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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Beware the "Neo" twins

Two terrors endanger the world: Neoconservatism and neoliberalism. The first means war and empire; the latter means economic misery and exploitation. Most of what we read in the news is really the chronicle of ordinary people doing battle against these two monsters.

Allow me to demonstrate...

Bravo, Barry! I'm hardly a big Obama fan, but one should cheer any president who has managed to piss off Charles Krauthammer to this degree. Savor his bile...
The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.
He goes on and on like that. It's all nonsense, of course. Krauthammer is a well-paid neocon propaganda lackey pushing a now-familiar line: "Shiite bad, Sunni good."

Notice that the Krautster expresses no distaste when it comes to the question of Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear weapons, even though the Saudi regime is demonstrably worse than the Iranian government. (At least Iran has some democracy.) If memory serves, it was Joseph Trento who reported that Pakistan got the bomb largely with Saudi funding.

US funding of terror. Nevertheless, we still have to contend with America's sorry record in Syria. When you pay your taxes, think upon this:
According to the Pentagon, Syrian “rebels” being trained and “vetted” by the United States are receiving “compensation” to the tune of anywhere between $250 to $400 per month to act as America’s proxy forces in the Middle East.
As we have seen in previous posts, that word "vetted" has ceased to mean anything. There is no real distinction to be made between ISIS, Nusra and the so-called Free Syrian Army.
Neither has there been any concern over the presence of “moderate” rebels that have never actually existed in Syria. After all, it should be remembered that the United States own Defense Intelligence Agency was recently forced to release and declassify documents which admitted that not only did the US know that the “rebellion” was made up of al-Qaeda and Nusra forces but that these organizations and similar groups were attempting to create a “Salafist principality” in the east of Syria and West of Iraq. The DIA docs also show that the US was supporting all of these efforts.
For the Hillary connection to all of this, go here...
She obtained permission from President Obama and consent from congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and in both parties to arm rebels in Syria and Libya in an effort to overthrow the governments of those countries.

Many of the rebels Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies. There was no congressional declaration of war, no congressional vote, no congressional knowledge beyond fewer than a dozen members, and no federal statute that authorized this.
That last bit comes from Fox Newser Andrew Napolitano, who then goes on to blather about Benghazi. Nevertheless, there is some truth in what he says.

Facebook: Orwellian hell-hole. Just when I thought I had heard it all, there's this...
In recent weeks, both Facebook and Google launched facial recognition to mine the photos on your phone, with both impressive and disturbing results. Facebook’s Moments app can recognize you even if you cover your face. Google Photos can identify grown adults from decades-old childhood pictures.

Some people might find it neat when it’s only restricted to photos on their phone. But advertisers, security companies and just plain creepy authority figures have also set up their own systems at music festivals, sporting events and even some churches to monitor attendees, which is bound to disturb even those who don’t give a second thought to issues like the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.
Countless advertisers will undoubtedly use these sophisticated snooping capabilities to rake in dollars in stores, at events and on public streets. But the bigger, more troubling question is how our own government, as well as law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, will mine this data or create their own facial recognition databases to increase their already powerful surveillance apparatus.

We know they’ve already started. Last year, the FBI’s massive “next generation” facial recognition database went “fully operational.” But we’ve heard little about how it works and how it’s being used since; the FBI has, as is its modus operandi, attempted to keep it secret from the public.
My advice? Do not use any social networking sites. Do not allow photos of yourself to be placed on the internet. Allow only your friends and business associates to have your cell phone number. Do not use a smart phone. Press for laws which will allow smart phone users to turn off GPS.

The Greek vote. A "yes" vote in the Greek referendum means cuts and austerity, while a "no" means...well, no-one seems quite sure.
Despite the Greek government's assertion that a "no" vote will not lead to a euro exit, most people agree it would open up more uncertain outcomes, especially if the ECB calls time on the life-support measures to Greece's banks.

A number of European politicians, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top eurozone official, have said a "no" vote would jeopardize Greece's place in the euro.

Others, such as the leaders of France and Italy, appear to be holding the door ajar for further talks. Even Wolfgang Schaeuble, the tough-talking German finance minister, has said the country could stay in the euro in the event of a "no" vote.

But investors are likely to be worried in case of a "no" vote amid fears it increases the chance of a Greek exit from the euro, or Grexit. Markets will open first in Asia.
Joseph Stiglitz, one of the few economists worth listening to, advises the Greeks to vote no, because Greece has already suffered enough:
Of course, the economics behind the programme that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60%.
We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems. The IMF and the other “official” creditors do not need the money that is being demanded. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the money received would most likely just be lent out again to Greece.

But, again, it’s not about the money. It’s about using “deadlines” to force Greece to knuckle under, and to accept the unacceptable – not only austerity measures, but other regressive and punitive policies.
It is hard to advise Greeks how to vote on 5 July. Neither alternative – approval or rejection of the troika’s terms – will be easy, and both carry huge risks. A yes vote would mean depression almost without end. Perhaps a depleted country – one that has sold off all of its assets, and whose bright young people have emigrated – might finally get debt forgiveness; perhaps, having shrivelled into a middle-income economy, Greece might finally be able to get assistance from the World Bank. All of this might happen in the next decade, or perhaps in the decade after that.

By contrast, a no vote would at least open the possibility that Greece, with its strong democratic tradition, might grasp its destiny in its own hands. Greeks might gain the opportunity to shape a future that, though perhaps not as prosperous as the past, is far more hopeful than the unconscionable torture of the present.
Theodoros Karyotis has written the piece that everyone is talking about...
After the failure of the Syriza-led government in creating even the slightest fissure in the European neoliberal hegemony, there is a growing awareness that, despite the great cost of a transition, a simple and self-sufficient life outside the Eurozone is preferable to perpetual debt bondage within it. However, for most people, their stance towards the euro is not related to their long-term material expectations, but to the fear of the unknown, to the fear of short-term economic destabilization or even to inculcated fears concerning the Greek national identity and their membership in Western civilization. This explains why recent demonstrations in favor of YES, organized by the pro-austerity right-wing elites and championed by wealthy families, were joined by people of the middle or lower classes, which have no material interest in the perpetuation of austerity.
Fear-mongering and propaganda have polarized Greek society and have made it impossible to predict the outcome of the referendum held on Sunday. The fact that the avalanche of criticism by international analysts over the European officials’ handling of the crisis falls on deaf ears proves that the real agenda of the powers-that-be is simply to isolate, demoralize and punish the Greek people, thereby ending any prospect of resistance to neoliberal domination on the continent. The Greek people are facing the major challenge of once again overcoming fear, the psychological basis of neoliberal governance, and of finding the integrity to vote NO in the referendum on July 5.

Surely, our task does not end with a NO vote; the formulation of a plan of action that is antagonistic to the neoliberal integration project is still pending, a plan based on the initiative of organized society and on solidarity between the peoples of Europe.
My take? Frankly, I don't think that the "no" forces will be allowed to prevail. If the vote is close -- and polls indicate that it will be -- then we are likely to see vote fraud in democracy's cradle. If Greece abandons the euro, then other countries will see little advantage to sticking with a corrupt system.

The collapse of the Troika may lead to the rise of BRICS power. 
I recently read an article in which the writer claimed that the only beneficiaries of a Grexit would be British holiday-makers finding much cheaper holidays over there. The point seems to have been missed that this would constitute a revival of Greece's biggest industry and foreign-exchange generator, which has completely collapsed since Grentry.

Get out of the Euro, Greece, while you still can.
Someone send me a message about the leader of Isis, it turned out he was born an Israeli and he is working under cover. So now Isis is targeting Hamas in Gaza it seems about right
Anon, I heard that yarn about Al-Baghdadi being Israeli. No proof, at least none that I could see. If you come across any evidence, let me know.
Joseph, I draw your attention to a truly remarkable piece of forensic journalism by Nafeez Ahmed on the death of Osama bin Laden.
Off-topic: ^_^

Happy Independence Day, everypony!
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