Weil es außer Frage steht, dass die ökonomische und politische Situation in Syrien, Eritrea, im Libanon oder Ghana für Europa der Aufruf sein könnte, ganz grundlegend eine andere Politik zu betreiben. Weil die elenden Zustände, in denen die Menschen dort leben müssen, das Resultat sind erstens: des Zugriffs kapitalistischer Multis auf die Ressourcen der Welt und zweitens: der Antiterror- und sonstigen Kriege, die zur Durchsetzung und Aufrechterhaltung dieses Zugriffs geführt werden.
US-Investoren fordern: Löhne senken in Europa! – Die Bundesregierung will Deutschland und die EU „wettbewerbsfähiger“ machen.
Von WERNER RÜGEMER, 24. April 2015 -
Bis zu 20 000 Beschäftigte will die Deutsche Post jetzt in die niedrigeren Tarife der Logistikbranche abschieben. Im Jahr 2015 hat der Vorstand dafür 49 Tochterfirmen unter dem Dach der Delivery GmbH gegründet. In diversen Hotels werden den meist befristet Beschäftigten die neuen Arbeitsverträge vorgelegt: Unterschreib oder dein bisheriges Arbeitsverhältnis läuft aus! Die Unterzeichnenden durften die Verträge nicht nach Hause mitnehmen, wurde berichtet.(1) Das ist rechtswidrig. Die Fremdvergabe innerhalb des
Kurz bevor im Schoss Elmau der G 7 Gipfelstatt- findet, greifen wir de zentralen Themen auf,die im Bereich internationaler Beziehungen der Zeit anstehen. Unsere Veranstaltung soll auf den Gipfel und die damit verbundenen Problemeeinstimmen und denkbare Lösungen aufzeigen. Neben inter- national relevanten Fragen beschäftigen wiruns mit den Vorhaben der Gipfelgegnerinnenund Gegner, deren Erfahrungen mit derOrganisation des Protests und den aktuellen Planungen. Außerdem weisen wir auf rechtliche Fragen hin, die sich im Zusammenhang mit Protestaktionen stellen.
Bitte mittels Anmeldeformular oder über unsereHomepage:
Anmeldeschluss ist der 13.05.2015
NEIN ZU G7 & KAPITALISMUS
Alternativen aufzeigen ★ Widerstand organisieren
Kongress von linksjugend [‘solid] NRW | 3. Mai 2015 | 14-18 Uhr | Heinz-Renner-Haus | Severinstraße 1 | Essen
Umweltzerstörung und Kriege, Ausbeutung und Armut, Abschottung und Repression: All diese Probleme sind kein Zufall. Die vorherrschende Politik dient den Profitinteressen der Banken und Konzerne. Und die können nur auf dem Rücken von Milliarden Verlierer*innen durchgesetzt werden.
Einer der zentralen Orte, wo diese Politik koordiniert wird, ist der G7-Gipfel. Anfang Juni wird er im zur Festung ausgebauten Luxushotel Schloss Elmau in den bayrischen Alpen stattfinden. Die reichsten und mächtigsten Länder sind dort mit ihren Staats- und Regierungschefs – sowie unzähligen Lobbyist*innen – vertreten.
Wir dagegen kämpfen für eine Welt ohne Ausgrenzung und Unterdrückung, ohne Armut und Ausbeutung, ohne Kriege und Umweltzerstörung. Aber wie kann diese Gesellschaft konkret aussehen? Und welche Schritte sind nötig, um sie zu erreichen?
Diese und weitere Fragen wollen wir mit euch bei unserem Kongress diskutieren. So sieht das Programm aus:
14:00 Uhr: Parallele Workshops
1) Nein zu Konkurrenz, Ausbeutung und Mangel:
Alternativen zur Anarchie des Marktes.
Wie eine demokratisch geplante Wirtschaft funktionieren könnte.
2) Imperialismus, Neokolonialismus, Fluchtursachen:
Wie der große Teil der Welt durch wenige Konzerne aus der sogenannten „ersten Welt“ ausgebeutet wird – und welche Rolle der G7-Gipfel dabei spielt
3) STOP G7 in Elmau! Was erwartet uns dort?
16:00 Uhr: Podiumsdiskussion
Das Übel an der Wurzel packen:
Kapitalismus abschaffen! Aber wie?
Über Reform und Revolution im 21. Jahrhundert – Diskussion mit Vertreter*innen verschiedener Gruppen.
Mit dem Kongress wird die Mobilisierungskampagne von linksjugend [‘solid] NRW gegen den G7-Gipfel eingeleitet. Es gibt Möglichkeiten dort Kontakte zu Aktivist*innen zu knüpfen und selber aktiv zu werden.
history is a work in progress
Koproduktion FWT & nö theater | Uraufführung
Im Juni 2015 versammeln sich erneut die Staats- und Regierungschefs der wichtigsten Industrieländer der Welt zum G7-Gipfel. Gipfelgegner rufen zu Demonstrationen und Blockaden auf, sie prangern mangelnde Transparenz und demokratische Kontrolle des Gremiums an und kritisieren die einseitige Wachstumslogik.
Gemeinsam mit dem nö theater begeben sich die Zuschauer auf die Barrikade, die die einzige Zufahrtsstraße zum kommenden G7-Gipfel abschneidet. Dort beginnt die Suche nach Sinn und Erfolgschancen von Protestbewegungen, nach der Hoﬀnung, die hinter jedem Protest steckt und nach dem richtigen Leben im falschen. Das Stück reagiert auf politische und organisatorische Veränderungen rund um den Gipfel und nimmt in jeder Vorstellung eine neue Gestalt an.
Von und mit Felix Höfner, Asta Nechajute, Janosch Roloff | Dramaturgie Inken Kautter | Inhaltliche Mitarbeit Jessica Hölzl | Bühnenbild Claus Stump | Kostüm Dominik Strempel | Licht/Vorstellungstechnik Christoph Wedi | Licht-/Bühnenbildassistenz Marek Mauel | Regieassistenz Paulo Freitas
Link zur Veranstaltung: http://www.fwt-koeln.de/index.php/gipfelstuermer.html
Wir verbreiten die beiden offiziellen Mobivideos für den revolutionären 1. Mai in Hamburg auf Deutsch und auf Türkisch:
Internationalistischer Block auf der DGB-Demonstration.
Revolutionäre 1. Mai Demonstration 18:00 Uhr Feldstraße.
LONDON — “We’re not banning you, we’re just not allowing you access,” Mike Oldknow, the security chief told me Wednesday, when I showed up to attend one of the world’s largest annual counter-terrorism events.
The event, the Counter Terror Expo, is held in a large conference hall in Kensington (pictured above), on the west side of London. Hundreds of companies and government officials come together there every year to discuss the latest developments in the broad field of national security.
It was an unexpected turn of events at a gathering I had covered several times in the past. As in previous years, I registered in advance for press accreditation and, as normal, had my application approved. “Please bring your badge reference number and photo ID,” I was told in an email. “Hope you have a great show.”
The event, supported by the U.K. government, regularly attracts big multinational defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics. It is also attended by many smaller, lower-profile companies offering up a variety of controversial covert surveillance tools, biometric technologies, drones, and other security equipment.
This year, a host of talks were scheduled, including one about domestic extremism from a top London police officer, and another from a NATO official about “the changing nature of international terror.”
But problems began as soon as I arrived. At the media registration desk, I handed over my badge reference information, and a woman named Georgia entered the details onto a computer. She frowned, looked at me, and said she would have to make a couple of phone calls.
A few minutes later, her colleague arrived on the scene. There was a quiet discussion between them behind the desk, and then he too made a few calls. I heard him asking on the phone: “What is The Intercept?”
It was interesting and surprising to hear the employees talking about my association with the The Intercept while considering whether to let me in — I had registered to attend as a freelance and had not included mention of the site in my application.
Eventually, Georgia turned to me and explained that my pass had been rejected because of a decision taken by someone “higher up.” She wouldn’t tell me any more details. I asked for an explanation, since I’d attended in previous years without any problems.
She said she was going to have to call the head of security.
A few minutes later Oldknow, the security chief, arrived. He wore a dark suit and swaggered up towards the media desk, flanked by several tall, angry-looking security guards.
Oldknow ushered me over to the side of the room. I pressed the red button on the voice recorder I was holding and asked why my pass had been suddenly revoked.
“I don’t have a reason, I’m just in charge of security,” he said. “I enforce the rules; I don’t make them.”
He explained that the event’s media partner had approved the registration.
“But someone else has overruled that,” he said. “And on the system it says you are rejected as press.”
So who is kicking me out and why?
“I can only assume it’s because you’re not what they would deem … well, I wouldn’t use the word professional … but there are journalists that are focused on defense and security and they are the people that they invite to this event.”
I told him I was focused on defense and security, that I had received an invite, and that I’d attended in previous years without any issues. He had no answer.
“I hope you’re not recording this?” he asked, glancing down at my voice recorder.
I told him I was.
He looked a bit startled, refused to utter another word, and pointed me to the door.
I left, and later phoned the event’s media representatives to seek further explanation. None of them could tell me why my pass had been revoked. After I tweeted about the incident, one of the representatives called me and said he was sorry for what happened, but he still had no explanation for why my pass was revoked, or at whose request.
Back inside the event, the organizers were serving up breakfast for accredited reporters, and hosting a “networking drinks reception” in the VIP area for members of the press and counter-terror company executives to mingle. Perhaps one of the organizers wanted to prevent any unruly investigative journalists gatecrashing the schmooze-fest and ruining the family atmosphere.
The incident felt symptomatic of the excessive secrecy plaguing the counter-terrorism industry, which is worth tens of billions of dollars every year but operates almost entirely in the shadows. The only thing that seems to truly terrorize the industry is the prospect of transparency and public accountability.
Welcomed with open arms are the journalists who write puff pieces about the latest counter-terror technology for defense industry magazines. But veer too far from that script, expose the industry to some proper scrutiny, and you can expect to be kicked out the door.
Photo of the Counter Terror Expo in London in 2011. (Ryan Gallagher)
The post Counterterrorism Conference Kicks Out Intercept Journalist appeared first on The Intercept.
Morocco’s team of American lobbyists regularly communicated with State Department officials during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s four-year tenure and several are supporting her candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, according to disclosures filed with the Justice Department.
Meanwhile, a controversial cache of what appear to be Moroccan diplomatic documents show how the Moroccan government courted Clinton, built a cooperative relationship with the Secretary of State, and orchestrated the use of consultants, think tanks and other “third-party validators” to advance the North African nation’s goals within elite U.S. political circles.
The DOJ filings and Moroccan leaks help flesh out the story of how a strategically important Arab nation — one that’s been widely denounced for holding one of the last remaining colonial territories in the world — has sought to influence U.S. politics in general and Clinton in particular. Clinton, who has called Morocco “a leader and a model,” saw her and her family’s relationship with the nation burst into the national consciousness earlier this month when Politico reported that the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation would accept more than $1 million in funding from a company controlled by Moroccan King Mohammed VI to host a foundation event in Marrakech on May 5-7. Other foreign contributions to the foundation have also generated controversy, but none as intensely as the Morocco gift.
Documents suggest that the Moroccan government has long sought to influence the Clinton family over U.S.-Morocco relations. Mandatory disclosures filed by Morocco’s many American lobbyists provide one window into these efforts. Another side of the story can be seen through the cache of apparent Moroccan diplomatic documents believed to have been hacked by critics of the government. The diplomatic cables began to appear online seven months ago but are receiving fresh scrutiny given news of the donation to the foundation.Paid by Morocco — and pushing hard for Hillary 2016
U.S.-based lobbyists for Morocco communicated frequently with State Department officials during Clinton’s tenure, according to disclosures filed with the Justice Department. The filings also show Morocco’s lobbyists are positioned to support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the 2016 presidential election. In February of last year, Morocco retained Justin Gray, a board member to Priorities USA Action, the pro-Clinton Super PAC, as a lobbyist on retainer for $25,000 per month, an amount that now represents about a third of his firm’s revenue.
Toby Moffett, a longtime lobbyist for the Moroccan government, penned an op-ed last month decrying the “left-right tag team” of pundits in the media criticizing Clinton’s bid for the presidency. Records show that on December 24, 2014, Moffett held a conference call with Dwight Bush, the U.S. ambassador to Morocco, concerning the Clinton Global Initiative event in Marrakech next month.
Gray and two other lobbyists employed by his firm Gray Global Advisors on retainer for the Kingdom of Morocco, Ed Towns and Ralph Nurmberger, gave donations totaling $16,500 to the Super PAC Ready for Hillary, which rebranded recently as Ready PAC.
Gray Global Advisors declined to comment. Asked about the Clinton Foundation event, Moffett emailed to say he knows “absolutely zero about it.”
Though the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires representatives of foreign governments to disclose certain lobbying contacts, Morocco’s reliance on lobbyists for influence over American foreign policy is spelled out in greater detail in more than 700 documents that began appearing on the web late last year. The cache of diplomatic documents detail efforts to court Hillary Clinton during her tenure at the State Department, the Kingdom’s preference for Clinton over Secretary of State John Kerry, as well attempts to use American think tanks and other supportive U.S. entities to advance Morocco’s goals.
The diplomatic cables, known as the “Marocleaks” in French and North African news outlets, began appearing online on October 3 of last year through various social media accounts. The cables are reportedly the result of a hacking campaign and although many of the accounts leaking the documents were shut down, new leaks of Moroccan government cables appeared as recently as March of this year. The source of the stolen documents is unknown, though social media postings make clear that those involved are critical of the Moroccan government.
Moroccan government officials have not denied the authenticity of the documents, but some have dismissed them as part of a campaign by “pro-Polisario elements,” referring to the armed insurgent group that has battled government forces in Western Sahara, a territory occupied by Morocco. Speaking at a press conference last December, a Moroccan official denounced what he called “a rabid campaign” against his country.
I contacted an American filmmaker mentioned in the diplomatic cables and was able to confirm the authenticity of some of the files. The names and identifying information about American lobbyists on retainer for the Kingdom of Morocco are accurately reflected in the documents. And events described in the documents correspond with contemporaneous public information about those events. The Moroccan Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Still, questions persist about the origin and other aspects of the cache. One journalist in France raised questions about the leaks, suggesting one of the media accounts disseminating the cables blended “authentic and manipulated documents.” Brian Whitaker, the former Middle East editor of the Guardian, has reported on a small batch of the documents, believing them to be authentic, but noted that the cache has “mostly gone unnoticed outside Morocco, perhaps because the leaks have so far revealed little that was not already known, or at least suspected.”
The documents collectively portray the relationship between former Secretary Clinton and the Moroccan government as cooperative. Minutes of meetings conducted by then-Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani on March 15 and 16 of 2012 describe a meeting with Clinton in which she requests support from Morocco on the Syrian civil war, asking them to ask the Arab League to prevent Arabic satellite networks from rebroadcasting Syrian state television, “to put a stop to false images and propaganda.” She also wanted the Arab League to require inspections of Iranian aircraft flying to Syria to prevent the transit of weapons via Iraqi airspace.
The foreign minister added that according to President Obama’s adviser Dennis McDonough in a recent meeting with the president, “Clinton had highlighted the many democratic reforms initiated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI,” and called the country a model for the region.
The upbeat mood was echoed in similar memos circulated throughout 2012, Clinton’s last year in office. “In recent years,” declared a December 2012 memo from the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, D.C., there had been “significant progress in defending the ultimate interests of Morocco.” The relationship between the U.S. and Morocco, the memo stated, was “marked by friendship and mutual respect,” and the country enjoyed support from U.S. policymakers including those in the State Department.
The tone shifts in early 2013 as Clinton left office and was replaced by John Kerry. A dossier prepared by embassy officials features career highlights from Kerry while lamenting the loss of Clinton. “It is clear that with the departure of Ms. Clinton, Morocco loses an ally who will be difficult to replace.” Kerry, the dossier noted, once signed a letter reaffirming the United Nations-backed call for a referendum allowing the people of Western Sahara a vote on independence.
Other memos written by Moroccan government sources express similar regret at the retirement of Clinton. One memo states, “changes in the American administration, notably the departure of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an important ally of the Kingdom in the Obama administration, and the appointment of John Kerry, who has never visited Morocco and on occasion held positions not always favorable to our country, has had some impact on the development of bilateral relations.”Leaked: Moroccan strategy for pulling U.S. strings
Morocco’s attempts to sway policymakers relate to a host of contentious issues. Since 1975, Morocco has occupied Western Sahara, one of the last remaining colonies in the world, a conflict that has provoked fighting with the Polisario Front, a guerrilla army of indigenous Sahrawi people that draws support from the Algerian government. Morocco has also used its lobbying roster to mitigate stories that portray it as an authoritarian state that violently crushes dissent, suppresses the media and engages in child labor.
The United Nations since 1991 has called for a referendum in Western Sahara to allow local residents to choose between independence and integration with Morocco. The referendum option is bitterly opposed by the Moroccan government. King Mohammed VI has only supported an autonomy plan that would maintain Moroccan control over the region. He recently said, “Morocco will remain in its Sahara, and the Sahara will remain part of Morocco, until the end of time.”
In June 2009, President Obama wrote to King Mohammed VI and expressed support for the U.N.-led negotiations for a settlement to the dispute. Some observers interpreted the letter as a reversal of the Bush administration’s position supporting the Moroccan government’s plan.
Later that year, however, Secretary Clinton stood firmly behind Morocco, saying there had been “no change” in policy on Western Sahara. The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment. In 2011, Clinton appeared with the Moroccan Foreign Minister and referenced Morocco’s plan as “serious, realistic, and credible — a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity.”
In joint statements released by the State Department and the White House in October 2012, November 2013, and April 2014, the phrase “serious, realistic, and credible” was used to describe Morocco’s plan.
“There was somewhat of a reversal” by Clinton of the administration’s position, says Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, who noted that Clinton appeared to walk back the Obama administration’s brief support of a referendum. “It was certainly a disappointment to those who had hoped President Obama would join the majority of the international community in supporting self-determination.”
The donation to the Clinton Foundation will be made by Office Chérifien des Phosphates, a company known as OCP, controlled by King Mohammed VI. OCP, the world’s leading phosphate producer, relates directly to Morocco’s continued quest for control over Western Sahara. Brou Craa mine in the occupied Western Sahara territory is managed by OCP and is “today Morocco’s biggest source of income in Western Sahara,” according to Western Sahara Resource Watch, an NGO based in Brussels. Phosphorus from the mine is exported to fertilizer companies throughout the world.
Last month, the African Union Peace and Security Council voted to recommend a “global boycott of products of companies involved in the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara.” Critics have said OCP’s activities in the Western Sahara are illegal because they arise from an unlawful occupation, because they do not sufficiently benefit the local population, and because insufficient efforts have been made to obtain permission from the local population for the extraction of natural resources.
As Morocco attempted to lobby Clinton and other U.S. government officials, the diplomatic cables show a regime continually fine-turning their influence strategy.
The use of think tanks, business associations, other “third party validators … with unquestionable credibility,” one cable said, relates to the “peculiarity of the American political system.” Think tanks, the cable continued, “have considerable influence” on government officials, especially because so many former officials move in and out of think tank work. Mentioning the State Department as one agency that could be swayed through think tank advocacy, the memo goes on to state, “our work focuses on the most influential think tanks … across the political spectrum.” The memo lists several think tanks such as the Atlantic Council, the Heritage Foundation and the Hudson Institute.
One undated cable describes the relative advantages of the various lobbying firms on retainer for the Moroccan government. In the section on the Moffett Group, a company founded by Toby Moffett, a former Democratic congressman, the cable touts a “professional and personal relationship” between Moffett’s daughter and Tony Blinken, deputy secretary of state and former deputy national security advisor to President Obama. (The Moffet Group ended its relationship with Morocco last year, though Moffett is still retained individually through the law firm Mayer Brown, where he works as a senior advisor.)
The cable suggests other lobbyists were hired to help broaden Morocco’s appeal. For Ralph Nurnberger, another consultant mentioned in the lobbyist profile cable, his experience as a “former lobbyist for AIPAC, the largest Jewish lobby in the U.S.,” is mentioned as an asset. Joseph Grieboski, a social justice activist and founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, was hired briefly on a $120,000 a year plus expenses contract for Morocco. Grieboski’s “credibility and authority” on human rights and religious freedom “could make the difference among US policymakers,” the cable observed.
In an email to The Intercept, Grieboski said, “We worked as an advisor to the Embassy of Morocco on human rights issues. I believe we were hired because of the firm’s reputation for human rights expertise and our long understanding of issues in North Africa and the Islamic World.”
In one of the cables describing Morocco’s lobbying strategy, the country’s success in achieving its foreign policy goals stems from its efforts to take the “offensive to counter the enemies of our national cause.” Isolating supporters of Western Sahara and the Polisario Front through Morocco’s congressional allies appears to be a critical element of this approach. Lobbyists for the Kingdom have previously been tied to efforts to cast the Polisario Front as supporters of terrorism. The cable makes clear that one of the goals of outreach should be to “Drain US investment in the provinces of South, particularly in terms of oil and gas exploration.”
In late November 2012, the Kingdom of Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior partnered with the Wilson Center to host an event for the Women in Public Service Project, an initiative founded by Hillary Clinton in 2011, which “empowers the next generation of women around the world and mobilizes them on issues of critical importance in public service.” The following year, Rachad Bouhlal, the Moroccan ambassador, sent a cable to remind his government of the project’s association with Clinton and to encourage continued support. Bouhlal attached a brochure for the project to the cable.
Old friend Bill Clinton tells Morocco, “We love this country … Democracy is a lot of a trouble.”
Support for Clinton family nonprofits by Morocco date back over a decade.
In 2004, the New York Sun reported that King Mohammed VI of Morocco gave between $100,000 and $500,000 to Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2007, the New York Times reported that Mohammed VI was among several world leaders who “made contributions of unknown amounts to the Clinton Foundation.”
Both Clintons have praised the Kingdom.
“My family and I, my wife, her late mother, our daughter, we love this country,” Bill Clinton said during a 2013 event in Casablanca sponsored by Laureate International Universities, a for-profit college company that employs the former president as its Honorary Chancellor. “I like the idea that the country is becoming more democratic and more empowering.” He continued with a chuckle, “Democracy is a lot of trouble by the way, we’ve been at it a long time and we still have a lot of trouble with it.”
“In many ways, the United States looks to Morocco to be a leader and a model,” said Secretary Clinton during an appearance with Morocco’s foreign minister in 2012.
But watchdog groups say little has changed in the Kingdom, even though democratic reforms were promised during the Arab Spring, and that Morocco’s image as a modernizing state is shaped more by lobbying than by the facts on the ground.
“Overall, progress has stagnated,” says Eric Goldstein, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Goldstein explained that while Morocco has implemented some positive reforms, in many ways the country’s human rights situation has deteriorated amid crackdowns on reporters and activists.
Goldstein said he reviewed many of the hacked diplomatic cables, noting that they appear to correspond closely with what is publicly known about Morocco’s lobbying efforts.
“Reading the documents, one gets a sense that this country, Morocco, which does not have a large economy, spends huge amounts of energy and resources on influence, particularly to assert its claim to Western Sahara.”
Photo: U.S. State Department / YouTube
The post Inside Morocco’s Campaign To Influence Hillary Clinton and Other US Leaders appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
You don’t understand the world you live in if you haven’t read Eric Lipton’s three-part series in The New York Times on the staggering “explosion” of relentless, grimy lobbying of state attorneys general. Lipton just won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, and it’s truly deserved: it’s a masterpiece of investigative reporting, built on diligent use of open records laws by Lipton and Times researchers.
More than anything it makes you understand why those laws are so important and so loathed by politicians. As Tony Blair said in his memoir, he was an “idiot” for supporting a Freedom of Information Act in the U.K. because it’s “used by journalists.”
The Times series explains that the current corporate onslaught is a response to successful collaborations by state attorneys general over the past several decades, including settlements in which 46 states extracted $206 billion from the tobacco industry, and 49 states forced the top five mortgage servicers to cough up $25 billion.
Public officials acting in the public interest was clearly a glitch in the matrix, and corporate America set out to eliminate it. In 2000 the GOP created the Republican Attorneys General Association, telling corporate lawyers to “round up your clients and come see what RAGA is all about” and then contribute because policy was being set “via the courthouse rather than the statehouse.” RAGA raked in at least $11.7 million in 2014, including $2.2 million from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and $500,000 from Sheldon Adelson.
The Democrats founded DAGA in 2002, and it now siphons up big chunks of money from many of the same donors as RAGA, including Citigroup, Comcast, Coca-Cola and Pfizer.
RAGA and DAGA provide one-stop shops for influencing state attorneys general. Corporations donate; RAGA and DAGA distribute much of their cash to the campaigns of individual attorneys general; and some of the rest of the money pays for “conferences” that include fundraisers at which corporate executives and their lawyers can donate more to officials in attendance. Then after the attorneys general leave office, they can use the contacts they’ve developed to go work directly for the corporations.
The end result has been a kind of outsourcing of what citizens would expect their legal representatives to do themselves. For instance, The Times found:
• Oklahoma’s Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency accusing them of “very significantly overestimating” the pollution caused by fracking; the letter was actually written by lawyers for an Oklahoma oil and gas company (which was a big supporter of RAGA).
• Missouri’s Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster instituted restrictive new rules for investigations by his consumer affairs division, rules that had been suggested by a senior executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
• Plaintiffs’ lawyers have encouraged many attorneys general, mostly Democrats, to file hundreds of lawsuits against businesses; the attorneys general then hire the outside lawyers to do most of the work in return for contingency fees, usually 20 percent of any settlement.
The end results, former Maine Attorney General James Tierney told The Times, are “shocking, terrible.”
But here’s the funny part: all the attorneys general questioned by The Times maintain that the money and lobbying have no influence on their decisions whatsoever. This means that the corporations doing the lobbying are engaged in a massive waste of shareholder resources. In other words, if the attorneys general truly believe what they say, they should consider filing a huge, multi-state lawsuit against their donors.
So please be sure to read it all.
Photo: Ikon Images/Getty
The post Don’t Miss the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Series on Corporate Lobbying of State Attorneys General appeared first on The Intercept.
Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen will die 167 000 Sturmgewehre G36 der Bundeswehr wegen erheblicher Probleme bei der Treffsicherheit ausmustern. Die Konsequenz aus einem eindeutigen Expertengutachten zu der Waffe sei, „dass das G36, so wie es heute konstruiert ist, keine Zukunft in der Bundeswehr hat“, sagte die CDU-Politikerin am Mittwoch nach einer Sitzung des Bundestags-Verteidigungsausschusses. Sie schloss damit aber nicht aus, dass der Ersatz auch ein verbessertes G36 sein kann.
Einen Untersuchungsausschuss zu der G36-Affäre wird es vorerst nicht geben. Zunächst soll die Aufklärung im Verteidigungsausschuss fortgesetzt werden, hieß es nach der Sitzung in Berlin. Linke und Grüne wollen auch den
Im Ukraine-Konflikt hat der russische Außenminister Sergej Lawrow eine Beteiligung der USA an Friedensgesprächen nicht ausgeschlossen. Ob US-Präsident Barack Obama zu Treffen zwischen Frankreich, Deutschland, der Ukraine und Russland eingeladen werde, müsse aber Paris entscheiden, sagte Lawrow in einem Radio-Interview am Mittwoch in Moskau. Denn Frankreich habe die Verhandlungen im sogenannten Normandie-Format ins Leben gerufen, erklärte er.
Zuletzt hatten die vier Staaten unter Beteiligung von Kanzlerin Angela Merkel und Kremlchef Wladimir Putin am 12. Februar in der weißrussischen Hauptstadt Minsk einen Friedensplan für die Ostukraine beschlossen. Dieser wurde aber bislang nur teilweise umgesetzt. Fast täglich sterben trotz einer vereinbarten Waffenruhe Menschen
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Taco Bell franchise owners are lobbying Congress to help prevent their workers from organizing a union or qualifying for employer-based healthcare. They’re also asking for assistance with real estate tax credits and other issues on their legislative agenda.
On Tuesday afternoon, to thank congressional staffers for all they do on behalf of the fast food industry, franchisees hosted their annual reception at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill, a free food giveway in which staffers and interns gorged themselves on unlimited free Taco Bell tacos and nachos.
Workers at the event, which packed two rooms, said they gave away some 6,000 tacos in all.
FRANMAC, the Taco Bell Franchise Management Advisory Council, like many industry groups, hosts an annual fly-in to help business owners press their case face-to-face with lawmakers and their staff. But as Taco Bell continues to flex its political muscle on Capitol Hill, the restaurant group has become beloved for its very special way of expressing its appreciation.
To franchisers, the spectacle of hundreds of staffers converging to grab boxes of free Taco Bell is also a fun way to cap off a long day of meetings. Earlier on Tuesday, they met for a briefing from freshman Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Col., then split off to meet their local legislators.
The Taco Bell lobbyists who organized the event would not talk to media, but the franchisees who they brought along to help press their case were happy to chat.
“It’s been going on for quite a few years now, it is infamous. Everybody looks forward to it from year to year. It’s a free for all,” said Joye Smith, a franchisee from Northern California. “This is how we want to say thank you for all that you do for us,” she added, noting that some congressional staffers bring boxes down to haul more tacos back to the office.
“We love our food and we’re glad to see our staffers love the food as well,” said Rich Lepping, a Madison, Wiconsin-area franchise store owner.
Louis Brown, a franchisee from San Diego, said that congressional staffers would ask him about the reception during his meetings with them. “Every office we went to, they knew about this. Everybody,” he chuckled.
Smith and Brown said they spoke to Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., about the definition of a full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act, a rule that mandates employer-sponsored healthcare for workplaces with over 50 employees.
Several other franchise owners said they also discussed tax legislation to depreciate the construction and remodeling costs of restaurant facilities, and a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board.
“We’ve got some concern with the NLRB, with the unionization and the joint employer rule,” said Lepping.
Last year, the NLRB issued complaints against McDonald’s as a “joint employer” of both franchisees and workers, a determination that will make the parent company liable for labor violations by franchise owners. The move could pave the way for labor unions to begin organizing fast food restaurants.
YUM Brands, the franchiser of Taco Bell, like much of the fast food industry, has ramped up lobbying to defeat the joint employer ruling. Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Congress have pushed to use a fairly obscure procedure called the Congressional Review Act to strike down the ruling.
The Taco Bell lobby has had success with this Congress. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a bill to change the cutoff for defining a full-time employee under the new health care law from 30 to 40 hours, a change that would relieve many franchisee from having to provide health insurance to their workers. Republican leaders have blocked attempts to raise the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 an hour.
Lobbyists often gain access to staffers through perks and gifts ranging from international junkets to receptions like FRANMAC’s. The Motion Picture Association of America, for instance, invites staffers to special preview screenings of new Hollywood films before they hit theaters. Comcast and Delta reportedly provide VIP services for lawmakers to call for expedited service.
Photos: Lee Fang
The post Taco Bell Lobbyists Thank Congressional Staff With 6,000 Tacos appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
A whole new and very dangerous field of warfare has been developed by the Obama administration, in secret, using untested legal justifications, and without even the faintest whiff of oversight.
So kudos to Patrick Tucker, technology editor for Defense One, who took advantage of a recent moment with National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers to ask him: Is there a way to discuss publicly what the future of cyberwar operations will look like?
Rogers said, dismissively, that the public should trust that the U.S. will follow the international laws of conflict and that its use of cyberwarfare would “be proportional” and “in line with the broader set of norms that we’ve created over time.”
But he also acknowledged the need, at some point, for the public to have some sort of a say.
Rogers likened cyber attacks to the development of mass firepower in the 1800s. “Cyber represents change, a different technical application to attempt to achieve some of the exact same effects, just do it in a different way,” he said.
“Like those other effects, I think, over time, we’ll have a broad discussion in terms of our sense of awareness, both in terms of capabilities as well as limitations.”
That discussion is long overdue.
The almost always-wrong Washington Post editorial board had it exactly right when it wrote “now that the United States is going beyond defense, expanding forces for offensive attack, there’s a crying need for more openness. So far, forces exist almost entirely in the shadows.”
The editorial continued:
What concerns us is not the growth of forces but the way it is happening behind the scenes. The U.S. Cyber Command is a military unit, but its chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, is also director of the National Security Agency, which is part of the intelligence community. So far, operations and deployments are being handled almost entirely in secret.
Aside from a line in a speech last fall by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and some vague language in a 2011 strategy paper, the missions, purpose and scope of conflict have yet to be satisfactorily revealed. One large missing piece is a declaratory policy similar to that used for nuclear weapons in the Cold War, when nuclear policy was openly debated without divulging important secrets. There’s also little public information about rules of engagement for forces or about chain of command and authority to use them. The nature of the threat should also be exposed to a generous dose of sunlight. If conflict in cyberspace is underway, then it is important to sustain support for the resources and decisions to fight it, and that will require more candor.
You may have gathered by the reference to Alexander and Panetta that this was not a recent editorial. In fact, it came out to years ago. The response: *crickets*.
David Sanger’s 2012 book “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” described the Obama administration’s previously secret cyberwar campaign against Iran, and raised the very excellent question: “What is the difference between attacking a country’s weapon-making machinery through a laptop computer or through bunker-busters?”
No answer was forthcoming.
As Chase Madar, an attorney and the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the WikiLeaks Whistleblower, wrote in 2013: “what gets people killed, no matter how much our pols and pundits strain to deny it, aren’t InfoSec breaches or media leaks, but foolish and clueless strategic choices.”
Cyberwarfare will be with us forever. Its potential for destruction is immense. Establishing rules for our use is not just a matter of public interest, it’s also the first step to establishing genuine, enforceable international norms, to protect us all.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The post Even NSA Chief Acknowledges Need for “Broad Discussion” About Cyberwarfare appeared first on The Intercept.
Die Eiszeit zwischen Polen und Russland bringt erstaunliche Geschichtsinterpretationen hervor -
Von ANDREAS VON WESTPHALEN, 22. April 2015 -
Gemeinsam begehen der polnische Premierminister Donald Tusk und der russische Regierungschef Vladimir Putin dem Jahrestag des Massakers von Katyn. Eine erste Annährung zwischen zwei Ländern, die eine sehr schwierige Geschichte verbindet. Diese Annäherung, die Hoffnung auf eine dauerhafte Verbesserung der nachbarschaftlichen Verhältnisse machte, geschah im Jahr 2010. (1)
Fünf Jahre später herrscht zwischen Polen und Russland Eiszeit. Vladimir Putin ist bei der Gedenkfeier von Katyn nicht anwesend und der polnische Präsident Bronislaw Komorowski macht eine gewagte geschichtliche Aussage. Bezugnehmend auf das Massaker von
In 1986, Patty Prewitt was sent to prison for the murder of her husband. In addition to maintaining her innocence, she, like many others her age, has also been a model prisoner for nearly thirty years. Yet Prewitt, now 65 years old, will not be eligible for parole until 2036, so she is virtually guaranteed to spend the rest of her life behind bars.
In an essay published in the 2013 anthology Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough, Prewitt described an incident in a women’s prison in Missouri a decade ago, when a case worker sat her down and presented a modest proposal. “I think we should start a cemetery behind 2-House,” the caseworker said. “A graveyard for you and the others serving no-parole.”
While she described her vision down to the flower beds and flat gravestones that can easily be mowed over, I sat sad, dumb and numb. It never occurred to me that the state was patiently waiting for me to die, although it makes perfect sense. In their opinion, a pine casket is my only way out, and since I am not directly sentenced to the death penalty, they must wait for me to die on my own…a second-class dead-woman-walking.
Patty Prewitt is one of the tens of thousands of Americans who will never again experience life outside of prison. While inside, Prewitt, a grandmother of ten, runs education and parenting programs, produces award-winning writings, and crochets teddy bears for charity. Yet for a crime committed three decades ago (and currently being reviewed by the Midwest Innocence Project), she will forever be barred from society, never again to live among free people.
In ancient times, communities would often rid themselves of convicted criminals and other undesirables through the practice of banishment: casting unwanted people out into the wilderness. The Romans often employed banishment as an alternative to capital punishment, and indeed, considered it a fate nearly as terrible as death. Later, the British Empire liberally employed the punishment of banishment and transportation to colonies such as Australia, while the Soviet Union became known for its use of internal banishment to Siberia. The terms exile, outlaw, and outcast all owe their origin to this once widespread practice.
As the world grew smaller, banishment, as a practical matter, virtually ceased to exist. Though it still remains on the books in a few Southern states, it is generally thought of as an archaic form of punishment, and one that cannot function effectively in the modern world.
Yet the impetus behind banishment — to permanently remove individuals from society, and subject them to a kind of “social death” — flourishes today in the American criminal justice system, where prisons and jails are the settings for a new kind of internal exile.
The United States holds more than 2.2 million people in prison and jail, grossly outpacing the rest of the globe in terms of both sheer numbers and incarceration rate. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we hold nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. Compared with Western Europe, we incarcerate five to ten times as high a percentage of our citizens.
But those overall numbers are just part of what sets us off from other industrialized nations. In Europe, the nature of sentencing is such that virtually every person who is sent to prison will one day return to society. Even those who receive “life” sentences are eventually eligible for parole. The International Criminal Court stipulates that those convicted of the very gravest crimes should serve 25 years before having their status reviewed. That is one key reason why rehabilitation, and not purely punishment and incapacitation, is the primary aim of the prison system.
In the United States, people sentenced to death number slightly over 3,000. With the number of legal and de facto state moratoria increasing, more of them are likely to die in prison of suicide or natural causes than by an executioner’s hand. They join tens of thousands of others in suffering permanent banishment to the carceral state.
According to the Sentencing Project, nearly 50,000 Americans are currently serving life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), a punishment that has been called “the other death sentence,” and which, like capital punishment, is unknown in Europe. In excess of 100,000 more are serving life sentences — many, like Patty Prewitt, with minimums so long that they will die before their potential parole date arrives.
About 10,000 of these lifers were sentenced before they reached the age of 18. Nearly half are African American — a number even more disproportionate than the total number of African Americans in prison. Thousands of them have been further buried in the tomb of prolonged solitary confinement, removed even from the meager community that the prison might offer– another practice virtually unique to the United States.
What is it like to live out an incarcerated life, knowing that you are dead to the society outside the prison walls? In an essay titled “The Meaning of Life,” Joseph Dole, who is serving LWOP in Illinois, wrote:
It means you’re constantly being told that you aren’t worth rehabilitation…It means convincing yourself daily that your life has value even when the rest of the world tells you you’re worthless. It’s a lifetime spent wondering what your true potential really is, and yearning for the chance to find out…A life-without-parole sentence means constant contemplation of a wasted life. A continual despair as to your inability to accomplish anything significant with your remaining years… It’s a compounding of second upon second, minute upon minute, hour upon hour, of wasted existence.
Even such accounts — and the numbers of people sentenced to life in prison — do not tell the full story of how banishment operates in present-day America. For the most marginalized — people with inadequately treated mental illness, prisons have become what E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) calls the nation’s “new asylums.” A recent TAC report found that in 2012, estimated that more than 350,000 people with serious mental illness are now housed in prisons and jails, while a tenth as many — about 35,000 — are in state mental hospitals. Many enter prison on relatively minor charges, then rack up additional charges as they act out due to untreated illness, eventually cycling in and out of jail.
A century ago, America purported to open its arms to the “wretched refuse” of other societies. Now we have “disappeared” our own underclass into permanent exile right in our own backyards. The philosopher Lisa Guenther has called all of these perpetual prisoners “stateless persons,” who have been “cast out of the common world and condemned to a kind of civil death.” Patty Prewitt describes them as having “been heaved into the landfill of incarceration to rot, not worth the time or trouble to recycle.”
It is here, and not just in the popular areas of low-level drug offenses or other easy reforms, that we must look for true change in our and criminal justice system. For Patty Prewitt, the hope is that reformers recognize this, “before that caseworker gets her way and I’m buried out behind the Housing Unit 2 garbage receptacle.”
Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty
James Ridgeway has been a journalist for more than 50 years. Currently he focuses on prison issues as co-director of Solitary Watch. This piece was written with the support of a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
The post American Outcasts: US Prisons And Modern Day Banishment appeared first on The Intercept.
Aktiventreffen in Darmstadt
Im kommenden Juni wird auf Schloss Elmau in Bayern der G7-Gipfel stattfinden. Die G7-Proteste wurden bereits in der Vergangenheit durch massive Repressionen seitens der Staatsgewalt begleitet. Es ist einfach nicht erwünscht, wirksame Kritik an dem Gipfel zu äußern und diese öffentlich zur Schau zu stellen, denn Staat und Wirtschaft haben ein Interesse daran, ihre Macht zu sichern und auszubauen.
Wir lassen uns auch diesmal nicht davon beeindrucken, sondern gehen gemeinsam, solidarisch und selbstsicher gegen den Gipfel und das, wofür er steht, vor. Für das Gelingen von potenziellen Aktionen und Protesten ist es wichtig, einen Raum für eine gute Vorbereitung, einen guten Erfahrungsaustausch und Techniken zu schaffen und zu diskutieren. Darüber hinaus soll es auch darum gehen, ein Bewusstsein für die eigenen und individuellen Grenzen zu schaffen, um mit schwierigen Demosituationen umgehen zu können. Denn manchmal passieren Dinge, die schwer zu bewältigen sind.
Vorbereitung ist die halbe Miete. Deshalb brauchen wir einen solchen Workshop, um uns im Vorfeld der Proteste vorzubereiten und im Rahmen dieses Programms gemeinsam die Voraussetzung zu schaffen, aktiv und selbstbewusst um Schloss Elmau und auch zu anderen Gelegenheiten zu agieren und Ziele zu verfolgen.
Es wird folgende Workshops geben:
WS1: Erste Hilfe ( 12-15 Uhr )
Demonstrationen können auch körperlich gefährlich werden – es kann immer wieder zu Verletzungen kommen. Umso besser, wenn Du Deinen Mitdemonstrant*innen Hilfe bieten kannst.
WS2: Transpimalen ( Ab 12 Uhr )
Wir wollen direkt in Aktion treten und mit allen, die Lust haben auf einen entspannten Nachmittag , ohne Druck kreativ Transpis (Transparente) malen. Farbe, Stoff, Pinsel und co. stehen zur Verfügung. Nun fehlt nur noch eure Kreativität.
Ende offen – bis wir fertig sind!
WS3: Rechtliches / Antirepression mit der Roten Hilfe Dortmund-Bochum ( 15:50 bis 17:20 Uhr )
Bei der Vorbereitung auf Blockaden, Demos und Protestcamps geht die Vorbereitung auf die GeSa oft unter und das kann auch zu Panik-Reaktionen führen. Denn um von der Polizei für kurze oder längere Zeit festgesetzt zu werden, braucht es bei Demos nicht viel, wie die Erfahrung gezeigt hat: Treffen kann es jede Person, die an den Aktionen in egal welcher Form teilnimmt. Die Rote Hilfe Ortsgruppe Bochum-Dortmund möchte mit einer Infoveranstaltung mit anschließender Fragerunde eine Gelegenheit bieten, sich auf die Aktionen und ihre möglichen Konsequenzen vorzubereiten. Dabei sollen Fragen geklärt werden wie: Was kann strafrechtlich auf mich zukommen? Wie rufe ich am besten beim EA an? Was kann in der GeSa auf mich zukommen und was mache ich, wenn ich wieder draußen bin? See you on the streets!
WS4: Actiontraining mit Skills for Action ( 12-15 Uhr )
Hier wird es um die Bedeutung des Zivilen Ungehorsams gehen und welche Rolle dieser bei potenziellen Aktionen spielt. Ein wichtiges Instrument sind verschiedene Blockadetechniken, die wir, im Kontext zu G7 gemeinsam mit euch üben wollen. Entscheidungsfindung, Konsens und Bezugsgruppenfindung werden ebenfalls knapp behandelt.
WS5: Umgang mit Traumata ( 15:50-17:50 Uhr )
Wer Widerstand leistet, ist zwangsläufig mit Repression konfrontiert. Prügelorgien martialisch uniformierter Robo-Cops, Gas- und Wasserwerfereinsätze, Festnahmen etc. hinterlassen nicht nur körperliche Verletzungen und juristische Folgen bei uns.
Diese Art der Repression und natürlich auch die Auseinandersetzungen mit Nazis hinterlassen auch Spuren an unserer Psyche. Traumatische Gewalterfahrungen, Bedrohungsszenarien oder Dauerstress auf Camps führen dazu, dass Menschen sich aus unseren Zusammenhängen zurückziehen und ganze Szenen zusammenbrechen.
Während Demosanis und EAs schon lange Teil der Antirepressionsstruktur sind, mangelte es an psychologischer Erste Hilfe/Beratung von AktivistInnen für AktivistInnen.
Wir von der Gruppe “Out of Action-West” (email@example.com) wollen in einem Vortrag über die Mechanismen und Folgen traumatischer Erfahrungen berichten und Ansätze für hilfreiche Umgehensweisen miteinander vorstellen bzw. diskutieren. In Kleingruppenarbeit können wir uns dann an einigen Fragestellungen über persönliche Herangehensweisen austauschen.
Wir freuen uns, euch am 03.05.2015, ab 11 Uhr im AZ Mülheim bei Heiß- und Kaltgetränken begrüßen zukönnen, um uns gemeinsam auf die Aktionen, rund um den G7-Gipfel im Juni vorbereiten können!
Bringt vegane Leckereien zum Grillen mit. Wir wollen gegen 18 Uhr die Grillsaison eröffnen.
Alle weiteren Infos zur Kampagne gibt es auf der Microsite der AFRR: