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Magic Growth Numbers

Everyone wants good news, so the government makes it up. The latest fiction is that US real GDP grew 4.6% in the second quarter and 5% in the third.

Where did this growth come from?

Not from rising real consumer incomes.

Not from rising consumer credit.

Not from rising real retail sales.

Not from the housing sector.

Not from a trade surplus.

The growth came from a Bureau of Economic Analysis survey of consumer spending on services. The BEA found that spending on Obamacare drove the US real GDP growth to 5% in the third quarter.

In America, unlike in other countries, a huge chunk of …

Broken Windows, Workfare, and the Battle for Public Space

Part 5 of 5: Broken Windows, Workfare, and the Battle for Public Space in Giuliani’s New York

Accumulation by Dispossession, Dispossession by Criminalization

Workfare and broken windows policing are mutually reinforcing political-economic institutions, but they do not have to be. As Smith explains, the level of “revanchism” displayed by the Giuliani administration “was neither a politically nor a socially necessary outcome of economic crisis and restructuring. It was a choice by a narrow group of political and corporate leaders who really do constitute, with others, a ruling class.” Whereas the Keynesian urban policy in place from the 1930s to the 1970s was …

My Glorious Brothers

When I was 15 years old and a member of the Irgun underground (by today’s criteria, an honest-to-goodness terrorist organization), we sang “(In the past) we had the heroes / Bar Kochba and the Maccabees / Now we have the new ones / The national youth…” The melody was a German military marching song.

Why did we look for heroes in the remote past?

We were in desperate need of national heroes to emulate. For 18 centuries, Jews had not fought. Dispersed throughout the world, they saw no reason to fight for emperors and kings who mostly persecuted them. (Though some of …

Preying on Mexican Populism: Violence, Media, and Mexico’s Missing 43

“The violence is not a new thing,” says Jose-Pablo Buerba about Mexico’s civil unrest and protest in recent weeks. An international political economist from Mexico City, Buerba works with heads of state around the world on matters economic. He is a native of Mexico City, where he has lived and worked these last few months.
Before his December 2014 departure from the Distrito Federal (Mexico City), Buerba had asked not to have his identity revealed in an interview he had granted me within twenty-four hours of protestors setting fire to Mexico’s National Palace door. “Please don’t,” he had requested, adding that he …

Toward a Multi-polar World

The Downfall of Hyperempire

Last night, in Beijing, I sat in a historic Szechuan restaurant with a friend who happens to be a Chinese diplomat. We exchanged some stories, ordered food, and then, suddenly, my throat felt dry and my eyes got misty.

I bowed and thanked her for the heartfelt offer China made to rescue Russia.

Just before leaving my hotel, I read the news on the RT:

“China’s foreign minister has pledged support to Russia as it faces an economic downturn due to sanctions and a drop in oil prices. Boosting trade in Yuan is a solution proposed by Beijing’s commerce minister.

‘Russia has the capability …

Baltimore Fox Affiliate Faked Video of Activist Chanting “Kill a Cop”

Activist and community leader Tawanda Jones responds to FOX 45 Baltimore airing a heavily edited clip making it seem she was chanting “kill a cop” at a protest.

Broken Windows in Practice

Part 4 of 5: Broken Windows, Workfare, and the Battle for Public Space.

Producing Criminals

New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani’s 1993 appointment of Bill Bratton to the position of Police Commissioner marked the beginning of the quality-of-life initiative, a form of policing explicitly grounded in the broken windows theory. Bratton had previously served as the head of the New York City Transit Police from 1990 to 1992 before leaving to Boston for a brief stint as Police Commissioner there. As the head of the Transit Police, Bratton focused his efforts on ‘retaking’ the city’s famed subway system from the homeless and the fare-beaters, lobbying the city for new semi-automatic hand guns in order to …

Christmas, the System, and I

You and I constitute the very system that we blame for the world’s problems, which is starkly illustrated at Christmas when we rob our fragile earth on the high streets in the name of Jesus. What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ this year than to unite under the banner of freedom and justice, and peacefully demonstrate for an end to hunger and poverty across the world, writes Mohammed Mesbahi.
* * * * * *
When disappointed with our politicians and distressed by the problems within our society, we come under the impression that there is …

America’s Public and Private War on Free Speech

Noam Chomsky characterizes the Revolutionary War period as engendering the “vicious repression of dissident opinion.” The repressive measures to which Chomsky alludes have become portents of the myriad repressive policies and suppressions of dissidence that bleed out of Revolutionary times and spill well into the present. The late Howard Zinn corroborated Chomsky’s observation with stressing that, only “seven years after the First Amendment became part of the Constitution, Congress passed a law very clearly abridging the freedom of speech” in America—the Sedition Act of 1798.

This act gave early Congress exceptional reign over speech and expression in America. It had roots …

Media Bias against North Korea

The Need to Challenge Centers of Power across the Board

The Real News Network recently took on the propaganda surrounding the hack of Sony’s electronic data. Why the US government should be so concerned about the security of a foreign firm (since everyone knows that Sony is a Japanese firm, and since the US is probably spying on Sony anyway) is interesting in itself. Nonetheless, the mere fact that TRNN discussed this topic in the manner it did sets it apart from the corporate media.

The choice of Lawrence Wilkerson as an analyst, however, is perplexing giving his obvious animus to the regime in North Korea. ((See Kim Petersen, “…

The Myth of Abraham and America’s Allegiance to Israel

“We Ought to Support Israel because God Said So”

The Charm of Myth

Karl Marx once observed that ancient Greek art, rooted in Greek mythology, still constituted for modern people “a source of aesthetic enjoyment and in certain respects prevails as the standard and model beyond attainment.” He asked: “Why should the social childhood of mankind, where it has obtained its most beautiful development, not exert an eternal charm as an age that will never return?”

(In other words, even though Marx’s beloved Homer and Aeschylus were products of a society long extinct, its slave-owning class structure abhorrent to the modern mind, Greek myths still retain profound meanings for us in …

Political Rumbas Start in Cuba

Relations between Cuba and the United States have been tumultuous since Castro took control in January 1959 from the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Fidel Castro and Fidelistas won a revolution and were determined to keep it at all costs. While the United States government was determined to do whatever was necessary – invasion, espionage, assassination attempts on high-ranking Cubans including Castro, subversion, embargos (except open immigration for refugees) and even pressing other nations not to trade with or invest in Cuba.

Foreign policy observers know that the U.S. has propped up dozens of brutal dictatorships in three continents at the same time the …

Five Reasons Why 2014 Was a Game Changer in Palestine

In terms of losses in human lives, 2014 has been a horrific year for Palestinians, surpassing the horrors of both 2008 and 2009, when an Israeli war against the Gaza Strip killed and wounded thousands.

While some aspects of the conflict are stagnating between a corrupt, ineffectual Palestinian Authority (PA), and the criminality of Israeli wars and occupation, it would also be fair to argue that 2014 was also a game changer to some degree – and it is not all bad news.

To an extent, 2014 has been a year of clarity for those keen to understand the reality of …

Why Is Obama Using Flimsy Evidence to Blame North Korea for Sony Hack?

Paul Jay interviews Col. Larry Wilkerson, who says Sony might be able to protect itself from class action suits brought by employees over privacy if the blame is pinned on North Korea.

New York’s Mayor de Blasio’s Call for a Moratorium on Black Protest is Disingenuous, Self-serving, and Wrong

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for a moratorium on demonstrations against police brutality in the wake of the killing of two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40.

De Blasio’s statement must be understood by protesters and black people nationwide as a further attempt by the political establishment to delegitimize and thus finally nip this still budding national movement.

De Blasio’s unprecedented call fits in nicely with the narratives voiced uniformly by police everywhere immediately in the shooting’s aftermath, beginning with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. The shooting was a …

Misleading the World on Iran’s “Bomb”

The negotiations over Iran’s supposed nuclear bomb-building abilities seem to be stuck in a rut. Given the detailed undertakings by Iran incorporated in the interim agreement made last year it should have only been a hop, skip and a jump to forge a final agreement.

In reality it hasn’t been so easy. Over many years the US with European connivance most – not always – of the time manufactured and manipulated the whole crisis. To overcome the suspicions aroused by that, now past, tactic is not easy.

That is not just my opinion after following this subject for 30 years. …

Workfare National and Local

Part 3: Broken Windows, Workfare, and the Battle for Public Space in Giuliani’s New York

Workfare in Theory

A more thorough examination of the theory and practice of workfare is in order so as to better understand the relationship between broken windows policing and the imposition of welfare-to-work policies on both the federal and state levels. As sociologists Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward aver, “relief arrangements are ancillary to economic arrangements,” such that these arrangements exert a regulatory effect on labor by expanding to placate the unemployed in times of economic crisis, later to rapidly contract and send aid recipients back into the labor market. ((Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The

Resistance to Zionism

Nationalist narratives and political movements have dominated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a long time. They all ended up in a dead end. This insight has led Ran Greenstein, Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, not to look at history in retrospect, knowing the outcome, but rather from a contemporaneous perspective of the actors. None of the anti-Zionist actors, discussed in the book, Zionism and its Discontents. A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine (Pluto Press, London 2014), achieved their goals, but they all made valuable contributions, which can serve as a starting point for …

Behind Obama’s Change of Cuba Policy

The United States seems destined to plague us with miseries in the name of liberty.

— Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of Latin America

Once the United States is in Cuba, who will get it out?

— José Martí, Cuban national hero

Fair minded people and governments around the world have praised the U.S. decision to finally ease up on Cuba after 55 years of unmitigated hostility. The final agreement, which included a prisoner swap, was hammered out in nine meetings over 18 months of secret talks in Canada between representatives of Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, with the Vatican acting as …

I Was Racially Profiled, Roughed up, and Detained by Police for Being Indigenous

Tansi, here’s the lowdown on something that happened to me on Wednesday, December 10 in Oskana (Pile of Bones), or Regina, Saskatchewan. But first, let me introduce myself.

My name is Simon Ash-Moccasin (Thomas). I am a proud Nehiyiwak (Cree person) from Saulteaux First Nation, formerly called Little Jack/ Fish Lake Reserve, in Treaty 6 territory, Turtle Island. I assist in keeping two wonderful gifts form the Creator, my daughters Sage and Maija. I have a degree in education. I’ve been an actor, playwright, and slam poet, as well as a community volunteer and a board member for various organizations in …