What?!? Private prisons suing states for millions if they don’t stay full

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By Terry Shropshire

Source: rollingout.com

The prison-industrial complex is so out of control that private prisons have the sheer audacity to order states to keep beds full or face their wrath with stiff financial penalties, according to reports. Private prisons in some states have language in their contracts that state if they fall below a certain percentage of capacity that the states must pay the private prisons millions of dollars, lest they face a lawsuit for millions more.

And guess what? The private prisons, which are holding cash-starved states hostage, are getting away with it, says advocacy group, In the Public Interest.

In the Public Interest has reviewed more than 60 contracts between private prison companies and state and local governments across the country, and found language mentioning “quotas” for prisoners in nearly two-thirds of those contracts reviewed. Those quotas can range from a mandatory occupancy of, for example, 70 percent occupancy in California to up to 100 percent in some prisons in Arizona.

It is very interesting and telling that so few major national news organization are willing to report on the monstrous, ravenous and criminal system that is devouring hundreds of thousands of black and brown boys. Even those who do not subscribe to conspiracy theories have looked askance at this shocking report.

Welcome to the greatest manifestation of modern-day slavery, ladies and gentlemen.

One of those private prisons, The Corrections Corporation of America, made an offer last year to the governors of 48 states to operate their prisons on 20-year contracts, according to In the Public Interest.

What makes these deals so odious and unscrupulous? Take a look:

1) The offer included a demand that those prisons remain 90 percent full for the duration of the operating agreement. You know what that means: if there are not enough prisoners then there will be an unspoken push for police to arrest more people and to have the courts send more to prison for petty, frivolous and nonviolent crimes. There will also be a “nudge” for judges to hand down longer or maximum sentences to satisfy this “quota.”

2) Private prison companies have also backed measures such as “three-strike” laws to maintain high prison occupancy.

3) When the crime rate drops so low that the occupancy requirements can’t be met, taxpayers are left footing the bill for unused facilities.

The report found that 41 of 62 contracts reviewed contained occupancy requirements, with the highest occupancy rates found in Arizona, Oklahoma and Virginia.

In Colorado, Democratic Gov. John Hinklooper agreed to close down five state-run prisons and instead send inmates to CCA’s three corrections facilities. That cost taxpayers at least $2 million to maintain the unused facilities.

It is getting more difficult to rationalize the societal cost of keeping prisons full just to satisfy private investors who treat prisoners as commodity and cattle .

Posted in civil liberties, Corporate Crime, culture, Drug War, Economics, Law, police state, Privatization, Social Control, society, State Crime, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US fall from virtuous republic to tragic-comic empire described exactly by Roman historians

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By Carl Herman

Source: The Daily Censored

The ancient Greek historian, Polybius, celebrated the Roman republic of ~ 150 BC under its constitution with balance of powers among the Senate, two elected consuls, and the general citizens:

“Such being the power that each part has of hampering the others or co-operating with them, their union is adequate to all emergencies, so that it is impossible to find a better political system than this.”  – The Histories, Book VI, Section V: On the Roman Constitution at its Prime

Americans and people around the world were equally proud of the United States Constitution as “impossible to find a better political system than this.”

About 100 years after Polybius’ account, Rome’s republic had descended into oligarchic competition for power. Contemporary to Julius Caesar, the Roman historian and government insider Sallust blasted the decline of virtue in government:

“To those who had easily endured toils, dangers, and doubtful and difficult circumstances, ease and wealth, the objects of desire to others, became a burden and a trouble. At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil. For avarice subverted honesty, integrity, and other honorable principles, and, in their stead, inculcated pride, inhumanity, contempt of religion, and general venality. Ambition prompted many to become deceitful; to keep one thing concealed in the breast, and another ready on the tongue; to estimate friendships and enmities, not by their worth, but according to interest; and to carry rather a specious countenance than an honest heart. These vices at first advanced but slowly, and were sometimes restrained by correction; but afterwards, when their infection had spread like a pestilence, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most equitable and praiseworthy, became rapacious and insupportable.” – Conspiracy of Catiline, The Argument

The most prolific Roman historian, Livy, witnessed Rome’s transition into dictatorial empire with Augustus Caesar as first emperor. In his preface to address 700 years of Roman history:

“I have no doubt that the earliest origins and the immediately succeeding period will give less delight to the majority of readers who are hurrying to these recent times in which the might of a most powerful people has long been destroying itself.

… I shall seek this additional reward for my labor (recounting all Rome’s history) so that I may turn away from the contemplation of the evils that our age has seen for so many years.” – The History of Rome, Preface

Tacitus wrote ~ 100 AD, a century into empire. Emperors proclaimed to the public that their government still upheld the highest ideals of their Republic, claiming expanding empire was only and always in “self-defense.”

Emperor Domitian’s assassination in 96 AD (among ~22 murdered emperors), allowed Tacitus to write The Agricola, a biographical text of his father-in-law contrasting claimed virtue of Roman military and citizenry with the emperor’s utterly corrupt despotism.

Importantly, this text describes the problem of virtuous Romans within a psychopathic government. Tacitus describes Agricola attempting to uphold virtue; but without recognition of any evil in serving an expanding dictatorial empire. Tacitus seems to assume the ideal of mos maiorum, “custom/virtue of Roman forefathers” will eventually triumph over the evil of present “leadership.”

In Agricola’s campaign as military and political leader of Roman Britain to expand the empire to modern Scotland from 78 – 84 AD, Tacitus recorded a speech he attributes to Scottish rebel-leader, Calgacus, to voice how those of virtue characterized Roman empire under corrupt emperors:

“It is no use trying to escape their arrogance by submission or good behavior. Robbers of the world, having by universal plunder exhausted the land, their drive is greed. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if poor, they lust for domination. Neither rule of the East nor West can satisfy them. Alone among men, they crave with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To plunder, slaughter, seize with false pretenses, they give the lying name ‘empire.’ And where nothing remains but a desert, they call that ‘peace.’ ” – Tacitus, The Agricola and the Germania (analyses herehere)

Roman imperialists called Calgacus and those who preferred independence from evil empire a name: barbarus. This is translated today as “barbarian,” but its context for using unconventional warfare to oppose the most powerful military in its day is better translated in today’s language with a different word:

Terrorist.

Indeed, Obama combines these terms to call ISIS “barbaric terrorists.”

American Founders created the US Constitution in light of Roman Republic design (herehere, among dozens), and aware previous republics had always self-destructed from corruption within their own nations. Among many of the Founders’ admonitions, James Madison was clear that citizen responsibility was essential to maintain a republic, no matter how well the Constitution was designed:

“A mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits (of government) is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands.”  – James Madison, Federalist Paper #48, 1788.

On September 18, 1787, just after signing the US Constitution, Benjamin Franklin met with members of the press. He was asked what kind of government America would have. Franklin warned: “A republic, if you can keep it.” In his speech to the Constitutional Convention, Franklin admonished: “This [U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism… when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”  – The Quotable Founding Fathers, pg. 39.

These warnings extend to all social science teachers of the present:

“As educators in the field of history–social science, we want our students to… understand the value, the importance, and the fragility of democratic institutions. We want them to realize that only a small fraction of the world’s population (now or in the past) has been fortunate enough to live under a democratic form of government.” – History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, pgs. 2, 7-8

US/UK/Israel today: Current Middle East armed attacks are proclaimed by US/UK/Israel “leaderships” as self-defense, just as Rome claimed. US “leaders” claim to uphold America’s highest ideals of freedom while removing almost all Constitutional Rights, as did Roman emperors. Corruption today, as in Rome, is rampant.

US/UK/Israel wars today are not even close to legal, and based on lies known to be false as they are told. Engaging in unlawful Wars of Aggression is the very opposite of a virtuous republic limited in power under its constitution. This is easy to verify for those with about an hour to look:

Solutions learned from the past applied to the present: Tacitus’ argument was to wait-out tyranny in confidence public virtue of past ideals would triumph.

Tacitus was wrong.

A stronger solution would be critical mass recognition by the public of corruption in an Emperor’s New Clothes analogy, arrests, and a clear forum for whistleblowers to disclose the full extent of corruption.

In today’s world of tragic-comic US/UK/Israel corrupt empire, I propose the solution of:

  • public demand for “leader” arrests. An arrest lawfully stops crimes.
  • Truth & Reconciliation to encourage criminal minions to become whistleblowers so we can best discover the extent of the crimes waged by the .01% upon the 99.99%.
  • With removed criminal oligarchs and corporate media who “covered” these crimes, we’d have honest opportunity for available economic solutions that would transform our beautiful, but historically dominated planet.

**

Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.

**

Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: herehere).

 

Posted in corporate news, Corruption, culture, Empire, Geopolitics, History, Philosophy, police state, propaganda, Social Control, society, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saturday Matinee: Chicago 10

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“Chicago 10″ (2007) is a lively retelling of the Chicago 8 case in which Bobby Seale, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner were charged with conspiracy to riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention (the Chicago 10 of the title includes defense lawyers William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass). The film’s colorful and fluid animation highlight the surreal and absurd aspects of the trial while interspersed live-action archival footage and a script based on transcripts and rediscovered audio recordings give it a documentary feel. Added realism is given by the excellent voice acting from Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber and Jeffery Wright among others.

Posted in Activism, anti-war, Art, civil liberties, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

25 Signs That The Global Elite’s Ship Is About To Sink

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By Lance Schuttler

Source: The Mind Unleashed

Make no mistake about it. The tide has turned on the global elite and there will be no going back. A new day is rising for humanity as those who have planned for complete control are now being exposed, cornered and investigated from many different angles. There is no need to buy into the fear-based propaganda the major media and even several alternative media outlets dispense. Very good things are happening and even better things are coming. Let’s take a look at some of the major stories that have occurred in the last 8 weeks alone. Piecing the puzzle together, we see that the jig is up and the events surrounding it are growing in size and speed.

1. 57 Nations approved as founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Notable countries who signed on June 29th, 2015 include Russia, India, Iran, Switzerland, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Indonesia, the UK, Italy and Austria. Notables who did not join are the U.S. and Japan.

2. May 12th, 2015: Russia asks Greece to join the BRICS Alliance. Notice the BRICS trend in the stories to follow.

3. May 24th, 2015: The Pentagon released documents to Judicial Watch, a government watchdog law firm,
proving that the US Government played a central role in creating ISIL. Interestingly, the mainstream media failed to cover this story. A few weeks later, ex US Intelligence officials confirm the report.

4. May 31st, 2015: Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras writes an open letter, warns European leaders they are “making a grave mistake,” and suggests they re-read Hemingways’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

5. June 2nd, 2015: The U.S. Federal Government was hacked as the personal data of 4 million current, former and prospective employees believed to have been breached. 3 weeks later FBI Director James Comey told US Senators the actual number could be 18 million. Some believe the hack was coordinated to gather further evidence
of crimes by certain government officials. More on that further down.

6. June 2nd, 2015: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul calls for the U.S. Government to declassify 28 pages in the 9/11 attack report that the Bush Administration blacked out.

7. June 3rd, 2015: Famous musician Akon announces his Solar Academy will bring solar power to over 600 million people in Africa. A major victory for clean energy and humanity.

8. June 4th, 2015: Whistle-blower Edward Snowden says a “profound difference” had occurred since releasing the NSA documents and that the balance of power has shifted in our world.  Is he referring to the BRICS Alliance?

9. June 5th, 2015: “There Will Be A Reset of The Financial Industry.” The International Monetary Fund says the Chinese yuan is no longer undervalued. This sets the stage for the yuan to be recognized as a global reserve currency, something the U.S. Dollar (which is backed by war and oil) does not like.

10. June 7, 2015: Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s largest banks, co-CEO’s Jain and Fitschen resign. Two days later, German prosecutors raided the Bank’s headquarters in a criminal tax-fraud probe.

11. June 15, 2015: China says the G-7 Summit in Germany was a “gathering of debtors.” They mean this literally as the Bretton Woods western financial system is based on debt. And in fact, the entire western financial system has been running illegally and is technically bankrupt. For more on the real history of Bretton Woods and its connection to JFK, The Global Collateral Accounts and the gold standard, read here.

12. June 17th, 2015 is quite the day with the next four stories all being reported at that time. First, JP Morgan’s number 2, the Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee, suddenly and unexpectedly passes over. Since late 2013, the list of high-level banking officials to have passed over has grown to 70. Clearly, something is happening.

13. June 17, 2015: Russia and China announced that all natural gas and crude oil sales between
the two countries will now be done in Chinese yuan( formerly the U.S. Dollar) and will be convertible into Russian Rubles. The U.S. Dollar hegemony is waning.

14. June 17, 2015: The State of Texas has signed a bill that calls for the repatriation of their gold from the Federal Government. When asked what would happen if the government tried to steal back the gold, State Representative Giovanni Capriglione said this: There is a motto in the office of almost every state legislator in Texas, and it’s a flag that we have [from the Texas Revolution], it’s below a cannon and what the motto says is, “Come and Take it.”

15. June 17, 2015: Greece’s Hellenic Parliament’s Debt Truth Committee released a report stating that the debt Greece “owes” is illegal, illegitimate and odious, according to international law. Further, they stated the IMF and ECB ( European Central Bank) having illegally and knowingly imposed these illegitimate debts upon Greece and other nations. A direct call out to the global banking cartel.

16. June 18th, 2015: Baron David de Rothschild has been indicted by a French court over financial fraud. French police have been ordered by the court to track down Baron. The Rothschild family has long been viewed as the family sitting atop the global financial ponzi scheme. Lawyer Antonio Flores told reporters, ” it’s a real breakthrough moment for everyone involved.”

17. June 18, 2015: In a 2-1 ruling, the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals says Bush era officials can be held liable for detaining innocent people after the 9/11 attack. Will this lead to some major arrests?

18. June 19, 2015: While European leaders try to save face on the debt crisis, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras was in Russia and gave a speech at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, stating that “the economic center of the planet has already shifted” and that new powers are playing an “important role on an economic and geopolitical level.” * Reread story header number 8…BRICS, anyone? Oh, and Greece and Russia signed a €2 billion gas pipeline deal that day too…a strategic economic and geopolitical game-changer.

19. July 5th, 2015: Greece votes “NO” to the creditors’ bailout offer. This is a massive stance for humanity that Greece just took against the banking elite. As of this writing, a “deal” has been reached but is expected to fall apart in the coming days. Kicking the can down the road does not solve the issue, but rather speeds up the revolution mindset of many frustrated Greek citizens. September/October is when many financial experts are saying that some fireworks are to be expected. 

20. July 7th, 2015: The BRICS Bank officially opens for business.

21. July 8th, 2015: On this day, several strange events occurred. The NYSE was taken down for multiple hours, the Wall Street Journal was taken offline just after the stock exchange went down, United Airlines was forced to ground all of its flights nationwide due to computer “issues,” and 2,500 people losing power in Washington D.C. This whistle-blower journalist just wrote that his Pentagon sources said the Pentagon/BRICS Alliance took it down as a “dry run.”

22. July 7th, 2015: Backing up one day we see that the hacking group Anonymous tweeted this on the evening prior to the stock exchange hack: Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street….we can only hope. 
David Wilcock has previously written a detailed document stating that Anonymous is working with certain patriotic US Military forces to legally take down the banking elite.. This aligns nicely with what the whistle-blower journalist, Benjamin Fulford, just wrote this week about the Pentagon and BRICS Alliance in the previous story.

23. July 14th, 2015: Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. reach a historic deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Entire books could be written on the geopolitical, financial and technological implications of this move. There are also reports that the reality of this situation is that Iran has free energy technology and will be using this to help bring down the banking/political/oil industry elite. This would make sense as the strongest opponents to this deal have been Israel and its Prime Minister and several American politicians like the Bushes, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. 

24. July 15th, 2015: Santa Cruz County votes to stop doing business with 5 major banks, including JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS. Watch this set off a chain reaction in those who will follow suit.

25. Now: You are here on the planet at this time to make a wonderful contribution. Please continue playing your role for the benefit of us all.

It is clear that something big is happening. Use this information to move forward with optimism and hope. Share with your friends. Discuss with your friends. Continue to search and dig for the truth. Two people I strongly suggest the reader looking into are Benjamin Fulford, the whistleblower who was the Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine and is listed in stories number 21 and 22, and Neil Keenan, who is working with many well connected sources to open up the global collateral accounts. These accounts are what President Kennedy was assassinated over and are what the banking elite does not want the public to know exists. This revolution WILL NOT be televised.

Posted in consciousness, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Economics, Empire, Energy, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, History, Recession, Social Control, society, State Crime, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Human Aversion to “Doing the Right Thing”

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Does Anyone Want to Make the World a Better Place?

Posted in conditioning, Corruption, culture, Economics, Empire, Geopolitics, History, Philosophy, police state, Social Control, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Eurasian Big Bang

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How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington

By Pepe Escobar

Source: TomDispatch.com

The several hundred Republicans who have thrown their hats into the ring for the 2016 presidential race and the war hawks in Congress (mainly but hardly only Republicans) have already been in full howl about the Vienna nuclear deal with Iran. Jeb Bush took about two seconds to label it “appeasement,” instantly summoning up the image of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain giving in to Hitler before World War II; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee spared no metaphor in labeling the agreement “a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America’”; Senator Lindsey Graham called it a “possible death sentence for Israel”; this year’s leading billionaire candidate, Donald Trump, summed up his opinion of the deal in one you’re-fired-style word, “ridiculous”; Senator John McCain described Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the deal, as “delusional”; and Senator… I mean, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mockingly turned Chamberlain’s infamous “peace in our time” into “peace at any price,” dismissed the deal as a catastrophe filled with “absurdities,” and then appeared on every American media venue imaginable to denounce it.  And that’s just to start down the usual list of suspects. Even Senator Rand Paul swore he would vote against the agreement (though his father called it “to the benefit of world peace”), while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was typical of Republican presidential candidates in swearing that he would personally scuttle the deal on his first day in the Oval Office.

This, in short, is the mad version of international policy that makes Washington a claustrophobic echo chamber.  After all, the choice isn’t actually between Iran having no nuclear “breakout” capacity or regaining that capacity 15 years from now (as the present deal seems to offer); the choice is between an agreement for 15 verifiably non-weaponized years and a guarantee of nothing whatsoever.  And if you’ve just checked off that nothing-whatsoever column, the alternative is to somehow crush the Iranians, to force them into submission.  It is, in other words, some version of war.  Two questions on that: How successful has war in the Greater Middle East been as an American policy weapon these last 13 years?  And what makes anyone think that, when even Dick Cheney and crew couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger on Iran, Jeb B. or any of the other candidates will be likely to do so in an ISIS-enriched world in 2017?

When you’ve satisfied yourself on those two questions, consider the seldom-discussed larger context within which twenty-first-century nuclear politics has taken place.  In these last years, the Pakistanis, the Indians, the Russians, and the Americans, to name just four nuclear powers, have either been expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear stockpiles in significant ways.  And god knows what the Israelis were doing with their super-secret, never officially acknowledged, but potentially civilization-busting atomic arsenal of 80 or more weapons, while the North Koreans were turning themselves into a nuclear mini-power.  Nonetheless, the focus of nuclear attention and the question of “disarmament” has remained almost exclusively on a country that had no such weapons, has officially disavowed them, and at this point, at least, doesn’t even have a weapons program.  And note that no one who is anyone in Washington considers any of this the least bit strange.

In this context, that irrepressible TomDispatch regular Pepe Escobar offers another kind of lens-widening exercise when it comes to the Iranian deal.  He focuses on a subject that Washington has yet to fully absorb: changing relations in Eurasia.  Few here have noticed, but while the Vienna deal was being negotiated, Russia and China, countries the Pentagon has just officially labeled as “threats,” have been moving mountains (quite literally in some cases) to integrate ever larger parts of that crucial land mass, that “world island,” into a vast economic zone that, if all goes as they wish, will be beyond Washington’s power and control.  This is a remarkable development that, despite the coming two months of sound and fury about Iran, won’t be at the top of any news report, which is why you need a website like TomDispatch to keep up with the times. Tom

The Eurasian Big Bang 
How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
By Pepe Escobar

Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: from now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations — the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union), the AIIB (the new Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), and the NDB (the BRICS’ New Development Bank) — whose acronyms you’re unlikely to recognize either.  Still, they represent an emerging new order in Eurasia.

Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”  And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at a twin BRICS/SCO summit in Ufa, Russia — a place you’ve undoubtedly never heard of and a meeting that got next to no attention in the U.S.  And yet sooner or later, these developments will ensure that the War Party in Washington and assorted neocons (as well as neoliberalcons) already breathing hard over the Iran deal will sweat bullets as their narratives about how the world works crumble.

The Eurasian Silk Road

With the Vienna deal, whose interminable build-up I had the dubious pleasure of following closely, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his diplomatic team have pulled the near-impossible out of an extremely crumpled magician’s hat: an agreement that might actually end sanctions against their country from an asymmetric, largely manufactured conflict.

Think of that meeting in Ufa, the capital of Russia’s Bashkortostan, as a preamble to the long-delayed agreement in Vienna. It caught the new dynamics of the Eurasian continent and signaled the future geopolitical Big Bangness of it all. At Ufa, from July 8th to 10th, the 7th BRICS summit and the 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit overlapped just as a possible Vienna deal was devouring one deadline after another.

Consider it a diplomatic masterstroke of Vladmir Putin’s Russia to have merged those two summits with an informal meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Call it a soft power declaration of war against Washington’s imperial logic, one that would highlight the breadth and depth of an evolving Sino-Russian strategic partnership. Putting all those heads of state attending each of the meetings under one roof, Moscow offered a vision of an emerging, coordinated geopolitical structure anchored in Eurasian integration. Thus, the importance of Iran: no matter what happens post-Vienna, Iran will be a vital hub/node/crossroads in Eurasia for this new structure.

If you read the declaration that came out of the BRICS summit, one detail should strike you: the austerity-ridden European Union (EU) is barely mentioned. And that’s not an oversight. From the point of view of the leaders of key BRICS nations, they are offering a new approach to Eurasia, the very opposite of the language of sanctions.

Here are just a few examples of the dizzying activity that took place at Ufa, all of it ignored by the American mainstream media. In their meetings, President Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi worked in a practical way to advance what is essentially a Chinese vision of a future Eurasia knit together by a series of interlocking “new Silk Roads.” Modi approved more Chinese investment in his country, while Xi and Modi together pledged to work to solve the joint border issues that have dogged their countries and, in at least one case, led to war.

The NDB, the BRICS’ response to the World Bank, was officially launched with $50 billion in start-up capital. Focused on funding major infrastructure projects in the BRICS nations, it is capable of accumulating as much as $400 billion in capital, according to its president, Kundapur Vaman Kamath. Later, it plans to focus on funding such ventures in other developing nations across the Global South — all in their own currencies, which means bypassing the U.S. dollar.  Given its membership, the NDB’s money will clearly be closely linked to the new Silk Roads. As Brazilian Development Bank President Luciano Coutinhostressed, in the near future it may also assist European non-EU member states like Serbia and Macedonia. Think of this as the NDB’s attempt to break a Brussels monopoly on Greater Europe. Kamath even advanced the possibility of someday aidingin the reconstruction of Syria.

You won’t be surprised to learn that both the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the NDB are headquartered in China and will work to complement each other’s efforts. At the same time, Russia’s foreign investment arm, the Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), signed a memorandum of understanding with funds from other BRICS countries and so launched an informal investment consortium in which China’s Silk Road Fund and India’s Infrastructure Development Finance Company will be key partners.

Full Spectrum Transportation Dominance

On the ground level, this should be thought of as part of the New Great Game in Eurasia. Its flip side is the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Pacific and the Atlantic version of the same, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, both of which Washington is trying to advance to maintain U.S. global economic dominance. The question these conflicting plans raise is how to integrate trade and commerce across that vast region. From the Chinese and Russian perspectives, Eurasia is to be integrated via a complex network of superhighways, high-speed rail lines, ports, airports, pipelines, and fiber optic cables. By land, sea, and air, the resulting New Silk Roads are meant to create an economic version of the Pentagon’s doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance” — a vision that already has Chinese corporate executives crisscrossing Eurasia sealing infrastructure deals.

For Beijing — back to a 7% growth rate in the second quarter of 2015 despite a recent near-panic on the country’s stock markets — it makes perfect economic sense: as labor costs rise, production will be relocated from the country’s Eastern seaboard to its cheaper Western reaches, while the natural outlets for the production of just about everything will be those parallel and interlocking “belts” of the new Silk Roads.

Meanwhile, Russia is pushing to modernize and diversify its energy-exploitation-dependent economy. Among other things, its leaders hope that the mix of those developing Silk Roads and the tying together of the Eurasian Economic Union — Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — will translate into myriad transportation and construction projects for which the country’s industrial and engineering know-how will prove crucial.

As the EEU has begun establishing free trade zones with India, Iran, Vietnam, Egypt, and Latin America’s Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela), the initial stages of this integration process already reach beyond Eurasia. Meanwhile, the SCO, which began as little more than a security forum, is expanding and moving into the field of economic cooperation.  Its countries, especially four Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan) will rely ever more on the Chinese-driven Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the NDB. At Ufa, India and Pakistan finalized an upgrading process in which they have moved from observers to members of the SCO. This makes it an alternative G8.

In the meantime, when it comes to embattled Afghanistan, the BRICS nations and the SCO have now called upon “the armed opposition to disarm, accept the Constitution of Afghanistan, and cut ties with Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations.” Translation: within the framework of Afghan national unity, the organization would accept the Taliban as part of a future government. Their hopes, with the integration of the region in mind, would be for a future stable Afghanistan able to absorb more Chinese, Russian, Indian, and Iranian investment, and the construction — finally! — of a long-planned, $10 billion, 1,420-kilometer-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline that would benefit those energy-hungry new SCO members, Pakistan and India. (They would each receive 42% of the gas, the remaining 16% going to Afghanistan.)

Central Asia is, at the moment, geographic ground zero for the convergence of the economic urges of China, Russia, and India. It was no happenstance that, on his way to Ufa, Prime Minister Modi stopped off in Central Asia.  Like the Chinese leadership in Beijing, Moscow looks forward (as a recent document puts it) to the “interpenetration and integration of the EEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt” into a “Greater Eurasia” and a “steady, developing, safe common neighborhood” for both Russia and China.

And don’t forget Iran. In early 2016, once economic sanctions are fully lifted, it is expected to join the SCO, turning it into a G9. As its foreign minister, Javad Zarif, made clear recently to Russia’s Channel 1 television, Tehran considers the two countries strategic partners. “Russia,” he said, “has been the most important participant in Iran’s nuclear program and it will continue under the current agreement to be Iran’s major nuclear partner.” The same will, he added, be true when it comes to “oil and gas cooperation,” given the shared interest of those two energy-rich nations in “maintaining stability in global market prices.”

Got Corridor, Will Travel

Across Eurasia, BRICS nations are moving on integration projects. A developing Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor is a typical example. It is now being reconfigured as a multilane highway between India and China. Meanwhile, Iran and Russia are developing a transportation corridor from the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the Caspian Sea and the Volga River. Azerbaijan will be connected to the Caspian part of this corridor, while India is planning to use Iran’s southern ports to improve its access to Russia and Central Asia. Now, add in a maritime corridor that will stretch from the Indian city of Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and then on to the southern Russian city of Astrakhan. And this just scratches the surface of the planning underway.

Years ago, Vladimir Putin suggested that there could be a “Greater Europe” stretching from Lisbon, Portugal, on the Atlantic to the Russian city of Vladivostok on the Pacific. The EU, under Washington’s thumb, ignored him. Then the Chinese started dreaming about and planning new Silk Roads that would, in reverse Marco Polo fashion, extend from Shanghai to Venice (and then on to Berlin).

Thanks to a set of cross-pollinating political institutions, investment funds, development banks, financial systems, and infrastructure projects that, to date, remain largely under Washington’s radar, a free-trade Eurasian heartland is being born. It will someday link China and Russia to Europe, Southwest Asia, and even Africa. It promises to be an astounding development. Keep your eyes, if you can, on the accumulating facts on the ground, even if they are rarely covered in the American media. They represent the New Great — emphasis on that word — Game in Eurasia.

Location, Location, Location

Tehran is now deeply invested in strengthening its connections to this new Eurasia and the man to watch on this score is Ali Akbar Velayati. He is the head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research and senior foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Velayati stresses that security in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus hinges on the further enhancement of a Beijing-Moscow-Tehran triple entente.

As he knows, geo-strategically Iran is all about location, location, location. That country offers the best access to open seas in the region apart from Russia and is the only obvious east-west/north-south crossroads for trade from the Central Asian “stans.” Little wonder then that Iran will soon be an SCO member, even as its “partnership” with Russia is certain to evolve. Its energy resources are already crucial to and considered a matter of national security for China and, in the thinking of that country’s leadership, Iran also fulfills a key role as a hub in those Silk Roads they are planning.

That growing web of literal roads, rail lines, and energy pipelines, asTomDispatch has previously reported, represents Beijing’s response to the Obama administration’s announced “pivot to Asia” and the U.S. Navy’s urge to meddle in the South China Sea. Beijing is choosing to project power via a vast set of infrastructure projects, especially high-speed rail lines that will reach from its eastern seaboard deep into Eurasia. In this fashion, the Chinese-built railway from Urumqi in Xinjiang Province to Almaty in Kazakhstan will undoubtedly someday be extended to Iran and traverse that country on its way to the Persian Gulf.

A New World for Pentagon Planners

At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last month, Vladimir Putin told PBS’s Charlie Rose that Moscow and Beijing had always wanted a genuine partnership with the United States, but were spurned by Washington. Hats off, then, to the “leadership” of the Obama administration. Somehow, it has managed to bring together two former geopolitical rivals, while solidifying their pan-Eurasian grand strategy.

Even the recent deal with Iran in Vienna is unlikely — especially given the war hawks in Congress — to truly end Washington’s 36-year-long Great Wall of Mistrust with Iran. Instead, the odds are that Iran, freed from sanctions, will indeed be absorbed into the Sino-Russian project to integrate Eurasia, which leads us to the spectacle of Washington’s warriors, unable to act effectively, yet screaming like banshees.

NATO’s supreme commander Dr. Strangelove, sorry, American General Philip Breedlove, insists that the West must create a rapid-reaction force — online — to counteract Russia’s “false narratives.” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter claims to be seriously considering unilaterally redeploying nuclear-capable missiles in Europe. The nominee to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Commandant Joseph Dunford, recently directly labeled Russia America’s true “existential threat”; Air Force General Paul Selva, nominated to be the new vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, seconded that assessment, using the same phrase and putting Russia, China and Iran, in that order, as more threatening than the Islamic State (ISIS). In the meantime, Republican presidential candidates and a bevy of congressional war hawks simply shout and fume when it comes to both the Iranian deal and the Russians.

In response to the Ukrainian situation and the “threat” of a resurgent Russia (behind which stands a resurgent China), a Washington-centric militarization of Europe is proceeding apace. NATO is now reportedly obsessed with what’s being called “strategy rethink” — as in drawing up detailed futuristic war scenarios on European soil. As economist Michael Hudson has pointed out, even financial politics are becoming militarized and linked to NATO’s new Cold War 2.0.

In its latest National Military Strategy, the Pentagon suggests that the risk of an American war with another nation (as opposed to terror outfits), while low, is “growing” and identifies four nations as “threats”: North Korea, a case apart, and predictably the three nations that form the new Eurasian core: Russia, China, and Iran. They are depicted in the document as “revisionist states,” openly defying what the Pentagon identifies as “international security and stability”; that is, the distinctly un-level playing field created by globalized, exclusionary, turbo-charged casino capitalism and Washington’s brand of militarism.

The Pentagon, of course, does not do diplomacy. Seemingly unaware of the Vienna negotiations, it continued to accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. And that “military option” against Iran is never off the table.

So consider it the Mother of All Blockbusters to watch how the Pentagon and the war hawks in Congress will react to the post-Vienna and — though it was barely noticed in Washington — the post-Ufa environment, especially under a new White House tenant in 2017.

It will be a spectacle.  Count on it.  Will the next version of Washington try to make it up to “lost” Russia or send in the troops? Will it contain China or the “caliphate” of ISIS? Will it work with Iran to fight ISIS or spurn it? Will it truly pivot to Asia for good and ditch the Middle East or vice-versa? Or might it try to contain Russia, China, and Iran simultaneously or find some way to play them against each other?

In the end, whatever Washington may do, it will certainly reflect a fear of the increasing strategic depth Russia and China are developing economically, a reality now becoming visible across Eurasia. At Ufa, Putin told Xi on the record: “Combining efforts, no doubt we [Russia and China] will overcome all the problems before us.”

Read “efforts” as new Silk Roads, that Eurasian Economic Union, the growing BRICS block, the expanding Shanghai Cooperation Organization, those China-based banks, and all the rest of what adds up to the beginning of a new integration of significant parts of the Eurasian land mass. As for Washington, fly like an eagle? Try instead: scream like a banshee.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for RTand Sputnik, and a TomDispatch regular. His latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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Two for Tuesday

Elliot Smith

Anima Sound System

 

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Unaccountable Killer Cops in America

killer-cops.2.web

By Stephen Lendman

Source: Steve Lendman Blog

US streets in minority communities are battlegrounds. The good news is more police killings make headlines though nowhere near as many as warranted. Justifiable public anger is noticeably more visible.

The bad news is cops in America kill innocent (mostly Black) victims hundreds of times annually with impunity.

Activist police brutality critic Sandra Bland was lawlessly arrested after being stopped for a dubious traffic violation. Waller County, TX police lied claiming she assaulted arresting state trooper Brian Encinia. Video evidence showed him harassing, threatening and abusing her.

He opened her car door, aggressively demanded she “(s)tep out of the car.” She justifiably hesitated saying “(y)ou do not have the right to do that. Don’t touch me. I’m not under arrest.”

Encinia threatened her with his taser, saying “(g)et out of the car. I will light you up. Get out. Now. Get out of the car.” Bland was pinned to the ground, assaulted, handcuffed, arrested and jailed. She was found hanged to death in her cell.

A murder investigation is underway. Waller County criminal investigation head Captain Brian Cantrell unjustifiably calls what happened “a tragic incident, not one of criminal intent or a criminal act.”

Systematic police brutality against Blacks in America suggests otherwise. Why would an activist young Black woman commit suicide for any reason – let alone after likely short-term jailing following an abusive traffic stop, a misdemeanor at most if proved she was at fault? Videotape evidence showed otherwise.

Bland participated in rallies against police violence. Prophetically she posted a Facebook comment saying “(i)n the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.”

Was she targeted for her activism? Did State Trooper Encinia stop her for that reason – perhaps knowing he’d assault and arrest her? Was she set up for death? Was Bland assassinated to silence her?

The Texas Department of Public Safety said her arrest “violated the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy.”

Encinio was transferred to desk duty. Expect whoever was responsible for Bland’s death to get off scot-free – like virtually always in these type cases.

Independent journalists could write multiple daily articles on horrific police abuse in America – in urban and rural communities, big cities and small, nearly always against disadvantaged people, largely ones of color.

Last Sunday, 43-year-old Black Cincinnati motorist Samuel Dubose was fatally shot in the head by a white officer – inside his car after being stopped for an alleged traffic violation.

On July 19, Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters said “(w)e are investigating what occurred between University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing and Samuel Dubose and we expect to have our assessment complete before the end of next week.”

Dubose was allegedly stopped for missing his front license plate. Authorities notoriously lie. Prosecutor Deters claimed the incident resulted from him struggling with University of Cincinnati officer Tensing.

Unexplained is how (let alone why) with him seated in his car and Tensing outside – unless the officer opened his door and forcibly tried removing him, an act violating police procedure virtually everywhere except perhaps under extraordinary circumstances.

The police account sounded implausible at best. Instead of showing his driver’s license and registration when asked, he allegedly “produced a bottle of alcohol from inside the car, handing it to officer Tensing,” according to university police chief Jason Goodrich.

After an alleged brief struggle, the car rolled forward, knocking Tensing to the ground, he added. He killed Dubose in response.

Whether any of this happened as claimed is dubious at best. Goodrich didn’t say Dubose was drunk – a possible explanation for acting foolishly.

If not, why would he or anyone stopped for an alleged traffic violation hand a police officer a bottle of alcohol instead of his or her license and registration as asked?

Tensing was placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation virtually assured to exonerate him.

Another Black man died because killer cops in America have license to kill – including university ones operating by the same anything goes standard as city, state and federal authorities.

Friends and relatives explained Dubose wasn’t a violent man. He was the father of 13, engaged to be remarried. Neighbor Hadassah Thomas said “(e)verybody in the community loved Sam…He didn’t carry a gun, so why did he get shot” for a routine traffic stop?

Police records show Dubose had prior arrests -whether legitimate or not isn’t clear. Black males in America are ruthlessly harassed, falsely arrested, irresponsibly charged and unjustly imprisoned when innocent of any crimes – or very often minor offenses too insignificant to warrant incarceration, like illicit drug possession.

America’s criminal justice system is maliciously unfair. Three convictions for possessing a few grams of cocaine or a single marijuana joint for personal use in three-strikes-and-out states like Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and many others means life imprisonment.

Loot national treasuries and/or steal billions of dollars from duped investors and get off scot-free – or at most receive minor wrist slap fines compared enormous amounts of money stolen not required to give back.

Unknown numbers of mostly people of color wrongfully fester in America’s gulag longterm for capital or other crimes they didn’t commit. Justice is usually available only for those able to afford it.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Posted in Activism, civil liberties, Corruption, culture, Humor, Law, police state, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment