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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! / McCarthyism 2.0 against the independent information / Ο επικεφαλής του "σκιώδους συμβουλίου" της ΕΚΤ επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ευρωζώνη είναι μια χρηματοπιστωτική δικτατορία! / Venezuela case as an emphatic example of why the mainstream media propaganda in the West was so successful in previous decades / 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

21 September, 2017

Gary Cohn is giving Goldman Sachs everything it ever wanted from the Trump Administration

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson


Donald Trump, the “blue-collar billionaire,” has taken great pains to write grit and toughness into his privileged biography. He talks of military schools and visits to construction sites with his father and wrote in “The Art of the Deal” that in the second grade, “I actually gave a teacher a black eye. I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled.” Yet when the authors of the book “Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power” spoke to several of his childhood friends, none of them recalled the incident. Trump himself crumpled when asked about the incident during the 2016 campaign: “When I say ‘punch,’ when you’re that age, nobody punches very hard.

Gary Cohn, however, is the middle-class kid and self-made millionaire Trump imagines himself to be. It appears that Cohn actually did slug a grade-school teacher in the face. “I was being abused,” Cohn told author Malcolm Gladwell, who interviewed him for his book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” back when Cohn was still president of Goldman Sachs. As a child, Cohn struggled with dyslexia, a reading disorder people didn’t understand much about when Cohn attended school in the 1970s in a suburb outside Cleveland. “You’re a 6- or 7- or 8-year-old-kid, and you’re in a public-school setting, and everyone thinks you’re an idiot,” Cohn confessed to Gladwell. “You’d try to get up every morning and say, today is going to be better, but after you do that a couple of years, you realize that today is going to be no different than yesterday.” One time when he was in the fourth grade, a teacher put him under her desk, rolled her chair close, and started kicking him, Cohn said. “I pushed the chair back, hit her in the face, and walked out.

While Trump’s father was a wealthy real estate developer, Cohn’s father was an electrician. When Trump sought to get into the casino business, his father loaned him $14 million. When Cohn couldn’t find a job after graduating from college, all his father could do was find him one selling aluminum siding. While Trump has the instincts of a reality show producer and an eye for spectacle, Cohn prefers to operate in the shadows.

But they likely recognize much of themselves in the other. Both Cohn and Trump are alpha males — men of action unlikely to be found holed up in an office reading through stacks of policy reports. In fact, neither seems to be much of a reader. Cohn told Gladwell it would take him roughly six hours to read just 22 pages; he ended his time with the author by wishing him luck on “your book I’m not going to read.” Both have a transactional view of politics. Trump switched his voter registration between Democratic, Republican, and independent seven times between 1999 and 2012. In the 2000s, his foundation gave $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and he contributed $4,700 to Hillary Clinton’s senatorial campaigns. He even bought and refurbished a golf course in Westchester County a few miles from the Clinton home, in part, Trump once admitted, to ingratiate himself with the Clintons. Cohn is a registered Democrat who has given at least $275,000 to Democrats over the years, including to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but also around $250,000 to Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

There are also striking similarities in their business histories. Both have a knack for weathering scandals and setbacks and coming out on top. Trump has filed for bankruptcy four times, started a long list of failed businesses (casinos, an airline, a football team, a steak company), but managed, through his best-selling books and highly rated reality TV show, to recast himself as the world’s greatest businessman. During Cohn’s tenure as president, Goldman Sachs faced lawsuits and federal investigations that resulted in $9 billion in fines for misconduct in the run-up to the subprime meltdown. Goldman not only survived but thrived, posting record profits — and Cohn was rewarded with handsome bonuses and a position at the top of the new administration.

Cohn’s path to the White House started with a tale of brass and bluster that would make Trump the salesman proud. Still in his 20s and stuck selling aluminum siding, Cohn made a play that would change his life. In the fall of 1982, while visiting the company’s home office on Long Island, he stole a day from work and headed to the U.S. commodities exchange in Manhattan, hoping to talk himself into a job. He overheard an important-looking man say he was heading to LaGuardia Airport; Cohn blurted out that he was headed there, too. He jumped into a cab with the man and, Cohn told Gladwell, who devoted six pages of “David and Goliath” to Cohn’s underdog rise, “I lied all the way to the airport.” The man confided to Cohn that his firm had just put him in charge of a market, options, that he knew little about. Cohn likely knew even less, but he assured his backseat companion that he could get him up to speed. Cohn then spent the weekend reading and re-reading a book called “Options as a Strategic Investment.” Within the week, he’d been hired as the man’s assistant.

Cohn soon learned enough to venture off on his own and established himself as an independent silver trader on the floor of the New York Commodities Exchange. In 1990, Goldman Sachs, arguably the most elite firm on Wall Street, offered him a job.

Goldman Sachs was founded in the years just after the American Civil War. Marcus Goldman, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, leased a cellar office next to a coal chute in 1869. There, in an office one block from Wall Street, he bought the bad debt of local businesses that needed quick cash. His son-in-law, Samuel Sachs, joined the firm in 1882. A generation later, in 1906, the firm made its first mark, arranging for the public sale of shares in Sears, Roebuck. Goldman Sachs’s influence over politics dates back at least to 1914. That year, Henry Goldman, the founder’s son, was invited to advise Woodrow Wilson’s administration about the creation of a central bank, mandated by the Federal Reserve Act, which had passed the previous year. Goldman Sachs men have played important roles in U.S. government ever since.

There was the occasional scandal, such as Goldman Sachs’s role in the 1970 collapse of Penn Central railroad, then the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. Still, the firm built a reputation as a sober, elite partnership that served its clients ably. In 1979, when John Whitehead, a senior partner and co-chairman, set to paper what he called Goldman’s “Business Principles,” he began with the firm’s most cherished belief: The client’s interests come before all else.

Two years later, Goldman took a step that signaled the beginning of the end of that culture. In the fall of 1981, Goldman purchased J. Aron & Co., a commodities trading firm. Some within the partnership were against the acquisition, worried over how profane, often crude, trading culture would mix with Goldman’s restrained, well-mannered way of doing business. “We were street fighters,” one former J. Aron partner told Fortune magazine in 2008.

The J. Aron team moved into the Goldman Sachs offices in lower Manhattan, but didn’t adopt its culture. Within a few years, it was producing well over $1 billion a year in profits. They were 300 employees inside a firm of 6,000, but were posting one-third of Goldman’s total profits. The cultural shift, it turned out, was moving in the other direction. J. Aron, according to a book by Charles D. Ellis, a former Goldman consultant, brought to Goldman “a trading culture that would become dominant in the firm.

Lloyd Blankfein, who ascended to chairman and CEO in in 2006, started his Goldman career at J. Aron, a year after Goldman acquired the firm. “We didn’t have the word ‘client’ or ‘customer’ at the old J. Aron,” Blankfein told Fortune magazine two years after taking over as CEO. “We had counter-parties.” Cohn joined J. Aron eight years after Blankfein did, in 1990. Four years later, Blankfein was put in charge of the firm’s Fixed Income, Currency, and Commodities division, which included J. Aron. Cohn, loyal and hard-working, with an instinct for connecting with people who can help him, became Blankfein’s “corporate problem solver.

The emergence of “Bad Goldman” — and Cohn’s central role in that drama — is really the story of the rise of the traders inside the firm. “As trading came to be a bigger part of Wall Street, I noticed that the vision changed,” said Robert Kaplan, a former Goldman Sachs vice chairman, who left in 2006 after working at the firm for 23 years. “The leaders were saying the same words, but they started to change incentives away from the value-added vision and tilt more to making money first. If making money is your vision, what lengths will you not go?

At the height of the dot-com years, a debate raged within the firm. The firm underwrote dozens of technology IPOs, including Microsoft and Yahoo, in the 1980s and 1990s, minting an untold number of multimillionaires and the occasional billionaire. Some of the companies they were bringing public generated no profits at all, while Goldman was generating up to $3 billion in profits a year. It seemed inevitable that some within Goldman Sachs began to dream of jettisoning the Goldman’s century-old partnership structure and taking their firm public, too. Jon Corzine was running the firm then — he would later go into politics in the Goldman tradition, first as a U.S. senator and then as New Jersey governor — and was four-square in favor of going public. Corzine’s second in command, Henry Paulson — who would go on to serve as Treasury secretary — was against the idea. But Corzine ordered up a study that supported his view that remaining private stifled Goldman’s competitive opportunities and promoted Paulson to co-senior partner. Paulson soon got on board. In May 1999, Goldman sold $3.7 billion worth of shares in the company. At the end of the first day of trading, Corzine’s and Paulson’s stakes in the firm were each worth $205 million. Cohn’s and Mnuchin’s shares were each worth $112 million. And Blankfein ended up with $168 million in company stock.

Like any publicly traded company, there would now be pressure on Goldman Sachs to make its quarterly numbers and “maximize shareholder value.” Discarding the partner model also meant the loss of a valuable restraint on risk-taking and bad behavior. Under the old system, any losses or fines came out of the partners’ pockets. In the early 1990s, for example, the firm was involved in transactions with Robert Maxwell, a London-based media mogul who was accused of stealing hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds. The $253 million that Goldman Sachs paid to settle lawsuits brought by pension funds over its involvement was split among the firm’s 84 limited partners. Now any losses are paid by a publicly traded entity owned by shareholders, with no direct financial liability for the decision-makers themselves. In theory, Goldman could claw back bonuses in response to executives’ bad behavior. But in 2016, when Goldman paid over $5 billion to settle charges brought by the Justice Department that the firm misled customers in the sale of a subprime mortgage product during Cohn’s time overseeing that unit, the Goldman board declined to dock Cohn’s pay. Instead, the company awarded him a $5.5 million cash bonus and another $12.6 million in company stock.

As Blankfein moved up the corporate hierarchy, Cohn rose along with him. When Blankfein was made vice chairman in charge of the firm’s multibillion-dollar global commodities business and its equities division, Cohn took over as co-head of FICC, Blankfein’s previous position. That meant Cohn was overseeing not just J. Aron and the firm’s commodities business, but also its currency trades and bond sales. By the start of 2004, Blankfein was promoted to president and COO, and Cohn was named co-head of global securities. At that point, Cohn had authority over the mortgage-trading desk. Under Cohn, the firm aggressively moved into the subprime mortgage market, using Goldman’s own money and that of its customers to help stoke the housing bubble.

Goldman was already enabling subprime predators, such as Ameriquest and New Century Financial, by providing them with the cash infusions they needed to scale up their lending to individual home buyers. Cohn would steer the firm deeper into the subprime frenzy by setting up Goldman as a patron of some of these same mortgage originators. During his tenure, Goldman snapped up loans from New Century, Countrywide, and other notorious mortgage originators and bundled them into deals with opaque names, such as ABACUS and GSAMP. Under Cohn’s watchful eye, Goldman’s brokers then funneled slices to customers they sold on the wisdom of holding mortgage-backed securities in their portfolios.

One such creation, GSAA Home Equity Trust 2006-2, illustrates Goldman’s disregard for the quality of loans it was buying and packaging into security deals. Created in early 2006, the investment vehicle was made up of more than $1 billion in home loans Goldman had bought from Ameriquest, one of the nation’s largest and most aggressive subprime lenders. By that point, the lender already had set aside $325 million to settle a probe by attorneys general and banking regulators in 49 states, who accused Ameriquest of misleading thousands of borrowers about the costs of their loans and falsifying home appraisals and other key documents. Yet GSAA Home Equity Trust 2006-2 was filled with Ameriquest loans made to more than 3,000 homeowners in Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and elsewhere. By the end of 2008, 65 percent of the roughly 1,400 borrowers whose loans remained in the deal were in default, had filed for bankruptcy, or had been targeted for foreclosure.

In just three years, Goldman Sachs had increased its trading volume by a factor of 50, which the Wall Street Journal attributed to “Cohn’s successful push to rev up risk-taking and use of Goldman’s own capital to make a profit” — what the industry calls proprietary trading, or prop trading. The 2010 Journal article quoted Justin Gmelich, then the firm’s mortgage chief, who said of Cohn, “He reshaped the culture of the mortgage department into more of a trading environment.” In 2005, with Cohn overseeing the firm’s home loan desk, Goldman underwrote $103 billion in mortgage-backed securities and other more esoteric products, such as collateralized debt obligations, which often were priced based on giant pools of home loans. The following year, the firm underwrote deals worth $131 billion.

In 2006, CEO Henry Paulson left the firm to join George W. Bush’s cabinet as Treasury secretary. Blankfein, Cohn’s mentor and friend, took Paulson’s place. By tradition, Blankfein, a trader, should have elevated someone from the investment banking side to serve as his No. 2, so both sides of the firm would be represented in the top leadership. Instead he named Cohn, his long-time loyalist, and Jon Winkelried, who also had history on the trading side, as co-presidents and co-COOs. Winkelried, who had started at Goldman eight years before Cohn, had probably earned the right to hold those titles by himself. But Cohn had the advantage of his relationship with the CEO. Blankfein and Cohn vacationed together in the Caribbean and Mexico, owned homes near each other in the Hamptons, and their children attended the same school. Winkelreid was out in two years. The bromance between his fellow No. 2 and the top boss may have proved too much.

With Blankfein and Cohn at the top, the transformation of Goldman Sachs was complete. By 2009, investment banking had shrunk to barely 10 percent of the firm’s revenues. Richard Marin, a former executive at Bear Stearns, a Goldman competitor that wouldn’t survive the mortgage meltdown, saw Cohn as “the root of the problem.” Explained Marin, “When you become arrogant in a trading sense, you begin to think that everybody’s a counterparty, not a customer, not a client. And as a counterparty, you’re allowed to rip their face off.

Source, links:

[1] [2]


Η Αριστερά και η Βενεζουέλα

του Κλάουντιο Κατς

Μέρος 3ο - Μορφές ενός πραξικοπήματος

Τα ΜΜΕ, με τα ρεπορτάζ τους, στηρίζουν τι πραξικοπηματικές επιδιώξεις της αντιπολίτευσης. Η βενεζουελάνικη αντιπολίτευση δεν μπορεί να φέρει σε πέρας τις συνήθεις αναταραχές, του είδους που οδήγησαν στο πραξικόπημα του Πινοτσέτ, και έτσι προσπαθεί να ανατρέψει τον πρόεδρο Μαδούρο εκτοπίζοντας την κοινωνία. Επαναλαμβάνει αυτό που επιχείρησε τον Φεβρουάριο του 2014, προκειμένου να διαπράξει συνταγματικό πραξικόπημα παρόμοιο μ’ αυτό της Ονδούρας (2009), της Παραγουάης (2014) ή της Βραζιλίας (2016). Ελπίζει ότι θα επιβάλει με τη βία αυτό που αργότερα θα επικυρώσει στις κάλπες.

Η Δεξιά δεν διαθέτει τη στρατιωτική δύναμη που χρησιμοποιούσε στο παρελθόν για να επανέλθει στην κυβερνητική εξουσία. Αλλά επιχειρεί να αναδημιουργήσει τις δυνατότητες τέτοιας παρέμβασης διεξάγοντας αψιμαχίες στους στρατώνες, πυρπολώντας αστυνομικά τμήματα ή διοργανώνοντας πορείες στα στρατιωτικά επιτελεία.

Το σχέδιό της συνδυάζει το σαμποτάζ της οικονομίας με τις ταραχές που προκαλούν ένοπλες ομάδες οι οποίες , σε αντίθεση με την Κολομβία, δρουν ανώνυμα. Αυτές οι ενέργειες εμπλέκουν τον εγκληματικό υπόκοσμο και τρομοκρατούν τους εμπόρους.

Περιλαμβάνουν φασιστικές μεθόδους που πατρονάρονται από τα πιο βίαια ρεύματα κατά του τσαβισμού. Ιδιοποιούνται τον εξεγερσιακό συμβολισμό που σφυρηλάτησαν τα λαϊκά κινήματα και παρουσιάζουν το πλιάτσικο ως ηρωική στάση. Ο ηγέτης της αντιπολίτευσης Λεοπόλντο Λόπες δεν είναι ένας αθώος πολιτικός. Όποιο δικαστήριο λειτουργεί βάσει του κράτους δικαίου θα τον είχε καταδικάσει σε ισόβια κάθειρξη για τις εγκληματικές ευθύνες του.

Η Δεξιά προωθεί κλίμα εμφυλίου πολέμου, προκειμένου να πλήξει το ηθικό της λαϊκής βάσης του τσαβισμού που επηρεάζεται από την έλλειψη τροφίμων και φαρμάκων. Η θέση της υπέρ της ξένης επέμβασης είναι σαφής και διαπραγματεύεται με τις πιστώτριες τράπεζες τη διακοπή της πρόσβασης της Βενεζουέλας στην πίστωση.

Η αντιπολίτευση ελπίζει να λιντσάρει τον Μαδούρο για να θάψει τον τσαβισμό. Διεξάγει αυτή τη μάχη στους δρόμους για να κατακτήσει την κοινή γνώμη και για να οδηγήσει σε κατάρρευση την οικονομία. Τις εκλογές τις βλέπει απλώς ως κορύφωση αυτής της επίθεσης.

Αντιμετωπίζει, όμως, αυξανόμενα εμπόδια. Η βία που κυριαρχεί στις κινητοποιήσεις της αποξενώνει την πλειονότητα των δυσαρεστημένων και φθείρει τους οπαδούς της. Όπως έγινε το 2014, η απόκρουση των φασιστικών ομάδων υπονομεύει όλη την αντιπολίτευση. Επιπλέον, η αποφασιστικότητα του Μαδούρο αποτρέπει τη συμμετοχή στις πορείες της αντιπολίτευσης. Οι δυνάμεις της δεξιάς αντιπολίτευσης δεν έχουν κατορθώσει να εισχωρήσουν στις λαϊκές γειτονιές όπου πιθανώς θα αντιμετωπίσουν τον κίνδυνο μιας δυσμενούς ένοπλης σύγκρουσης.

Η μεγάλη αστική τάξη της Βενεζουέλας υποκινεί σε πραξικόπημα έχοντας την περιφερειακή υποστήριξη των Μάκρι (προέδρου της Αργεντινής), Τέμερ (της Βραζιλίας), Σάντος (της Κολομβίας) και Πένια Νέτο (του Μεξικού). Επί μήνες προωθούσε ένα σχέδιο αποσταθεροποίησης στον Οργανισμό Αμερικανικών Κρατών. Αλλά απέτυχε σ’ αυτόν τον τομέα. Οι προτεινόμενες κυρώσεις κατά της Βενεζουέλας δεν πέτυχαν λόγω της εναντίωσης πολλών και διαφόρων ξένων υπουργείων. Δεν επιτεύχθηκε η ομοφωνία με την οποία εκδιώχθηκε η Κούβα από τον Οργανισμό Αμερικανικών Κρατών τη δεκαετία του 1960.

Επίσης, διαβόητη είναι η υποστήριξη πραξικοπημάτων από τις ΗΠΑ με στόχο την ανάκτηση του ελέγχου στα μεγάλα αποθέματα αργού πετρελαίου της ηπείρου. Το Στέιτ Ντιπάρτμεντ θέλει να επαναλάβει τις επιχειρήσεις που διεξήγαγε στο Ιράκ ή στη Λιβύη, εφόσον γνωρίζει ότι μετά την ανατροπή του Μαδούρο ουδείς θα θυμάται πού βρίσκεται η Βενεζουέλα. Αρκεί να δει κανείς πώς τα δελτία ειδήσεων των ΜΜΕ παραλείπουν κάθε αναφορά στις χώρες στις οποίες ήδη έχει επέμβει το Πεντάγωνο. Η λογική των κυρίαρχων ραδιοτηλεοπτικών μέσων είναι να αλλάζουν το θέμα των ειδήσεών τους από τη στιγμή που οι ιμπεριαλιστές διαλύουν τον αντίπαλό τους.

Τους στρατηγικούς στόχους του ιμπεριαλισμού δεν τους αντιλαμβάνονται εκείνοι που δίνουν υπερβάλλουσα σημασία στο φλερτ κάποιας αμερικανικής εφημερίδας με τον πρόεδρο της Βενεζουέλας ή στις ρητορικές αμφισημίες του Τραμπ. Φαντάζονται ότι αυτά τα άσχετα γεγονότα υποδηλώνουν την απουσία σύγκρουσης μεταξύ των ΗΠΑ και του τσαβισμού. Και ταυτόχρονα δεν βλέπουν πόσο μοχθηρά επιτίθεται η τεράστια πλειονότητα του Τύπου στον Μαδούρο και το ότι ο πολυεκατομμυριούχος του Λευκού Οίκου διαψεύδει κάθε ημέρα αυτά που έλεγε την προηγούμενη.

Ο Τραμπ δεν είναι ούτε αδιάφορος ούτε ουδέτερος. Απλώς αναθέτει στη CIA και στο Πεντάγωνο την εκπλήρωση της συνωμοσίας «καθημερινή διατάραξη της κοινωνικής ζωής» και των σχεδίων «Ελευθερία για τη Βενεζουέλα νο 2». Αυτές οι επιχειρήσεις περιλαμβάνουν κατασκοπία, ανάπτυξη στρατευμάτων και κάλυψη τρομοκρατικών πράξεων. Εξελίσσονται κρυφά, ενώ τα ισχυρά ΜΜΕ απαξιώνουν οποιαδήποτε καταδίκη τους. Ιδίως αμφισβητούν τις «υπερβολές της Αριστεράς», ώστε κανείς να μην ενοχλεί τους συνωμότες.

Ορισμένοι αναλυτές θεωρούν ότι η παρουσία της εταιρείας Chevron στη Βενεζουέλα – ή οι συνεχιζόμενες συναλλαγές της κρατικής επιχείρησης πετρελαίου PDVSA με τις ΗΠΑ-- αποτυπώνουν μια στενή σχέση μεταξύ των δύο κυβερνήσεων. Απ’ αυτό συμπεραίνουν ότι δεν υπάρχει σενάριο πραξικοπήματος. Όμως, αυτές οι σχέσεις δεν επηρεάζουν ούτε στο ελάχιστο την απόφαση της αυτοκρατορίας να ανατρέψει την μπολιβαριανή κυβέρνηση.

Οι αμερικανικές εταιρείες δραστηριοποιούνται στη Βενεζουέλα (και οι ομόλογές τους στις ΗΠΑ) καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια της μπολιβαριανής κυβέρνησης. Κι όμως ο Μπους, ο Ομπάμα και ο Τραμπ επιδίωξαν να ανακτήσουν τον άμεσο ιμπεριαλιστικό έλεγχο του πετρελαίου. Δεν μπορούν να το επιτύχουν μέσω μιας τεταμένης σχέσης μεταξύ εταίρων ή πελατών. Θέλουν να εγκαταστήσουν το μοντέλο ιδιωτικοποίησης που κυριαρχεί στο Μεξικό και να εκδιώξουν τη Ρωσία και την Κίνα από την πίσω αυλή τους.

Πηγή, παραπομπές:

[1] [2]

Saudi Arabia, US and Britain "celebrate" 900 days of slaughter in Yemen

900 days have passed since the start of the violent war launched by Saudi Arabia against Yemen in March 2015, with the support of the United States and Great Britain.

It would not be an exaggeration at all, if one would say that the war has destroyed Yemen. From the daily bombardments, a total of 12,907 Yemeni citizens have been killed while 21,165 injured.

Also, 34,072 demolitions of buildings, factories and all kinds of facilities have been recorded.

The Legal Center for Rights and Development organization recorded with details every loss caused by the bombardments in Yemen.

The results of 900 days in one chart:

It is worth noting that the lists above include only the losses directly related to bombardments and military operations. Yet, besides these, it is estimated that 247,000 people have died from cholera, lack of health care, malnutrition and all the conditions resulting from the embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia.

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Τι είπε ο άνθρωπος!

Νίκος Μπογιόπουλος

«Δεν τρέφω αυταπάτες για μια κοινωνία χωρίς ανισότητες, κάτι τέτοιο είναι αντίθετο στην ανθρώπινη φύση, όσοι το επιχείρησαν καταστρατήγησαν τελικά την ίδια τη δημοκρατία και τα ατομικά δικαιώματα».

Ποτέ ίσως άλλοτε στην ιστορία αυτού του τόπου σε μια φράση δεν έχουν ειπωθεί τόσα πολλά.

Για την ακρίβεια δεν είχε προσφερθεί στο φιλοθεάμον κοινό τέτοιο ξεβράκωμα από τον γυμνό βασιλιά του νεοφιλελευθερισμού.

Τι μας είπε ο «μετριοπαθής», ο «ήπιος», ο «κεντροδεξιός» κύριος Μητσοτάκης;

Ότι η κοινωνική ισότητα καταστρατηγεί τη δημοκρατία και ότι κινείται στον αντίποδα της ανθρώπινης φύσης!

Ότι η «ανισότητα» (προσέξτε: η ανισότητα» και όχι η «διαφορετικότητα») αποτελεί στοιχείο του ανθρώπινου DNA και άρα είναι ο αρμός πάνω στον οποίο πρέπει να οικοδομούνται οι ανθρώπινες κοινωνίες!

Ο κ.Μητσοτάκης,ακολουθώντας τον «ευθύ» δρόμο του νεοσυντηρητισμού και όχι την σοσιαλδημοκρατική τεθλασμένη του κ.Τσίπρα (ιδού η… διαφορά τους) ήταν αποκαλυπτικός:

Δια των χειλέων του η κοινωνική ανισότητα έφτασε να συνιστά ξετσίπωτα πολιτικό πρόταγμα και να ξεστομίζεται επίσημα ως προεκλογικού τύπου διακηρυκτικός λόγος!

Τύφλα να έχει ο κοινωνικός δαρβινισμός! Τύφλα να έχει ο Μάλθους!

Ο κύριος Μητσοτάκης, ο οποίος αγορεύει περί το μέλλον, ο οποίος ομιλεί εν έτει 2017 για να μας πουλήσει τα οράματα του για το πώς θα είναι η Ελλάδα το 2030, μας το ξεκαθάρισε (εν τη πολιτική αφελεία του;): Θέλει μια χώρα, μια κοινωνία κι έναν λαό που θα ζούνε… 250 χρόνια πίσω.

Πίσω κι από εκείνο το «Ελευθερία – ΙΣΟΤΗΤΑ – αδελφοσύνη» της Γαλλικής Επανάστασης!

Τόσο «μαύρο» είναι το μέλλον που μας τάζουν. Φτιαγμένο με τα ίδια πάντα καπιταλιστικά υλικά, με τις ίδιες θεωρίες περί «άξιου και ικανού», με την ίδια κατασταλτική ιδεοληψία που αντανακλά και θέλει να αναπαραγάγει σε επίπεδο συνείδησης την επιβολή του «δίκιου του ισχυρού».

Και που όταν ανοίγουν οι υπόνομοι του συστήματος, εμφανίζονται κάποιοι και τα χρησιμοποιούν όλα αυτάγια να οδηγήσουν την ανθρωπότητα στους νόμους της Νυρεμβέργης.



Αν αφήναμε τους φιλελεύθερους να επιβάλλουν τη «φυσική τάξη» τους

Άρης Χατζηστεφάνου

Οι περισσότεροι φιλελεύθεροι υποστηρίζουν ότι για τα προβλήματα της οικονομίας ευθύνονται αποκλειστικά οι κρατικές παρεμβάσεις, που παραβιάζουν την «φυσική τάξη» της αγοράς. Οι δηλώσεις του προέδρου της ΝΔ ότι δεν υπάρχει κοινωνική ισότητα εντάσσονται, υπό μια έννοια, σε αυτή τη συλλογιστική. Αφήστε, λένε, την αγορά να αυτορυθμιστεί αναγνωρίζοντας το «δίκιο» του ισχυρού και όλα μας τα προβλήματα θα λυθούν.

Τι ακριβώς είναι όμως αυτή η «φυσική τάξη» την οποία επικαλούνται; Και έχει υπάρξει ποτέ «ελεύθερη αγορά» η οποία δεν ρυθμίζεται από κάποια κυβέρνηση ή οποιαδήποτε άλλη αρχή;

Είχα θέσει αυτά τα ερωτήματα στο διάσημο Κορεάτη οικονομολόγο Χα Τζουν Τσανκ, όταν επισκέφθηκε την Ελλάδα με αφορμή την κυκλοφορία του βιβλίου του Αλήθειες που δεν μας λένε για τον Καπιταλισμό (Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη).

Για τους υποστηρικτές της ελεύθερης αγοράς, μου είπε, η φυσική τάξη πριν από μόλις 100 χρόνια ήταν να αφήνουμε ανήλικα παιδάκια να δουλεύουν σε εργοστάσια.

Πηγή, σύνδεσμοι, βίντεο:

20 September, 2017

Gary Cohn is giving Goldman Sachs everything it ever wanted from the Trump Administration

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson


Goldman Sachs had been a favorite cudgel for candidate Trump — the symbol of a government that favors Wall Street over its citizenry. Trump proclaimed that Hillary Clinton was in the firm’s pockets, as was Ted Cruz. It was Goldman Sachs that Trump singled out when he railed against a system rigged in favor of the global elite — one that “robbed our working class, stripped our country of wealth, and put money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.

Cohn, as president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, had been at the heart of it all. Aggressive and relentless, a former aluminum siding salesman and commodities broker with a nose for making money, Cohn had turned Goldman’s sleepy home loan unit into what a Senate staffer called “one of the largest mortgage trading desks in the world.” There, he aggressively pushed his sales team to sell mortgage-backed securities to unaware investors even as he watched over “the big short,” Goldman’s decision to bet billions of dollars that the market would collapse.

Now Cohn would be coordinating economic policy for the populist president.

The conflicts between the two men were striking. Cohn ran a giant investment bank with offices in financial capitals around the globe, one deeply committed to a world with few economic borders. Trump’s nationalist campaign contradicted everything Goldman Sachs and its top executives represented on the global stage.

Trump raged against “offshoring” by American companies during the 2016 campaign. He even threatened “retribution,” - a 35 percent tariff on any goods imported into the United States by a company that had moved jobs overseas. But Cohn laid out Goldman’s very different view of offshoring at an investor conference in Naples, Florida, in November. There, Cohn explained unapologetically that Goldman had offshored its back-office staff, including payroll and IT, to Bangalore, India, now home to the firm’s largest office outside New York City: “We hire people there because they work for cents on the dollar versus what people work for in the United States.

Candidate Trump promised to create millions of new jobs, vowing to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” Cohn, as Goldman Sachs’s president and COO, oversaw the firm’s mergers and acquisitions business that had, over the previous three years, led to the loss of at least 22,000 U.S. jobs, according to a study by two advocacy groups. Early in his candidacy, Trump described as “disgusting” Pfizer’s decision to buy a smaller Irish competitor in order to execute a “corporate inversion,” a maneuver in which a U.S. company moves its headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden. The Pfizer deal ultimately fell through. But in 2016, in the heat of the campaign, Goldman advised on a megadeal that saw Johnson Controls, a Fortune 500 company based in Milwaukee, buy the Ireland-based Tyco International with the same goal. A few months later, with Goldman’s help, Johnson Controls had executed its inversion.

With Cohn’s appointment, Trump now had three Goldman Sachs alums in top positions inside his administration: Steve Bannon, who was a vice president at Goldman when he left the firm in 1990, as chief strategist, and Steve Mnuchin, who had spent 17 years at Goldman, as Treasury secretary. And there were more to come. A few weeks later, another Goldman partner, Dina Powell, joined the White House as a senior counselor for economic initiatives. Goldman was a longtime client of Jay Clayton, Trump’s choice to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission; Clayton had represented Goldman after the 2008 financial crisis, and his wife Gretchen worked there as a wealth management adviser. And there was the brief, colorful tenure of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director: Scaramucci had been a vice president at Goldman Sachs before leaving to co-found his own investment company.

Even before Scaramucci, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had joked that enough Goldman alum were working for the Trump administration to open a branch office in the White House.

There was a devastating financial crisis just over eight years ago,” Warren said. “Goldman Sachs was at the heart of that crisis. The idea that the president is now going to turn over the country’s economic policy to a senior Goldman executive turns my stomach.” Prior administrations often had one or two people from Goldman serving in top positions. George W. Bush at one point had three. At its peak, the Trump administration effectively had six.

Earlier this summer, Trump boasted about his team of economic advisers at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “This is the president of Goldman Sachs. Smart,” Trump said. “Having him represent us! He went from massive paydays to peanuts.

Trump waved off anyone who might question his decision to rely on the very people he had demonized. “Somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ … I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’” He needed “great, brilliant business minds … so the world doesn’t take advantage of us.” How else could he get the job done? “I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person.

Does that make sense?” Trump asked. The crowd cheered.

Years of financial disclosure forms confirm that Cohn is indeed very rich. At the end of 2016, he owned some 900,000 shares of Goldman Sachs stock, a stake worth around $220 million on the day Trump announced his appointment. Plus, he’d sold a million more Goldman shares over the previous half-dozen years. In 2007 alone, the year of the big short, Goldman Sachs paid him nearly $73 million — more than the firm paid CEO Lloyd Blankfein. The disclosure forms Cohn filled out to join the administration indicate he owned assets valued at $252 million to $611 million. That may or may not include the $65 million parting gift Goldman’s board of directors gave him for “outstanding leadership” just days before Trump was sworn in.

Like anyone taking a top job in the Trump administration, Cohn was required to sign a pledge vowing not to participate for the next two years in any matter “that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.” But presidents have sometimes issued waivers to these requirements, and it is unclear whether the Trump administration is making such waivers public.

Sens. Warren and Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, sent Cohn a letter a few days later. They brought up the $65 million bonus and asked him to publicly recuse himself from any issue that could have a direct or “significant indirect” impact on his old firm. Cohn never responded to the letter, and if he has ever received a waiver, it has not been made available to the public or the Office of Government Ethics.

Consistent with the Trump administration’s stringent ethics rules, Mr. Cohn will recuse himself from participating in any matter directly involving his former employer, Goldman Sachs,” White House spokesperson Natalie Strom said. “The White House will not comment further.

The White House declined requests to make Cohn available for an interview and declined to answer a detailed set of questions.

Cohn shared the podium with fellow Goldman alum Mnuchin (the two made partner there the same year) when the administration unveiled its new tax plan, one that, if the past is prelude, had the potential to save Goldman more than $1 billion a year in corporate taxes. The president had promised to “do a number” on financial reforms implemented after the 2008 subprime crisis, including one that threatened to cost Goldman several billion dollars a year in revenues. Under Cohn, the administration has introduced new rules easing initial public offerings — a Goldman Sachs specialty dating back to the start of the last century, when the firm handled the IPOs of Sears, Roebuck; F. W. Woolworth; and Studebaker. As Trump’s top economic policy adviser, Cohn can exert influence over regulatory agencies that have shaken billions in penalties and settlements out of Goldman Sachs in recent years. And his former colleagues inside Goldman’s Public Sector and Infrastructure group likely appreciate the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan, which is more or less exactly as Cohn first pitched it inside Trump Tower in November.

It’s hard to see how Gary Cohn recusing himself would solve a lot of these conflicts because nearly every major decision of his job would have a significant impact, likely billions of dollars, on Goldman Sachs and its executives,” said Tyler Gellasch, an attorney and former Senate staffer who helped draft Dodd-Frank, the landmark financial reform law passed in the wake of the financial meltdown. “Goldman touches nearly every aspect of the economy, from selling U.S. treasuries to helping companies go public, and the National Economic Council advises on all of that.

In the wake of last month’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Cohn confessed to the Financial Times that he has “come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain.” But the man who the Washington Post has dubbed Trump’s “moderate voice” declared that neo-Nazis would not force “this Jew” to leave his job. “As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council,” Cohn told FT. “I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people.

Or at least a few of them. The Trump economic agenda, it turns out, is largely the Goldman agenda, one with the potential to deliver any number of gifts to the firm that made Cohn colossally rich. If Cohn stays, it will be to pursue an agenda of aggressive financial deregulation and massive corporate tax cuts — he seeks to slash rates by 57 percent — that would dramatically increase profits for large financial players like Goldman. It is an agenda as radical in its scope and impact as Bannon’s was.

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[1] [3]


Η Αριστερά και η Βενεζουέλα

του Κλάουντιο Κατς

Μέρος 2ο - Αποτίμηση της βίας

Τα στοιχεία που παρουσίασε η αντιπολίτευση είναι διαμετρικά αντίθετα, αλλά αποκρούστηκαν από λεπτομερείς αναφορές σχετικά με τα θύματα. Εφόσον ουδείς αναγνωρίζει την ύπαρξη «ανεξάρτητων» αποτιμήσεων, μπορεί κανείς να κρίνει τα τεκταινόμενα ανατρέχοντας σε προηγούμενα γεγονότα. Στις ταραχές του Φεβρουαρίου του 2014, σκοτώθηκαν 43 άνθρωποι. Ο θάνατος των συντριπτικά περισσότερων δεν είχε καμιά σχέση με τις συγκρούσεις ή την αστυνομική καταστολή.

Κατά παρόμοιο τρόπο, θα πρέπει να ανατρέξουμε στο πώς αντέδρασε η αντιπολίτευση όταν αντιμετώπισε μια αντίστοιχη πρόκληση. Οι κυβερνήσεις της κατέστειλαν το “Caracazo” του 1989 [τον ξεσηκωμό των κατοίκων του Καράκας για τις τεράστιες αυξήσεις στη βενζίνη και στα μέσα μαζικής μεταφοράς] με εκατοντάδες νεκρούς και χιλιάδες τραυματίες.

Η κατάσταση στη Βενεζουέλα είναι δραματική, αλλά αυτό δεν εξηγεί την περίοπτη θέση που κατέχει η χώρα σε όλα τα δελτία ειδήσεων. Πολύ πιο σοβαρές καταστάσεις σε άλλες χώρες αγνοούνται παντελώς από τα ίδια ΜΜΕ.

Στην Κολομβία, από την αρχή του τρέχοντος έτους, έχουν δολοφονηθεί 46 ηγέτες του κοινωνικού κινήματος και τους τελευταίους 14 μήνες έχουν αφανιστεί 120. Ανάμεσα στο 2002 και στο 2016, παραστρατιωτικές ομάδες κατέσφαξαν 558 ηγέτες του μαζικού κινήματος και στις τελευταίες δύο δεκαετίες δολοφονήθηκαν περισσότεροι από 2.500 συνδικαλιστές. Γιατί, άραγε, κανείς έγκυρος παρουσιαστής των ΜΜΕ [συμπεριλαμβανομένων των Ελλήνων τηλεοπτικών παρουσιαστών σ.τ.μ.] δεν αναφέρει αυτή τη συνεχή αιματοχυσία στην πιο κοντινή γειτονική χώρα της Βενεζουέλας;

Ακόμη πιο τρομακτική είναι η κατάσταση στο Μεξικό. Καθημερινά προστίθεται και κάποιος δημοσιογράφος στον μακρύ κατάλογο των φοιτητών, των καθηγητών και των κοινωνικών αγωνιστών που δολοφονούνται. Στο κλίμα του κοινωνικού πολέμου που επιβλήθηκε από τις «δράσεις κατά του λαθρεμπορίου ναρκωτικών», έχουν εξαφανιστεί 29.917 άνθρωποι. Δεν θα έπρεπε αυτοί οι αριθμοί δολοφονιών να προσελκύσουν περισσότερο τη δημοσιογραφική προσοχή από ό,τι η Βενεζουέλα;

Η Ονδούρα είναι άλλη μια ανατριχιαστική περίπτωση. Συνυπολογίζοντας την Μπέρτα Κάσερες, έχουν δολοφονηθεί άλλοι 15 αγωνιστές. Ανάμεσα στο 2002 και το 2014, ο αριθμός των δολοφονημένων περιβαλλοντιστών έχει ανέλθει σε 111. Ο κατάλογος των θυμάτων του τρόμου που αγνοούνται από τον ηγεμονικό Τύπο θα μπορούσε να επεκταθεί στους πολιτικούς κρατούμενους του Περού. Επίσης, ελάχιστοι γνωρίζουν τα δεινά που αντιμετώπισε ο ηγέτης του κινήματος ανεξαρτησίας του Πουέρτο Ρίκο Όσκαρ Λόπες Ριβέρα στα 35 χρόνια της φυλάκισής του.

Η πλειονότητα του λατινοαμερικανικού [και του παγκόσμιου] πληθυσμού απλώς δεν γνωρίζει τις τραγωδίες που συμβαίνουν στις χώρες όπου κυβερνά η Δεξιά. Τα δύο μέτρα και δύο σταθμά των ΜΜΕ επιβεβαιώνουν ότι η κυριαρχία του θέματος της Βενεζουέλας στις τηλεοπτικές οθόνες δεν οφείλεται σε ανθρωπιστικές ανησυχίες.

Πηγή, παραπομπές:

[1] [3]

19 September, 2017

A disease associated with poverty reappears in the US after decades

Richard Wolff reveals another shocking fact showing that poverty and inequality have been growing continuously inside the obsolete capitalist system.

A recent study reveals that a disease related to poverty has returned to the United States:

A study carried out by the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, in conjunction with the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE), found that a disease - associated throughout the history of medicine with poverty - has resurfaced in the United States, decades after it was officially announced to have been eradicated.

The disease is called Hookworm, an intestinal parasite that thrives on extreme poverty.

The study found that in the state of Alabama, which is where this study was conducted, there are all kinds of incidences of Hookworm that we thought we had eradicated. In a survey of people, living in Lowndes County, which is a county in Alabama, an area with a long history of racial discrimination and inequality, 34% of the people tested positive for traces of Hookworm. A third of the people.

If you want signs that the so-called economic recovery from the crash of 2008 has been a very variegated business, some people, the rich and large have recovered and the rest of us haven't, here is another statistic that drives that point home. Poverty has returned of a kind we thought we had eradicated, and with it, come diseases like Hookworm.

This is just another index that destroys the fairy tale of the alleged prosperity created by 'free market' capitalism.

Gary Cohn is giving Goldman Sachs everything it ever wanted from the Trump Administration

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson

Part 1

Steve Bannon was in the room the day Donald Trump first fell for Gary Cohn. So were Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s pick for secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. It was the end of November, three weeks after Trump’s improbable victory, and Cohn, then still the president of Goldman Sachs, was at Trump Tower presumably at the invitation of Kushner, with whom he was friendly. Cohn was there to offer his views about jobs and the economy. But, like the man he was there to meet, he was at heart a salesman.

On the campaign trail, Trump had spoken often about the importance of investing in infrastructure. Yet the president-elect had apparently failed to appreciate that the government would need to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars to fund his plans.

Cohn, brash and bold, wired to attack any moneymaking opportunity, pitched a fix that would put Wall Street firms at the center: Private-industry partners could help infrastructure get fixed, saving the federal government from going deeper into debt.

The way the moment was captured by the New York Times, among other publications, Trump was dumbfounded. “Is this true?” he asked. Was a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan likely to increase the deficit by a trillion dollars? Confronted by nodding heads, an unhappy president-elect said, “Why did I have to wait to have this guy tell me?

Within two weeks, the transition team announced that Cohn would take over as director of the president’s National Economic Council.

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Banning Saudi Arabia from Labour conference hints at Corbyn’s likely tough stance as PM

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to bar Saudi Arabia from his party’s annual conference next week suggests he would not be afraid to cut military and diplomatic ties with the Gulf kingdom over its war on Yemen if he becomes prime minister.

A Labour spokesperson told the Huffington Post on Monday: “Following evidence of war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in its bombing campaign in Yemen and other large scale human rights abuses, the NEC [National Executive Committee] agreed that the embassy’s application to attend the Labour Party conference would not be accepted.

Labour also barred Sudan from the conference, which begins next Sunday in Brighton.

In response, the London office of the League of Arab States wrote to Labour MPs and peers to tell them a reception and dinner hosted by Arab ambassadors would be canceled. “Unfortunately, the council of Arab Ambassadors has taken the decision to cancel its annual reception and buffet dinner,” the letter read.

Our council has decided to refrain from attending the Labour Party conference this year due to rejection of both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Sudan’s application to attend the conference.

Corbyn’s stand comes in sharp contrast with that of Theresa May’s government. The Tories have failed to criticize the Saudi government for potential war crimes, and has sold its military £3.6 billion (S4.87 billion) in weaponry that may have been used in its campaign in Yemen.


Over 3,000 new US troops headed to Afghanistan - Pentagon

US Defense Secretary James Mattis confirmed that over 3,000 new US troops will be headed to Afghanistan as part of President Donald Trump’s new strategy to win the war that has dragged on for almost 16 years.

"It is exactly over 3,000 somewhat and frankly I haven't signed the last of the orders right now as we look at specific, small elements that are going," Mattis told reporters on Monday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) referred to “3,500 more troops” in an article published by Defense One. “For too long, America’s strategy in Afghanistan was driven by politics, leading to arbitrary troop caps and unreasonable timetables for troop withdrawal,” Perdue wrote, noting that enemies interpreted that as a lack of resolve. “Finally, the gloves are off.

Perdue, who visited Afghanistan in July, praised Trump as a “commander-in-chief who listens to his military leaders and understands we need a better, wiser approach in Afghanistan.

Trump announced his new strategy in late August, vowing “fast and powerful” retribution against terrorist organizations seeking a safe haven in Afghanistan. Instead of timetables, he said that victory would be predicated on “conditions on the ground.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the new strategy as a “dead end,” while Pakistan and China were critical of Washington’s approach, noting there was “no military solution” to the situation in Afghanistan.

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After failing to prosecute bankers, Obama cashes in with Wall Street speeches

The former president is reportedly raking in $400,000 per speech to massive financial firms.

by Jake Johnson

Less than a year has passed since he departed from the White House, and former President Barack Obama has already joined the “well-trod and well paid” Wall Street speaking circuit, a decision many argued will negatively impact the Democratic Party’s credibility as it attempts to fashion a message around taking on corporate monopolies, tackling income inequality, and loosening the insurance industry’s control over the American healthcare system.

According to a Bloomberg report published Monday, Obama has in the last month delivered two speeches to massive financial firms—Northern Trust Corp and the Carlyle Group—for around $400,000 a pop, and he is slated to attend a three-day conference hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald next week, for which he will make another $400,000.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced a wave of intense criticism following her paid speeches to Wall Street during the 2016 presidential campaign and later conceded that they weren’t politically wise.

Obama, however, doesn’t appear to harbor any concerns about the political impact his speeches may have—a fact that could be problematic for the Democratic Party, Bloomberg‘s Max Abelson notes.

           “While he can’t run for president, he continues to be an influential voice in a party torn between celebrating and vilifying corporate power,” Abelson writes. “His new work with banks might suggest which side of the debate he’ll be on.

News of Obama’s decision to “cash in” following his eight-year presidency drew significant ire, particularly given his administration’s failure to enact sufficient structural changes to the financial system following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

As Abelson observes, Obama’s “Justice Department prosecuted no major bankers for their roles in the financial crisis, and he resisted calls to break up the biggest banks, signing a regulatory overhaul that annoyed them with new rules but didn’t stop them from pulling in record profits.

Responding to Bloomberg‘s report, a Twitter user asked Ryan Cooper, national correspondent for The Week, what a person could do in order to receive $400,000 for a single speech.

Cooper responded with a two-step plan:

Others reacted similarly to the former president’s lucrative speeches, noting that given Obama’s continued power over the direction of the Democratic Party—which was demonstrated in his successful push for former Labor Secretary Tom Perez to become chair of the Democratic National Committee over Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)—is reason enough for him to abandon the Wall Street circuit.

This is a really crappy thing to do to the people who poured their hearts into his campaigns and administration,” concluded Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute. “Hillary Clinton publicly talking about why she lost [the 2016 election] is far healthier than private speeches to the Carlyle Group.

For investigative journalist Nomi Prins, Obama’s Wall Street speeches are indicative of the deep, inescapable influence the nation’s largest financial institutions exert over political discussion and policy in the United States.

Wall Street knows no party,” Prins concluded.

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Η Αριστερά και η Βενεζουέλα

του Κλάουντιο Κατς

Μέρος 1ο

Τους δύο τελευταίους μήνες, η Βενεζουέλα αντιμετώπισε ένα τρομερό κύμα βίας. Μέχρι στιγμής, το αποτέλεσμα είναι 60 νεκροί, λεηλατημένα σχολεία, πυρπολημένα δημόσια κτίρια, κατεστραμμένα μέσα δημόσιας μεταφοράς και εκκενωμένα νοσοκομεία. Παρ’ όλα αυτά, τα μεγάλης εμβέλειας ΜΜΕ μεταδίδουν απλώς συνεχείς καταγγελίες αποτροπιασμού για την κυβέρνηση. Δημιουργούν την εικόνα ενός «δικτάτορα που συγκρούεται» με τους «δημοκράτες της αντιπολίτευσης».

Όμως, οι στατιστικές δεν επιβεβαιώνουν αυτή την αφήγηση, ιδίως όσον αφορά τα θύματα. Όταν ο αριθμός των νεκρών είχε φτάσει τους 39, μια πρώτη αποτίμηση σημείωνε ότι μόνο 4 ήταν θύματα της δράσης των δυνάμεων ασφαλείας. Οι υπόλοιποι έχασαν τη ζωή τους κατά τη διάρκεια των λεηλασιών ή των κινητοποιήσεων της αντιπολίτευσης. Μια άλλη αποτίμηση σημείωνε ότι το 60% όσων σκοτώθηκαν δεν είχε καμιά απολύτως σχέση με τις συγκρούσεις.

Αυτά τα στοιχεία συνάδουν με τις εκτιμήσεις που αποδίδουν τους περισσότερους φόνους σε ελεύθερους σκοπευτές που συνδέονται με την αντιπολίτευση. Πιο πρόσφατες έρευνες αναφέρουν ότι τα περισσότερα θύματα έχασαν τη ζωή τους λόγω βανδαλισμών ή ξεκαθαρισμάτων λογαριασμών.

Υπάρχουν πολυάριθμες καταγγελίες επίσης για επιδρομές παραστρατιωτικών ομάδων που συνδέονται με τη Δεξιά. Όπως και ενδείξεις ότι όσοι διαπράττουν βιαιότητες, στο μέγιστο μέρος τους, προστατεύονται τοπικά από τους δήμους που διοικεί η αντιπολίτευση.

Αυτός ο φόρος αίματος σχετίζεται με τη φασιστική κτηνωδία που οδήγησε στο να κάψουν ζωντανούς ανθρώπους άνθρωποι που ανήκουν στο τσαβίστικο κίνημα. Η πρακτική αυτή, το να καίνε ζωντανό έναν οπαδό της κυβέρνησης, χρησιμοποιείται κυρίως από κολομβιανές παραστρατιωτικές δυνάμεις ή από τον υπόκοσμο των ποινικών εγκληματιών, και όχι από παραδοσιακές πολιτικές οργανώσεις. Ορισμένοι αναλυτές εκτιμούν ότι από τα 60 θύματα τα 27 ήταν τσαβίστες.

Άλλοι λένε ότι στις πορείες της αντιπολίτευσης συμμετέχουν περίπου 15.000 άτομα εκπαιδευμένα ειδικά για την πρόκληση επιθετικών ενεργειών. Χρησιμοποιούν μάσκες, ασπίδες και χειροποίητα όπλα για να προκαλέσουν χάος και να δημιουργήσουν «απελευθερωμένες περιοχές».

Πηγή, παραπομπές:

18 September, 2017

Nightmares of the close future: kids as the most suitable military drone operators

Andrew Feinstein, anti arms trade campaigner and author of the book "Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade", spoke to The Real News about the war crimes by US military drones and the way that the military targets kids as the most suitable drone operators:

A film is being made called Drone about the way in which, particularly the American military, but also British and European militaries, have been targeting kids, effectively, at gaming fairs because the skills that are used in gaming are very similar to the skills needed by drone operators.

The consequence of this is that you are taking something that is supposed to be harmless and you are using it as a training ground for the killing of other human beings. In other words, what we are doing is we are taking everyday activities, we are turning them into murder, and we are normalizing them. I think perhaps more than anything else, this shows the terrifying and deadly effect of drone and robotic warfare, which unfortunately looks as though it's going to be a part of our future.

P.W. Singer, author of 'Wired for War' says:

There is always been a connection between the world of war and the world of entertainment. I call this phenomenon Militainment, where the military world is actually now pulling tools from the world of entertainment to do its job better. The military has invested in creating video games that they are using as recruiting tools.

With computer technology progressing with such speeds, Virtuality will reach unprecedented levels to the point that it will be difficult for the human mind to separate the real world from the virtual world.

Then, we may see an even more horrific scenario coming out from our most Dystopian nightmares: kids playing video games, connected with real killings through drone strikes. The corporate-militant sick minds will save themselves from unnecessary, costly recruitment, or even from people who will testify about their guilt and their nightmares. All they will have to do, is to feed new generations with the ultimate drug of the future: more and more advanced video games.

Hamas disolves Gaza government in move for Palestinian unity

Some opinion polls have shown that if parliamentary elections were held today, Hamas would win both in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

In a bid for national unity among Palestinians, Hamas has decided to dissolve its administrative committee in Gaza and expressed its awillingness to hold general elections.

Faced with repeated Israeli military attacks and systemic occupation of their land, Hamas aims to foster dialogue with Fatah and consolidate Palestinian unity.

Hamas released a statement saying that the group “invites the consensus government to come to Gaza to practice its mission and carry out its duties in the Gaza Strip immediately, and it accepts the holding of general elections." It also noted that the group agreed to key conditions outlined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, who considered the Hamas government a parallel government.

The Islamist group, which has ruled Gaza since a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007, said it had taken “a courageous, serious and patriotic decision to dissolve the administrative committee” that runs the territory of two million people, and hand power to some form of unity government.

The development would “enable the formation of a national reconciliation government to work in the Gaza Strip and hold ... elections,” Abbas said in a statement on official news agency WAFA.


Brazil: shots fired at Homeless Workers occupation, injuring one

Organizers of the occupation, now comprised of 7,000 people, indicate that shots came from a condominium complex located beside the mega-encampment.

Shots were fired at the Fearless People of Sao Bernardo Occupation, initiated by Brazil's Movement of Homeless Workers Saturday, where a man was shot in the arm and later hospitalized, according to Carta Capital.

Organizers of the occupation indicated that the shots came from a condominium complex located beside the mega-encampment. Witnesses have filed a report at the military police station.

The occupation, which began on Sept. 2 has grown to include 7,000 people living in rudimentary conditions on a terrain in Sao Bernardo do Campo city.

Comprised principally of unemployed and homeless people demanding decent housing, the land occupation is located on an open plot measuring 60,000 square meters owned by the MZM construction company.

Though the terrain has been used for absolutely nothing over the past 30 years, the company secured an eviction order from local authorities.