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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Timothy Loehmann, cop who shot Tamir Rice, deemed unfit for policing 2 years ago

Tamir Rice

© Unknown

The Cleveland police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old holding a replica gun in November was deemed unsuited for police service two years ago, newly released documents show.

Timothy Loehmann, now 26, was employed by the City of Independence Police Department in Independence, Ohio, for six months in 2012, the reports. In an internal memo from that November, Independence Deputy Chief Jim Polak criticized Loehmann's behavior during a firearms training.

"He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal," the memo, available in full at Cleveland.com, states.

According to the report, Loehmann became "distracted and weepy," in part because of an issue with a girlfriend and uncertainty about his future. Polak criticized Loehmann for being "not mature enough in his accepting of responsibility or his understanding in the severity of his loss of control on the range," and concluded the report with recommending that Loehmann be "released" from his position.

The memo also cites several previous issues, including Loehmann removing a bulletproof vest at the wrong time because he felt too warm.

"I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies," Polak wrote.

Loehmann quit the force days after Polak's memo was sent out, citing "personal reasons." His personnel file classified him as "eligible for rehire," WOIO reports.

He was hired by the City of Cleveland in March 2014. It's unclear whether or not Cleveland officials ever saw the memo before he was hired.

Surveillance video of Loehmann fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice was released last month. Loehmann was responding to a 911 call about someone pointing a gun at people at a Cleveland park. Rice was actually just carrying an airsoft gun, which shoots non-lethal plastic pellets.

The caller said the gun was "probably fake," but police say the dispatcher did not relay that detail to them, according to the

In the video, Loehmann can be seen firing at Rice within two seconds of pulling up in his cruiser. The 12-year-old died of his injuries the next day.

Loehmann, as well as his patrol partner, 46-year-old Frank Garmback, are on paid administrative leave pending a decision on whether to pursue criminal charges.

SOTT EXCLUSIVE: The foreign government running Ukraine gets a thin gloss of "legitimacy"

Since the coup in Ukraine in February 2014, there have been rumours floating around that CIA has so many operatives in Ukraine they have occupied a whole floor of a building in Kiev. This, plus the fact that there are likely several thousand foreign mercenaries fighting for the junta against the people of Donbass, has been a source of bad publicity, especially when such people die in the fighting. But, with the stroke of a pen, Waltzman aka Poroshenko solved this problem by signing a decree making mercenaries and other foreigners instant Ukrainians.

The natives of the US, Georgia and Lithuania were hastily granted Ukrainian citizenship in order to become key ministers in the new government of Ukraine, which was approved by the country's parliament on Tuesday.

Foreigners in Ukrainian goverment

© RIA Novosti / Nikolay Lazarenko

Ukraine has appointed four foreigners to senior government positions. Uncle Sam is now better positioned to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.

It was claimed that there were not enough qualified citizens in Ukraine to fill the governmental positions in a country of 40 million! If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. The problem lies instead in the fact that

  • There are not enough qualified fascists to fill the positions. The ultra-right-wing Svoboda party polled 10.44% in 2012.

  • Perhaps no one is willing to stick their neck out and take responsibility for ever harsher austerity measures and privatization schemes. The Ukrainians have a habit of trashing their politicians -- literally.

  • Further, a million people associated with the previous Yanukovych government are ineligible, having been purged under Ukraine's 'lustration' law.

  • The CIA wanted to have their own people in the government.

  • Those qualified might not have been subservient enough or might have had doubts about the benefits of aligning with the EU and the US.

There might well be other reasons not mentioned and it is likely a mix of the above.

What is clear however, is that the new government has appointed at least four foreigners. Russians? Chinese? Venezuelans? No, one American, one Lithuanian and two Georgians. All, without a shadow of a doubt, anti-Russian and pro-'Empire of Chaos'. Let's have a closer look at these people.

First up, we have:

Natalie Jaresko, a US citizen who currently heads the Kiev-based Horizon Capital investment fund, will take the reins at the Ukrainian Finance Ministry.

Natalie Jaresko

© Unknown

CIA/USAID's person in the new Ukrainian government

Natalie Jaresko has worked for US State Department and also in the US embassy in Kiev. She also serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of WNISEF, which is managed by Horizon Capital. And guess what?

WNISEF was established by the U.S. Congress and funded by the U.S. government via U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID, the key CIA instrument in regime change! See: There will be no doubt as to where her allegiance lies, so expect more privatization, more austerity and more vulture capitalism.
Aivars Abramovicus

© RIA Novosti / Mikhail Polinchak

Aivars Abramovicus (Aivaras Abromavicius), the new head of the Ukrainian economy ministry. Soros man in the government.

One Lithuanian, Aivaras Abromavicius, is the new minister for the economy:

[Abromavicius] who is a partner at the $3.6 billion-worth East Capital asset management group, conducts his operations from Kiev after marrying a Ukrainian.

"There's hard work ahead of us because Ukraine is a very poor and corrupt country and we'll have to use radical measures," he told MPs from the Rada tribune.

According to Wikipedia (Ukrainian version), he studied in Estonia at an international business school and for which the Soros Foundation paid the first year. Some names just keep popping up!

Soros might be generous, but he is also a vulture capitalist who invests only if he thinks there is a potential for profit. Here he obviously feels he will be getting his money's worth, as Soros has been heavily involved in Ukraine for over twenty-five years. His efforts towards regime change are only the latest chapter. For more on Soros, see:

The wife of Abromavicius happens to be a director of a Ukrainian agro-industry company called Agro Region. Sounds like good news for Monsanto and the introduction of Frankenstein seeds into Europe, using Ukraine as the backdoor. See:

© Liveleak

It is not known if it was because he was too busy eating ties, but in any case, Saakashvili declined the offer of deputy prime minister.

Then we have the two Georgians. One very prominent psychopath Georgian, former president of Georgia, Sakaashvilii, declined the offer of deputy prime minister. He is wanted on charges in the murder of Sandro Girgvliani in 2006. The present Georgian government would like to see him behind bars. A history as a war criminal makes him a perfect fit for the position of deputy prime minster.

Saakashvili was goaded into attacking South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008 by the US under the illusion that the US would come and help him out. That went horribly wrong for him as Putin was more than ready for such a move. It was about then Saakashvili started chewing ties. Despite his dismal performance on behalf of the West, he got a golden parachute and is living happily in the US where he is a "lecturer and senior statesman at Tufts University" teaching international relations. The mind boggles!

But two former Georgian top officials under Saakashvili fulfilled the pathological deviancy requirements for posts in the new Ukrainian government:

Aleksandr Kvitashvili

© RIA Novosti / Mikhail Polinchak

Alexander Kvitashvili, the new head of the Ukrainian health ministry.

The position of health minister went to Aleksandr Kvitashvili, who occupied a similar post in the Georgian government in 2009-2012.

"Ukraine spends 8 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, but half of this money is being plundered. Aleksandr Kvitashvili must implement radical reforms as he has no ties with the Ukrainian pharmaceutical mafia," Ukrainian PM, Arseny Yatsenuk, said as he presented the new minister to the deputies.

There are bound to be radical reforms, and not to the benefit of the Ukrainian people, but for American pharmaceutical companies.

The other position in the government went to:

Yekaterina Zguladze, a Georgian politician who launched the country's police reform, will serve as deputy head of Ukraine's interior minister

Yekaterina Zguladze

© Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images

Yekaterina Zguladze, former Georgian deputy interior minister, now deputy interior minister in Ukraine.

So, as it is hard to get Ukrainians to do the dirty job of terrorizing/killing fellow Ukrainians, the junta hands out passports to foreigners who can be counted on to increase the repression. They don't have the blood and family ties which usually act as an inhibiting factor. On top of that, they all have connections to Washington and will most likely get a golden handshake a la Saakashvili when their usefulness comes to an end.

Georgia, however, is not pleased at all about the appointment of two former Georgian ministers to positions in Ukraine and warns of grave consequences for Ukraine/Georgian relations.

In comments to Ukraine's appointments, Levan Berdzenishvili told the newspaper [TASS] "this is a wrong decision which will have consequences for the Georgian-Ukrainian relations."

Georgia's deputy prime minister Kaha Kaladze said earlier this week Ukraine's move would "lead to unimaginable consequences." He also said this would not contribute to improving bilateral ties.

TASS also comments that "Russian senators have earlier said by appointing foreigners to the key government positions, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has proved that Kiev is dependent on the United States and the European Union."

However, this could well be mere play-acting, as both Ukraine and Georgia are firmly within the orbit of the 'Empire of Chaos'.

Last but not least, foreign mercenaries will also get Ukrainian citizenship. In that way, Poroshenko can make a nice speech to his people and say that only Ukrainians fight in Donbass, whereas evil Russians fight on the terrorists' side. It is all too predictable. It also has the advantage of being able to get the junta people out of Donetsk airport. They have so far refused a free passage, and persistent rumours have it that they are foreign mercenaries, whose free passage would expose their real nationalities, which would give a bad PR value for the Western puppet masters.


Aeneas Georg (Profile)

I'm a train manager and ticket inspector on international train routes in Europe. I've been reading SOTT since 2003 and first joined the editorial team in 2007 after realizing I had to do something about the deteriorating state of our world. I'm particularly interested in 'following the money' to track the machinations of the deceptive ones in high places. I suppose you could say I've taken my chosen profession to a new level, and now with SOTT I'm "inspecting the flows" of people and money in more ways than one.

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It's official: America is NOT the largest economy based on IMF numbers

chinese flag

© REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic/Files

A Chinese national flag flutters in front of the headquarters of the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, in central Beijing, May 16, 2014.

Hang on to your hats, America.

And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you're about it.

There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just say it: We're no longer No. 1. Today, we're No. 2. Yes, it's official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.

It just happened - and almost nobody noticed.

The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in "real" terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion - compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.

As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.

To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.

This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade.

I first reported on this looming development over two years ago, but the moment came sooner than I or anyone else had predicted. China's recent decision to bring gross domestic product calculations in line with international standards has revealed activity that had previously gone uncounted.

These calculations are based on a well-established and widely used economic measure known as purchasing-power parity (or PPP), which measures the actual output as opposed to fluctuations in exchange rates. So a Starbucks venti Frappucino served in Beijing counts the same as a venti Frappucino served in Minneapolis, regardless of what happens to be going on among foreign-exchange traders.

PPP is the real way of comparing economies. It is one reported by the IMF and was, for example, the one used by McKinsey & Co. consultants back in the 1990s when they undertook a study of economic productivity on behalf of the British government.

Yes, when you look at mere international exchange rates, the U.S. economy remains bigger than that of China, allegedly by almost 70%. But such measures, although they are widely followed, are largely meaningless. Does the U.S. economy really shrink if the dollar falls 10% on international currency markets? Does the recent plunge in the yen mean the Japanese economy is vanishing before our eyes?

Back in 2012, when I first reported on these figures, the IMF tried to challenge the importance of PPP. I was not surprised. It is not in anyone's interest at the IMF that people in the Western world start focusing too much on the sheer extent of China's power. But the PPP data come from the IMF, not from me. And it is noteworthy that when the IMF's official World Economic Outlook compares countries by their share of world output, it does so using PPP.

Yes, all statistics are open to various quibbles. It is perfectly possible China's latest numbers overstate output - or understate them. That may also be true of U.S. GDP figures. But the IMF data are the best we have.

Make no mistake: This is a geopolitical earthquake with a high reading on the Richter scale. Throughout history, political and military power have always depended on economic power. Britain was the workshop of the world before she ruled the waves. And it was Britain's relative economic decline that preceded the collapse of her power.

And it was a similar story with previous hegemonic powers such as France and Spain.

This will not change anything tomorrow or next week, but it will change almost everything in the longer term. We have lived in a world dominated by the U.S. since at least 1945 and, in many ways, since the late 19th century. And we have lived for 200 years - since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 - in a world dominated by two reasonably democratic, constitutional countries in Great Britain and the U.S.A. For all their flaws, the two countries have been in the vanguard worldwide in terms of civil liberties, democratic processes and constitutional rights.

UK: West Midlands police teargas and 'assault' Warwick university students protesting for tuition fee rise

Warwick police assault-3

© YT/Warwick Free-Ed

A student protest at Warwick University against soaring tuition fees was broken up by police and security guards using tear gas and significant force. Protesters were threatened with a taser, pushed to the ground and rammed against a wall, activists say.

The protest, organized by , occurred on Wednesday as part of a nationwide chain of student demonstrations coordinated by the .

The students had organized a peaceful sit-in at the university's Senate House in protest at rising fees for higher education that have been introduced under PM David Cameron's government.

A spokesman for Warwick University said university security guards, who were monitoring the protest, were subjected to a shocking and unprovoked act of violence, which prompted them to call for a police presence. But the spokesman's claims were contradicted by students who insisted the protest was quiet and peaceful.

One of the student protesters told OpenDemocracy.org that approximately 50 students attended a rally on Warwick University's campus before making their way to occupy the reception area of the university's Senate House. He claimed his fellow protesters were seated peacefully in a large circle, only to be besieged by security guards and officers.

Warwick police assault-2

© YT/Warwick Free-Ed

Still from YouTube video/Warwick Free-Ed

Following the arrival of West Midlands Police officers, clashes ensued. A formal statement published on the Warwick For Free Education website alleges that

Protesters were punched, pushed onto the floor, dragged, rammed by their throat into the wall and kneed in the face, the protest group claims.

'Disproportionate force'

Footage published online shows an officer shoving the students with considerable force, while protesters shout,

The YouTube video reveals screaming students, visibly shocked and fearful, being forcibly dispersed by police.

One girl, who appeared to be filming the protest, was physically hauled forward by an officer and subsequently pushed away as she screamed in a terrified manner. A nearby student who witnessed the event shouted at the officer,

The officer appeared to respond by lunging toward the young man in a threatening manner with a can of CS gas.

Warwick police assault-1

© YT/Warwick Free-Ed

CS or tear gas is a commonly used agent for riot control. Exposure creates a sensation of burning, and causes excessive tearing of the eyes so that the subject's vision is temporarily impaired.

One student who had attended the demonstration told the Coventry Telegraph that a police officer took out his CS spray and sprayed it in one person's eyes and then into a crowd of about 10 people.


© Unknown

"A Taser was taken out and was being made to crackle by pressing the trigger, but it wasn't used," he added.

The student said the force deployed felt "particularly disproportionate." "When the police came they didn't say why they were there. A lot of younger students were visibly shaken and left in tears."

The activist added the violence the students experienced was a "shock" because the protest was "quiet.""We weren't even shouting," he emphasized.

'Released without charge'

On Wednesday, just before 9 pm, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police declared on Twitter that the protest was still ongoing. The force had made three arrests, following what it claimed were "reports of an assault."

"During the disorder, a Taser was drawn and an audible and visible warning was issued to prevent further incidents. The Taser was not fired," another Tweet posted by the police force read.

Warwick University Students' Union said in a statement that the force deployed by West Midlands Police was "disproportionate."

"From the footage we have seen of this incident, we absolutely believe that disproportionate force was used against protesters. We stand in solidarity with the Warwick students who were unnecessarily harmed in this action."

[embedded content]

West Midlands Police arrested one person on suspicion of assault, while two others were arrested on suspicion of obstructing officers. All three have been released without charge, Warwick For Free Education announced on Wednesday night.

Shocked and disgusted by yesterday's events, staff and former students at Warwick have launched a petition calling for an "immediate review of the university's police liaison policies." It also demands the university make "an unreserved apology" to the students who endured violence on its grounds, and issue a firm guarantee it will assist "students in making complaints through the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

If necessary, the university should also facilitate students in pursuing"legal action against the police," the petition added. Set up on Thursday, it has already attracted over 1370 signatures.

Hundreds of Israelis protest Jewish 'nation state' law

Israelis demonstrate


Left wing Israelis participate in a demonstration to protest a controversial proposed law that would define Israel as "the Jewish state" on November 29, 2014.

Hundreds of leftwing Israelis have demonstrated in Jerusalem against a controversial draft law enshrining Israel's status as the Jewish national homeland.

The rally was organised by Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog and held across the street from the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Peace Now said the rally was "an opportunity to let the democratic camp's voice be heard" against the draft law, which embodied "nationalism, racism and aggression" threatening to "ruin our country".

As the demonstration got underway, police said that arsonists had torched an Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem and scrawled racist anti-Arab slogans on its walls.

"Go home, release us from your oppressive, racist, extremist and inciting regime," MP Tamar Zandberg of the opposition Meretz party said at the demonstration.

Critics say the new bill - endorsed by the cabinet on Sunday - will come at the expense of democracy and institutionalise discrimination against minorities, including Arabs.

Netanyahu insists the law would balance Israel's Jewish and democratic characteristics.

Protesters held signs reading "we won't let you ruin the country" and "the nation-state law of the right-wing government is democracy for Jews only" in the crisp evening.

Police said approximately 800 people attended the demonstration.

SOTT EXCLUSIVE: Anti-terror operation in Chechnya: 9 militants dead, 10 police

press house

© RIA Novosti/Said Tsarnaev

The Press House in Grozny, where law enforcement of the Chechen Republic conducted counter-terrorist operation.

Just two days after Putin's announcement of the cancellation of the South Stream project and the beefed up relations with Turkey that will replace what could have been a very good thing for Europe, Chechnya's capital, Grozny, was the site of an encounter between police and members of one of the country's major terrorist groups. The terrorists were traveling in three cars when they were stopped at a checkpoint outside Grozny just after midnight. They opened fire, killing the police, then entered the city and occupied the Press House building in the city center (and possibly others - the video footage and photos show more than one on fire).

Chechen special forces were then called in, who surrounded the occupied building(s) and killed the 10 militants. In all, Chechen authorities are reporting 10 police killed and 28 wounded in the operation.

[embedded content]

Before Ukraine, there was Georgia, and before that, Chechnya. They all follow the same pattern of foreign influence in an attempt to bring Russia to its knees using proxy armies. The Chechen 'separatists' the West loves to laud were and are (those few who remain in the country, that is) essentially Chechnya's very own ISIS: bloodthirsty, fanatical Wahabi terrorists largely funded and controlled by Western intelligence, and including a large number of foreign fighters trained to sow murder and chaos in Chechnya and the larger Russian Federation.

So it's an interesting coincidence that this attack comes only days after Putin's totally unexpected (and utterly genius) South Stream move and just hours before Putin's planned Annual Address to the Russian Federal Assembly. The last terror attack in Chechnya came on October 5 soon after the U.S. started bombing Syria. A month before that, ISIS threatened to "liberate" Chechnya. Is this the West sending Putin a message?

On his Instagram page, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wrote: "We do not exclude the possibility that these people could come from another region If a resurgence of ISIS-style terror is in the works for Chechnya, all I can say is, good luck, guys! Chechnya, like Russia, has learned from hard experience how to deal effectively with US-sponsored terrorists. The US, on the other hand, knows only the false-flag variety that the FBI and CIA unleash on the unsuspecting American public, to ramp up the fear factor and manufacture public support for continued US imperial meddling in, and aggression against, supposedly sovereign nations.

Kadyrov and Putin held a working meeting today in Moscow to discuss the operation in Grozny. Here's what they said:

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Kadyrov, as far as I understand, the operation is complete.

HEAD OF THE CHECHEN REPUBLIC RAMZAN KADYROV: Yes, Mr President, it is complete. We have eliminated all ten bandits. All their bodies have been found. Unfortunately, it was not without losses. But the intentions of the bandits, their plans were foiled thanks to our colleagues.

We already provided assistance, initial help, to families so that they can bury their sons. And the necessary assistance has been provided to the injured. Moreover, the buildings that have been destroyed are already being rebuilt: a school and the Printing House. The operation is completed, but we will work on ensuring that we are not ashamed in front of the people of the Russian Federation, in front of you. It is truly uncomfortable, we have such an event today, and suddenly, the Chechen Republic almost ruined it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Kadyrov, you have nothing to be ashamed of, because you personally and your colleagues acted swiftly and professionally. So I want to express gratitude for this to you and to all law enforcement staff in the Chechen Republic; thank you very much. But, of course, I want to send special words of gratitude to law enforcement agents. The Chechen Republic's law enforcement agencies have not only matured but also become professional. And staff members who met these bandits demonstrated themselves to be true professionals and heroes.

As usual, as we all know, the criminals are essentially acting from a corner, shooting people in the back. Who did they attack? They did not attack your special units that are fighting terrorism; they attacked the highway patrol, people who simply protect order on the roads, ensuring the normal function of transport - that's who they attacked. And in essence, they killed people from a corner.

But I am confident that Chechnya's law enforcement agencies will adequately assess the situation and react professionally to all such events, as happened now. We will never forget the names of the comrades who perished, the names of the heroes, and we will need to provide all the necessary help to the bereaved families. And we must support the injured. You have already said that the first steps have been taken. I know that you are treating this carefully and I am asking you to bring this work to a close.

RAMZAN KADYROV: Absolutely, Mr President. Thank you.


Harrison Koehli (Profile)

Harrison Koehli hails from Edmonton, Alberta. A graduate of studies in music performance, Harrison is also an editor for Red Pill Press and has been interviewed on several North American radio shows in recognition of his contributions to advancing the study of ponerology. In addition to music and books, Harrison enjoys tobacco and bacon (often at the same time) and dislikes cell phones, vegetables, and fascists.

Finally some American media print the truth about Washington's and NATO's involvement in Ukraine!

NATO was the aggressor and got Ukraine wrong. Many months later, the media has eventually figured out the truth


© AP/Mark Lennihan/Photo montage by Salon

Well, well, well. Gloating is unseemly, especially in public, but give me this one, will you?

It has been a long and lonely winter defending the true version of events in Ukraine, but here comes the sun. We now have open acknowledgment in high places that Washington is indeed responsible for this mess, the prime mover, the "aggressor," and finally this term is applied where it belongs. NATO, once again, is revealed as causing vastly more trouble than it has ever prevented.

Washington, it is now openly stated, has been wrong, wrong, wrong all along. The commentaries to be noted do not take on the media, but I will, and in language I use advisedly. With a few exceptions they are proven liars, liars, liars - not only conveying the official version of events but willfully elaborating on it off their own bats.

Memo to the New York Times' Moscow bureau: Vicky Nuland, infamous now for desiring sex with the European Union, has just FedExed little gold stars you can affix to your foreheads, one for each of you. Wear them with pride for you will surely fight another day, having learned nothing, and ignore all ridicule. If it gets too embarrassing, tell people they have something to do with the holidays.

O.K., gloat concluded. To the business at hand.

We have had, in the last little while, significant analyses of the Ukraine crisis, each employing that method the State Department finds deadly: historical perspective. In a lengthy interview with Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, none other than Henry Kissinger takes Washington carefully but mercilessly to task. "Does one achieve a world order through chaos or through insight?" Dr. K. asks.

Here is one pertinent bit:

KISSINGER. ... But if the West is honest with itself, it has to admit that there were mistakes on its side. The annexation of Crimea was not a move toward global conquest. It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia.

SPIEGEL. What was it then?

KISSINGER. One has to ask oneself this question: Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it. So it doesn't make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine. So one has to ask oneself, Why did it happen?

SPIEGEL. What you're saying is that the West has at least a kind of responsibility for the escalation?

KISSINGER. Yes, I am saying that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine's economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev. All these, and their impact, should have been the subject of a dialogue with Russia. This does not mean the Russian response was appropriate.

Interesting. Looking for either insight or honesty in Obama's White House or in his State Department is a forlorn business, and Kissinger surely knows this. So he is, as always, a cagey critic. But there are numerous things here to consider, and I will come back to them.

First, let us note that Kissinger's remarks follow an essay titled "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault." The subhead is just as pithy: "The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin."

Wow. As display language I would speak for that myself. And wow again for where the piece appears: In the September-October edition of Foreign Affairs, that radical rag published at East 68th Street and Park Avenue, the Manhattan home of the ever-subverting Council on Foreign Relations.

Finally and most recently, we have Katrina vanden Heuvel weighing in on the Washington Post's opinion page the other day with "Rethinking the Cost of Western Intervention in Ukraine," in which the Nation's noted editor asserts, "One year after the United States and Europe celebrated the February coup that ousted the corrupt but constitutionally elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, liberal and neoconservative interventionists have much to answer for."

Emphatically so. Here is one of vanden Heuvel's more salient observations:

The U.S. government and the mainstream media present this calamity as a morality tale. Ukrainians demonstrated against Yanukovych because they wanted to align with the West and democracy. Putin, as portrayed by Hillary Rodham Clinton among others, is an expansionist Hitler who has trampled international law and must be made to "pay a big price" for his aggression. Isolation and escalating economic sanctions have been imposed. Next, if Senate hawks such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham have their way, Ukraine will be provided with arms to "deter" Putin's "aggression." But this perspective distorts reality.

I can anticipate with ease a thoughtful reader or two writing in the comment thread, "But we knew all this already. What's the point?" We have known all this since the beginning, indeed, thanks to perspicacious writers such as Robert Parry and Steve Weissman. Parry, like your columnist, is a refugee from the mainstream who could take no more; Weissman, whose credentials go back to the Free Speech Movement, seems fed up with the whole nine and exiled himself to France.

Something I have wanted to say for months is now right: Thank you, colleagues. Keep on keeping on.

Also to be noted in this vein is Stephen Cohen, the distinguished Princeton Russianist, whose essay in the Nation last February gave superb and still useful perspective, a must-read if you propose to take Ukraine seriously and get beyond the propaganda. (Vanden Heuvel rightly noted him, too, wrongly omitting that she and Cohen are spouses. A report to the Ethics Police has been filed anonymously.)

These people's reporting and analyses require no imprimatur from the mainstream press. Who could care? This is not the point. The points as I read them are two.

One, there is no shred of doubt in my mind that the work of the above-mentioned and a few others like them has been instrumental in forcing the truth of the Ukraine crisis to the surface. Miss this not. In a polity wherein the policy cliques have zero accountability to any constituency - unbelievable simply to type that phrase - getting accurate accounts and responsibly explanatory copy out - and then reading it, equally - is essential. Future historians will join me in expressing gratitude.

Two, we have indirect admissions of failure. It is highly significant that Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post, both bastions of the orthodoxy, are now willing to publish what amount to capitulations. It would be naive to think this does not reflect a turning of opinion among prominent members of the policy cliques.

I had thought for months as the crisis dragged on, this degree of disinformation cannot possibly hold. From the Nuland tape onward, too much of the underwear was visible as the trousers fell down, so to say. And now we have State and the media clerks with their pants bunched up at their ankles.

The Foreign Affairs piece is by a scholar at the University of Chicago named John Mearsheimer, whose publishing credits include Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics and The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy, the latter an especially gutsy undertaking. He is a soothsayer, and you find these people among the scholars every once in a while, believe it or not.

Mearsheimer was writing opinion in the Times with heads such as "Getting Ukraine Wrong" as far back as March, when the news pages were already busy doing so. In the Foreign Affairs piece, he vigorously attacks NATO expansion, citing George Kennan in his later years, when Dr. Containment was objecting strenuously to the post-Soviet push eastward and the overall perversion of his thinking by neoliberal know-nothings-read-nothings. Here is a little Mearsheimer:

... The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU's expansion eastward and the West's backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine - beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 - were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected and pro-Russian president - which he rightly labeled a "coup" - coup - was was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Drinks for Mearsheimer, for his plain-English use of "coup" alone, any time the professor may happen into my tiny Connecticut village. It is an extensive, thorough piece and worth the read even if Foreign Affairs is not your usual habit. His conclusion now that Ukraine is in pieces, its economy wrecked and its social fabric in shreds:

The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process - a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.

Mearsheimer has as much chance of seeing this shift in policy as Kissinger has finding honesty and insight anywhere in Washington. One hope he is busy in other matters.

As to Dr. K., he reminds me at 90 of the old survivors of the Maoist revolution in China, the last few Long Marchers. They enjoy a certain immunity in their sunset years, no matter what they may say, and for this reason I have always appreciated meeting the few I have. So it is with Henry.

Did Washington in any way authorize Kissinger's interview, as it may have the Foreign Affairs piece, given the revolving door at East 68th Street? I doubt it. Did it know this was coming. Almost certainly. A nonagenarian, Henry still travels in high policy circles. His critique on Ukraine has been evident here and there for many months.

Interesting, first, that Kissinger gave the interview to a German magazine. Nobody in the American press would have dared touch such remarks as these - they cannot, having lied so long. And Kissinger understands, surely, that the Germans are ambivalent, to put it mildly, when it comes to Washington's aggressions against Russia.

I have been mad at Kissinger since throwing rocks at the CRS, the French riot police, outside the American embassy in Paris in the spring of 1970, when the U.S started bombing Cambodia. And I am not with him now when he asserts "the Russian response was not appropriate."

Why not? What was Putin supposed to do when faced with the prospect of NATO and the American Navy assuming privileges on the Black Sea? Was it appropriate when Kennedy threatened Khrushchev with nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis? Arming the contras? Deposing Arbenz? Allende? Let us not get started.

Here is the thing about Henry. European by background, he understands balance-of-power politics cannot be ignored. He understands that spheres of influence must be observed. (My view, explained in an earlier column, is that they are to be acknowledged but not honored - regrettable realities that our century, best outcome, will do away with.)

We reach a new moment in the Ukraine crisis with these new analyses from people inside the tent urinating out, as they say. I have hinted previously at the lesson to be drawn. Maybe now it will be clearer to those who object.

Whatever one may think of Russia under Vladimir Putin, it is secondary at this moment - and more the business of Russians than anyone else - to something larger. This is a non-Western nation drawing a line of resistance against the advance of Anglo-American neoliberalism across the planet. This counts big, in my view. It is an important thing to do.

Some readers argue that Putin oversees a neoliberal regime himself. It is an unappealing kind of capitalism, certainly, although the centralization of the economy almost certainly reflects Putin's strategy when faced with the need to rebuild urgently from the ungodly mess left by the U.S-beloved Yeltsin. See the above-noted piece by Stephen Cohen on this point.

For the sake of argument, let us accept the assertion: Russia is a neoliberal variant. O.K., but again, this is a Russian problem and Russians, not Americans, will solve it one way or the other - as they like and eventually. Important for us is that Putin is not pushing the model around the world, chest-out insisting that all others conform to it. This distinction counts, too.

Joseph Brodsky wrote an open letter to Václav Havel back in 1994, by which time the neoliberal orthodoxy and its evangelists were well-ensconced in Washington. The piece was titled "The Post-Communist Nightmare." In it Brodsky was highly critical of "the cowboys of the Western industrial democracies" who, he asserted, "derive enormous moral comfort from being regarded as cowboys - first of all, by the Indians."

"Are all the Indians now to commence imitation of the cowboys," the Russian émigré poet asked the new president of the (also new) Czech Republic.

I view the Ukraine crisis through this lens. A huge mistake has now been acknowledged. Now it is time: Instead of complaining about Putin and what he is doing to Russians every prompt given, like trained animals, now we must complain about what America proposes doing to the rest of the world, limitlessly.

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Who benefits from the American food stamp program?

food stamps

© Associated Press

More than one in seven people.

That's how many people are on food stamps in America these days. More than one in seven people.

In fact, the number of recipients of federal food assistance rose a whopping 171% between 2000 and 2011 alone, to an all-time record of more than 47 million Americans across the country now on the food stamp dole.

That means more U.S. citizens are receiving food stamp benefits now than in the entire history of the food stamp program ever.

One-sixth of the country is now receiving food stamps and the number just continues to climb.

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Most argue this increase simply has to do with the terrible recession and resultant unemployment; but the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is yet another crony capitalist scheme (surprise, surprise).

Here are a few more crony facts most people might not realize about our nation's food stamp program.

food stamp participation

1. Congress Changed the Rules to Get Even More People on the Dole

Congress relaxed the food stamp program standards in 2008 regarding who could receive benefits, then gave the program a temporary boost in 2009 that allowed people to receive even more money every month.

2.The Biggest Food Stamp Lobbyists are Mega Banks and Mega Corporations

Some 76 billion in food stamps were handed out just last year alone. But the biggest recipients aren't the people on food stamps.

In fact, the biggest lobbyists for the food stamp program aren't poor people or organizations who represent low-income families, but big Wall Street banks and mega corporations. Two quick examples: J.P. Morgan Chase raked in $209 million for just two contracts agreeing to administer EBT card benefits in Florida and New York; and Walmart made half a billion in food stamps just off Oklahoma residents and in just a two-year period.


3. Mega Food Companies Have Fought Against Any Healthy Improvements to the Program

While studies have found that socioeconomic factors are linked to food-related health issues like obesity and diabetes, attempts to enforce healthier standards in America's food stamp program have been fought every step of the way by the powerful lobbyists behind those mega corporations.

So even though advertisements talk about SNAP like it's a way to "eat healthy" and all that propaganda, companies that make products like junk food and soda spend big bucks to make sure the food stamp dollars keep on rolling in.

Here are a few highlights on that found in a report via Eat Drink Politics:

  • Powerful food industry lobbying groups teamed up to oppose health-oriented improvements to SNAP. The food industry also joined forces with anti-hunger groups to lobby against SNAP improvements.

  • Companies such as Cargill, PepsiCo, and Kroger lobbied Congress on SNAP, while also donating money to America's top anti-hunger organizations.

  • At least nine states have proposed bills to make health-oriented improvements to SNAP, but none have passed, in part due to opposition from the food industry.

  • Coca-Cola, the Corn Refiners of America, and Kraft Foods all lobbied against a Florida bill that aimed to disallow SNAP purchases for soda and junk food.

4. Most of These Mega Food Retailers Making Bank off Food Stamps Don't Even Pay Their Employees Enough to Get by Without Food Stamps

Food stamps are a sick, sad cycle.

Did you know that Walmart ends up with 18% of all food stamps spent in the U.S., or nearly 14 billion dollars?

As Marketplace's Krissy Clark wrote, "In order to be authorized by the government to participate in SNAP, a store must meet certain standards and fulfill certain responsibilities," but, "Nowhere does the government require that for a store to be part of the food stamp program, it must pay its workers enough that they don't need to use food stamps themselves."

So...let's say hypothetically you are a giant corporation that takes in a huge profit off the food stamp program (*cough* Walmart *cough*) and you pay your employees so poorly that many of them are eligible for food stamps. You are basically giving yourself a rather fat kickback that wouldn't exactly motivate you to ever raise wages because you'd lose the money paid out in higher wages and the lost food stamp revenue from paying those people enough so that they can't get food stamps any longer.

(On another aside, the food stamp poverty cycle continues with rules limiting SNAP recipients' ability to save money toward their own independence. Anyone with savings of $2,000 or more will automatically get all of their food stamp benefits cut...but if the benefits are cut, the person would have to spend the savings on food and therefore cannot save, you see? So saving money to try and get off food stamps and become independent when you are low-income? Not really possible unless you suddenly inherent a fat estate or win the lottery or something.)

5. SNAP Is Being Openly Advertised to People Like It's a Party, Including Door-to-Door Food Stamp "Outreach" to Get More Americans Signed Up

As a result of all these powerful lobbyists and the vested interests they represent who make billions off the program, food stamp benefits are now being ENTHUSIASTICALLY PROMOTED in this country. They are advertised in everything from mailers to spots on the radio, and in some low-income neighborhoods, there are workers who even go door-to-door to try and get more people signed up. And food stamp applications are so easy these days, in some states you can fill one out online. There are even free food stamp calculator apps available for people's smart phones (who could make that one up?)

For just one example, the description of the "SNAP Education and Outreach" program in Texas reads, "SNAP Education and Outreach provides food benefits information, assistance with SNAP applications and referrals to other benefit programs and community services. Information about SNAP is shared through community and media events and door-to-door outreach."

They even have community and media events, too. As I've reported before, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's SNAP community outreach toolkit includes "a series of flyers that suggest 'fresh ideas' to garner local offices more aid recipients, such as throwing food stamp 'parties,' complete with entertainment and food stamp info-themed BINGO games."

Wow. American serfdom sure sounds fun, doesn't it? Why aren't we all on the dole?

But ultimately, as more people lose their jobs or are forced to take low-paying jobs and more of those people get on food stamps, this system (like so many others in this country) is not even remotely sustainable.

If things continue this way, we are definitely set to see a Cloward-Piven style collapse in America. And even our congressmen have admitted that's what they believe our current president is trying to do.

For more on that, read the description on Webster Tarpley's unauthorized Obama biography published in 2008 and see if any of it (actually, all of it) sounds familiar in regard to what's happening in America's headlines today.

As YouTuber Warriorwoman noted in the comments on our video above, "It's to further collapse our economy. I mean if the tax payers are unemployed and having to get help then there isn't that many people paying in anymore. So how long can the US keep this up?"


Silicon Valley: One of the largest U.S. homeless encampments dismantled by city

© Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

San Jose police and city officials hand out notices warning residents of the homeless encampment known as the Jungle that they must vacate the premises. The city has spent $4 million over 18 months to relocate some of the inhabitants.

Veiled by the yellow willows and brush along a forgotten creek bed in San Jose, hundreds of people jerry-built a treehouse and constructed underground bunkers and ramshackle lean-tos to form one of the nation's largest homeless encampments.

The 68-acre shantytown is just minutes away from downtown and the high-tech giants that made Silicon Valley one of the world's most opulent locations. For years, the city turned a blind eye to "the Jungle." But the camp along the muddy bank of Coyote Creek has become more crowded in recent years and is awash in rotting trash, rats and human waste - so bad that the endangered steelhead trout have essentially disappeared.

After years of halfhearted cleanups, city officials on Thursday plan to begin shutting down the Jungle for good.

The sprawling camp has become a major embarrassment, and a potent emblem of Silicon Valley's homeless crisis. In 2013, San Jose and the surrounding Santa Clara County estimated almost 7,600 homeless people, more than in San Francisco. And 75% of them were sleeping outside, on sidewalks, in parks and under freeway embankments - a percentage greater than in any other major U.S. metropolitan area.

Officials have blamed soaring housing costs for the displacement. As Silicon Valley rocketed out of the recession, workers streamed in, driving the average apartment rent within 10 miles of San Jose up to $2,633 in September, from $1,761 two years earlier, according to the rental website RentJungle.com.

The median home price is nearly $700,000.

"It's a perfect storm of extreme wealth, a booming tech community and people priced out of the market," said Jennifer Loving, executive director of Destination Home, a public-private partnership to end homelessness in the county.

© Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Carlos Tovar, a contractor in charge of cleaning up the Jungle, hands a warning notice to a resident of the homeless encampment.

Since deciding to close the Jungle, San Jose has spent $4 million over 18 months to relocate the camp's inhabitants and connect them to services.

"The city really made a good-faith effort," said Claire Wagner, communications director for HomeFirst, which runs a homeless shelter and services agency in San Jose.

But while 144 inhabitants have found housing, more than 50 have rent subsidies in hand but nowhere to go.

In 2011, the state ended special redevelopment assessments, which essentially brought affordable housing construction to a halt, said Ray Bramson, San Jose's homelessness response manager. "Encampments are not the problem, homelessness is the problem," Bramson said.

"If you have 10 applications to choose from, nine with stable rental histories and work, and you have somebody living in a creek; what are you going to do?" Loving added.

On Wednesday, some inhabitants of the Jungle were packing up to leave while others said they planned to remain as long as possible.

In heavy rain, Tiffany Curtis, 35, wearing a camouflage-colored jacket, hauled a shopping cart of her belongings - stuffed in garbage bags, a plastic crate and a Hello Kitty bag - to a waiting minivan.

The city is setting her up with a studio or one-bedroom unit that it has said would be paid for as long as she is working.

"It's kind of good that they are closing this place down, because then people will have to find something to do," Curtis said. "You can't just sit or lay or smoke anywhere. The world doesn't work like that."

© Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Robert Aguirre, a former engineering consultant who once had a middle-class lifestyle, has been living with his wife at the Jungle since January. Here, he holds a notice ordering him to leave the premises.

But Doug Wynne, 60, said he and his six cats intended to stay put as long as they could in his cozy complex of tents, sewn together with tarps, blankets and sleeping bags. During the four years he's lived in the Jungle, he's created a pathway of old bricks that lead to his front porch. His tent home is furnished with a rug, couch and beds.

"You can see, it's much nicer than the dirt out there," he said.

Wynne, a refugee from Florida's foreclosure crisis, came to San Jose hoping to sell software, but ended up panhandling on the median of a busy roadway in the Little Saigon neighborhood.

"I'd sleep at the college, they'd bus me here.... Anywhere I went, [police] would harass me," he said. "Once I came here, they stopped harassing me."

Other homeless residents at the Jungle are working - doing manual labor, carpentry, catering. They return to the creek bed each night, unable to afford a better place, Bramson said.

Some have mental health or medical problems, criminal records or bad credit histories that are barriers to finding homes, he added.

Even without the Jungle, the city is veined by a network of at least 200 other outdoor encampments, Bramson said.

"If you accept the city has done great things to help a lot of people get housed, it's a drop in the bucket," said Matt King of Sacred Heart Community Service, a community organizing and poverty service group. "There is no margin of error in the Silicon Valley.

"If you don't have nonstop good income, it's a very fast fall from a two-bedroom apartment to a tent in the Jungle."

Robert Aguirre's path to the camp illustrates how tough it can be to maintain a middle-class toehold in the overheated economy.

A former engineering consultant, Aguirre, 56, advised high-tech companies on meeting international safety standards. When the first tech bubble burst in the late 1990s, his business began to slip. His job functions were largely outsourced to China, and he and his wife lost their house, he said.

Because of his wife's health problems, including osteoarthritis, they gave up an upper-story apartment for a ground-floor unit. But after they gave notice, their new landlord told them he had changed his mind and planned to move in family members downstairs. Their old place already had been snapped up.

Sleeping sitting up in their car left his wife with edema, Aguirre said. On a doctor's advice, they got a tent and moved to the Jungle in January.

Still, the couple says, they have it easy: Aguirre's wife works as a medical clerk, and he picks up day-laborer jobs. They have a propane heater and stove and sleep on a platform mattress.

Aguirre said he had found a place to move into but planned to remain active with the Jungle community - whatever that becomes.

He estimated that 200 people remained in the creek bed camp as of late Tuesday.

"The fence links are so tight you can't put bolt cutters to it," Aguirre said, explaining that the city planned regular patrols by park rangers and police in order to prevent "re-encampment."

"The majority of the people have said they don't know what they're going to do," he said. "There is no way to get out of there other than to fend for themselves."

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'On the Side of the Road': New film exposes Israel's dirty, little secret


Here in Virginia, U.S.A., I'm aware that the native people were murdered, driven out, and moved westward. But my personal connection to that crime is weak, and frankly I'm too busy trying to rein in my government's current abuses to focus on the distant past. Pocahontas is a cartoon, the Redskins a football team, and remaining Native Americans almost invisible. Protests of the European occupation of Virginia are virtually unheard of.

But what if it had just happened a moment ago, historically speaking? What if my parents had been children or teenagers? What if my grandparents and their generation had conceived and executed the genocide? What if a large population of survivors and refugees were still here and just outside? What if they were protesting, nonviolently and violently - including with suicide bombings and homemade rockets launched out of West Virginia? What if they marked the Fourth of July as the Great Catastrophe and made it a day of mourning? What if they were organizing nations and institutions all over the world to boycott, divest, and sanction the United States and seek its prosecution in court? What if, before being driven out, the Native Americans had built hundreds of towns with buildings of masonry, hard to make simply disappear?

In that case, it would be more difficult for those unwilling to face the injustice not to notice. We would have to notice, but tell ourselves something comforting, if we refused to deal with the truth. The lies we tell ourselves would need to be much stronger than they are. A rich mythology would be necessary. Everyone would have to be taught from childhood onward that the native people didn't exist, left voluntarily, attempted vicious crimes justifying their punishment, and were not really people at all but irrational killers still trying to kill us for no reason. I'm aware that some of those excuses conflict with others, but propaganda generally works better with multiple claims, even when they can't all be true at the same time. Our government might even have to make questioning the official story of the creation of the United States an act of treason.

Israel that imagined United States, just formed in our grandparents' day, two-thirds of the people driven out or killed, one-third remaining but treated as sub-human. Israel is that place that must tell forceful lies to erase a past that is never really past. Kids grow up in Israel not knowing. We in the United States, whose government gives Israel billions of dollars worth of free weapons every year with which to continue the killing (weapons with names like Apache and Black Hawk), grow up not knowing. We all look at the "peace process," this endless charade of decades, and deem it inscrutable, because we've been educated to be incapable of knowing what the Palestinians want even as they shout it and sing it and chant it: they want to return to their homes.

But the people who did the deed are, in many cases, still alive. Men and women who, in 1948, massacred and evicted Palestinians from their villages can be put on camera recounting what they did. Photographs of what was done and accounts of what life was like before the Nakba (the Catastrophe) exist in great volume. Towns that were taken over still stand. Families know that they live in stolen houses. Palestinians still have keys to those houses. Villages that were destroyed still remain visible in outline on Google Earth, the trees still standing, the stones of demolished houses still nearby.


Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Canadian journalist who covers Israel and Palestine for the Real News Network. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, the Soviet Union. When she was a child, her family moved to a settlement in the West Bank, part of the ongoing continuation of the process begun in 1948. She had a good childhood with a real sense of community in that "settlement," or what we would call a housing subdivision built on native farm land in violation of a treaty made with savages. She grew up not knowing. People pretended nothing had been there before. Then she found out. Then she made a movie to tell the world.

The film is called On the Side of the Road and it tells the story of the founding of Israel in 1948 through the memories of those who killed and expelled the people of Palestine, through the memories of survivors, and through the perspectives of those who have grown up since. 1948 was a 1984 year, a year of doublespeak. Israel was created in blood. Two-thirds of the people of that land were made refugees. Most of them and their descendants are refugees still. Those who remained in Israel were made second-class citizens and forbidden to mourn the dead. But the crime is referred to as liberation and independence. Israel celebrates its Independence Day while Palestinians mourn the Nakba.

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The film takes us to the sites of vanished villages destroyed in 1948 and in 1967. In some cases, villages have been replaced with woods and made into national parks. The imagery is suggestive of what the earth might do if humanity departed. But this is the work of part of humanity attempting to erase another human group. If you put up a sign commemorating the village, the government removes it quickly.

The film shows us those who participated in the Nakba. They recall shooting the people they called Arabs and whom they'd been told were primitive and worthless, but who they knew had a modern literate society with some 20 newspapers in Jaffa, with feminist groups, with everything then thought of as modern. "Go to Gaza!" they told the people whose homes and land they were stealing and destroying. One man recalling what he did begins with an attitude almost bordering on the carefree heartlessness one sees in former killers in the Indonesian film , but eventually he's explaining that what he's done has been eating away at him for decades.

In On the Side of the Road we meet a young Palestinian man from a permanent refugee camp who calls a place his home although he's never been there, and who says that his children and grandchildren will do likewise. We see him obtain a 12-hour pass to visit the place his grandparents lived. He spends half the 12 hours getting through check points. The place he visits is a National Park. He sits and talks about what he wants. He wants nothing related to revenge. He wants no harm done to Jews. He wants no people evicted from anywhere. He says that, according to his grandparents, Jews and Muslims lived together amicably before 1948. That, he says, is what he wants - that and to return home.

Israelis concerned by their nation's open secret take some inspiration in the film from an art project in Berlin. There people posted signs with images on one side and words on the other. For example: a cat on one side, and this on the other: "Jews are no longer allowed to own pets." So, in Israel, they made signs of a similar nature. For example: a man with a key on one side, and on the other, : "It is forbidden to mourn on the Day of Independence." The signs are greeted by vandalism and angry, racist threats. The police accuse those who posted the signs of "disturbing law and order," and forbid them in the future.

At Tel Aviv University we see students, Palestinian and Jewish, hold an event to read out the names of villages that were destroyed. Nationalists waving flags come to try to shout them down. These properly educated Israelis describe cities as having been "liberated." They advocate expelling all Arabs. A member of the Israeli parliament tells the camera that Arabs want to exterminate Jews and rape their daughters, that the Arabs threaten a "holocaust."

The filmmaker asks an angry Israeli woman, "If you were an Arab, would you celebrate the state of Israel?" She refuses to allow the possibility of seeing things from someone else's point of view to enter her head. She replies, "I'm not an Arab, thank God!"

A Palestinian challenges a nationalist very politely and civilly, asking him to explain his views, and he swiftly walks away. I was reminded of a talk I gave last month at a university in New York at which I criticized the Israeli government, and a professor angrily walked out - a professor who'd been eager to debate other topics on which we disagreed.

A woman who participated in the Nakba says in the film, in an effort to excuse her past actions, "We didn't know it was a society." She clearly believes that killing and evicting people who seem "modern" or "civilized" is unacceptable. Then she goes on to explain that pre-1948 Palestine was just what she says mustn't be destroyed. "But you lived here," says the filmmaker. "How could you not know?" The woman replies simply, "We knew. We knew."

A man who took part in killing Palestinians in 1948 excuses himself as having been only 19. And "there will always be new 19-year-olds," he says. Of course there are also 50-year-olds who will follow evil orders. Happily, there are also 19-year-olds who will not.

Catch a screening of

Dec 3, 2014 NYU, NY

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Dec 5, 2014 Baltimore, MD

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Dec 9, 2014 Washington DC

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Dec 10, 2014 American University

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Dec 15, 2014 Washington DC

Facilitating serfdom: Corporations decimate the middle-class via unpaid overtime

middle class worker

Editor's Note: When's the last time you worked overtime? How about the last time you worked overtime and got paid for it? If you're in the middle class, probably not recently.

Only Americans who make less than $23,660 a year are automatically eligible for time-and-a-half pay after working 40 hours a week. Today, that's only 11 percent of salaried workers. It didn't used to be this way, and it doesn't have to stay this way, argues venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

Just like President Obama has taken executive action on immigration, Hanauer believes the president can and should take executive action to raise the salary threshold for overtime eligibility.

Hanauer's a billionaire who made his fortune as one of the original investors in Amazon. The current rules are written to benefit wealthy capitalists like him, he admits. So, you might ask, why does Hanauer care about overtime pay for people who make less, much less, than he does?

"Ironically," he writes, when "you earn less, and unemployment is high, it even hurts capitalists like me." That won't surprise Making Sen$e readers who've heard his brand of "middle-out economics." Closing the income gap wouldn't just benefit the middle class; a stronger middle class is the source of economic prosperity for everyone, he thinks. Watch him make that argument to Paul Solman below.

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Making Sen$e first caught up with Hanauer in Seattle last spring, where he was pushing for the city to pass a higher minimum wage. Just as the minimum wage is crucial to improving the economic outlook of low-wage workers, overtime pay is essential to the middle class's prosperity - and everyone else's. Hanauer explains why that matters to him, as a venture capitalist, in the following essay which first appeared in Politico Magazine.

- Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor

If you're in the American middle class - or what's left of it - here's how you probably feel. You feel like you're struggling harder than your parents did, working longer hours than ever before, and yet falling further and further behind. The reason you feel this way is because most of you are - falling further behind, that is. Adjusted for inflation, average salaries have actually dropped since the early 1970s, while hours for full-time workers have steadily climbed.

Meanwhile, a handful of wealthy capitalists like me are growing wealthy beyond our parents' wildest dreams, in large part because we're able to take advantage of your misfortune.

So what's changed since the 1960s and 1970s? Overtime pay, in part. Your parents got a lot of it, and you don't. And it turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class.

In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. Not because capitalists back then were more generous, but because it was the law. It still is the law, except that the value of the threshold for overtime pay - the salary level at which employers are required to pay overtime - has been allowed to erode to less than the poverty line for a family of four today. Only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 qualify for mandatory overtime. You know many people like that? Probably not. By 2013, just 11 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay, according to a report published by the Economic Policy Institute. And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all.

In my defense, I'm only playing by the rules - rules written by and for wealthy capitalists like me. But the main point is this: These are rules that President Barack Obama has the power to change with the stroke of a pen, and with no prior congressional approval. The president could, on his own, restore federal overtime standards to where they were at their 1975 peak, covering the same 65 percent of salaried workers who were covered 40 years ago. If he did that, about 10.4 million Americans would suddenly be earning a lot more than they are now. Last March, Obama asked the Labor Department to update "outdated" regulations that mean, as the president put it in his memo, "millions of Americans lack the protections of overtime and even the right to the minimum wage." But Obama was not specific about the changes he wanted to see.

So let me be specific. To get the country back to the same equitable standards we had in 1975, the Department of Labor would simply have to raise the overtime threshold to $69,000. In other words, if you earn $69,000 or less, the law would require that you be paid overtime when you worked more than 40 hours a week. That's 10.4 million middle-class Americans with more money in their pockets or more time to spend with friends and family. And if corporate America didn't want to pay you time and a half, it would need to hire hundreds of thousands of additional workers to pick up the slack - slashing the unemployment rate and forcing up wages.

The Obama administration could, on its own, go even further. Many millions of Americans are currently exempt from the overtime rules - teachers, federal employees, doctors, computer professionals, etc. - and corporate leaders are lobbying hard to expand "computer professional" to mean just about anybody who uses a computer. Which is almost everybody. But were the Labor Department instead to narrow these exemptions, millions more Americans would receive the overtime pay they deserve. Why, you might ask, are so many workers exempted from overtime? That's a fair question. To be truthful, I have no earthly idea why. What I can tell you is that these exemptions work out very well for your employers.

Since the Republican Party's takeover of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections, all the talk in Washington has been about what won't get done because of gridlock between the White House and Capitol Hill. And Obama has talked of moving things forward by making unilateral changes to immigration law and climate protections.

But what about the most basic need of all - jump-starting the real economy by giving more middle-class Americans a fair shake? You would think that for a Democratic administration, raising the threshold back to where it once was would be a no-brainer, but I have grave doubts that administration officials are heading in this direction. In fact they are likely to raise the threshold only partly, and the Obama administration has not yet grappled with the broader question of how moves such as this are critical to helping to restore America's middle class. How do I know? Intuition. OK, I admit it, more than intuition. I've had conversations with administration officials about their forthcoming policy changes. And the scuttlebutt out of the Labor Department looks promising - for corporations. Not the middle class.

It is my sense, based on my conversations with government officials, that the administration is buying the line from corporate lobbyists who are arguing that such rule changes would devastate their bottom lines, forcing them to lay off workers. You know, the old trickle-down gambit - if workers earn more money, it would be bad for business, the economy and workers. The Obama team, in other words, is buying into the same discredited theories that were used to erode the threshold in the first place. Officials will very likely raise the overtime threshold just enough to say they're doing something, without actually doing much of anything for the middle class or our demand-starved economy at all.

But here's a little secret from the corner office: The arguments that the corporate lobbyists are making - about how badly business will be hurt - just don't add up. What is adding up instead are the trillions of dollars in corporate profits and stock gains that corporations have made over the same decades that your hours climbed and your wages fell. From 1950 to 1980, during the good old days of U.S. economic might - the era in which the Great American Middle Class was created - corporate profits averaged a healthy 6 percent of GDP. But since then, corporate profits have doubled to more than 12 percent of GDP.

That's about a trillion dollars more a year in profit. And since then, wages as a percentage of GDP have fallen, you guessed it, by about the same 6 percent or 7 percent of GDP. Coincidence? Probably not. What very few Americans seem to understand is that that extra trillion dollars isn't profit because it had to be, or needs to be or should be. That extra trillion dollars is profit because powerful people like me prefer it to be. It could have been spent on your wages. Or it could have gone into discounts to you, the consumer. We capitalists will tell you that our increasing profits are the result of some complex economic force with the immutability and righteousness of divine law. But the truth is, it is simply a result of a difference in negotiating power. As in, we have it. And you don't.

Still, it's hard to blame the administration for doing so little to defend middle-class workers when most middle-class workers aren't even aware that they're being ripped off. But I know. And a lot of other business owners know. We just don't talk about it. You see, we capitalists will never actually ask you to work overtime. I don't even track your hours. I just make it clear that I trust you to get your job done in the time allotted. And then I hand you twice as much work as you can reasonably do in a 40-hour week. But this downward pressure on wages doesn't end there.

In the absence of a law requiring me to pay you overtime if you earn under a certain amount, you end up working harder - and the harder you work, the fewer employees I need. The fewer employees I need, the higher the unemployment rate. The higher the unemployment rate, the more leverage I have to "encourage" you to "do what it takes" to keep your job. And so you work even more hours, pushing unemployment up and wages down. And that, my friends, is one of the little tricks that keeps you poor and me rich.

This is why, in a recent Gallup poll, salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week, not the allegedly standard 40. And 18 percent of you report working more than 60 hours per week. Yet at the same time, you're taking only about 77 percent of your paid time off. According to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. workers now use an average of only 16 vacation days a year out of the nearly 21 days they earn - the lowest in more than four decades. Why? Often because they're terrified of working fewer hours and falling short of their employers' demands for ever more productivity. And many of these unused vacation days are forfeited: an estimated $52.4 billion worth each year that goes to owners like me.

Now obviously, take away our license to force 10.4 million Americans to work extra hours for nothing, and smart capitalists like me would try to limit overtime as much as possible. I mean, time-and-a-half pay sure adds up fast! So many of you would be unlikely to see much of an immediate bump in take-home pay. Instead, we capitalists would be forced to hire millions more people to do the work you currently do for free. That would drive down unemployment. And a tighter labor market would drive up wages for the first time in 40 years.

So you see, when I say that the overtime threshold is the minimum wage for the middle class, I'm not just playing with words. In the exact same way that the erosion of the federal minimum wage - from an inflation-adjusted peak of about $11 an hour in 1968 to only $7.25 an hour today - has held down wages for low-income Americans, the simultaneous erosion of the overtime threshold has also held down wages for the American middle class. And just like raising the minimum wage would nudge up incomes for those workers earning somewhat above it, restoring the overtime threshold would push up incomes for many workers currently earning above $69,000 too.

What Do Executives Do With All Their Money?

Of course, capitalists like me will tell you that when we cut into profits, the entire economy is damaged. And think of all the investment that corporate profits make possible. What do executives like me do with all that extra money? Why, invest in creating good-paying jobs for middle-class Americans like you, of course.

Unfortunately, that's not exactly true either. Mostly, we use profits to manipulate our stock price for personal gain.

Here's a little history that will explain how: Back in the 1970s, when the share of total U.S. income that the top 0.1 percent of households got was at a 100-year low, corporate executives received most of their compensation in the form of a salary, just like you. But since the late 1980s, the largest component of income for the top 0.1 percent has been stock-based pay. This shift toward compensation via stock options and grants means that CEOs are directly incentivized to increase the share price of their company's stock.

Building better products that lead to higher sales and fatter margins is the traditional way for a CEO to push up the price of his stock. But that's so old-fashioned. So yesterday. Instead, ever since a former Wall Street CEO in charge of the Securities and Exchange Commission back in 1982 loosened the rules that define stock manipulation (beginning to see a historical pattern here?), U.S. corporations have increasingly resorted to stock buybacks to prop up share prices. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review by professor William Lazonkick - "Profits Without Prosperity" - over the past 10 years, America's largest companies, those making up the S&P 500, have devoted a staggering 54 percent of their profits to buying back shares, reducing the total number outstanding and thus increasing the value of the remaining shares owned by capitalists like me.

A stock buyback, in case you are wondering, is when a public company buys its own shares. "Why on earth would a company do that?" you ask. To push the stock price higher, of course - which benefits senior managers who are all paid in stock - rather than, say, investing in R&D or in building new factories. Or paying you overtime for all those extra hours you work.

I want to be clear: I've done stock buybacks. We all do it. In order to be a public company today, you practically can't avoid it, despite how obviously corrupt it is. Ever wonder why the stock market is soaring again, while the real economy is just slogging along? Buybacks are a big reason. According to data compiled by Mustafa Erdem Sakinç of The Academic-Industry Research Network, public U.S. corporations of all sizes have spent an astonishing $6.9 trillion on stock buybacks over the past decade alone. $6.9 trillion! That's about enough to run the entire federal government - for two years! Let me tell you how it works. Your institutional investors will call you, maybe after some bad news that drives your stock down a bit, and they'll say, "Hey, your stock is undervalued, don't you think? And if you guys won't support your own stock, then why should we?" Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge. But you will not be able to grasp the size of this, relative to your situation, without some examples.

Take low-wage king Wal-Mart. Over the past 10 years, according to data compiled from its public filings, Wal-Mart has spent more than $65.4 billion on stock buybacks - about 47 percent of its profits. That's an average of more than $6.5 billion a year in stock buybacks, enough to give each of its 1.4 million U.S. workers a $4,670-a-year raise. It is also, coincidentally, an amount roughly equivalent to the estimated $6.2 billion Wal-Mart costs U.S. taxpayers every year in food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing and other public assistance to its many impoverished employees.

And further up the wage scale there's IBM. Once an icon of innovation for its proud legacy of investing in basic research, the 21st-century IBM has instead chosen to spend an astounding $117.5 billion on stock buybacks since 2003 - a remarkable 89.4 percent of total profits.

What else might we have done with that $6.9 trillion other than manipulate stock prices? Well, we could have forgiven the $1 trillion in student debt currently crippling the purchasing power of young Americans; funded the looming $3.6 trillion maintenance backlog on our roads, bridges, dams, schools and the rest of our nation's public infrastructure; boosted our nation's annual R&D expenditures by more than 20 percent a year; and still have enough money leftover to buy every man, woman and child in the U.S. a round of drinks. Every Friday night. For the next 15 years.

Or, we could spend the approximately $700 billion in stock buybacks per year putting all 9 million unemployed Americans back to work at more than 2.5 times our nation's pitiful $28,000 median wage.

If this sounds a little bit like a Ponzi scheme, that's because it is. I buy my shares back from investors and speculators, who then use that money to buy more shares. We get richer riding this merry-go-round, but the money never touches the real economy. Perhaps you've wondered how the stock market hit 17,000 while, at the same time, five years after the end of the Great Recession, the real economy that you live in still kind of sucks? Stock buybacks.

So if you're still thinking that higher wages or fewer hours of overtime for you and your coworkers might bankrupt the public company you work for, I encourage you to do this: Send an email to your CFO and ask him or her how much your company has spent on stock buybacks over the past 10 years in both dollars and in percent of pretax profits? Seriously. Do it right now. And while you're waiting for a reply from your CFO, let's have an honest conversation about the way the economy really works.

But Don't Rich People Create Jobs?

Forget everything you've been told about how the rich are job creators - that the more money we have, the more we invest, the more jobs we create, and the better the economy is for everybody. As our epidemic of stock buybacks clearly illustrates, capitalists like me already have more money than we know what to do with. Indeed, smart investors are struggling to cope with what Bain & Co. has termed "capital superabundance," marked by a tripling of global capital since 1990 despite the ongoing stagnation of the underlying economy. Meanwhile, even as this glut of financial capital continues to grow, new technologies are dramatically reducing demand for capital.

It once cost billions to finance a new steel mill, the symbol of the old economy. But the new economy just isn't nearly as capital-intensive - in other words, companies don't need anything like this huge amount of reinvestment in stocks. For example, take Amazon. I was an early investor - it's where I made much of my fortune. How much capital did Jeff Bezos initially raise to start up Amazon? One million dollars. Last year, Amazon reported over $74 billion in sales. It is this "investment supply - demand imbalance," writes Bain, that is decisively shifting power "from owners of capital to owners of good ideas."

In the information economy of the 21st century, it is not capital accumulation that creates growth and prosperity, but, rather, the virtuous cycle of innovation and demand. The more innovators and entrepreneurs we have converting ideas into products and services, the higher our standard of living, and the more people who can afford to consume these products and services, the greater the incentive to innovate. Thus, the key to growth and prosperity is to fully include as many Americans as possible in our economy, both as innovators and consumers.

In plain English, the real economy is you: Raise wages, and one increases demand. Increase demand and one increases jobs, wages and innovation. The real economy is simply the interplay between consumers and businesses. On the other hand, as we've learned from the past 40 years of slow growth and record stock buybacks, not even an infinite supply of capital can persuade a CEO to hire more workers absent demand for the products and services they produce.

The twisted irony is, when you work more hours for less pay, you hurt not only yourself, you hurt the real economy by depressing wages, increasing unemployment and reducing demand and innovation. Ironically, when you earn less, and unemployment is high, it even hurts capitalists like me.

Which brings us back to President Obama. He is hearing daily from corporate executives and lobbyists that raising your wages would be bad. For you. So he won't, unless he hears from you - all of you - demanding the same fair overtime protections for today's middle class that were once enjoyed by your parents.

Contact the White House. Do it for yourself. Or, at the very least, have the courtesy to do it for me. Because honestly, I'm beginning to run out of customers. In the meanwhile, I've got to go buy back more shares ahead of the next earnings report.

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