We must organize, create networks, and create Democracy Now groups in every community!
The Push-back Against Privatization Across the Country
Saturday, 29 June 2013 11:00 By Brendan Fischer, PRWatch | Report
The decades-long effort to privatize public services and assets is hitting some bumps, with state and local governments reconsidering whether for-profit companies should be allowed to indiscriminately profit off of taxpayer dollars with limited accountability.
In New Jersey, legislation to ensure that public services won't be privatized unless it will result in actual savings for taxpayers has passed both chambers of the legislature. In Texas, a bipartisan coalition is fighting against a private prison in Montgomery County, and Kentucky is rejecting private prisons altogether. And in Fresno, California, voters rejected a proposal backed by the city's popular mayor to privatize trash collection services.
“The fact is, when taxpayers see what they lose by handing over control of their roads, prisons and other services, they don’t want anything to do with outsourcing," says Donald Cohen, chair of In The Public Interest, a resource center on privatization. "We hope that what we’re seeing in places like New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky and Fresno is part of a trend to restore control of services to American taxpayers.”
New Jersey Could Curb Privatization Abuses
The New Jersey bill, if signed by Governor Chris Christie, might be the first of its kind in the nation. The legislation would prohibit privatization contracts that achieve "cost savings" by cutting services or raising rates, and also require that the company provide its workers comparable wages and benefits. This would thwart efforts by corporate interests to provide the veneer of cost savings by replacing middle-class public employees with low-wage workers.
The bill would also require for-profit corporations to actually stand by their promises: their performance would be subject to audit, which could lead to penalties or the loss of a contract if they fail to produce the promised cost savings.
Not surprisingly, the bill is opposed by groups like the Chamber of Commerce, who will likely urge Christie to veto it. And Gov. Christie is no stranger to privatization: at the same time the bill was moving through the legislature, Gov. Christie entered a contract to privatize the state's lottery system. Whether he will sign this latest bill to guarantee accountability for privatizers remains to be seen.
Tea Party and Others Raising Voices Against Private Prisons
Although the New Jersey proposal tracks a Republican-Democrat divide, in Texas, opposition to prison privatization is crossing party lines.
GEO Group is seeking to purchase a second prison in Montgomery County, but Tea Party groups and others are rallying against it.
Jon Bauman, vice president of the Texas Patriots PAC of The Woodlands, says the first correctional facility in the county -- which was constructed with $45 million in tax-exempt bonds -- ended up being primarily run as a federal institution rather than holding county inmates, as originally promised.
“This idea that they were building a jail for us was bogus, it was a fraud” he said. “They weren’t building a jail for us, they were building a jail for an industry.”
GEO Group is becoming familiar with rejection: earlier this year, for example, its effort to spend $6 million for naming rights on a Florida Atlantic University stadium was met with protests from students and faculty, causing the company to withdraw its offer.
Other private prison operators are also feeling the heat. Kentucky is not renewing its contract with Corrections Corporation of America, ending its three decade experiment on letting outside companies incarcerate inmates for the state. This is the fifth contract cancellation for CCA in a month.
In Fresno, "The People's Voice is Being Heard"
In Fresno, voters this month rejected an effort backed by Mayor Ashley Swearengin to outsource trash service for the city's 500,000 residents to a private company (and cut pay for its workers), in order to make up for budget shortfalls. Lawmakers narrowly passed the privatization plan in December, but it was sent to voters for approval after opponents collected 40,000 petition signatures.
Pro-privatization forces outspent opponents nearly 3-to-1, but voters nonetheless voted to reject the Mayor's plan and keep trash collection in public hands.
Council Member Sal Quintero said of the vote: "The people's voice (against privatization) is being heard."
DO NOT THINK THAT THIS SHOUT AGAINST NAKED CAPITALISM IS ONLY YOUNG AND RADICAL.......IT IS MAINSTREAM MIDDLE CLASS PROFESSIONAL AS WELL. THEY ARE KILLING DEMOCRACY AND PREYING ON THE PUBLIC AND NO ONE IS EXEMPT!
Challenging Casino Capitalism and Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Disposability
Posted on Jun 27, 2013 Monthly Review Press
By Henry A. Giroux, Monthly Review Press
This excerpt from Henry A. Giroux’s new book, “America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth” (2013, Monthly Review Press), first appeared at Truthout.
There is by now an overwhelming catalogue of evidence revealing the depth and breadth of the corporate- and state-sponsored assaults being waged against democracy in the United States. Indeed, it appears that the nation has entered a new and more ruthless historical era, marked by a growing disinvestment in the social state, public institutions, and civic morality. The attack on the social state is of particular importance because it represents an attempt to shift social protections to the responsibility of individuals while at the same time privatizing investments in the public good and undermining the bonds of communal solidarity. The renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman makes this clear in his definition and defense of the social state:
A state is “social” when it promotes the principle of the communally endorsed, collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences. . . . And it is the same principle which lifts members of society to the status of citizens—that is, makes them stakeholders in addition to being stockholders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits’ creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued “collective insurance policy.” The application of that principle may, and often does, protect men and women from the plague of poverty—most importantly, however, it stands a chance of becoming a profuse source of solidarity able to recycle “society” into a common, communal good, thanks to the defense it provides against the horror of misery, that is, of the terror of being excluded, of falling or being pushed over the board of a fast-accelerating vehicle of progress, of being condemned to “social redundancy” and otherwise designed to “human waste.”
Matters of politics, power, ideology, governance, economics, and policy now translate unapologetically into a systemic disinvestment in those public spheres that traditionally provided the minimal conditions for social justice, dissent, and democratic expression. The reign of the commodity, with its growing economy of individualism, privatization, and deregulation, offers a market solution for all of society’s problems. Yet, given that the apostles of neoliberalism work tirelessly to destroy with naked power the numerous essential institutions of social justice and social protections that exemplify the social state, it is clear that solving society’s problems is not their goal. Neoliberalism aims to enhance the wealth and power of those already rich. No longer responsive to the social contract and the preservation of labor, neoliberalism “shifts into a mode of elimination that targets most of us—along with our environment—as waste products awaiting managed disposal.” Unfortunately, neoliberalism, or what might better be called “casino capitalism,” has become the new normal.
Unabashed in its claim to financial power, self-regulation, and a survival of the fittest value system, neoliberalism not only undercuts the formative culture necessary for producing critical citizens and the public spheres that nourish them, it also facilitates the conditions for producing a bloated defense budget, the prison-industrial complex, environmental degradation, and the emergence of “finance as a criminalized, rogue industry.” It is clear that an emergent authoritarianism haunts a defanged democracy now shaped and structured largely by corporations. Money dominates politics; the gap between the rich and poor is ballooning; urban spaces are becoming armed camps; militarism is creeping into every facet of public life; and civil liberties are in shreds. Neoliberalism’s ideology of competition now dominates policies that define public spheres such as schools, allowing them to be stripped of a civic and democratic project and handed over to the logic of the market. Regrettably, it is not democracy, but authoritarianism, that remains on the rise in the United States as we move further into the twenty-first century.
The Politics of Fraud
The 2012 U.S. presidential election took place at a pivotal moment in this transformation away from democracy, a moment in which formative cultural and political realms and forces, including the rhetoric used by election candidates, appeared saturated with celebrations of war and social Darwinism. Accordingly, the possibility of an even more authoritarian and ethically dysfunctional leadership in the White House in 2013 caught the attention of a number of liberals and other progressives in the United States. American politics in general, and the 2012 election in particular, presented a challenge to progressives, whose voices in recent years have been increasingly excluded from both the mainstream media and the corridors of political power. Instead, the media played up the apocalyptic view of the Republican Party’s fundamentalist warriors, who seemed fixated on translating issues previously seen as non-religious—such as sexual orientation, education, identity, and participation in public life—into the language of a religious revival and militant crusade against evil.
How else to explain Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s claim that the struggle for the future is a “fight of individualism versus collectivism,” with its nod to McCarthyism and the cold war rhetoric of the 1950s? Or former senator Rick Santorum’s assertion that “President Obama is getting America hooked on ‘the narcotic of government dependency,’” promoting the view that government has no responsibility to provide safety nets for the poor, disabled, sick, and elderly.
There is more at work here than simply a ramped-up version of social Darwinism, with its savagely cruel ethic of “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves.” There is also a full-scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state, economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. As Robert O’Self argues, the social contract is crucial to what it means for Americans to lead a decent life. At the same time, he wonders if there is a place for women in the Republican Party’s view of the contract. Of course, he could easily have added youth, people of color, immigrants, the elderly, and the unemployed. He writes:
The social contract is supposed to bind us together. It’s everything from Medicare to the Americans with Disabilities Act to Social Security to the Equal Pay Act. It is the basic architecture of our collective responsibility to ensure that Americans share in a decent life. The social contract says that though our individual fates differ, we have a collective destiny, too. Many of us respond viscerally to comments from politicians like Mr. Akin because he leaves us wondering what place for women Republicans see in that collective future.
The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers not only a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the social contract is shredded, but also provides a testimony to a logic of cruelty and disposability in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished. But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.
As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty, with “its horrific effects on individuals— death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.” But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.” Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized, and surrendered to the demands of capital. With market-driven zealots in charge of both parties, politics becomes an extension of war, and greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others. For the extremists who now control the Republican Party, in particular, reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression, and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.
At the same time, both Republicans and Democrats embrace the logic of casino capitalism in which Wall Street creates an economy focused on speculative, short-term investments “designed to make a killing rather than expanding the productive base of the economy.” Casino capitalism is the true religion of America and provides a common ground for both major parties, in spite of their differences on the role of government and the welfare state. Casino capitalism does not make tangible products needed to address basic human needs or foster broad-based prosperity as much as it “creates an infinite amount of paper assets that can be traded between individuals.” It is an economy that has become a playground for gamblers and bettors in which the dice are loaded in favor of the ultra-rich, bankers, hedge fund managers, and financial elite who operate on the assumption that “society’s resources are best allocated by profit-seeking individuals betting on short-term price movements in intangible or paper assets.” Casino capitalism thrives on a deregulated and ascendant financial sector that offers easy credit (particularly evident before the 2007 economic recession), cheap mortgages, and the seductive lure of a promising lifestyle built on ever burdening debt.
You will get very little on the decent regarding this NSA issue. We know neo-liberals are active in creating this mess so democratic leaders now will protect this massive surveillance and not civil liberties. Mainstream media will only show Snowden as a detriment and never address the fact that privatizing national security is a national security threat when corporate crime and corruption is systemic.
THIS IS A HUGE DEAL FOLKS......PLEASE GET ENGAGED AND SHOUT PUBLICLY......ATTEND YOUR LOCAL PROTESTS EN MASSE!
Op-Ed Contributors The Criminal N.S.A.
By JENNIFER STISA GRANICK and CHRISTOPHER JON SPRIGMAN Published: June 27, 2013 New York Times
This view is wrong — and not only, or even mainly, because of the privacy issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics. The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.
The administration has defended each of the two secret programs. Let’s examine them in turn.
Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contract employee and whistle-blower, has provided evidence that the government has phone record metadata on all Verizon customers, and probably on every American, going back seven years. This metadata is extremely revealing; investigators mining it might be able to infer whether we have an illness or an addiction, what our religious affiliations and political activities are, and so on.
The law under which the government collected this data, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows the F.B.I. to obtain court orders demanding that a person or company produce “tangible things,” upon showing reasonable grounds that the things sought are “relevant” to an authorized foreign intelligence investigation. The F.B.I. does not need to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed, or any connection to terrorism.
Even in the fearful time when the Patriot Act was enacted, in October 2001, lawmakers never contemplated that Section 215 would be used for phone metadata, or for mass surveillance of any sort. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and one of the architects of the Patriot Act, and a man not known as a civil libertarian, has said that “Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations.” The N.S.A.’s demand for information about every American’s phone calls isn’t “targeted” at all — it’s a dragnet. “How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?” Mr. Sensenbrenner has asked. The answer is simple: It’s not.
The government claims that under Section 215 it may seize all of our phone call information now because it might conceivably be relevant to an investigation at some later date, even if there is no particular reason to believe that any but a tiny fraction of the data collected might possibly be suspicious. That is a shockingly flimsy argument — any data might be “relevant” to an investigation eventually, if by “eventually” you mean “sometime before the end of time.” If all data is “relevant,” it makes a mockery of the already shaky concept of relevance.
Let’s turn to Prism: the streamlined, electronic seizure of communications from Internet companies. In combination with what we have already learned about the N.S.A.’s access to telecommunications and Internet infrastructure, Prism is further proof that the agency is collecting vast amounts of e-mails and other messages — including communications to, from and between Americans.
The government justifies Prism under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Section 1881a of the act gave the president broad authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance. If the attorney general and the director of national intelligence certify that the purpose of the monitoring is to collect foreign intelligence information about any nonAmerican individual or entity not known to be in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can require companies to provide access to Americans’ international communications. The court does not approve the target or the facilities to be monitored, nor does it assess whether the government is doing enough to minimize the intrusion, correct for collection mistakes and protect privacy. Once the court issues a surveillance order, the government can issue top-secret directives to Internet companies like Google and Facebook to turn over calls, e-mails, video and voice chats, photos, voiceover IP calls (like Skype) and social networking information.
Like the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act gives the government very broad surveillance authority. And yet the Prism program appears to outstrip that authority. In particular, the government “may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States.”
The government knows that it regularly obtains Americans’ protected communications. The Washington Post reported that Prism is designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness” — as John Oliver of “The Daily Show” put it, “a coin flip plus 1 percent.” By turning a blind eye to the fact that 49-plus percent of the communications might be purely among Americans, the N.S.A. has intentionally acquired information it is not allowed to have, even under the terrifyingly broad auspices of the FISA Amendments Act.
How could vacuuming up Americans’ communications conform with this legal limitation? Well, as James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Andrea Mitchell of NBC, the N.S.A. uses the word “acquire” only when it pulls information out of its gigantic database of communications and not when it first intercepts and stores the information.
If there’s a law against torturing the English language, James Clapper is in real trouble.
The administration hides the extent of its “incidental” surveillance of Americans behind fuzzy language. When Congress reauthorized the law at the end of 2012, legislators said Americans had nothing to worry about because the surveillance could not “target” American citizens or permanent residents. Mr. Clapper offered the same assurances. Based on these statements, an ordinary citizen might think the N.S.A. cannot read Americans’ e-mails or online chats under the F.A.A. But that is a government fed misunderstanding.
A “target” under the act is a person or entity the government wants information on — not the people the government is trying to listen to. It’s actually O.K. under the act to grab Americans’ messages so long as they are communicating with the target, or anyone who is not in the United States.
Leave aside the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act for a moment, and turn to the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment obliges the government to demonstrate probable cause before conducting invasive surveillance. There is simply no precedent under the Constitution for the government’s seizing such vast amounts of revealing data on innocent Americans’ communications.
The government has made a mockery of that protection by relying on select Supreme Court cases, decided before the era of the public Internet and cellphones, to argue that citizens have no expectation of privacy in either phone metadata or in e-mails or other private electronic messages that it stores with third parties.
This hairsplitting is inimical to privacy and contrary to what at least five justices ruled just last year in a case called United States v. Jones. One of the most conservative justices on the Court, Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that where even public information about individuals is monitored over the long term, at some point, government crosses a line and must comply with the protections of the Fourth Amendment. That principle is, if anything, even more true for Americans’ sensitive nonpublic information like phone metadata and social networking activity.
We may never know all the details of the mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a mockery of the government’s professed concern with protecting Americans’ privacy. It’s time to call the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs what they are: criminal.
Jennifer Stisa Granick is the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Christopher Jon Sprigman is a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.
This is a good video if you care to google it. The group appears to be avant garde/Occupy so often sensationalizes for some ....but they do a good job with issues and they have a good sense of public sentiment! Please open your media exposure to the youth who see the urgency of action!!!
Thursday, 27 June 2013
A Message To Humanity: The Time is Now - The Revolution Is Coming!
A revolution is coming to America.. Not Just America but the World, people are waking up and finally realising how the world works and that their rights as free human beings are slowly being taken away from them.. The 99% are rising up!
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose
sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon
corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and
those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the
people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the
Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic
We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest
over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled
here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage. They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system
through monopolization. They have profited off of the torture, confinement,and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions. They have held students hostage with tens
of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers'health care and pay. They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance. They have sold our privacy as a commodity.They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit. They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce. They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them. They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil. They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people's lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media. They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. To the people of the world, we, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy,we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
The statement issued from Zuccotti Park, by the general assembly, at Occupy Wall Street.
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