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Εγχειρίδιο χειρισμού κρίσεων λόγω πολιτικών ΔΝΤ από τη CIA! / Already confirmed: Civil liberties under attack! / Greece's creditors gone completely insane! / How the global financial mafia sucked Greece's blood / ECB's economic hitmen / Η Μέρκελ επιβεβαιώνει τα σχέδια των γραφειοφασιστών! /Greece: the low-noise collapse of an entire country/ How the neoliberal establishment tricked the masses again, this time in France / Ενώ η Γερμανία προετοιμάζεται για τα χειρότερα, η Ελλάδα επιμένει στο ευρώ! / Ένας παγκόσμιος "proxy" πόλεμος κατά της ελευθερίας έχει ξεκινήσει! / In reality, McCarthyism never ended in America / Ο επικεφαλής του "σκιώδους συμβουλίου" της ΕΚΤ επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ευρωζώνη είναι μια χρηματοπιστωτική δικτατορία! /With a rising Jeremy Corbyn and a declining Angela Merkel, Brexit has been upgraded to play a much more critical role / Δημοψήφισμα για Grexit: η τελευταία ευκαιρία να σωθεί η Ελλάδα και η τιμή της Αριστεράς / Populism as the new cliche of the elites to stigmatize anyone not aligned with the establishment / Δεν γίνεται έτσι "σύντροφοι" ... / Panama Papers: When mainstream information wears the anti-establishment mask / The Secret Bank Bailout / The head of the ECB “shadow council” confirms that eurozone is a financial dictatorship! / A documentary by Paul Mason about the financial coup in Greece / The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century / First cracks to the establishment by the American people / Clinton emails - The race of the Western neo-colonialist vultures over the Libyan corpse / Επιχείρηση Panama Papers: Το κατεστημένο θέλει το μονοπώλιο και στις διαρροές; / Operation "looting of Greece" reaches final stage / Varoufakis describes how Merkel sacrificed Greece to save the Franco-German banks / France officialy enters the neo-Feudal era! / The US establishment just gave its greatest performance so far ... / A significant revelation by WikiLeaks that the media almost ignored / It's official: the US is funding Middle-East jihadists! / Οι αδίστακτοι νεο-αποικιοκράτες του 21ου αιώνα / How to handle political unrest caused by IMF policies! / Πώς το νεοφιλελεύθερο κατεστημένο ξεγέλασε τις μάζες, αυτή τη φορά στη Γαλλία / Οι Γάλλοι νεοαποικιοκράτες επιστρέφουν στην Ελλάδα υπό 'ιδανικές' συνθήκες / Μεγαλώνει ο πανικός της Γουόλ Στριτ μπροστά στην προοπτική των κρυπτονομισμάτων

21 March, 2018

A single graph proves that the birth of neoliberalism coincides with a dramatic loss of power for the working class

The following graph depicts the radical divergence between productivity and compensation of a typical American worker after 1973. It essentially proves that the upper class has been overwhelmingly benefited during the last four decades or so, at the expense of the working class:

As described by the source, the hourly compensation of a typical worker essentially grew in tandem with productivity from 1948 to 1973. After 1973, these series diverge markedly. Between 1973 and 2014 productivity grew 72.2 percent, or 1.33 percent each year, while the typical worker’s compensation was nearly stagnant, growing just 0.22 percent annually, or 9.2 percent over the entire 1973–2014 period. Further, nearly all of the pay growth over this 41-year period occurred during the seven years from 1995 to 2002, when wages were boosted by the very tight labor markets of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that the vast majority of workers were not benefiting much from productivity growth; the economy could afford higher pay but was not providing it.

Costas Lapavitsas, professor in economics at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, explains analytically how the working class has lost dramatically with the rise of financial capitalism and the accompanying neoliberal ideology during that period depicted in the graph above:

Finance is a sector of the economy in mature countries which has grown enormously in terms of size relative to the rest of the economy, in terms of penetration into everyday lives of ordinary people, but also small and medium businesses and just about everybody, and in terms of policy influence. Finance clearly influences economic policy on a national level in country after country. The interests of finance are paramount in forming economic policy. So that is clear. Finance has become extraordinarily powerful. And that, in a sense, is the first immediate way in which we can understand financialization. Something has happened there, and modern mature capitalism appears to have financialized.

Financialization is basically a profound historical transformation of modern capitalism that began in the 1970s, and it's now been running for about four decades.

What's happened to big business is very interesting. Two things have happened to it. First, big business has become increasingly capable of financing investment out of retained earnings. It retains its profits, and on a net basis it finances investment pretty much out of that. Of course, it still uses banks, but it doesn't rely on banks on a net basis to finance investment. That gives it a certain degree of independence from banks. In addition to that, big business has made so much in retained profits - currently US big business is sitting on piles of cash - that it can use those funds to play financial games, to engage in financial transactions and financial activities on its own account. So big business has financialized. Large enterprises have acquired some of the character of financial institutions, have become bank-like, and they engage in these transactions, and they change the structure of their own organization as they do that.

Second economic change, and very, very important, too, relates to banks. If big businesses is doing that, banks must do something else to make profit. They lend less to businesses for investment and so on, and they play more games in the financial markets. They become transactors in financial assets, and they make profits increasingly not from lending, but from fees, commissions, and trading. They become traders in financial assets. At the same time, banks have also turn households. Households have become a very profitable activity of banks, a new activity. This is a new phenomenon in the development of capitalism.

The third change has to do with households, workers, ordinary people. And what we see there in the last three to four decades is that ordinary people have been drawn into the financial system like never before. Households have become financialized. Finance has become a fundamental part of household life.

Why is that? Partly because wages have been stagnant. Wages have been absolutely flat in [the US] for decades. Partly because of that, people have turned to debt.

The financialization of everyday life, of households, is a bit of a complex story. What is actually happening is not simply that you borrow in order to consume. That also happens. What is actually happening is people need access to health, education, housing, and a variety of other needs. Every country has systems of provision for these things. These modes of provision have historically, traditionally, incorporated public provision, some methods of public provision. What we've witnessed the last three to four decades is a retreat of public provision. Public provision has retreated, private provision has taken its place. As this is happened, finance has emerged as the facilitator of that. So we turn to private provision to solve our housing needs, our health needs, our education needs, and finance makes profits out of that, basically, without having any skills in doing these things.

At the same time, we've had changes in institutions and in ideology. The changes in institutions are very clear. We've had wave after wave of deregulation. Labor market has become more deregulated, and financial markets have become more deregulated. And in addition to deregulation what we've had is the rise of the ideology of neoliberalism. Deregulation goes hand in hand with neoliberalism, the idea that the market is good, the state is bad. In [the US], this is a very powerfully held idea, more powerfull here than anywhere else. It's extraordinary how powerful this perception is and how a lot of social issues are understood in this way.

What have we got after four decades of this? These changes, seen very clearly in the United States, have created, firstly, a deeply unequal country, a deeply unequal society. Financialization is fundamentally about inequality. We see this inequality in terms of income, where the top 10 percent and the top 1 percent draw an extraordinary proportion of income annually, but we see it in terms of the functional distribution, the distribution of income between capital and labor. Labor has lost dramatically during the last three to four decades in [the US] and in just about every other mature capitalist country that has financialized.

Why the media failed to report on largest breach of US government data in history

Upon Harold Martin’s arrest in 2016, an Obama administration official said his case was being kept under wraps “to keep this guy from becoming another NSA martyr.” The tactic seems to be have paid dividends.

by Whitney Webb

Part 1

In early October 2016, news broke that a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) had been arrested over the possible theft of state secrets. Since then, little media attention has been given to what the U.S. government has called the largest theft of classified information in U.S. history, or the man allegedly behind it.

Initially arrested in August 2016 — after terabytes upon terabytes of classified information were discovered at his home, information that was taken over a period of two decades — Harold T. Martin III has been held in pre-trial detention ever since. Martin, who worked for the same government contractor as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has yet to enter into a plea agreement for the 20 felony counts he faces, as government prosecutors have struggled to build a strong case against him. Yet, unlike in the cases of Snowden and other alleged leakers awaiting trial like Reality Winner, the press coverage of Martin’s case has been scarce.

The lack of coverage stems in part from the fact that the government has struggled to build its case against Martin, who was initially nicknamed the “second Snowden,” as it remains unclear what Martin did with the estimated 50 terabytes of data – a cache nearly 20 times greater than the Panama Papers.

Given that the government has so far been unable to prove whether he intended to or succeeded in sharing the documents with others, Martin’s legal defense, led by public defender James Wyda, has worked to distance Martin from the cases of Snowden and other NSA whistleblowers — painting him instead as a “hoarder” who accumulated troves of classified documents driven by a “mental disorder” and an obsessive need to hone his craft and prove himself to dismissive co-workers. Wyda, who previously defended NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, has also argued that Martin “never tried” to give the documents – stored at his home and in his car – to the press, a foreign country, or anyone for that matter.

Indeed, there is certainly plenty of evidence to suggest that Martin is, in fact, a hoarder or had some other type of mental condition that led him to pilfer so many classified documents over such an extended period. As John Kiriakou, the CIA whistleblower who exposed the agency’s illegal torture program, told MintPress News, “There is a strong legal argument to be made for [Martin] having hoarded this information, these documents due to some sort of mental condition, whether it’s PTSD or a hoarding disorder.” If this is the case, Kiriakou asserted that Martin shouldn’t “necessarily even be held accountable. If he has a mental illness, he needs treatment, not prison.

Yet, just as there is evidence that Martin accumulated such a massive cache of classified government documents due to a mental condition, there also exists evidence that suggests he may be a whistleblower. However, given the government’s crackdown on whistleblowers under Obama and now Trump, Kiriakou notes that Martin’s legal defense has avoided this evidence, as focusing on Martin’s mental health makes “a stronger legal defense than would a whistleblower defense.

It doesn’t serve him in any way to be called or known as a whistleblower, as very few legitimate whistleblowers come out ahead at the end of their cases,” Kiriakou told MintPress.

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Ansarullah leader explains how US and UN sandbagged Yemen peace talks

The last thing Saudi Arabia and its Western allies want is a self-sustaining, economically viable, militarily strong, and anti-imperialist Yemen at the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula, controlling the Red Sea and its strategic waterways. Yemen’s geographic placement in regards to the flow of world capital cannot be stressed enough.

by Randi Nord

Part 5 - Turning Yemen into another Somalia through sabotaged peace initiatives

During recent negotiations in February, the UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, claimed that, after working for hours, Ansarullah representatives “refused to sign in the last minute.” “In the end of the consultations, it became clear that the Houthis were not prepared to make concessions on the proposed security arrangements. This has been a major stumbling block towards reaching a negotiated solution,” he said, alluding to previous talks in Switzerland and Kuwait.

While the media portrays Ansarullah as the peace-talk saboteur, it is actually the U.S. ambassador who obstructs dialogue. Al-Houthi says his movement has made significant concessions in all previous potential agreements: “One day in Switzerland there was a dialogue session. The national delegation and the other delegations agreed to continue negotiations on that day, but the U.S. ambassador telephoned UN Envoy [to Yemen] Ould Cheikh and told him to cancel all dialogues. The dialogue was canceled and the delegation returned from Switzerland.

He points out that a similar incident took place in Kuwait: “The American ambassador entered the room and said that if we do not comply [with] orders and the American demands, they will turn Yemen into another Somalia.

Since the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates launched the war against Yemen, they have ensured a tight grip over the narrative of the conflict, painting it as fighting Iranian aggression and expansionism.

This has also allowed these aggressors to successfully control the terms during peace negotiations.

Al-Houthi explains that Washington supports the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, who act in accordance with U.S. interests: their political policies for the region go hand-in-hand. This manifests in Yemen throughout every action, from launching the war to dominating peace talks.

Washington’s hard-line stance and failure to support a proper dialogue (along with support for the Saudi coalition) is directly responsible for thousands of innocent Yemeni deaths. Al-Houthi says his movement has always called for peace since day one: “The one who hinders the dialogue today and who hinders peace in Yemen is the one who kills the Yemeni people … We are working for peace, and we have talked in all our speeches and movements. We have always called for dialogue, we welcome it, we are working for its success, but when there are countries like the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., they insist on continuing their aggression on Yemen even if they haven’t achieved or gained anything from it besides killing thousands of our people. I think it is important that there be full support for the initiative of the free members of the UN Security Council and the United Nations, and there should be full adoption of it as realistic points and reinforce the solution.

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20 March, 2018

WikiLeaks paper reveals US officials were recognizing Margaret Thatcher as the genuine voice of a beleaguered bourgeoise, even before her election as PM

A 1975 US internal confidential cable was intending to inform the US Secretary of State about the then ‘new star’ of the British political scene, Margaret Thatcher.

Apart from the impressive details around Thatcher's personality, perhaps the most impressive part is the one where Thatcher was recognized as "the genuine voice of a beleaguered bourgeoise", while she was described through some basic characteristics of the neoliberal ideology.

Even more impressive, the fact that the letter was recognizing that the upper class was losing ground, implying that Thatcher could assist in retaining its power by becoming herself a valuable ally of the neoliberal doctrine that, at that time, was rising in the US.

Yet, as the letter describes, Thatcher should change her image in order to attract the UK working class and take the power in the future national elections.

Key points:

Even before her great leap upward, Mrs. Thatcher had been the personification of a British middle class dream come true. Born the daughter of a grocer, she had by dint of her own abilities and application won through, securing scholarships to good schools, making a success of her chosen career, and marrying advantageously.

It is not surprising then that she espouses the middle class values of thrift, hard work, and law and order, that she believes in individual choice, maximum freedom for market forces, and minimal power for the state.

Hers is the genuine voice of a beleaguered bourgeoise, anxious about its eroding economic power and determined to arrest society's seemingly inexorable trend towards collectivism. Somewhat unchivalrously, Denis Healey has dubbed her "la pasionaria of middle class privilege."

Unfortunately for her prospects of becoming a national, as distinct from a party, leader, she has over the years acquired a distinctively upper middle class personal image. Her immaculate grooming, her imperious manner, her conventional and somewhat forced charm, and above all her plummy voice stamp her as the quintessential suburban matron, and frightfully english to boot. None of this goes down well with the working class of England (one-third of which used to vote conservative), to say nothing of all classes in the Celtic fringes of this island.

If she is ever to become Britain's first woman Prime Minister, she must use that time to humanize her public image and broaden the base of her party's appeal. The odds are against her, but after her stunning organizational coup d'etat this past month, few are prepared to say she can't do it.

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Low energy, high profits: how privatizing public utilities left us all in the dark

More than a generation after President Ronald Reagan barked at his subordinates, “Don’t just stand there; undo something!” government officials from South Africa to southern California have embarked upon an unprecedented dismantling of the public sector.

by Jon Jeter

The Maryland rapper Sean Born’s 2012 album Behind the Scale includes what one reviewer described as the “candidly soulful single” “Lights On,” which has the driving and catchy up-tempo beat that tends to characterize much of contemporary hip-hop. Its lyrics, however, have none of the swagger that the genre is known for and is, in fact, so achingly honest that it seems an apologia of sorts to explain the emcee’s drug-dealing past.

I ain’t trying to be a kingpin

Real Talk, I’m just trying to pay rent

I’m just trying to put some money away

Got to, Man, it only makes sense

I’m just trying to keep my lights on, lights on

I’m just trying to keep my lights on, lights on

I’m just trying to keep my lights on, lights on

More than a generation after President Ronald Reagan barked at his subordinates, “Don’t just stand there; undo something!” government officials from South Africa to southern California have embarked upon an unprecedented dismantling of the public sector, hiring for-profit enterprises to manage everything from homeless shelters, to toll roads, parking meters, and utilities. While there are no known comprehensive studies, the best available evidence strongly suggests that consumers worldwide have never spent so much of their paycheck to park downtown, or for a liter of water, or a kilowatt of electricity.

No demographic has been squeezed more than communities of color, which have borne the brunt of Wall Street’s restructuring of the economy, and its 40-year effort to hollow out the manufacturing industries that Blacks and Latinos have heavily relied on for jobs that pay a decent wage.

I really like Sean Born,” Chris Waters, a 33-year-old African American social worker who lives in Philadelphia told MintPress, “because he’s talking about hustling — not to buy big cars or fancy jewelry – but just to meet life’s basic necessities, like paying the electric bill. That’s real to a lot of people these days.

With spring approaching, Waters said, he sees many families scrambling to borrow or raise enough money to pay overdue gas or electric bills before Philadelphia Gas Works is legally permitted to shut off the heat. A popular scam in the city is doctoring paychecks to qualify for discounts on electricity and gas, and Waters says he has an unmarried friend who greets visitors wearing a bathrobe over his daytime clothes.

He doesn’t want to get set back with a $300 or $400 gas bill [by turning up the heat], Waters said. “That’s the equivalent of a (monthly) car note just to heat your apartment.

A classic idea that hardly ever works out

The classically liberal macroeconomic idea that undergirds privatization is that the business sector has more incentive to innovate, improve service delivery, and reduce costs over time. The reality has been quite the opposite. By at least one estimate, water supply systems in the U.S. require a $1 trillion investment over the next 20 years to get up to speed. In the decade following the 1989 privatization of England and Wales’ water system, consumers saw their rates increase by 46 percent when adjusted for inflation, and shutoffs for delinquent payments tripled. In perhaps the most infamous case, Bolivia sold its state water system to a consortium of British investors in 1999 for only $20,000. Within a year, the buyers had tripled the price of water in Latin America’s poorest country, with a population of nearly 11 million people, mostly indigenous. And to reinforce its monopoly, corporate executives wrote a codicil into their contract with the state that legally prohibited Bolivians from collecting rainwater for personal use. Massive street protests in 2001 led the government to cancel the contract.

In 1999, privatization efforts led to the worst cholera outbreak in South Africa’s history. In preparations to sell its water infrastructure to a private vendor, government officials in the Kwa Zulu Natal region on the country’s eastern edge installed taps to underserved, rural areas but increased the price dramatically. When customers couldn’t afford to pay, the municipalities shut off their water, forcing thousands to drink from the same river that was used as a toilet by their neighbors. Local hospitals reported nearly 115,000 cases of cholera at the height of the health crisis.

A 2014 study commissioned by an Australian trade union found that privatization of electricity infrastructure in the 1990s resulted in dramatic price increases. Then, just last month, the CEO for Dayton Power and Light announced a plan to cut 160 jobs in Ohio and Indiana, and market analysts predict that the company might soon request a rate increase from the state regulator to recoup revenues lost as a result of more efficient household appliances.

A new refrigerator only uses 10 percent of what it did 20 years ago,” David Rinebolt, a public-interest attorney told MintPress, adding: “Electricity usage nationwide is going down, but these companies promise their shareholders an annual return of somewhere between 9 and 11 percent. So what do you do? You go to the regulator and you say, ‘I’ve got these pipes and these wires in the ground and I have to cover my fixed costs no matter what you use.’

Worsening matters for consumers is that, while increasing technological efficiency does drive usage down, utilities are typically monopolistic enterprises selling a basic necessity to a captive market, William Lazonick, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, told MintPress. That’s important, he said, because it indicates that, in economic terms, utilities are highly inelastic — meaning that a rate increase doesn’t significantly lessen the demand for the product.

Typically, Rinebolt said, corporations will agree to maintain employment at a steady level for a few years after buying a public utility, but then workforce layoffs are fair game. With the cost of acquiring electricity and gas fairly static, and labor costs at a minimum, the biggest barrier standing between shareholders and optimal profits is the state regulator, which must approve rate hikes. And that, Rinebolt said, is usually an easy lift: “There is something in the industry called ‘regulatory capture,’ which states that monopolies often take over their regulators. These companies are so politically powerful that they usually get their way or something very, very close to it. There’s really not much risk for [private utilities]. Their returns are pretty much guaranteed.

Similar to his predecessor in the White House, President Donald Trump has proposed selling off federally financed New Deal-era energy projects — including the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bonneville Power Administration in the Pacific Northwest, each of which provides some of the cheapest and most reliable electricity in the U.S. Lobbyists have descended on Capitol Hill in the scramble for power, literally.

Sue Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, which represents 2,000 nonprofit utilities serving 49 million customers in 49 states, told the Washington Examiner last month: “It’s a bad bipartisan idea.

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