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Bill Moyers: The Fiery Cage and the Lynching Tree, Brutality's Never Far Away

The Fiery Cage and the Lynching Tree, Brutality's Never Far Away

Friday, 06 February 2015 11:15
By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company | Op-Ed

They burned him alive in an iron cage, and as he screamed and writhed in the agony of hell they made a sport of his death.

After listening to one newscast after another rightly condemn the barbaric killing of that Jordanian air force pilot at the bloody hands of ISIS, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept roaming the past trying to retrieve a vaguely remembered photograph that I had seen long ago in the archives of a college library in Texas.

Suddenly, around two in the morning, the image materialized in my head. I made my way down the hall to my computer and typed in: “Waco, Texas. Lynching.”

Sure enough, there it was: the charred corpse of a young black man, tied to a blistered tree in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt. Next to the burned body, young white men can be seen smiling and grinning, seemingly jubilant at their front-row seats in a carnival of death. One of them sent a picture postcard home: “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/28961-the-fiery-cage-and-the-lynching-tree-brutality-s-never-far-away

One Year Later, Crimeans Prefer Russia

According to a survey that Bloomberg contributor Leonid Bershidsky called “the most representative independent poll taken on the peninsula since its annexation,” 82 percent of Crimeans fully support their region’s inclusion in Russia while only 4 percent spoke out against it.

The poll was conducted by Ukrainian political scientist Taras Berezovets, a Crimea native and founder of an initiative aimed at building “Ukrainian soft power on the peninsula,” Bershidsky reported. Berezovets spoke to 800 people in Crimea by telephone between Jan. 16 and Jan. 22. The results “were something of a cold shower to Berezovets.”

Berlin-based Bershidsky writes at Bloomberg:

Berezovets is inclined to credit Crimea’s “Orwellian atmosphere” for some of that near-unanimity. He’s probably right. Given the ubiquitous FSB attention and the arrest of some pro-Ukrainian activists— the persecution of filmmaker Oleg Sentsov is the cause celebre—as “extremists,” few people are likely to be brave enough to condemn the annexation on the phone, especially when the caller is a stranger. In Russia itself, polls show 85 percent support for Putin, but it’s hard to calculate how much of that is motivated by caution: it’s best to treat those numbers as an indication that most people are willing to acquiesce than to protest.

“Yet,” Bershidsky continues, “answers to other, more neutral questions show Crimeans are not interested in going back to Ukraine.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/one_year_later_crimeans_prefer_russia_20150206

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Elijah Cummings Press Federal Reserve For Details of Leak Investigation

Sen. Warren, Rep. Cummings Press Federal Reserve For Details of Leak Investigation
In a letter to the Fed, they say “public has a right to know” what happened after potentially market-moving information found its way into a private newsletter in 2012.

by Jake Bernstein
ProPublica, Feb. 5, 2015, 6:04 p.m.

Two congressional Democrats have asked the Federal Reserve Board for a briefing about its investigation into a leak of confidential Fed policy deliberations two years ago.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, sent the request today to Scott G. Alvarez, the board's general counsel, saying that neither Alvarez "nor any other Federal Reserve official has made public any information about the conduct of the investigation or its outcome."

"We are disturbed by this lack of transparency regarding such an important topic," the two wrote. "This leak contained key market-moving information, violated Federal Reserve policy on disclosure, and may have represented a violation of federal law."

ProPublica reported in December that details from discussions of the Federal Open Market Committee found their way into a financial analyst's private newsletter. The leak occurred in October 2012, the day before the scheduled public release of committee meeting minutes that promised to shed new light on a third round of bond buying to boost the economy. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.propublica.org/article/warren-cummings-press-federal-reserve-for-details-of-leak-investigation

Juan Cole: Is ISIL’s ‘Shock and Awe’ more Awe-ful because One Victim?

Is ISIL’s ‘Shock and Awe’ more Awe-ful because One Victim?
By Juan Cole | Feb. 5, 2015

The Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) burning of a captured Jordanian pilot alive produced justified revulsion globally, resulting in the terrorist organization being termed “barbarous” and similar epithets. Why did it behave this way? Because it wants to terrify its opponents into submission and underline that it is too crazy to be messed with. In short, it was a form of ‘shock and awe.’ It was all the more horrible for being inflicted on a single, known individual with a premeditated and inexorable viciousness, and for being carefully filmed and shared on the internet (successfully tempting Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News into rebroadcasting it).

“Shock and Awe” was the slogan pushed by the Bush administration for its massive bombing campaign against Iraq in March-April of 2003. It conducted 29,200 air strikes in the course of the initial invasion. Many of those missions were flown against what turned out to be empty Baath government facilities in hopes of killing high government officials (mostly that did not happen). But you can’t drop 500-pound bombs on a densely populated city without killing innocent bystanders. Likely the first two months of US bombing left at the very least 2,760 civilians dead.*

A study based on the conservative “Iraq Body Count” found that in Iraq, “46 per cent of the victims of US air strikes whose gender could be determined were female and 39 per cent were children.”

But the slaughter from the air was great not only among civilians but among military personnel, many of whom had no opportunity to surrender or run away (when US ground forces approaching the capital were surprised to come upon elements of a Republican Guard tank division they thought had been destroyed, the Iraqi tank personnel exited their vehicles and decamped en masse; those discovered by A-10 tank killers or Apache helicopters were not afforded that opportunity).

Speaking of burning people alive, one technique the US used was the BLU-82B, a 15,000 pound bomb detonated near the ground with a blast radius of about 5000 feet, but leaving no crater. It was intended to intimidate by burning up large numbers of infantrymen or armored personnel. (It is sometimes misidentified as a fuel-air bomb or ‘daisy cutter’ but is much more powerful than the latter). It was retired in 2008 in favor of something even more destructive. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2015/02/shock-because-victim.html

'The Markets' sweating the rise of another anti-austerity party in Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Spain’s bonds are set to underperform their Italian peers for the fifth time in six weeks amid concern the rise of a Spanish anti-austerity party might lead to the sort of turmoil that followed Syriza’s victory in Greece.

Podemos, which has pledged to restructure $1.1 trillion of Spanish public debt, widened its lead over Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party, according to a survey this week by the state polling company. By contrast in Italy, itself no stranger to political upheaval, Sergio Mattarella was elected president on Saturday as a candidate backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. That marked a victory for the Italian premier, who overcame tensions within the governing coalition.

“The reason for Spain underpeforming Italy is totally related to investors’ concerns about the political landscape, in relation to what is going on in Greece,” said Luca Cazzulani, a senior fixed-income strategist at UniCredit SpA in Milan. “It’s something that will probably carry on in the near term. The link investors will make is that the next country with a strong anti-austerity movement will be Spain.”

The yield on Spanish 10-year bonds rose 1 basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 1.46 percent as of 1:18 p.m. London time, set to end the week four basis points higher. The rate on similar Italian bonds also rose one basis point though was set for a four-basis-point decrease in the week to 1.55 percent. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-06/spanish-bonds-underperform-italy-s-as-podemos-gains-popularity

In Search of Cheap Labor in Tech: Behind the H1-B Visa Scenes

In Search of Cheap Labor in Tech: Behind the H1-B Visa Scenes
by Wolf Richter • February 5, 2015

In April, 2014, it emerged that Southern California Edison, a utility with about 14,000 employees at the time, was planning another round of layoffs. Most of them would be in its Information Technology Department, which had 1,800 employees and 1,500 contract workers. SCE admitted to the plan but told the LA Times that it hadn’t finalized the number. State Senator Alex Padilla then told the paper that as many as 500 employees and 500 contractors would be let go.

Laying off workers and outsourcing some functions was part of its “ongoing efforts to act as cost effectively and prudently as possible in operations for its customers.” These efforts at the IT department would “enable an increase in quality, speed and capabilities while lowering costs,” SCE explained. “By better leveraging the knowledge, skills and expertise of industry vendors, SCE will adopt a proven business strategy commonly and successfully used by other top U.S. companies.”

Namely laying off American employees and bringing in cheaper H1-B visa holders from India.

IT workers in the process of getting axed often sign severance agreements that contain non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses that bar them from discussing the situation in public. Plus there are fears that if they discussed the situation publicly, they might be blacklisted and not find another job. But now some of these affected SCE employees have talked to Computerworld. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://wolfstreet.com/2015/02/05/the-search-for-cheap-labor-in-tech-behind-the-h1-b-visa-scenes/

European Central Bank to Greece: Drop Dead

European Central Bank to Greece: Drop Dead

Friday, 06 February 2015 09:37
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism | News Analysis

Even by the standards of bank thuggishness, the move by the ECB against Greece last night was a stunner. Americans have become used to banks taking houses under dubious pretexts when both the investors and borrowers would do better with a writedown. But to see the ECB try take a country is another matter entirely. As one seasoned pro said, "If anyone had tried something like this against a country with a decent sized military, the tanks would be rolling."

The ECB's bombshell was to put Greece at risk of an intensification of its ongoing bank run in order to pressure it to agree to a deal with the Troika under an impossibly tight timetable, even shorter than the February 28 pre-existing deadline that Greece Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had planned to extend until June. As we've discussed at length previously, a longer negotiation timetable would be necessary to meet Greece's objective of restructuring of the relationship with the Troika. Greece wanted that to be based on the recognition that Greece could never pay off its debts and that it was in both side's interest to let Greece implement more growth-oriented policies. But the message from the enforcers at the ECB was unambiguous: Greece has no rights and needs to accept its debtcropper status.

The ECB has thus also effectively said that it would rather have fascists like Golden Dawn running Greece, which is what will eventually occur if it succeeds in breaking Syriza. It also just handed France's Marine Le Pen, head of the nationalistic, anti-Eurozone Front National fantastic fodder for her campaign.

The February 28 date was the result of Greece presumably needing access to so-called bailout funds to pay off an IMF obligation coming due. Varoufakis said he would refuse those funds, and could get by until June, when more loans came due, by relying on existing tax receipts and getting what he regarded as minor waivers from the central bank. He also had some creative ideas for restructuring Greece's debts and said that he wanted the OECD rather than the Troika to provide auditors on behalf of the lenders. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/28960-ecb-to-greece-drop-dead

David Sirota: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Huge Deal. So Why Is It Being Kept Secret?

from In These Times:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Huge Deal. So Why Is It Being Kept Secret?
President Barack Obama’s administration has come under criticism due to its unwillingness to release the full text of the prospective TPP agreement between the United States and 11 Asian nations.


The trade rules of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership between the United States and 11 Asian nations would cover nearly 40 percent of the world economy—but don't ask what they are. Access to the text of the proposed deal is highly restricted.

Nevertheless, at last month’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman defended the Obama administration from intensifying criticism of its refusal to release the full text of the proposed trade pact.

“We can always do better on transparency,” he said, but added that “there is no area of policy where there is closer collaboration between the executive and Congress than trade policy.”


Yet the actual text of the agreement remains under lock and key. That represents a significant break from the Bush administration, which in 2001 published the text of a proposed multinational trade agreement with Latin American nations.

“It is incomprehensible to me that leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP, while at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge of what’s in it,” wrote U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in a letter to Froman last month.


Perhaps because when citizens learn the details of such trade agreements, they don’t like them—and they end up putting pressure on their leaders to back off. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17608/tpp_negotiations

Hillary Clinton in Winnipeg: An Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance

Hillary Clinton in Winnipeg: An Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance

Thursday, 05 February 2015 10:05
By Harrison Samphir, Truthout | News Analysis

On January 21, almost 2,000 people filled the RBC Convention Centre in downtown Winnipeg to see former US senator, first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. At $300 per ticket, the event attracted plenty of affluent Manitobans - lawyer-philanthropist Gail Asper, University of Manitoba president David Bernard, hospitality mogul Doug Stephen - members of the media and other spectators.

Clinton was in the city as part of the Global Perspectives series sponsored by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). The afternoon event was the first in a two-stop tour also including an evening date in Saskatoon.

It's part of an embryonic presidential campaign, her second, expected to be announced officially in the spring. She previously lost the nomination to Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, but became his secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. During that period, she presided over a tumultuous office, at its lowest point accepting responsibility for the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, during an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi during the Libyan civil war in 2012.

In Winnipeg, the former secretary of state spoke on foreign policy, Canada-US relations, human rights and terrorism. She expectedly avoided the topic of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project she said is "in our process, where it belongs," but discussed at length the recent assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and what she described as a growing atmosphere of global insecurity spurred by rising extremism in the global south. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/28926-hillary-clinton-in-winnipeg-an-exercise-in-cognitive-dissonance

How Google Met the CIA, and Other Scary Stories From ‘They Know Everything About You’

Listen: http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/how_google_met_the_cia_and_other_scary_stories_from_they_know_everything_ab

This week on Truthdig Radio in association with KPFK: Robert Scheer connects the dots on surveillance, the TPP could break the Internet, a Super Bowl commercial embarrasses minimum wage workers and the Republican candidates for president embarrass themselves.

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