Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

World Bank Insider Blows Whistle on Corruption, Federal Reserve

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Nothing to see here ... move along

– I don’t think this is new information.  Just a confirmation of what many of us have suspected for some time.  

– But, the gathering awareness doesn’t seem to be enough to change things.  

– We are all too apathetic and ‘they’ have got far too much control at this point for anything short of a revolution or a major breakdown of the world’s structures to shake them loose (visualize blood-sucking ticks, and you’ll have it).

– dennis

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A former insider at the World Bank, ex-Senior Counsel Karen Hudes, says the global financial system is dominated by a small group of corrupt, power-hungry figures centered around the privately owned U.S. Federal Reserve. The network has seized control of the media to cover up its crimes, too, she explained. In an interview withThe New American, Hudes said that when she tried to blow the whistle on multiple problems at the World Bank, she was fired for her efforts. Now, along with a network of fellow whistleblowers, Hudes is determined to expose and end the corruption. And she is confident of success.

Citing an explosive 2011 Swiss study published in the PLOS ONE journal on the “network of global corporate control,” Hudes pointed out that a small group of entities — mostly financial institutions and especially central banks — exert a massive amount of influence over the international economy from behind the scenes. “What is really going on is that the world’s resources are being dominated by this group,” she explained, adding that the “corrupt power grabbers” have managed to dominate the media as well. “They’re being allowed to do it.”

According to the peer-reviewed paper, which presented the first global investigation of ownership architecture in the international economy, transnational corporations form a “giant bow-tie structure.” A large portion of control, meanwhile, “flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions.” The researchers described the core as an “economic ‘super-entity’” that raises important issues for policymakers and researchers. Of course, the implications are enormous for citizens as well.

Hudes, an attorney who spent some two decades working in the World Bank’s legal department, has observed the machinations of the network up close. “I realized we were now dealing with something known as state capture, which is where the institutions of government are co-opted by the group that’s corrupt,” she told The New American in a phone interview. “The pillars of the U.S. government — some of them — are dysfunctional because of state capture; this is a big story, this is a big cover up.”

At the heart of the network, Hudes said, are 147 financial institutions and central banks — especially the Federal Reserve, which was created by Congress but is owned by essentially a cartel of private banks. “This is a story about how the international financial system was secretly gamed, mostly by central banks — they’re the ones we are talking about,” she explained. “The central bankers have been gaming the system. I would say that this is a power grab.”

– More…

– research thanks to Carol S.

Hackers ‘raid US weapons’

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Cultural Revolution

– If China doesn’t implode from its own internal pressures (the failure of the Mandate of Heaven concept), then it is likely that we’re all going to be living in a Chinese dominated world.

– Most of the rest of us are living in debt ridden societies with few realistic ideas of how to break the debt cycles. (Oh, yeah, let’s have another WalMart or Warehouse store so we can buy really cheap shit – that’ll sort things out).

– So here, the Chinese, apparently, have stolen the heart of America’s weapon system designs. They’ve denied it?   Well, what would you expect them to say?

– Clearly, they are winning the game against the west and they’ve used our own Capitalistic Systems and greed against us, brilliantly.

– All we can hope for is that their own greed, corruption, and their failure to understand that they too are subject to the consequences of pollution, climate change and global overshoot, is going to pull their system apart before they can take over ours.  

– Then, at least, we can all live equally in a ruined world rather than having to be serfs in a ruined world that they dominate.

– Do you think after reading this that I am prejudiced against the Chinese?  

– No, I’m not.  I differentiate between the people and their culture.   I know and value a number of excellent friends among the Chinese.  

– But their culture is another thing.  These are, after all, the same people that gave the world the spectacle of The Cultural Revolution just a few decades ago.  These same folks drive the Shark Fin markets, the Bear Gall Bladder Markets, the Ivory Markets, and etc.  

– They don’t seem to mind poisoning each other, and other nationalities, in their pursuits of profit.  (Granted, we’ve not been much better).  And, like other cultures before them (and here I very much include ours), they think they are superior, that they are right and that it is their mandate to rule.

– In the end, I think I’d prefer our own assholes to theirs.

– dennis

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Some of America’s key defence items compromised but the culprits are not known.

Designs for some of America’s most important and sensitive weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a confidential report.

More than two dozen key weapons systems had been affected, including missile defences, fighter jets, helicopters and navy vessels, the report said.

Among those listed are the advanced Patriot missile system, or PAC-3, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the Black Hawk helicopter and the V-22 Osprey, which is able to land and take off vertically.

It was not clear from the report, extracts of which were published by theWashington Post, when or how the designs had been compromised.

Its authors _ the Defence Science Board, an influential advisory body _ stopped short of accusing the Chinese Government of attempting to steal the information.

But senior military sources pointed the finger directly at Beijing, saying the security breaches were part of a “widening Chinese campaign of espionage against US defence contractors and government agencies”.

– More…

– Thanks to Kierin M for the Mandate of Heaven concept.

The corrosive power of big money

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

– Tonight, at the suggestion of a friend, I watched a documentary called, “Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream“.  Here’s a link to it on youtube :

– It was a very powerful piece about how American is being taken over by the richest of the rich and everyone else is being left to eat dirt.  

– I can’t begin to do the film justice.  You should find 30 or 40 minutes and watch it.

– Afterwards, when I wrote my friend back to thank him for the suggestion, I was telling him in my E-Mail that I was surprised that the American Public Broadcasting System (PBS) still had enough independence to broadcast such a thing.

– Well, not long after I penned those words, I came across this story which proves that they were not independent enough and they’ve had their feathers clipped.  

– Money talks.

– dennis

– research thanks to John P.

 

 

Rise Up or Die

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

– It seems to me that perceptions of the ongoing take-over of government by multinational corporations and the very wealthy is gaining traction in the Blog-o-sphere and in the internet’s left side musings.

– dennis

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By Chris Hedges

 

Joe Sacco and I spent two years reporting from the poorest pockets of the United States for our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.” We went into our nation’s impoverished “sacrifice zones”—the first areas forced to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace—to show what happens when unfettered corporate capitalism and ceaseless economic expansion no longer have external impediments. We wanted to illustrate what unrestrained corporate exploitation does to families, communities and the natural world. We wanted to challenge the reigning ideology of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism to illustrate what life becomes when human beings and the ecosystem are ruthlessly turned into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And we wanted to expose as impotent the formal liberal and governmental institutions that once made reform possible, institutions no longer equipped with enough authority to check the assault of corporate power.

What has taken place in these sacrifice zones—in postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., and Detroit, in coalfields of southern West Virginia where mining companies blast off mountaintops, in Indian reservations where the demented project of limitless economic expansion and exploitation worked some of its earliest evil, and in produce fields where laborers often endure conditions that replicate slavery—is now happening to much of the rest of the country. These sacrifice zones succumbed first. You and I are next.

Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.

– More…

TransPacific Partnership Will Undermine Democracy, Empower Transnational Corporations

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

– I’ve written and displayed articles on this issue before.

– dennis

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Our country’s democratic values could be under threat if President Obama fast tracks the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

On critical issues, the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated in secret by the Obama administration willundermine democracy in the United States and around the world and further empower transnational corporations. It will circumvent protections for health care, wages, labor rights, consumers’ rights and the environment, and decrease regulation of big finance and risky investment practices.

The only way this treaty, which will be very unpopular with the American people once they are aware of it, can be approved is if the Obama administration avoids the democratic process by using an authority known as “Fast Track,” which limits the constitutional checks and balances of Congress.

If the TPP is approved, the sovereignty of the United States and other member nations will be dissipated by trade tribunals that favor corporate power and force national laws to be subservient to corporate interests.

Circumventing the Checks and Balances of US Democracy

President Nixon first developed the idea of “Fast Track” in 1973 as a way to secure Congressional approval of trade agreements, and it has been a key to passing many unpopular agreements such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and NAFTA. As people have caught on to the offshoring of jobs and other detrimental consequences of these agreements, civil society now understands how important it is to not allow a president to circumvent the democratic role of Congress. Fast Track expired in 2007, so President Obama must have it re-instated in order to pass the TPP. His administration is moving to have Fast Track approved and hopes it will happen by this summer.

Under Fast Track, the president was allowed to negotiate and sign trade agreements with whatever countries the executive branch selected – all before Congress voted on the agreement. Fast Track meant that the Congressional committee processes were circumvented and the executive branch was empowered to write lengthy implementing legislation for each trade pact without Congress. These executive-only authored bills required US law to conform to the trade agreement. For example,Glass-Steagall had to be repealed under President Clinton to conform to the WTO. And, Fast Track empowered the president to submit the executive-branch written bill for a mandatory vote within a set number of days, with all amendments forbidden, normal Senate rules waived, and debate limited in both chambers of Congress. Fast Track clearly undermined democracy.

Indeed, Fast Track turned the US Constitution on its head. Under Article I Section 8, Congress has exclusive authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” and to “lay and collect taxes [and] duties.” Under the Constitution, the president is empowered to negotiate treaties, but Congress must vote to approve them. Thus, Fast Track took constitutional power from Congress and prevented the checks and balances needed to prevent an imperial presidency.

For most of the history of the United States, treaties and trade agreements went through the normal congressional process described in the Constitution. Fast Track is a relatively new concept that coincides with an era of increasing presidential power, which includes the power to declare war and to murder US citizens without warning or judicial oversight. If Congress had reviewed agreements such as the WTO and NAFTA beforehand and civil society had been able to participate in a democratic process, would the United States have made the mistake of passing these laws that have so injured our economy and others?

Fast Track is very unpopular, so now President Obama and others who advocate for it do not use the term. Instead they call it by the euphemism “Trade Promotion Authority.” But changing the name does not change what it is – a method of ceding the constitutional power of Congress and undermining the checks and balances built into the constitutional framework.

Congress needs to consider what agreements such as the TPP will do to jobs, trade balances and the environment. Since Nixon, Fast Track has been used by presidents to go way beyond trade and tariffs. These agreements have been used to change US law by establishing “rules related to domestic environmental, health, safety and essential-service regulations, including deregulation of financial services; establishment of immigration policies; creation of limits on local development and land-use policy; extension of domestic patent terms; establishment of new rights and greater protections for foreign investors operating within the United States that extend beyond US law; and even limitation of how domestic procurement dollars may be spent.” Thus, not only has the constitutional power of Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations been undermined, but a whole host of domestic laws have been rewritten to satisfy international trade.

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‘Monsanto Protection Act’ slips silently through US Congress

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The future approaching

– This was perhaps for me the last straw with President Obama.   That he signed this bill is unforgivable and deeply inconsistent with the values I’d hoped he represented.

Monsanto represents what is so deeply disquieting about the gathering ascendancy of corporate power and money over governmental processes which are suppose to act in and for the good of a nation’s people.

– dennis

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The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week – including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.

The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.

The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Senator John Tester (D-MT) proved to be the lone dissenter to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, though his proposed amendment to strip the rider from the bill was never put to a vote.

As the US legal system functions today, and largely as a result of prior lawsuits, the USDA is required to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) prior to both the planting and sale of GMO crops. The extent and effectiveness to which the USDA exercises this rule is in itself a source of serious dispute.

The reviews have been the focus of heated debate between food safety advocacy groups and the biotech industry in the past. In December of 2009, for example, Food Democracy Now collected signatures during the EIS commenting period in a bid to prevent the approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, which many feared would contaminate organic feed used by dairy farmers; it was approved regardless.

Previously discovered pathogens in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn and soy are suspected of causing infertility in livestock and to impact the health of plants.

So, just how much of a victory is this for biotech companies like Monsanto? Critics are thus far alarmed by the very way in which the provision made it through Congress — the rider was introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. Now, groups like the Center for Food Safety are holding Senator Mikulski (D-MD), chairman of that committee, to task and lobbing accusations of a “backroom deal” with the biotech industry.

– more…

 

Secret “Free Trade” Negotiations Will Gut Regulations, Further Enrich Multinationals and Big Financial Firms

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

– I’ve written before on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is being negotiated between the United States, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and Malaysia.  Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines have also expressed interest in joining.  

– I’ve also written on another agreement that Canada is negotiating, the FIPPA, that is just as toxic to human rights and the ability of the signatory government to legislate freely to protect the health and the rights of their peoples.

– These agreements, largely being drawn up and agreed to in secret, are a reflection of how very deeply the large multinational corporate interests have gotten into the knickers of our governments.

– These agreements do not favor the individual sovereign governments of any of their possible signatories.  The U.S., which is perhaps the largest player in the group, is not much better off that the other countries save for the fact that it is the home ground for many of the large corporate players backing these agreements.  

– But, as you will read, even U.S. Congressmen are complaining about being locked out of the agreements while the representatives of major corporations freely sit in and help shape what’s to be signed.

– Let’s get that straight.  HalliburtonChevronPHRMAComcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America can all see the current texts of the negotiations – and United States Senator Ron Wyden cannot?

– dennis

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It’s a sign of the times that a reputable economist, Dean Baker, can use the word “corruption” in the headline of an article describing two major trade deals under negotiation and no one bats an eye.

By way of background, the Administration is taking the unusual step of trying to negotiate two major trade deals in the same timeframe. Apparently Obama wants to make sure his corporate masters get as many goodies as possible before he leaves office. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the US-European Union “Free Trade” Agreement are both inaccurately depicted as being helpful to ordinary Americans by virtue of liberalizing trade. Instead, the have perilous little to do with trade. They are both intended to make the world more lucrative for major corporations by weakening regulations and by strengthening intellectual property laws. The TPP has an additional wrinkle of being an “everybody but China” deal, intended to strengthen ties among nations who will then be presumed allies of America in its efforts to contain China. As we indicated via a link to an Asia Times article over the weekend, that’s proving to be a bit fraught as Japan is flexing its muscles militarily and thus less inclined to follow US directives tamely.

One of the most disturbing aspects of both negotiations is that they are being held in secret….secret, that is, if you are anybody other that a big US multinational who has a stake in the outcome.

Baker describes in scathing terms why these types of deals are bad policy:

…these deals are about securing regulatory gains for major corporate interests. In some cases, such as increased patent and copyright protection, these deals are 180 degrees at odds with free trade. They are about increasing protectionist barriers.

All the arguments that trade economists make against tariffs and quotas apply to patent and copyright protection. The main difference is the order of magnitude. Tariffs and quotas might raise the price of various items by 20 or 30 percent. By contrast, patent and copyright protection is likely to raise the price of protected items 2,000 percent or even 20,000 percent above the free market price. Drugs that would sell for a few dollars per prescription in a free market would sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars when the government gives a drug company a patent monopoly…

The idea is that once a deal is completed there will be enormous political pressure for Congress to approve it no matter what it contains….news outlets like the Washington Post will use both their news and opinion sections to bash members of Congress who oppose a deal. They will be endlessly portrayed as ignorant Neanderthals who do not understand economics.

The reality of course is that it is the “free traders” who either do not understand economics or deliberately choose to ignore it. Many of the provisions that we are likely to see in these deals, like stronger patent protections, will slow growth and cost jobs.

These deals will also lead to more upward redistribution of income. The more money that people in the developing world pay to Pfizer for drugs and Microsoft for software, the less money they will pay for the products that we export, as opposed to “intellectual property rights”….

This is yet another case where the government is working for a tiny elite against the interests of the bulk of the population.

If that isn’t bad enough, there’s another side of these planned pacts that is often simply ignored. These “trade” deals are Trojan horses to erode or eliminate national regulations. Baker anticipates that these deals will include sections that would limit government regulation (including at the state and local level) on fracking and could revive much of the internet surveillance that reared its ugly head in the failed SOPA.

– More…

 

Secret Files Expose Offshore’s Global Impact

Friday, April 12th, 2013

– This story is going to have legs for a long time, folks.  High net worth individuals and politicos all over the globe must be crapping themselves wondering what’s going to come out of this story.

– All us small folk are paying higher and higher taxes while the disparity between the rich and poor grows wider and wider and the folks on the top are clearly not paying their share.  They are, in fact, working very hard to pay little or nothing.

– Corporations and the rich are gaming the situation to push the tax burdens down on the middle classes and that’s one of the reasons why the middle classes are beginning to look like an endangered species.

– This can only go so far and there will be a backlash.   This, if carried far enough, is the stuff revolutions are made of.

– dennis

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Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy ­

A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.

The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.

They include American doctors and dentists and middle-class Greek villagers as well as families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives, international arms dealers and a sham-director-fronted company that the European Union has labeled as a cog in Iran’s nuclear-development program.

The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.

The records detail the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories.

The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization. The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.

– More…

 – Later breaking stories on this subject…

Ottawa weighing plans for bank failures

Friday, April 12th, 2013

– Cyprus and the government’s actions there to seize depositor funds to rescue a failing economy and its banks wasn’t a one-off.  

– This same plan is wending it way through the parliament here in New Zealand under the guidance of the conservative National Government.  And, just as in the article, below, about Canada’s movements in the direction, the New Zealand government is doing their very best to deflect any and all questions about whether or not money would or would not be taken from depositor accounts of a bank to cover the shortfalls if that bank failed.  

– No one in New Zealand has explained why the bank’s officers should not first be stripped of all their assets before anyone should think of going after the bank’s depositors.  

– And no one has explained why, if it is the government’s rightful roll to regulate banks to prevent such things, why the government should not be culpable and why, if they were, they should not spread the burden of their malfeasance across the entire tax-payer base of the country to more fairly spread the load.

– And finally no one has explained why of these three; the bank’s officers, the government and the bank’s depositors, why the depositors (who would would obviously know the least about the bank’s stability) should be the ones tasked with paying the penalty for a bank’s failure.

– Yes, God damn it, the people DO want to know the answers to these questions.

– dennis

Canadian Federal government looking at ‘Cyprus solution’

Buried deep in last month’s federal budget is an ambiguously worded section that has roiled parts of the financial world but has so far been largely ignored by the mainstream media.

It boils down to this: Ottawa is contemplating the possibility of a Canadian bank failure — and the same sort of pitiless prescription that was just imposed in Cyprus.

Meaning no bailout by taxpayers, but rather a “bail-in” that would force the bank’s creditors to absorb the staggering losses that such an event would inevitably entail.

If that sounds sobering, it should. While officials in Ottawa are playing down the possibility of a raid on the bank accounts of ordinary Canadians, they chose not to include that guarantee in the budget language.

Canadians tend to believe their banks are safer and more backstopped than elsewhere in the world. The federal government enthusiastically promotes the notion, and loves to take credit for it.

It may well be true, even if Canada’s six-bank oligopoly isn’t terribly competitive, at least in comparison to the far more diverse American banking universe.

But in the ever-more insecure world that has unfolded since the financial meltdown of 2008, it is also increasingly clear that nothing is safe anymore, not even blue-chip bank stocks and bonds or even, in the case of the Cyprus bail-in, private bank accounts.

And now, Canada is making a bail-in official government policy, too.

“The government proposes to implement a bail-in regime … designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability,” says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s March 21 budget, on page 144.

That would be done, the document says, through the rapid conversion of “certain bank liabilities.”

Ottawa’s budget document leaves the definition of “certain liabilities” to the reader’s imagination.

Bank deposits?

There has been very little public debate about the plan to date, but Finance Department officials and the banks protest it should never be taken to mean small personal deposits would be seized.

Deposits are insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation, up to $100,000, and the inviolability of that insurance is key to maintaining the crucial public trust.

“The risk of the Canadian government not honouring its insurance on deposits is as close to zero as you can get,” says Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Canada Trust.

Perhaps.

As the Cyprus meltdown proceeded, it became clear that Europe’s finance ministers and central banks, encouraged by the International Monetary Fund, were not only willing to freeze and seize uninsured deposits over 100,000 euros, they were also initially willing to cancel deposit insurance and go after small depositors, too.

In the end, the plan was rewritten, and insured deposits were protected. But the signal had been sent: The Europeans and the IMF had been prepared to do the unthinkable.

Holland’s finance minister then declared that bail-ins would be the template for all future bank rescues in Europe, and that he could not rule out seizure of deposits elsewhere.

– More…

 

A Capitalist Command Economy

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

George Monbiot, as I have said several times, is an excellent writer who highlights issues that we all need to be aware of.

– I’ve discussed corporations many times here myself.  I decry their growing power over our governments and over our lives.   What Monbiot’s talking about here really gives me the chills and has made me wonder if the ‘takeover’ I’ve been on about hasn’t bigger aims than I’d previously imagined before.

– He discusses here how the conservative government in the UK seems hell-bent on converting schools from the public to the private model which is scary enough.

– But, it made me imagine that corporations, which are gaining control more and more over governments, are also moving into controlling all the things that we think of as the rightful province of government; our schools, our utilities, our water, our power, our prisons, our road systems, and just about everything else.  I say ‘rightful’ because government is suppose to do these things for the good of the people and the nation.

– It will be a radically different model if these things all end up being done by corporations for profit because they won’t be doing them for the good of the people but, rather, for the good of the corporations’s profits.  And simple look as how things have gone in the U.S., as they’ve been experimenting with privatizing prisons there, should give us all deep pause.

– dennis

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Forcing schools into the hands of unelected oligarchs is the latest contradiction of everything the market fetishists claim to stand for.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 5th March 2013

So much for all those treasured Tory principles. Choice, freedom, competition, austerity: as soon as they conflict with the demands of the corporate elite, they drift into the blue yonder like thistledown.

This is a story about England’s schools, but it could just as well describe the razing of state provision throughout the world. In the name of freedom, public assets are being forcibly removed from popular control and handed to unelected oligarchs.

All over England, schools are being obliged to become academies: supposedly autonomous bodies which are often “sponsored” (the government’s euphemism for controlled) by foundations established by exceedingly rich men. The break-up of the education system in this country, like the dismantling of the National Health Service, reflects no widespread public demand. It is imposed, through threats, bribes and fake consultations, from on high.

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– Research thanks to Piers L.