Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state.
As the standoff between the Main Street Movement and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) continues for the twelfth day, much of the media coverage — and anger — from both sides has focused on Walker’s efforts to strip Wisconsin public workers of their right to collective bargaining. But Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state while dismantling the healthcare programs, environmental regulations, and good government laws that protect Wisconsin’s middle and working class. These lesser known proposals in the 144-page bill reveal how radical Walker’s plan actually is:
1. ELIMINATING MEDICAID: The Budget Repair Bill includes a little-known provision that would put complete control of the state’s Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, in the hands of the state’s ultra-conservative Health and Human Services Secretary Dennis Smith. Smith would have the authority to “to override state Medicaid laws as [he] sees fit and institute sweeping changes” including reducing benefits and limiting eligibility. Ironically, during the 1990s it was Republicans, especially former Gov. and Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who helped develop BadgerCare into one of the country’s most innovative and generous Medicaid programs. A decade later, a new generation of radical Republicans is hoping to destroy one of Wisconsin’s “success stories.”
Chomsky: "What has to be done is what's happening in Madison, or Tahrir Square. If there's mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond.
NOAM CHOMSKY: We were talking about unions before. Union busting is criminal activity by the government, because they’re saying, "You can go ahead and do it; we’re not going to apply the laws," effectively. And the COINTELPRO, which you mentioned, is actually the worst systematic and extended violation of basic civil rights by the federal government. It maybe compares with Wilson’s Red Scare. But COINTELPRO went on from the late ’50 right through all of the ’60s; it finally ended, at least theoretically ended, when the courts terminated it in the early ’70s. And it was serious.
It started, as is everything, going after the Communist Party, then the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Then it extended—the women’s movement, the New Left, but particularly black nationalists. And it ended up—didn’t end up, but one of the events was a straight Gestapo-style assassination of two black organizers, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, literally. The FBI set up the assassination. The Chicago police actually carried it out, broke into the apartment at 4:00 in the morning and murdered them. Fake information that came from the FBI about arms stores and so on. There was almost nothing about it. In fact, the information about this, remarkably, was released at about the same time as Watergate. I mean, as compared with this, Watergate was a tea party. There was nothing, you know?
Has Sweden offered any assurances that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the U.S.A? Sweden has already shown itself to be a big secret supporter of U.S. foreign policy. And now for the first time someone has been extradited for sex charges in the European Union. Peacenik doesn't trust Sweden in this matter, nor Britain, nor the U.S.A. Peacenik hopes Julian Assange will have his own security. Meanwhile has anyone noticed a lack of news from Wikileaks. The efforts to marginalize and intimidate and bankrupt Wikileaks seem to be having an effect. Peacenik says release the Doomsday File now. Lets see the Bank of America documents. And free Julian Assange.
Judge Howard Riddle said the allegations of rape and sexual molestation by two women against Assange meet the definition of extraditable offenses and said the Swedish warrant had been properly issued and was valid.
Assange, 39, a key figure in the release of tens of thousands of secret U.S. government and military documents, has been out on bail during the extradition fight. He has seven days to appeal the ruling in British courts.
After hearing three days of testimony this month, Riddle concluded “there is simply no reason to believe there has been a mistake” about the European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish authorities.
by Sharon Astyk
Note: You've got to give the Dervaes' some credit - their asshattery has inspired a wholel lot of focus on urban sustainable agriculture, homesteading and making a good life in the city! Today is "Urban Homesteading Day" and in its honor, here are some meditations on the relationships we need between city homesteaders and farmers, country homesteaders and farmers and everyone in between.
Urbanization is the biggest trend in history. For the first time, more human beings live in cities than in the country. More than 50,000 farmers worldwide leave their land or are driven off of it every single day, most of them moving to cities, often to slum dwellings on the outskirts of growing megacities.
In each family that makes this journey, there will be a recognizable pattern that emerges from that shift in culture.. The first generation who moves from the farm to the city remains agricultural in mindset and practice. They will never fully assimilate into urban life, but will be the grandparents who embarass their children by picking edible plants from the side of the road and giving nutritious soups instead of vitamins.
Their children will want to fit into the urban life. They will disdain and reject the skills of their parents, in many cases, or at best view what their parents know as irrelevant. This second generation recognizes that what the first generation knew is now gone, and wants it as far out of the way as possible. The second generation will be taught how to pick and use those plants, but they will see such knowledge as old fashioned, embarassing or even "dirty."
Then comes the third generation removed from the land. They may have eaten grandmother's soup, or seen her pick the greens, but they will also have absorbed their parent's rejection of these things - at least at first. And only when they are grown will the grandchildren begin to see the value of what their grandparents knew, and to try and recreate it a little. If they are fortunate, they will have noticed their lack before the first generation is gone. If not, they will try and recreate what is lost as best they can, knowing that it is never the same as the first. They will start searching for the echoes of their agrarian past everywhere, and begin trying to remake the world from echoes, growing fainter every year.
MADISON - Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau was created in 1968 by a Republican governor, Warren Knowles, and a Republican-controlled state legislature.
The purpose was to establish a non-partisan agency that would provide honest fiscal analysis and information for Wisconsin Legislators. Across more than four decades, the bureau has done just that, earning the respect of legislators from both parties, including a young Scott Walker, who frequently cited the bureau when he served in the state Assembly.
Less than a month ago, a Fiscal Bureau memo reported that the state had a $121.4 million surplus through the remainder of the current fiscal year.
That is a fact that is now under attack by Governor Walker, who the conservative publication Human Events refers to as the “new hero” of the Republican right. Walker argues-- as Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged for some time -- that the state’s fiscal house is not in order and that unsettled issues relating to a payment due Minnesota after the canceling of a tax agreement, as well as rising health care and prison costs, could well create a shortfall before the end of the year.
So it is possible that Wisconsin might need a budget repair bill of the sort Walker has proposed before the fiscal year is finished, as it has in many years.
When President Obama took office amidst the worst recession in three generations, he immediately focused his energy on enacting a comprehensive plan to revive the nation's economy. Newly elected Republicans, however, have interpreted their temporary rise to power in an entirely different way. Where Obama saw an immediate need to grow the nation's economy, GOP leaders are seizing their moment to force longstanding GOP fantasies upon the people they govern. Several GOP-led states are pushing plans to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. Twelve states are considering unconstitutional bills "nullifying" the Affordable Care Act. Arizona Republicans are lining up behind a plan to unconstitutionally strip citizenship from millions of Americans. New Hampshire Republicans have returned to the GOP's favorite pastime of denying gay Americans their constitutional rights. Given the opportunity to lead, far-right politicians have decided instead to ignore the nation's needs and pursue their own narrow, unpopular ideological vendettas.
"What's Disgusting? Union Busting!" Chant Wisconsin Crowds That Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver
As Paul Joseph Watson of PrisonPlanet writes:
In a shocking act of mass public deception, Fox News attempted to skew Ron Paul’s 2011 CPAC straw poll win by representing it with footage from the previous year’s CPAC event, at which Mitt Romney supporters had loudly booed the result, another example of the continuing dirty tricks campaign being waged against Paul by the establishment media.
Congressman Paul replicated his 2010 victory over Mitt Romney by defeating the former Governor of Massachusetts for a second consecutive year at the annual CPAC conference.
However, before anchor Bill Hemmer introduced a segment concerning the story, Fox News played a clip of the 2010 announcement of the poll results, during which Mitt Romney supporters had loudly booed Ron Paul’s victory, passing off last year’s footage as representative of this year’s event.
Hemmer then proceeded to state, “In the end he was the winner, probably not the reaction he was hoping for,” describing the reaction as “mixed applause and boos,” before directly asking Ron Paul if he knew who was booing him.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights, cut pay and gut benefits without any negotiation the most radical assault yet by the current crop of Republican governors on the rights of workers has inspired outrage in a historically progressive and pro-labor state.
With unions calling on members an allies to “fight back” against a “blatant power grab,” tensions are running so high that the governor, who took office in January, is threatening to call out the National Guard in case of industrial action by state, county and municipal employees. “Even if you don’t like unions,” says Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48, the union that represents Milwaukee County workers, “surely we all can agree that anti-freedom attacks that deny public employees the right to negotiate a fair contract…are outrageous and wrong.”
Even Republicans are unsettled, with a senior GOP legistator, state Senator Luther Olsen, describing the governor’s announcement a “radical” move that threatens “a lot of good working people.”
Walker never discussed ending collective bargaining during a campaign in which he promised to work across lines of partisanship and ideology to create jobs.
Instead, he has chosen to play political games.
The governor’s budget repair bill, which includes the plan to gut collective bargaining protections for public employees, does not seek to get the state’s fiscal house in order.
CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned his post and turned over all power to the military on Friday, ending his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule and bowing to a historic popular uprising that has transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world.
The streets of Cairo exploded in shouts of “God is Great” moments after Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders.
“Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state’s affairs,” Mr. Suleiman, grave and ashen, said in a brief televised statement.
Punditman is not sure why any student would want to study US foreign policy these days because the course could easily be completed in a couple of lectures. That is if the right prof. is lecturing. Or the student could just survey the internet for a couple of hours to get the ugly truth.
Undoubtedly these courses need to fill the time somehow (commercials are probably the next step in university lectures, just like anywhere else you venture these days outside of your already heavily mediated head space). In any case, punditman assumes these course still contain the obligatory, redundant drivel about the machinations of realists, idealists, triangular diplomacy, and other flopsam and jetsom (yawn), most of which avoids the fundamental point concerning American statecraft: namely, the essence of American foreign policy is not difficult to understand because it is based primarly on elite control, corporate profit, war-making and war-preparing and has rarely changed in substantive ways over the centuries and decades regardless of who the boogeyman is (natives, nationalists, Communists, Islamists, etc.) This goes back to the days of Mark Twain around when the US began its fateful path towards imperial power. Twain knew a thing or two about the corruptions of power and money and wasn't afraid to call it as he sees it. The new posthumous autobiography of Twain is no doubt a great read in this regard.
In more recent times, the same old pattern has emerged from country to country: Support a dictator with money, arms and well wishes for years and years until the people finally rebel. Then preach "stability" while pretending to support people power all the while maneuvering behind the scenes to install your next puppet either overtly or covertly.
It reminds punditman of the following lyrics from "Lives in the Balance," by Jackson Browne (a great American):
And there's a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interests run
On the radio talk shows and the T.V.
You hear one thing again and again
How the U.S.A. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend
But who are the ones that we call our friends--
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally can't take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire
This article by Philip Giradi, pretty much sums up Punditman's view of the whole scene unfolding in Egypt and how it relates to US foreign policy. It would be nice if the United States lived up to its rhetoric about democracy for once and stopped interfering in other people's countries and put the will of the people above that of elite interests. Then they could actually say and do the right things. Punditman is not holding punditman's breath because punditman does not want to die.
Air Force Warns Everyone Is a Criminal for Reading WikiLeaks -- News from Antiwar.com
Ditto for Israel's shameful reaction, best summed up by Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz:
We (Israelis are) all suffering from Orientalism, not to say racism, if the sight of an entire people throwing off the yoke of tyranny and courageously demanding free elections fills us with fear rather than uplifting us, just because they’re Arabs.
This is a great companion article to the brief article I posted yesterday about the expected increasing growing civil unrest and violence worldwide that will be the fallout from Central Banks' highly inflationary fiat currency devaluation schemes. If mass civil unrest strikes a country, a government may respond by banning internet access and severely restricting information flow. To address this concern, Patrick Miller & David Daw just published an article to let you know how you can maintain your freedom of information even when your government tries to ban this right.
I've reprinted some of the most pertinent excerpts from Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts it Down, by Patrick Miller & David Daw below. I figured that this information will probably be useful to someone living in a country where the next revolution is brewing.
"Even if you've managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won't be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can't get online to find you. If you're trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can't rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts--essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you're in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn't really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop."
by Ted Rall
NEW YORK--From the British newspaper the Independent: "Like in many other countries in the region, protesters in Egypt complain about surging prices, unemployment and the authorities' reliance on heavy-handed security to keep dissenting voices quiet."
Sound familiar?Coverage by U.S. state-controlled media of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is too dim by half: they say it's an Arab thing. So it is. But not for long. The problems that triggered the latest uprisings, rising inequality of income, frozen credit markets, along with totally unresponsive government, span the globe. To be sure, the first past-due regimes to be overthrown may be the most brutal U.S. client states--Arab states such as Yemen, Jordan and Algeria. Central Asia's autocrats, also corrupted by the U.S., can't be far behind; Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov, who likes to boil his dissidents to death, would be my first bet. But this won't stop in Asia. Persistent unemployment, unresponsive and repressive governments exist in Europe and yes, here in the U.S. They are unstable. The pressure is building.
Global revolution is imminent.
by Amy Goodman
“People holding a sign ‘To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It’s over!” so tweeted my brave colleague, “Democracy Now!” senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous, from the streets of Cairo.
More than 2 million people rallied throughout Egypt on Tuesday, most of them crowded into Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Tahrir, which means liberation in Arabic, has become the epicenter of what appears to be a largely spontaneous, leaderless and peaceful revolution in this, the most populous nation in the Middle East. Defying a military curfew, this incredible uprising has been driven by young Egyptians, who compose a majority of the 80 million citizens. Twitter and Facebook, and SMS text messaging on cell phones, have helped this new generation to link up and organize, despite living under a U.S.-supported dictatorship for the past three decades. In response, the Mubarak regime, with the help of U.S. and European corporations, has shut down the Internet and curtailed cellular service, plunging Egypt into digital darkness. Despite the shutdown, as media activist and professor of communications C.W. Anderson told me, “people make revolutions, not technology.”
The demands are chanted through the streets for democracy, for self-determination. Sharif headed to Egypt Friday night, into uncertain terrain. The hated Interior Ministry security forces, the black-shirted police loyal to President Hosni Mubarak, were beating and killing people, arresting journalists, and smashing and confiscating cameras.
Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding the resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, but the breadth and depth of the spreading protests, the helplessness of the U.S.-backed governments to stop them, and the rapidly diminishing ability of the United States to protect its long-time clients, are certainly resulting in a level of revolutionary fervor not visible in the Middle East in a generation. The legacy of U.S.-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The U.S. empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core.
There's a domino effect underway in the Arab world. Tunisia was the spark, not only because its uprising came first but because the people of Tunisia won and the dictator fled. Egypt remains for the United States the most important strategic Arab ally.
The fall of Hosni Mubarak, the U.S.-backed dictator in power for more than three decades, would mean an end to Washington's ability to rely on Cairo to stave off Arab nationalism and independence and an end to Egypt's role as a collaborator in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Whatever happens, what's likely, though not inevitable, is that never again will Tunisia be used as a transit point or Egypt as a "black site" secret prison for U.S. agents engaged in the "extraordinary rendition" of detainees for interrogation and torture.