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The secrets of the US election

JULIAN ASSANGE TALKS TO JOHN PILGER

John Pilger:

What’s the significance of the FBI’s intervention in these last days of the U.S. election campaign, in the case against Hillary Clinton?

Julian Assange:

If you look at the history of the FBI, it has become effectively America’s political police. The FBI demonstrated this by taking down the former head of the CIA [General David Petraeus] over classified information given to his mistress. Almost no-one is untouchable. The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that no-one can resist us. But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI’s investigation, so there’s anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. We’ve published about 33,000 of Clinton’s emails when she was Secretary of State. They come from a batch of just over 60,000 emails, [of which] Clinton has kept about half – 30,000 — to herself, and we’ve published about half.

Then there are the Podesta emails we’ve been publishing. [John] Podesta is Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign manager, so there’s a thread that runs through all these emails; there are quite a lot of pay-for-play, as they call it, giving access in exchange for money to states, individuals and corporations. [These emails are] combined with the cover up of the Hillary Clinton emails when she was Secretary of State, [which] has led to an environment where the pressure on the FBI increases.

John Pilger:

The Clinton campaign has said that Russia is behind all of this, that Russia has manipulated the campaign and is the source for WikiLeaks and its emails.

Julian Assange:

The Clinton camp has been able to project that kind of neo-McCarthy hysteria: that Russia is responsible for everything. Hilary Clinton stated multiple times, falsely, that seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That is false; we can say that the Russian government is not the source.

WikiLeaks has been publishing for ten years, and in those ten years, we have published ten million documents, several thousand individual publications, several thousand different sources, and we have never got it wrong.

John Pilger:

The emails that give evidence of access for money and how Hillary Clinton herself benefited from this and how she is benefitting politically, are quite extraordinary. I’m thinking of when the Qatari representative was given five minutes with Bill Clinton for a million dollar cheque.

Julian Assange:

And twelve million dollars from Morocco …

John Pilger:

Twelve million from Morocco yeah.

Julian Assange:

For Hillary Clinton to attend [a party].

John Pilger:

In terms of the foreign policy of the United States, that’s where the emails are most revealing, where they show the direct connection between Hillary Clinton and the foundation of jihadism, of ISIL, in the Middle East. Can you talk about how the emails demonstrate the connection between those who are meant to be fighting the jihadists of ISIL, are actually those who have helped create it.

Julian Assange:

There’s an early 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, not so long after she left the State Department, to her campaign manager John Podesta that states ISIL is funded by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now this is the most significant email in the whole collection, and perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the Clinton Foundation. Even the U.S. government agrees that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIL, or ISIS. But the dodge has always been that, well it’s just some rogue Princes, using their cut of the oil money to do whatever they like, but actually the government disapproves.

But that email says that no, it is the governments of Saudi and Qatar that have been funding ISIS.

John Pilger:

The Saudis, the Qataris, the Moroccans, the Bahrainis, particularly the Saudis and the Qataris, are giving all this money to the Clinton Foundation while Hilary Clinton is Secretary of State and the State Department is approving massive arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia.

Julian Assange:

Under Hillary Clinton, the world’s largest ever arms deal was made with Saudi Arabia, [worth] more than $80 billion. In fact, during her tenure as Secretary of State, total arms exports from the United States in terms of the dollar value, doubled.

John Pilger:

Of course the consequence of that is that the notorious terrorist group called ISIl or ISIS is created largely with money from the very people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation.

Julian Assange:

Yes.

John Pilger:

That’s extraordinary.

Julian Assange:

I actually feel quite sorry for Hillary Clinton as a person because I see someone who is eaten alive by their ambitions, tormented literally to the point where they become sick; they faint as a result of [the reaction] to their ambitions. She represents a whole network of people and a network of relationships with particular states. The question is how does Hilary Clinton fit in this broader network? She’s a centralising cog. You’ve got a lot of different gears in operation from the big banks like Goldman Sachs and major elements of Wall Street, and Intelligence and people in the State Department and the Saudis.

She’s the centraliser that inter-connects all these different cogs. She’s the smooth central representation of all that, and ‘all that’ is more or less what is in power now in the United States. It’s what we call the establishment or the DC consensus. One of the more significant Podesta emails that we released was about how the Obama cabinet was formed and how half the Obama cabinet was basically nominated by a representative from City Bank. This is quite amazing.

John Pilger:

Didn’t Citybank supply a list …. ?

Julian Assange:

Yes.

John Pilger:

… which turned out to be most of the Obama cabinet.

.

Julian Assange:

Yes.

John Pilger:

So Wall Street decides the cabinet of the President of the United States?

Julian Assange:

If you were following the Obama campaign back then, closely, you could see it had become very close to banking interests.

Julian Assange:

So I think you can’t properly understand Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy without understanding Saudi Arabia. The connections with Saudi Arabia are so intimate.

John Pilger:

Why was she so demonstrably enthusiastic about the destruction of Libya? Can you talk a little about just what the emails have told us, told you about what happened there, because Libya is such a source for so much of the mayhem now in Syria, the ISIL jihadism and so on, and it was almost Hillary Clinton’s invasion. What do the emails tell us about that?

Julian Assange:

Libya, more than anyone else’s war, was Hillary Clinton’s war. Barak Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person championing it? Hillary Clinton. That’s documented throughout her emails. She had put her favoured agent, Sidney Blumenthal, on to that; there’s more than 1700 emails out of the thirty three thousand Hillary Clinton emails that we’ve published, just about Libya. It’s not that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state — something that she would use in her run-up to the general election for President.

So in late 2011 there is an internal document called the Libya Tick Tock that was produced for Hillary Clinton, and it’s the chronological description of how she was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state, which resulted in around 40,000 deaths within Libya; jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in, leading to the European refugee and migrant crisis.

Not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people fleeing Syria, the destabilisation of other African countries as a result of arms flows, but the Libyan state itself err was no longer able to control the movement of people through it. Libya faces along to the Mediterranean and had been effectively the cork in the bottle of Africa. So all problems, economic problems and civil war in Africa — previously people fleeing those problems didn’t end up in Europe because Libya policed the Mediterranean. That was said explicitly at the time, back in early 2011 by Gaddafi: ‘What do these Europeans think they’re doing, trying to bomb and destroy the Libyan State? There’s going to be floods of migrants out of Africa and jihadists into Europe, and this is exactly what happened.

John Pilger:

You get complaints from people saying, ‘What is WikiLeaks doing? Are they trying to put Trump in the Whitehouse?’

Julian Assange:

My answer is that Trump would not be permitted to win. Why do I say that? Because he’s had every establishment off side; Trump doesn’t have one establishment, maybe with the exception of the Evangelicals, if you can call them an establishment, but banks, intelligence [agencies], arms companies… big foreign money … are all united behind Hillary Clinton, and the media as well, media owners and even journalists themselves.

John Pilger:

There is the accusation that WikiLeaks is in league with the Russians. Some people say, ‘Well, why doesn’t WikiLeaks investigate and publish emails on Russia?’

Julian Assange:

We have published about 800,000 documents of various kinds that relate to Russia. Most of those are critical; and a great many books have come out of our publications about Russia, most of which are critical. Our [Russia]documents have gone on to be used in quite a number of court cases: refugee cases of people fleeing some kind of claimed political persecution in Russia, which they use our documents to back up.

John Pilger:

Do you yourself take a view of the U.S. election? Do you have a preference for Clinton or Trump?

Julian Assange:

[Let’s talk about] Donald Trump. What does he represent in the American mind and in the European mind? He represents American white trash, [which Hillary Clinton called] ‘deplorable and irredeemable’. It means from an establishment or educated cosmopolitan, urbane perspective, these people are like the red necks, and you can never deal with them. Because he so clearly — through his words and actions and the type of people that turn up at his rallies — represents people who are not the middle, not the upper middle educated class, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with them, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting Trump in any way, including any criticism of Hillary Clinton. If you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, that makes absolute sense.

John Pilger:

I’d like to talk about Ecuador, the small country that has given you refuge and [political asylum] in this embassy in London. Now Ecuador has cut off the internet from here where we’re doing this interview, in the Embassy, for the clearly obvious reason that they are concerned about appearing to intervene in the U.S. election campaign. Can you talk about why they would take that action and your own views on Ecuador’s support for you?

Julian Assange:

Let’s let go back four years. I made an asylum application to Ecuador in this embassy, because of the U.S. extradition case, and the result was that after a month, I was successful in my asylum application. The embassy since then has been surrounded by police: quite an expensive police operation which the British government admits to spending more than £12.6 million. They admitted that over a year ago. Now there’s undercover police and there are robot surveillance cameras of various kinds — so that there has been quite a serious conflict right here in the heart of London between Ecuador, a country of sixteen million people, and the United Kingdom, and the Americans who have been helping on the side. So that was a brave and principled thing for Ecuador to do. Now we have the U.S. election [campaign], the Ecuadorian election is in February next year, and you have the White House feeling the political heat as a result of the true information that we have been publishing.

WikiLeaks does not publish from the jurisdiction of Ecuador, from this embassy or in the territory of Ecuador; we publish from France, we publish from, from Germany, we publish from The Netherlands and from a number of other countries, so that the attempted squeeze on WikiLeaks is through my refugee status; and this is, this is really intolerable. [It means] that [they] are trying to get at a publishing organisation; [they] try and prevent it from publishing true information that is of intense interest to the American people and others about an election.

John Pilger:

Tell us what would happen if you walked out of this embassy.

Julian Assange:

I would be immediately arrested by the British police and I would then be extradited either immediately to the United States or to Sweden. In Sweden I am not charged, I have already been previously cleared [by the Senior Stockholm Prosecutor Eva Finne]. We were not certain exactly what would happen there, but then we know that the Swedish government has refused to say that they will not extradite me to the United States we know they have extradited 100 per cent of people whom the U.S. has requested since at least 2000. So over the last fifteen years, every single person the U.S. has tried to extradite from Sweden has been extradited, and they refuse to provide a guarantee [that won’t happen].

John Pilger:

People often ask me how you cope with the isolation in here.

Julian Assange:

Look, one of the best attributes of human beings is that they’re adaptable; one of the worst attributes of human beings is they are adaptable. They adapt and start to tolerate abuses, they adapt to being involved themselves in abuses, they adapt to adversity and they continue on. So in my situation, frankly, I’m a bit institutionalised — this [the embassy] is the world .. it’s visually the world [for me].

John Pilger:

It’s the world without sunlight, for one thing, isn’t it?

Julian Assange:

It’s the world without sunlight, but I haven’t seen sunlight in so long, I don’t remember it.

John Pilger:

Yes.

Julian Assange:

So , yes, you adapt. The one real irritant is that my young children — they also adapt. They adapt to being without their father. That’s a hard, hard adaption which they didn’t ask for.

John Pilger:

Do you worry about them?

Julian Assange:

Yes, I worry about them; I worry about their mother.

John Pilger:

Some people would say, ‘Well, why don’t you end it and simply walk out the door and allow yourself to be extradited to Sweden?’

Julian Assange:

The U.N. [the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention] has looked into this whole situation. They spent eighteen months in formal, adversarial litigation. [So it’s] me and the U.N. verses Sweden and the U.K. Who’s right? The U.N. made a conclusion that I am being arbitrarily detained illegally, deprived of my freedom and that what has occurred has not occurred within the laws that the United Kingdom and Sweden, and that [those countries] must obey. It is an illegal abuse. It is the United Nations formally asking, ‘What’s going on here? What is your legal explanation for this? [Assange] says that you should recognise his asylum.’ [And here is]

Sweden formally writing back to the United Nations to say, ‘No, we’re not going to [recognise the UN ruling], so leaving open their ability to extradite.

I just find it absolutely amazing that the narrative about this situation is not put out publically in the press, because it doesn’t suit the Western establishment narrative — that yes, the West has political prisoners, it’s a reality, it’s not just me, there’s a bunch of other people as well. The West has political prisoners. Of course, no state accepts [that it should call] the people it is imprisoning or detaining for political reasons, political prisoners. They don’t call them political prisoners in China, they don’t call them political prisoners in Azerbaijan and they don’t call them political prisoners in the United States, U.K. or Sweden; it is absolutely intolerable to have that kind of self-perception.

Julian Assange:

Here we have a case, the Swedish case, where I have never been charged with a crime, where I have already been cleared [by the Stockholm prosecutor] and found to be innocent, where the woman herself said that the police made it up, where the United Nations formally said the whole thing is illegal, where the State of Ecuador also investigated and found that I should be given asylum. Those are the facts, but what is the rhetoric?

John Pilger:

Yes, it’s different.

Julian Assange:

The rhetoric is pretending, constantly pretending that I have been charged with a crime, and never mentioning that I have been already previously cleared, never mentioning that the woman herself says that the police made it up.

[The rhetoric] is trying to avoid [the truth that ] the U.N. formally found that the whole thing is illegal, never even mentioning that Ecuador made a formal assessment through its formal processes and found that yes, I am subject to persecution by the United States.

To support Julian Assange, go to: https://justice4assange.com/donate.html

Bob Dylan’s embrace of Israel’s war crimes

Controversially, musical genius Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for literature last week.

Even some critics who acknowledged his musical brilliance have argued that awarding a musician was a step that too dramatically expanded the definition of literature. What few dispute is that his music inspired millions in the midst of the anti-war and civil rights movements.

But there is also a less pleasant, less known side to the artist, particularly his views on Israel, Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League.

In 1983, in The New York Times, Stephen Holden described Dylan’s album Infidels as “a disturbing artistic semirecovery by a rock legend who seemed in recent years to have lost his ability to engage the Zeitgeist.”

Holden asserted that a “stomping, hollering rhetorical tone infuses the two most specifically political songs, ‘Neighborhood Bully,’ an outspoken defense of Israel, and ‘Union Sundown,’ a gospel-blues indictment of American labor unions.”

“The lyrics suggest an angry crackpot throwing wild punches and hoping that one or two will land,” Holden added.

With its opening lyrics parroting Israel’s own narrative of being the blameless, perpetual victim of Arab violence, “Neighborhood Bully” came just a year after Israel’s bloody invasion of Lebanon that would claim tens of thousands of lives:

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

The invasion of Lebanon was a calamitous war, widely opposed even in Israel where it was likened to the US quagmire in Vietnam.

Yet Dylan sang these words exonerating Israel even after the world had witnessed the horrifying massacres of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by an Israeli-allied militia during the occupation of Beirut.

Today, the lyrics read like a prelude to the racist nationalism embodied in the politics of today’s Israeli leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett.

Deeper into the tune, Dylan betrays an ignorance of the enormous support given by the US government to Israel, notably the huge influx of military support provided by the administration of President Jimmy Carter shortly before the release of the album.

That funding continues to this day with the record-breaking $38 billion in military aid over 10 years recently negotiated by the Obama administration.

Yet Dylan sings:

He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied

Kahane

The equal rights backed by Dylan in the US seemingly have no place in his politics regarding Israel and its neighbors.

Dylan’s challenge to power in the US is transmuted into an embrace of Israeli militancy because of a flawed sense of reality, perhaps one learned from Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) and later of the racist Kach party in Israel.

Dylan’s relationship to Kahane and the JDL is not entirely clear, but was explored by Anthony Scaduto in The New York Times in 1971.

“Dylan’s interest in Israel and Judaism led him, over a year ago, into an unexpected relationship with Rabbi Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League,” Scaduto wrote.

The singer reportedly attended several JDL meetings and may have given money to the organization.

Already in 1971, Scaduto wrote, “Dylan’s enthusiasm for the militant Jewish organization has brought down the wrath of some in the radical movement.”

Scaduto detailed this just four years after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai had begun: “To many young radicals, including Jewish kids, Israel is simply another one of those fascist states propped up by a fascist American Government, and Dylan’s fervent support of Israel and his over-publicized contacts with the JDL are to them a further indication that he has sold out to the political right he condemned.”
Rejecting Palestinian struggle

Dylan’s drift away from the anti-war movement over the course of the next 45 years – and his clear embrace of Israel after its invasion of Lebanon – led to no surprise when he rejected the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s call for him not to play Israel in 2011.

The right of return for refugees, the end of the occupation and equal rights for all Palestinians – the BDS movement’s key demands – would not have resonated with the man who wrote “Neighborhood Bully.”

Ironically, both Dylan and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performed at the Desert Trip musical festival this month.

Today, however, it is Waters who is politically relevant, with his support of the BDS movement and Black Lives Matter, his blasting of Donald Trump’s racism and his love and support for children wearing “Derriba el muro” T-shirts – Spanish for “take down the wall.”

In front of an audience of tens of thousands of festival-goers in Indio, California, Waters gave a shout-out to Students for Justice in Palestine:

Both Waters and Dylan are now in their 70s; one has grown over the last 50 years in his willingness to embrace urgent contemporary struggles for freedom and equal rights. The other has stepped back from vital political engagements and yet been rewarded with a Nobel Prize.

Today it is no longer Dylan who best embodies the spirit of one of his best known lyrics:

Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?

— source electronicintifada.net By Michael Brown

Oxygen levels were key to early animal evolution

It has long puzzled scientists why, after 3 billion years of nothing more complex than algae, complex animals suddenly started to appear on Earth. Now, a team of researchers has put forward some of the strongest evidence yet to support the hypothesis that high levels of oxygen in the oceans were crucial for the emergence of skeletal animals 550 million years ago.

The new study is the first to distinguish between bodies of water with low and high levels of oxygen. It shows that poorly oxygenated waters did not support the complex life that evolved immediately prior to the Cambrian period, suggesting the presence of oxygen was a key factor in the appearance of these animals.

The research, based on fieldwork carried out in the Nama Group in Namibia, is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lead author Dr Rosalie Tostevin completed the study analyses as part of her PhD with UCL Earth Sciences, and is now in the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University. She said: ‘The question of why it took so long for complex animal life to appear on Earth has puzzled scientists for a long time. One argument has been that evolution simply doesn’t happen very quickly, but another popular hypothesis suggests that a rise in the level of oxygen in the oceans gave simple life-forms the fuel they needed to evolve skeletons, mobility and other typical features of modern animals.

‘Although there is geochemical evidence for a rise in oxygen in the oceans around the time of the appearance of more complex animals, it has been really difficult to prove a causal link. By teasing apart waters with high and low levels of oxygen, and demonstrating that early skeletal animals were restricted to well-oxygenated waters, we have provided strong evidence that the availability of oxygen was a key requirement for the development of these animals. However, these well-oxygenated environments may have been in short supply, limiting habitat space in the ocean for the earliest animals.’

The team, which included other geochemists, palaeoecologists and geologists from UCL and the universities of Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, as well as the Geological Survey of Namibia, analysed the chemical elemental composition of rock samples from the ancient seafloor in the Nama Group – a group of extremely well-preserved rocks in Namibia that are abundant with fossils of early Cloudina, Namacalathus and Namapoikia animals.

The researchers found that levels of elements such as cerium and iron detected in the rocks showed that low-oxygen conditions occurred between well-oxygenated surface waters and fully ‘anoxic’ deep waters. Although abundant in well-oxygenated environments, early skeletal animals did not occupy oxygen-impoverished regions of the shelf, demonstrating that oxygen availability (probably >10 micromolar) was a key requirement for the development of early animal-based ecosystems.

Professor Graham Shields-Zhou (UCL Earth Sciences), one of the co-authors and Dr Tostevin’s PhD supervisor, said: ‘We honed in on the last 10 million years of the Proterozoic Eon as the interval of Earth’s history when today’s major animal groups first grew shells and churned up the sediment, and found that oxygen levels were important to the relationship between environmental conditions and the early development of animals.’

— source ucl.ac.uk

War Drums Beat Ever More Loudly Over Iran

It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.

The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.

Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.

Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.

Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.

All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair – to Iran.

Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.

Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.

Iran too has carried out aggression – but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.

Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.

The Nonaligned Movement – the governments of most of the world’s population – is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members – India, for example – adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.

The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace. In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.

If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability – this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence – that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.

Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.

Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.

Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.

Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.

Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service – which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.

The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.

Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.

Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.

To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel – “Atlas Shrugged” – who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.

It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish – and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.

— source chomsky.info

French Nuit Debout Movement Creates New Paradigm For Horizontal Democracy

Since its founding on March 31, Nuit Debout, a horizontal democracy-driven resistance movement active in 266 French cities has given participants opportunities to discuss and act on critical issues affecting people from widely different economic backgrounds.

The movement, which also exists in 130 cities outside of France, functions on several levels. It reflects a living version of the Camusian “zero point” metaphor because participants, both individually and collectively, have a chance to think about, question and express ideas about their own existence at assembly sessions – as well as address structural and thematic subjects including democracy, alternative economy and currency, technology and the environment.

Nuit Debout has been celebrated as an attempt to reclaim and re-establish democracy for French citizens who prefer a counter-hegemonic approach to quotidian concerns and issues. The kind of democracy favored by Nuit-Deboutistes is self-autonomous and horizontal, as opposed to a more traditional, top-down democratic or pyramid structure of past movements.

“The current security state is ominous and chilling, but will the country go full-on fascist? I honestly do not know,” said Luc Sante, responding to the current socio-political climate in France.
A Meeting Place

Nuit-Deboutistes originally met at Place de la République in Paris, which is connected to a Metro train station. The square has become more recently known around the world as a place where people solemnly gather after tragedies that have occurred in France.

“As far as Place de la République is concerned, it’s an interesting choice. Haussmann expressly built it as a monumental obstruction to gatherings of le peuple – in its orientation and the sort of buildings that line it. The more traditional settings for demonstrations are Bastille and Nation,” said Sante.

During the Spring, Nuit-Deboutistes specifically protested against the decision of President Francois Hollande’s administration to invoke the 49-3 clause, a draconian, authoritarian measure that facilitated the passage of the controversial anti-worker labor law, known as la loi travail, or loi El Khomri, with no debate or public input.

The relatively new paradigm Nuit Debout has built for French society, in terms of resistance movements and modes of social interaction, reflects a trend toward what scholars like Douglas Kellner and Joan Subirats have referred to as techno-politics.

“Many activist groups are coming to see that media politics is a key element of political organization and struggle and are developing forms of technopolitics in which they use the Internet and new technologies as arms of political struggle,” wrote Kellner in an essay entitled “Techno-Politics, New Technologies and the New Public Spheres.”
Birthing New Movements

While Nuit Debout continues to create itself as a viable social movement – its participants still gather on weekends – it is also in some respects transitioning into citizen initiatives, free-standing projects and more politically inclined groups. A number of groups that have risen to the surface in France, including Processus Vogué, Les Jours Heureux, Veille Artistique et Citoyenne, and 1000 Alternatiba, to name a few.

“Basically, from Nuit Debout, other things have been birthed. Other movements like AG Citoyenne, La Belle Démocratie, all working on local empowerment and the will to hack into the presidential elections. Candidates of all persuasions are now changing their program to sell us ‘more democratic reforms,’ Pierre Lalu, a Paris-based Nuit-Deboutiste, told Occupy.com. “It seems that the pressure of Nuit Debout has worked somehow.”

As Manuel Cervera-Marzal, a political science professor affiliated with Sciences Po, and a Nuit Debout participant, asserted: “Nuit Debout is apartisan but not apolitical, which implies that it refuses the professionalized, representative and personalized practices of politics. It promotes a new form of political organization, based on voluntarism, direct democracy, and collectiveness,” he added.

“But the dilemma is that Nuit Debout cannot last eternally. This is a striking point: from the beginning of 2000, there has been the antiglobalization movement, fighting against neoliberalism, that is to say the excess of capitalism. It was slightly different with Nuit Debout, because this movement was fighting against capitalism itself. There is a political radicalization in France: protesters become more and more angry, and the State is more and more repressive, authoritarian and securitarian.”

At its height last spring, Nuit Debout Paris République attracted thousands of people. Geoffrey Pleyers, a sociologist at Université de Louvain in Belgium who specializes in social movements and participates in the Subterranean Politics project, may have the freshest and most accurate perspective on Nuit Debout – something attributable to his attending, as he said, “until mid June, 80 evenings in a row” at Place de la République.
“A Movement is Never Really Over.”

Regarding the perceived ephemeral aspect of social movements, Pleyers sees them as existing beyond original occupations or gatherings, and cites citizen initiatives as one way that movements like Occupy Wall Street, among others, have managed to continue.

“The event is just a part of a movement. A movement is never really over,” he said. According to Pleyers, although Nuit Debout originally focused on labor issues, it equally emphasized topics relating to refugees and asylum seekers. “We have to welcome refugees who are escaping their countries. The so-called left is quite harsh on the issue of refugees,” Pleyers says.

Héctor Huerga, an organizer who was involved in Spain’s 15-M movement of 2011, and who collaborated with Nuit Debout Paris République participants, spent three weeks in the French capital during the movement’s nascency. He said social movements can be examined in terms of a 3-axis approach theorized by Professor Joan Subirats of Autónoma University in Barcelona.

As Huerga asserts, the 3-axis framework includes: “the axis of resistance or those groups that seek to visualize a problem with concrete actions; the axis of alternatives or those groups that have built prototypes of life and struggle walking parallel to the capitalist financial system; and the axis of incidence or those groups that are seeking to impact power structures through institutional alternatives or legal initiatives.”

Huerga, who worked with the Global Debout commission of Nuit Debout to help create an international day of mobilization on May 15, traces the Barcelona version of horizontal democracy and autogestión, or self-management, back even further to the 19th century. “In the case of Barcelona, it is very clear that both concepts have been realized since the 19th century among anarchist communities. In the occupation of the Plaza de Catalunya in 2011, both general and thematic assemblies were hindered by external interests, not the lack of autogestión or horizontality,” Huerga explained.

“It’s not easy to break with a neoliberal stream as wild as we are experiencing nowadays, but what protests and the new forms of organization in France have achieved is to release that portion of fear provided by neoliberalism to each one of us, usually manifested when personal goals are not reached.”
The Growth of Horizontal Democratic Organizing

Marina Sitrin, a lawyer, writer, former participant at Occupy Wall Street, and an expert on horizontal democracy, considered Nuit Debout to be part of a continuum of movements predicated on horizontalism.

“I see Nuit Debout as a part of the same genealogy of movements that include the popular rebellion in Argentina in 2001, the 15-M in Spain, Occupy and many similar assembly-based movements, including the Greek Square (Syntagma) and Assembly movements which began in 2008 and really took off in 2011,” said Sitrin.

Sitrin continued, “The genealogy is movements post-1989 that do not look to the state but instead one another, using forms of self organization, direct and participatory democracy and direct action and prefigurative forms of relating.”

The term horizontalism derived from the Argentinian term horizontalidad, which developed during the Dec. 19-20, 2001, grassroots economic rebellion in that country. Sitrin views autonomous Greek health clinics and recuperated workplaces across Europe reflective of the way horizontal movements can transform into citizen initiatives.

“People outside the newer, more horizontal movements tend to get stuck in prior ways of understanding movements and forms of relating in movements, rather than studying what is new,” she said. They “therefore base conclusions on more traditional understandings, such as organizing with a hierarchical structure, with a list of demands on institutions of power and looking to either change the government through a party or overthrowing the government with another form of political party or organization. The newer movements are not organized around any of these things, and in fact are a conscious break from them.”

French sociologist Anne Muxel, speaking to La Dépêche in April, said Nuit Debout rejects hierarchy and maintained it is “against the logic of vertical organization with leadership. They are for a horizontal collective management: these are alternative forms to traditional social movements, trade unions, parties.”

She added that Nuit Debout is not a new phenomenon, either in France or Europe per se, but part of something greater. “In recent years, we are witnessing the birth of a movement, manifested in groups like the Indignados and the Zadistes (connected to Zone À Défendre), which are more focused on environmental issues,” she said.

— source occupy.com By Ericka Schiche

Just a Florida Man Trying to Save Waterways From Toxic Algae

Marty Baum jumped on a friend’s boat, his phone blowing up with frantic phone calls from fishermen. Forty square miles of catfish, mullet, redfish and most other common game were dead in the water. Thousands of fish, all belly-up.

“We went out on his boat and I cried,” Baum said. “Every little thing that required dissolved oxygen was dead.”

Baum is the riverkeeper of the Indian River Lagoon, a full-time waterway advocate whose job is to protect the lagoon’s plants and animals. The 62-year-old has watched this 156-mile-long South Florida estuary—home to more than 3,000 species — deteriorate because of vast, creeping algae blooms growing out of the nitrogen-rich pollutants in the water that prompted the governor earlier this year to declare a state of emergency.

But he’s not giving up.

*

On a good day, Baum glides across the Indian River Lagoon’s olive-colored water in his boat, turns his tanned face to sky and listens for the sounds of fish jumping and seagulls cawing. He is usually left disappointed.

Thicker, stronger and longer-lasting toxic algae blooms have devastated this slice of Florida coast. A bloom in July carpeted areas of the Indian River Lagoon. Near docks, where the algae was pushed by the wind to about three-inches high, Baum said, the smell burned his sinuses.

“It’s the color of antifreeze,” he said. “You couldn’t hardly breathe. It made you sick to your stomach. Puking sick.”

The blue-green algae blooms, made up of cyanobacteria that sometimes emit toxins, have even made their way out of the estuary and into the Atlantic Ocean, washing onto Florida’s sandy beaches this summer in noxious green waves, scaring away tourists and locals alike.

The sheer fact that this algae is able to survive in salt water is unprecedented. In fact, the cell walls of this toxic bacteria are supposed to explode when it hits salt, but the bloom has grown to a gargantuan scale that keeps even the Atlantic Ocean from destroying it, University of Miami ecology professor Larry Brand said. Inside the lagoon, the algae thrive in the fresh water.

What remains is nearly a wasteland, but the riverkeeper isn’t giving up yet. “My family has a legacy of leaving meaningful things,” he said.

Later, while gazing out from his captain’s chair, he said he hopes this is the last job he ever has — he’d love to still be riverkeeper the day he dies. “It would be an honor to be carried out of this job feet first.”

*

There are still some animals in the water here on the Indian River Lagoon. There’s the dolphin with shark bites on its back — because when most of the fish die, predators turn to other predators. There’s the singular crab scooped up by a trap and pulled out after a few days, frustrating the crabber who should have a dozen or more in his catch. There’s the pelican that sits under a bridge and gulps up tiny fish that come to feed on the tiny patches of remaining seagrass.

Then there’s Baum himself. Baum, whose grandfather made a name for himself just down the coast saving marooned sailors. Baum, who came of age fishing for bass and snorkeling among bustling schools of fish and dolphins. Baum, whose alcoholism destroyed too much of what he loved, and who now refuses to sit on the sidelines and watch another force take away something he cares about.

“I’ve trained my whole life for this,” Baum said. “All of this is a gift.”

Baum was raised in Miami, the son of a police officer father and a mother who died too young. Visiting the Indian River was a special treat when he was a kid, gifted in the form of afternoon Jeep rides across the beach with his uncle. Only if his grades were good.

When he was 20 years old, Baum’s family moved to Stuart, Florida. He went along to start a business there with his dad. He spent the next decade covered in river water—fishing, boating, drinking beer on empty sandbars, soaking in the stars.”It was pristine. You could go outside and fill a five-gallon bucket of clams in half an hour,” Baum said. “You could see 20 acres of mullet rise up…I grew up wanting to be a marine biologist.”

Then the the drinks got stronger and more frequent. He’d already lost family members to alcoholism. He was nearing his own demise, too. But he started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings right around the time he started going to community environmental awareness meetings. He’s 26 years sober, he said, given a new life, and the river was part of it.

But it’s not crystal clear what is ailing the Indian River Lagoon. State officials claim the majority of the pollutants come from broken septic tanks. But activists point to agricultural runoff from sugar fields and cattle pastures, major industries in Florida with a firm hand in the state’s economic growth and legislative world. Then there’s the added pressure from fertilizer used on residential landscaping to nurture blossoming yards. Either way, the ecological poison has created a haven for the toxic algae, which killed seagrass, fish and mammals, and left the water deprived of vital dissolved oxygen.

“It’s on the verge of a collapse from end to end,” Baum said.

*

The riverkeeper, whose position is privately funded by donations, is not one of those online activists peddling petitions. Get him talking about the lagoon and Baum will weave a story about his family’s history saving marooned sailors into his modern-day efforts to save the animals, plants and people who live on this strip of Atlantic beaches. And he does not go easy on the government.

“The truth of the matter is it’s bipartisan corruption,” he said. “The only hope we really have right now is the ballot box. We’ve been suing since 2002,” referring to several cases his organization filed with the state against companies, state agencies and federal agencies requesting tougher environmental standards.

The government can’t turn a blind eye here. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on June 29, and he ordered water from nearby Lake Okeechobee that would have been released into the estuary to be diverted elsewhere.

Scott has directed blame at the federal government since the main barrier between Lake Okeechobee and the river that leads to the estuary is the federally owned Herbert Hoover Dike.

“It is the federal government’s sole responsibility to maintain the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike, and for more than a decade, the federal government has ignored proper maintenance and repair to this structure,” the governor said in a request to President Barack Obama for a federal state of emergency. “As a result, billions of gallons of water have been discharged into the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River which is causing toxic algae blooms to cause havoc to our environment.”

Right now, the water is mostly still in the lake for lack of options — although some water was released into the St. Lucie River (which leads to the Indian River Lagoon) ahead of Hurricane Matthew. But more water will have to be released eventually to avoid flooding nearby towns.

“The water has become thoroughly and completely frightening,” Baum said, adding the dams and dikes that hold back polluted lake water need to be better regulated. “The water’s polluted, and until we restore our dam protections and stop the pollution, this is only going to get worse.”

Problems in the Indian River Lagoon, a 156-mile long estuary that stretches from Cape Canaveral to Jensen Beach, Florida, began in the 1970s after dams were built along various rivers to keep mosquito populations under control. It worked, but the change in water flow also killed much of the lagoon’s salt marshes that kept the water rich with oxygen and provided food for fish and manatees.

From 2009 to 2011, the lagoon lost 31,000 acres of seagrass — the equivalent of about 40,000 football fields of undulating underwater plants that so many species relied on for their daily meals, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Around the 1970s, more Americans wanted to move to Florida—with its sandy beaches and comfortable winters. Swaths of Martin and St. Lucie counties became covered with suburbs, and with them, more waste. Drainage canals redirected the natural flow of water eastward, said Brand, of University of Miami.

As the region became more populated, homes were built and farms were established. Initially, most homes were on septic tanks, and 1970s homeowners became obsessed with keeping their lawns green with artificial, fast-acting fertilizer full of nitrogen and phosphorus. All that washed into the lagoon. So did agricultural runoff from sugar farms south of Lake Okeechobee and cattle ranches north of the lake, he said.

“Now that lake is just a huge pool of nutrients,” he said, using the scientific term for nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich waste, usually originating from fertilizer or fecal matter. “No matter where you send that water, you’re going to have a problem.”

By carving artificial drainage eastward to the Indian River Lagoon, the pollution flowed right to the estuary. Fertilizer, animal waste and human excrement alike are rich with nitrogen and phosphorus—the same materials that help plants thrive can kill seagrass if too much gets into the water.

Between the existing algae blooms in the rivers that led to the estuary, and blooms in Lake Okeechobee that were released, the Indian River Lagoon didn’t stand a chance, said Mark Aubel, president of Greenwater Labs in Palatka, Florida. His lab is one of the few independent labs that does toxic algae analysis for government agencies and companies.

“You end up with the disastrous effects that they had. It was nightmare,” he said. “The toxin levels were exorbitant.”

*

The dominoes began to fall over the past five years. First, the seagrass that was keeping the river full of oxygen died because toxic algae blooms blocked their sunlight, Brand said. Then the fish, plankton and crabs suffocated in the oxygen-poor water, or died from the toxic algae blooms that populated the estuary with poisons and sucked up the remaining dissolved oxygen.

Nearly everything else higher on the food chain left the region, or died of starvation.

The fallout has been disastrous. Much of the estuary’s fish populations have been wiped out, and manatees and dolphins have been washing up on the sandy shores en mass.

A 2015 study from the Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanic Institute reported at least 300,000 broken septic tanks were draining into Indian River Lagoon, exacerbating a growing problem. The study cautioned that there was a “critical need” for improved sewage collection and treatment, as well as nutrient removal from the lagoon.

In addition, the state Department of Environmental Protection changed its freshwater quality standards this summer, allowing larger amounts of some pollutants that can legally be dumped into waterways, while restricting 39 chemicals that weren’t regulated before.

Baum also noted the thick blanket of algae that forms every few months could impact the real estate market — who would want to buy million-dollar homes with neon-green sludge in the back yard?

But jobs are a more pressing casualty. Fishermen, crabbers and captains who take tourists out on leisurely trips can no longer expect plentiful marine catches and large pods of jumping dolphins, Baum said.

As Baum recounted his days as a Navy submarine sonar operator, he stopped his flatboat and called out to a nearby boat. The crabber on board had just hauled up a trap. Two crustaceans scurried around the cage. He tossed one back and put the second on his deck. His paltry catch.

The crabber eyed him cautiously, and Baum introduced himself and asked if he wouldn’t mind donating a single crab later for some research he’s conducting. Baum said he was looking into the chemical composition of fish and crab flesh to see if certain toxins from the algae blooms can make their way into humans’ stomachs through this seafood. The crabber pulled his boat alongside and takes Baum’s card.

Baum said he knows all too well the frustration that crabber must be feeling.

“Where I was catching fish every single damn cast (a few years ago), now I wasn’t catching fish for two or three days,” he said.

*

The governor’s office pledged to add an unspecified amount of money to the 2017-18 state budget to help clean up the Indian River Lagoon, Scott announced in a July press release. But in 2013, when conditions were bad but could have been prevented from getting worse, he vetoed $2 million in funds that would have gone to Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Oceanic Institute, which studies the lagoon, according to the governor’s office 2013 veto list.

“We made strategic investments in this budget,” Scott said when announcing the state’s $74.1 billion budget and his $368 million in vetoes, “while holding the line on spending that does not give Florida taxpayers a positive return on investment.”

The governor’s recommendations for the 2016-17 budget did not include any funds to restore the lagoon, although funding for other environmental restoration projects such as $50 million to help restore imperiled northern Florida springs were included.

There are days when Baum wonders if this Sisyphean task will ever end. Every day, he goes out on the river, taking note of new algae blooms and construction projects that could impact the estuary. He works with lawyers to file lawsuits against the state to push for faster and stronger protections. He tries to educate boaters about some on-shore changes they can make, like getting rid of septic tanks.

He won’t quit, he said, even if his salary isn’t anything to brag about. Even if some days the losses seem to come faster than the gains. After all, it’s not about him. He’s a sixth-generation Floridian, and he wants the beauty of this estuary to return and stick around for the next six generations. This summer, a niece of his and her 3-year-old daughter stayed with him and his wife.

The little child, a curious one, wanted to see the fish in the lagoon, but a massive algae bloom has just broken out. Baum said he wouldn’t let her anywhere near the estuary. He wasn’t sure what the toxic blooms would do to her, even if she only breathed the noxious burning odors coming from the surface.

Other times, Baum can catch a glimpse of a single dolphin skimming the surface. Or a gull gliding past, searching for an elusive meal. Palm trees sway in a light breeze, a remnant of paradise.

“It’s really pretty,” Baum reflected. “It’s a damn shame it’s all polluted and dangerous.”

— source motherboard.vice.com

The Contradictions of Finance

Like much else in economies, finance both enhances the economy’s growth and development and undermines it. The balance between these contradictory effects depends on all the other aspects of an economy and society and how they all influence financial contradictions. From its first entrance into the economy — that part of society concerned with the production and distribution of goods and services — money has been contradictory. On the one hand it enabled trade and exchange far beyond the limits of barter and other pre-money systems. On the other hand, money introduced all sorts of new instabilities.

The role of finance and its contradictions changed especially after the 1970s. The old centers of capitalism (western Europe, north America and Japan) lost major parts of their global primacy. A combination of computer-related automation, political shifts and relocation of production to low-wage areas — particularly in Asia and Latin America — brought economic decline to most of the old centers’ people. In effect, employers in the old center obtained access to a vast new, lower-waged labor force and the profit gains associated with it. The employers could relocate to where the new cheaper labor became available or else bring that labor into the old centers as immigrants. Most old center countries did both. The result nearly everywhere in capitalism’s old centers was stagnation or decline of real wages coupled with sharply worsened inequalities of income and wealth.

Ironically, the post-war period had enabled the resurgence of a capitalism that had been hobbled by the Great Depression and the war. Coupled with the social-democratic gains achieved during the 1930s and 1940s, the years from 1945 to 1975 witnessed a decades-long celebration of rising standards of mass consumption paid for by rising real wages.

Indeed, depicted as the emergence of a comfortable “middle class,” rising consumption was celebrated by capitalism’s ideological champions as the system’s great achievement and justification. Product advertising exploded alongside rising consumption, intruding into every corner of modern life. One key result was to make rising levels of consumption more than ever the measure — the very definition — of each individual’s success in life. In the US, parents promised one another and their children an American dream of ever-rising consumption financed by ever-rising real wages.

The arrival and continuance of stagnant or declining real wages after the 1970s made the realization of that dream impossible. Yet it was so deeply internalized and desired by Americans, so ingrained in their expectations, that they were determined to achieve it even without the rising wages to pay for it. They would sustain rising consumption otherwise, partly by borrowing. The latter provided a new profit opportunity for financial capitalists: lending to consumers to enable their rising consumption.

Families determined to consume more usually turned first to sending more household members out to do more hours of work as real hourly wages stagnated. When those extra hours proved insufficient, borrowing remained as the only way to pay for rising consumption. In profit-driven response, the financial sector invented new forms of consumer credit extension (especially credit cards and later student loans) and greatly expanded old forms (mortgages and car loans). Banks bundled all these forms of consumer debt into asset-backed securities, enabling them profitably to tap globally dispersed sources of loanable funds.

Credit crucially supported the booms of the 1980s and 1990s into the new century, yet it also spread globally the risks that the huge new supplies of consumer debt instruments might not pay off. The spurt of financialization after the 1970s also included major new loans to corporations and governments. When the credit default crisis broke in 2008, it included all three types of loans: consumer, corporate and public. Financialization had yielded large new profits and the expansion of the financial sector relative to all the other sectors of capitalist economies around the world. It had also yielded their global collapse.

The financial expansion phase is often followed by its contradictory other, the contraction phase. The crash of 2008 proved to be the turning point this time between the phases. Bailouts, bail-ins and a wide variety of other monetary (and some fiscal) policies have been tried to “manage” the crash and its consequences with, at best, mixed results to date. Where some “recovery” has occurred it largely bypassed huge portions of the population. Recovery’s impacts on the top 1 percent and 10 percent of enterprises and individuals also proved uneven.

Financialization facilitated the historic relocation of capitalism from its old to its new centers. Because this relocation was driven by the profit gains of capitalists moving from high to low-wage production, the result was a supply-demand imbalance. Lowered global wages rendered effective demand deficient. In this situation, debt could temporarily remedy the imbalance. Global finance thus profited in multiple ways from the globalization it promoted. Yet it also over-reached, took excessive risks, and eventually imploded. Its survival became dependent on state intervention and support.

As a result, financial industries are now stronger but also weaker, thereby perpetuating finance’s intrinsic contradictory nature. Their longer-term fate now hinges most on what happens to the larger capitalist context. As capitalism declines in its old centers and leaves massive social, economic, ecological and political divisions and destructions in its wake, how far will the resistance there go? Will movements demanding state-financial enterprises to compete with private counterparts gain strength? Will initiatives to go beyond capitalism arise, grow and challenge the established financial institutions? Has that already begun?

In capitalism’s new centers, will history repeat there the bitter divisions and working-class struggles that characterized the early development of capitalism’s old centers? Might struggles in old and new centers find some common ground and bond to build an effective alliance in opposition to capitalism? Answers to these questions will have more to do with shaping the future of financial industries than the details of their practices.

— source democracyatwork.info By Richard Wolff

Fight for $15 Plans National Strikes as Uber Drivers Join Protest for First Time

A nationwide day of action and disruption is set to take place on Tuesday, as workers from around the country and across industries are set to take part in strikes to show their refusal to back down in the face of an incoming rightwing political agenda.

The actions, organized by the Fight for $15 collective, will see airport baggage handlers, Uber drivers, fast-food cooks, cashiers, hospital workers, and others strike to disrupt the U.S. service economy. It marks the first time that Uber drivers will be joining in a Fight for $15 action, showing that the labor collective is growing, with gig workers protesting side by side with more traditional labor.

— source commondreams.org