Skip to content
Democracy?: As the Capitalist Robber Barons Steal from the 99% — Only the 1% Voted For Austerity — The 99% Should Decide On Austerity — Not Just The Who Profit From Austerity! Under Austerity, All of the World Will Eventually Be Pauperized, Humbled, and Desecrated Like Greece and Puerto Rico
Daily News Digest March 22, 2018
Image of the Day:
There is also another, very different version of how Puerto Rico should be radically remade after the storm, and it is being aggressively advanced by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in meetings with bankers, real estate developers, cryptocurrency traders, and, of course, the Financial Oversight and Management Board, an unelected seven-member body that exerts ultimate control over Puerto Rico’s economy. For this powerful group, the lesson that Maria carried was not about the perils of economic dependency or austerity in times of climate disruption. The real problem, they argue, was the public ownership of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, which lacked the proper free-market incentives. Rather than transforming that infrastructure so that it truly serves the public interest, they argue for selling it off at fire-sale prices to private players. This is just one part of a sweeping vision that sees Puerto Rico transforming itself into a “visitor economy,” one with a radically downsized state and many fewer Puerto Ricans living on the island. In their place would be tens of thousands of “high-net-worth individuals” from Europe, Asia, and the U.S. mainland, lured to permanently relocate by a cornucopia of tax breaks and the promise of living a five-star resort lifestyle inside fully privatized enclaves, year-round. In a sense, both are utopian projects — the vision of Puerto Rico in which the wealth of the island is carefully and democratically managed by its people, and the libertarian project some are calling “Puertopia” that is being conjured up in the ballrooms of luxury hotels in San Juan and New York City. One dream is grounded in a desire for people to exercise collective sovereignty over their land, energy, food, and water; the other in a desire for a small elite to secede from the reach of government altogether, liberated to accumulate unlimited private profit. As I traveled throughout Puerto Rico, from sustainable farms and schools in the central mountain region, to the former U.S. Navy base on Vieques, to a legendary mutual aid center on the east coast, to former sugar plantations-turned-solar farms in the south, I found these very different visions of the future sprinting to advance their respective projects before the window of opportunity opened up by the storm begins to close. At the core of this battle is a very simple question: Who is Puerto Rico for? Is it for Puerto Ricans, or is it for outsiders? And after a collective trauma like Hurricane Maria, who has a right to decide? — Naomi Klein, The Battle for Paradise
Videos of the Day:
Trump Boasts of Killer Arms Sales in Meeting with Saudi Dictator, Using Cartoonish Charts Trump kicked off his White House meeting with his authoritarian “good friend” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by pulling out charts listing the weapons the U.S. is selling to Saudi Arabia – Ben Norton reports.
After a Shooting at His School, a Maryland Teacher Speaks Out Pat Elder, who teaches GED classes at Great Mills High, says to end gun violence America must tackle the militarization of schools and broader society
The NSA Worked to “Track Down” Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal Internet paranoiacs drawn to bitcoin have long indulged fantasies of American spies subverting the booming, controversial digital currency. Increasingly popular among get-rich-quick speculators, bitcoin started out as a high-minded project to make financial transactions public and mathematically verifiable — while also offering discretion. Governments, with a vested interest in controlling how money moves, would, some of bitcoin’s fierce advocates believed, naturally try and thwart the coming techno-libertarian financial order. It turns out the conspiracy theorists were onto something. Classified documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency indeed worked urgently to target bitcoin users around the world — and wielded at least one mysterious source of information to “help track down senders and receivers of Bitcoins,” according to a top-secret passage in an internal NSA report dating to March 2013. The data source appears to have leveraged the NSA’s ability to harvest and analyze raw, global internet traffic while also exploiting an unnamed software program that purported to offer anonymity to users, according to other documents. By Sam Biddle
Ongoing Big Energy Crisis:
Civil Rights/ Black Liberation:Novichok Nerve Agent Histrionics “It’s absolutely astonishing that anyone believes this.” Most national and international news reported in the US is now an extended Red Scare narrative punctuated by stories about Trump’s unparalleled boorishness and recklessness, which can of course be blamed on Russia since Trump never would have been elected if thirteen Russian trolls hadn’t prowled the Internet for potential Trump voters and targeted them with information about Hillary Clinton’s international crimes and the global influence peddling operation known as the Clinton Foundation. By Ann Garrison, BAR contributorIndependent Journalist Corner: A Conversation with Luciana Bohne “My advice to the non-communist western left is to exorcise the ghost of anti-communism and to look into the history of communism, as it really existed.” This week I spoke with Luciana Bohne. Luciana is a retired academic whose long life is almost a synthesis of the turbulence of the 20th century. She has lived under three systems: fascism, socialism, and capitalism. She has known war, been a refuge and displaced person, an immigrant, and a failed aspirant to bourgeois respectability. I don’t think she has ever been at home anywhere, except in early childhood in her native village in what was first Austrian dominion, then, Italy, then Yugoslavia, and finally Croatia. She can hardly say what her native language is but is thankful for knowing now the little English she uses for writing essays for Counterpunch and other internet sites. She has left behind her professional training and research to concentrate on just speaking her mind for what it’s worth. By Danny Haiphong, BAR contributorFreedom Rider: Vladimir Putin and War Propaganda “Lies about the Russian government are war propaganda and they are meant to get public support for military action against Russia and its allies.” Vladimir Putin is blamed for everything that goes awry in Europe and the United States. In the United Kingdom his country was even blamed for bad weather as tabloid headlines screamed about icy Russian winds. The Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory are said to be the result of Putin’s interference, even though the machinations of American oligarch Robert Mercer are most responsible for both outcomes. By Margaret Kimberley, BAR editor and senior columnistA Tale of Three Apartheids and the Land Conundrums “White settlers were convinced that the lands they appropriated in the ‘dark continent’ and other lands were theirs by right.” The word apartheid achieved global notoriety during the height of White rule in South Africa. It then extended at least to one other country where blatant state-sanctioned bigotry went hand in hand with “democracy”: Israel (1, 2). The underlying creed fueling racist practices was White supremacy with its Eurocentric beginnings. Racism historically informed much of the imperial/colonial Caucasian dealings with other societies, beginning in earnest during the voyages of “discovery,” inaugurated by Christopher Columbus, where the slaughter of millions, massive human dislodgments under the umbrella of slavery, unprecedented dispossession and theft of entire far flung continents were to follow. Separate but Equal, Uncle Tom, Jim Crow, segregation, racial discrimination, civil rights violations, colonialism, assimilation, conquistadores, Bantustans and other innocuous, hollow terms intended to attenuate or mitigate the crimes were firmly sown in the minds of the rank and file of the victors. By Kweli NzitoMarielle Franco’s Assassination: One of Tens of Thousands of Black Murders in Brazil “Brazil`s terrocratic regime continues producing black dead bodies in astonishing scales without disturbing the normalcy of everyday political life in this country.” Every year, at least 60,000 individuals are killed in Brazil, at least 160 murders every day. The majority of the dead are black, young and from urban peripheries where the state is present only through its delinquent police force. Although the police are not responsible for all these deaths, it directly or indirectly pulls the trigger that kills black youth. Books, academic articles, brief-reports, film documentaries, op-eds all have ad nausea denounced this genocidal proportions of violence in the country known as “the land of cordial man.” It is a waste of time, energy and resources. Nobody cares or they care too little to turn these deaths into a national scandal. There is an underlying belief that the word genocide is an overstatement to depict what is going on in a country where racial boundaries are supposedly not rigid as in the United States or South Africa. Apartheid and the Jim Crow are usually mentioned to compare Brazil´s ‘benign’ race relations in opposition to these countries’ racial violence. The fact is that, consistent with its ugly history, Brazil maintains a regime of racial terror that does not differ from these two nations’ past and present system of racial domination. By Jaime A AlvesBlack Panther Party Principles Resurrected in Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico “The Young Lords saw the Black Panthers trying to get justice for Black people, and they knew they needed to do the same thing.”The last thing you would expect to find in the central mountain range of Puerto Rico is the influence of the 1960s Black Panther Party. But there it was.The tenets of the revolutionary group, founded in 1966 in Oakland, Calif., by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, were mixed with stewed pork chops, rice, beans and healthcare on a 90-degree winter day, 20 miles south of San Juan in the city of Caguas. Volunteers with Centro De Apoyo Mutuo (CAM) prepared meals and provided services to residents in an abandoned building “rescued” by a group of local activists. By Tatyana HopkinsToday’s Capitalism Was Born in Slavery “We must develop a new appreciation for the centrality of slavery, in the United States and elsewhere, in the emergence of modern capitalism.” By 1830, one million Americans, most of them enslaved, grew cotton. Raw cotton was the most important export of the United States, at the center of America’s financial flows and emerging modern business practices, and at the core of its first modern manufacturing industry. As John Brown, a fugitive slave, observed in 1854: “When the price [of cotton] rises in the English market, the poor slaves immediately feel the effects, for they are harder driven, and the whip is kept more constantly going.” Sven BeckertThe War on the Post Office “Postal banking can be profitable through economies of scale and the elimination of profit-taking middlemen, as postal banks globally have demonstrated.” The U.S. banking establishment has been at war with the post office since at least 1910, when the Postal Savings Bank Act established a public savings alternative to a private banking system that had crashed the economy in the Bank Panic of 1907. The American Bankers Association was quick to respond, forming a Special Committee on Postal Savings Legislation to block any extension of the new service. According to a September 2017 article in The Journal of Social History titled “‘Banks of the People’: The Life and Death of the U.S. Postal Savings System ,” the banking fraternity would maintain its enmity toward the government savings bank for the next 50 years. By Ellen BrownLast Days of Pompeo…or of ‘Identity’ Politics?
His lips gurgled watery words,
his nostrils were an aching incinerator…
Still, she taunted and tormented him about
his acting; after she’d ordered him
Water-boarded for the 83rd time. . . By Raymond Nat Turner, BAR poet-in-residence Black Agenda Radio, Week of March 19, 2018
U.S. Slavery Was Uniquely Capitalist : Even on the left, the capitalist nature of US slavery is not well understood, said historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. “The commodification and capitalization of Black bodies is pretty unique to the United States,” she said. “Marx himself did not grasp it. Eurocentrism of analysis is a problem.”
Mass Incarceration With No End?: Although US incarceration rates have been going down in recent years, at the current pace it would take 75 years to cut the prison population in half, according to Nazgol Ghandnoosh, of The Sentencing Project. Moreover, simply reducing the prison population does not address the system’s racial disparities and lack of rehabilitation programs. Even with half the inmates, the US would still “have a higher incarceration rate than our peer countries.”
Confronting Black-Immigrant Conflicts: “Immigrants have been increasingly criminalized by the state in ways that are very similar to African Americans,” said Dr. Johanna Fernandez, one of the organizers of a March 23 event in New York City under the heading “Breaking Down Laws and Prison Plantations: Mumia, Migrants and Movements for Liberation.” The conference hopes to tackle conflicts between Blacks and immigrants, said Fernandez, of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.
Reporter Eva Bartlett Blasts UN: The United Nations is deliberately participating in war propaganda” favoring the US-backed “terrorists” in Syria, said Eva Bartlett, an independent Canadian journalist who helped expose the White Helmets as a public relations unit of al Qaida. The jihadists occupying East Ghouta, near Damascus, have been preventing civilians from leaving the war zone, said Bartlett.
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.
Has Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Put Democracy at Risk in Both the U.S. and U.K.? For over a year, Carole Cadwalladr has been reporting in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper about the bizarre overlap between the people and companies involved in Donald Trump’s rise to the Presidency in the U.S. and the June 23, 2016 Brexit vote in the U.K. where citizens voted in a referendum to take the U.K. out of the European Union. By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
The Kisan Long March and the living hell of Indian farmers On 6 March, some 35,000 farmers from across Maharashtra marched to Mumbai, demanding of the state government land rights, loan waivers, fair compensation for their produce, respect and dignity for farmers from indigenous tribes (adivasis) and improvements in the agriculture sector, which makes up half of India’s workforce and 14 percent of the economy. By Liza Roy and Hamid Alizadeh Health, Science, Education, and Welfare:
Cambridge Analytica holds a mirror up to the mainstream media In the last 48 hours, liberal news outlets (in particular Britain’s Guardian newspaper), have made a scandal out of the exposé into Cambridge Analytica. This is a shadowy peddler of influence that has been exposed by an employee-turned-whistleblower for its use of masses of digital data to target political adverts . . . . But we also have the Guardian’s recent relentless campaign against Jeremy Corbyn – a campaign so hostile it is obvious it represented nothing other than an attempt (in collusion with Blairite MPs) to help force him out of office. And just in the last week the BBC has been found to have photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn into a stereotyped Russian image, obviously intended to imply he is insufficiently patriotic; indeed, a wholesale enemy of Britain. All these examples are merely expressions of the fact that under capitalism, the rich own the media and wield it as a political instrument in their struggle to maintain the capitalist system with all its injustices intact. By Daniel Morley