Greater Than Ever Super-Wealth Fuels Increasing Inequality

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Super-rich individuals never had things better, benefitting at the expense of increased impoverishment – engineered by governments complicit with their privileged class, a high crime against humanity, ongoing worldwide.

According to its latest report last March, Forbes magazine said it identified 2,208 billionaires in 72 countries – their combined super-wealth a staggering $9.1 trillion, their average net worth $4.1 billion. 

Their ranks doubled in the past decade. It’s the world’s most exclusive club, the super-wealth of its members likely made the old-fashioned way. Balzac once said “(b)ehind every great fortune lies a great crime.”

America leads the world with 585 billionaires, China second with 373. According to an Oxfam report titled “Private Good or Public Wealth,” 26 billionaires have as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.8 billion people combined – a disturbing indictment of governments allowing extreme inequality to exist and grow.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said “(w)e can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Democracy in America was always pure fantasy from inception, the disparity between rich and poor in the country today unprecedented, worsening, not improving because of policies supported by both wings of the nation’s war party.

Economies are broken,  

“hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top,” said Oxfam.

Concentrated super-wealth increased exponentially in the past decade, fortunes of the world’s super-rich growing by $2.5 billion a day.

Yet millionaires, billionaires, and corporations get tax breaks to avoid paying their fair share. The human cost keeps growing, including “children without teachers, clinics without medicines,” along with higher education and healthcare the way it should be increasingly unaffordable for growing millions.

The wealth of the world’s billionaire class increased by $900 billion last year, extreme poverty moving in the opposite direction.

Around 3.4 billion people, nearly half of humanity, struggle to survive on less that $5.50 a day. “Taxing the world’s richest 1% an extra 0.5% would raise enough money to educate 262 million children lacking education, along with providing enough healthcare to save 3.3 million lives,” said Oxfam.

How many millions and billions of dollars does anyone need to live comfortably to luxuriously virtually anywhere? How many expensive homes, cars, yachts, or other luxuries are too many?

While super-wealth increased exponentially last year alone, the wealth of the world’s poorest people declined by around $500 million daily, loosing 11% of their meager resources.

Oxfam’s report “shows the growing gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies and fueling public anger across the globe.”

In America, it was greatly aided by the great GOP tax cut heist, benefitting the rich and big business, using their added wealth to create more of it.

Governments worldwide are part of the problem, “exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education,” Oxfam explained, adding:

“(W)omen and girls are hardest hit by rising economic inequality,” along with people of color in America and elsewhere. Oxfam America’s vice president for policy and campaigns Paul O’Brien said the following:

“The last ten years clearly shows that we have learned nothing. Since the global economy collapsed, the number of billionaires has doubled, with a new billionaire being minted every other day.”

“While corporations and the super-rich enjoy the lowest tax bills, millions of girls around the world have no access to a decent education, and women are dying due to a lack of maternity care.”

“The recent US tax law is a master class on how to favor massive corporations and the richest citizens.”

“The law rewards US companies that have trillions stashed offshore, encourages US companies to dodge foreign taxes on their foreign profits, and fuels a global race to the bottom that benefits big business and wealthy individuals at the expense of poor people everywhere.”

Since the neoliberal 90s, the race to the bottom accelerated markedly, especially in the past decade. Public services are increasingly underfunded, especially in developing countries, increasingly in wealthy ones, notably in the West.

Around 10,000 people die daily for lack of affordable healthcare, Oxfam explained. The race to the bottom in the West and everywhere else benefits super-wealth at the expense of the most vulnerable.

Instead of governments serving everyone equitably, they largely benefit their privileged class exclusively, things progressively worsening, not improving.

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Goldman Sachs: Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Goldman Sachs (GS) makes money the old-fashioned way by stealing it, scamming investors, defrauding them.

Its operations involve manipulative fraud on a massive scale, the way it’s operated throughout its history.

When caught red-handed, slap-on-the-wrist punishment at most is imposed, management free to steal again through fraud, grand theft, market manipulation, front-running them, and scamming investors worldwide.

Its senior management officials operate like shadowy Mafia dons, a crime family, posing as an investment bank/financial services company, connected to others like it on Wall Street and corrupt politicians, complicit in the firm’s shady operations in return for generous campaign contributions.

In 2010, an SEC civil suit charged GS with defrauding customers. It made billions from the scam, repaying $550 million. It was pocket change, the equivalent of a handful of revenue days.

None of its senior officials were ever held accountable for their manipulative activities. Former GS mortgage bond trader Fabrice Tourre was a rare exception on Wall Street, prosecuted for fraud – not his superiors, OKing how he defrauded investors.

GS is perhaps the most adept on Wall Street at amassing fortunes the old-fashioned way. Chairman Lloyd Blankfein earlier called company operations “doing God’s work.”

Manipulative activities include advising clients to buy assets the firm wants to dump, notably toxic ones, getting clients to assume dangerously speculative positions, things making GS the maximum profits – at the expense of scammed investors.

In 2002, the firm was largely responsible for Greece’s debt crisis. A GS scam involved circumventing Eurozone rules in return for mortgaging assets.

Through creative accounting, debt was hidden in off-balance sheet accounts. Cross-currency swaps derivatives were used. 

Government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euros, then exchanged back into original currencies. Debt entrapment followed, Greece held hostage by Brussels to bankers to service and repay it.

GS profited hugely by scamming Greece, leaving most of its people impoverished. Its business model thrives on similar schemes globally – conniving, cheating, and profiting at the expense of scammed investors.

For years GS scammed the sovereign 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) wealth fund.

In 2015, US prosecutors began investigating Goldman’s involvement in raising over $6 billion for 1MDB. In 2016, an investigation began into the firm’s $3 billion bond deal for the fund.

Malaysia filed criminal charges against GS and two former officials over looting billions of dollars from the fund. Attorney General Tommy Thomas accused former GS Southeast Asia chairman Tim Leissner and former managing director Roger Ng of fraudulently deceiving the fund’s management.

Other GS employees were also charged. Malaysian authorities want the company to repay $2.7 billion in misappropriated funds, along with $600 million in fees charged.

Prosecutors also demand up to 10 years imprisonment for the accused GS personnel, along with stiff fines assessed against them.

They were accused of using looted dollars to buy luxury mansions, yachts, a private jet, artwork, and other expensive items. Former prime minister Najob Razak may have been involved, perhaps bribed by GS to go along with the scam.

The UAE is suing Goldman over its alleged role in a bribery scam. In 2014, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) sued the firm after losing 98% of $1.3 billion LIA invested with GS in 2007.

GS made over $1 billion in derivatives trades with LIA funds, almost their entire value lost, Goldman earning around $350 million from its manipulation. A 2016 trial ruling was in the company’s favor, showing how tough it is to hold the firm accountable.

In January 2016, GS was fined $15 million for arranging to borrow securities for short sales without authorization.

Goldman earlier was charged with manipulating the oil market, aiming to increase the commodity’s price by speculating in oil futures.

GS and other Wall Street firms were also accused of manipulating other commodities, including aluminum.

In 2013, Goldman was subpoenaed as part of an investigation into complaints that company-owned metals warehouses “intentionally created delays and inflated the price of aluminum.”

Along with JP Morgan Chase, GS was accused of violating US antitrust laws. Months later, Goldman sold its aluminum warehouses to Ruben Brothers.

he company is being investigated in various countries, including the US, for its manipulative practices.

Most often when caught red-handed, punishment, if any, is minor compared to huge profits made from dubious practices.

Earlier I compared Goldman to the fabled comic book Superman character, saying:

GS is faster than competitors, thanks to its proprietary software ability to front-run markets illegally and get away with it.

It’s more powerful than the government it controls and manipulates advantageously to its bottom line; and

It’s able to leap past competitors, given special status afforded the firm by Republicans and undemocratic Dems.

Economics Professor L. Randall Wray once explained that SEC laxity let Goldman “sleep through every bubble and bust in recent memory (it helped create) since it took over Washington during the Clinton years.”

In his book titled “The Great Crash, John Kenneth Galbraith included a chapter on Goldman, explaining how the firm contributed to the Great Depression by selling risky investment trusts to unwary buyers.

They collapsed like a house of cards, the valuation of one dropping from a $104 per share price high to less than $2 at rock bottom.

Goldman made a fortune from the scam. Buyers lost their collective shirts. Things are much the same today.

Goldman’s power and influence lets the firm and its management get away with all sorts of things that would land ordinary people behind bars longterm.

French Lessons

Yellow vests mass protests against the rise in fuel prices in the French capital of Paris

Finian Cunningham

French people are standing up for their rights and speaking out for many others around the world who are sick at the injustice of capitalism. None more so than people of Western states who have had to endure decades of economic austerity while a tiny elite become ever more obscenely wealthy.

In addition to the irrational malign distribution of wealth that capitalism bestows, Western states — that is, the oligarch-serving politicians — spend and waste inordinate financial resources on militarism and waging criminal wars.

READ MORE: Yellow Vests Revolution Drives Beyond France’s Borders — Author

For the fourth weekend in a row, the French public have taken to the streets of Paris and other major cities to demand economic justice.
They also want President Emmanuel Macron to resign. Macron has so far kept his usual aloof silence on the protests, leaving it up to his prime minister Edouard Philippe to placate the angry nation.

Bringing the country to almost a standstill by blocking transport links and fuel supply, the French have demonstrated “people power” and what can be achieved when we organize for our rights.Macron’s government has caved in to scrap plans for tax hikes on the transport fuel. Those proposed price hikes is what triggered ordinary people’s fury, donning the now symbolic “yellow vests” that all drivers in France are obliged to carry in vehicles for safety reasons.

The French public say the new taxes would hit their livelihoods.
Macron claimed the new fuel levies were for raising government funds in order to pay for transition to a more ecologically sustainable society.

However, ordinary citizens point out that Macron — whom they disparage as “president for the rich” — recently abolished taxes for the very wealthy. That giveaway could have been used instead by the government to fund whatever green projects it is planning.

Macron’s administration is also planning major tax reductions for big business and corporations. Again, that move shows the elitist priorities of this president and his ministers. The Élysée Palace is intent on making the majority of working people pay for social changes, rather the rich class who could easily afford it.

READ MORE: Yellow Vests Protests: Paris Police Countermeasures Reportedly Leaked

In addition, the French state spends about $50 billion a year on military. If that expenditure was, say, halved, then there would be no need for austerity and arbitrary cuts in public services and welfare.
The French extravagance on military is typical of all Western states and NATO members in particular. If they slashed their militarism, then other countries like Russia and China would also be able to reduce their military budgets, which are maintained out of defensive posture owing to the aggressive stance of Western states.

The French yellow vest movement appears to be at a momentous turning point. It could go either of two significant directions.Already, the Macron government has capitulated over its brazen tax burdens on ordinary citizens. There is a sense that the elitist president and his administration are teetering to stay in office. For the French people their protest movement has gone beyond fuel levies.
They are questioning the entire neoliberal capitalist system, and why they have been made to endure decades of economic exploitation and oppression.

Moreover, there are signs that the yellow vest movement is inspiring the public in other European countries to likewise take to the streets and finally hold the oligarchic system to account. There are reports of similar solidarity protests taking place in neighboring Belgium. We can be sure that governments across Europe are wary of a tidal wave of people power.

There is also a more ominous, sinister direction. A foretaste of that was seen last week when French riot police arrested dozens of high school students rallying against education reforms, and made them kneel on the ground, hands on head. Some of the students were forced to kneel with their faces against a wall.

That scene has horrified many people in France and further afield. It bore the actions of a police-state dictatorship and the abrogation of legal rights. Some commentators even remarked that the detained students cowering in front of armed officers looked like a mock-execution scenario.

This weekend ahead of the planned protests in Paris, hundreds of people traveling to the capital to join demonstrations were arrested “preemptively” by police, and taken into custody. The French authorities claim they were preventing “trouble makers” from inciting violence.

Though many other French citizens fear that what is really going on is the beginning of repressive crackdown by the state against democratic rights to free speech and public assembly.

READ MORE: 950 People Detained During Yellow Vests Protests in Paris — Reports

Recall too how only a few weeks ago, during World War One commemorations, President Macron sparked a hue and cry when he praised former General Philippe Pétain for his battlefield bravery. Pétain later became the leader of Vichy France which collaborated with the German Third Reich during World War Two. Ignominiously, the French state functioned as a fascist regime, rounding up tens of thousands of its citizens, and dispatching them to Nazi death camps.

Arguably, capitalism is an irrational, anti-democratic system that always has a tendency towards oligarchy, militarism and fascism. When the economy is doing relatively well, then the system tolerates forms of “liberal democracy”. But when the system is running on empty, then more extreme powers are exercised to control the restless masses.Decades of economic austerity and mass impoverishment across Western states show that capitalism can no longer disguise itself as liberal democracy. The people are rightly becoming restless and angry for their human rights: to have decent jobs, salaries and public services.

The rebellious French are inspiring all people to demand what is their natural rights and to overthrow the injustice of capitalism. That could go in an historic progressive direction, not just in France, but across all Western oligarchic states.

There again, the powers-that-be may, out of desperation to retain their privileges and wealth, go full fascism. The liberal mask of Western democracies appears to be slipping to reveal the brute force beneath.

We seem to be at a historic juncture.

The views and opinions expressed by the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Thanksgiving: The Annual Genocide Whitewash

BY Belen Fernandez
Source 

800px-The_First_Thanksgiving_cph.3g04961_36d1d.jpg

When I was a schoolchild in the US a couple of short decades ago, I spent my time acquiring important life skills, ranging from how to fake a wrist fracture in order to obtain a purple cast, to how to craft a teepee replica out of a paper bag.

The latter art was perfected in accordance with the holiday of Thanksgiving, which arrived each November to great fanfare, and which, in addition to teepee replication, required my classmates and I to mass-produce turkey drawings, paper Pilgrim hats, and modified, feathered headdresses.

These materials were then incorporated into our reenactments of the “original” Thanksgiving feast: that mythologised, gastronomic encounter of 1621 between Pilgrims and Native Americans that now serves as a cornerstone of the fairytale version of US history.

On the surface, it may seem that there’s not much to criticise about a holiday based on gratitude and eating – especially when it’s accompanied by absurd spectacles like the presidential turkey pardon.

But a glance at the historical context of Thanksgiving reveals a thoroughly nauseating affair.

Land grabs and massacres

For starters, as University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen reminds us in a dispatch on the AlterNet website, the very term “thanksgiving” is saturated with disgrace.

By 1637, Jensen writes, Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop “was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children” – a bloody pattern that would “repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated”.

The work of historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, serves up plenty of additional food for thought, on why Thanksgiving perhaps shouldn’t inspire too many warm-and-fuzzy feelings.

In a 2015 paper on the indisputable genocide of Native Americans, Dunbar-Ortiz explained point blank that settler colonialism in general “requires a genocidal policy” and that “Euro-American colonialism, an aspect of the capitalist economic globalization, had from its beginnings a genocidal tendency.”

Among the many, obvious financial perks of land theft, Dunbar-Ortiz noted that the seizure of Native American trade routes also prompted acute shortages of food and other necessities, thereby “weaken[ing] populations and forc[ing] them into dependency on the colonisers, with European manufactured goods replacing indigenous ones.”

So much for bountiful harvests.

In his book, A People’s History of the United States, late historian Howard Zinn outlined other mechanisms of capitalist dispossession. An 1814 “treaty” with the Creek nation, for example, functioned by “splitting Indian from Indian, breaking up communal landholding, bribing some with land, leaving others out – introducing the competition and conniving that marked the spirit of Western capitalism.”

Furthermore, US “land grabs” of Native American territory “laid the basis for the cotton kingdom, the slave plantations.”

In short, with such a sinister past on their plate, it’s no wonder US mythmakers prefer to focus on pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

Predatory capitalism

In recent remarks headlined “I am tired of being invisible to you all,” rural development economist and indigenous rights activist Winona LaDuke summed up the logic underpinning the United States’ vigorous campaign to whitewash its criminal history vis-a-vis the Native Americans: “If you make the victim disappear, there is no crime.”

But how, exactly, to go about making victims disappear when US crimes are far from said and done with, and the ramifications of genocidal policy are ongoing?

There are, it seems, several possible approaches. Consider the fact that, as late as the 1970s, the forced sterilisation of Native American women in the US was not uncommon.

In other, even more literal instances of physical elimination, as CNN reported earlier this month, data from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that “Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group.”

Case in point: just a few days prior to the CNN report, a 14-year-old Native American boywas gunned down by a US law enforcement official on a reservation in the state of Wisconsin.

Last year, meanwhile, the Independent observed that, of 29 Native Americans killed by US police between 1 May 2014 and 31 October 2015, “27 of those deaths received no coverage” in the media.

Talk about disappearing acts.

As it turns out, many of those killed suffered from mental illness. And indeed, one can easily argue that the prevalence of mental health conditions among Native American groups isn’t enormously surprising in light of continuous antagonism by US authorities and society, often in the form of socioeconomic ostracisation and environmental destruction – not to mention food insecurity.

It’s pretty clear, then, that a lot of people in the United States won’t have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. But at least there’s Black Friday to look forward to: the ode to gross overconsumption that directly follows the supposed day of gratitude (and that has been known to result in news headlines like “Wal-Mart worker killed in Black Friday shopping stampede”).

To be sure, the Black Friday phenomenon only befits a nation built on predatory capitalism – where material excess is rendered sacred, obscene inequality is the name of the game, and communal bonds are systematically obliterated along with any remaining potential for human symbiosis with the physical environment.

In the end, you don’t need to gorge yourself on turkey and stuffing to see that the United States itself is positively sick.

The Immaturity Of American Concepts

The Immaturity Of American Concepts

by Denis A. Conroy for the Saker blog

One imagines… from outside of America at least…that the political system there, robust one year, retro the next, is on its way to drowning in a sea of vitriolic comeuppance. Half the population think Donald Trump is a buffoon while the other half think the Donald is o.k. But what we overlook is the fact that the population of America living within the aegis of casino capitalism has produced…per se…the conditions for buffoonery. It appears that the working-and middle-class were too busy lapping up dollar benefits to notice that global capitalism had allowed an international corporate class to acquire massive political power across the nations…neo-conservative doctrines arrived to privatise fruition…and the people too immature to understand what was happening.

But the truth of the matter is that American predatory practices are accepted as the norm by the population so long as they get a piece of the action. They are fine with that so long as the ‘trickle-down-effect’ of wealth continues to work for them. They are fine with everything their government does so long as they make money. They are even fine with their government’s foreign policy programs which demonise foreign competitors before destroying their infrastructure and systems of government. ‘To the victor goes the spoils’ factor that they benefit from has become the modus operandi of the world’s richest ‘democracy’ doing it for oligarchs and dictators who basically abjure the concept of democracy.

The systemic roots of degeneracy were much in evidence, but a glib population went along for the ride…as long as Corporate America and the military could impose their own concept of maturation on the system, things would come to fruition. Dollars would keep coming. The people had been indoctrinated into believing that might was right. Those among us who might challenge the inhospitable hegemonic pretentions of the power elites could be restrained. The rhetorical harbingers of American style progress…those who controlled the wealth of the nation…would in time align themselves with the House of Saud, the House of Abraham and the House of Christian Evangelism. Their respective muses manufactured metaphysical chicanery to keep their communities from becoming free from their cant. Political thinking had to be privatized.

But what came into being in America was a brand of ‘democracy’ which professed an aversion to public ownership, public accountability and anything and everything relating to any form of public scrutiny. It would become the ‘stuff’ of American culture long before Margaret Thatcher distilled the privatisation factor for neo-con-speak with such statements as, “There is no such thing as Society, there are individual men and women, and there are families”. She also said, “As God once said, and I think rightly” …!!…which leaves one to wonder if privatising morality is a good thing, as the energies and programming that go into self-gratification must inevitably conform to practices that escape the notice of the public. Was Maggie onto something…a recipe for corporate greatness perhaps…when she said, “You don’t tell deliberate lies, but sometimes you have to be evasive”.

So, on with the motley; isn’t Western capitalism an outcrop of European colonialism? Isn’t corporate jingo-speak the language of exploitation? Isn’t it cute, though inexplicably absurd, that Americans mistook Shylock for Santa Claus.

Evidently the elite operate on the basis that the ‘people’ are too immature to comprehend the concept of democracy…which means that they are vulnerable when ‘democracy’ from above is imposed on them. It was Margaret Thatcher who presaged The War on Terror with her statement, “All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail. It must be business-as-usual”. This said, business as usual was heating up the planet as was Margaret’s rhetoric.

So, when Donald Trump won the presidency, the business that is the business of the two-party system experienced an upping of the ante when the new chief deal-maker began pouring ever more toxicity into the swamp by nationalising his emotions per twitter twaddle. Fear and loathing had now reached such levels that it threatened to deflect the public from the real issues which were parasitism, inequality and evasiveness…the narcissism that cannibalises what is left of the American soul.

The red and blue fight involving the Republican and Democratic parties, hardly disguise the level of hatred that runs through the veins of the monochromatic American political beast that has been nurtured on dollars. The twin-headed beast has become a threat to the well-being of the entire globe.

From the European and Middle Eastern wombs came concepts of the hoary hegemonic kind that had roots in hoary religious tomes spewing forth monochromatic texts dealing with identity and ownership of truth. Over time becoming the boundaries that defined states. The British Crown, claimed that much of the world was their backyard, believing that the sun never set upon its empire. From the American ‘crown’ came the belief that God gave them the engineering skills to revamp his creation, garrison the globe with military bases, engineer wars for profit while celebrating whiteness, and generally fuck-over anyone who disagreed with them, be they climate scientists or the more sentient among the population who questioned notions of maturity.

But the strangest engineering feat of all was the creation of a coalition of the willing…the children of Western enlightenment no less, the white educated class who believed that they, and only they, possessed mature knowhow that would save the developing world from itself. In time it would become known as the white man’s burden and cost the natives of far-flung lands dearly.

But when America succeeded Britain in the role of super-grandee rearranging the complexion of the oil rich Middle East, it did precisely what its predecessor had done…suppress the aspirations of the various people who were seeking liberation from oppression by supporting dictators amenable to the interests of these latter-day colonists. To establish a hegemonic system loyal to the interests of Western banking, the petro-dollar system was implemented so as to give the emerging empire currency primacy and control over the vital interests of large parts of the globe.

But what defines the corporate mind is evasiveness. The selective particularism of the established news outlets demonstrate how active support for obtuse lesser-evil concepts can generate negative energy on both sides of the political equation for the purpose of giving identity politics ad hominem status by denigrating the character of entire groups. An ugly red versus blue spat roils the political waters as either side presents its case for doing the business of America. Degeneration had been an American weapon of export till it arrived back in the homeland as blowback.

But it is the business of America that throws a shadow across the globe. Specious killing has become its bottom line simply because killing is good for business. The lesser of two evils twaddle is a misnomer in a society that has never found its moral compass. Americans appears to be forever readying for an election, but nothing of significance ever changes or is even discussed. In a nation of private banks, public welfare has become passe. Meanwhile, millions in public service and academia mutely wait out their time in a manner that doesn’t threaten the safety of their pension funds while occasionally…and wistfully perhaps…reflect on the consequences of the aggression America and its allies have wrought on the world at large.

Too bad about hapless Yemen and the wanton slaughter of civilians over there! Too bad about hapless Gaza and the wanton slaughter of civilians over there! Or put more simply; it’s too bad about hapless Yemen, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, and the wanton slaughter of people across the globe. Propaganda had become playdough in the greasy hands of Anglo-Zionist corporatism, and the journalism provided by the New York Times was strictly for the manicured minds in the Beltway.

But as nothing is as it seems to be, truth must remain a shadow on the cave wall, sometimes a statistical blur, sometimes a pig-in-a-poke. But the cleverest pig in the American poke must be AIPAC, an institution that manages…quite rabbinically…the tensions that exist between anti-Semitism and Philo-Semitism in a country that is xenophobic, socially underdeveloped and evangelical. It has made pig-in -the-poke politics extraordinarily successful by secreting itself into the heart of the system, thereby gaining inordinate control of the so-called Western narrative. Having situated itself as a media player…with the help of the New York Times etc…it has been extremely successful in deflecting critical attention from the destruction of Palestine. It became an institution that gave new meaning to the ‘embedded’ concept.

AIPAC had read the cards correctly and knew only too well how to play the evasive corporate game; keep public interest from spoiling the privateer’s banquet for a start. Its biggest achievement to date is to have ventured into the very heart of its host country economically and achieve unconditional military support for its colonization of Palestine. Its other significant achievement has been to present the Jews as a people of great moral stature to the American people and have them share in their hatred of the Palestinians. But the cleverest achievement of all…and I wonder how this reflects on the American public and much of the West…is to have played the anti-Semitic card to such effect, that so-called civilized communities across the West are rendered mute when confronted by the barbaric colonization that is going on in Palestine. It’s as if the American public, upon observing what is happening in Palestine, see the mirror image of their own business-as-usual mentality, and accept it as normal.

But from outside the west, the perspective is very different, Zionism is seen as a critical mass controlling the critical responses to Zionist propaganda in the many countries that host them. Anti-Semitism is unique to those who imagine that Jews live off the bounty created by non-maleficent business practices in a variety of Western countries, while retaining allegiance to an historic mythological narrative from which they derive notions of exceptionality. That they project them onto their host countries becomes another issue. For instance, the accusations of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn…an honourable man and non-racist who has many supporters who regard the criticism of him as a conspiracy…illustrates how Zionist propaganda can release ad hominem viruses into Western institutions for the purpose of establishing for itself the role of the supreme arbiter in matters pertaining to the moral high ground.

John F. Kennedy is on record as saying,

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

When he said these words, he was not addressing special interest groups or portions of the community…he was thinking of the ‘social’ fabric, the entire community. Wall Street casino capitalism, big wasteful Pentagon military budgets, CIA stoked instability, Zionist style Machiavellianism, media-military collaboration and relationships during times of perpetual war were some of the ‘portions’ he had to bypassed. John F. Kennedy, like Martin Luther King was aware that proportionality was a prerequisite to inclusiveness; unfortunately, both were assassinated.

The American way was always to shoot off guns or shout down those who had a social vision. The elites imagined that the many were there to serve the celebrated few. If Margaret Thatcher had been an American, would she have said…’there is no public, there is only The Dow’?

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia.

Great Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogGreat Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading

November 02, 2018

Ten years ago my life was all screwed up by the economic crisis I had nothing to do with.

In August 2008 AFP (Agence France Presse) said that if I learned French they’d give me a job. I moved in with my parents and studied five hours a day seven days a week for five months. By the time I arrived in France in February AFP, along with everyone else, was no longer hiring. The crisis had started in September with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

So I had wasted all that time and effort. I was in France but sans job – a big problem on multiple levels. I could translate French copy into English adequately but I immediately realised I could not understand anything the French were saying to me, nor could I say hardly anything to them. I was a jobless, isolated, unneeded immigrant with no income and questionable prospects in an overcrowded field now undergoing a second recession (the internet provided the first recession in journalism jobs).

Ten years later, I consider myself lucky: that is hardly the worst story you’ve heard caused by capitalism’s ever-guaranteed, always-exacerbated failures.

What have we learned?

Why are you asking me? Well, I better have something to say because, very fortunately (and rather undeservedly, given the many better journalists here in Paris), for most of the last decade I seem to have been one of the busiest on-the-ground English-language TV reporters in Paris.

Covering the Great Recession from Europe is, I think, far different than covering it from the United States because Europeans often insist that their democracy, economy and mindset is qualitatively different from those in America.

The Great Recession in America was just a case of bad getting worse – dilapidated infrastructure from the Depression or Eisenhower eras remaining dilapidated, widespread drug and alcohol addiction falling deeper into the rabbit hole, near-zero government assistance remaining near-zero, tons of crime devolving into tons of crime now committed by people with tattoos on their faces – i.e., no real change and no real hope for change.

But Europe – ooh la la, they have too much class for tattoos on their faces. They have long-represented the alleged “Third Way”, which gracefully sidestepped American yahoo-ism and (alleged) Soviet totalitarianism, and were recently united in the (alleged) ever-greater fraternity which was the European Union and the Euro.

So what have we learned in 10 years? Last month a former employer of mine reported on the correct price for the best bottle of wine – $558,000.

What on earth is that, besides grounds for a public near-lynching? That is asset inflation of the worst, most socially-useless type. In 2008, that same price got you 27 bottles of wine, which was then the highest price ever paid for a single lot.

This two reports perfectly describe what has been the West’s fiscal policy since the Great Recession began: using taxpayer money to inflate the assets only owned by the rich and the propertied class in order to increase only their wealth. They have spent 10 years re-creating a bubble for upper-class assets – wine is never worth $93,000 a glass any more than a bottle was worth $19,000.

In the same vein, a Leonardo da Vinci painting is not worth the $450 million Mohammad Bin Salman paid for it last year. These massive, heinous, sinful sums are not being forked over because “that is what the market will bear” – they are being paid because the ultra-rich have become ultra-richer in the last 10 years and…you gotta spend your money somewhere.

No, the rich have not let taxpayer trillions burn holes in their pocket: Our money has only re-pumped new bubbles in the primary asset classes of the 1% – luxury goods, real estate, stocks (overvalued companies) and investment funds.

I will get straight to the point: Because our trillions have gone into these wasteful investments, instead of investments which improve overall societal well-being, we are certainly WORSE OFF than ten years ago.

Not all bubbles or debt is the same, despite what German-minded minds will insist. Instead of creating bubbles or debt to do any of a million positive things – improving business efficiency through better infrastructure, inventing cheaper solutions via increased education and research & development, injecting money to circulate into the “real economy” just by giving Joe Schmoe a job to uselessly move a bag of dirt from point A to point B and back again – the lack of socialist central planning has allowed the real economy to be gutted in favor of the economy of the 1%….again.

Of course, there are other bubbles which affect more than just the 1%: Western inflation over the past 10 years has been much more impactful in sapping (my) wages than the upper class realizes, but the US housing market had no reason to have reached 11% above the July 2006 Housing Bubble peak in August 2018.

For those of us who hold no property in real estate or property in corporations (stocks), we are left out in the cold. We still are yoked to debt and can be bankrupted by bubbles, though.

But the bubbles and debt of the 99% are good and even necessary: we need houses to live in, we need our sub-prime auto loans not to lead to repossession, we need our medical bills paid for, we need our elderly care bills paid for because we simply cannot stand how loud Grandpa has the TV any longer. All of this is “good debt” which sends money into the real economy (even if you can’t hold on to it for more than one payday).

The effects of the FIRE economy – Finance, Investment & Real Estate – in the recent history of capitalism has been studied and popularized by American economist Michael Hudson, but we are about to find out AGAIN just how pernicious its influence has been.

The Lost Score: not the stash of swapped prescription medication you have misplaced

Don’t think the Eurozone is lost? The Eurozone’s GDP is 12% lower than in 2008Chinas is up 266% over the same timeframe.

Your problem must be that you believe what you read in the Western Mainstream media: China’s 6.5% growth in the 3rd quarter was “weak” to Reuters, while France’s 3rd quarter growth of just 0.4% was (per my would-be AFP colleagues) a “boost as economy rebounds”. Sure, Frenchy, sure, you’re a real star. Both those articles are from the past fortnight, but it’s the same absurd spin I’ve reported on for nearly 40 economic quarters.

Europe’s Quantitative Easing was scheduled to end September 2017, so back then I wrote a 7-part series which showed how the world’s biggest macro-economy – the Eurozone (but China is about to surpass it – remains the weak link the global economy despite the “whatever it takes” (alleged) solution of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in 2012. What I did was combine a decade of on-the-street reporting with some basic (leftist) economic sense (FYI, all economic sense is leftist) to write about what will happen when this bubble – the “bailed out by taxpayers” bubble – finally re-bursts.

That is the biggest bubble, and it is about to pop.

Because they no doubt read and agreed with my analysis, the Eurozone’s leaders postponed the end of QE for 1 year. However, come January 1st, no more 30 billion euros in free money to high finance every month – they have been given 2.5 trillion euros in total. Again, we in the Eurozone have gotten zero from all that because the center- and right-wing forms of capitalism do not allow strings to be attached (such as delivering jobs, community betterment, etc.) in return for these fiscal gifts. CEOs, not workers, rule – the Eurozone has never been a socialist republic.

The problem is us:

This policy was not at all wanted by the Eurozone’s population…but this is a liberal democracy: that means public opinion is aggregated once every four or five years, and then the sheep must shut up and take it. That’s why it made no difference when Francois Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity platform: in classic modern liberal democracy form, he simply introduced a divisive, deflecting plan to approve gay marriage on the very same day – November 7, 2012 – that he announced his backtracking acceptance of austerity.

It is only in socialist countries where pubic opinion is actually reflected in policy making – empowering the average citizen is one of the two pillars of socialism (redistribution of wealth being the other) and what do you think “empowering” means? Hint: it is not synonymous with “ignoring”.

The Chinese Communist Party, it has been accurately written, is the world’s biggest public polling firm. There is no doubt that Cuban socialists are reflecting the People’s will when they are counting up their few unblockaded pesos and prioritising education, housing, medicine and food. North Korea is not funding nuclear research because they want to, but because all North Koreans are in agreement that they were the most-attacked, most-threatened, most-surrounded nation in the 2nd-half of the 20th century. You are totally unaware if you think the Iranian Revolution has endured similar violence and menacing by wasting their oil money on policies which the Iranian People cannot immediately and tangibly see have improved their quality of life since 1979: Iran’s economy, essentially 100% state-controlled, reflects the People’s will to a great degree (it is structurally impossible for it to reflect the will of private Iranian CEOs).

However, the West’s beloved liberal democracies do not at all care or reflect popular opinion – liberal democracies are designed to please the bourgeois/aristocratic/top 10%/technocrat/brahmin/genetically-superior/culturally-superior class. We hold these truths to be more self-evident in 2018 than 2008.

But what will happen when QE ends in the Eurozone? My prediction last year was based on capitalist logic: high finance, no longer bought off by free money (and thus less able to pay for $500k wine), will go back to doing what they did at the height of the crisis in Europe – the 2012 Sovereign Debt Crisis – and start squeezing the poorer countries of the Eurozone in the bond market. This time, Italy and Spain will be in their sights. This will soon spark the same chaos and instability as back then.

But worse: as illustrated, the Eurozone is far, far weaker than in 2012. They have spent trillions but bought $500k wine instead of productive, economy-safeguarding, preparing-for-capitalism’s-next-inevitable-rainy-day investments for the 99%. How could anybody possibly see it differently? I guess it’s the same answer to how AFP can see France’s 0.4% Q3 growth as a “boost as economy rebounds”. Keep the faith – success is right around the trickle-down corner, LOL!

You cannot tell me that the bankers have been totally bought off and will be content to roll around in their filth for the next 50 years, because they never are: there is always some young, Martin Shkreli-like, hedge fund-managing punk who wants to make his billions, and he will gladly hold Spain and Italy hostage to do so. Shkreli was not jailed for changing a pill’s price from $13.50 to $750 – that’s totally legal in capitalism – he was jailed because of his big mouth. But his usury and his rapper-like ego is simply how he was raised (in a non-socialist, non-religious Western culture). Nobody can stop him in the capitalist system – there is no central planning, there is total opposition to the idea of a “collective”, and they have even lost that longtime feeling of “positive racism” which formerly lent a sliver of unity to Western imperialist societies (“I can’t ruin my Color tribe and will do some things in their general interest because I hate your Ethnic tribe and fear that Religious tribe could be right.”).

And you can’t say that we are safer now because the criminals of 2008 have been brought to justice: look at the case of Mychal Kendricks, a 27-year old professional American football player convicted of insider trading.

Kendricks is the Black son of a crack addict, so from a socialist perspective his “class label” could not be more perfect – he succeeded despite tremendous obstacles, and he would be listened to with sympathy, targeted for public assistance and given affirmative action policies. He has admitted to insider trading and should be punished, but was the 2008 crisis orchestrated by football players, perhaps in between their concussion protocols and MRIs?

The case illustrates the priority of liberal democratic/bourgeois justice systems: Mychal Kendricks, from the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, faces prison while the 1%ers who gamed the system did much more than escape justice – they were hailed as our only saviours to financial ruin, as too important (big) to fail, and subsequently entrusted with many no-strings-attached trillions.

Corruption must be punished, but Kendricks is not the problem…..

The problem is the lack of socialist central planning, the lack of democratic input (worker empowerment) on public policy, and the lack of prioritising the bottom 90% – the top 10% is prioritised, lauded and excused, instead.

The lack of all those three things created Europe’s Lost Decade of economic growth; created a situation where little-old-me was one of the few journalists to do some basic economic math and to openly say it was a Lost Decade (but which was noticed only by a small group of powerless intelligentsia on the fringe); this lack created today’s reality where things have only gotten worse since 2008, that more crisis is coming, and that the next crisis will necessarily be even worse.

The age of European austerity can be summed up quite simply: creating such a desperate labor market that the 1% was able to roll back Europe’s better-than-average social safety net, regulations, wages and working conditions.

That’s all it was – a wilful economic depression in order to turn the the EU’s work culture (and financial culture) into that of the US. The same process happened during Japan’s Lost Score – the Eurozone is now entering part two of their Lost Score.

These truths are more self-evident in 2018 than 2008. If you haven’t learned that, you obviously remain resolutely pro-capitalism and pro-liberal democracy/West European bourgeois democracy despite ten years of proof in your face.

Socialism has changed much in 10 years – a new generation of leaders in Cuba, the possible reintegration of North Korea into global affairs, a possible rapprochement between Iran and Europe (but not the US), the increasing acceptance of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as a reproducible and admirable model – but if capitalism has changed at all it is only for the worse.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

The reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

 

October 25, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogThe reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

It seems unlikely – as it defies 73 years of ongoing aggression, warfare, the near-warfare of constant tap dancing on the border, starvation-creating sanctions, false promises, broken promises, racist caricaturing, hysterical knee-jerk anti-socialism, and more besides – but what if Washington finally allows North Korea to reintegrate into the multinational world?

North Korea has been so politically oppressed from without that they are less integrated into global affairs, regional affairs, and even local & national affairs (their country was forcibly divided, after all) than any nation. They are even less integrated than the other few nations which have sustained modern (and thus socialist-inspired) popular revolutions, such as Cuba, Iran, Eritrea, mighty China and their fighting Vietnamese comrades.

We are told that we don’t really know anything about North Korea! We are also told to believe nothing from Pyongyang, and that the “Hermit Kingdom” is the most inscrutable of all those very-inscrutable East Asians. But I reported from Seoul and the DMZ border in 2013 and learned some interesting things (5 of them are here).

If I had to give the two most important ideas, they would be: no People have lived with more meddling exterior menaces since the year 1945 -North Koreans are bordered by and/or threatened by the US, South Korea, Russia, China and Japan); and the second point would be that the reunification of an $8 trillion mineral-richwell-educated(darn those socialist countries with their not-for-profit education programs) North Korea with South Korea would almost IMMEDIATELY create the world’s 5th-largest economy, trailing only the US, China, Japan and Germany. I hold these truths to be self-evident, and move on to the point of this article….

Let’s conjecture that Korea is still not allowed to reunite but that North Korea is allowed a global reinstatement on the level of China and Vietnam, leapfrogging poor Cuba and lonely Iran (but who is lonely when they have God?): How would that affect socialism on a global-historical scale?

What do I mean by that? I mean: socialism is a historical-political movement which covers 200 years, which is nearly as faith-based as Islam or Christendom, and which is nearly as economically influential as the era of industrialisation (an era which has lasted 250 years because many colonized countries have never even finished the First Industrial Revolution) and reinstatement for North Korea means a North Korean victory…and a victory for North Korea HAS TO impact the “narrative of socialism”, no?

Right now the narrative since 1992 is that “History is over”, per Francis Fukuyama, and capitalism has defeated socialism until the end of time…except that Fukuyama himself just backtracked on that with a recent interview“At this juncture, it seems to me that certain things Karl Marx said are turning out to be true.” Ah, really Frank? By “juncture” you mean roughly 1848, right?

It’s 2018 and we’re talking North Korean reintegration, old F.F. is having doubts and Donald Trump is in the White House – what is the world coming to?!

Trump, God bless his Nobel Peace Prize-deserving soul (hey, Obama re-set the bar, right?) seems willing to do what the smartphone-loving world demands: end the Cold War on North Korea…in order to start exploiting the Jongju superdeposit, the world’s largest rare earth metals cache, and which may contain double the world’s known rare earth element resources. Money talks with capitalists, not ideology/morality/history….

So what does it mean for socialism if North Korea is allowed to allow people in?

Here’s what I’m picturing: Much like Iran, foreigners come visit and realize: this place is far more modern and put together than often ignorantly assumed. After all, North Korea seems to have the ideological cohesion of Cuba combined with a high-tech skillset & wealth volume closer to Iran (Cuba’s “wealth volume” is limited by population size, containing only sugar and nickel, and by being an island (blockade-busting is thus harder)). With reinstatement the world will slowly realize and accept that North Korea is indeed a socialist success – just like China and Vietnam. Unlike Iran, there is no Islamophobia for the Christian-Atheist West to use as a deflection.

Reinstatement means Asians run socialism like Westerners run capitalism

A North Korean victory means we are talking about the four biggest socialist success stories, certainly from an economic standpoint, being from Asia.

Concurrently, European socialism is not even close to being revived: it’s hard to shock back into life someone who has drunk hemlock (events of 1989-1991) and also asked to be shot (the Eurozone & European Union). Asia turns to its left, sees Iran, mumbles (but not disapprovingly), stands on its tiptoes and shakes its head while discussing “revisionism” and “the lack of a Cultural Revolution”.

Here is the fundamental question at the heart of this article: The West writes the history of socialism because they are the “victors” and history is written by the victors.

The West is the “victor” in every way possible, of course – one can never question that. They are the “victors” in what “socialism” is, means and should be…which is paradoxical, because they have undoubtedly always been the “victors” in capitalism-imperialism and are the current victors in neo-imperialism.

Western paradoxes are there only to be ignored, so I’ll continue: They are also the “victors” in which rights are “human” and which are not; they are the “victors” in what is “freedom” and what is not; they are the “victors” in which economics are successful and which are not. All of these are absolutely without a defensible factual foundation – especially the more-mathematical last one – but I contend that the West believes, and much of the rest of the world is also persuaded, that the West are the “victors” in achieving the greatest amount of “socialist victory”. (For the record, I do not believe nor am persuaded by any of these claims.)

Again, socialism is a movement which is so long and so enduring that it forces us to extend our viewpoint: If North Korea is added to the list of socialist victories…what does and what should the world do?

Save a few Latin American countries, only one of which is stable (Cuba); save a few African countries, only two of which are stable (Algeria, Eritrea); it must be admitted that Asian socialism is currently victorious in the “global-regional competition”.

Therefore, I insist an integration of North Korea allows me to declare the “end of history”: Asian socialism is the only acceptable model, and all must follow Asia henceforth.

LOL, but such a declaration is not “socialism” at all because socialism (like Islam) cannot be forced: it would then cease to be democratic, and socialism is the most class- and citizen-inclusive sociopolitical model ever created in human history. This type of a declaration can only be made by capitalists, who impose by force the ideas of one person (or of an oligarchical few).

Obviously, the actual ramifications of a North Korean success on the “narrative of socialism” is multi-faceted, complicated and boring to many, but the ramifications are real, impactful, undeniable and unavoidable.

What do Western socialists ‘learn’ from a North Korean success?

Is the West capable of learning from a North Korean success?

Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour, so my answer is “no”: The West will make it a point to remain the “victors” (in their view) and thus learn nothing from North Korea’s success, just as they have learned nothing from the successes of China, Iran, Cuba, etc.

The West will try to co-opt North Korean success by the same lie – that North Korea is an anti-democratic mullah-ocracy…no wait, a one-family dictatorship like Cuba – that works better.

They will deny the existence of North Korea’s undeniably socialist rules, laws, history and martyrs. They will also deny the words and experiences of actual North Koreans because the Western “victors” can and should speak for everyone: The Western tongue is the “one, true” tongue.

Above all they will assert – on the Western left and the Western right – that North Korea never was socialist at all, or that it could possibly be “socialist” now. Sadly, Western socialists often do the work of the imperialist-capitalists for them; they, paradoxically are “socialists” despite espousing the exact same (nonsensical, uninformed, self-referencing, self-centered, self-interested) views on North Korea in 2018 as right-wingers.

But for the true socialists living in the Western countries – and I am talking about perhaps as many as 14 people – a North Korean success should be applauded loudly. After all – no other socialist nation has endured more to win sovereignty, freedom and their own form of socialism. Of course, this public applauding will make us even more socially-isolated in Western society to the point where we will have even greater trouble finding that elusive 15th comrade….

It’s undeniable, at least to me, that socialism can be divided into 3 distinct eras: West European dominance (Marx, Paris Commune), East European/Slavic dominance (USSR, Eastern Bloc) and Asian dominance (China, Vietnam, Iran…North Korea?). A North Korean integration means that we are STILL living in this mostly-unappreciated 3rd historical era of Asian dominance in socialist thought and practice. Reinstatement also implies that the long-awaited “Latin American dominance era”, to be led by Cuba, remains unmaterialized (due to the continued domination of the “Monroe Doctrine era”).

Of course, most Western leftists don’t want to hear any analysis which relegates the West to 2nd fiddle, as they are still the “victors”…and they are: in living in a tired, nostalgic, decidedly un-revolutionary fashion.

Trump has certainly said and done crazy things but the re-integration of North Korea follows as much capitalist logic as the re-integration of China (consumer demand, loans/bond buying, formerly low- but now mid-cost labor (providing mid-cost labor is the function Eastern Europe currently serves for the German neo-imperialism of the Eurozone)) and Vietnam (low-cost labor):

Without access to North Korea’s rare earth metals China will have perhaps as great a chokepoint on the modern global economy as any OPEC nation save Arabia (which I refuse to call “Saudi”, as only Western governments believe/want the house of Saud to be synonymous with the People of Arabia). Furthermore, due to their educational advancements, North Korea can obviously serve the same function for South Korea as East Germany did for West Germany upon their reunification: cheap but smart labor.

(Iran might have oil instead of rare earth metals, but how can they serve this capitalist labor function when they are (due to imperialist throttling) the most populous, most advanced economy in the Middle East? Even if a counter-revolution happened in Iran, who would make them their mid-cost labor hub – Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt? None of those will work. This is why toppling Iran (combined with their anti-imperialist & anti-Zionist stances) is Washington’s continued project, in contrast to this floated reinstatement of North Korea. The US, being capitalist, runs on lobbies and money – somebody is obviously greasing the policy wheels (exercising their “free speech”) in favor of Pyongyang, and to hell with Korean War veterans groups or anyone else.

But that last is a bold statement – North Korean reinstatement…seriously? Sounds great – Koreans are certainly all for that, and they deserve Korean socialism…or at least to be #5 instead of pawns in a four-way game.

What does “socialism do” if North Korea becomes a success story – acknowledge it or ignore it? It seems like the answer depends on what part of the world you live in, but that is certainly a response which is “bad socialism”.

Socialism’s recent past and its present remains centered in the East, but socialism’s future remains open to anyone with common sense, a disposition for equality, and the courage to speak out.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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