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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,435

Journal Archives

Professor Richard Wolff: Global Capitalism: September 2014 Monthly Update

Published on Sep 11, 2014

We are proud to announce that Democracy at Work is partnering with the Left Forum and Judson Memorial Church to continue the Monthly Economic Update lecture series.

These evening lectures begin with brief updates and analyses of major economic events over the last month.

For September 10, these include:
-the Burger King saga and its lessons
-corporate leaders push for a 4-day workweek
-deepening crisis in Europe: risks for the US
-gentrification of our cities: how "markets" work

Workers in Maine Buy Out Their Jobs, Set an Example for the Nation

(Truthout) On remote Deer Isle, Maine, the movement for a more just and democratic economy won a major victory this summer. More than 60 employees of three retail businesses - Burnt Cove Market, V&S Variety and Pharmacy, and The Galley - banded together to buy the stores and create the largest worker cooperative in Maine and the second largest in New England.

Now the workers own and run the businesses together under one banner, known as the Island Employee Cooperative (IEC). This is the first time that multiple businesses of this size and scope have been merged and converted into one worker cooperative - making this a particularly groundbreaking achievement in advancing economic democracy.

Getting There: What It Took

When the local couple that had owned the three businesses for 43 years began to think about selling their stores and retiring, the workers became concerned. The stores were one of the island's biggest employers and a potential buyer probably would not have come from within the community or maintained the same level of jobs and services. Only a worker buy-out could achieve stability.

Because these workers were trying to accomplish something historic, it took more than a year - and it wasn't always an easy road. But the workers' strength lay in their own determination, and in the ability to rely on a group of allies dedicated to growing the cooperative movement. The Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative (IRSSC) and the Cooperative Development Institute, helped them develop their management, governance, legal and financial structures. They were also able to secure financing from Maine-based Coastal Enterprises and the Cooperative Fund of New England, both Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs). Without that dedicated technical assistance and available capital, it is doubtful the IEC would be here today. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26160-workers-in-maine-buy-out-their-jobs-set-an-example-for-the-nation

How the West Created the Islamic State

How the West Created the Islamic State

Sunday, 14 September 2014 00:00
By Nafeez Ahmed, Medium | News Analysis

Part 1: Our Terrorists

“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.

Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. In his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat (IS) is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,”declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”

Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.


Divide and rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,”said one US government defense consultant in 2007.“It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/26177-how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state

Coalition of the Unwilling

Middle East “Allies” decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL

By Juan Cole

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting in Jedda with ten Middle Eastern foreign ministers produced a communique on Friday, but little more. The regional states promised to do more to stop the transit across their territory of volunteer vigilantes seeking to join the so-called “Islamic State” of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to stop their citizens from sending money to the extremists. That neither of these steps had been taken earlier shows how unseriously Middle Eastern states took the ISIL challenge.

On Friday, faced with another visit of the indefatigable Mr. Kerry, state officials in Cairo, Egypt, were careful to say that they would and could not devote troops on the ground to defeat ISIL. Cairo maintains that its troops are already stretched thin by their current tasks . The Egyptian military is deployed within the country to keep order and to stigmatize the previous regime, on the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. In Sinai and along the Red Sea coast, guerrillas stage frequent attacks on Egyptian troops. In any case, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has other things to do with his army than deploy it directly against ISIL. Perhaps if he stopped maintaining that all Muslim Brothers are terrorists he might have some troops left over with which to deal with ISIL.

Turkey, likewise, has announced that it doesn’t want to get involved with ISIL. The Turkish government has even declined to allow the US to fly anti-ISIL missions from Incirlik Air Base. They will only allow US forces to use Turkish air bases for logistics, i.e. things like ammunition resupply. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/09/decline-resources-against.html

Howard Zinn on The Uses of History and the "War" on Terrorism

Saudi Arabia, key to Obama’s strategy, beheaded at least 8 people last month

(WaPo) U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry was in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, meeting delegations of Arab diplomats as the Obama administration attempts to cobble together a coalition of allies to confront the threat of the Islamic State. There are no illusions that the task ahead will be easy, and President Obama stressed in his Wednesday night speech the vital role Arab states have to play in breaking the terror organization's insurgency.

The active cooperation of Saudi Arabia, with its vast oil wealth, its well-equipped military and its broader influence among the Middle East's Sunni states, is key to any extended U.S. war effort in Iraq and Syria, as The Post's Anne Gearan reports from Jiddah. Though long an incubator of the Salafist ideology that now inflames the Islamic State and militant groups of its ilk, the kingdom has grown increasingly concerned with the destabilizing chaos the Islamic State has wrought in the region.

But that doesn't mean its state ideology is necessarily changing. The country is notorious for its draconian laws, which are derived from a strict Wahhabist interpretation of Islamic doctrine. In the space of two weeks last month, according to the rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed as many as 22 people. At least eight of those executed were beheaded, U.N. observers say. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/09/11/saudi-arabia-key-to-obamas-strategy-beheaded-at-least-8-people-last-month/

NRA Hosts "Killer Cop" Competition Amid National Outcry Over Police Violence

In previous years the National Rifle Association's (NRA) National Police Shooting Competition (NPSC) included events with names like "Head Shots Only," in which the event's course description contends that police officers need to practice shooting directly at people's heads.

Courses like this are only one of the many reasons why, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, activists and family members of police shootings victims call the annual NPSC the "killer cop contest."

The competition is set to begin September 15 at Shooting Range Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The contest brings together more than 500 officers from various law enforcement agencies across the country to judge who's best at using lethal weapons. A similar regional shooting competition has already begun.

The NRA's law enforcement division has organized the NPSC annually since its first competition in Iowa in 1962, actively reaching out to officers and inviting them to the contest. This year law enforcement officers from as far away as Germany and Venezuela are expected to attend, according to NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26149-nra-hosts-killer-cop-competition-amid-national-outcry-over-police-violence

Sarah Palin reportedly asks dumb question during weekend brawl

(WaPo) Amanda Coyne is the namesake of AmandaCoyne.com that has the tagline “Inside Alaska politics……so you don’t have to be.” And thank goodness for her. Otherwise, we would not have learned every delicious detail of last weekend’s South Anchorage birthday party brawl that reportedly involved Sarah Palin’s family.

Palin is the former half-term governor of Alaska and losing 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who is now a wealthy best-selling author and reality television star. We all know who she is. Certainly, Alaskans know who the Palins are. Yet, that didn’t stop Palin from reportedly yelling, “Don’t you know who I am?” during the fight. That’s a major no-no of celebrity. You just don’t do that. And if you’re the Palins, you really shouldn’t have to do that in Alaska, of all places. But I’m jumping ahead.

With just the right amount of snark, Coyne recounts what happened through the eyewitness account of Eric Thompson. After the Palins arrived via stretch Hummer, Track, Sarah’s son, spotted his sister Willow’s ex-boyfriend Conner Cleary, who was there with his parents, Steve and Melissa.

Thompson didn’t see this part, but other witnesses, who didn’t want to be named, say that Conner and Track fought on the front yard. Steve tried to break it up. Todd jumped into the mix and began to choke Steve.

Todd, you will recall, is the patriarch of the Palin clan and was one of those celebrating his birthday at the party. Anyway, Thompson then spots Willow and her sister Bristol, who were seen wearing sunglasses at a nighttime party, “walking straight towards (Conner, Steve and Melissa) with purpose.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/09/12/sarah-palin-reportedly-asks-dumb-question-during-weekend-brawl/

Dishing Up International Law a la Carte

from Consortium News:

Dishing Up International Law a la Carte
September 13, 2014

Official Washington honors international law when it’s politically useful, such as in condemning a global adversary, but then dismisses it as useless if it gets in the way of some desired U.S. action. This “international law a la carte” undermines the concept’s fundamental value, says Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

International law is vital to the welfare of every man, woman and child on this planet, although the vast majority of them do not know this is so. The vital aspect lies in the fact that the universally applicable nature of human rights – which prohibit such actions as the use of torture, arbitrary arrest and detention while supporting freedom of movement, conscience, cultural rights and the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, among other things – has its primary foundation in international law.

Examples of this can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various Geneva Conventions.

To understand just how important international law is to the universal application of human rights, one has to consider just how inadequate to this end are national and local laws. This inadequacy should come as no surprise. For hundreds of years now, the dominant form of political organization has been the nation-state. The most common sort of law is that specific to the state, and in the vast majority of cases, protection of rights under such law is reserved for the citizen.

In other words, if you are not a citizen of a particular state, you cannot assume you have any rights or protections within that state’s borders. Worse yet, if you happen to be stateless (and the number of such people is rapidly increasing), you are without local legal rights just about everywhere. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/09/13/dishing-up-international-law-a-la-carte/

Playing God: The Rebirth of Family Capitalism or How the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson ........

from TomDispatch:

Playing God
The Rebirth of Family Capitalism or How the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, and Other Billionaires Are Undermining America

By Steve Fraser

George Baer was a railroad and coal mining magnate at the turn of the twentieth century. Amid a violent and protracted strike that shut down much of the country’s anthracite coal industry, Baer defied President Teddy Roosevelt’s appeal to arbitrate the issues at stake, saying, “The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for... not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men of property to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country.” To the Anthracite Coal Commission investigating the uproar, Baer insisted, “These men don’t suffer. Why hell, half of them don’t even speak English.”

We might call that adopting the imperial position. Titans of industry and finance back then often assumed that they had the right to supersede the law and tutor the rest of America on how best to order its affairs. They liked to play God. It’s a habit that’s returned with a vengeance in our own time.

The Koch brothers are only the most conspicuous among a whole tribe of “self-made” billionaires who imagine themselves architects or master builders of a revamped, rehabilitated America. The resurgence of what might be called dynastic or family capitalism, as opposed to the more impersonal managerial capitalism many of us grew up with, is changing the nation’s political chemistry.

Our own masters of the universe, like the “robber barons” of old, are inordinately impressed with their ascendancy to the summit of economic power. Add their personal triumphs to American culture’s perennial love affair with business -- President Calvin Coolidge, for instance, is remembered today only for proclaiming that “the business of America is business” -- and you have a formula for megalomania. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175893/tomgram%3A_steve_fraser%2C_the_return_of_the_titans/#more

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