic and formulaic. Go with it.
Finally, rinse and repeat five thousand times. Proliferate franchised, chartered McSchools with each classroom in each McSchool teaching the same thing on the same day in exactly the same way. So, for the math lesson on the formula of a line, you only need develop it once. But you download it in Power Point on the assigned day so the room monitors, i.e., the “teachers,” know what bullets to read. Now repeat this for every lesson in every course in every school, every day. In biology, chemistry, geometry, history, English, Spanish, indeed, all of a K-12 curriculum. Develop the lesson literally once, but distribute and reuse it thousands of times with low-cost proctors doing the supervision. The cost is infinitesimal making the profit potential astronomical.
This is the essential charter school model and the money is all the rationale its promoters need. Think about it. There’s a trillion dollars a year spent on public education in the U.S. and enterprising investors want to get their meat hooks on it. Where else in the world can you find a $1 trillion opportunity that is essentially untouched? Not in automobiles. Not in health care. Not in weapons, computers, banking, telecommunications, agriculture, entertainment, retail, manufacturing, housing. Nowhere.
Oh, to be sure, you have to soften up the public with a decades-long PR campaign bashing teachers, vilifying their unions, trashing schools, and condemning public education in general, all the while promising the sun, moon, and stars for privatization, which is the ultimate charter goal. Voila! You’ve got your chance.
But to really make a killing, you need not just revenues, but profits. That’s why the low cost delivery and “build it once but resell it millions of times” model is so key. It was that very model that made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. It is what earned Microsoft 13 TIMES the rate of profit of the average Fortune 500 company in the 1990s and persuaded the Justice Department to declare it a “felony monopolist”. Gates recognizes the model very well, which is why his foundation is pouring tens of millions of dollars into charters. And you thought it was his altruism.
Of course, anybody who actually knows education, indeed, anybody who is simply intelligent, knows that intelligence does not come from rote repetition or parroting Power Point slides at the regimented direction of a room monitor, no matter how perky or well intended. It comes from an agonizingly complex, intricate, sustained set of challenges to the mind that are exquisitely choreographed over the better part of two decades, all intimately tailored to the specific needs of an individual, inquisitive, aspiring student.
That is what real teachers do. And it is precisely what a cookie-cutter, low-content, low-cost, high-turnover, high-profit money mill cannot do. Because it’s not intended to do that. It’s intended to produce profits. Real education, real intelligence, real character are agonizingly slow, dazzlingly complex, maddeningly difficult things to create. You can’t make a profit off of it, unless you destroy it in the process. That is why not one of the nations of the world that surpass the U.S. in education performance operate charter-based or privatized educational systems.
If America wants better education, it needs to fix the greatest force undermining education, which is poverty. The single most powerful predictor of student performance is the average income of the zip code in which they live. But one out of four American students now live in poverty, and the numbers are growing. One out of two will live in poverty sometime during their lives. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. Is it any wonder American school performance is faltering?
But poverty is a hard and expensive problem to fix. We prefer easy, painless fixes, or even better, vapid clichés about the “magic of the market” and such. Why, look what we got from the deregulation of the banking system: the greatest economic collapse of the last 80 years and the greatest plunder of the public treasury in the history of the world.
This is the essential neo-liberal agenda which Obama enthusiastically supports: privatize and deregulate everything, especially public services, so that the money spent on them can be transferred to private hands. This is how Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, earned his bureaucratic bonafides: he converted more than 100 of Chicago’s public schools to charters while the city’s school superintendent. It’s unbelievable how credulous we are but obviously, propaganda works. That’s why the likes of the Gates Foundation keep pouring money into the cause.
The problem with charter schools is that they simply don’t work, at least not for delivering high quality education. Of course, given their formula, how could they? The most thorough research on charter schools, by Stanford University, shows that while charters do better than public schools in 17% of cases, they actually do worse in 37%, a more than 2-to-1 bad-to-good ratio!
If your doctor injured two patients for every one he cured, would you go to him? If your mechanic wrecked two cars for every one he fixed, would you go to him? Yet that is literally the proposition that charter school operators are peddling. And that 2-to-1 failure rate is after charters have skimmed off the better students and run what can only be called ethnically cleansed schools, counseling out poor performers, special needs cases, and “undesirable” minorities, leaving them for the public schools to deal with. For the data show they do that as well.
The irony of all this, indeed, the hypocrisy, is that America is at least nominally a capitalist county. You would think it would be ok to be honest about your intentions to make money by pillaging children’s futures while looting the public purse. God knows the weapons makers, the banks, the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness and others aren’t bashful about it. But that doesn’t seem to be true here, in education.
Here, it’s all about “the children,” about “streamlining” education, boosting scores, uplifting minorities, making America competitive, and just about every other infantile fairy tale they can invoke to convince the country to hand over the loot. For that’s what it’s really about. The trillion dollars a year to be made by turning “the children” into intellectually impotent dullards but profit producing zombies? Well, that’s just a lavishly fortunate coincidence. Right?
Remember, you can’t save something by destroying it. Which isn’t to say that swashbuckling entrepreneurs aren’t willing to try. All they need is the liberating impetus of that essential American ethic: “I’m getting mine, screw you.” But the cost of this plunder will be incalculable, for it will ripple through the economy for decades. And the damage will be irreversible for, while public education is the most powerful democratizing institution in the world, it only works when the schools work. When they cease to work, it’s over.
So watch out. A destroyed educational system, a desiccated economy, and a debauched democracy are coming soon to a school district near you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012-04-25 "Private Prison Corporations Are Modern Day Slave Traders" by Glen Ford from "Black Agenda Report"
The nation’s largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America, is on a buying spree. With a war chest of $250 million, the corporation, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, earlier this year sent letters to 48 states, offering to buy their prisons outright. To ensure their profitability, the corporation insists that it be guaranteed that the prisons be kept at least 90 percent full. Plus, the corporate jailers demand a 20-year management contract, on top of the profits they expect to extract by spending less money per prisoner.
For the last two years, the number of inmates held in state prisons has declined slightly, largely because the states are short on money. Crime, of course, has declined dramatically in the last 20 years, but that has never dampened the states’ appetites for warehousing ever more Black and brown bodies, and the federal prison system is still growing. However, the Corrections Corporation of America believes the economic crisis has created an historic opportunity to become the landlord, as well as the manager, of a big chunk of the American prison gulag.
The attempted prison grab is also defensive in nature. If private companies can gain both ownership and management of enough prisons, they can set the prices without open-bid competition for prison services, creating a guaranteed cost-plus monopoly like that which exists between the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex.
But, for a better analogy, we must go back to the American slave system, a thoroughly capitalist enterprise that reduced human beings to units of labor and sale. The Corrections Corporation of America’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission read very much like the documents of a slave-trader. Investors are warned that profits would go down if the demand for prisoners declines. That is, if the world’s largest police state shrinks, so does the corporate bottom line. Dangers to profitability include “relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws." The corporation spells it out: “any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them." At the Corrections Corporation of America, human freedom is a dirty word.
But, there is something even more horrifying than the moral turpitude of the prison capitalists. If private companies are allowed to own the deeds to prisons, they are a big step closer to owning the people inside them. Many of the same politicians that created the system of mass Black incarceration over the past 40 years, would gladly hand over to private parties all responsibility for the human rights of inmates. The question of inmates' rights is hardly raised in the debate over prison privatization. This is a dialogue steeped in slavery and racial oppression. Just as the old slave markets were abolished, so must the Black American Gulag be dismantled – with no compensation to those who traffic in human beings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google, Facebook, and Twitter buttons give law enforcement a back door to track Occupy actions and identities

2012-04-24 "Occupy Wall Street websites love adding Google, Facebook, and Twitter buttons--which could give law enforcement a handy back door to track users' actions--and identities" by Neal Ungerleider |
Big Data is everywhere. Occupy Wall Street protesters, however, are dealing with a special challenge: Online marketers and analytics firms tracing the minutiae of their lives--including their email contacts and physical location--and possibly passing the information on to law enforcement.
According to technology researcher Tim Libert, protesters affiliated with the Occupy movement have unintentionally aided and abetted corporations in tracking them through social media and analytics plug-ins. Popular web analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Sitemeter, it also turns out, repackage website information for corporate clients. These corporate clients can then pass on information to law enforcement agencies willing to purchase the data.
Mobile users of several popular services, whose GPS locations are much more likely to be tracked by overzealous local law enforcement, are especially vulnerable, Libert said in an email to Fast Company.“I'm quite certain with the right set of database queries, Google engineers could identify specific account holders (through Google Maps) who were present at Zuccotti Park, for example. Likewise, it would be fairly trivial to compile a list of people who spent more than six hours at a time at any given Occupy encampment by looking at mobile phone records. That would give you a fairly good list of all Occupiers worldwide, who you could then place on any manner of watch lists.”
Libert found that sites affiliated with the Occupy movement often included Facebook “Like” buttons or analytics services, which lead to user information being repackaged for marketers and corporations [https://timlibert.me/writing/occupy-tracking/]. Using the browser plug-in Ghostery, which reveals tracker bugs, Libert discovered that 99 out of 100 Occupy sites he visited employed some sort of cookie or third-party embedded content. Facebook and Twitter buttons showed up on 47% of the Occupy sites--but these buttons are also used by those social media giants to gather detailed information on user likes and habits. Every time an Occupier clicks a “Like” button for their local Occupy movement or information clearinghouse, they also potentially add information to a marketing dossier which could be acquired by probing law enforcement. (Note: Fast Company uses over 10 services tracked by Ghostery, including DoubleClick, Google Analytics, and Red Aril.)
Twitter, Facebook, Google Analytics, Google Calendar, Google +1, and WordPress Stats were responsible for the bulk of the tracking bugs on Occupy sites. Google, WordPress, and other vendors don't offer their invaluable (and free) web services altruistically--the price paid by the general public is detailed analysis of their personal habits. And Libert claims that it's just a short leap from there for Google, for example, to extrapolate the real name, address, and personal interests of an individual Occupy sympathizer by cross-comparing a user's IP address across Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar, and Google Search.
The chart below, provided by Libert, gives a basic idea of the breakdown of trackers found on Occupy sites; an interactive version is available here [https://timlibert.me/writing/occupy-tracking]. [Chart: Courtesy Tim Libert; image: Flickr user J. Paul Zoccali]

While it is a given that cookies and the marketing and analytics firms behind them record a staggering amount of our online lives--whether we're activists or not--it's a special concern for the Occupy movement. Among the privacy activist community, it has long been an open secret that law enforcement authorities routinely purchase aggregate social media marketing data to circumvent privacy laws. At the 2011 World Media Summit in New York, Jay Stanley and Susan Herman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) disclosed that the FBI voraciously purchases marketing information on U.S. citizens from data aggregation firms [http://plancast.com/p/8745/live-webcast-world-technology-summit-awards]. Local law enforcement agencies also routinely track citizens' locations via GPS, often without a warrant [http://www.aclu.org/protecting-civil-liberties-digital-age/cell-phone-location-tracking-public-records-request].
The larger issue here is the ubiquitous marketing-driven soft surveillance found on the web and in the smartphone app world. Through an unconscious process of technological innovation and demand for free web services, an ever-present industry of web surveillance has been created to pay the bills for the Internet. As law enforcement agencies discover how consumer data mining and GPS phone tracking are a legal gray area, this will become a concern for all of us--not just Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012-06-01 Day of Solidarity with the Haitian Workers and People

Guadeloupe-Haiti Campaign USA
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Call for a June 1, 2012 an International Day of Mobilization and Solidarity with the Haitian Workers and People

Call Issued by the Continuations Committee of the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti (ICI-H) & the Mobilizing Collective for Reparations to the Victims of Cholera

To the Labor, Political, Popular and Democratic Organizations the World Over

Since June, 2004, a multinational occupation force has been installed in our country under the cover of the United Nations. Its official aim is to "stabilize" Haiti. But behind this purported mission, we know full well that this occupation force is here to safeguard imperialism's project in Haiti -- that is, to guarantee the interests of the multinational companies and those of the local ruling class.

June 1, 2012, will mark the 8th anniversary of the MINUSTAH [UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti] presence in Haiti. During these eight years, this so-called stabilization force has become infamous for its multiple assaults against the Haitian people. Many of the violations of human rights, rapes, thefts, and trampling upon university autonomy are widely known and have been documented and denounced by human rights, labor and popular organizations.

The introduction of the cholera epidemic into Haiti by the MINUSTAH troops has added salt to the gaping wound. More than 7,000 deaths from cholera have been recorded, and more 500,000 people are already infected, according to official estimates.

In the face of this alarming situation, we are witnessing a growing outburst of hatred and mobilization against the MINUSTAH presence in Haiti. In this framework, the Continuations Committee of the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti (ICI-H) and the Mobilizing Collective for Reparations to the Victims of Cholera have already organized several activities to raise awareness about, and mobilize for, the immediate withdrawal of the MINUSTAH troops and reparations by the United Nations for the victims of the cholera epidemic.

These mobilizations have to continue until we are victorious.

In Haiti, like elsewhere -- particularly in the Caribbean region and on a continental level -- many activities and mobilizations have already been organized.

On November 5, 2011, a Continental Rally in Sao Paulo, Brazil, representing 14 countries, proposed the formation of a Continental Committee for the Immediate Withdrawal of the UN Troops from Haiti and the organization of an International Day of Action around this demand on June 1, 2012 -- the 8th anniversary of the MINUSTAH occupation of Haiti. The Caribbean Conference of Cap-Haitien on November 16-18, 2011, unanimously supported this proposal from the Sao Paulo rally.

In the spirit of the resolution adopted at this Caribbean Conference, we Haitian organizations that are part of the Continuations Committee of the ICI-H and the Mobilizing Collective for Reparations, hereby issue the Call to your organizations the world over, inviting you to join us in this International Day of mobilization and solidarity with the workers and people of Haiti. We call upon you to help us ensure its full success.

Together, let us demand:

- The total and unconditional cancellation of all of Haiti's debts;
- An end to the policies of structural adjustment;
- The repayment by France of the US$21 billion that it looted from the first Haitian Republic;
- The immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces;
- the abolition of the International Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH, by its French acronym), a supranational body headed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton);
- Reparations by the United Nations to all the victims of the MINUSTAH occupation.

-- April 4, 2012


Petit-Jean DERINX
On behalf of the Continuations Committee of the ICI-H

On behalf of the Mobilizing Collective for Reparations to the Victims of Cholera

Friday, April 20, 2012

2012-04-20 "Journalists Smeared Online While Investigating Pentagon Propaganda [Updated]" by Joe Coscarelli
A reporter and an editor from USA Today have become targets of a shadowy online misinformation campaign while investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors, according to the paper. Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker noticed fake websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and even Wikipedia pages start popping up right after they began asking around about the military's "information operations" programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. USA Today reports, "If the websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption." But a Pentagon spokesperson says, "We're not aware of any participation in such activities, nor would it be acceptable."
TomVandenBrook.com and RayLocker.com were both registered after the men started reporting stories critical of the Pentagon contractors, but were taken down after the journalists inquired about the bogus sites. Both pages used a proxy service to disguise who registered them. "The person who's behind this, we can give them a lot of credit here and assume they're very sophisticated about reputation attacks," said one online expert. "This is the work of somebody who knows what they're doing. They have some experience of covering their tracks. This is probably not the first time they've done something like this."
Locker told Erik Wemple of the Washington Post that the smear campaign is "something I’ve never experienced in 30 years," and that the fake sites linked to the journalists' previous work and included "nasty, untrue" comments [http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/usa-today-alleges-harassment-scheme/2012/04/20/gIQAaRjCVT_blog.html]. "If they thought it would deter me from writing about this, they're wrong," said Vanden Brook [http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-04-19/vanden-brook-locker-propaganda/54419654/1]. With a few more twists and turns, this could be a George Clooney movie.
Update: Gawker's John Cook says the Pentagon contractor in question is probably Leonie Industries, "an information operations company with more than $90 million in Army contracts in Afghanistan," which also happens to be the one Vanden Brook and Locker wrote about in February [http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2012-02-29/afghanistan-iraq-military-information-operations-usa-today-investigation/53295472/1].

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

American Nationalist terrorism against liberalism

2012-04-18 "America’s Right-Wing Loves Violent Rhetoric" by Paul Canning
We hear a lot about the supposed violent threats emanating from the likes of Louis Farrakhan and the New Black Panthers. But from the mainstream right-wing?
Even MSNBC seems to have missed that last week John Nolte, the Editor of the mainstream right-wing blog empire Breitbart.com, threatened a mother with murder [http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40211_Breitbart_Editor_John_Nolte_About_HBO_Stage_Mom-_She_Should_Be_Murdered].
The same guy last year threatened teachers with murder on Twitter [https://twitter.com/NolteNC/status/132789747595739137].
And he wanted violence against Occupy protesters, tweeting: "When I’m king, for every hippie scalp we’ll give you an ice cream cone. Not going to wait 2B King. Send me your hippie scalps today & I’ll send you a gift certificate 4 a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Hippie Blood Mocha."
On and on and on it goes, and from someone who calls himself a ‘journalist.’ What would be the reaction if MSNBC’s Al Sharpton tweeted this? From a Breitbart ‘journalist’ it is OK yet Dan Rather is banished?
It’s just a day in the life of violet rhetoric from the right.
After widespread outrage Cafe Press and right-wing outlets actually did stop selling ‘illegal immigrant hunting permit’ stickers and t-shirts last year — however, you can still buy mugs and t-shirts for dogs and t-shirts for humans advertising a ‘liberal hunting permit’ (as illustrated) as well as stickers saying “Save the rainforest, burn a liberal” or “Club liberals, not sandwiches.” [http://www.irregulartimes.com/rightwingstuffviolence.html]

Here’s what one person selling the Liberal hunting permit” products said.: Mark Caldwell of Lookout Mountain, publisher of Patriot Shop parent company Publius Press, called it “humour”.
“For novelty purposes only. If this sticker inspires you to murder people, do not buy it. Instead, dial 911.” — That was his disclaimer.
Do stickers exist calling for people to beat up and kill Republicans? Where? Did Bill Maher call for violence and I missed it?
It’s all a joke until someone draws attention. Seller Rightwingstuff tried legal action to stop one article drawing attention to their “liberal hunting permits” materials.   They need not worry; did you vaguely know this ‘stuff’ until you read it here? For some reason it seems to be accepted as normal and hardly newsworthy.
The “New Black Panthers” have been everywhere in the media, as well as Care2 Comments, for calling for Zimmerman’s arrest but the First Amendment covers a T-shirt calling for liberals to be hunted down and killed? Did you read that here first? Was Anderson Cooper asleep?
Here’s the sick deal, as pointed out by commentator Blitzen on an Ian Welsh post [http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-right-wing-isnt-going-to-stop-violent-rhetoric/]:  “Violent right-wing rhetoric is basically a marketing campaign, and it works just like the marketing of any other product. It gets ratings with otherwise-regular people because it it lurid, and it dog-whistles the hard-core fringe because that’s what it’s designed to do.”
I have recently written about reports that right-wing militia may be murdering undocumented immigrants in the Arizona desert [http://www.care2.com/causes/did-border-vigilantes-kill-two-more-immigrants-video.html]. Is that information blocking up your news feed or did it somehow fail to get covered?
Is right-wing violent rhetoric, perhaps even actions, getting a pass from the mainstream American media?
Nolte’s verbal violence against ‘liberals’ comes in the same week that Anders Brevik is on trial for the massacre of ‘liberals’ in Norway. That’s who Brevik was killing, not Muslims but those whom he saw as the ‘enablers’ of multiculturalism and immigration. He could not have been more explicit in his aims and quoted his explicit reasoning from people  associated with Nolte — whom people like Nolte have not denounced.
Those killed, including, but especially, the children, have been trivialized and mocked by too many on the right in the US [http://www.care2.com/causes/anders-breiviks-father-considered-suicide.html], from Fox News commentators to ex-Fox News host Glen Beck precisely because they are ‘liberals’. Those same ‘liberals’ picked out by Brevik to be shot in the head despite being 14 years old are targeted for shooting in stickers on sale in so-called ‘patriot’ shops across America — and it is all ‘fun’, and it is all ‘free speech’, with no consequence, and who cares because the Norwegians are disgusting Europeans anyway. Is that it?
Mainstream, right-wing websites right now, including Fox News and Breitbart, are stacked with violent comments about “n*ggers” and what should be done about them — which, incidentally, does not appear to be moderated [http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40104_Fox_News_Commenters_Spew_Another_Deluge_of_Racist_Hatred_at_Trayvon_Martin_and_President_Obama]. Where is the ‘conservative’ reaction, the policing of this?
No American Anders Breviks? Tell that to William Hakim, Dr. Barnett Slepian, Brisenia Flores, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, Dr. John Bayard Britton, Dr. David Gunn, Alice Hawthorne and Melih Uzunyol, Dr. George Richard Tiller, Alan Berg, Paul Sciullo, Eric Kelly and Stephen Mayhle, Greg McKendry, and Timothy McVeigh.
Remind me again why we are talking about the New Black Panthers?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012-04-17 "This Is The USA? Jackboots Meet Protest Against Drone Wars"
Protestors with  www.peaceworkskc.org meet resistance at a protest against drone war during Midwest Trifecta in Kansas City Missouri.

2012-04-18 "Col. Ann Wright targets predator drones" by Jim Hannah, PeaceWorks, Kansas City, Board member
Col. Ann Wright defies pigeonholing.
She doesn’t carry the military bearing you might expect of someone who served 29 years in the U.S. Army and received a heroism award.
She doesn’t convey the worldly manner you might expect of someone who served 16 years in the State Department, including assignment in Mongolia and Afghanistan.
And she doesn’t come across in the strident manner you might expect of a strongly opinionated whistleblower.
But when this rather quiet-mannered woman of middle age speaks in her soft voice, words of steel emerge. And those truth-telling words found their mark for the 80 or so persons gathered Feb. 20 at Kansas City’s All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. The audience gave her a standing ovation even before she began to speak. Her reputation preceded her: she resigned from the State Department to protest the Iraq War, she has been arrested for protesting predator drones, and she wrote a primer on speaking out, Dissent: Voices of Conflict.
Wright opened by thanking Kansas City-area peacemakers for their activism in opposition to the new nuclear weapons parts plant being built in south Kansas City. She termed "heart-breaking" the way nuclear weapons and the military-industrial complex have become "the biggest industry in America."
In her quiet manner, Wright then proceeded to pillory U.S. foreign policies that have led to military misadventures such as Iraq, noting that violence there has decreased since the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops (even though some 30,000 private contactors still remain).
Among the many word pictures Col. Wright painted, those sketching the growing use of predator drones by the U.S. were the most gripping. Our foreign policy and the war on terror, she said, are used as justification to "go after everyone, anywhere." Our country increasingly relies on drones to cross national boundaries on search-and-destroy missions globally. As many as 3,000 persons may have been killed by predator drones to date, she said—most of them civilians. "Assassin drones are everywhere," she said, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Not even U.S. citizens are safe from their reach if the U.S. government deems them to be terrorists. No trial by jury, just assassination from the air.
Most of the drone operators, Wright said, are "kids"—young adult males who have grown up with video war games and now are operating actual weapons of death 7,000 miles from their targets. Because they are distanced from their kills (unlike ground combat, where everyone has "some skin in the game"), the drone operators at Whiteman Air Force Base simply go home to their families at the end of the day. The process is so depersonalized, Wright said, that civilian deaths by drones are termed "bug splat," and those that get away are called "squirters."
One policy she particularly decried was the bombing of funerals, where a first drone strike is followed by a second strike to kill those who came to the aid of the injured. "If we are to be in the community of nations," she said, "we need to consider carefully our actions." American imperialism, she said, is having inevitable blowback as the number of civilian deaths by drones mounts; the ratio of civilians killed to combatants is 50 to 1.
One of the most eye-opening moments of the evening was Wright’s observation that assassin drones like those being flown over Pakistan are not operated by the U.S. military, but by the Central Intelligence Agency. Oversight of this covert agency and its secret budget is problematic since its personnel are civilians, rather than military, and operate in areas of undeclared war. For those reasons, Wright said, "they fit in the category of unlawful combatants and terrorists."
Unless policies change, Wright said, drones seem to be the way of the future. Twelve predator drones are already cruising the U.S.-Mexico border, she said, and law enforcement is increasingly looking to them for surveillance. Their range and capabilities are also expanding rapidly—some as small as a hummingbird for maneuvering tight places, others capable of operating at 50,000 feet and staying aloft two weeks. "Drone construction, operation, and maintenance is a growth industry of the Defense Department," she noted.
 Whistleblowers like herself, she said, can expect pushback from those who profit from war. She herself is banned from Canada after being placed on a felony list because of her war resistance. "They want you to know they can threaten you," she said. But then she opened her jacket to show a black T-shirt with words in white: "We will not be silent."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

FOX news, local Police favor protecting Nazis

Within the following compilation, you will see that FOX news and the local Police at Sanford both exalted and covered for the National Socialist Movement.

2012-04-06 "Armed Neo-Nazis Now Claim To Be Patrolling Sanford, Say They Are "Prepared" for Post-Trayvon Martin Violence (UPDATED) by Michael Miller
 Neo-Nazis say they are conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida, and are "prepared" for violence in case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect "white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety" in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. "We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it," he says. "We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over."
Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community.
Photograph from [www.nsm88.org]: Members of the National Socialist Movement during a patrol of the U.S.-Mexico border in January.

Photograph from [www.nsm88.org]: NSM members on patrol in Arizona

Photograph from [www.nsm88.org]: A photo from NSM's website
2012-04-07 UPDATE: The Sanford Police Department says it has no evidence of neo-Nazis in the area. "We have not seen any neo-Nazis on patrol nor have we had any reports of them," Sgt. David Morgenstern says. He adds there have been no signs of the New Black Panther Party either.
Schoep, whose neo-Nazi group is based in Detroit, tells Riptide the patrols are a response to white residents' fears of a race riot.
A group called the New Black Panther Party recently offered $10,000 for a citizen's arrest of George Zimmerman, Martin's shooter. Schoep says the bounty is a sign that "the possibility of further racial violence... is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets."
The patrols comprise ten to 20 locals and "volunteers" from across the state, including some from Miami, he adds. He couldn't specify what kind of firepower the patrols had with them.
"In Arizona the guys can walk around with assault weapons, and that's totally legal," Schoep says, referring to the group's patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border. "What I can tell you is that any patrols that we are doing now in Florida are totally within the law."
Asked if the patrols wouldn't just make things worse -- spark a race riot, for instance -- Schoep insists they are simply a "show of solidarity with the white community down there" and "wouldn't intimidate anybody."
"Whenever there is one of these racially charged events, Al Sharpton goes wherever blacks need him," Schoep says. "We do similar things. We are a white civil rights organization."
 He goes to great lengths to contrast his organization with the New Black Panther Party, which he blames for scaring local whites and spurring the need for NSM patrols. Schoep admits the NSM and the Black Panthers are actually alike in that they are both racial separatists. But he sees a double standard in the government's treatment of the two groups.
"The Black Panthers have been offering bounties and all that," he says. "But if we called for a bounty on someone's head, I guarantee we'd be locked up as quick as I could walk out of my house."
Schoep is also quick to clarify he isn't taking sides in Trayvon Martin's controversial shooting. "That's for the courts to decide," he says. Besides, Schoep says, Zimmerman is not even white.
"I think there is some confusion going on," Schoep says. "A lot of people think that this guy who shot Trayvon was white... but he's half Hispanic or Cuban or something. He certainly doesn't look white to me."
To some, sending in the storm troops seems like a sure way to incite -- not prevent -- a race riot. But Schoep says that's way off base.
"We don't wish for things like that," he says. "But there have been race riots in Detroit and L.A.... So we know those types of things happen.
"You can either be prepared or you can be blindsided," he adds. "This way, if something were to touch off a race riot, we'd already be in the area."
How reassuring.
UPDATE 2: Poynter writer Craig Silverman has published a post [http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/regret-the-error/169445/media-repeat-but-dont-check-claims-of-armed-neo-nazis-where-trayvon-martin-was-killed/] critical of New Times's reporting on Schoep's group, including his assertion that we didn't do enough to verify Schoep's claims that his patrols were active in Sanford. Here's Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse's response:
[begin extract]
Silverman's piece is high-minded criticism, indeed -- but it's wrong-headed and Luddite. We reported the claims of one group, updated the post as quickly as we got new information, and couched Schoep's claims as such. (Our only mistake: the headline and lead should have made it more clear from the get-go these were the group's claims. The rest of the story clearly made this point, however.) Mr. Silverman should join the Internet age in which posts such as ours develop and are updated in real-time. Mike Miller was the first journalist to interview Schoep about his group's claims, and he reported on them accurately. The Internet has allowed people to have a greater say in what news is important. This requires greater flexibility in reporting and storytelling. And that is exactly what we did in this case.
[end extract]
Editors note:  Comments on this blog have been closed due to a flurry of violent, racist postings. We're doing our best to clean out the comments that violate our standards that have already appeared, but it's going to take some time. To the vast majority of our readers trying to have an honest discussion, sorry to close up shop.

2012-04-07 "Sanford Police Deny Report Armed Neo-Nazis Are Patrolling Town In Case Of ‘Race Riots’" by Frances Martel from "Mediate"
A report surfaced last night from the Miami New Times [http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/04/heavily_armed_neo-nazis_patrol.php] that the Trayvon Martin saga had attracted an armed band of Neo-Nazis to the Sanford, Florida era “just in case” racial tensions led to violence. After the report widely circulated through the internet, the first comment reportedly from the Sanford police department appeared today in the blog Legal Insurrection, where Professor William Jacobson writes that the police say they have “no indication” of any such activity.
 After following the online trail left by the Miami New Times article and explaining the core details of it– a Neo-Nazi group claiming to take up shop in Sanford to be prepared in case of a “race riot”– Jacobson argued that he found it strange and decided to go to the source– the Sanford PD. Jacobson’s exchange with the Sanford police, as he reported it:
[begin excerpt]
 My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread): “There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford. Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.”
 Response from Sanford Joint Information Center: “At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.”
 My follow up: “You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?”
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center: “We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.”
[end excerpt]
 Jacobson is the only one to have statement from the police, and given the holiday weekend, chances are no new information will surface until Monday. In any case, the Miami New Times seem to have some explaining to do about their reporting if, indeed, the Sanford Police has no indication that their report.

2012-04-07 "Sanford (FL) Police deny any indication of neo-Nazis patrolling" by William A. Jacobson 

The latest wildfire spreading through the media and blogosphere is that armed neo-Nazis are patrolling Sanford, FL, in anticipation of trouble if George Zimmerman is not charged in the killing of Trayvon Martin.  In what has become a prime example of media malpractice, none of the major publications spreading the rumors bothered to check with local law enforcement.  I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of neo-Nazi patrols.
It all started with this blog post in The Miami New Times, Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford, Say They Are “Prepared” For Post-Trayvon Martin Violence [http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/04/heavily_armed_neo-nazis_patrol.php]:
[begin excerpt]
Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community….
The patrols are comprised of between 10 and 20 locals and “volunteers” from across the state, including some from Miami, he added. He couldn’t go into specifics on what kind of firepower, exactly, the patrols had with them.
[end excerpt]
The blog post quotes someone from a supposed neo-Nazi group in Detroit, and contains photos of armed patrols not in Sanford, but in Arizona. 
The author of the blog post provides no confirmation that such patrols actually are taking place.
The blog post already has generated over 1100 comments, and was picked up with reckless abandon by the usual suspects, including Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs [http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40178_This_Should_Help-_Armed_Neo-Nazis_Patrolling_Sanford_Ready_for_Race_War]:
[begin excerpt]
You know all that rhetoric about “race war” that’s showing up at Breitbart.com [http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40174_Yet_Another_Deluge_of_Racist_Hatred_and_Calls_for_Genocide_at_Breitbart.com] and many other right wing sites these days? It’s not just rhetoric. There are some people in Sanford, Florida right now who are taking it very seriously indeed
[end excerpt]
And Pam Spaulding at Firedoglake [http://pamshouseblend.firedoglake.com/2012/04/06/armed-neo-nazis-descend-into-sanford-fl-prepared-for-post-trayvon-martin-violence/]:
[begin excerpt]
And the right wing said it wasn’t about race (on their side), didn’t they? Neo-Nazis have never been affiliated with the left; they’ve always been on the fringe anarchist/chaos/gov’t overthrow wing of the GOP, because there’s no way these white supremacists would vote Dem. After all, that party is polluted with black, brown…you know, the Mud People….
I thought the police department was there to protect all of Sanford’s citizens (when it’s not torpedoing its own bad police work/f’ing up cases involving black folks as victims), but as there’s nothing like having this paramilitary crowd with strong views on race stepping in to do the job. You know, like the KKK, it’s not intimidating at all.
[end excerpt]
A writer at Mediaite joined in [http://www.mediaite.com/online/armed-neo-nazis-patrolling-town-where-trayvon-martin-was-shot-in-case-of-race-riot/] (note: Mediaite has updated its post with a link here [http://www.mediaite.com/tv/sanford-police-deny-report-armed-neo-nazis-are-patrolling-town-in-case-of-race-riots/], and also has published a separate post on the Sanford denial):
[begin excerpt]
And just so we’re clear, the Neo-Nazis have no official position on the Martin case, because remember, George Zimmerman isn’t even white. But the Neo-Nazi commander is trying to assure everyone that they are trying to protect everyone, because “if something were to touch off a race riot, we’d already be in the area.”
Well said! Because whenever there’s a race riot, my first question is always, “Where are the armed racists when you need them? They’ll put a stop to all this violence!”
[end excerpt]
HuffPo [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/trayvon-martin-case-armed_n_1409099.html?ref=tw] and The Daily Beast [http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/04/06/armed-neo-nazis-patrol-sanford.html] are helping spread the story.
It even has spread to The NY Daily News [http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/neo-nazis-patrolling-streets-sanford-fla-trayvon-martin-shot-killed-report-article-1.1057851?localLinksEnabled=false] [note:  The NYDN story changed tonight. after I contacted the writer, and now acknowledges police denial; the following is from the original story] :
[begin excerpt]
The Trayvon  Martin case is getting even more heated as armed neo-Nazis are reportedly patrolling the streets of Sanford, Fla.-where the black, unarmed teen was shot  and killed.
A representative for the Detroit-based National Socialist movement told  the Miami New Times that his group of roughly 10 to 20 volunteers aren’t there to start trouble, but are prepared to protect the “white citizens in the area”  in the event of race riots.
[end excerpt]
Only Gateway Pundit asked the obvious question [http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/04/are-armed-nazi-socialists-really-patrolling-the-streets-of-sanford-florida/]: "Is there any evidence that this is actually happening in Sanford?"
Did anyone bother to contact the Sanford Police?  I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of Neo-Nazi groups patrolling in Sanford.  Here’s the e-mail exchange:
[begin excerpt]
My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread): “There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford.  Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.”
Response from Sanford Joint Information Center: “At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.”
My follow up: “You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?”
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center: “We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.”
[end excerpt]
I can’t say this is the worst example of rumor mongering and irresponsible conduct by bloggers and the mainstream media I have ever seen, but it’s a contender.
For The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and The Daily News to spread such thinly-sourced claims without verification at a time when racial tensions already are high is irresponsible in the extreme.
Update:  It’s now at Fark [http://www.fark.com/comments/7037179/Armed-Neo-Nazis-now-patrolling-town-where-Trayvon-Martin-was-killed-because-that-was-one-thing-missing-from-this-story], Gawker [http://gawker.com/5900035/armed-nazis-hope-to-keep-sanford-safe-for-white-people], The Blaze [http://www.theblaze.com/stories/armed-neo-nazis-patrol-sanford-as-black-panthers-hold-survival-training-session/] [now updated with link here] …. And now Drudge has it at the top of the page [https://twitter.com/#!/Drudge_Report/status/188778093299761152]— I’ve alerted them let’s see if they update with a correction… and The NY Post too [http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/neo_nazis_patrolling_florida_town_5d9tjFKDIkiCkJKvWJ4zEJ].
Update 4-8-2012 7 p.m. – Finally the original blog post which gave rise to an internet craze about neo-Nazis partolling the streets of Sanford now, finally, after millions read the story or heard about it without equivocation, carries this disclaimer [http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/04/heavily_armed_neo-nazis_patrol.php]:
[begin excerpt]
UPDATE: The Sanford Police Department says that it has no evidence of neo-Nazis in the area. “We have not seen any neo-Nazis on patrol nor have we had any reports of them,” says Sgt. David Morgenstern. He added that there had been no sign of the New Black Panther Party, either.
[end excerpt]
Drudge has not updated, and still has as its top link: "Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford, FL..."

Note from "United States Fascism Watch": The smug William A. Jacobson, author of the "authoritative" article poo-poohing the reports about Nazis patrolling Sanford, relies only on the same Sanford police to tell the truth when they had been knowingly lying about Zimmerman's previous shootings and mental problems...
The smug poo-poo attitude was turned over to FOX news who sent a reporter to grab the story.
The question remains, who ordered FOX news journalist Jennifer Bisram to use the phrase "civil-rights group" when describing the "National Socialist Movement"? Is she a foreigner recently arrived to the USA without knowledge concerning domestic racial-nationalist history within the USA?
The following screengrab contains the complete article with retraction as posted 2012-04-10

2012-04-08 "Jaw-dropper of the day: Fox Affiliate in Orlando Calls Neo-Nazis a ‘Civil Rights Group’" by Charles Johnson from "Little Green Footballs"
What the hell is going on at Fox 35, the Fox News affiliate in Orlando, Florida?
Do you mean to tell me that nobody in the editorial chain for this story realized that they were not covering a “civil rights group” … but the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization that uses a swastika for their logo?
Really? Civil Rights Group Patrolling Sanford.

In this video of their broadcast, you can see this isn’t just a fluke headline — the anchor refers to the Nazis as a “civil rights group” by name.
“There’s another civil rights group in town: the National Socialist Movement.”
And you can also see that they went to the Nazis’ website, and must have looked directly at its swastika logo. In the whole clip there isn’t even a hint of the National Socialist Movement’s true nature, except when they interview one of the Nazis and he denies that they’re a hate group — an assertion that goes completely unchallenged.

Again: what the hell is happening at this news channel, that they can’t distinguish between a “civil rights group” and an armed gang of white supremacists and neo-Nazis? Un-freaking-believable.

UPDATE at 4/8/12 4:28:36 pm
Fox 35 Orlando has now deleted the page from their site, but the URL still shows the title, and the article is still showing up in their ‘Featured’ list with the “Civil Rights Group” headline [http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/trayvon_martin/040712-Civil-rights-group-patrolling-Sanford].
UPDATE at 4/8/12 4:43:43 pm
Here’s the new version: White Rights Group Patrolling Sanford [http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/trayvon_martin/040712-White-rights-group-patrolling-Sanford].
A “white rights group?” Is that supposed to be an improvement? These assholes are not speaking for my rights.
UPDATE at 4/8/12 5:23:59 pm
Yet another headline at Fox 35 finally gets it right: Neo-Nazi Group Patrolling Sanford [http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/trayvon_martin/040712-Neo-Nazi-group-patrolling-Sanford].

2012-04-09 "Fox News Affiliate Calls Neo-Nazis A Civil Rights Group" by Kristina Chew
Sanford police say that they have “no indication” of neo-Nazis patrolling the town where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, says Mediaite [http://www.mediaite.com/tv/sanford-police-deny-report-armed-neo-nazis-are-patrolling-town-in-case-of-race-riots/].
But a Fox Orlando affiliate, WOFL, has aired an uncritical report of the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement (NSM) doing just that and interviewed the group’s leader, Jeff Schoep [http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/04/08/460272/fox-orlando-affliate-calls-neo-nazis-a-civil-rights-group/]; the segment is on Little Green Footballs [http://littlegreenfootballs.com/].
Even more, not only does the Fox reporter not question Schoep’s claims. She introduces the NSM by saying “There’s another civil rights group in town.”
As Judd Legum on Think Progress notes, a brief summary of that Fox news segment was posted online with the title “Civil rights group patrolling Sanford.” [http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/trayvon_martin/040712-Neo-Nazi-group-patrolling-Sanford]

This summary was removed and a new story with the title “Neo-Nazi group patrolling Sanford” posted. The video is the same but an Editor’s Note now says [http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/trayvon_martin/040712-Neo-Nazi-group-patrolling-Sanford#ixzz1rZkXibgT]:
[begin extract]
The report originally published Saturday inadvertently referred to the National Socialist Movement as a civil rights group. We intended to refer to them as a “self-proclaimed” civil rights group.
[end extract]
Schoep had described the NSM as a “white civil rights organization” in the Miami New Times blog post that first mentioned the neo-Nazis were patrolling Sanford’s streets [http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/04/heavily_armed_neo-nazis_patrol.php].
Again, Sanford police dispute that such patrols are going on, as  Mediaite takes care to point out [http://www.mediaite.com/tv/sanford-police-deny-report-armed-neo-nazis-are-patrolling-town-in-case-of-race-riots/] with reference to a post on the blog Legal Insurrection by William Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School [http://legalinsurrection.com/2012/04/sanford-fl-police-deny-any-indication-of-neo-nazis-patrolling/]. But Fox News, or at least Fox’s Orlando affiliate, is not so concerned about getting the details — the facts — right.

Monday, April 9, 2012

White Nationalist Militias

2012-04-09 "Deadly shooting in Eagle Ranch near Eloy, Arizona leaves two dead"
On April 8, 2012, at approximately 10:35 p.m., agents from the Casa Grande Border Patrol Station, Eloy Police Department, and Coolidge Police Department responded to the Eagle Ranch located at the south end of South Night Sky Street, south of West Antares Drive, in Eloy, Arizona. The response was in reference to shots being fired at an illegal alien smuggling load. The GPS coordinates of the Eagle Ranch are N32 27.750, W-111 44.646.
Upon arrival, the law enforcement agencies determined that there was one deceased person in the bed of a pickup truck and a second deceased subject in a wash northeast of the pickup truck. Several border crossers were located hiding in the brush nearby. It was determined that the incident had occurred in Pima County.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department received information and a request to respond to the scene. Pima County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit detectives also responded. It was determined that the border crossers were traveling in a pickup truck in a wash that is commonly used for human smuggling. They were ambushed by an unknown number of subjects in camouflage clothing armed with rifles. Shots were fired at the pickup truck at which time two subjects were fatally struck.
Names of the victim’s are not being released at this time pending next of kin notification.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012-04-05 "Finance Expert: Oil Price Increase Is Being Driven By ‘Gamblers Wearing Wall Street Suits’"

by Pat Garofalo from "Think Progress" [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/04/05/458892/finance-expert-oil-price-speculation-wall-street/]:
Republicans have been trying to pin the blame for the recent rise in oil prices on President Obama, relying on the false claim that if Obama just allowed more drilling for oil on U.S. lands, prices would magically decline [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/22/430184/blame-oil-speculators-for-gas-prices/]. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has “instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger” as they push for more drilling.
Many experts, though, have pointed out that its not for a lack of drilling that oil prices are increasing, but rampant speculation in oil markets [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/22/430184/blame-oil-speculators-for-gas-prices/]. Michael Greenberger, a former regulator at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) who oversaw the futures markets, told McClatchy that the increase is due to “excessive speculation” on the part of Wall Street [http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/04/04/144181/finance-expert-says-speculators.html]:
“It is similar to the gambling Wall Street did on whether or not people would pay their subprime (below-market rate) mortgages in the mortgage meltdown,” said Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former federal regulator of financial markets. “Now they are betting on the upward direction of the price of oil” … “It is excessive speculation, which is a fancy word for saying that gamblers wearing Wall Street suits have taken these markets over,” he said.
Back in February, oil prices cracked $100 per barrel despite the lowest demand since 1997 [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/15/425926/gas-prices-rising-demand-1997/].
The Obama administration has said that it will crack down on excessive oil speculation, but it’s oil speculation task force has hardly done anything at all [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/02/436262/obama-oil-speculation-task-force/]. The CFTC, meanwhile, has been slow to implement new rules designed to rein in speculators that were a part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Democrats have been pushing the agency to begin that enforcement [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/05/437965/70-democrats-call-for-government-to-enforce-limits-on-oil-speculation/] [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/21/449541/progressive-senators-oil-speculation-limits/].

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012-04-04 "Life in Rahm’s Chicago. A problem with democracy" From Rolling Stone:
What Rahm seems to be doing is building a new machine for our age of union busting and austerity. His budget, which the City Council passed 50 to 0 like it was some Soviet Party Congress (maybe it had something to do with the hundreds of thousands Goldner’s PAC had to spend), killed six community mental health clinics, saving $2.3 million dollars, and proposed to carve $10 million and 110 union jobs from Chicago’s libraries; in the face of protest, he restored $5.3 million and 55 workers to the system, which Alter claims shows how flexible and magnanimous he is.
As the progressive Chicago journalist Curtis Black points out, it’s instructive to compare that $7 million in precious, precious budget savings to some of the free public money he’s handed out to corporations. An animal testing company that serves Big Pharma, Experimur LLC, got $3.7 in “tax increment financing” — basically a loan given with little public accountability that’s supposed to be paid back by the tax revenue future growth creates – to save their 26 jobs: “It does appear that, job-wise, libraries get you a bigger bang for your buck,” he told the Community Media Workshop’s publication Newstips. And he offered his second biggest campaign contributor, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange already a very profitable corporation, a TIF grant of $15 million for office renovations, including a luxury bathroom. (The CME turned the grant down.)
Welcome to the new machine: cuts to schools, libraries, and mental health; cash to corporations. And should you have the insolence to protest it – well, you’d better be able to afford a damned good lawyer.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012-04-03 "Data Mining You - How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World"

by Tom Engelhardt [http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175524/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_intelligence_bureaucracy_that_ate_our_world/]
I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth.  On March 22nd [http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-counterterrorism-guidelines-would-permit-data-on-us-citizens-to-be-held-longer/2012/03/21/gIQAFLm7TS_print.html], Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism -- about you and me, that is -- for up to five years [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/us/politics/us-moves-to-relax-some-restrictions-for-counterterrorism-analysis.html].  (Its previous outer limit was 180 days.)  This, Clapper claimed, “will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”
Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington.  George Orwell would surely have had a few pungent words to say about those anodyne words “practically and effectively,” not to speak of “mission.”
For most Americans, though, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists.  Basic information or misinformation, possibly about you, is to be stored away for five years -- or until some other attorney general and director of national intelligence think it’s even more practical and effective to keep you on file for 10 years, 20 years, or until death do us part -- and it hardly made a ripple.
If Americans were to hoist a flag designed for this moment, it might read “Tread on Me” and use that classic illustration of the boa constrictor swallowing an elephant from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.  That, at least, would catch something of the absurdity of what the National Security Complex has decided to swallow of our American world.
Oh, and in those nine days abroad, a new word surfaced on my horizon, one just eerie and ugly enough for our new reality: yottabyte.  Thank National Security Agency (NSA) expert James Bamford for that.  He wrote a piece for Wired magazine on a super-secret, $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center the NSA is building in Bluffdale, Utah [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1].  Focused on data mining and code-breaking and five times the size of the U.S. Capitol, it is expected to house information beyond compare, “including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails -- parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”
The NSA, adds Bamford, “has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.”
Which brings us to yottabyte -- which is, Bamford assures us, equivalant to septillion bytes, a number “so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.”  The Utah center will be capable of storing a yottabyte or more of information (on your tax dollar).
Large as it is, that mega-project in Utah is just one of many sprouting like mushrooms in the sunless forest of the U.S. intelligence world.  In cost, for example, it barely tops the $1.7 billion headquarters complex in Virginia that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with an estimated annual black budget of at least $5 billion, built for its 16,000 employees.  Opened in 2011, it's the third-largest federal building in the Washington area.  (And I’ll bet you didn’t even know that your tax dollars paid for such an agency, no less its gleaming new headquarters.)  Or what about the 33 post-9/11 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work that were under construction or had already been built when Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin wrote their “Top Secret America” series back in 2010 [http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/]?
In these last years, while so many Americans were foreclosed upon or had their homes go “underwater” and the construction industry went to hell, the intelligence housing bubble just continued to grow.  And there’s no sign that any of this seems abidingly strange to most Americans.

A System That Creates Its Own Reality -
To leave the country, of course, I had to briefly surrender my shoes, hat, belt, computer -- you know the routine -- and even then, stripped to the basics, I had to pass through a scanner of a sort that not so long ago caused protest and upset but now is evidently as American as apple pie.  Then I spent those nine days touring some of Spain’s architectural wonders, including the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita or Great Mosque of Cordoba, and that city’s ancient synagogue (the only one to survive the expulsion of the Jews in 1492), as well as Antonio Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, his vast Barcelona basilica, without once -- in a country with its own grim history of terror attacks -- being wanded or patted down or questioned or even passing through a metal detector.  Afterwards, I took a flight back to a country whose national security architecture had again expanded subtly in the name of “my” safety.
Now, I don’t want to overdo it.  In truth, those new guidelines were no big deal.  The information on -- as far as anyone knows -- innocent Americans that the NCTC wanted to keep for those extra 4½ years was already being held ad infinitum by one or another of our 17 major intelligence agencies and organizations.  So the latest announcement seems to represent little more than bureaucratic housecleaning, just a bit of extra scaffolding added to the Great Mosque or basilica of the new American intelligence labyrinth.  It certainly was nothing to write home about, no less trap a fictional character in.
Admittedly, since 9/11 the U.S. Intelligence Community, as it likes to call itself, has expanded to staggering proportions.  With those 17 outfits having a combined annual intelligence budget of more than $80 billion (a figure which doesn't even include all intelligence expenditures), you could think of that community as having carried out a statistical coup d'état.  In fact, at a moment when America’s enemies -- a few thousand scattered jihadis, the odd minority insurgency, and a couple of rickety regional powers (Iran, North Korea, and perhaps Venezuela) -- couldn’t be less imposing, its growth has been little short of an institutional miracle.  By now, it has a momentum all its own.  You might even say that it creates its own reality.
Of classic American checks and balances, we, the taxpayers, now write the checks and they, the officials of the National Security Complex, are free to be as unbalanced as they want in their actions.  Whatever you do, though, don’t mistake Clapper, Holder, and similar figures for the Gaudís of the new intelligence world.  Don’t think of them as the architects of the structure they are building.  What they preside over is visibly a competitive bureaucratic mess of overlapping principalities whose “mission” might be summed up in one word: more.
In a sense -- though they would undoubtedly never think of themselves this way -- I suspect they are bureaucratic versions of Kafka’s Joseph K., trapped in a labyrinthine structure they are continually, blindly, adding to.  And because their “mission” has no end point, their edifice has neither windows nor exits, and for all anyone knows is being erected on a foundation of quicksand.
Keep calling it “intelligence” if you want, but the monstrosity they are building is neither intelligent nor architecturally elegant.  It is nonetheless a system elaborating itself with undeniable energy.  Whatever the changing cast of characters, the structure only grows.  It no longer seems to matter whether the figure who officially sits atop it is a former part-owner of a baseball team and former governor, a former constitutional law professor, or -- looking to possible futures -- a former corporate raider.

A Basilica of Chaos -
Evidently, it’s our fate -- increasing numbers of us anyway -- to be transformed into intelligence data (just as we are being eternally transformed into commercial data), our identities sliced, diced, and passed around the labyrinth, our bytes stored up to be “mined” at their convenience.
You might wonder: What is this basilica of chaos that calls itself the U.S. Intelligence Community?  Bamford describes whistleblower William Binney, a former senior NSA crypto-mathematician “largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network,” as holding “his thumb and forefinger close together” and saying, “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”
It’s an understandable description for someone who has emerged from the labyrinth, but I doubt it’s on target.  Ours is unlikely to ever be a Soviet-style system, even if it exhibits a striking urge toward totality; towards, that is, engulfing everything, including every trace you’ve left anywhere in the world.  It’s probably not a Soviet-style state in the making, even if traditional legal boundaries and prohibitions against spying upon and surveilling Americans are of remarkably little interest to it.
Its urge is to data mine and decode the planet in an eternal search for enemies who are imagined to lurk everywhere, ready to strike at any moment.  Anyone might be a terrorist or, wittingly or not, in touch with one, even perfectly innocent-seeming Americans whose data must be held until the moment when the true pattern of eneminess comes into view and everything is revealed.
In the new world of the National Security Complex, no one can be trusted -- except the officials working within it, who in their eternal bureaucratic vigilance clearly consider themselves above any law.  The system that they are constructing (or that, perhaps, is constructing them) has no more to do with democracy or an American republic or the Constitution than it does with a Soviet-style state.  Think of it as a phenomenon for which we have no name.  Like the yottabyte, it’s something new under the sun, still awaiting its own strange and ugly moniker.
For now, it remains as anonymous as Joseph K. and so, conveniently enough, continues to expand right before our eyes, strangely unseen.
If you don’t believe me, leave the country for nine days and just see if, in that brief span of time, something else isn't drawn within its orbit.  After all, it’s inexorable, this rough beast slouching through Washington to be born.
Welcome, in the meantime, to our nameless new world.  One thing is guaranteed: it has a byte.