stuartbramhall:

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Many have long suspected the propaganda role Hollywood plays in promoting the interest of the US military industrial intelligence complex. Now there’s proof. The latest documents released by Wikileaks reveal some uncomfortable – yet unsurprising – truths about the relationship between Hollywood and the US Government. In its propaganda efforts against both Russia, the US State Department may have pressured Sony – and some of the biggest stars – into cooperating.

As Wikileaks notes, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is also on the board of trustees for the RAND Corporation, a research arm of the US military. According to the leaked emails, the State Department may have taken advantage of Lynton’s dual positions to further its own propaganda aims.

In one email, Lynton provided a list of other Hollywood executives likely to cooperate with Obama’s propaganda efforts. This included senior level management from Turner Broadcasting and Walt Disney International.

Other emails suggest that Lynton was also asked to pressure Hollywood celebrities into promoting foreign policy objectives of the Obama administration.

Celebrities suggested by Lynton include George Clooney, Kerry Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as major filmmakers like David Fincher and Steven Spielberg.

Originally posted on 1EarthUnited:

Source: http://sputniknews.com/us/20150417/102104530.html

In its propaganda efforts against both Russia, the US State Department may have pressured Sony – and some of the biggest stars – into cooperating.The latest documents released by Wikileaks reveal some uncomfortable – yet unsurprising – truths about the relationship between Hollywood and the US Government. In its propaganda efforts against both Russia, the US State Department may have pressured Sony – and some of the biggest stars – into cooperating.

The latest Wikileaks release includes thousands of documents which reveal ties between the White House and Sony pictures. It’s taking journalists a long time to comb through the weeds, but some troubling details are emerging.

As Wikileaks notes, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is also on the board of trustees for the RAND Corporation, a research arm of the US military. According to emails, the State Department may have taken advantage of Lynton’s dual positions to further its own propaganda aims.

“As you could see, we have plenty of challenges in countering ISIL narratives in the Middle East and Russian narratives…

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Lifting the Veil: Barack Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy

Scott Noble (2013)

Film Review

Lifting the Veil is a well-crafted expose of the myth of so-called capitalist democracy Based on interviews and archival footage of Senator Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, George Carlin, Glen Ford, Harold Pinkley, John Pilger, Richard Wolfe, William I. Robinson, Bill Moyers and other prominent dissidents, it makes an ironclad case that democracy is impossible under a capitalist economic system.

Using Obama’s extensive list of broken campaign promises as a starting point, Noble convincingly demonstrates how Wall Street corporations have seized absolute control over all America’s so-called democratic institutions. In addition to highlighting the essential role team Obama played in crippling a large, highly vocal antiwar movement, he presents historical examples to reveal how this has been the traditional role of the Democratic Party in the US – to co-opt social movements that threaten the status quo.

The first half of the film focuses on Obama’s 2008 campaign and his long list of promises to reverse specific abuses of George W Bush’s government. In a series of archival clips, we see Obama promising to

• Restore habeas corpus
• Close Guantanamo
• End government secrecy
• End wireless surveillance
• Stop foreclosures instead of enriching bank CEOS
• Expose corporate backers of tax and corporate welfare legislation
• End torture
• End extraordinary rendition*
• Withdraw from Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2011
• Pass banking regulation to prevent a new Wall Street collapse

Besides breaking every single one of these promises, Obama enacted new policies that were even more oppressive and pro-corporate than Bush’s. Among them were an indefinite detention provision in the NDAA, an executive order giving himself power to assassinate American citizens, the new war in Pakistan and Libya and $7 billion in loans guarantees for the moribund nuclear industry.

The film makes the point that the 2008 election was merely a PR exercise in marketing Brand Obama and had absolutely nothing to do with the candidate’s political agenda.

My favorite segments were those in which comedian George Carlin explains to audiences how powerful corporations sucker them into believing they live in a democracy.

The film ends on an optimistic note with a sampling of opinion polls indicating that more than 60% of Americans oppose the pro-corporate agenda Obama has foisted on them: 63% of Americans would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone, 70% oppose nuclear power, 81% want to reduce the deficit by taxing the rich and cutting the military budget and only 3% support cutting Social Security.

The only criticism I would have of Lifting the Veil is that it fails to offer specific solutions for Americans seeking to get their democracy back. The dissidents featured are pretty much unanimous that Americans need to stop looking to electoral politics as a way to reform either government or the economic system. However they are a little vague on what activists should do other than protesting and engaging in civil disobedience. Neither is likely to accomplish significant change without serious organizing and movement building to develop alternatives to the current system of government.

Given a lot of this movement building is already occurring in Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Mexico and South America and it would have been great to see examples of what this looks like.


*Extraordinary rendition is the kidnapping and transfer of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention, interrogation and torture.

stuartbramhall:

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Very sad story of systematic social and economic exclusion of African Americans. This is an immense personal tragedy for black teenagers. Unemployment statistics (the true ones) reveal that 83% of black male teens are unemployed nationally. In Chicago, the figure is 92%: Black Youth Project

Originally posted on Moorbey'z Blog:

Blacks picking cotton in the U.S. in 1897

by Phillip Jackson

What will America do with 40 million Black Americans now that there is no more cotton to pick? Even in states like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, Black people are no longer involved in the planting, growing or harvesting of cotton.

Nowadays these tasks are performed by White and Latino men and women. They drive machines that plant and pick the cotton while millions of Black men in the South are unemployed since transitioning from slave labor to surplus labor. And although picking cotton is not the most desirable job, for Black people in America, there is no more cotton to pick.

Our American economy was built on the backs of Black slaves who were initially brought to America to work in the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane fields. America’s dilemma today is what to do with 40 million Black American descendants of those slaves who were shipped…

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an indigenous peoples history

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press 2014)

Book Review

I loved this book. It helped me make sense, finally, of the barbaric viciousness of US military policy. The drone wars, torture, sexual assault, civilian massacres and deliberate targeting of women and children all clearly have their origin in the genocidal wars against Native Americans. There is an unbroken continuity, embedded in the mindset of US military officers, between the so-called Indian Wars and the US invasion and occupation of Mexico, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is a book about total war, also known as “irregular warfare” and “counterinsurgency,” a uniquely American scorched earth form of warfare that was first perfected during the British colonization of Northern Ireland. Ulster Scots-Irish settlers brought it to the New World, migrating in the hundreds of thousands in the early eighteenth century. From the beginning, it was primarily Scots-Irish settlers who illegally squatted on unceded Indigenous lands. These were typically soldier-settlers who killed Indigenous farmers and destroyed their towns. They would become the mainstay of the colonies’ early militia movement, as well as forming the bulk of Washington’s revolutionary army.

Native historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz organizes this book around three broad themes: the US role as a Covenant Nation, the Doctrine of Discovery and the uniquely North American concept of genocidal extermination as a legitimate form of warfare.

Correcting the Historical Record

The author begins by correcting centuries of lies and distortions about life in North America prior to European colonization – starting with the number of inhabitants. Archeological evidence indicates the Indigenous population of North American was closer to 40 million than the 1-2 million claimed in most official textbooks. This Over a period of 200 years, this number was reduced to a current Indigenous population of approximately 3 million.

Far from being naked savages, these 40 million lived in advanced sovereign nations comparable to the Mayan, Aztec and Incan civilization in Central and South America. These nations and city-states had extensive road networks and trade relationships and benefited from advanced agricultural techniques (which included irrigation), arts and sciences, and sophisticated systems of government, theologies and philosophies. Unlike other early civilizations, they didn’t domesticate animals. Rather they managed wild herds by deliberately creating food-rich forest parks to attract them. For this reason, they were also free of zoogenic diseases, such as small pox, influenza, measles, etc. that animal domestication introduced into other civilizations. .

By the 12th century, the Mississippi Valley was dominated by a number of large city states, including one (Cahokia) which had a population (40,000) larger than London (14,000) at the same period.

Covenant Nations and the Doctrine of Discovery

All these civilizations were destroyed by European settlers and armies who believed their Christian God had promised North America to them. Sound familiar? According to Dunbar-Ortiz, the US, like Israel and apartheid South Africa, is a Covenant Nation. In all three, the political elite justified the total subjugation, displacement and extermination of the original inhabitants based on a so-called Covenant with their God.

Although it was primarily Protestant English and Scots-Irish settlers who instigated and led the genocidal wars against Indigenous North Americans, legally they used a series of 15th century papal bulls, collectively referred to as the Doctrine of Discovery, as legal justification for their actions. These declare that European nations acquire title to any land they “discover” in Africa, Asia or the Americas – that Indigenous inhabitants lose their natural right to their land once Europeans arrive and claim it. The US Supreme Court upheld the Doctrine of Discovery in 1823.

A State of Perpetual War

Dunbar-Ortiz also carefully documents that the US has been continuously at war ever since their 200-year war against the Indigenous nations. Washington’s revolutionary army directed as much force against Native American resistors as against British troops. Until the 1800s, Indigenous populations exceeded that of the settlers. When the colonial leadership failed in defeating Indigenous warriors by force of arms, they resorted to killing their women and children.

In addition to providing a detailed description of all the battles, unprovoked massacres and forced dislocations of Indigenous Americans, Dunbar-Ortiz provides detailed background on numerous other US wars commonly omitted from textbooks. For example the two Barbary Wars (1801-05 and 1815-16). In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Marines to invade Tripoli* (Libya) because their ruler was exacting fees from US merchant ships that entered their territorial waters.

Between 1798-1827, the US engaged in 21 other foreign military interventions, including Cuba, Latin America and Greece. Between 1831-1896, they engaged in 71 overseas interventions on all continents except Antarctica. Between 1898 and 1919, they engaged in forty overseas military interventions.

I particularly enjoyed the section about the US war on Mexico (which abolished slavery on gaining independence in 1821) and the US desire to extend the slave-plantation system westward. Following the US-Mexico War (1846-1848), the US annexed half of Mexico, which would become the states of Texas, California, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. Violent conflict over whether these new states would be free or slave states would ultimately trigger the Civil War.


*This is the origin of the first line of the Marine hymn: “From the halls of Montezuma (referring to the US invasion of Mexico) to the shores of Tripoli.”

stuartbramhall:

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In my mind the most significant paragraph in this article is this one:

‘In 2012 I asked a well known Republican political operative who has spent a lot of time at high levels in GOP politics “How long have you known that Webb Hubbell was the biological father of Chelsea Clinton?” He said he had known that since 1992. I said why didn’t the Republicans use that as an issue in 1992? Reply: he wasn’t running the 1992 presidential campaign.’

Very interesting article about the Clintons’ open marriage and people who’ve been hurt by it.

Originally posted on RIELPOLITIK:

Source  – mofopolitics.com

For years, the Clintons have gone to great lengths to pretend to be something they are not: a family. To this day, Bill often refers to Hillary as his “wife”, despite the fact he has been kicked out of her house a long time ago. And Hillary refers to Bill as her “husband”, despite the fact that Hillary knew Bill was sexually unhinged from the day she “married” Bill on Oct. 11, 1975.

In the 1992 campaign Bill’s aide Betsy Wright had a list of a whopping 26 women who were potential “bimbo eruptions” who might come forward and say they had had sex with wild Bill. In Clinton terms these were all nuts, sluts & liars. In reality, these were just the tip of the iceberg of the women who Bill Clinton has had sex with.

Bill and Hillary had a dysfunctional 1970’s “open…

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student loans

Recently a mind boggling General Account Office (GAO) study revealed that 105,000 Americans had their Social Security benefits garnisheed due to unpaid student loan debt. The New York Federal Reserve reveals that two million US Americans over sixty are still paying off $36.5 billion in student loan debt. Over eleven percent of this debt is in default.

According to banking reform advocate Ellen Brown, some seniors incurred this debt by co-signing student loans for children or grandchildren. However a lot was incurred by middle-aged workers going back to school in the hope of finding employment in a bad job market. What they have wound up with is something much worse: no job, an exponentially mounting debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and the prospect of old age without a social security check adequate to survive on.

John F Kennedy’s Vision

It took me twenty years to repay the student loans that enabled me to attend medical school (1969-73). This was before the financialization of the American economy, when student loans became a profit center for Wall Street banks. President John F Kennedy, who started the Health Professions Loan scheme, believed that bright students who worked had as much right to attend medical school as the sons (only seven in my class were women) of wealthy families. He also wisely envisioned that patients would benefit from a more diverse medical profession.

Although student loans are issued by banks, they are guaranteed by the federal government. Theoretically this means the taxpayer is on the hook if the student can’t pay the loan. In practice, this rarely happens. Student loans can’t be wiped clean by bankruptcy, except in rare cases of permanent and total disability. Or even by death. Last week Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced “Andrew’s Law,” new legislation requiring private student loan companies to forgive outstanding debt if a borrower dies. The bill has little hope of success in a Republican congress.

At a time when mortgage interest rates were over 8.5%, I only paid 3% interest on my student loan. In addition my medical school was scrupulous about limiting my outstanding debt to $26,000 – finding me work study jobs and private grants to reduce the amount I had to borrow.

With the advent of neoliberalism, education is no longer regarded as a basic right, but as an enormously lucrative commodity. Banks borrow money from the Federal Reserve for close to 0% interest. They charge homeowners 3-6% interest on mortgages, while students, who are more desperate, are forced to pay 4-10% interst. Moreover, unlike mortgage loans, student loan interest rates are fixed and can’t be renegotiated when interest rates drop.

The Student Loan Bubble

The New York Federal Reserve recently called a daylong conference to address the student debt crisis. In his opening address , New York Fed president William Dudley indicated that student loan exceeds $1 trillion dollars and has the highest rate of delinquency of any form of consumer debt. In the 2009 cohort of college graduates, only 17% of the original debt has been paid down. In fact, more than 20 percent of high balance student borrowers owe more than when they graduated.

In mid-March, Obama signed an executive order instituting a Student Aid Bill of Rights that will

1. provide a new website where all federal loans will be visible by July 2016.
2. require loan servicers to notify debtors when their loans or transferred or payments are late.
3. instruct loan services to apply prepayments to loans with the highest interest rate
4. offer a “state-of-the art” complaint system.

Beats me how any of this helps struggling seniors whose Social Security checks are being docked.

People can learn more about the student loan crisis at Student Debt Crisis, a non-profit organization dedicated to fundamentally reforming the student loan program. The weekly radio program Counterspin recently interviewed their executive director Natalie Abrams. Listen here (starts at 18:45).

photo credit: IMG_2589 via photopin (license)

stuartbramhall:

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It’s not enough to protest or dismantle corrupt systems of power. For real change to occur, you must be prepared to build new ones. How radical black farmers are laying the groundwork.

Originally posted on RIELPOLITIK:

Source  – yesmagazine.org

– In August, five young men showed up at Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable farm near Albany, New York, where I work as educator and food justice coordinator. It was the first day of a new restorative justice program, in partnership with the county’s Department of Law. The teens had been convicted of theft, and, as an alternative to incarceration, chose this opportunity to earn money to pay back their victims while gaining farm skills. They looked wary and unprepared, with gleaming sneakers and averted eyes.

“Without black farmers, there would have been no Freedom Summer.”

“I basically expected it to be like slavery, but it would be better than jail,” said a young man named Asan. “It was different though. We got paid and we got to bring food home. The farmers there are black like us, which I did not expect.

“I could see myself…

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