fredag den 24. juni 2011

Surveillance and data mining: Romas/COIN.

"For at least two years, the U.S. has been conducting a secretive and immensely sophisticated campaign of mass surveillance and data mining against the Arab world, allowing the intelligence community to monitor the habits, conversations, and activity of millions of individuals at once. And with an upgrade scheduled for later this year, the top contender to win the federal contract and thus take over the program is a team of about a dozen companies which were brought together in large part by Aaron Barr - the same disgraced CEO who resigned from his own firm earlier this year after he was discovered to have planned a full-scale information war against political activists at the behest of corporate clients. The new revelation provides for a disturbing picture, particularly when viewed in a wider context. Unprecedented surveillance capabilities are being produced by an industry that works in secret on applications that are nonetheless funded by the American public – and which in some cases are used against that very same public. Their products are developed on demand for an intelligence community that is not subject to Congressional oversight and which has been repeatedly shown to have misused its existing powers in ways that violate U.S. law as well as American ideals. And with expanded intelligence capabilities by which to monitor Arab populations in ways that would have previously been impossible, those same intelligence agencies now have improved means by which to provide information on dissidents to those regional dictators viewed by the U.S. as strategic allies."

Source: Daily Kos.

Chris Hedges' Endgame Strategy

David Suzuki - Tree: A Life Story

UN Special Rapporteur: “Blockade of Gaza denies Palestinians humanity and dignity.”

UN Special rapporteur in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, yesterday denounced Israeli policies and practices in Gaza, describing them as “a deliberate policy of collective punishment which is legally indefensible and morally reprehensible. It is aimed at denying Palestinians humanity and a life with dignity. The blockade of Gaza must be lifted entirely and immediately.”

Falk continued by stating that “It is appalling that 300,000 Gazans seek to survive on less than $1 per day, deprived of their basic human rights and a life in dignity. UNRWA report aptly concludes that the Israeli blockade ‘deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.’ To this end, the deliberate policy of humiliation and degradation is only aimed at punishing the entire civilian population trapped in the Gaza Strip.”

Quotes of the day: Niall Ferguson.

“Last year (2007) the income of the average American (just under $34,000) went up by at most 5 per cent. But the cost of living rose by 4.1 per cent. So in real terms Mr Average actually became just 0.9 per cent better off. Allowing for inflation, the income of the median household in the United States has in fact scarcely changed since 1990, increasing by just 7 per cent in eighteen years. Now compare Mr Average's situation with that of Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer at Goldman Sachs, the investment bank. In 2007 he received $68.5 million in salary, bonus and stock awards, an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year, and roughly two thousand times more than Joe Public earned. That same year, Goldman Sachs's net revenues of $46 billion exceeded the entire gross domestic product (GDP) of more than a hundred countries, including Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia; Bolivia, Ecuador and Guatemala; Angola, Syria and Tunisia. The bank's total assets for the first time passed the $ i trillion mark. Yet Lloyd Blankfein is far from being the financial world's highest earner. The veteran hedge fund manager George Soros made $2.9 billion. Ken Griffin of Citadel, like the founders of two other leading hedge funds, took home more than $2 billion. Meanwhile nearly a billion people around the world struggle to get by on just $1 a day.”

“At times, the ascent of money has seemed inexorable. In 2006 the measured economic output of the entire world was around $47 trillion. The total market capitalization of the world's stock markets was $ 51 trillion, 10 per cent larger. The total value of domestic and international bonds was $68 trillion, 50 per cent larger. The amount of derivatives outstanding was $473 trillion, more than ten times larger. Planet Finance is beginning to dwarf Planet Earth. And Planet Finance seems to spin faster too. Every day two trillion dollars change hands on foreign exchange markets. Every month seven trillion dollars change hands on global stock markets. Every minute of every hour of every day of every week, someone, somewhere, is trading. And all the time new financial life forms are evolving.In 2006, for example, the volume of leveraged buyouts (takeovers of firms financed by borrowing) surged to $753 billion. An explosion of 'securitization', whereby individual debts like mortgages are 'tranched' then bundled together and repackaged for sale, pushed the total annual issuance of mortgage backed securities, asset-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations above $3 trillion. The volume of derivatives - contracts derived from securities, such as interest rate swaps or credit default swaps (CDS) – has grown even faster, so that by the end of 2007 the notional value of all 'over-the-counter' derivatives (excluding those traded onpublic exchanges) was just under $600 trillion. Before the 1980s, such things were virtually unknown. New institutions, too, have proliferated. The first hedge fund was set up in the 1940s and, as recently as 1990, there were just 610 of them, with $38 billion under management. There are now over seven thousand, with $1.9 trillion under management. Private equity partnerships have also multiplied, as well as a veritable shadow banking system of 'conduits' and 'structured investment vehicles' (SIVs), designed to keep risky assets off bank balance sheets. If the last four millennia witnessed the ascent of man the thinker, we now seem to be living through the ascent of man the banker.”

Niall Ferguson: The Ascent of Money.

torsdag den 23. juni 2011

Quotes of the day: Robert Albritton

Capitalism and Democracy:

“Capitalism is only supportive of democracy to a limited extent, for democracy requires a high level of equality, while capitalism generates inequality. To an extent capitalism has supported individual rights, which can be important dimensions of democracy; however, if inequality leaves large numbers in dire need, these rights can be weakened to the point of being almost meaningless. Thus free speech is terribly important, but it can be undermined when inequality creates a situation where de facto it is almost entirely the voices of small elites that are heard. For this reason, the emphasis on individual rights needs to be balanced by an emphasis on social rights and responsibilities that arise from a sense of social connectedness and generosity.”


“The large corporations that we see today are among some of the largest and most centrally planned economic units to ever exist, and as a consequence of their status as private property and legal persons, the public has only very limited and indirect ways of holding corporations publicly accountable. By law, corporations are supposed to maximize profits for stockholders, but this is a very narrow mission for such a powerful institution as the modern corporation. Further, not only is most corporate decision making behind closed doors, but it is relatively authoritarian in the sense that it is mostly top-down, being finalized by small circles of top management. Is it rational for small coteries of private individuals to have so much power over the fate of humanity? I think

Socializing Costs, Privatizing Profits:

“We must find ways to make corporations more democratically accountable, and to include in their calculations not only short-term profits but also social costs and benefits. For example, in capitalism as it exists, a corporation may contribute to respiratory illness by polluting the air, but it would be irrational for it to install expensive anti-pollution devices if by doing so, its profits would be reduced. Normally under capitalism, it is the taxpayers and consumers who will pay the tab for increased health care costs stemming from air pollution. This is an example of how capitalism privatizes profits and socializes costs. The capitalist imperative to privatize profits and socialize costs becomes particularly problematic when economic activity is generating enormous social costs by running up against the limits of human and environmental health and when it is continually deepening a horrendous inequality.”


“Most mainstream economists believe that by their own impulses markets can rationally price commodities, but when enormous social and environmental costs are not included in market prices, they can scarcely be thought of as rational. It follows that market prices need to be made more representative of real social costs and benefits. The “carbon tax” is one example where this is being advocated. A “sustainability tax” has also been advocated. Such taxes, however, can only be progressive from the point of view of human flourishing, if they are combined with redistributive
measures that make the necessities of life more affordable and not less to those with lower incomes. We can make markets more democratically accountable by treating them instrumentally, and this means being willing to intervene, whenever by doing so human or environmental flourishing are advanced.

Because markets are always embedded in and shaped by power relations, their outcomes are always likely to favour the powerful. Today the mainstream speaks of “market failures”, as though for the most part markets succeed. But what is the measure of their success? It surely cannot be distributive justice unless radical inequality can be made consistent with justice. Nor can it be environmental sustainability or human health.”

Robert Albritton in "Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity".

tirsdag den 21. juni 2011

Lykketoft melder sig under fanerne i opgøret med vækstdogmet.

Fra et interview med Lykketoft i gårsdagens udgave af Information:

»Et eksempel: Hvis den kinesiske vækst fortsætter nogenlunde usvækket, vil kineserne sidst i århundredet nå op på samme niveau pr. capita som amerikanerne. Vil de også bruge deres penge som amerikanerne, skal der bl.a. skaffes plads til 900 mio. biler. Det indebærer foruden helt uoverskuelige problemer for miljø, klima og ressourcer at dagens samlede risdyrkningsareal i Kina må inddrages til veje og parkeringspladser.«

»Det er ét blandt hundrede eksempler på, hvorfor det ikke kan lade sig gøre at give alle mennesker på Jorden en levestandard som den, vi efterspørger i dag. Ressourcerne til det findes simpelthen ikke. Det kan man godt prøve at fortrænge yderligere fem eller 10 år, men det bliver problemet ikke lettere at løse af.«

Quote of the day: Graham Hancock.

Graham Hancock on the War on Drugs:

"When we look at the history of the "war on drugs" over approximately the last forty years it must be asked whether the criminalisation of the use of any of the prohibited substances has in any way been effective in terms of the stated goals that this "war" was supposedly mounted to achieve? Specifically, has there been a marked reduction in the use of illegal drugs over the past forty years - as one would expect with billions of dollars of taxpayers' money having been spent over such a long period on their suppression - and has there been a reduction in the harms that these drugs supposedly cause to the individual and to society?

It is unnecessary here to set down screeds of statistics, facts and figures readily available from published sources to assert that in terms of its own stated objectives the "war on drugs" has been an abject failure and a shameful and scandalous waste of public money. Indeed it is well known, and not disputed, that the very societies that attempt most vigorously to suppress illegal drugs, and in which users are subject to the most stringent penalties, have seen a vast and continuous increase in the per capita consumption of these drugs. This is tacitly admitted by the vast armed bureaucracies set up to persecute drug users in our societies which every year demand more and more public money to fund their suppressive activities; if the suppression were working one would expect their budgets to go down, not up."

Glenn Greenwald: Supporters of Bradley Manning Risk Jail for Refusing to Testify in WikiLeaks Probe

Oceans on the brink of catastrophe.

The Independent today:

"The world's oceans are faced with an unprecedented loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory, a major report suggests today. The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, the report says, because of the cumulative impact of a number of severe individual stresses, ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification, to widespread chemical pollution and gross overfishing.

The coming together of these factors is now threatening the marine environment with a catastrophe "unprecedented in human history", according to the report, from a panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford earlier this year by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The stark suggestion made by the panel is that the potential extinction of species, from large fish at one end of the scale to tiny corals at the other, is directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions in the geological record, during each of which much of the world's life died out. They range from the Ordovician-Silurian "event" of 450 million years ago, to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction of 65 million years ago, which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs. The worst of them, the event at the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago, is thought to have eliminated 70 per cent of species on land and 96 per cent of all species in the sea."

Police Brutality in India.

mandag den 20. juni 2011

Iraq demands return of oil money 'stolen by U.S. institutions

The Daily Mail today:

Iraq is demanding the return of $17billion (£10.5billion) in oil money it says was stolen by U.S. institutions in the wake of the 2003 invasion. In a letter sent to the UN last month the Iraqi parliament asked for help finding and recovering the money, which disappeared from the Development Fund of Iraq.The parliament's Integrity Committee called the disappearance of the money a 'financial crime' but said UN Security Council resolutions prevent Iraq from making a claim against the United States.

'All the indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, (and) that it was about $17 billion,' said the letter. 'Our committee decided to send this issue to you ... to look into it and restore the stolen money.'

Er de borgerlige overhovedet demokrater?

Blandt medlemmerne af befolkningen er de fleste tilsyneladende enige om, at demokrati er en god ting, hvilket sandsynligvis hænger sammen med, at muligheden for at påvirke dagsordenen ved at gøre sin stemme gældende, vel i de flestes bevidstheder er at foretrække frem for at befinde sig i en situation hvor alle væsentlige beslutninger bliver truffet henover hovedet på een.

I langt de fleste af de institutioner hvori vi tilbringer størstedelen af vores tilværelse, er muligheden for medbestemmelse og for at påvirke dagsordenen imidlertid iøjnefaldende lav. Pyramideformede organisationsstrukturer med en stærk topstyring er overalt at finde, mens fladstrukturelle demokratiske organisationer er fraværende så langt øjet rækker. Såvel på arbejdspladserne, som i gymnasierne og på universiteterne er mulighederne for at påvirke de væsentligste beslutningsprocesser således stærkt begrænsede. Læren man kan udlede: demokrati hører til i det politiske rum og kun i det politiske rum.

jeg kan ikke huske hvornår jeg sidst har hørt en fra den borgerlige fløj beklage, at der ikke eksisterer nogen højere grad af medbestemmelse i erhvervslivet og har man det in mente, at de fleste blandt de borgerlige politikere på Borgen er svorne kapitalister kan man da også med rimelig grund antage, at det faktisk slet ikke er noget man er interesseret i. Det forholder sig jo sådan, at den globale kapitalistiske orden er karakteristisk ved at være fuldstændig domineret af gigantiske transnationale selskaber som organisatorisk er kendetegnet ved, at være langt tættere på at være totalitære end på at være demokratiske, idet beslutningstagningen kun foregår en vej, nemlig oppe fra og ned. Er man tilhænger af denne orden er man næppe tilhænger af folkelig styring.

Selvom man kunne forledes til at tro, at de politiske partier i en påstået demokratisk orden ville være de mest demokratiske organisationer, er ovennævnte topstyringstendens skam også at finde i det politiske rum. Der har således lydt kritik fra flere af de borgerlige partiers baglande desangående. Dette kan måske ikke alene bedømmes som et udslag af manglende demokratisk sindelag, men det er da også langt fra hele historien. I teorien er hele befolkningen repræsenteret via de folkevalgte repræsentanter i folketinget, men ser vi på den vej udviklingen har taget gennem det seneste borgerligt dominerede tiår, kan der næppe herske tvivl om, at der er ganske langt fra teori til praksis. Der er nemlig blevet ført en så høj grad af blokpolitik på den borgerlige fløj, at næsten halvdelen af den stemmeberettigede befolkning reelt ikke har været repræsenteret under den borgerlige styring af lovgivningsprocessen her i Danmark.

Det er imidlertid kun omtrent halvdelen af den her i landet gældende lovgivning, som overhovedet vedtages af de danske folkevalgte repræsentanter, idet en ganske væsentlig andel af gældende lov slet ikke vedtages her, men derimod i EU-regi. I EU er det kun ministerrådet som må lave udkast til nye lovforslag og ministrene er ikke direkte folkevalgte men udpeges af EU-landenes regeringer.

Den europæiske forfatningstraktat, der blev nedstemt af flere EU-lande, genopstod som Nice-traktaten med få kosmetiske ændringer. For at undgå at befolkningerne også nedstemte den blev den i de fleste tilfælde simpelthen vedtaget af magthaverne henover hovederne på befolkningerne. Dette var også tilfældet i Danmark, selvom Anders Fogh Rasmussen gentagent havde givet befolkningen løfter om, at der ville blive tale om en folkeafstemning i forbindelse med traktaten. I modsætning til den ret korte og let overskuelige grundlov er Nice-traktaten noget nær ulæselig for almindelige mennesker uden den fornødne juridiske ekspertise og selv for eksperterne kan det være vanskeligt at danne sig et grundigt overblik, idet traktaten består af mange tusinde sider med henvisninger til atter mange tusinde sider i de andre traktater. I modsætning til grundloven har befolkningen derfor meget vanskeligt ved at stifte bekendtskab med det juridiske grundlag for den politiske orden de er underlagt, hvorfor det er vanskeligt at tale om en europæisk politisk orden grundlagt på befolkningernes samtykke - en helt grundlæggende forudsætning for at kunne tale om demokrati - idet man vel næppe kan samtykke om noget man ikke har forudsætningerne for at forstå. Havde Anders Fogh Rasmussen selv sat sig grundigt ind i traktaten inden han og regeringen ratificerede den henover hovedet på befolkningen? Sandsynligvis ikke!

I en demokratisk orden der er sit navn værdigt værnes der om befolkningens retssikkerhed. Dette kan imidertid næppe siges at være tilfældet under den borgerlige styring af Danmark hvor vi i disse år er vidner til en omfattende eskalering af potentielt og/eller praktiske repressive tiltag, såsom mangedoblinger af hemmelige ransagninger, kollektiv afstraffelse (lømmelpakken), visitationszoner, overvågning, langvarige varetægtsfængslinger og administrativ uigennemsigtighed både i den udøvende og den dømmende magt. Som flere juridiske eksperter har gjort opmærksom på er retstaten under hastig afvikling. Desværre sover befolkningen.

I stedet for at være kollektivt medbestemmende og ansvarligt selvforvaltende, har vi i stedet lagt administrationen af vores liv og fælles fremtid i hænderne på karrierepolitikere, der lader til at bekymre sig mere om enten at komme til magten, eller om at beholde den, end om at varetage befolkningens kollektive interesser. Befolkningen er i praksis medbestemmende i så lille en grad i vores samfunds forskellige rum og institutioner, at begrebet 'folkestyre' i dag klinger ganske hult. Al tale om, at den borgerlige fløj er tilhængere af egentligt demokrati er derfor vanskelig at tage alvorlig. Desværre er der ikke meget der tyder på en ændring i positivere retning efter et eventuelt valgnederlag, idet Socialdemokraterne kun marginalt adskiller sig fra de øvrige borgerlige partier hvad alt ovenstående angår.

Iceland harnesses volcanic power for export

lørdag den 18. juni 2011

The Resource Curse: Uganda's Oil Will Probably Not Mean Prosperity for Its Impoverished Population.

"The discovery of oil in Africa has rarely brought about positive socio-economic outcomes. Indeed, quite the opposite is true: regions with an abundance of non-renewable sub-surface resources nearly always experience declining development and less economic growth than countries with fewer such resources.

Nigeria offers a disturbing example of this trend. Since production began in the mid 1960s, Nigeria has seen an oil bonanza worth more than $340 billion. But the economy remains in absolute tatters: more than 70% of Nigerians live in conditions of intractable poverty – earning less than a dollar a day – and the infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world. Indeed, Nigerians are significantly poorer today than they were at the start of the oil boom. Average incomes are less than one third what they were in 1980, and despite ballooning petroleum revenues per capita GDP remains at about 1965 levels. Similar problems plague Africa’s other major petroleum producers, like Chad, Angola, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea."

Excerpted from the Foreign Policy in Focus article "Saving Uganda from Its Oil."

fredag den 17. juni 2011

Quote of the day: Ha-Joon Chang.

The Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang in his new book "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism":

"Contrary to what is commonly believed, the performance of developing countries in the period of state-led development was superior to what they have achieved during the subsequent period of market-oriented reform. There were some spectacular failures of state intervention, but most of these countries grew much faster, with more equitable income distribution and far fewer financial crises, during the ‘bad old days’ than they have done in the period of marketoriented reforms. Moreover, it is also not true that almost all rich countries have become rich through free-market policies. The truth is more or less the opposite. With only a few exceptions, all of today’s rich countries, including Britaiand the US – the supposed homes of free trade and free market – have become rich through the combinations of protectionism, subsidies and other policies that today they advise the developing countries not to adopt. Free-market policies have made few countries rich so far and will make few rich in the future."

Occupation 101

Neoliberalismen og illusionen om det frie marked.

Neoliberalismen består af et sæt af økonomiske og politiske tanker som antager, at menneskelig velfærd bedst fordres ved at frigøre den individuelle iværksætterånd indenfor et institutionelt rammeværk kendetegnet ved en stærk ejendomsret og et frit marked. De neoliberale agitatorer for det frie marked fortæller os, at markedet bør frigøres fra alle former for statslig eller interstatslig kontrol, da det sagtens kan regulere sig selv og det vil således frisat fungere bedst muligt og derfor skabe størst mulig rigdom for alle. Staternes primære rolle i den globaliserede kapitalistiske orden er at sikre pengenes integritet og kvalitet og at værne om den private ejendomsret og politivirksomhed og militær infrastruktur er derfor nødvendige.

Disse neoliberale tanker har vundet indpas i store dele af den vestlige verdens politiske og økonomiske eliter, hvilket har udmøntet sig i at kollektiv (dvs. statslig) ejendom mange steder er blevet liberaliseret, mens statslige kontrolfunktioner ift. markedet i stor stil er blevet afskaffet. Problemet er bare, at der gennem det meste af industrialiseringens historie ikke har eksisteret noget egentligt frit marked fuldstændig upåvirket af statslig eller interstatslig indblanding, hvorfor tanken om, at markedet fungerer bedst når det er fuldstændig frit altså ikke kan siges at være historisk begrundet eller empirisk funderet og derfor kan neoliberalismen altså ikke siges at være grundlagt på saglighed, men må snarere betegnes som rendyrket ideologisk.

Tager vi den neoliberale logik ud i dens yderste konsekvens bliver det da også hurtigt klart, at den snarere end at sikre menneskelig velfærd faktisk i stor stil undergraver den. Hvis der ikke må eksister nogen som helst former for statslig eller interstatslig kontrol af markedet, ja så betyder det vel, at enhver skal have lov til at benytte sig af børnearbejde, til at bedrive handel med menneskelige organer og at ingen skal kunne forhindres af stater i eksempelvis at producere kemiske eller biologiske våben og i at sælge dem til hvem man måtte ønske. Det ville jo være ensbetydende med statslig indblanding i det frie markeds virke og dette er iflg. neoliberalisterne ikke til nogens fordel. Jeg indrømmer gerne, at der næppe er mange påståede neoliberale der ønsker dette, hvorfor man da også fristes til at hævde, at de nok ikke har tænkt deres nærmest fundamentalistiske tro på det frigjorte markeds godhed til ende.

Opgør med vækstparadigmet.

Vi lever på en endelig planet og derfor er de ressourcer vi kan tage i anvendelse selvfølgelig også begrænsede af denne endelighed. Alligevel synes idealet om en konstant fortsættelse af den økonomiske vækst at have karakter af et ganske fasttømret dogme som kun alt for sjældent spørges ind til og problematiseres. Hvad er eksempelvis målet med konstant økonomisk vækst? Hvorfor har vores samfund brug for at blive rigere i material forstand? Hvori består det bæredygtige i dette vækstideal i lys af den konstante forøgelse af belastning på biosfæren og dens begrænsede bæreevne?

Det er derfor opmuntrende at Information igår publicerede en kronik af Enhedslistens parlamentarikere Frank Aaen og Per Clausen hvori det herskende vækstparadigme indenfor mainstream-økonomien problematiseres. De skriver:

"Forestillingen om vækst som samfundets højeste værdi og et ubetinget gode er nok den mest udbredte borgerlige ‘sandhed’, som en ny regering må gøre op med.

Alle vismændene betragter vækst som så essentielt, at det end ikke er til diskussion. Det må vi gøre op med, og det kan bl.a. ske ved at inkludere økologiske og socialistiske økonomer blandt vismændene.

Vores vismandsreform skal altså ikke ses som et opgør med borgerlige smagsdommere, sådan som det er blevet udlagt i pressen. Det skal ses i sammenhæng med vores forslag om en bæredygtighedskommission.

Baggrunden for begge forslag er, at vi ønsker at gå fra et fokus på økonomi og vækst til et fokus på demokrati og bæredygtighed."

Jimmy Carter: Call Off the Drug War.

In an Op-Ed in the New York Times the former American president Jimmy Carter urges the US leadership to "Call Off the Global Drug War."


"In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts.

I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.

This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries."

Greek Turmoil Raises Fears of Instability Around Europe.

"The instability rocking Greece this week is the latest manifestation of a troubling new phase in the global financial crisis: political turmoil is sweeping through Europe, toppling governments and threatening to undermine efforts to rescue the financial system and, ultimately, the euro zone itself."

Source: NYTimes.

Anti-intellectualism: Bush White House Wanted to Discredit Dissenting Professor.

Former CIA officer Glenn Carle has told the New York Times that he was ordered to dig up compromising information about the American professor of Middle Eastern history and informed dissident blogger, Juan Cole, in order to discredit him, presumably in the hope of silencing his criticism. Understandably Cole finds this information disturbing and he therefore asks for the Senate and House Intelligence Committees to launch an investigation into the matter. Yesterday Cole wrote on his blog:

"Carle’s revelations come as a visceral shock. You had thought that with all the shennanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that the Company and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens.

I believe Carle’s insider account and discount the glib denials of people like Low. Carle is taking a substantial risk in making all this public. I hope that the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned. Like Mr. Carle, I am dismayed at how easy it seems to have been for corrupt WH officials to suborn CIA personnel into activities that had nothing to do with national security abroad and everything to do with silencing domestic critics. This effort was yet another attempt to gut the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, in this case as part of an effort to gut the First Amendment of the US Constitution."

This first response was followed by another posted today on

"Very unfortunately, President Obama just signed a four-year extension of the so-called PATRIOT Act, with three central provisions that permit warrantless spying by government agencies on US residents. This extension was rushed through the Congress with parliamentary maneuvers and opponents of it who wanted a public debate were shut down by Reid and Boehner.

If the Bush White House blithely picked up the phone and asked the Central Intelligence Agency to gather information on my private life for the purpose of destroying me politically– a set of actions that was illegal every which way from Sunday– then imagine how powerful government officials are using the legal authorization they receive from the PATRIOT Act to spy on and marginalize perceived opponents.

The act is clearly unconstitutional and guts key Bill of Right protections. Among its disturbing aspects is the access it gives government agencies to individuals’ library records, business records and other personal effects without requiring probable cause of a crime being committed. And while the wiretap provisions target non-US citizens, they extend to any conversations the latter have with US citizens. The framers of the constitution in any case believed that the liberties they proclaimed extended to “all men,” not just citizens.

Worse, Sen. Ron Wyden has said that there is a “secret PATRIOT Act” in the sense that there is a government interpretation of the act that allows surveillance and intrusiveness far beyond what the letter of the statute seems to permit.

The scale of the electronic surveillance of Americans’ private correspondence by the National Security Agency is barely imaginable, and we have no idea how much of our communications are being stored on NSA servers and sifted through by computer programs.

The Congress should revisit the PATRIOT Act in the light of the revelation of what was attempted in my regard, and should repeal the damn thing. Failing that, the federal judiciary should find it unconstitutional, which it is. But one of the things that worries me is that some of the key political and judicial personnel who might want to move against it may themselves already have been victims of surveillance, entrapment and blackmailing. Just how corrupt has our whole governmental apparatus become, that clear violations of our Constitution are blithely accepted?"

A collecting of articles regarding the war on Iraq authored by Cole in 2005 and 2006 can be read on

And, Interestingly, Wikipedia has the following to say about anti-intellectualism as a prominent feature of authoritarian societies:

"Dictators, and their dictatorship supporters, use anti-intellectualism to gain popular support, by accusing intellectuals of being a socially detached, politically-dangerous class who question the extant social norms, who dissent from established opinion, and who reject nationalism, hence they are unpatriotic, and thus subversive of the nation."