In Memoriam of Aaron Swartz and his dream to make the world a better place
11/8/1986 – 01/11/2013
A new report says mercenaries and military advisers from the infamous US security firm, formerly known as Blackwater, are replacing UAE troops in the Saudi war in Yemen.
The Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper said on Thursday UAE forces are being gradually replaced by recruits from the US-based private military contractor, which now goes by the name, Acamedi.
The move came after the UAE evacuated some of its military sites in Yemen following its failures in several operations, the Lebanese daily added.
According to al-Akhbar, UAE’s move to involve the private military contractor in the Yemen conflict has raised objections among some members of the Saudi-led coalition.
On Wednesday, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah news website said the commander-in-chief of Blackwater mercenaries in the country was killed in the al-Omari district of Ta’izz Province.
“The hollowing of the middle has proceeded steadily for four decades, and it may have reached a tipping point,” Pew Research Center says
The American middle class is shrinking.
For the first time in more than four decades, middle-income households have lost their majority status in the U.S., according to new findings, and are now outnumbered by their counterparts on opposite ends of the income spectrum.
“The fastest-growing segments are the ones at the extremes, the very lowest and highest ends of the income distribution.”
—Pew Research Center
Based on the definition used in the Pew Research Center report released Wednesday, the share of American adults living in middle-income households—that is, with an income that is two-thirds to double that of the overall median household income, or $42,000 to $126,000 annually in 2014—has fallen from a high of 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2015.
At the same time, the share living in the upper-income tier jumped from 14 percent to 21 percent over the same period, and the share in the lower-income tier rose from 25 percent to 29 percent.
“The hollowing of the middle has proceeded steadily for four decades, and it may have reached a tipping point,” the Pew study suggests. Furthermore, a “closer look at the shift out of the middle reveals that a deeper polarization is underway in the American economy.”
“The movement out of the middle-income tier has been more than just a step in one direction or the other,” the report says. “The fastest-growing segments are the ones at the extremes, the very lowest and highest ends of the income distribution.”
In addition, middle class families have fallen further behind financially, the study shows, with the share of U.S. aggregate household income held by middle-income households having “eroded significantly over time.”
“Upper-income households now command the greatest share of aggregate income and are on the verge of holding more in total income than all other households combined,” the report reads. “This shift is partly because upper-income households constitute a rising share of the population and partly because their incomes are increasing more rapidly than those of other tiers.”
The Pew findings support what many 2016 presidential candidates, led by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, have been saying on the campaign trail.
In an op-ed published this summer, Sanders decried what he called “the war against the American middle class,” marked by Wall Street greed, anti-worker policies, and corporate tax evasion.
And on Thursday, he tweeted:
There’s been a massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to the top 1%. We’ve got to bring that money back to working families.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in January found that 47 percent of respondents considered reducing income inequality an absolute priority for the government to pursue this year, with Democrats placing far greater importance on it than Republicans.
“The Middle Class, a popular figure in American folklore, died this week after a long battle with capitalism,” Nolan wrote. “Its passing has been expected since the recent death of its partner, The American Dream.”
On another level we are experiencing the financialization of the Western economy about which Michael Hudson is the leading expert (Killing The Host). Financialization is the process of removing any public presence in the economy and converting the economic surplus into interest payments to the financial sector.
These two developments deprive people of economic prospects. A third development deprives them of political rights. The Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Partnerships eliminate political sovereignty and turn governance over to global corporations.
These so called “trade partnerships” have nothing to do with trade. These agreements negotiated in secrecy grant immunity to corporations from the laws of the countries in which they do business. This is achieved by declaring any interference by existing and prospective laws and regulations on corporate profits as restraints on trade for which corporations can sue and fine “sovereign” governments. For example, the ban in France and other counries on GMO products would be negated by the Trans-Atlantic Partnership. Democracy is simply replaced by corporate rule.I have been meaning to write about this at length. However, others, such as Chris Hedges, are doing a good job of explaining the power grab that eliminates representative government.
By Chris Hedges
The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.
“The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”
The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.
These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.
The TPP removes legislative authority from Congress and the White House on a range of issues. Judicial power is often surrendered to three-person trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, environmental and advocacy groups and labor unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished.
Photo of Secretary of State John Kerry with President: AP Images
Following years of secret negotiating, the Obama administration released the text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at 3:30 a.m. today (Thursday, November 5). Although billed as a “trade agreement,” the treaty calls for economic and political “integration” among the TPP members. Adopting the model that transformed the European Common Market into the European Union, the TPP creates regional governing structures and processes aimed at eventual convergence into a similar EU-style super-state.
Currently, the TPP’s negotiating member states include the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. However, as we have been reporting here for years (see here and here ), the TPP architects have long stated their plans to use the TPP as a “stepping stone” to a much larger Free Trade Area of the Asian Pacific (FTAAP) that includes China and Russia.
The newly released text confirms this goal officially. The TPP Preamble states:
The Parties to this Agreement, resolving to:
ESTABLISH a comprehensive regional agreement that promotes economic integration….
EXPAND their partnership by encouraging the accession of other States or separate customs territories in order to further enhance regional economic integration and create the foundation of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.
As Christian Gomez reported for The New American on November 4, Secretary of State John Kerry (shown above with Obama) recently invited both Communist China and Russia to join the TPP. “We invite people to come join other initiatives, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP. We welcome China, we welcome Russia, we welcome other countries who would like to join, as long as they want to raise the standards and live up to the highest standards of protecting people and doing business openly and transparently and accountably,” Kerry said in an interview with Russian interstate channel Mir TV.
Written by William F. Jasper
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has wasted no time in sounding the alarm over the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the Obama administration unveiled to the public and Congress on Thursday.
The enormous agreement (over 5,500 pages), which had been negotiated over the past several years in strictest secrecy and kept tightly under wraps until now (see here and here), “confirms our fears,” said Sessions, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.
“The text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership runs 5,554 pages,” declared Sessions, in a statement issued Thursday, soon after the release of the text. “This is, by definition, anti-democratic,” he charged. “No individual American has the resources to ensure his or her economic and political interests are safeguarded within this vast global regulatory structure.”
According to Sessions: “The predictable and surely desired result of the TPP is to put greater distance between the governed and those who govern. It puts those who make the rules out of reach of those who live under them, empowering unelected regulators who cannot be recalled or voted out of office. In turn, it diminishes the power of the people’s bulwark: their constitutionally-formed Congress.”
Sessions, who has been one of the most trenchant critics of the TPP among Republicans in Congress, has repeatedly pointed out that hidden under the verbiage about trade and jobs, the TPP amounts to the instigation of an entirely new governance system, one that would gradually supplant our own. “Among the TPP’s endless pages are rules for labor, environment, immigration and every aspect of global commerce — and a new international regulatory structure to promulgate, implement, and enforce these rules,” he warns. “This new structure is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission — a Pacific Union — which meets, appoints unelected bureaucrats, adopts rules, and changes the agreement after adoption.”
“The Ivy Leaguebourgeoisiewho sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.” ~ Cory Morningstar
In his recent speech Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Nasrallah, alluded to a multi-phase “soft war” which relies upon the mass media complex to disseminate propaganda and bias, propelling the Middle East into, primarily, a sectarian crisis before descending even further into regionalism and finally a devastating individualism.
Cory Morningstar’s body of work does more than any other to expose the bare bones of the non-profit propaganda industry that governs both our reactions – and inactions, through a network of multi-layered and multi-faceted media manipulation campaigns, of which the end result is mass thought control. She explains:
“The 21st century NGO is becoming, more and more, a key tool serving the imperialist quest of absolute global dominance and exploitation. Global society has been, and continues to be, manipulated to believe that NGOs are representative of “civil society” (a concept promoted by corporations in the first place). This misplaced trust has allowed the “humanitarian industrial complex” to ascend to the highest position: the missionaries of deity – the deity of the empire.”
In a paper entitled, Foreign Aid and Regime Change: A Role for Donor Intent, written just prior to NATO intervention in Libya, Prof. Sarah Blodgett Bormeo describes the “democratization” process for target nations. Unwittingly or wittingly, Bormeo perfectly outlines the role played by NGOs in this process. Bormeo even goes so far as to pinpoint the lack of impartiality rife among NGOs large and small, the majority of whom, receive their funding directly from western government and major corporation sources – all of whom have a vested interest in the outcome of their NGO’s activities and ‘intervention’ in a particular location. Bormeo emphasises the importance of “picking winners” in this scenario, as opposed to respecting and supporting the will of the people in any sovereign nation.