• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 5 maart 2016

Billary Clinton


Why Is an Israeli-American Billionaire Pouring Millions into the Clinton Foundation? 

May 11, 2015 4:00 AM @JILLIANKAYM

Weeks after Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the State Department objected to a proposed consultancy arrangement offered to Bill Clinton by media mogul Haim Saban, citing concerns about conflict of interest. Nevertheless, public records show that Saban’s nonprofit gave millions to the Clinton Foundation throughout Hillary Clinton’s tenure. Saban, a billionaire best known for creating Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, has dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship and has spent heavily to support Israel. “His greatest concern, he says, is to protect Israel, by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship,” The New Yorker noted in a 2010 profile of Saban. At a conference in Israel, the article said, Saban had outlined three methods for influencing American politics: “make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.”  Again Saban’s foreign-policy activism did not escape the attention of the State Department. The agency’s designated ethics adviser, James H. Thessin, wrote in a memo that his objection to the proposed consultancy was “based on the fact that Haim Saban, a founder of this entity, is actively involved in foreign affairs issues, particularly with regards to the Middle East, which is a priority area for the Secretary.” Thessin’s memo, one of 1,017 pages of records obtained by Judicial Watch, was the only instance in which the Department of State objected to one of Bill Clinton’s proposed speaking engagements or consultancy agreements. Yet between 2009 and 2013, as Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, the Saban Family Foundation paid the Clinton Foundation more than $7 million, and listed $30.5 million in “grants and contributions approved for future payment,” according to nonprofit records filed with the Internal Revenue Service. It’s unclear whether there was any overlap between the $7 million paid and $30.5 million committed to the Clinton Foundation in those years.  The Saban Family Foundation and Haim Saban declined National Review’s request for comment and would not answer questions about how much they had given to the Clinton Foundation while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state.  The Clinton Foundation lists donations from “Cheryl and Haim Saban & The Saban Family Foundation” in the $10 million to $25 million range. Since 2009, Hillary and Bill Clinton have both given speeches at Saban Family Foundation forums. Then–secretary of state Clinton delivered a major policy address on Israel at one such forum. And in 2013, Saban’s wife, Cheryl, joined the Clinton Foundation’s board. It’s not clear whether anyone at Foggy Bottom reviewed or approved these donations or Hillary Clinton’s speaking engagement at the Saban Family Foundation forum; the State Department did not respond to National Review’s repeated e-mail inquiries and phone calls by deadline.  The Clinton Foundation did not respond to e-mails, and the voicemail of its spokesperson was full. The Clinton campaign was similarly unresponsive to National Review’s e-mailed requests for comment. Saban has been a longtime friend and supporter of the Clintons, also donating more than $12 million to Democrats since 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He was a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s previous presidential campaign, and in addition to giving to the Clinton Foundation, he has also donated around $5 million to the Clinton Library. The Sabans have continued to support Hillary Clinton long after she left her post at the State Department; this past Thursday, Cheryl and Haim Saban hosted a $2,700-per-person fundraiser for her at their Los Angeles home. — Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center.





U.S. Totalitarian 'Democracy'

How the FBI Polices Dissent and Why It Matters in the Encryption Debate

Saturday, 05 March 2016 00:00 By Chip Gibbons, Truthout | News Analysis 
FBI Director James Comey testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on encryption and privacy, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 1, 2016. In the latest battle over encryption on Apple’s iPhones, Comey emphasized the importance of law enforcement’s ability to get access to data for criminal investigations. (T.J. Kirkpatrick / The New York Times)FBI Director James Comey testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on encryption and privacy, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 1, 2016. In the latest battle over encryption on Apple’s iPhones, Comey emphasized the importance of law enforcement’s ability to get access to data for criminal investigations. (T.J. Kirkpatrick / The New York Times)
With the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attempting to gain access to the San Bernardino shooter's phone, and in the process create a backdoor into encrypted devices across the world - many in the media have framed the issue as being one of privacy versus security. While there is undoubtedly a compelling privacy issue at stake, many advocates have also pointed to another fundamental right at stake - the right of free expression. The Supreme Court has long noted that privacy is fundamental to free expression. More recently, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression released a report concluding that strong encryption was essential to protect free expression.
When tackling encryption from a free expression standpoint, many advocates have rightfully expressed fear that "authoritarian" governments could use backdoors into encrypted devices to go after journalists, human rights defenders and dissidents. Yet, by placing the threat to free expression mainly on foreign bad actors, the FBI is being let off the hook. It isn't just encryption in the hands of other governments that threatens free expression: The FBI should not be trusted either, as it has a long history of policing dissent.

The FBI's blatant disregard for the US Constitution during the Red Scare era is generally attributed to its director, J. Edgar Hoover.

One does not need to have a very a long memory to be aware of the FBI's bad acts. In November 2015, the Partnership for Civil Justice  obtained documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that describe how, from 2000 to 2010, the FBI used counterterrorism agents to routinely spy on the lawful political activity of School of the Americas Watch, which organizes annual protests against US Latin American policy. Throughout the released documents, the FBI acknowledged the "peaceful intent" of these protests, but continued its counterterrorism investigation. In addition, it was also revealed in 2015 that the FBI had monitored anti-Keystone XL pipeline protesters and Black Lives Matter protesters. All of these allegations come on the heels of revelations about widespread FBI "counterterrorism" monitoring of Occupy Wall Street (once again via documents obtained through FOIA requests by the Partnership for Civil Justice).
The problem with the FBI encryption debate stems from a larger problem with how the FBI is discussed. Discussions about FBI spying - including by earnest civil libertarians - often employ narratives that obscure the root cause: that the FBI is the United States' political police.
Whenever there are discussions of the FBI's policing of political activity, they tend to follow a similar two-part narrative. According to this narrative, the first part of the saga takes place in a long-ago time, nothing at all like today, when the FBI did routinely spy on political groups. The FBI didn't just spy though. It staged illegal break-ins of political groups' offices; it attempted to sterilize Communist Party leader Gus Hall's brother's horse; and it sent a letter to Martin Luther King Jr., attempting to blackmail the civil rights leader into killing himself.
The FBI's blatant disregard for the US Constitution during this era is generally attributed to its director, J. Edgar Hoover. According to this misleading narrative, the problem was not one with the FBI per se, but with a particularly troublesome individual who amassed too much personal power, became too personally entwined with the institution he ran, and used federal police power to carry out his personal agendas and prejudices. Thus, according to this narrative, when Hoover died, ending his directorship-for-life, many of the problems of the FBI were resolved.
This narrative contends that even if Hoover alone was not responsible for the FBI assuming the role of the United States' political police, soon after his death, the US Senate staged a massive investigation, known as the Church Committee, into all of the wrongdoing in US law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It suggests that by bringing misdeeds previously unknown to light, the FBI was able to reform itself. In line with this narrative, the current director of the FBI, James Comey, speaks openly about keeping a copy of the letter Hoover sent to King (urging him to kill himself) on his desk as a warning. If Comey is troubled by the fact that the name of the author of this letter still adorns the building in which he works, he refuses to say so on the grounds that he is "no historian."
The second part of this narrative picks up after September 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks, many within the government felt the reforms that made sense during the Church Committee were no longer applicable to the urgent needs of national security. In a moment of extreme fear, the FBI overstepped its bounds and increased scrutiny of dissent, which was considered "unpatriotic" or "seditious" in a time of war.

Although the FBI no longer formally polices "subversive" ideas, it continues to use its existing powers to do just that.

This narrative is fundamentally false for multiple reasons. First, Hoover cut his teeth during the Palmer raids, which entailed the arrests of anarchists, socialists and other radicals. At that time, the 24-year-old Hoover was the head of the Justice Department's Radical Division, a section devoted exclusively to policing those with radical political views. The Radical Division would become the General Intelligence Division, which, according to the FBI's own website, was its "predecessor." While Hoover had many peculiar personality traits, he was also undeniably not out of step with the environment that produced him. During this time, many major police departments had "Red Squads," which, as the name would suggest, were intelligence divisions dedicated to "radical" political groups, and many states passed criminal "syndicalism" or "anarchy" statutes essentially outlawing certain points of view. While there is no doubt that Hoover was motivated by a personal antipathy toward left-wing politics, civil rights and dissent, he was not alone in thinking the state was an appropriate vehicle for crushing "subversive" political beliefs.
Another fundamental mistake within this narrative is its assumption that no one knew what was going on. In 1950, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) - well before Watergate or the Church Committee - had gathered evidence that the FBI used "illegal wire-tapping, mail-opening, and other forms of illegal procedures." However, because the FBI, along with the Central Intelligence Agency and Nation Security Agency, was engaged in extensive spying on the NLG, including wiretaps and break-ins of an NLG office, the FBI was aware of the NLG's planned report. Before the NLG report could even be released, the FBI responded by drafting a report accusing the National Lawyers Guild of being the "Legal Bulwark of the Communist Party."
Citing as evidence that the NLG was a Communist front, the report stated, "The guild today is crying for an investigation of the FBI, the vigilant guardian of our national security, on the ridiculous grounds that it is a 'gestapo' or 'political police' whose practices and policies violate our laws, infringe our liberties, and threaten our democracy." The report also cited as evidence of the NLG following the "Moscow line," an article published by the NLG, stating that "the FBI, and the United States Department of Justice act in close contact with the ultrareactionary Committee for the Investigation of Un-American Activities." The report was released by the House Un-American Activities Committee as the committee's own work, with no mention of the fact that the FBI drafted it (see Robert Sherrill's First Amendment Felon).
The FBI also was not a "reformed" agency until it let zeal for national security, brought on by post-9/11 hysteria, get the better of it. Starting in 1981, roughly five years after the end of the Church Committee, the FBI would begin investigating the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), first to determine if they were unregistered agents of a foreign power (they were not), and then as part of a "counterterrorism investigation." When this investigation came to light - after a series of suspicious break-ins at CISPES offices that remain unsolved to this day, and two separate FOIA requests - the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigated the matter and released a report.
The committee concluded that the FBI had initiated its investigation on the "basis of allegations that should not have been considered credible; it was broadened beyond the scope justified even by those allegations; and it continued after the available information had clearly fallen below the standards required by the applicable guidelines." Stunningly though, the report also concluded that the CISPES investigation was an anomaly that "contrasts sharply with the overall record of respect for and protection of First Amendment rights that characterized the FBI's counterintelligence and counterterrorism programs" at that time, and they did not believe the CISPES investigation was motivated by "ideological or political bias" on the part of the FBI.
CISPES was not the last FBI spying revelation before 9/11, but it is a significant one. Unlike the pre-Church Committee era, the FBI could not be so blatant about its policing of dissent. The official reason the agency chose - "terrorism" - is very telling, since this was a good 20 years before 9/11.
Unfortunately, this narrative has largely obfuscated the root causes of the FBI's continuous political spying. It has led to us to discuss FBI spying in two ways: either as a never-ending series of isolated incidents, possibly stemming from an overzealous response to September 11, 2001; or as an exotic remnant of a bygone era, instead of recognizing a pattern not just amongst current cases of FBI spying, but between the present activities of the FBI and past ones.
The FBI came into being during a time when many openly advocated the idea of policing "radical" or "subversive" political speech. Although the FBI no longer formally polices "subversive" ideas, it continues to use its existing powers, like counterterrorism authority, to do just that. This is not a coincidence, nor is it the product of individual bad actors. It is the product of the institution itself, an institution that was formed to be the United States' political police and continues to play that role. When we obscure this history, we also obscure what is at stake in the encryption debate. There is a multitude of reasons to support strong encryption, but without acknowledging the role of the FBI as the United States' political police, we miss a very important one.
Full disclosure: The author works at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, but the views expressed here are his own.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission

CHIP GIBBONS

Chip Gibbons is a progressive writer and activist whose writings can be found on his blog, Exiting Emerald, and have been featured on CounterPunch. He holds a bachelor's degree in political studies and history from Bard College and holds a JD from American University Washington College of Law.

Rise and Fall of the Personalist Left

Twilight of the Idols: Rise and Fall of the Personalist Left. Neo-Liberal Restoration in Latin-America

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Over the past three years Latin American leftist leaders, who presided over heterodox ‘free trade’ and commodity based welfare economies, lost presidential, legislative and municipal elections and referendums or faced impeachment.  They fell because they lost competitive elections, not because of US invasions or military coups.  These same leftist leaders, who had successfully defeated coups and withstood gross US political intervention via AID, NED, the DEA and other US government agencies, lost at the ballot box.
What accounts for the changing capacity of leftist presidents to retain majoritarian electoral support over almost a decade?  Why did the US-backed and funded candidates win this time, when they had been defeated in several previous elections?  What accounts for the defeat of the rightist violent road to power and their subsequent victory via the electoral process?
Class Struggle and Popular Mobilization as a Prelude to Leftist Electoral Victories
The electoral victories of the Left were preceded by a deep crisis in the ‘free market’ and deregulated economies, which were accompanied by intense class struggle from below.  Class struggle polarized and radicalized vast sections of the working and middle classes.
In Argentina, the total collapse of the financial and manufacturing system led to a popular uprising and the rapid overthrow of three presidents.  In Bolivia, two popular uprisings overthrew two US backed ‘free market’ presidents.  In Ecuador, a popular ‘citizen movement’ ousted a US-backed president.
In BrazilParaguay and Venezuela, burgeoning peasant and urban movements, engaged in direct action and in opposition to their ‘free market’ presidents, resulted in the election of left presidents.
Four inter-connected factors came to the fore to explain the left’s rise to power:  First, the dramatic collapse and ensuing socio-economic crisis, entailing poverty, stagnation and repression by rightwing regimes, precipitated a large-scale shift to the left.  Secondly, the intense class struggle, responding to the crisis, politicized the workers, radicalized the downwardly mobile middle classes and eroded the influence of the ruling class and the impact of their elite-controlled mass media.  Thirdly, the leftist presidents promised long-term large-scale structural changes and successfully implemented immediate social impact programs (employment, social benefits, bank deposit protection, pay raises and large scale public investments).  Last, but not least, the leftist presidents came to power at the beginning of or during a mega-cycle commodity boom providing multi-billion dollar surpluses in export earnings and tax revenues with which to finance new inclusionary social programs.
Electoral Clientalized Politics, Social De-Mobilization and Extractive Partnerships
During the first years of the left governments, they kept the heat on the rightwing elites: defeating abortive coups, expelling intrusive US Ambassadors and US agencies and defeating the local US clients.
They moved on the legal front to consolidate political power by convoking constitutional assemblies to approve progressive constitutions.  They attracted and built on the support from their new indigenous, popular and middle class constituents.
The constitutional changes reorganized new social alignments, especially the rights of indigenous people, but fell far short of serving as the basis for a change of property relations.
The left governments reinforced their dependence on agro-mineral exports by designing a growth strategy based on economic partnership with multi-nationals and agro-business plantation owners.
The rising prices of commodities on the world market led to increases in government revenues, public investment in infrastructure and expanded employment in the public sector.  The left governments constructed large-scale patronage systems and clientelistic electoral machines, which ‘mobilized’ the masses on electoral and ceremonial occasions and for international forums.
International left academics and journalists were impressed by the left administrations’ fiery rhetoric supporting anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal policies.  Local and overseas pundits parroted the rhetoric about new forms of ‘socialism’, 21st century socialism in Ecuador and Venezuela and Andean socialism in Bolivia.
In actual practice long-term, large-scale contracts were signed with international giants like, Repsol, Monsanto, Jindel and scores of other imperial backed multi-nationals.
Big agro-exporters received credits, loans and technical aid while peasants and local producers received only the paper ‘land titles’ for their small holdings.  No large-scale land distributions were undertaken.  Landless peasants, who were engaged in land occupations, were forcibly evicted.  Increased government spending on credit and technical assistance was channeled almost exclusively to large-scale soya, cattle, cotton and other agro-exporters, which increased rural class inequalities and exacerbated the decline of food security.
During the decade, militants became functionaries, who developed ties with business groups and began their own process of ‘social mobility’.
The agro-mineral export model raised incomes and reduced poverty but also accentuated inequalities between government functionaries and peasants and urban workers.  The newly affluent, upwardly mobile middle class no longer flocked to hear ‘egalitarian rhetoric’.  They sought security, pursued credit-financed consumerism and looked upward toward the wealthy elite for their role models and life style changes – rather than expressing solidarity with those left behind.
From Retreat to Defeat:  Pragmatic Accommodation as a Formula for Neo-Liberal Restoration
The leaders’ anti-imperialist rhetoric was increasingly discounted by most people as it was contrasted with the large-scale inflow of capital and the contracts with multi-nationals.
The symbolic ‘gestures’ and local projects celebrated before large crowds were accepted but increasingly failed to compensate for the daily routines of centralized power and local corruption.
Over the decade the political cadres of the left governments rounded-up votes via electoral patronage favors, financed by bribes from contractors and illicit transfers of public funds.
Re-election bred complacency, arrogance and a sense of impunity.  The perquisites of office were taken for granted by party leader but were perceived as unwarranted privileges by many working class and peasant voters.
The de-radicalization process at the top and middle levels of the left regimes led the lower classes to rely on individualistic, family and local solutions to their everyday problems.
With the demise of the commodity cycle, the broad coalition of workers, peasants, middle class and professional groups splintered.  Many rejected the malfeasance of the left regimes as a betrayal of the promise of change.
Thus the popular sectors embraced the moralizing critique mounted by the right.
The retrograde radical right exploited discontent with the incumbents and played down or disguised their plans to reverse and undermine the employment and salary gains, pensions and family allowance gained over the decade.
Conclusion
The left governments stimulated the growth of extractive capitalism and converted their mass base into a passive recipient of regime reforms.
The unequal power between leaders and followers was tolerated as long as the incremental rewards continued to flow.
As classes rose in the social hierarchy they shed their leftist ideology born of crisis and looked to elite politicians as the new ‘modernizers’.
The left regimes encouraged a ‘dependency culture’ in which they competed for votes on the bases of growth, markets and patronage.
The left functionaries, unable to rise via the ‘closed’ agro-mineral sectors – under the control of the multi-nationals, turned to state corruption, extracting ‘commissions’ as intermediaries for the MNC, or simply absconding with public funds allocated for municipal health, education and infrastructure projects.
As a result, electoral promises were not kept.  The corrupt practices were ignored by their elected leaders, deeply offending the popular electorate, who were disgusted by the spectacle of corrupt left politicians applauding radical rhetoric while raiding federal funds with impunity.
Party loyalty undermined any national political oversight of local politicians and functionaries.  Disenchantment with the local functionaries spread up to the top.  Popular leaders, who were repeatedly elected soon, were implicated or at least complicit in bribe-taking.
The end of the decade and the end of the commodity boom marked the twilight of idols.  The left lost elections throughout the region.
Epilogue
            The Kirchner-Fernandez regime was defeated in Argentina (2015).
            The Lula-Rousseff regime faces indictment and impeachment in Brazil (2014-2016).
            The Chavez-Maduro regime lost the legislative election in Venezuela (2015).
            The Evo Morales regime lost the constitutional amendment allowing the president’s third term re-election in Bolivia (2016).

The Dutch EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Referendum

Video: The European Crisis: The Dutch EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Referendum

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Financial Chaos and Debt Default in the European Union
Europe is continuing to get bogged down in a political swamp. Contradictions between the national interests of the EU member states and the political course of a supranational bureaucracy have turned into a phase of sharp struggle.
Today the EU gets struck by:
Huge immigration flow from Arab countries, North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Balkans;
The economic and trade crisis, which has caused unemployment and the reduction of incomes;
US political pressure and the financial dictate of the US-controlled international financial institutions;
Threats to basic civil rights and freedoms.
However, EU citizens are being intentionally misguided and mislead in both identifying and dealing with all of these challenges by their governments.
In the pursuit of upholding the interests of the international banking cartel and the geopolitical machinations of a few in the US elite, the Euro bureaucracy leads the EU to an inevitable collapse.
Calls for reasonable policies and the step-by-step development of the EU espoused by a number of European political forces cause only a hysterical reaction by Brussels and fierce criticism from the European mainstream media.
Critics are marginalized as a minority, meanwhile, real social and economic situations are suppressed.
The next striking example of the conflicts of interests of European peoples and the supranational European bureaucracy is the case of the Dutch referendum on the approval of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, which will be held in the Netherlands on 6 April 2016.
Recently a similar Association Agreement was signed with Moldova. The economic and social situation in the country has deteriorated dramatically after the signing of the agreement. After the EU visa-free regime was proclaiming, every third adult citizen of Moldova went to work in EU countries or had already done so prior to the agreement. Almost all of them are employed in unskilled labor.
The current migration situation in the EU is disastrous, both because of the mass influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, and the flow of migrants from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile Brussels aggressively promotes an Association Agreement with the Ukraine, where more than 42 million live with an average monthly wage of $ 120, and monthly pension of $ 40. Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have already faced the problem of an acute influx of Ukrainian migrants.
When a visa-free regime is adopted, a large mass of working age Ukrainian people will rush to Western Europe to find any opportunity of a better living. If we look at the Moldovan precedent, where the standard of living is higher than in the Ukraine, it is possible to predict the flow of Ukrainian immigration at the level of 5-8 million people in the first 3 years after the visa free regime is established.
This fact is well understood by a number of social and political movements of various European countries.
Maybe the European Union bureaucracy is striving to replicate the US immigration experience, and we are observing the conscious behavior aimed at bringing into the EU as many able-bodied immigrants as possible, in effect a kind of social global engineering program.
Dutch civil society has risked an initiative to contest the issue through a public discourse, its passage dependent upon the results of a national referendum. In the event of a valid vote against the Association Agreement, the Netherlands Parliament has to enact a new law to repeal the Agreement or provide for its entry into force.
Opinion polls in the Netherlands show that between 50% and 75% of pollees are against a hasty border opening for one more depressed Eastern economy.
In its turn, the European bureaucracy, which has taken the full political responsibility for the fate of the Ukrainian regime, has no other way but to push the Association Agreement with Ukraine.
The situation becomes more complicated, because the Ukrainian regime has shown a complete failure over the past 2 years.
  • No signs of a crackdown on corruption. The state and law enforcement bodies are still unreformed.
  • Ukrainian authorities demonstrate total ineptitude in foreign policy.
  • The economic crisis has put the country on the brink of default, despite the multimillion-dollar infusions from numerous sources. The EU money was simply stolen through various corruption schemes
  • A “worm’s-eye-view” in resolving issues of fuel and energy acquisition have endangered the security of the European energy supply.
Under these ambiguous circumstances, the European authorities have found only one way out – to launch a broad propaganda campaign in the Netherlands against the referendum with the full complicity and resources of the mainstream media. They refused to listen to the masses of the people, and thus propose a phased plan for EU integration with the Ukraine, taking into account the existing unsolved problems, whether they be in the Ukraine or the EU.
Pro-referendum rights activists are unable to express their views in any of the mainstream or state-backed media. The referendum initiators are under stiff psychological and physical pressure, however; the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2017 in the Netherlands, as well as a tough stance on the part of the referendum activists, are stifling European Union bureaucracy initiatives.
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