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Fail and Grow Rich on Wall Street

  • The financial benefits are not trickling down. Throwing money at the banks has been as effective as pushing on a string, and the result has been what former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker has excoriated as a “liquidity trap.” No serious government pressure has been brought to bear on the banks to help homeowners stay in their homes through mortgage payment adjustments.
  • Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken

Robert Scheer, TruthDig/Reader Supported News

A banner displaying the name of General Motors covers the front of the New York Stock Exchange recently on the first day of trading in its new shares. AP / Seth Wenig

Welcome to the brave new world of post-bailout capitalism. The Commerce Department announced Tuesday that corporate profits are at their highest level in U.S. history, and the Fed released minutes of an early November meeting in which officials predicted a stagnant economy and continued high unemployment.

The lead on the New York Times story read like a line from a Dickens novel: “The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.” What the Times story neglected to mention is that the bulk of the increase in corporate profits was nabbed by the financial industry rather than manufacturing and other productive sectors. A whopping $33.3 billion out of the total corporate profits increase of $44.4 billion went to the banks and investment houses that those same workers had bailed out with their tax dollars.

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Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken, Zach Carter and Simon JohnsonAlterNet

  • Progressive economist Simon Johnson talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.
  • Business buys itself a new government

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Veterans for Peace (VFP) to Take a Stand for Peace at the White House Dec 16

  • On Dec. 16th, 2010, veterans and others will stage what will be the largest veteran-led civil resistance to U.S. wars in recent history. All of us in Veterans For Peace need to pull together to make sure those will not be empty words.
  • Come to DC on December 16! VFP led action at the White House

Tarak Kauff and Leah Bolger, Veterans For Peace

Comrades, Brothers and Sisters,

The following sentence is critical, so please read on. On Dec. 16th, 2010, veterans and others will stage what will be the largest veteran-led civil resistance to U.S. wars in recent history. All of us in Veterans For Peace need to pull together to make sure those will not be empty words.

Many of us have grown so used to the state of war being a constant these past 10 years that people no longer see it as an emergency the way they did prior to the Iraq invasion, when millions of us turned out worldwide to attempt to stop the oncoming war. I want us return to seeing it as an emergency, a fire that must be put out and one that we will put our bodies on the line to extinguish. Many, if not most of us, engage in anti-war activities of one sort or another on a regular basis, usually in our own locales. This action described below is different. It is not meant to be yet another anti-war action among many where perhaps a handful of vets take a stand and get arrested, barely generating a blip on the screen of world and U.S. consciousness.

The purpose of this action is twofold, direct and simple, yet profound. By showing scores of U.S. veterans being literally dragged away from the White House as they demand peace, we expose the hypocrisy of a government that is waging (and promoting) worldwide, endless warfare during a season when we celebrate "Peace on Earth." But more important, it will vividly demonstrate that serious civil resistance is alive and well in the United States.

This will only happen if there are more than relative handfuls of us taking part. What we are asking is that your chapter support this, preferably by sending some (or all!) of your members to take part, but if you cannot do that, by enthusiastically spreading the word.

Here's what Doug Zachary wrote about his participation: "We are at a critical time in world history. Will the Western democracies continue to develop along the lines of Rousseau, Voltaire, Jefferson, King, Chavez and company? Or does the future hold a feudal world committed to slavery and fascism? The extent to which we resist is the extent to which there is reason to hope. Our witness, even if ignored in our times, will be on record and will inspire democratic revolutionaries far into the future."

To make sure it is not "ignored in our times," we have three top videographers, and excellent still photographers committed to sending out a record of our resistance worldwide. We also have enthusiastic support from large non-veteran organizations that will mobilize their members in support (see flyer).

When you look at the signatures on the letter below, you'll see many names you recognize, quite a few of our buddies, people who have been VFP stalwarts for years. What I'm asking is for all of us not to leave them hanging out to dry (Ferner says "freeze"). You get the picture. It's the season—the more the merrier. Let's demonstrate that VFP, when it comes to putting ourselves on the line, is a force for peace to be reckoned with.
If you want to be involved please e-mail stopthesewars@gmail.com or register online at http://www.stopthesewars.org, and we will keep you posted. Also, to make this a powerful reality, there will be expenses for banners, flyers, posters, legal, etc., so please make a donation.

For Peace and Solidarity,
Tarak Kauff
Veterans For Peace
Woodstock, NY
845 679-3299
takauff@gmail.com

Related:

Take A Stand For Peace!

During the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King called our government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." True then—and even more so today.

A few years before that, in 1964 Mario Savio made his great speech at Berkeley; at the end he says, "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

There are children being orphaned, maimed or killed every day, in our name, with our tax dollars; there are soldiers and civilians dying or being maimed for life, in order to generate profits for the most odious imperialistic corporate war machine ever, again in our name. How long are we going to let this go on? Until it is too late, until this destructive machine destroys all of us and the planet to boot?

Wikileaks has revealed the documented horror of U.S. war-making, beyond what any of us imagined. It's time veterans and others express our resistance directly and powerfully by putting ourselves on the line, once again—honestly, courageously and without one drop of apology for doing so. It is not we who are the murderers, torturers or pillagers of the earth.

Profit and power-hungry warmongers are destroying everything we hold dear and sacred.

In the early thirties, WW1 vets descended on Washington, D.C., to demand their promised bonuses, it being the depths of the Depression. General Douglas MacArthur and his sidekick Dwight Eisenhower disregarded President Herbert Hoover's order and burned their encampment down and drove the vets out of town at bayonet point.

We are today's bonus marchers, and we've coming to claim our bonus-PEACE.

Join activist veterans marching in solidarity to the White House, refusing to move, demanding the end of U.S. wars, which includes U.S. support—financial and tactical—for the Israeli war machine as well.

If we can gather enough courageous souls, nonviolently refusing to leave the White House, willing to be dragged away and arrested if necessary, we will send a message that will be seen worldwide. "End these wars - now!" We will carry forward a flame of resistance to the war machine that will not diminish as we effectively begin to place ourselves, as Mario Savio said, "upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus." and we will make it stop.

We believe that the power of courageous, committed people is greater than that of corporate warmongers. But we will only see our power when we use it collectively, when we stand together.

With courage, persistence, boldness and numbers, we can eventually make this monstrous war machine grind to a halt, so that our children and all children everywhere can grow up in a peaceful world.

Join us at the White House on December 16th!

For a world in peace,

Nic Abramson - Veterans For Peace, Elliott Adams - Past President,Veterans For Peace, Laurie Arbeiter-Activist Response Team, Ken Ashe -Veterans For Peace, Ellen Barfield-Veterans For Peace, Brian Becker-ANSWER Coalition, National Coordinator, Medea Benjamin - Co-Founder - CodePink for Peace, Frida Berrigan-War Resisters League, Bruce Berry-Veterans For Peace, Leah Bolger-Veterans For Peace, Elaine Brower-Anti-war Military Mom and World Can't Wait, Scott Camil-Veterans For Peace, Ross Caputi- Justice For Fallujah Project, Kim Carlyle-Veterans For Peace, Armen Chakerian - Coalition to Stop the $30 Billion to Israel, Matthis Chiroux-Iraq War Resister Veteran, Gerry Condon-Veterans For Peace, Will Covert-Veterans For Peace, Dave Culver-Veterans For Peace, Matt Daloisio-Witness Against Torture, Ellen Davidson-War Resisters League, Mike Ferner-President, Veterans For Peace, Nate Goldshlag-Veterans For Peace, Clare Hanrahan-War Crimes Times, Mike Hearington-Veterans For Peace, Mark Johnson - Exec. Dir. Fellowship of Reconciliation, Tarak Kauff-Veterans For Peace, Kathy Kelly-Voices For Creative Nonviolence, Sandy Kelson-Veterans For Peace, Joel Kovel-Veterans For Peace, Erik Lobo-Veterans For Peace, Joe Lombardo-United National Antiwar Committee, Ken Mayers -Veterans For Peace, Nancy Munger-co-President, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Fred Nagel-Veterans For Peace, Pat O'Brien-Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Bill Perry-Vietnam Veterans Against The War, Vito Piccininno -Veterans For Peace, Mike Prysner-co-founder, March Forward, Ward Reilly-Veterans For Peace, Laura Roskos-co-President, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Cindy Sheehan-Founder, Peace of the Action, David Swanson-author, Debra Sweet-National Director, World Can't Wait, Mike Tork-Veterans For Peace, Hart Viges - Iraq Veterans Against the War, Father Louie Vitale - SOA Watch, Jay Wenk-Veterans For Peace, Linda Wiener- Veterans F or Peace, Diane Wilson -Veterans For Peace, Col. Ann Wright-Veterans For Peace, Doug Zachary-Veterans For Peace

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Let's make lemonade this Thanksgiving

I am also grateful that Vice President Dick Cheney -- that little ray of sunshine, that bouncing ball of light and happiness spreading joy where'er he goes -- is so well prepared for a brilliant second career. He's perfect to play the heavy in films. Not since Jimmy Cagney was a gangster have we seen a sneer like that. In the remake of "Jaws," Cheney can play the shark.

November 24, 2005

Molly Ivins, Syndicated Columnist, Free Press

Since the political world ranges from poor to icky these days, you may think we are gratitudinally challenged this Thanksgiving. But a mere soupcon of sunny optimism goes a long way toward getting us to dwell on how lucky we are. We are abundantly blessed with lemons. Let us make lemonade.

I am grateful for the extraordinary number of readers who sent along their ideas on How to Fix All This. The ideas ranged from the sublime to the practical, from the universal and global to the price of milk. The country is teeming with good ideas, all of which we need.

I was particularly intrigued by this thought from peace activist Gen Van Cleve: It's 2009 and the Bush people are gone, leaving in their wake fury, suspicion, distrust -- basically, our name is mud, whether we've left Iraq by then or not. Most of the rest of the world considers us: A) insane, B) imperialist and C) morons. What to do?

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Try a Spiritual Progressive Approach to Thanksgiving This Year

No matter how difficult it may be in a world filled with pain and cruelty, there are moments when it is important to stop looking at all the problems and  focus on all the good.   And that's part of what Thanksgiving could be about for you this year.

A note from  Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun/Network of Spiritual Progressives

No matter how difficult it may be in a world filled with pain and cruelty, there are moments when it is important to stop looking at all the problems and  focus on all the good.   And that's part of what Thanksgiving could be about for you this year. Life is so amazing, and our universe so awesome, filled with realities that transcend our capacity to comprehend, and inviting us to awe and wonder and radical amazement!  Give yourself and your friends a day dedicated to truly feeling those kinds of feelings!!!!

I don't mean only a moment of sharing "something we all appreciate" during the traditional meal. I mean, in addition, actually consciously shaping  the day in such a way that  the focus of attention throughout the day is on giving thanks.

It might start with a group of friends or family taking a walk to visit some part of nature that they really love. And expressing thanks for it.  Or, you might consider structuring some time (an hour before or after dinner, perhaps?) in which each person gets to be by her or himself for ten minutes and encouraged to focus on getting in touch with the things that s/he really appreciates in her/his life, and to find some way to offer thanks (a song, a prayer, words said in silence or aloud, a hymn or tune you want to offer the Universe or God--some way in which you let out of your mouth your thanks for all the goodness in the world and in your own world). If that's not likely to occur where you go for Thanksgiving meal, create this space for
yourself earlier in the day.

It might continue with each family member, guest, or friend being asked to bring something (a book, a poem, a video, a movie, a song, a musical instrument to play some music, a cd or dvd) that they believe will give you an experience for which you are grateful or to facilitate your encounter with or memory of things about which you are already grateful. Dedicate some time in the afternoon to each person sharing that with each other--and that can add another dimension of thanks.

Then, you might consider asking each person to share something that they particularly appreciate in another person who is there at the gathering.  Or to tell about some other person who has been a special teacher, friend, or care-giver to you during the past year. Even if you are only a guest at someone else's celebration, you can initiate or at least suggest this to the people you meet there! To prepare, you might even make a list of the things you are truly grateful for in your life before you go to someone else's home for Thanksgiving.

Fully giving thanks makes it easier to see the Spirit of God, the special dignity and goodness, that is in everything and everyone--and that will make it easier for you to less reactive when someone says something specific at your Thanksgiving table that seems out of whack with your own moral sensibilities about the political or cultural worlds. And it's in that state of compassion and recognition of the Spirit of God in everyone you can feel comfortable to talk to the others around the table about the one billion people who are hungry this and every day, and about our proposed Global Marshall Plan and urging them to help you get your local elected city council to endorse it, and your state legislators and Congressional reps and Senators to back it (first step: to read it)!

And in the meantime to take small steps of alleviating hunger, for example by reading and then following the suggestions in Peter Singer’s book The Life You Can Save.

I think you will find that when you've followed some of these steps preparatory to the meal, that you can then turn the conversation to talk about the absurdity of the War in Afghanistan and the misguided nature of the War on Terror, and the Tikkun alternative ( the strategy of generosity and the Global Marshall Plan). Or talk about the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East and the need for a progressive Middle Path which is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, and refuses to play the "blame game" of which side is "really bad" and which side is "really good" but instead recognizes that both sides have co-created this mess. You might even want to discuss the misguided move by the US to offer military incentives to Israel to restart negotiations (see the piece about this on our website). Or you might want to talk about the recent US midterm elections and the analysis of that situation I presented (the editorial in the Nov/Dec issue of Tikkun) and by Peter Gabel which you could access by clicking here. For all the “realists” at your table ask them how well they think things turned out for Obama and the Democrats these past two years by following the “realistic” path in D.C. rather than fighting for a more progressive or visionary alternative.

You might want to read or send to attendees of your Thanksgiving party in advance a copy of our articles on these issues at Tikkun.org or SpiritualProgressives.org – to help inform the discussion. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to introduce unconventional or alternative perspectives if the people at the table have received an article on the topic before Thanksgiving (or any other occasion on which you have the opportunity to share a meal with others who might themselves raise controversial topics or find your own views controversial)—because when they see that you have others on your side who have rational arguments, they tend to be less dismissive of your perspective! Or even bring the latest issue of Tikkun or at least a copy of our ESRA—Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—as a way of showing them that there is a real concrete path to restoring democracy and controlling the global selfishness of corporations (or even get them to sign it!!! You can print it from here).

Obviously there are hundreds of other ways to joyfully experience this day, and you can shape the day in the way that works best for you. Based on my experience,my advice is to plan it out before hand to make sure that it is the most nurturing possible day for yourself and for those with whom you will come into contact. Thanksgiving may give you a wonderful opportunity to give back to the world in any of these ways.

And giving thanks is healing to one's own soul, and increases the total love, generosity, and God-energy in the world. The rabbis of the Talmud, in addressing the need everyone has to "give back," said that even the poorest of the poor should give something to charity for others in need--recognizing that the act of giving is itself a life-enhancing act that should be available to even those who have almost nothing materially, because they still have other human capacities that enable them to give in some way of themselves to others, just as we should give to them!  And I remember how empowering it felt to me and all my fellow grammar school students at Far Brook Country Day School when we brought a vegetable or fruit a day before Thanksgiving to the annual Thanksgiving celebration and these offerings were then brought to a nearby orphanage. Giving to others is a gift to the soul and so is giving thanks!

Many blessings for a very rewarding and spiritually real Thanksgiving.

Rabbi Michael Lerner

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Close the School of the Americas

Nov. 19-21: Converge on Fort Benning

School of the Americas Watch

From November 19-21, 2010, thousands will gather at the gates of Fort Benning to stand up for justice and call for the SOA/WHINSEC to be shut down! Below are some helpful links for your trip planning, and a sneak peak into what SOA Watch has lined up for this year! (para información en español, haga click aquí)

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Engage in Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/WHINSEC
This year there will be different ways for people to be involved in the Saturday action including crossing the line of the base of Fort Benning which risks federal arrest, or a city side action, outside the permitted area. But note that you may also participate without risking arrest. SOA Watch has permits for the activities in front of the base, and the acts of civil disobedience for those risking arrest will be clearly marked.

Stage Program

Rebel Diaz

The stage program at the gates of Fort Benning will take place on Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 11:30am - 4pm and on Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 8am - 2pm. The program will feature leaders from the resistance against the illegitimate U.S.-supported government in Honduras; Padre Jesus Alberto Franco, a renowned leader from Colombia, risking his life working with Afro-Colombian, indigenous and mixed-race farmers in resistance; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit; Marie Dennis, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and Co-President of Pax Christi International; United Auto Worker president Bob King; the Hip Hop group Rebel Diaz from the Bronx; the puppetistas, musicians and many other beautiful people.

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Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken

  • Progressive economist Simon Johnson talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.
  • Business buys itself a new government

Zach Carter and Simon JohnsonAlterNet

Simon Johnson

Zach Carter: Your push to break up the largest banks into smaller banks that can actually fail without wreaking havoc on the economy has been very well-received by progressives. But historically, the IMF and the Federal Reserve are not exactly hotbeds of progressive thought. How did you and Paul Volcker become the vanguard of the economic left?

Simon Johnson: The ideas that we're advancing both in Baseline Scenario and in the book should appeal to people on the right, the center and the left. There's an article by Arnold Kling that we wrote about on Baseline Scenario. He's a libertarian, which I am not, but he's come around to our way of thinking about the banks. If you think about it from the right, our financial system is just monstrously unfair. It's not in any way a market economy to have these banks who are so big that the government can't let them fail. They have funding advantages over other banks, and those advantages only encourage them to get bigger. That's just not reasonable.

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Business buys itself a new government, Nick Coleman, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

  • Corporate donors, newly emboldened by a court ruling, played dirty and won.
  • So that's what a $4 billion campaign looks like!


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Click on deficit problem

Play With This Toy

BooMan, Booman Tribune

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

Photo Credit: AMagill

Yes, you can solve the deficit problem, and you don't have to touch Social Security to do it. You don't have to charge admission to the Smithsonian museums to do it. You don't have to defund NPR and PBS to do it. You don't have to slash veteran's health benefits to do it. See for yourself.

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Living in the Age of Imposed Amnesia

  • "We live in an age in which punitive justice and a theater of cruelty have become the defining elements of a mainstream cultural apparatus that trades in historical and social amnesia.
  • Imposed amnesia is the modus operandi of the current moment.
  • The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum
  • Empire of Illusion


Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

"We live in an age in which punitive justice and a theater of cruelty have become the defining elements of a mainstream cultural apparatus that trades in historical and social amnesia. How else to explain the electoral sweep that just put the most egregious Republican Party candidates back in power? These are the people who gave us Katrina, made torture a state policy, promoted racial McCarthyism, celebrated immigrant bashing, pushed the country into two disastrous wars, built more prisons than schools, bankrupted the public treasury, celebrated ignorance over scientific evidence ('half of new Congressmen do not believe in global warming') and promoted the merging of corporate and political power."

For the public to forget so quickly the legacy of the injustices, widespread corruption and moral abyss created by this group (along with a select number of conservative democrats) points to serious issues with the pedagogical conditions and cultural apparatuses that made the return of the living dead possible. The moral, political and memory void that enabled this vengeful and punishing historical moment reached its shameful apogee by allowing the pathetic George W. Bush to reappear with a 44 percent popularity rating and a book tour touting his memoirs - the ultimate purpose of which is to erase any vestige of historical consciousness and make truth yet another casualty of the social amnesia that has come to characterize the American century.

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The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

  • The silencing of radicals has left academics and intellectuals without the language, vocabulary of class war and analysis to critique the ideology of globalism, the savagery of unfettered capitalism and the ascendancy of the corporate state.
  • Ignorance as Authenticity
  • How propaganda is used in the U.S. to control it citizens

Empire of Illusion, Jeff Dietrich, The Catholic Agitator

  • It's all about spectacle and debauchery. People are so disconnected from reality that they don't know how to read what is happening--they cannot grasp that the walls are tumbling down--and so they retreat into absurdities. This is the disease gripping American society today.
  • Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
  • Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline


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