Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review of `William Lloyd Garrison and The Humanitarian Reformers'--Part 4

(Following book review first appeared in the November 9, 1994 issue of the Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown. See below for parts 1, 2 and 3.)

By 1833, Garrison’s Liberator had 1,400 subscribers and his journalistic prominence enabled him to become a leading figure in the worldwide antislavery movement. Within the abolitionist movement, some objected to the invective and belligerent tone of Garrison’s writing. But he continued to lead the wing of the abolitionist movement which favored immediate emancipation and no forced colonization of the freed slaves, but did not favor trying to end slavery either through political action or violent resistance to the slave masters. Garrison’s wing of the abolitionist movement favored “no union with the slaveholders” during the pre-Civil War period and the Liberator was used to emphasize both Garrison’s strand of abolitionism and his support for democratic reforms like women’s suffrage.

William Lloyd Garrison and The Humanitarian Reformers author Nye’s brief treatment of Garrison’s friendship and subsequent political split with the African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass illustrates one of the major weaknesses of this 1955-published book. As Nye notes, because Douglass, in the 1840s, “wanted to found a newspaper devoted to political action” which fought against slavery in the electoral arena, “coolness developed” between him and Garrison. Although most African-American historians agree that Frederick Douglass was as historically significant a figure in U.S. abolitionist journalism history as Garrison, however, Nye’s book fails to summarize in any detail the particular arguments which Douglass used to justify his split with Garrison. This reflects Nye’s tendency throughout the book to treat the oppressed people who subscribed to Garrison’s Liberator, or on whose behalf Garrison sought to work, as voiceless background figures in his life. Nye’s book also only briefly discusses Garrison’s relationship to his wife of many years and doesn’t describe in detail enough the nature of Garrison’s relationship to the 19th Century feminist movement, despite Garrison’s sympathy for this movement. (end of part 4)

(Downtown 11/9/94)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Review of `William Lloyd Garrison and The Humanitarian Reformers'--Part 3

(Following book review first appeared in the November 9, 1994 issue of the Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown. See below for parts 1 and 2.)

Although Garrison was white, William Lloyd Garrison and The Humanitarian Reformers author Russel Nye points out that “from the beginning the free Negro formed the core of the Liberator’s financial support, and until the day of his death its editor remained a Negro idol, nearly an object of worship.” The few hundred free African-Americans who subscribed to the Liberator in the early part of 1831 were apparently attracted by Garrison’s editorial support for the immediate, not the gradual, abolition of slavery and Garrison’s opposition to those abolitionists who believed that following their emancipation the ex-slaves of the South should be sent back to Africa to establish colonies like Liberia—instead of being integrated into U.S. society as equals. Yet, despite the support of predominantly African-American subscribers in Boston, Philadelphia and New York, “the early issues of the Liberator caused no great stir in Boston, or elsewhere” and “`his paper was received,’ Garrison said, with `suspicion and apathy,’ and he found it hard to pay rent…”

What enabled Garrison to turn the Liberator into a financially viable, although still low-circulation, weekly--and transformed both Garrison and his newspaper into nationally prominent symbols of militant abolitionism—was the August 1831 slave revolt which Nat Turner led—in which 52 whites were killed. Following the suppression of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion and the post-revolt lynching of over 120 slaves by the Southern planters, Garrison and his newspaper—which had only started publishing less than nine months before the rebellion—were apparently blamed by the Southern press for this 1831 slave revolt. As Nye notes:

“Turner was led, wrote the Tarborough, North Carolina Free Press, by `an incendiary paper, the Liberator, published in either Boston or Philadelphia by a white man, with the avowed purpose of exciting rebellion in the South.’ One by one Southern newspapers picked up the charge until the South was filled with clamor against Garrison.”

Paradoxically, as Nye also notes, “Garrison, by his own admission, had not a single subscriber south of the Potomac,’ and no Southern agents.”

Yet, because Garrison “did exchange with some 100 Southern editors, following contemporary journalist practice” and “Garrison’s prose lent itself admirably to juicy quotations,” the Southern press conveyed “the impression that Garrison represented a far larger influence in Northern antislavery circles than he did” and “the obscure reformer, toiling in a barren Boston loft, suddenly emerged as arch-symbol of antislavery extremism.”

As a result, “invitations to lecture” for Garrison “came in” from throughout the North, “particularly from Negro groups, and the Liberator’s fortunes improved” because “the attacks emanating from the South,” made Garrison appear to be “the outstanding figure in New England antislavery circles.” Ironically, despite his notorious media image in the South as being “the abolitionist who instigated the Nat Turner revolt,” Nye observes that “the fact was that Garrison was a nonresistant pacifist, opposed to violence in any form” who “had publicly censured David Walker’s incendiary pamphlet, An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World,” in 1829. (end of part 3)

(Downtown 11/9/94)

Update on Military Coup In Honduras

Following is text of the update alert on what's been happening in Honduras that was posted on the www.rightsaction.org site on June 28, 2009 at 6 p.m.:

( For more information, CONTACT: In Guatemala, Annie Bird (Rights Action co-director), annie@rightsaction.org, 011-502-5005-1530; in North America, Grahame Russell (Rights Action co-director), 1-860-751-4285, info@rightsaction.org]

DESPITE THE MILITARY COUP
THE HONDURAN PEOPLE ARE DEFENDING THEIR DEMOCRACY
THE CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM POLL CONTINUES

Democracy in Honduras was violated by a military coup this morning, but the people of Honduras have come to the defense constitutional order and democracy in Honduras.
Though the President was forced into exile in Costa Rica, the goal of stopping the public opinion poll has not been successful.

Civil society leaders report that more then 25,000 Honduras are protesting in front of the National Palace in support of the president, despite reports that the entry and exits to some towns have been blocked by the military to prevent public protests.
Though it is reported that in some areas the ballot boxes have been captured by the military, promoters of the poll have establish mobile polling stations to defend the ballot boxes. The military has not been able to occupy all of the country, and some towns have declared that they will not recognize the authority of the military imposed government.

Though the President of the Congress, Roberto Michelletti, read a letter of resignation allegedly signed by President Zelaya and his cabinet, Zelaya from Costa Rica has denied signing the letter, as have his cabinet members.
The Congress the proceeded to name Roberto Michelletti, a strong opponent of Zelaya, as president de facto.

Governments around the world, particularly in Latin America, have declared that they will not recognize any not elected by the population of Honduras.

The Chancellor of Honduras, Patricia Rodas, has been kidnapped by the military, in front of member of the diplomatic corps, and the ambassadors of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were kidnapped with her but later released. The whereabouts of Patricia Rodas are unknown.

* * *
CONTACT YOUR OWN MEDIA, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, SENATORS, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, TO DEMAND:

•a return of the constitutional government

•no recognition, whatsoever, of this military coup and the Congressional appointed ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Michelletti

•respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans

FUNDS ARE NEEDED FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND LEGAL DEFENSE WORK. Make tax deductible donations to Rights Action and mail to:
UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
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CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm
To get on/ off Rights Action's email list: http://www.rightsaction.org/lists/?p=subscribe&id=3/
Please re-distribute this info all around.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review of `William Lloyd Garrison and The Humanitarian Reformers'--Part 2

(Following book review first appeared in the November 9, 1994 issue of the Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown. See below for part 1.)

The son of a sailing master, Garrison was born in 1805. In 1808, however, his father, Abijah Garrison, deserted Garrison’s family and his mother, Frances Lloyd Garrison, was compelled to work as a domestic while Garrison was sometimes sent out to beg on the streets. The local Baptist Church deacon, however, later arranged for the Newburyport Herald semi-weekly newspaper publisher to take the 10-year-old Garrison on as a printer’s apprentice for seven years; and it was there that Garrison learned the technical skills required to later put out the Liberator and became acquainted with the world of books and ideas. During his long apprenticeship, however, Garrison continued to spend his spare time in the church, not in the saloon, and Nye notes that “perhaps the only trait that set young Garrison apart from his fellow apprentices was his piety.”

At the age of 17, Garrison started writing essays, under a pen name, for the Newburyport Herald, where he continued to work after his apprenticeship. During the five years between the time Garrison stopped working for the Newburyport Herald and the time he started editing and publishing the Liberator, Garrison borrowed money from the Newburyport Herald and attempted to publish his own newspaper, moved to Boston in 1827 to work as a printer when this first publishing venture failed, and also edited a number of reform publications.

But Nye notes that the turning point in Garrison’s life came in March 1828, when the then-23-year-old printer-editor met Benjamin Lundy, the antislavery reformer, who took rooms for a few nights at the same Collier’s boarding house in Boston in which Garrison lived. As a result of his acquaintance with Lundy, Garrison became more deeply involved in the abolitionist cause and made the initial contacts which enabled him to fund the first issue of the Liberator, which began publication on Jan. 1, 1831. (end of part 2)

(Downtown 11/9/94)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review of `William Lloyd Garrison and The Humanitarian Reformers'--Part 1

(Following book review first appeared in the November 9, 1994 issue of the Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown.)

In pre-Civil War journalism history, William Lloyd Garrison’s weekly abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, played a significant role. Penny press newspapers like James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald, had much larger circulations than Garrison’s Liberator, yet because Garrison utilized his newspaper and his journalistic skills to confront the nation’s greatest pre-Civil War moral issue—the continued enslavement of African-American people—his ultimate positive historical impact probably proved to be greater than Bennett’s.

William Lloyd Garrison and the Humanitarian Reformers by Russel B. Nye (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1955) describes the life of the militant abolitionist, from his economically humble beginnings in Newburyport, Massachusetts, through his early life in poverty, his work as a printer’s apprentice as a teenager and his pre-Liberator journalistic activity, on to the post-1831 years, when his editorship of the Liberator made him a prominent national figure.

Nye sees Garrison’s life and his Liberator newspaper as one more reflection of the spirit of humanitarian reform which attempted to perfect U.S. society, which Nye feels was a major characteristic of many of the people who lived in the United States during the 19th Century. In Nye’s view, the humanitarian reform impulse, which led Garrison to devote most of his life to the cause of abolitionism, as well as other human rights issues, flowed out of his strong religious faith:

“The central fact of Garrison’s life was his religious faith. The Bible was the only book he ever really read and his abolitionism itself spread directly from his belief that slavery violated God’s law.” (end of part 1)

(Downtown 11/9/94)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Time For A Federal Rent Regulation Law?

Nearly six months after the inauguration of Democratic President Obama, many working-class tenants in the United States still can’t afford to enter many U.S. retail stores and buy many consumer goods anymore because they’re paying over 30 percent of their monthly family incomes to parasitic U.S. landlords. But the Democratic Obama Administration still hasn’t enacted any kind of federal rent regulation law to provide more affordable rents for tenants in all localities within the United States.

Yet by the late 1970s at least 169 other localities in the United States had joined New York City in reintroducing rent regulation laws to protect local tenants from excessive rent increases. And as recently as July 2003, 166 communities in the United States still had rent regulation of some form, despite the continued failure of the Democratic Party to push the U.S. Congress to enact a federal rent regulation law.

In the early part of the 20th century, working-class tenants generally paid landlords between 15 percent and 25 percent of the wages they earned each month. But in the early part of the 21st century, most working-class tenants in the United Sates now pay their landlords over 25 percent of the wages they earn each month; and, in many cities, far more.

Yet even in those communities that have some form of rent regulation, the local real estate industry, landlords, and other special real estate interests are working to limit and weaken tenant protections.

Local real estate boards in coordination with national professional and lobbying associations including the National Association of Realtors, the National Council of the Multi-Housing Industry, and the National Apartment Association, lobby politicians—whose campaigns they bankroll—to bore loopholes into existing regulations. For example, many New York landlords obtained permanent “major capital improvement” rent increases in their rent-stabilized apartments in the 1980s and 1990s just for replacing old windows, thanks to a legal loophole that resulted from lobbyist pressure on the state legislature.

According to a 1997 report, “Rent Deregulation in California and Massachusetts,” by political scientist and urban policy scholar Peter Dreier, California apartment owners and other real estate interests “invested millions in campaign contributions to support anti-rent control legislation,” spending “an estimated $50 million to fight rent control” between 1985 and 1997.

On the national level, the National Association of Realtors contributed over $4 million to fund the electoral campaigns of Democratic and Republican Party candidates for federal office in 2002.

As Dreier puts it:

“It is difficult to exaggerate the political influence of the real estate industry. For years, the various components of the industry—apartment owners, developers, realtors, managers and lenders—worked together to oppose rent control and other tenant protections. This persistence and unity eventually paid off…Industry organizations and their staffs developed close ties to legislators at the state and local levels over the course of several decades.”

(Dollars & Sense magazine 7/03)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Citigroup's Lobbyists Revisited

One reason Citigroup executives seem to have so much special influence over the political and economic decisions made by the Democratic Obama Administration is that former Citigroup executives like Louis “The Vacuum Cleaner” Susman will now be occupying official U.S. government positions like the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom post.

Another reason Citigroup executives may have so much special influence over the U.S. government these days is that former staff members of some politically powerful U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives, U.S. federal agencies or the White House are employed as Washington, D.C. lobbyists for Citigroup’s special interests.

1. Shanti Ochs Stanton http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=26402

A former aide to Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named Shanti Ochs Stanton, for example, was employed as a lobbyist in 2008 for Citigroup’s Citigroup Management Corporation lobbying firm. Before working as Speaker of the House Pelosi’s aide and then being hired to lobby for Citigroup, Ochs-Stanton was also a Floor Assistant to the former Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. During the first half of 2008 alone, the Citigroup Management Corporation for which Pelosi’s former aide worked spent $2.8 million on lobbying the U.S. government for special favors and privileges.

2. Robert E. Barnett/Barnett, Sivon & Natter http://bsnlawfirm.com/bio_bob.htm

Citigroup’s special interests in 2008 were also represented by the lobbying firm of former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [FDIC] Chairman Robert E. Barnett, who was the FDIC chairman between 1976 and 1978, during the Democratic Carter Administration. Former FDIC Chairman Barnett’s lobbying firm—Barnett, Sivon & Natter P.C.— has received a lobbying income of $640,000 since 2007 from its Citigroup client.

3. Charles “Chuck” Brain/ Capitol Hill Strategies http://www.caphillstrat.com/charlesmbrain.html

The Capitol Hill Strategies lobbying firm of Charles “Chuck” Brain, the former Director of Legislative Affairs in the Executive Office of the President (when U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s husband was President in the 1990s), also represented the special interests of Citigroup in 2008. Since 2007, former Democratic Clinton White House Director of Legislative Affairs Brain’s firm has received a lobbying income of $540,000 from its Citigroup client.

Before working in the Clinton White House and, subsequently, becoming the president of the Capitol Hill Strategies lobbying firm, Brain was a legislative aide to Democratic Rep. James Shannon of Massachusetts between 1979 and 1981 and an Assistant Staff Director of the House Ways & Means Committee between 1987 and 1994.

4. Alex Sternhell/Cypress Advocacy LLC
http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=70545
http://www.cypressgroupdc.com/advocacy/clients.html

A former Deputy Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and former aide to Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut named Alex Sternhell, of the Cypress Advocacy LLC lobbying firm, also was a lobbyist for Citigroup in 2008. Besides lobbying for Citigroup’s special interests, Sternhell also was a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association corporate pressure group in 2008. Citigroup lobbyist Sternhell also was a former aide of Democratic Rep. Jim Bacchus of Florida and Democratic Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas before he joined the Cypress Advocacy LLC lobbying firm.

5. Patrick Cave/Cypress Advocacy LLC
http://www.cypressgroupdc.com/advocacy/about_cave.html

6. Ben Dupuy/Cypress Advocacy LLC
http://www.cypressgroupdc.com/advocacy/about_dupuy.html

Other members of the Cypress Advocacy LLC firm who lobbied on behalf of its Citigroup client in 2008 were a former Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department and former senior advisor to Republican Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana named Patrick Cave and a former Deputy Press Secretary of Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama named Ben Dupuy. Since 2007, the Cypress Advocacy LLC firm has received a lobbying income of $370,000 from its Citigroup client.

7. G.Stewart Hall/ Ogilvy Government Relations
http://www.ogilvygr.com/who/hall.cfm

8. Dean Aguillen/Ogilvy Government Relations
http://www.ogilvygr.com/who/aguillen.cfm

9. Jimmy Williams
http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=70476

Citigroup’s special interests were also represented in 2008 by the lobbying firm of Ogilvy Government Relations, whose managing director, G. Stewart Hall, was the legislative director for Republican Senator Richard Shelby between 1994 and 1996. In addition, a former advisor to Speaker of the House Pelosi named Dean Aguillen was a senior vice-president of the Ogilvy Government Relations firm in 2008, as was a former advisor to Vice President Joe Biden and a former staff director of the U.S. Senate’s Bank Subcommittee on Economic Policy named Jimmy Williams.

Besides Citigroup, other clients for which the Ogilvy Government Relations firm (that employed former advisors to Speaker of the House Pelosi and Vice President Biden) lobbied for in 2008 included Chevron, Credit Suisse Securities, Visa, Carlyle Group and Motorola; and since 2007, Ogilvy Government Relations has has received a lobbying income of $640,000 million for representing the special interests of its Citigroup client in Washington, D.C..

10. Steven Elmendorf/ Elmendorf Strategies

11. Rob Cogorno/Elmendorf Strategies

12. Kristi Kennedy/Elmendorf Strategies

http://www.elmendorfstrategies.com/professionals.php

The Elmendorf Strategies lobbying firm of Steven Elmendorf, the former Chief of Staff to the former Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, also represented the special interests of Citigroup in 2008. Since 2007, Elmendorf Strategies has received a lobbying income of $180,000 from representing its Citigroup/Citigroup Management Corporation client.

Former Democratic House Minority Leader Gephardt’s former Chief of Staff’s lobbying firm also employed a former aide to Gephart and a former aide to Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland named Rob Cogorno. In addition, the former Counsel and Legislative Director for Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland between 1999 and 2006, Kristi Kennedy, was employed by Elmendorf Strategies in 2008 to lobby on behalf of the special corporate interests of its Citigroup Management Corporation client.

Speaking of Elmendorf Strategies lobbyist for Citigroup Management Corporation Kennedy, a former Counsel to Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts named Anthony Podesta was a lobbyist for the undemocratic Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak in 2008. Podesta’s PLM Group LLC lobbying firm

http://www.livingstongroupdc.com/PLM.html

—whose chairman is a former Democratic Congressional representative named Toby Moffett Jr.—received a lobbying income from clients like the undemocratic Egyptian government of $220,000 in 2007. The other lobbying firm that Senator Ted Kennedy’s former Counsel operated (and chaired himself), The Podesta Group,

http://www.podesta.com/biopages/TonyPodesta.htm

received a lobbying income of $10.9 million in 2007 from representing the special corporate interests of clients such as Wal-Mart, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, the Corrections Corporation of America, Boeing, NPR and the Washington Post Company.

At least two lobbyists for the undemocratic Israeli government in 2008—Paul S. Berger

http://www.arnoldandporter.com/professionals.cfm?u=BergerPaulS&action=view&id=559
and Lawrence A. Schneider

http://www.arnoldandporter.com/professionals.cfm?u=SchneiderLawrenceA&action=view&id=102


—were employed, incidentally, by the lobbying firm of Arnold & Porter LLP, whose lobbying income from representing the special interest of clients like the undemocratic Israeli government in 2007 was $4.98 million.

Given the number of former U.S. government officials who now operate or work for operate lobbying firms that have received a lot of money from Citigroup executives in recent years (or from undemocratic governments like the Egyptian and Israeli governments), it’s not surprising that—despite the Obama campaign’s lofty rhetoric of “change” in 2008—in 2009 Citigroup seems to still have so much special influence over the U.S. government’s political and economic agenda. But under the current undemocratic U.S. political system of “Plutocratic Minority Rule” and “Corporate Lobbyocracy,” it’s logical that people in the United State still remain under the Iron Heel of Wall Street bankers nearly 6 months after Obama’s inauguration.

(source: Washington Representatives 2008 Fall issue)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama's Ambassador to UK & Citigroup's Israeli Business Connections

As the Center for Responsive Politics’ web site recently noted, the Democratic Obama Administration’s Ambassador to the UK-Designate Louis Susman--a recently retired Vice Chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking and Citigroup International Advisory Board member—“has reportedly earned the nickname the `vacuum cleaner’ and `big bundler’ for his prowess as a bundler of campaign cash.”

According to Public Citizen, for example, Susman bundled at least $100,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign and at least $300,000 for Obama’s inauguration—with $50,000 of this money coming from the recently bailed-out Citigroup executive’s personal funds. In addition, the former Citigroup executive and his wife “contributed at least $581,400 to federal candidates, committees and parties, with 99 percent of the sum going to Democrats, including at least $12,800 to Obama,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ web site.

While the Obama White House press release of May 27, 2009, which announced Susman’s nomination to be its Ambassador to the UK, indicated that he used to be the Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking Vice Chairman, was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team’s board of directors from 1975 to 1989, worked for Salomon Brothers and “was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy,” it failed to mention some other interesting recent business affiliations of Louis “The Vacuum Cleaner” Susman.

According to a November 15, 2000 Business Wire article, Susman has also been a member of the corporate boards of D & K Healthcare Resources, Inc., the U.S. Can Corporation, Drury Inns and Knightsbridge Solutions LLC in recent years. The same article also revealed that at Salomon Brothers, Susman “provided leadership for major merger transactions, representing Dayton Hudson in the purchase of Marshall Field’s, General Dynamics in the sale of Cessna Corporation, and LG Electronics in the purchase of Zenith Electronics Corporation.”

U.S. Ambassador to the UK-Designate Susman apparently has a lot more experience working as a Citigroup investment banking and collecting campaign contributions for some of the U.S. politicians who recently authorized the use of public funds to bail out Citigroup’s executives than diplomatic experience. But the Citigroup firm he worked for apparently has had a lot of experience doing business in Israel in recent years, despite international calls for an economic boycott of Israel until it finally ends its violation of Palestinian national self-determination rights.

As a November 1, 1999 article in the Jerusalem Post observed:

“Citibank, a subsidiary of Citigroup, has been operating in Israel since February 1996, when it became the first major international bank to open a representative office. Citibank now is expected to be the first major international bank to open a full-service branch in Israel. Another Citigroup subsidiary, the Salomon Smith Barney investment bank, has been active in Israel for many years, serving Israeli clients out of New York, London and a representative office in Tel Aviv.

“Today's announcement was made by Citigroup's chairman and co-chief executive officer, Sanford I. Weill, at a meeting with the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Jacob Frenkel. Also attending were William R. Rhodes, Vice Chairman of Citigroup and Citibank; Ron Braverman, Country Corporate Officer for Citigroup in Israel; and Dr. Itzhak Tal, Supervisor of Banks - Bank of Israel.

“Mr. Weill said: `Citibank's decision to open a full-service banking business in Israel reflects Israel's continuing macroeconomic progress and our confidence in the future growth of trade and commercial flows to and from Israel and other parts of the Middle East.’

“Mr. Rhodes said: `Our Israel branch is part of our strategy to serve our customers globally and represents our vote of confidence in the Israeli economy. We see major opportunities here and look forward to introducing advanced technology and international banking skills while building new relationships with the Israeli corporate community.’…”


And according to the Citibank website:

“Citi has been actively serving Israeli clients since the late 1980's through its Markets & Banking business…

“With more than 140 employees in Israel, we proudly provide clients with a wide range of corporate, investment and private banking products and services.

“Our Markets & Banking business provides services to leading Israeli companies, financial institutions and public sector organizations, as well as global companies active in the Israeli market….

“Our investment bank is a leading underwriter for Israeli companies seeking to issue equity and debt securities in the global markets…

“Our Global Wealth Management business includes our private banking services, which operate in Israel through a team of private banking professionals working to service the personal needs of our high net worth client base….

“We are also a member of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and one of the primary dealers in the government bond market….Citibank is one of the leading and largest Primary Dealers in the Israeli government bond market….

“Among the significant transactions arranged by Citibank in Israel were the privatization of Oil Refineries, the Cellcom international syndicated loan transaction and the Israel Electric marine natural gas pipeline system project financing transaction….

“The Investment Bank is a leading underwriter for Israeli companies seeking to issue equity and debt securities in the global markets, and a leader in mergers and acquisitions advisory. Israeli entities have greatly benefited from Citi’s ability to channel its significant global expertise across a broad range of products and services in key industry segments including technology, healthcare, energy, real estate, financial services, telecom and other segments. The development of the Israeli client relationships across Citi enables Israeli entities to benefit from the valuable introduction to leading global opportunities and world class execution and advice.

“Among innovative and significant deals completed by Citi Investment Bank was successfully advising on the sale of M-Systems, PowerDsine and Actimize; advising Spansion on the acquisition of Saifun; public equity offerings for Cellcom and Delek US; and acquisition financing for Alony-Hetz’s purchase of shares in PSP Switzerland…

“Citibank International Personal Bank in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) provides Israeli clients with a personalized banking and investment service to help them manage and grow their wealth. Each client is assigned an experienced Hebrew Relationship Manager and has access to financial solutions to suit the client’s needs…. Clients typically have a minimum of US$100,000 or currency equivalent to invest in London, or US$50,000 to domicile in Jersey.”


A September 27, 2006 article that was posted on the Dun & Bradstreet web site at www.duns100.com provided some more detail about the business links between the investment bank that U.S. Ambassador to the UK-Designate Susman recently vice-chaired and the Israeli banking system and Tel Aviv Stock Exchange:

“Global Transaction Services, a business of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) today announced that Citigroup Israel would provide direct custody and clearing (DCC) services to clients through the TASE Clearing House, making Citigroup the first foreign bank in Israel to offer DCC services to a large international client base. Citibank N.A. was recently approved as a member of TASE and the TASE Clearing House, enabling the bank to offer securities clearing and settlement services in Israel…

“Andrew Gelb, Global Head of Direct Custody and Clearing for Citigroup’s Global Transaction Services business said, `We are extremely excited to provide clients with a wide range of DCC services on-the-ground in Israel. We are in a unique position to leverage our global network and experience in growth markets worldwide to the benefit of our clients and the market.'

“Ralph Shaaya, Citigroup’s Country Officer for Israel, added, `This once again affirms our commitment to the Israeli marketplace through the introduction of a new value-added service to the international institutions investing in Israel.'

“Ester Levanon, CEO of TASE, said, `The joining of Citigroup as a member of TASE’s Clearing House is a continuation of the trend of extending the activity of international entities in the Israeli capital market. This is an important expression of trust of a leading financial group, that will strengthen the Stock Exchange and the Israeli market.'

“TASE and Citigroup have been working together for several years. In 2001 the TASE Clearing House developed the Galaxy System in collaboration with Citigroup. Galaxy allows members to effectively manage, reconcile and standardize clearing and settlement processes and minimize risk. The system integrates between the high professional standard of the Clearing House in Israel and the high standard financial credibility of Citigroup in the world. Galaxy services currently cater to the US market and will soon be launched in Europe and other global markets. The system provides services to four of the leading banks in Israel.”


And, according a March 11, 2009 Globes-McClatcy-Tribune Information Service article, the Citi Israel Ltd. division of the investment banking firm in which Susman was an executive has also “led deals for Tower Semiconductor Ltd., Gazit Inc. and the most recent overseas bond offering by Israel Electric Corporation.”

So don’t expect the Obama Administration’s new Ambassador to the United Kingdom to be eager to invite many Palestinian solidarity activists in the UK who have been involved in the recent “Boycott Israel” street protests in London to party with him much at the U.S. Embassy there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Post-1979 Iranian History Revisited--Conclusion

(Revisiting some of the following post-1979 Iranian people’s history might help U.S. anti-war activists understand better some of the historical background of what is currently happening within Iran in 2009. See parts 1 and 2 below).

In addition to providing the Iranian government with a pretext to repress secular anti-imperialist proponents of more democratization of Iranian society during the 1980s, the 1980 to 1988 Iraq-Iran War that Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime in Iraq started in September 1980 also produced great suffering for the people of both Iran and Iraq. Almost one million Iranians were maimed or killed, for example, as a result of the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s; and many Iranian cities were extensively damaged during this war.

But on July 18, 1988, the Iranian government agreed to accept UN Security Council Resolution 598 which called for a cease-fire with Iraq; and the 1980 and 1988 Iraq-Iran War finally ended. Six days later, however, the People’s Mojahadeen guerrilla group launched a military incursion into Iran.

Iranian government authorities apparently then used this military attack as a pretext to carry out another round of mass executions of both imprisoned secular anti-imperialist left Iranian activists and imprisoned People’s Mojahadeen activists. According to the Human Rights Watch web site:

“In 1988, the Iranian government summarily and extra-judicially executed thousands of political prisoners held in Iranian jails…The majority of those executed were serving prison sentences for their political activities…Those who had been sentenced, however, had not been sentenced to death….”

Dissident Iranian activists and Amnesty International estimated that between 2,800 and 4,481 Iranian political prisoners were then executed in 1988 by Islamic Republic authorities. Although most of the executed Iranian political prisoners in 1988 were members and supporters of the People’s Mojahadeen group, hundreds of imprisoned members and supporters of the Tudeh Party, the Peoples’ Fedayeen group and the Kurdish Democratic Party were also apparently executed by the Iranian government authorities in 1988.

The economic destruction caused by the eight year Iraq-Iran War and the generally unfriendly policy of the U.S. government towards Iran during the years since the U.S. embassy was seized by Iranian students (except during the “Iran-Contragate Scandal” period of the Republican Reagan Administration when the U.S. government arranged for weapons to be shipped to the Islamic Republic of Iran) hurt the post-revolutionary Iranian economy, prior to the death of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 3, 1989. But Iran’s oil wealth has enabled the Islamic Republic to apparently satisfy the economic needs of some people within Iranian society--although many other people in Iran still seem to be having economic difficulties.

By 1989, 80 percent of the Iranian economy was controlled by the Iranian government and banks, insurance companies and all major industries in Iran were now nationalized. Although one-third of Iranian workers were provided jobs by Iran’s public sector in 1988, during that same year about 30 percent of all Iranian workers were still apparently unemployed.

In 1989, the average inflation rate in Iran’s economy also apparently exceeded 23 percent; and by 1993 the annual inflation rate in Iran had increased to 40 percent. As a result, when the Iranian government announced cuts in price controls and government subsidies of basic necessities during the 1990s, street protests broke out in Tehran and other Iranian cities.

By 1997, young people in Iran composed 25 percent of Iran’s population of 67 million; and the number of university students in Iran had grown from only 160,000 in 1977 to 1.25 million in 1997, as a result of the Iranian government’s increased investment in Iranian higher education.

During the 1990s, however, the Iranian government began to privatize Iran’s economy more by transferring control of state-run enterprises to Islamic clergy-controlled private foundations, thus turning these foundations into powerful business corporations, according to the 2006 Democracy In Iran book.

The size of Iran’s college-educated middle-class also began to increase in the 1990s; and this seemed to lead to increased political support for Iranian electoral candidates who favored more liberalization and more democratization of Iranian society.

The conservative clerical political leadership in Iran, however, responded to the 1990s electoral success of candidates favoring more democratization and liberalization by shutting down 19 pro-reformist newspapers in Iran in May 1999; and by disqualifying 3,600 candidates who favored more democratization, including 80 incumbent candidates, from participating in the 2004 Iranian parliamentary elections.

Although U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s husband-—former Democratic President Bill Clinton--signed an executive order banning all U.S. trade and investment in Iran in May 1995, European governments have adopted less hostile economic policies in relation to Iran than has the U.S. government, in recent years.

In Iran, “European multinational companies” have “formed business partnerships in various sectors of the economy—including oil and gas, telecommunications, consumer electronics and automotive—especially after a bill in 2002,” passed by Iran’s parliament, “eased some of the restrictions on foreign investments,” according to the Democracy In Iran book.

After the former Mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected president of Iran in June 2005 with 62 percent of the Iranian popular vote, on a platform of pledging to redistribute more of the wealth of Iran to the most impoverished people in Iran, both the Republican Bush Administration and the Israeli government seemed more eager to launch a military attack on Iran.

But, as this revisiting of Iran’s post-1979 history has shown, people in Iran have suffered, historically, as a result of U.S. intervention in Iran’s internal political affairs since World War II. And a U.S. government-supported Israeli military attack against Iran in 2009--regardless of which pretext is used by the Obama-Clinton Administration or the Netanyanu Israeli government--will likely create additional suffering for people in Iran.

So it’s not surprising that a February 2007 statement issued by the political committee of The Union of Iranian Socialists in North America declared that “The people of Iran vehemently oppose the intervention of any foreign power in their country” and “any kind of aggressive actions by the U.S. and its allies, either military or economic, should be condemned by progressive anti-war activists.” (end of article)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Some Post-1979 Iranian History Revisited--Part 2

(Revisiting some of the following post-1979 Iranian people’s history might help U.S. anti-war activists understand better some of the historical background of what is currently happening within Iran in 2009).

After opposing the Khomeini regime’s decision to release the U.S. Embassy hostages to the new Reagan Administration (following a failed attempt by the Democratic Carter Administration to “rescue” the U.S. Embassy hostages by sending some U.S. military commandos into Iran) and the Islamic Republic’s press censorship law in January 1981, the People’s Mojahadeen declared its opposition to the Khomeini regime in a June 20, 1981 street march. Twenty young Iranian women People’s Mojahadeen protesters were then arrested by Khomeini’s regime and quickly executed.

In response, the People’s Mojahadeen group bombed the headquarters of the pro-Khomeini Islamic Republican Party [IRP] headquarters on June 28, 1981 and eliminated almost the entire leadership of the Islamic Republican Party, whose members held the majority of seats in the Iranian parliament. By means of an armed uprising the People’s Mojahadeen guerrillas apparently hoped to then overthrow Khomeini’s Islamic Republic in the same way they had helped to previously overthrow the Shah’s regime during the late 1970s.

The Islamic Republic authorities responded to the People’s Mojahadeen armed revolt during Iran’s war with Iraq by quickly executing 100 more of its domestic Iranian political opponents in retaliation for the June 28, 1981 bombing of the Islamic Republican Party’s headquarters. But on August 30, 1981, the People’s Mojahadeen insurgents next bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic’s Prime Minister, killing 130 top leaders of the Islamic Republican Party, including Iran’s President and Premier.

In retaliation, 7,746 Iranians were then either executed by the Khomeini regime or killed in clashes with the security forces of the Khomeini regime by 1984. Of these 7,746 Iranians, 6,221 were members of the People’s Mojahadeen, including 933 women members of the People’s Mojahadeen.

Unlike the People’s Mojahadeen group, the Tudeh Party and the People’s Fedayeen group continued to express support for Khomeini’s Islamic Republic regime after June 1981 and both the Tudeh Party and the People’s Fedayeen group continued to be allowed to operate openly by Iranian government authorities.

But after the Tudeh Party criticized the Islamic Republic’s conduct of its war with Iraq and the Khomeini regime’s intention--after the Iranian military forces recaptured the Iranian land that Iraq had occupied early in the Iraq-Iran War--to now invade Iraq, some top Tudeh Party leaders were arrested by Iranian government authorities in February 1983.

Subsequently, the Tudeh Party was outlawed on May 4, 1983 by the Iranian government; and 670 civilian members of the Tudeh Party and 100 Iranian military officers who supported the Tudeh Party were also arrested.

Then, in December 1983, the 100 Iranian military officers who were Tudeh Party supporters were put on trial. And on February 25, 1984, ten of these Tudeh Party supporters within the Iranian military's officer corps were executed by Islamic Republic authorities.

Thirty members of the People’s Fedayeen group were also arrested in the Fall of 1983. And, after the Iranian government declared that the People’s Fedayeen group was subversive and anti-Islamic in December 1983, the People’s Fedayeen group was also outlawed in February 1984.

In their 2006 book Democracy In Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty, University of San Diego Professor of History and Political Science Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr described how the religious, anti-communist supporters of Khomeini’s Islamic Republic regime apparently also started to violate the democratic rights of leftist Iranian supporters of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, after the Democratic Carter Administration refused to extradite the deposed Shah of Iran and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized:

“Fundamentalists began to constrict the Left’s room to maneuver, purging their members from positions of power, attacking their offices, gatherings, and demonstrations, and intimidating or arresting their members and supporters. For instance, they attacked university campuses, intimidated and arrested students and faculty, and in June 1980 set in motion a `cultural revolution’ to cleanse the universities of the Left. Fundamentalists permanently occupied Tehran University by making its grounds the site for the official Friday Prayers…”

In an article that appeared in the June 21, 2003 issue of the Asia Times, B Raman also asserted that in Iran “after seizing power with the help of the communist students, the clerics ruthlessly suppressed the communists, arresting and executing many of them;” and “those who escaped arrest and death at the hands of the clerics managed to flee to West Europe and started organizing their activities from there.” According to the 2006 Democracy In Iran book, the secular Iranian leftist activists “were portrayed by fundamentalists as American stooges, and resistance to religion’s prominence in society was depicted as a Western ploy to destabilize the revolution.” (end of part 2)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some Post-1979 Iranian History Revisited--Part 1

(Revisiting some of the following post-1979 Iranian people’s history might help U.S. anti-war activists understand better some of the historical background of what is currently happening within Iran in 2009).

The preamble to the October 24, 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran described how the people of Iran were able to create the 1979 Iranian Revolution:

“….The employees of all government establishments took an active part in the effort to overthrow the tyrannical regime by calling a general strike and participating in street demonstrations. The wide-spread solidarity of men and women of all segments of society and of all political and religious factions, played a clearly determining role in the struggle. Especially the women were actively and massively present in the most conspicuous manner at all stages of this great struggle. The common sight of mothers with infants in their arms rushing towards the scene of battle and in front of the barrels of machineguns indicated the essential and decisive role played by this major segment of society in the struggle.”

In response to the large pro-democratization demonstrations in Iran in 1978, the Shah of Iran’s regime also agreed to release some of its Iranian political prisoners before it finally collapsed on February 12, 1979. About 200 members of the People’s Mojahadeen group, for example, were released from prison in the summer of 1978, while another 700 People’s Mojahadeen members were allowed to return to Iran from exile at the same time. By the time the mass demonstrations and general strike had finally succeeded in bringing down the Shah of Iran’s government, about 3,000 to 5,000 Iranian activists were now members of the People’s Mojahadeen group.

It was the traditional Islamic opposition groups led by the anti-communist religious Iranian Bazaar merchant class and the anti-communist Iranian clerical hierarchy, not the Tudeh Party, the People’s Fedayeen guerrilla group or the People’s Mojahadeen guerrilla group, which soon ended up gaining Iranian state power following the collapse of the Shah of Iran’s regime in early 1979.

Led by Ayatollah Khomeini, the traditional Islamic groups were apparently able to gain political power by default because of the absence of mass-based working-class organizations in Iran in the late 1970s and the degree to which the Iranian masses were still strongly religious in 1979. Despite their hatred for the Shah of Iran’s police-state regime and the U.S. government that had installed and backed the Shah’s dictatorial regime, the Iranian masses in 1979 were apparently not willing to then throw their political support behind an effort to establish a new anti-imperialist, secular, democratic, leftist revolutionary regime in Iran.

Almost immediately after the 1979 Revolution in Iran, the People’s Mojahadeen group and the pro-Khomeini Islamic groups began to split apart. Then, in April 1979, a referendum to abolish the Iranian monarchical system of government and set up an Islamic Republic in Iran controlled by Iran’s fundamentalist clerical hierarchy under Ayatollah Khomeini’s leadership was held. Although all the secular Iranian political groups were opposed to the creation of this kind of Sh'ia-led Islamic theocracy (with Khomeini as the supreme and divine authority) within Iran, on the grounds that it would create an undemocratic post-revolutionary Iranian society, an Islamic Republic was soon established in Iran.

Ayatollah Khomeini had initially promised to organize a popularly-elected Constituent Assembly in Iran to draft the Islamic Republic’s new Constitution. But, fearing that a popularly-elected Constituent Assembly in Iran would give some representation to the People’s Mojahadeen group activists who now opposed him politically, Khomeini broke his promise. Instead, the Ayatollah set up a smaller, Islamic clergy-dominated Assembly of Experts which began drafting the Constitution for the Islamic Republic in the summer of 1979.

This new Constitution was completed around ten days before the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Embassy employees in Tehran were taken hostage on November 4, 1979 by young Iranian political activists--who were protesting against the Democratic Carter Administration’s refusal to extradite the [now-deceased] former Shah of Iran back to the new government in Iran to face a post-revolutionary Iranian war crimes tribunal.

On December 1, 1979 the new Islamic Republic’s Constitution was approved by Iranian voters. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran of October 24, 1979 (and as later amended on July 28, 1989) does appear to contain many democratic articles. Article 13, for examples, guarantees religious freedom and Article 38 prohibits torture. Article 29 guarantees the Iranian people the right to universal health care and Article 31 guarantees the Iranian people their right to housing. Article 79 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution also prohibits martial law, Article 81 prohibits the granting of economic concessions in Iran to foreign imperialists and Article 146 prohibits the establishment of foreign military bases in Iran.

With respect to freedom of the press rights in Iran, Article 24 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution guarantees freedom of the press “except when detrimental to fundamental principles of Islam.” And marches and demonstrations are allowed under Article 27 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, as long as arms are not carried by demonstrators and the demonstration is “not detrimental to Islamic principles.” Under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran “the mass-communications media, radio and television, must” also “serve the diffusion of Islamic culture.”

After the Islamic Republic’s Constitution was approved by Iraqi voters, the Islamic Republic’s first Majlis (parliament) of 270 members was subsequently elected in the Summer of 1980. Fifteen percent of the 11 million Iraqi voters chose to vote for People’s Mohjadeen-supported parliamentary candidates.

On September 22, 1980, however, the then-pro-U.S. imperialist Ba’ath Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein launched a military attack on Iran. And the new external Iraqi military threat to Iran’s national security apparently gave Khomeini’s Islamic Republic officials an internal security pretext for restricting democratic rights in post-Shah Iran. (end of part 1)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Interview With `The World Is Turning' Author Don Paul--Conclusion

On April 14, 2007, New Orleans-based writer-poet-musician-Marathon runner-activist Don Paul was the Chief Prosecutor for the "San Diego Citizen's Grand Jury on the Crimes of September 11, 2001 in New York City" event that was held at San Diego State University. He co-founded the organization Rebuild Green three days after Hurricane Katrina and moved from San Francisco to New Orleans in January 2006 to help with effort for recovery there. The author of more than 20 books and the producer of more than 20 albums, Paul was recently interviewed by email about the Democratic Obama Administration's first 100 days and about his most recent book: The World Is Turning: `9/11,' The Movement for Justice & Reclaiming America for the World. (The text of this interview was originally posted on the http://blog.puppetgov.com site. See below for parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).

In your new book you also write that "another financier linked to major events of the 9/11/01 day, Warren Buffett, spoke to shareholders of the Berkshire Hathaway company that he heads;" and "Berkshire Hathaway was a big financial winner after 9/11/01." How would you evaluate the way the Big Media and most left alternative media cover the role that Warren Buffett has played in U.S. history in recent years?

Don Paul [DP]: So far as I can tell, mass media is generally fawning toward Warren Buffett, while almost all of what’s called left media ignores the integral roles played by Warren Buffett and similarly mega-financiers in directing society.

In your book you also note that "Warren Buffett was photographed with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lord Jacob Rothschild at a meeting on Rothschild's English estate of investors in Buffett's NextJet Company" and you seem to emphasize the special influence that banking families like the Rothschilds have played in determining the direction of world history. What kind of information about the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Big Banks do you think anti-war readers will find in your book that they wouldn't generally find from just watching CNN and PBS or just listening to left alternative media radio shows like "Democracy Now!'?

DP: Corporations such as CNN and PBS—Corporations that are dependent upon systems of private money-lending as the method of sustaining national economies—that is, Corporations that are ultimately dependent upon the status quo Central Banks such as the Federal Reserve System, the Bank of England, Bank of France, Bank of Canada—completely fail to report the defrauding, life-sucking realities of these private Central Banks.

So-called “Left” media likewise ignore these most fundamental realities, for all of its fuss about scandals and crises. The volume of Project Censored that presents the “Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007-08”—years of bail-outs totaling more than $1 trillion!—has only one instance of misdeeds that involve the Federal Reserve System: the Fed’s shipping of $12 billion of bank notes to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (L. Paul Bremer) over one year between 2003 and 2004.

Then there’s the role of families and Corporations’ Foundations in exercising social control through their funding of media and other agencies of the “Left”--that are supposed to expose and combat inequties--and “Right.”

Do you think any of the liberal establishment foundations on whose boards sit board members of Wall Street firms like A.I.G, the Federal Reserve Bank or the Big Banks are likely to give you a literary grant to write your next book--after they read what you write about banks in The World Is Turning?

DP: Not likely. A grant from any Lord or arm of the empire is as unlikely a prospect for me as suicide. But—you never know. There is no Other in the sea of us and we all may hope to be subjected to more enlightenment.

How can folks who wish to read your new book obtain a copy, if they can't find a copy of your book in their local library or at the local corporate bookstore chain outlet?

DP: Well, readers can—if they’re so moved—request that Public Libraries obtain a copy of The World Is Turning. Ingram or another distributor can bring the book to Public Libraries through standard channels. I love Public Libraries.

If someone wants to order the book for direct purchase, I recommend going to the http://www.wireonefire.com/donpaul/wit.html

sub-site and using the means there. It’s also available there as an e-book and a three-CD audio book. (end of interview)

Over 10 Percent Jobless In 13 States Under Obama Regime

The official unemployment rate exceeded 10 percent in 13 states and in Washington, D.C. in May 2009 under the Democratic Obama Regime, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Following is a list of the 13 states whose official jobless rate was over 10 percent in May 2009:

1. Michigan (14.1 percent);

2. Oregon (12.4 percent);

3. Rhode Island (12.1 percent);

4. South Carolina (12.1 percent);

5. California (11.5 percent);

6. Nevada (11.3 percent);

7. North Carolina (11.1 percent);

8. Ohio (10.8 percent);

9. Tennessee (10.7 percent);

10. Kentucky (10.6 percent);

11. Indiana (10.6 percent);

12. Florida (10.2 percent); and

13. Illinois (10.1 percent).

In addition, the official unemployment rate in Washington, D.C. was 10.7 percent.

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Interview With `The World Is Turning' Author Don Paul--Part 5

On April 14, 2007, New Orleans-based writer-poet-musician-Marathon runner-activist Don Paul was the Chief Prosecutor for the "San Diego Citizen's Grand Jury on the Crimes of September 11, 2001 in New York City" event that was held at San Diego State University. He co-founded the organization Rebuild Green three days after Hurricane Katrina and moved from San Francisco to New Orleans in January 2006 to help with effort for recovery there. The author of more than 20 books and the producer of more than 20 albums, Paul was recently interviewed by email about the Democratic Obama Administration's first 100 days and about his most recent book: The World Is Turning: `9/11,' The Movement for Justice & Reclaiming America for the World. (The text of this interview was originally posted on the http://blog.puppetgov.com site. See below for parts 1, 2, 3, and 4).

Recently some Big Media attention has been focused on the American International Group [A.I.G.] because it used a lot of its U.S. taxpayer-provided bail-out fund money to just give big bonuses to A.I.G. executives. But your book seems to indicate that A.I.G. also apparently profited from what happened on September 11, 2001 in Downtown Manhattan. Besides learning more about how A.I.G. may have profited from what happened on 9/11/01, what other kinds of information about the 9/11/01 events which the Big Media or U.S. left alternative media generally never mention, will U.S. anti-war readers find in your new book?

Don Paul [DP]: The insurance pay-outs from demolition of the three World Trade Center Building is dwarfed by profits realized by grants in the insurance and re-insurance businesses since 9/11/01. The biggest of these are the American International Group [AIG] and holdings of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company, including General Reinsurance. Because these giants were able to raise premiums as much as 2000%, their revenues rose about 40% in the three years after 9/11. For the year 2004—before it dove into the global grand casino of “derivatives” and Credit Defaults Swaps et cetera—AIG reported a profit of $9.73 billion.

The giant insurance corporations also got great breaks from Congress post-9/11. Maurice Greenberg, then CEO of AIG, and his son Jeffrey, then CEO of March & McClennan, an insurance-firm that lost 295 employees due to demolition of the South Tower, went to Congress less than two weeks after 9/11. The insurance industry came away with a new law, the Terrorism Risk Prevention Act of 2002, by which the public would absorb 90% of insurers’ losses up to $100 billion after a minor deductible of $5 or $50 million. The TRPA remains in effect under the Obama Administration. (end of part 5)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Interview With `The World Is Turning' Author Don Paul--Part 4

On April 14, 2007, New Orleans-based writer-poet-musician-Marathon runner-activist Don Paul was the Chief Prosecutor for the "San Diego Citizen's Grand Jury on the Crimes of September 11, 2001 in New York City" event that was held at San Diego State University. He co-founded the organization Rebuild Green three days after Hurricane Katrina and moved from San Francisco to New Orleans in January 2006 to help with effort for recovery there. The author of more than 20 books and the producer of more than 20 albums, Paul was recently interviewed by email about the Democratic Obama Administration's first 100 days and about his most recent book: The World Is Turning: `9/11,' The Movement for Justice & Reclaiming America for the World. (The text of this interview was originally posted on the http://blog.puppetgov.com site. See below for parts 1, 2 and 3).

In September and October 2008, Barack Obama expressed support for the Wall Street bail-out bill. And since Obama's inauguration, the Democratic Obama Administration has continued to give corporate welfare grants to Wall Street firms like Citigroup and A.I.G.

Yet in a September 25, 2008 article that is reprinted in The World Is Turning book, you wrote "Now, September into October of 2008, we face a Bail-out Bill and other U.S. Government funding of speculator Corporations' bad debts that already total more than $1 trillion;" and "the almost unbelievable arrogance of the still expanding Bail-out Bill grants unilateral and `unreversable' powers of limitless lending to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve System, and the U.S. President, accomplishing a coup 'd'etat by legislative declaration even more extreme than 2002's similarly USA PATRIOT Act." And in an October 31, 2008 article that is reprinted in your book, you wrote: "The first two weeks of October 2008 have seen the most bare-faced and brazen, yet sly and secretive, theft of a nation proceed, robbing the public of the United States of both rights and posterity."

Could you explain further why you think that last fall's bail-out bill was bad for people in the United States and against the economic interest of most people in the United States? And, if bailing-out Wall Street firms like A.I.G. and Citigroup was, in fact, an economically stupid and undemocratic idea, why would Barack Obama support such an economic plan?


Don Paul [DP]: The “Bail-out Bill” of last October and the much greater, predictable giveaways that have followed it—so that even Bloomberg News is setting the total bail-out around $10 trillion-and-counting—is clearly insane, at best, if its intention is the U.S. people’s well-being.

The public is being driven over a cliff, much as it was between 1929 and 1933 in North America.

Amounts far in excess of the nation’s annual Budget are going to Banks and other speculative institutions that in their turn produce nothing but more debt for the people, even greater and more irremediable toils and pitfalls of debt.

Why would an intelligent and seemingly compassionate person such as Barack Obama support such ruinous insanity? We know that he and John McCain were main movers in persuading legislators to pass the Bill after it first failed last Fall—while others in the Government, such as Secretary Treasury Paulson, were threatening “martial law” if the Bill again failed to pass.

The simple answer for Obama and McCain’s support for the Bailout Bills is that the biggest bettor/debtor Banks and their like are the principal influences, at best, on our Government. They’re actually the principal force in our Government, I think, through their apparatus of the Federal Reserve System.

Three of the top seven donors to Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign were Banks, led by Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase gave Obama two to four times more than they gave McCain.

How Barack Obama goes—what he’s able to perceive and to do—we’ll soon see. Will he continue to be financiers’ actor, speaking for the expenditure of trillions of dollars into supranational bankers’ rat-holes, or will he emerge as a champion of the people who produce the world’s food and other life-giving goods?

One thing for certain is that he’s most likely to change for the better if pressured by righteous mass movements from us. (end of part 4)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Interview With `The World Is Turning' Author Don Paul--Part 3

On April 14, 2007, New Orleans-based writer-poet-musician-Marathon runner-activist Don Paul was the Chief Prosecutor for the "San Diego Citizen's Grand Jury on the Crimes of September 11, 2001 in New York City" event that was held at San Diego State University. He co-founded the organization Rebuild Green three days after Hurricane Katrina and moved from San Francisco to New Orleans in January 2006 to help with effort for recovery there. The author of more than 20 books and the producer of more than 20 albums, Paul was recently interviewed by email about the Democratic Obama Administration's first 100 days and about his most recent book: The World Is Turning: `9/11,' The Movement for Justice & Reclaiming America for the World. (The text of this interview was originally posted on the http://blog.puppetgov.com site. See below for parts 1 and 2).

When Barack Obama was campaigning for Democratic presidential primary votes in Louisiana last year he seemed to be promising U.S. voters that he would do a lot to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and elsewhere--if he were elected president. As a writer-activist who has spent a number of years living in New Orleans in the post-Katrina period, do you think the Democratic Obama Administration has done enough to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in its first 100 days?

Don Paul [DP]: Well, again I hate to say but have to say: I know of nothing new and significant that’s been done by the current U.S. Administration to help victims of flooding in New Orleans and elsewhere in southern Louisiana. About 1/3 of New Orleans’ pre-2005 flood natives are still not back in the city—despite widely expressed desires to return by these tens of thousands of dispossessed people—and the percentage is at least 2/3 in the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Lack of communication to pre-flood natives—lack of education, health-care, temporary lodgings, and living-wage employment altogether—are the main reasons so many are still not back. And the Federal, State and City Governments are all to blame.

What’s remarkable and heartening is how much has been done despite the failings of Government—done through work by thousands of volunteers here and done through the seven-days-a-week efforts of pre-flood natives who have formed new, post-flood organizations that are like New Orleans’ long-lived mutual-aid Social and Pleasure Clubs.

That said, the city and the whole Gulf Coast region remains a colossal sitting-duck, more vulnerable to Hurricanes than in 2005, and nothing proposed by any level of Government comes remotely close to meeting needs. Last September Hurricane Gustav veered west in its last 36 hours before landfall and so its main strength missed New Orleans. Still, with winds of only 80 miles per hour and a storm-surge of only nine feet, both walls of the Industrial Canal between the Upper and Lower 9th Wards were overtopped by water.

Immediately after Gustav, we formed a “Levee, Wetlands and Jobs” working group. We came up with a Plan that recommended three broad measures. One builds up levees to a height of 25 feet or higher to protect New Orleans and other communities that are threatened along the Gulf Coast. Two, plant 50 million cypress trees and bunches of spartina grass to restore wetlands lost due to oil-and-gas channels through lower Louisiana. Three, employ at least 50,000 people in the enactment of measures One and Two, giving preference in hiring to those who lived in the region before 2005’s Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Levees. Wetlands. Jobs: simple, urgent broad measures that arrive at fundamental and necessary solutions. (end of part 3)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Interview With `The World Is Turning' Author Don Paul--Part 2

On April 14, 2007, New Orleans-based writer-poet-musician-Marathon runner-activist Don Paul was the Chief Prosecutor for the "San Diego Citizen's Grand Jury on the Crimes of September 11, 2001 in New York City" event that was held at San Diego State University. He co-founded the organization Rebuild Green three days after Hurricane Katrina and moved from San Francisco to New Orleans in January 2006 to help with effort for recovery there. The author of more than 20 books and the producer of more than 20 albums, Paul was recently interviewed by email about the Democratic Obama Administration's first 100 days and about his most recent book: The World Is Turning: `9/11,' The Movement for Justice & Reclaiming America for the World. (The text of this interview was originally posted on the http://blog.puppetgov.com site. See below for part 1).

When Barack Obama was campaigning for U.S. President last year he claimed that he would bring "change," "peace" and "prosperity" to the United States and the world--if U.S. voters elected him. With regard to responding to the 9/11 Truth Movement's demands for a full investigation of what actually happened on September 11, 2001, do you think the Democratic Obama Administration has brought sufficient "change" during its first 100 days in office?

Don Paul [DP]: I don’t know of any change between the current U.S. Administration’s lack of response to such demands and the prior U.S. Administration’s lack of response to such demands.

Let me add that I think it would be useful to take Presidents and skin-tones out of the picture if we’re trying for accurate analysis. To me, Barack Obama is clearly the most gifted U.S. President since JFK. To me, Barack Obama can be a very appealing person. In my view the personal attributes of U.S. Presidents never affect the agendas they’ve been installed to fulfill—unless they rebel, as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and John F. Kennedy rebelled at control of our Government by financiers.

Jeffrey Davidow is Obama’s chief advisor for Latin America—and Jeffrey Davidow at the U.S. Embassy in Chile, 1971 to 1974, approved the fascist Pinochet regime and its mass murders after the overthrow of Salvador Allende. Paul Volcker heads Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board—and Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve System in the Carter and Reagan Administration brought interests rates up to 21.5% in the early 1980s, thereby bringing ruin to millions of farmers and other manual workers around the world. Timothy Geithner as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 to 2008 oversaw exactly the excesses and criminality that have brought misery and crises to working-class and middle-class Americans. And we’ll simply note the old-school Trilateralists who endorse this Administration—Zbignew Brzezinski, who advised Obama at Columbia University in 1983, and Henry Kissinger, who employed Geithner at his consulting firm from 1985 to 1988.

These operatives have nothing to do with idealistic beliefs in Barack Obama—beliefs in “Hope” for “Change”—beliefs that helped to make Obama the first African-American U.S. President. A wish for belief in ideals is still the true hope of millions—or billions—of people around the world. Such a wish, or love, or belief in potentialities, has kind of animated and tortured me for decades. I have to say now that while the shell of the ship the United States wears a new face, it’s secret compartments hold the same old goods, weapons, and elitists’ bills of ownership. (end of part 2)

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Interview With `The World Is Turning' Author Don Paul--Part 1

On April 14, 2007, New Orleans-based writer-poet-musician-Marathon runner-activist Don Paul was the Chief Prosecutor for the "San Diego Citizen's Grand Jury on the Crimes of September 11, 2001 in New York City" event that was held at San Diego State University. He co-founded the organization Rebuild Green three days after Hurricane Katrina and moved from San Francisco to New Orleans in January 2006 to help with effort for recovery there. The author of more than 20 books and the producer of more than 20 albums, Paul was recently interviewed by email about the Democratic Obama Administration's first 100 days and about his most recent book: The World Is Turning: `9/11,' The Movement for Justice & Reclaiming America for the World. (The text of this interview was originally posted on the http://blog.puppetgov.com site).

Why did you decide to write your new book, "The World Is Turning"?

Don Paul [DP]: It seemed like it might be helpful. You know, build a better door-stoop. In truth, I wanted this new book to be a fairly comprehensive resource into the crimes of 9/11/01 and their connections to predicaments that surround us, the world’s working-class people, in 2009.

Let me tell a little story that relates to your question. Last November I was a guest of Venezuela’s National Library (the CENALO for the 6th annual Ferra Internacional del Libro en Venezuela (the FILVEN). Cuban national radio interviewed me after one panel. After ten or so minutes of hearing my emphatic particulars about holes in the Official Story for 9/11/01, the Cuban journalist asked, as I recall: “Why are you so obsessed to bring light to this obscure situation in the United States?”

“Because,” I replied, “the Big Lie of 9/11 remains the foundation for the War on Terror, and the War on Terror is headed directly toward the financial Establishment of the Western world’s pathological dream of a New World Order. So, by exposing the true perpetrators of the horror of September 11,2001, we can turn their psychological-operation against them.” Readers can hear the full interview on Cuban national radio, if they like, at www.wireon-fire.com/donpaul/wit.html.

Since 2008 there have been four substantial, peer-reviewed papers which detail and corroborates that nano-thermites are present in dust and chips from the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7 destruction sits—nano-thermites being ideal, high-tech means for the demolition of those three buildings.

9/11 is still the Big Lie behind the United States’ endless wars in the 21st century. The Obama Administration now wishes to call the “War on Terror” “Overseas Contingency Operations”—a term that may remind some of “collateral damage” for civilian deaths in Vietnam—but this lie of a War remains the same damned deceit that kills tens of thousands of people and costs hundreds of billions of dollars and that more represses civil liberties each year.

Last February, at a press-conference to announce the increase of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 17,000, the new President said about Afghanistan “The bottom line though—and I just want to remember the American people, because this is going to be difficult—is this is a situation in which a region served as the base for an attack that killed 3000 Americans.” That is, he endorsed the fairy-tale that al-Qaida orchestrated the “Attack on America”—with that attack’s demolition of the three WTC skyscrapers and its distraction of North American air defenses—from command-centers in Afghan caves.

Nonsense! A bogey-man story of the Other, the Enemy, that serves a corrupt agenda instead of courageously examining obvious realities.

Finally, The World Is Turning is meant to directly connect orchestrators of “Attack on America” and the 9/11/01 mass-murder in Lower Manhattan with orchestrators and beneficiaries of 2007-2009’s “New Depression”. (end of part 1)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lewis Cole's `Legacy of 1968 Columbia Student Strike' Speech

“And so the legacy is something that we create. And it is our job here to create the thing that we give to the future. That’s what matters.”—Lewis Cole on April 26, 2008

Former Columbia SDS activist and 1968 Columbia Student Strike leader Lewis Cole died from complications due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a/k/a/ Lou Gehrig’s disease) on October 10, 2008, at the age of 62. Nearly six months before he died, he spoke about “The Legacy of the Student Movement”—while sitting in a wheelchair and using a breathing tube—at the 40th anniversary commemoration of the 1968 Columbia Student Strike event that was held at Columbia University’s Journalism School on April 26, 2008. To listen to an audio version of this speech and audio versions of other presentations that were made at the 40th anniversary commemoration, you can check out the following website link:

http://www.columbia1968.com/

“A couple of things that I just want to clean up before I say quick things about “legacy.”

“First of all, when we’re going through the horrors of the New York Times, it’s important also to recognize the young reporters—and especially one of them—who tried to tell the story true. He is sitting in the front row. He is probably the greatest witness to revolutionary movements throughout the world in the latter half of the twentieth-century. And I just want to take my hat off to John Kifner. I’d call up the Times and say `Where’s Kifner? And they’d say: `He’s in Pakistan.’ You knew something was happening there.

“The second thing I want to say is one of the real problems of the radical Movement was its sense of its own importance. And it is interesting to me—and a little bit appalling—this argument about Nixon. Because what it neglects is the role of the Black Movement and how it is that because of the enormous challenge that the Black Liberation Movement set in America, Nixon conceived of the `Southern Strategy.’

“And then, in many respects, the election of Nixon in 1968 is an example and is a moment when America reacted reactionarily to the struggle of the African-American population for its freedom. And it set that Movement back in a certain way. It set the development of the society back in a certain way.

“So that the argument about how it is that we affected Nixon—while it may be partly true—overlooks this much greater thing which was the deliberate and conscious decision on the part of the Republicans—that aspect of the ruling-class, et cetera—to try to throttle that Movement. And try to throttle the way in which it was trying to transform the society at large.

“So, having said all that, I just want to say two other quick, little, tidying up things. One, it galls me when they talk about how we were `middle-class.’ We were not middle-class!

“The students who were involved in the Strike came largely from working-class homes. They were largely the children of first-generation Americans. Harvey Blume’s father I believe ran a dry-cleaning or a tailor establishment in Brooklyn. My parents were working-class intellectuals. Tom Hurwitz’s parents took out loans to get him to come here, for which they spent years paying off.

“So this thing about we were `middle-class kids.’ Maybe Mark [Rudd]. Maybe Mark. Because it is true that—as a kid who had grown up in New York—I was very impressed that Mark knew how to drive a car. And he was the only one.

“We used to go around late at night and he would drive up to some fancy car. And he would look out the window, get the red light. He’d turn to the guy and he’d say: `Wanna drag?’

“And that was a revelation to me. But he was the only one I knew who even knew how to drive. We were working-class kids. And that’s an important thing.

“And the second thing I wanted to just mention was that when we talk about the Black and white alliance that was so important here, et cetera. The other aspect of that was—which wasn’t, I think, underlined enough. Was that it wasn’t simply that the white students were supporting the Gym [demand].

“But, to my mind, much more importantly, it was that SAS [Student Afro-American Society] was unswerving in its demands about IDA [the Institute for Defense Analyses] and the Vietnam War. And that there were repeated attempts to get them to say `Oh, no. We’re only concerned about the Gym.’ And they never, never broke on that demand. And that was crucial.

“Now, very quickly, I just want to say something about legacies.

“Legacies are not simply something that are given. They’re something that are made. You know, like `Shakespeare.' He’s a legacy. So there were the plays. But then there was the quartos. There was the production of the plays. There was the love that went into that. And then there was the understanding of them.

“And so the legacy is something that we create. And it is our job here to create the thing that we give to the future. That’s what matters.

“And it strikes me that, you know, there are good legacies and there are bad legacies. And I think that this has been a wonderful discussion. And I thank Todd [Gitlin] for giving his point of view—which I find completely wrong. But because it opens up the discussion.

“But I just want to warn against something that I think has been true about `Columbia.’ Two ways in which a legacy is not good. And I think Maurice [Isserman] mentioned and talked about one of them in a certain way. One is the mythology of `Columbia.’

“I haven’t spent my whole life here. I came to school here. I left. I didn’t get a degree. I worked for many years outside. Then twenty years ago, somebody called me up and said: `You want to be an adjunct teacher?’ I said: `Yes.’ Then, you know, I married.

“So…But I’ve been to a number of the, you know, the fifth thing. The fifth anniversary, the tenth, the twentieth. And now the fortieth. It’s a little bit getting long. And the thing is that the mythology of `Columbia’ can become, in a way, a dead weight on people. It can become something that they’re always trying to measure up to. It’s like a standard. And then it becomes like `Well, we didn’t quite do it. It wasn’t enough.’

“It becomes a measurement which you can never fulfill. And that needs to be stopped in some way. People have to be told: `You know, you do what you do. And that is the way. The way you make your “Columbia,” is the way you make “Columbia.” Not the repetition. Not the imitation of what it is that we did.’

“And the second thing is the nature of argument about what it is that happened. Now, you know, some of the thing of going over what it is that happened. It’s always fun to tell `war stories.’

“What I found really fascinating about last night was the contribution of the SAS members and the talk about how painful it was to be a Black student on this campus. That was really revelatory to me and I think it’s an important piece of information. What’s not important is to have endless arguments about, you know, what it is that should have been done…You know, what could have been.

“And, in this regard, I think back when I was a young man--to the arguments that we used to have about the Spanish Civil War. By the way, in 1968 the Spanish Civil War—which seemed to us ancient history—was 30 years ago. And now, by the way, `Columbia’ is 40 years ago. So, think about that.

“But these things, like creating a mythology, arguing so much about what should or shouldn’t have happened, can be a way of controlling the past. It’s having power over it. And, of course, we want that. But, you know, brothers and sisters. It’s also time to let it go. To give it over to our children.

“And I think that one of the things for me that’s very important—Sorry, I get emotional—is the incandescent moment of `Columbia’. That, for a variety of reasons—and a lot of these we have not got into--`Columbia’ mattered not just because of what we did. It mattered because of what we believed. That this was a moment of real internationalism. The Blacks and the whites getting together was a moment of international solidarity. Our saying that we would stand with the Vietnamese people was a moment of international solidarity.

“There was one moment—I’ll be brief, Juan [Gonzalez], I’ll get off in a moment…There was one moment when, during the strike, the Administration came up with the bright idea of having a referendum on IDA. And everybody would `vote.’ The students would `vote:’ `Did we want to have IDA? Did we want to have the Gym? Did we not?’

“And we were thrown. Were were in a tizzy. `What happens if…?’ We were going to lose the `vote.’ And then we decided: `You know what? We didn’t care about “the vote.”’ The right of the students here to say that programs should be created in which Vietnamese local leaders were targeted and killed. We didn’t have the right as students to say that that should happen. We did not have the right to say that the Gym should be built.

“So we said: `Have your referendum. We’re staying in the buildings!’ Internationalism.

“And that, along with participatory democracy, created a lot of what was the Strike. It created the incandescent moment of it. Not simply that we were taking power. But that we were taking power for certain things. And that moment needs to be acknowledged by us. `Cause every generation wants to have a moment in which they feel they are making the world.

“So it matters that we say to them: `This is how you really do make the world. These ideals really do give you power.’

“One last note about that. I am quite sick as you see. And I am facing an end which we’re all gonna face. But in my case it’s probably going to come a lot sooner. And a lot more predictably than in your case. And I read a lot.

“One of the things I read was about the Spanish Civil War, which played such an important, romantic part in my head when I was young. Yet the history of the Spanish Civil War now is very different than the one that I knew when I was growing up. But the thing that at the end it says to you is that, in the face of inexorable evil, people stood up. And that gives you strength. It gives you strength to go on.

“I brought my son—who’s in the audience—to the film [about the 1968 strike] two nights ago. And afterwards, we were walking home and…You know, except for the birth of my children, there’s no event in my mind as pure as the Strike.

“And we were walking home and I said: `What did you think of the film?’

“`Well, it was too long, blah, blah…’ And then he said: `You know, there was that guy saying, you know, “they were so romantic”.’

“He looked at me. He’s very tall, my son. I looked at him and I said: `You know, hey! Sometimes, you gotta be romantic. What’s wrong with that?’

“He said: `You know, they say “Oh, they emulated romantic heroes.” You know, there was this romantic emulation of heroes.’

“I said: `Sometimes that’s what you need to do.’

“And to me, you were all heroes. And that’s another part of the legacy. Thank you.”