Friday, May 29, 2009

Manipulation - How Markets Really Work

Manipulation: How Markets Really Work - by Stephen Lendman

Wall Street's mantra is that markets move randomly and reflect the collective wisdom of investors. The truth is quite opposite. The government's visible hand and insiders control markets and manipulate them up or down for profit - all of them, including stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies.

It's financial fraud or what former high-level Wall Street insider and former Assistant HUD Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts calls "pump and dump," defined as "artificially inflating the price of a stock or other security through promotion, in order to sell at the inflated price," then profit more on the downside by short-selling. "This practice is illegal under securities law, yet it is particularly common," and in today's volatile markets likely ongoing daily.

Why? Because the profits are enormous, in good and bad times, and when carried to extremes like now, Fitts calls it "pump(ing) and dump(ing) of the entire American economy," duping the public, fleecing trillions from them, and it's more than just "a process designed to wipe out the middle class. This is genocide (by other means) - a much more subtle and lethal version than ever before perpetrated by the scoundrels of our history texts."

Fitts explains that much more than market manipulation goes on. She describes a "financial coup d'etat, including fraudulent housing (and other bubbles), pump and dump schemes, naked short selling, precious metals price suppression, and active intervention in the markets by the government and central bank" along with insiders. It's a government-business partnership for enormous profits through "legislation, contracts, regulation (or lack of it), financing, (and) subsidies." More still overall by rigging the game for the powerful, while at the same time harming the public so cleverly that few understand what's happening.

Market Rigging Mechanisms - The Plunge Protection Team

On March 18, 1989, Ronald Reagan's Executive Order 12631 created the Working Group on Financial Markets (WGFM) commonly known as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT). It consisted of the following officials or their designees:

-- the President;

-- the Treasury Secretary as chairman;

-- the Fed chairman;

-- the SEC chairman; and

-- the Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman.

Under Sec. 2, its "Purposes and Functions" were stated as follows:

(2) "Recognizing the goals of enhancing the integrity, efficiency, orderliness, and competitiveness of our Nation's financial markets and maintaining investor confidence, the Working Group shall identify and consider:

(1) the major issues raised by the numerous studies on the events (pertaining to the) October 19, 1987 (market crash and consider) recommendations that have the potential to achieve the goals noted above; and

(2)....governmental (and other) actions under existing laws and regulations....that are appropriate to carry out these recommendations."

In August 2005, Canada-based Sprott Asset Management (SAM) principals John Embry and Andrew Hepburn headlined their report on the US government's "surreptitious" market interventions: "Move Over, Adam Smith - The Visible Hand of Uncle Sam" to prevent "destabilizing stock market declines. Comprising key government agencies, stock exchanges and large Wall Street firms," this group "is significant because the government has never admitted to private-sector membership in the Working Group," nor is it hinting that manipulation works both ways - to stop or create panic.

"Current mythology holds that (equity) prices rise and fall on the basis of market forces alone. Such sentiments appear to be seriously mistaken....And as official rhetoric continues to toe the free market line, manipulation has become increasingly apparent....with the active participation of selected investment banks and brokerage houses" - the Wall Street giants.

In 2004, Texas Hedge Report principals Steven McIntyre and Todd Stein said "Almost every floor trader on the NYSE, NYMEX, CBOT and CME will admit to having seen the PPT in action in one form or another over the years" - violating the traditional notion that markets move randomly and reflect popular sentiment.

Worse still, according to SAM principals Embry and Hepburn, "the government's unwillingness to disclose its activities has rendered it very difficult to have a debate on the merits of such a policy," if there are any.

Further, "virtually no one ever mentions government intervention publicly....Our primary concern is that what apparently started as a stopgap measure may have morphed into a serious moral hazard situation."

Worst of all, if government and Wall Street collude to pump and dump markets, individuals and small investment firms can get trampled, and that's exactly what happened in late 2008 and early 2009, with much more to come as the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression plays out over many more months.

That said, the PPT might more aptly be called the PPDT - The Plunge Protection/Destruction Team, depending on which way it moves markets at any time. Investors beware.

Manipulating markets is commonplace and as old as investing. Only the tools are more sophisticated and amounts involved greater. In her book, "Morgan: American Financier," Jean Strouse explained his role in the Panic of 1907, the result of stock market and real estate speculation that caused a market crash, bank runs, and hysteria. To restore confidence, JP Morgan and the Treasury Secretary organized a group of financiers to transfer funds to troubled banks and buy stocks. At the time, rumors were rampant that they orchestrated the panic for speculative profits and their main goals:

-- the 1908 National Monetary Commission to stabilize financial markets as a precursor to the Federal Reserve; and

-- the 1910 Jekyll Island meeting where powerful financial figures met in secret for nine days and created the private banking cartel Federal Reserve System, later congressionally established on December 23, 1913 and signed into law by Woodrow Wilson.

Morgan died early that year but profited hugely from the 1907 Panic. It let him expand his steel empire by buying the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company for about $45 million, an asset thought to be worth around $700 million. Today, similar schemes are more than ever common in the wake of the global economic crisis creating opportunities to buy assets cheap by bankers flush with bailout cash. Aided by PPT market rigging, it's simpler than ever.

Wharton Professor Itay Goldstein and Said Business School and Lincoln College, Oxford University Professor Alexander Guembel discussed price manipulation in their paper titled "Manipulation and the Allocational Role of Prices." They showed how traders effect prices on the downside through "bear raids," and concluded:

"We basically describe a theory of how bear raid manipulation works....What we show here is that by selling (a stock or more effectively short-selling it), you have a real effect on the firm. The connection with real value is the new thing....This is the crucial element," but they claim the process only works on the downside, not driving shares up.

In fact, high-volume program trading, analyst recommendations, positive or negative media reports, and other devices do it both ways.

Also key is that a company's stock price and true worth can be highly divergent. In other words, healthy or sick firms may be way-over or under-valued depending on market and economic conditions and how manipulative traders wish to price them, short or longer term.

The idea that equity prices reflect true value or that markets move randomly (up or down) is rubbish. They never have and more than ever don't now.

The Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF)

The 1934 Gold Reserve Act created the US Treasury's ESF. Section 7 of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreements made its operations permanent. As originally established, the Treasury ran the Fund outside of congressional oversight "to keep sharp swings in the dollar's exchange rate from (disrupting) financial markets" through manipulation. Its operations now include stabilizing foreign currencies, extending credit lines to foreign governments, and last September to guaranteeing money market funds against losses for up to $50 billion.

In 1995, the Clinton administration used the fund to provide Mexico a $20 billion credit line to stabilize the peso at a time of economic crisis, and earlier administrations extended loans or credit lines to China, Brazil, Ecuador, Iceland and Liberia. The Treasury's web site also states that:

"By law, the Secretary has considerable discretion in the use of ESF resources. The legal basis of the ESF is the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. As amended in the late 1970s....the Secretary (per) approval of the President, may deal in gold, foreign exchange, and other instruments of credit and securities."

In other words, ESF is a slush fund for whatever purposes the Treasury wishes, including ones it may not wish to disclose, such as manipulating markets, directing funds to the IMF and providing them with strings to borrowers as the Treasury's site explains:

"....Treasury has often linked the availability of ESF financing to a borrower's use of the credit facilities of the IMF, both to support the IMF's role and to strengthen assurances that there will be timely repayment of ESF financing."

The Counterparty Risk Management Policy Group (CRMPG)

Established in 1999 in the wake of the Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) crisis, it manipulates markets to benefit giant Wall Street firms and high-level insiders. According to one account, it was to curb future crises by:

-- letting giant financial institutions collude through large-scale program trading to move markets up or down as they wish;

-- bailing out its members in financial trouble; and

-- manipulating markets short or longer-term with government approval at the expense of small investors none the wiser and often getting trampled.

In August 2008, CRMPG III issued a report titled "Containing Systemic Risk: The Road to Reform." It was deceptive on its face in stating that CRMPG "was designed to focus its primary attention on the steps that must be taken by the private sector to reduce the frequency and/or severity of future financial shocks while recognizing that such future shocks are inevitable, in part because it is literally impossible to anticipate the specific timing and triggers of such events."

In fact, the "private sector" creates "financial shocks" to open markets, remove competition, and consolidate for greater power by buying damaged assets cheap. Financial history has numerous examples of preying on the weak, crushing competition, socializing risks, privatizing profits, redistributing wealth upward to a financial oligarchy, creating "tollbooth economies" in debt bondage according to Michael Hudson, and overall getting a "free lunch" at the public's expense.

CRMPG explains financial excesses and crises this way:

"At the end of the day, (their) root cause....on both the upside and the downside of the cycle is collective human behavior: unbridled optimism on the upside and fear on the downside, all in a setting in which it is literally impossible to anticipate when optimism gives rise to fear or fear gives rise to optimism...."

"What is needed, therefore, is a form of private initiative that will complement official oversight in encouraging industry-wide practices that will help mitigate systemic risk. The recommendations of the Report have been framed with that objective in mind."

In other words, let foxes guard the henhouse to keep inventing new ways to extract gains (a "free lunch") in increasingly larger amounts - "in the interest of helping to contain systemic risk factors and promote greater stability."

Or as Orwell might have said: instability is stability, creating systemic risk is containing it, sloping playing fields are level ones, extracting the greatest profit is sharing it, and what benefits the few helps everyone.

Michel Chossudovsky explains that: "triggering market collapse(s) can be a very profitable undertaking. (Evidence suggests) that the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulators have created an environment which supports speculative transactions (through) futures, options, index funds, derivative securities (and short-selling), etc. (that) make money when the stock market crumbles....foreknowledge and inside information (create golden profit opportunities for) powerful speculators" able to move markets up or down with the public none the wiser.

As a result, concentrated wealth and "financial power resulting from market manipulation is unprecedented" with small investors' savings, IRAs, pensions, 401ks, and futures being decimated from it.

Deconstructing So-Called "Green Shoots"

Daily the corporate media trumpet them to lull the unwary into believing the global economic crisis is ebbing and recovery is on the way. Not according to longtime market analyst Bob Chapman who calls green shoots "Poison Ivy" and economist Nouriel Roubini saying they're "yellow weeds" at a time there's lots more pain ahead.

For many months and in a recent commentary he refers to "the worst financial crisis, economic crisis and recession since the Great Depression....the consensus is now becoming optimistic again and says that we are going to go from minus 6 percent growth to positive growth in the second half of the year....my views are much more bearish....The problems of the financial system are severe. Many banks are still insolvent."

We're "piling public debt on top of private debt to socialize the losses; and at some point the back of (the) government('s) balance sheet is going to break, and if that happens, it's going to be a disaster." Short of that, he, Chapman, and others see the risks going forward as daunting. As for the recent stock market rise, they both call it a "sucker's rally" that will reverse as the US economy keeps contracting and the financial system suffers unexpected or manipulated shocks.

Highly respected market analyst Louise Yamada agrees. As Randall Forsyth reported in the May 25 issue of Barron's Up and Down Wall Street column:

"It is almost uncanny the degree to which 2002-08 has tracked 1932-38, 'Yamada writes in her latest note to clients.' " Her "Alternate Hypothesis" compares this structural bear market to 1929-42:

-- "the dot-com collapse parallels the Great Crash and its aftermath," followed by the 2003-07 recovery, similar to 1933-37;

-- then the late 2008 - early March 2009 collapse tracks a similar 1937-38 trajectory, after which a strong rally followed much like today;

-- then in November 1938, the market dropped 22% followed by a 26% rise and a series of further ups and downs - down 28%, up 23%, down 16%, up 13%, and a final 29% decline ending in 1942;

-- from the 1938 high ("analogous to where we are now," she says), stock prices fell 41% to a final bottom.

Are we at one today as market touts claim? No according to Yamada - top-ranked among her peers in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 when she worked at Citigroup's Smith Barney division. Since 2005, she's headed her own independent research company.

She says structural bear markets typically last 13 - 16 years so this one has a long way to go before "complet(ing) the repair process." She calls the current rebound "a bungee jump," very typical of bear markets. Numerous ones occurred during the Great Depression, 8 alone from 1929 - 1932, some deceptively strong.

Expect market manipulators today to produce similar price action going forward - to enrich themselves while trampling on the unwary, well-advised to protect their dollars from becoming quarters or dimes.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13720

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ending Today's Economic Crisis Simply and Easily, in America and Globally

Ending Today's Economic Crisis Simply and Easily, in America and Globally - by Stephen Lendman

Some of the best ideas are often the simplest. When applied to the global economic crisis, the solution is easier than imagined. What's hard, in fact a Gordian Knot, is the political will to embrace it. But even matters that great can be solved by a bold stoke, and according to legend, Alexander the Great's "Alexandrian solution" was achieved with one stroke of his sword, cutting the Knot in half. Applied to the global economic crisis, it means addressing it with effective policies, not ones wrecking America and other troubled nations worldwide.

Economist Michael Hudson explains that "debt leveraging is what caused our economic collapse," so piling on more ("The Recovery Plan from Hell" he calls it) makes things worse, especially the way it's done:

-- in America, by a private banking cartel Federal Reserve bailing out its members to enrich them - the key giant ones referred to as Wall Street; and

-- the US Treasury doing the same thing; it let the federal debt skyrocket to stratospheric levels and affirmed Adam Smith's dictum in The Wealth of Nations that no country ever repaid its debts, surely not huge ones in a private banking cartel run state, and therein lies the problem - easily solved with a bold stroke, thus far not taken nor will it without mass public action demanding it.

Which is why this article is written, inspired by the work of others. Economist Michael Hudson for one. Global Research.ca editor Michel Chossudovsky another, and noted author and writer Ellen Brown for her extraordinary book titled "Web of Debt" and her explanation of how "Cash-Starved States Need to Play the Banking Game" the same way as North Dakota.

If done at state and federal levels, it can save the economy from Wall Street's predation - by removing the debt overhang through debt write-downs as well as funding sustainable, inflation-free prosperity. It's not a pipe dream. It's real. It happened before and can again. Short of that, according to Hudson:

"debt service will (keep) crowd(ing) out spending on goods and services and there will be no recovery. Debt deflation will drag the economy down while assets are transferred further into the hands of the wealthiest 10% of the population (mainly the top 1%), operating via the financial sector."

Eventually the economy will collapse, but Wall Street will profit hugely - aided and abetted by corrupted public officials allied with the private parasitic Federal Reserve turning America into what Hudson calls a "zombie economy" and banana republic.

What Works for North Dakota Can Work for the Other States, America, and Everywhere

On March 2, Brown explained North Dakota's "Banking Game" and asked:

"What does the State of North Dakota have that other states don't....its own bank" - and therein lies its uniqueness and strength. When only four of the 50 states are solvent, North Dakota runs surpluses, and according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it's expected to have them in FY 2009 and 2010.

In his January 2009 State of the State address, governor John Hoeven explained:

"Since 2000, the State of North Dakota has gained jobs, and now we are gaining population, as well.

Personal income has grown by 43 percent - nearly 15 percent faster than the national average. In fact, our per capita income has moved up 12 places, from 38th to 26th among all the states (despite a tiny 641,481 population, according to 2008 US Census Bureau figures).

Wages have grown 34 percent, compared to just 26 percent for the rest of the country.

Our gross state product since 2000 has grown by nearly $10 billion, from $17.7 billion to more than $27 billion last year - a 56 percent increase - again, faster than the nation.

And our foreign exports have grown by 225 percent since 2000, breaking the $2 billion mark for the first time in North Dakota history.

Furthermore, our economic growth and diversification, along with the good financial stewardship, has enabled us to build a surplus and a solid financial reserve for the future....the state of our state is strong (at a time) our nation's economy is in a down-cycle...."

On May 23, The Bismark Tribune and other state papers reported that North Dakota has the nation's lowest unemployment rate at 4%. Clearly, it has a leg up on the other states, something all their governors and legislators should note along with federal officials in Washington. What works for North Dakota can work everywhere.

The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in the nation - established in 1919 by its legislature "to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers and railroad men," according to Brown quoting management consultant Charles Fleetham in a February 2009 article published in his home state, Michigan. Brown continues:

"Three elected officials oversee the bank: the governor, the attorney general, and the commissioner of agriculture. The bank's mission is to deliver sound financial services that promote agriculture, commerce and industry (and operate) as a bankers' bank, partnering with private banks to loan money to farmers, real estate developers, schools and small businesses." Also to students and private individuals in the state at low affordable rates.

Key though is how it operates and stays solvent when so many of the nation's banks are financially strapped and face bankruptcy. As Brown explains:

"Certified, card-carrying bankers are allowed to do something nobody else can do....create 'credit' with accounting entries on their books." It turns money into credit by what's called "fractional reserve banking" that multiplies each dollar deposited magically into about 10 in the form of loans or computer-generated funds. It's literally money created out of thin air so that banks can re-lend it many times over, and the more deposits, the greater the amount of lending.

At issue is whether credit should be private or public, and as Brown wrote in a December 29 article titled "Borrowing from Peter to Pay Paul: The Wall Street Ponzi Scheme called Fractional Reserve Banking:"

"Readily available credit has made America 'the land of opportunity' ever since the days of the American colonists," with more on that below. "What has transformed this credit system into a Ponzi scheme that must continually be propped up with bailout money is that the credit power has been turned over to private bankers who always require more money back than they create" because they charge high interest rates to make a profit. When governments lend their own money, profit isn't at issue so rates can be low and affordable to businesses, farmers, and private individuals, and for their own and municipality needs, it's interest-free.

Brown and others have explained that "fractional reserve banking" dates from the 17th century, done then mainly in gold and silver coins. Early bankers soon realized it was simpler to use deposit receipts (called notes) as a means of payment. They then began creating money by making loans through promises to pay, and more could be issued than the amount of coins on hand as only enough were needed to service redemptions - today's idea of a reserve requirement.

What began earlier as notes, today are accounting entries that literally create money out of thin air. And it works the same for government as for privately-owned banks, except for the following.

As publicly-run institutions, their mandate is entirely different:

-- they don't have to earn profits;

-- they're not beholden to Wall Street or shareholders; and

-- only the state's creditworthiness matters, and so far, in over 230 years, no state ever went out of business and virtually none ever default on their debt, even when poorly governed.

Further, they can lend to themselves and municipalities interest-free, and to businesses, farmers, and individuals at low affordable rates to create internal growth and sustainable prosperity. And the more often loans are rolled over, the more debt-free money is created - without fear of inflation.

As long as new money produces goods and services, inflation can't occur. Only imbalances cause problems - "when 'demand' (money) exceeds 'supply' (goods and services)." Price stability is assured when both increase proportionally, and that's exactly how it worked in colonial America and under Lincoln during the Civil War as Brown explained in "Web of Debt."

In 1691, Massachusetts became "the first local government to issue its own paper money...." called scrip. Other colonies followed, Pennsylvania most effectively by issuing new money without inflation or need for taxes. For over 25 years, it collected none, and at the same time, its population grew and commerce prospered. The "secret was in not issuing too much (credit), and in recycling the money back to the government in the form of principal and interest on government-issued loans."

In other words, keeping everything proportionally in balance and not having to pay interest to predatory private lenders - the very system wrecking America today and other economies run by private central banks.

Lincoln did the same thing in spite of assassination threats before his inauguration as well as "treason, insurrection, and national bankruptcy" during his first year in office. Considering what he faced, his accomplishments were remarkable, including:

-- building the world's largest army;

-- defeating the South;

-- turning the country into the world's "greatest industrial giant;"

-- launching the steel industry, a continental railroad system, and a new era of farm machinery and cheap tools;

-- establishing free higher education;

-- giving settler ownership rights and encouraging land development through the Homestead Act;

-- having government support all branches of science;

-- standardizing methods of mass production;

-- increasing labor productivity by 50 - 75%; and

-- still more "with a Treasury that was completely broke and a Congress that hadn't been paid."

He did it by nationalizing control over banking so government could print its own money - interest free without paying usurious rates that private bankers demanded, from 24 - 36%. As a result, "the economy was jump-started with a 600 percent increase in government spending and cheap credit directed at production" - done with government-issued Greenbacks. They financed the war, paid the troops, and spurred the nation's growth - free from the system wrecking the country today to let parasitic private banks prosper.

In "Web of Debt," Brown explained that early 20th century Australia operated under a publicly-run bank as well - its Commonwealth Bank that created money, made loans, and collected interest at a fraction of what private bankers charge. It worked well enough for the country to have one of the highest living standards in the world at the time. Once private bankers took over, Australia became heavily indebted, and its living standard fell to a 23rd place ranking - clearly showing the destructive power of private bank-created money and overwhelming benefits possible when governments print their own.

America today can have the same advantages instituted by:

-- its colonists;

-- Lincoln;

-- early 20th century Australia;

-- the Middle Ages, falsely portrayed as a backward and impoverishing era only saved by industrial capitalism; in fact, under its banker-free tally system, it prospered for hundreds of years; and

-- China for thousands of years before the era of private banking, and today because Beijing directs The People's Bank of China (its semi-independent central bank) to grow the nation's economy and create millions of jobs for its burgeoning population.

America and world economies can be just as prosperous but only with determined effort enough to replace their corrupted systems with one that's fairest and works best .

A publicly-run banking system benefits everyone by using deposits for sustainable internal growth and government needs - at the state and local levels. And for the federal government, by printing its own money interest-free for the same purpose.

This writer and Brown believe that credit should be a public utility under a nationalized banking system, creating its own money at the federal level and with deposits into state-run banks - to serve people, not predator bankers. It would be the most equitable, sustainable, efficient and democratic system, free from parasitic lenders, and it would work equally well at the federal, state and community levels with local branches of government banks serving municipalities, their businesses, and residents at affordable costs.

Under the privately-run Federal Reserve and parasitic giant banking system, corporate monopolies run America and use "their affiliated banking trusts to generate unlimited funds to buy up competitors, the media, and the government itself, forcing truly independent private enterprise out" - the very system classical economists abhorred.

Private banks hold nations hostage by making them pay interest on their own money as well as "advanc(ing) massive loans to their affiliated cartels and hedge funds, which use the money to raid competitors and manipulate markets."

In America, it's an extreme form of Darwinism with the federal government and 46 of the 50 states insolvent - and small businesses and ordinary people faring worst. Another way is essential to keep the nation, individual states, local communities, and most people from becoming "zombies" and America transformed into Guatemala.

With federal, state, and community banks made a public utility under a nationalized banking system, consider the benefits:

-- personal and payroll taxes could be eliminated;

-- stable, sustainable economic growth could be generated;

-- America's manufacturing base could be rebuilt;

-- vital infrastructure projects could be undertaken on a scale never before imagined, including cleaning up the environment and developing alternate, sustainable, clean, safe, and affordable energy sources;

-- many millions of new good-paying jobs could be created, putting an end to unemployment for everyone willing and able work; and for those willing but unable, aid could be provided;

-- home foreclosures would end, and the dream of home ownership would be in reach for everyone because mortgages would be plentiful, cheap, and not designed to scam the unwary;

-- inflation could be ended;

-- booms and busts would be a thing of the past;

-- destructive currency devaluations and economic warfare for private gain would no longer be a threat;

-- private pensions, savings, and investments would be secure; and

-- federal, state, and local debt could be eliminated.

Imagine the following:

Weeks back, Bloomberg and others reported that from $12 - 14 trillion in bailouts and stimulus have been allocated or spent, while the Fed can't account for $9 trillion in off-balance sheet transactions. Why? Because of unprecedented willful fraud given a wink and nod by the highest officials in Washington partnered with criminal bankers to loot the Treasury and fleece the public.

Now imagine if $1 trillion of the total looted went to publicly-run banks for productive purposes. "Fractional reserve" magic would create $10 trillion. If around half of it went there (remember already allocated or spent), an astonishing $70 trillion could be used productively, not wasted, used to buy damaged assets cheap for greater consolidation, or for speculation at the risk of a severe future inflation. Then envision a new future:

-- the federal debt could be eliminated;

-- all unfunded liabilities, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be secure in perpetuity;

-- the nation and all 50 states would become solvent and on their way to comfortable surpluses; and

-- a sustainable, inflation-free, prosperous future would result with essential social benefits for everyone, including affordable or perhaps free health care, education, and the end of poverty because a guaranteed minimum income could be assured.

Overall, it would be nothing short of a revolutionary new America, only rhetorically addressed up to now, with all winners and no losers - except the private predator banks and their corrupted public sector partners.

And remember, newly created money isn't inflationary as long as imbalances are avoided and it's productively used for new goods and services.

That's the kind of America to work for and not quit until achieved. If not now, when? If we don't do it, who will? If not done soon enough, it may be too late. If that's not incentive enough, what is?

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13720

Monday, May 25, 2009

Human Rights Situation in Occupied Palestine

Human Rights Situation in Occupied Palestine - by Stephen Lendman

On March 15, 2006, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly 170 to 4 (with only the US, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau against) "to establish the Human Rights Council (HRC), based in Geneva, in replacement of the Commission on Human Rights, as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly....responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner."

HRC "is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 states responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe."

At its tenth session this year, HRC prepared a report titled: "Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories" and delivered it on March 20. It deals mainly with grave human rights violations in Occupied Palestine, especially due to Operation Cast Lead against Gaza.

It states that the "Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the Gaza Strip, has been affected by protracted conflict and occupation policies for decades." However, Operation Cast Lead caused "a dramatic deterioration of the living conditions of (a) civilian population" already reeling under an oppressive "20-month-long" siege. An estimated 80% of Gazans, especially women and children, were already dependent on humanitarian aid prior to the conflict's onset.

When it ended, an estimated 91% needed help as it gravely exacerbated current conditions for all 1.5 million Gazans with regard to food, health, housing, education, transportation, electricity and gas, agriculture, and virtually all other aspects of life. Even after the January 18 ceasefire, attacks continued, the siege remained, and free movement restrictions hampered recovery efforts and a return to normalcy. Gazans still suffer gravely in the aftermath of a three-week conflict worsening an already catastrophic humanitarian situation compounded by continued hostilities and a complete blockade - in gross violation of international law.

The Territory's complete dependence on external aid, by whatever means and in whatever amounts obtainable, makes Gazans vulnerable to political manipulation and a deepening crisis of poverty and desperation.

International Humanitarian Law

This writer discusses it often, especially the binding standards under Fourth Geneva relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Also the Hague Regulations, obligations under Geneva's Common Article 3, and principles of distinction and proportionality:

-- distinction between combatants and military targets v. civilians and non-military ones; attacking latter ones are war crimes except when civilians take direct part in hostilities; and

-- proportionality prohibitions against disproportionate, indiscriminate force likely to cause damage to or loss of lives and objects.

In addition, parties to a conflict must make take all precautions to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to non-military sites. To alert civilians, "effective advance warning" must also be given, under Fourth Geneva; "neutralized zones" must be available to protect them as much as possible; and using human shields is strictly prohibited.

Other Fourth Geneva provisions prohibit:

-- collective punishment "for an offence he or she has not personally committed;"

-- the destruction of private or public property unrelated to military operations;

-- torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowable exceptions;

-- assuring the population of adequate food and medical supplies and providing relief by all available means; and

-- allowing free passage of all "consignments" intended for civilian purposes.

Israel is a signatory to major human rights treaties relevant to the current situation and thus bound by their strict provisions:

-- Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights obligates parties to respect and ensure the rights of all persons in a territory;

-- according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), applicable also are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child among other binding laws;

-- UN human rights treaty bodies also affirm that as a party to international laws, Israel must fulfill its human rights obligations in Occupied Palestine as long as it maintains jurisdiction; they include ensuring free movement; various economic and social rights, especially the right to food, medical care, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, adequate housing, education, and freedom from discrimination.

Gaza's Deepening Crisis

Years of Israeli incursions and blockade devastated Gaza's infrastructure, environment, and lives of 1.5 million people. The World Bank estimates that 98% of industrial operations are inactive, and around 70,000 workers lost their jobs since 2007. In December 2008, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that 18 months of siege caused a 50% rise in unemployment, especially for women with only 11.5% of them employed in 2007, one of the world's lowest rates.

Suspending financial aid and tax transfers and revenues interrupted regular salary payments. Also, restrictions on currency transport caused a liquidity crisis enough to disrupt basic social services deliveries, forcing people to survive by any means possible.

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel inflicted destructive terror against a defenseless civilian population affecting vast numbers of non-military sites - hospitals and other health facilities, water and sanitation infrastructure, land and cellular communications networks, schools, universities, mosques, residential and government buildings, factories, commercial enterprises, farms, fishing boats, roads, bridges, transportation, power, UN buildings, and any living being that moved - all in gross violation of international laws.

Israel also willfully obstructed humanitarian personal leaving the poor, injured, and others without basic food, medical, and other essential services - crimes of war and against humanity under international law. Also, after hostilities ceased, the IDF continues obstructing humanitarian aid by maintaining its siege and restricting the work of civil society and human rights organizations.

HRC states that for Gaza and its population to revive, "all of (its) entry points must be opened to ensure freedom of movement for all, the free inflow of industrial and agricultural inputs and cash and the export of products" to buyers outside the Territory. Also that urgently needed fuel, construction materials, spare parts, and other essential supplies and services be allowed to be received normally.

Further, recovery depends on Gazans having income-generating work, including inside Israel and the West Bank as available, and access to education at all levels at home and abroad. The many thousands of injured, homeless, and displaced require special attention and aid, so far not forthcoming because Israel won't allow it and international leaders are silently complicit.

Besides the above-listed needs, HRC stresses that "to improve the lives of (Gazans) living in poverty, psychosocial support....is urgently needed," especially for children who've been severely traumatized by months of deprivation and conflict. "The rights of the victims of human rights violations to have access to remedy and reparations must also be respected.

Adequate Housing As Part of An Acceptable Standard of Living

Inadequate housing far predates Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the West Bank - characterized by overcrowding, lack of sanitation, exacerbated by repeated incursions, home demolitions, construction restrictions, an oppressive military occupation, and the willful targeting of thousands of residences during the recent conflict. Destroyed were 4240 houses with another 44,300 damaged and mostly uninhabitable without extensive rehab - in total, over 20% of the Territory's housing affecting up to 90,000 people left homeless, many forced to live in the open.

Numerous Gazan communities are virtually uninhabitable. In urban areas and several refugee camps, entire neighborhoods were destroyed. The vast amount of damage gravely reduced the housing stock, remaining unrehabed because Israel prohibits the import of essential construction materials.

HRC expressed deep concern about "persisting impediments to the entry of reconstruction material," either by prohibition or protracted administrative delays, at a time when "international support for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of homes and neighborhoods is urgently needed." As a result, destitution and human suffering are deeper and the cycle of violation exacerbated.

The Fundamental Human Right to Food

Israel gravely violates this right while, at the same time, Dov Weisglass, advisor to former prime minister Ehud Olmert, talked of "putting Gazans on a diet" and deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai spoke of "a bigger shoah" to starve them - referring to the Nazi holocaust against the Jews. Against Muslims it's "acceptable."

According to various human rights organizations on the ground, Gaza's farmland and greenhouses were extensively bombed. The result was a devastating impact on the population to produce enough food for sustenance or trade. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that Operation Cast Lead damaged around 80% of agricultural land and crops. Also, sewage spills and toxic munitions contaminated vast areas of arable land.

OCHA reported that extensive destruction disrupted commercial enterprises and public infrastructure, including Gaza's largest flour mill and food processing plants. These are grave international law violations, exacerbated by Gaza remaining under siege. Border crossings are blocked. Little of anything gets in or out, and, as a result, severe shortages of everything afflict the Territory and people. A nutritional crisis and starvation affect a sizable per cent of the population and little is done for relief.

Currently, "the number of hungry people without access to basic food necessary" to survive remains at dangerously high levels. According to a December 18, 2008 Palestine Monitor Factsheet, 75% of Gazans eat less overall and 89% survive on less nutritious, cheaper diets than pre-siege and before food prices rose sharply in 2008. As a result, chronic malnutrition is rampant, especially for children. Up to half of them under age two suffer from anemia. Two-thirds of them are vitamin A deficient, and stunted growth affects 10% of them. Gazans are slowly being starved to death while world leaders collude with Israeli crimes.

The Right of Everyone to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health

The long-standing Israeli-Palestinians conflict, Gaza siege, and Operation Cast Lead "resulted in grave violations of the right to" achieve adequate food and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, proper housing, and a healthy environment.

Gazans are trapped and gravely vulnerable to deteriorating physical and mental health as well as outbreaks of highly infectious diseases such as measles, polio, and hepatitis - exacerbated by Operation Cast Lead's destruction of vast infrastructure, including medical personnel and facilities:

-- 16 medical workers were killed and another 25 injured;

-- 15 hospitals, 43 primary health centers and 29 ambulances were targeted and destroyed; and

-- only 44 of 56 primary health care centers still operate.

As a result, basic facilities are inadequate for public needs, and the WHO estimates that 40% of chronically ill patients have no health care centers available for help. Nor is it available abroad as border crossings remain closed with entries and exits blocked.

The Right to Education

The siege and recent conflict severely impaired education - within and outside Gaza. School facilities suffered extensive damage and destruction, and minimal repairs only are possible as long as Israel blocks construction materials from entering.

UN schools were also hit. So was the American International School near Beit Lahiya and the Islamic University's science and engineering labs, Gaza's oldest and largest higher education facility, affecting over 20,000 students.

During the three-week Operation Cast Lead period, schools at all levels shut down, causing 540,000 students to miss nearly a month of classes. Then for many, there was no school to attend.

Even before the conflict, conditions were grossly inadequate with the Territory under siege:

-- overcrowding caused restricted school hours to accommodate morning and afternoon shifts for 450,000 students;

-- 200,000 refugee camp children at UN schools were especially impacted;

-- according to UNICEF, power shortages meant no heat or electricity for classrooms, and the blockade caused shortages of everything, including books, paper, pencils, chalk, and other essential materials and teaching aids; and

-- as a result, enrollment rates dropped, effective teaching was impaired, and student performance suffered hugely - with failure rates of 80% in grades four to nine and for mathematics up to 90%.

Causes and Consequences of Violence against Women

HRC called the "scale of civilian deaths, injuries and destruction during (Operation Cast Lead) unprecedented by all accounts," including its affect on women:

-- 116 killed and another 800 injured.

Women suffered critical injuries from bombings, artillery shells, rockets, live ammunition, willful targeting at chose range, being shot in their homes, and from use of illegal weapons like white phosphorous. Some injuries caused maiming and amputations, and for 40,000 pregnant women endangerment to their unborn and numerous cases of premature labor and delivery because of trauma from continuous bombing and shelling. Also, a UNFPA finding showed a 40% rise in miscarriages, a 50% increase in neonatal deaths, and a sharp increase in premature births.

A UNFPA February 2009 survey highlighted the psychological impact on women:

-- extreme fear and insecurity;

-- depression and sadness;

-- overall debilitation making them feel unfit as mothers and care-givers; and

-- vulnerability to violence and depravation in a "precarious and traumatic environment."

The Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

For nearly 42 years, Israel's occupation policies have gravely harmed the human rights of Palestinians and caused "large-scale forced displacement....within the Occupied Palestinian Territory," even prior to Operation Cast Lead. Displacement results from:

-- incursions;

-- military clearing operations;

-- home demolitions and evictions;

-- land expropriation;

-- settlement expansions;

-- the Separation Wall;

-- settler violence and harassment;

-- closures, barriers, and checkpoints that deny free movement;

-- revocation of East Jerusalem residency rights; and

-- denial of construction permits to build on one's own land.

Operation Cast Lead alone left about 72,000 persons displaced, according to a shelter/Intern Development Programme preliminary report - conducted in 45 Gaza localities several days after the conflict ended.

International law prohibits forced displacement, yet Israel caused it by targeting densely populated areas with bombings, shellings and ground assaults. Thousands fled to UN shelters in terror. They, too, were then attacked.

Currently tens of thousands remain displaced because their homes were destroyed, and no materials are available to rebuild them. As a result, they're staying in poor, overcrowded areas in the open, or when possible, with members of extended families - already overstretched by impoverishment, inadequate food, water, electricity, and basic non-food items and facilities like mattresses, blankets, and enough space for new arrivals. The overall humanitarian situation is far more dire than before hostilities began given the vast amount of destruction, deaths and injuries over the three-week period.

On February 9, 2009, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that international agencies faced "unprecedented denial of access" to Gaza since the previous November, and that condition hasn't abated.

Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

HRC reported that "All killings during the Gaza conflict that violated applicable human rights and humanitarian law norms come within the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions." Best estimates put the number at around 1440 people, the great majority being civilians.

Further, "strong and credible reports" indicate grievous war crimes and other international violations occurred that beg for accountability. None so far are in prospect. The alternative is de facto impunity that "mocks the international legal order, makes hollow the international obligations undertaken and reaffirmed by the parties, increases the likelihood of more flagrant (future) violations, and poisons the prospects for an eventual solution to the conflict."

Disturbingly, that's where things now stand with Israel absolving itself of war crimes and refusing to cooperate when HRC investigators arrive in the region to begin their independent work. In a May 8 issued statement, the Richard Goldstone headed team said:

"In the course of its work, the mission intends to conduct visits to affected areas of southern Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, and has requested the cooperation of Israel in this regard."

Goldstone stressed he would take a "law-based approach," not a political one to achieve "an objective assessment of the issues....in the interest of all parties (to) promote a culture of accountability (that can) serve to promote greater peace and security in the region."

HRC Recommendations

Briefly they include:

-- Israel's cooperation with HRC investigators;

-- ending the siege;

-- allowing unimpeded access and safe passage for humanitarian aid, including food, medicines, fuel, agricultural inputs, construction materials, and whatever else is needed to sustain, rebuild, and revive the shattered Territory;

-- let sick and injured persons be treated abroad and in Israel;

-- let those wishing to do so travel and study abroad; and

-- end all violations of binding international laws and commit no breaches thereof - to include:

(1) abiding by the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution;

(2) ending the killing of civilians;

(3) no longer using human shields;

(4) ending extrajudicial assassinations;

(5) terminating the use of illegal weapons like white phosphorous; and

(6) prohibiting attacks on medical personnel, ambulances, hospitals, schools, civilian infrastructure, UN buildings, and other non-military sites.

HRC also calls on UN entities to assess Palestinian needs and contribute to the wide-scale reconstruction of Occupied Palestine, including the vast amount of damage done to Gaza. It also asks the international community for help through the Security Council, International Court of Justice, and UN human rights mechanisms - and for all states to abide by international humanitarian law and work to restore a battered Palestine. Holding Israel accountable for its war crimes is a good way to start.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on major world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13720

Friday, May 22, 2009

Internet Threatened by Censorship, Secret Surveillance, and Cybersecurity Laws

Internet Threatened by Censorship, Secret Surveillance, and Cybersecurity Laws - by Stephen Lendman

At a time of corporate dominated media, a free and open Internet is democracy's last chance to preserve our First Amendment rights without which all others are threatened. Activists call it Net Neutrality. Media scholar Robert McChesney says without it "the Internet would start to look like cable TV (with a) handful of massive companies (controlling) content" enough to have veto power over what's allowed and what it costs. Progressive web sites and writers would be marginalized or suppressed, and content systematically filtered or banned.

Media reform activists have drawn a line in the sand. Net Neutrality must be defended at all costs. Preserving a viable, independent, free and open Internet (and the media overall) is essential to a functioning democracy, but the forces aligned against it are formidable, daunting, relentless, and reprehensible. Some past challenges suggest future ones ahead.

Censorship Attempts to Curtail Free Expression

The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Nonetheless, Congress and state legislatures have repeatedly tried to censor free speech, allegedly regarded as indecent, obscene, hateful, terrorist-related, or harmful to minors. However, the Supreme Court, in a number of decisions, ruled that the government may not regulate free expression, only its manner such as when it violates the right to privacy "in an essentially intolerable manner" - a huge hurtle to overcome, including online, because viewers are protected by simply "averting (one's) eyes (Cohen v. California - 1971)."

In 1998, the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) passed, but was blocked by federal courts as an infringement of free speech and therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable. In 1999, the law was struck down at the Appellate Court level, but it stayed on the books. In 2002, the Supreme Court reviewed the ruling and returned the case for reconsideration. It remained blocked. Then in March 2003, the Appellate Court again ruled it unconstitutional on the grounds that it would hinder protected adult speech that's likely what it was about in the first place.

Other litigation followed at the District and Appellate levels until on January 21, 2009, the Supreme Court killed COPA by refusing to hear appeals to affirm it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this way: "After 10 Years, an Infamous Internet-Censorship Act is Finally Dead." At least that's the hope, but censorship attempts never die. They just reinvent themselves in new forms made all the easier when powerful corporate interests and their congressional allies support them.

In 2000, the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) became law, and the Supreme Court upheld it - to regulate online content deemed "indecent (or) harmful to minors." The law requires schools, libraries and other public institutions to install blocking software to prevent minors from having access to it.

In 2006, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) passed the House but not the Senate. It also would have mandated schools, libraries and other public institutions to prevent minors from accessing "commercial social networking websites (and) chat rooms."

Its language was broad enough to apply also to sites like Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia and others and would have made the FCC a gatekeeper/censor. As the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, the law was reintroduced in the Senate in January 2007 but never passed.

In February 1996, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) was passed - to regulate alleged indecent and obscene online content in violation of the First Amendment. Under the law, classic fiction would be banned as well as any material deemed offensive. In June, 1996, a three-judge federal panel partially struck it down for restricting adult free speech. In June 1997, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union.

The Act was Title V of the 1996 Telecommunications Act titled Broadcast Obscenity and Violence that applied broadcast standards to the Internet. Under Section 230, Internet services operators aren't considered publishers and thus have no liability for the words of third parties using their services.

In 2003, Congress amended CDA by removing struck down indecency provisions. In 2005, a three-judge Southern District of New York panel rejected Barbara Nitke's obscenity provisions CDA challenge (in Nitke, et al v. Ashcroft). The Supreme Court upheld the decision.

In 2005, the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act (VAWDOJRA) became law - and another blow to online free speech by prohibiting "any device (like a modem) or software that can be used to originate....(anonymous or other) communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the internet" for the alleged purpose of harassment, even if only vigorous constitutional debate was intended or ordinary free speech.

In October 2007, the House passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act called "the thought crime prevention bill." It was introduced in the Senate, referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, but never voted on or passed.

If it ever becomes law in its present form, it will establish a commission and Center for Excellence to study and act against "thought criminals" (including online ones) for alleged acts of "violent radicalization (and) homegrown terrorism" defined as follows:

-- "violent radicalization (to mean) adopting or promoting an extremist belief system (to facilitate) ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change;"

-- "homegrown terrorism (to mean) the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any (US) possession to intimidate or coerce the (US) government, the civilian population....or any segment thereof (to further) political or social objectives."

In other words, this law, if passed, will criminalize whatever the government wishes to include under the above two categories, including constitutionally protected speech online or elsewhere.

Another ongoing censorship issue involves craigslist - a worldwide online community network featuring classified ads for "jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events."

On May 5, South Carolina Attorney (AG) General Henry McMaster notified its CEO, Jim Buckmaster, that unless an "erotic services" section is removed in 10 days, "craigslist management may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution." Other AGs in Rhode Island, Illinois, and Connecticut issued similar threats even though all of them are baseless.

Previous courts have held that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) protects "interactive computer service" providers like craigslist and lets them be self-regulating and free from liability. The law clearly states that they shouldn't be responsible for third party content because they didn't do enough to comply with individual State standards that may violate the First Amendment and federal law.

In craigslist's case, it's gone way beyond its legal obligations. In November 2008, it agreed to technical and policy changes to curb the use of its site for illegal purposes by third parties, including requiring telephone and credit card verification for "erotic services" ads to reject ones deemed illegal.

Earlier, craigslist screened out 90% of these ads. Nonetheless, it's being unfairly targeted by AGs interpreting Section 230 and First Amendment rights as they please. Federal law, however, protects craigslist, but not against ambitious AGs harassment for their own political advantage and self-interest.

On May 20, craigslist announced that it filed suit against South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster seeking "declaratory relief and a restraining order with respect to criminal charges he has repeatedly threatened against craigslist and its executives." Craigslist is on solid footing. It's in full compliance with the law, but McMaster's persistent threats forced it to sue in federal court.

These and numerous other congressional and other attempts aim to censor protected speech, including online. Expect more of this ahead, some legislation to be enacted, at times upheld by the courts, and, as a result, our liberties to be chipped away incrementally and lost - unless a line in the sand is drawn and defended by enough of the committed to do it.

On February 29, 2008, one skirmish turned out successfully when a federal judge let the anonymous whistle-blowing WikiLeaks resume operations after a week earlier ordering its US hosting company and domain registrar (Dynadot) to shut down and lock out its site. In his reconsidered ruling, District Judge Jeffrey White conceded he was having second thoughts regarding "serious questions of prior restraint (and) possible violations of the First Amendment." He added that "the court does not want to be a part of any order that is not constitutional." Even so, one triumph doesn't mean victory. The struggle for unimpeded free speech continues.

Secret Unconstitutional Surveillance, Including Online Data Mining

The right to privacy is sacred even though no constitutional provision specifically mandates it. Nonetheless, the First Amendment guarantees free and open speech and beliefs. The Third Amendment the privacy of our homes against demands to be used to house soldiers. The Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination and privacy of our personal information.

Also, the Ninth Amendment states that the "enumeration of certain (of the Bill of) rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people." In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Supreme Court held that the Constitution protects privacy in a case affirming the right to use contraceptives and that banning them violated the "right to marital privacy."

In Justice Arthur Goldberg's concurring opinion, he cited the Ninth Amendment in defense of the ruling. Earlier High Courts also affirmed the constitutional right of privacy on matters of marriage, child rearing, procreation, education, termination of medical treatment, possessing and viewing pornography, abortion, and more as well as overall privacy protection.

The 14th Amendment's "liberty" clause also relates to privacy by stating: "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...." Courts have broadened the meaning of "liberty" to include personal, political and social rights and privileges. Thus, invasion of private spaces is unconstitutional.

In Olmstead v. US (1928), Justice Louis Brandeis stated:

"The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality -- the right to be left alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man's home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of man's spiritual nature, his feelings, and his intellect."

George Bush institutionalized lawless spying invasions of privacy on Americans and others. Barack Obama continues the practice under the same federal agencies, including the FBI, CIA, Pentagon and NSA. On April 15, The New York Times headlined: "Officials Say US Wiretaps Exceeded Law."

It cited the NSA's practice in recent months of intercepting private emails and phone calls of Americans "on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year...." Briefed intelligence officials and lawyers called it "significant and systematic....overcollection" in violation of the law.

The Justice Department acknowledged the problem but said it was resolved. For its part, the NSA said its "intelligence operations, including programs for collection and analysis, are in strict accordance with US laws and regulations." The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in overall charge, downplayed the The Times story, referred to "inadvertent mistakes," and claimed efforts were immediately implemented to correct them.

Nonetheless, the issue remains unsettled, and new details reveal earlier domestic surveillance, including wiretapping a congressional member without court approval, and systematically doing it against many American citizens.

Tom Burghardt writes often on these issues for various publications, web sites, and his Antifascist Calling blog...."Exploring the shadowlands of the corporate police state." In calling "Spying on Americans: 'Business as Usual' under Obama," he reported that working cooperatively with private corporations, the NSA collects vast amounts of "transactional data such as credit card purchases, bank transactions and travel itineraries....sold to (the agency) by corporate freebooters." It's then data-mined for "suspicious patterns," a practice begun pre-9/11 but expanded greatly since then.

More than just financial transactions are monitored. According to investigative journalist Christopher Ketchum, "as many as '8 million Americans are now listed (as) secret enemies....who could face detention under martial law (and subjected) to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning" and possible internment.

Nothing under Obama has changed in spite of serious privacy, civil liberties, and other constitutional issues. Director Rod Beckstrom of DHS' Cyber Security Center resigned in March because of NSA's "greater role in guarding the government's computer systems" and its concentrated power without checks and balances.

According to Electronic Frontier Foundation's senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston: Obama's "Justice Department (is continuing) the Bush administration's cover-up of the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a 'secret' that cannot be reviewed by the courts...." because doing so would harm national security.

Worse still is the DOJ's assertion that the US government is immune from illegal spying litigation even when in violation of federal privacy statutes, an unprecedented claim exceeding the Bush administration citing "sovereign immunity." Obama is going Bush one better by saying the Patriot Act immunizes the government from being sued under surveillance provisions of the Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's (FISA) enhanced warrantless wiretapping powers in cooperation with complicit telecom providers. In other words, Obama's DOJ absolves itself and its corporate allies of accountability under existing federal statutes that prohibit illegal spying on Americans.

On April 26, Burghhardt reported that "The Pentagon's Cyber Command Formidable Infrastructure arrayed against the American People" will be headed by the NSA's director, Lt. General Keith Alexander, to protect the military's networks from hacker attacks, especially from countries like China and Russia. How this will "affect civilian computer networks is unclear. However, situating" it alongside NSA at Fort Meade, MD "should set alarm bells ringing (because of NSA's) potential for (greater) abuse....given (its) role in illegal domestic surveillance....(and its) tremendous technical capabilities."

"As a Pentagon agency, NSA has positioned itself to seize near total control over the country's electronic infrastructure, thereby exerting an intolerable influence--and chilling effect-- over the nation's political life." Recent history shows that "NSA and their partners at CIA, FBI, et. al. have targeted political dissidents," including anti-war protesters, environmentalists, and others for their activism and beliefs. Greater NSA powers will "transform 'cybersecurity' into a euphemism for keeping the rabble in line (and) achieving 'full spectrum dominance' via 'Cyberspace Offensive Counter-Operations.' "

Directed against ordinary Americans, democratic freedoms will be severely compromised. No matter as "the Obama administration (prepares) to hand control of the nation's electronic infrastructure over to a (rogue) agency" - with General Alexander telling the House Armed Services subcommittee that America needs a digital warfare force for defensive and offensive cyber operations. More resources are required to do it, not for public security, but for imperial conquest and containing dissent at home - in violation of constitutional freedoms and international law.

In a follow-up May 4 article, Burghardt explored the secret, unaccountable world of FBI data mining through its Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW) containing over a billion documents, including many on US citizens. They come from our personal records and history, including what's obtainable online through illegal spying.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Kurt Opsahl, "The IDW includes more than four times as many documents as the Library of Congress, and the FBI has asked for millions of dollars to data-mine this warehouse, using unproven science in an attempt to predict future crimes from past behavior." This illegal spying violates our constitutional right to privacy and endangers our freedom by generating unsubstantiated threats based on pure supposition.

Besides the FBI, it's virtually certain that other, perhaps all 16, government intelligence agencies conduct similar spying illegally, and as such, endanger everyone's freedom.

Earlier on July 14, 2008, an ACLU press release headlined: "Terrorist Watch List Hits One Million Names" based on government reported figures. They include: "Members of Congress, nuns, war heros and other 'suspicious characters' (like anti-war and environmental activists)....trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape."

According to the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program director, Barry Steinhardt, this data base represents "what's wrong with this administration's approach to security: it's unfair, out-of-control, a waste of resources, treats the rights of the innocent as an afterthought, and is a very real impediment in the lives of millions of (people) in this country. Putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee (it) will do more harm than good" besides being ineffective to catch real criminals.

Given the current scope and intent of FBI data mining, with millions under surveillance, its potential for abuse far exceeds where it stood less than a year ago - because the Obama administration supports it. No longer is anything about us private, including:

-- all our financial transactions and records;

-- every check written;

-- every credit card or other electronic purchase;

-- our complete medical history;

-- every plane, train, bus or ship itinerary;

-- our phone records and conversations; and

-- every computer key stroke.

Our entire private world is now public - if spy snoops decide to invade it.

Key Internet-based companies, like Google, do it routinely - the company UK-based Privacy International ranked worst in its September 2007 "Race to the Bottom" report. It stated:

"....throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google's approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations." It tops them all "as an endemic threat to privacy. This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google's product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part due to Google's market dominance and the sheer size of its user base."

It's also unmatched in "its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques." It's able to "deep-drill into the minutiae of a user's life and lifestyle choices" irresponsibly. Its attitude toward privacy is blatantly hostile at worst and benignly ambivalent at best. Specifically:

-- Google retains a large amount of user information with no limitation on its subsequent use or disclosure and with no chance for users to delete or withdraw it;

-- it retains all "search strings and associated IP-addresses and time stamps for at least 18 to 24 months (retention) and does not provide users with an expungement option;"

-- it has other personal information, including hobbies, employment, addresses, phone numbers, and more, and retains it even after users delete their profiles;

-- it "collects all search results entered through Google Toolbar and identifies all Google Toolbar users with a unique cookie that allows Google to track the user's web movement;" it also retains information indefinitely with no expungement option;

-- it doesn't follow OECD Privacy Guidelines and EU data protection law provisions;

-- users have no option to edit or delete obtained records and information about them; and

-- they can't access log information generated through various Google services, such as Google Maps, Video, Talk, Reader, or Blogger.

In 2004, Google also acquired the CIA-linked company Keyhole, Inc., that has a worldwide 3-D spy-in-the-sky images database. Its software provides a virtual fly-over and zoom-in capability to within a one-foot resolution. It's supported by In-Q-Tel, a venture capital CIA-funded firm that "identif(ies) and invest(s) in companies developing cutting-edge information technologies that serve United States national security interests."

In 2003, its CEO, John Hanke, said: "Keyhole's strategic relationship with In-Q-Tel means that the Intelligence Community can now benefit from the massive scalability and high performance of the Keyhole enterprise solution."

In 2006, former CIA clandestine services case officer, Robert Steele, said:

"I am quite positive that Google is taking money and direction from my old colleague Dr. Rick Steinheiser in the Office of Research and Development at CIA, and that Google has done at least one major prototype effort focused on foreign terrorists which produced largely worthless data....I think (Google is) stupid to be playing with CIA, which cannot keep a secret and is more likely to waste time and money than actually produce anything useful."

On April 29, Willem Buiter's Maverecon site headlined "Gagging on Google" and said:

"Google is to privacy and respect for intellectual property rights what the Taliban are to women's rights and civil liberties: a daunting threat that must be fought relentlessly by all those who value privacy and the right to exercise, within the limits of the law, control over the uses made by others of their intellectual property."

This company should be rigorously regulated, "and if necessary, broken up or put out of business." With about half the global internet search market, it threatens enhanced "corporate or even official Big Brotherism."

For example, Google Street View, an addition to Google Maps, "provides panoram(ic) images visible from street level in cities around the world. The cameras record details of residents' lives" on all sorts of personal matters that no one should be able to snoop on, then save, without permission, for whatever purposes.

The company also invades our privacy through tracking cookies or "third-party persistent cookies" to assist interest-based advertising, a practice known as behavioral targeting. In the wrong hands, this information can be used "to put a commercial squeeze on people, but also to extort and blackmail them." And in government hands, it enhances "a pretty effective and very nasty police state."

Can Google be trusted to use this information responsibly? "Of course not." It's a business run by "amoral capitalists," out to make as much money as possible by any means necessary. Google and other Internet search engines "should not be trusted because they cannot be trusted." However, because of its size and dominance, Google is "the new evil empire of the internet," a "Leviathan" that must be tamed.

Cybersecurity Legislation

On April 1, two bills endangering a free and open Internet were introduced in the Senate:

-- S. 773: Cybersecurity Act of 2009 "to ensure the continued free flow of commerce within the United States and with its global trading partners through secure cyber communications, to provide for the continued development and exploitation of the Internet and intranet communications for such purposes, to provide for the development of a cadre of information technology specialists to improve and maintain effective cybersecurity defenses against disruption, and for other purposes."

S. 773 was then referred to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and thus far not voted on.

-- S. 778: A bill to establish, within the Executive Office of the President, the Office of National Cybersecurity Advisor (aka czar). The bill was referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and not yet voted on.

Accompanying information said Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe introduced the legislation to address:

"our country's unacceptable vulnerability to massive cyber crime, global cyber espionage, and cyber attacks that could cripple our critical infrastructure."

We presently face cyber espionage threats, they said, as well as "another great vulnerability....to our private sector critical infrastructure - banking, utilities, air/rail/auto traffic control, telecommunications - from disruptive cyber attacks that could literally shut down our way of life."

"This proposed legislation will bring new high-level governmental attention to develop a fully integrated, thoroughly coordinated, public-private partnership to our cyber security efforts in the 21st century" through what's unstated - government affecting our private lives by threatening the viability of a free and open Internet.

During a March Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, Senator Rockefeller said that we'd all be better off if the Internet was never invented. His precise words were: "Would it have been better if we'd never have invented the Internet and had to use paper and pencil or whatever!" Left unsaid was that without a free and open Internet, few alternatives for getting real news and information would exist, at least with the ease and free accessibility that computers can provide.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Jennifer Granick expressed alarm about the risk of "giving the federal government unprecedented power over the Internet without necessarily improving security in the ways that matter most. (These bills) should be opposed or radically amended."

Here's what they'll do:

-- federalize critical infrastructure security, including banks, telecommunications and energy, shifting power away from providers and users to Washington;

-- give "the president unfettered authority to shut down Internet traffic in (whatever he calls) an emergency and disconnect critical infrastructure systems on national security grounds....;"

-- potentially "cripple privacy and security in one fell swoop" through one provision (alone) empowering the Commerce Secretary to "have access to all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access...."

In other words, the Commerce Department will be empowered to access "all relevant data" - without privacy safeguards or judicial review. As a result, constitutionally protected private information statutory protections will be lost - guaranteed under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Privacy Protection Act, and financial privacy regulations.

Another provision mandates a feasibility study for an identity management and authentication program that would sidestep "appropriate civil liberties and privacy protections."

At issue is what role should the federal government play in cybersecurity? How much power should it have? Can it dismiss constitutional protections, and what, in fact, can enhance cybersecurity without endangering our freedoms? S. 773 and 778, as now written, "make matters worse by weakening existing privacy safeguards (without) address(ing) the real problems of security."

In late February, Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, told the House Intelligence Committee that the NSA, not DHS, should be in charge of cybersecurity even though it has a "trust handicap" to overcome because of its illegal spying:

"I think there is a great deal of distrust of the National Security Agency and the intelligence community in general playing a role outside of the very narrowly circumscribed role because of some of the history of the FISA issue in years past...." So Blair asked the committee's leadership to find a way to instill public confidence.

On February 9, Obama appointed Melissa Hathaway to be Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils - in charge of a 60-day interagency cybersecurity review, now completed.

On April 21, NSA/Chief Central Security Service director, General Alexander, told RSA Conference security participants that "The NSA does not want to run cybersecurity for the government. We need partnerships with others. The DHS has a big part, you do, and our partners in academia. It's one network and we all have to work together....The NSA can offer technology assistance to team members. That's our role."

But someone has to be in charge. It may or may not be NSA, but no matter. At issue is our constitutional freedoms. Any infringement on them must be challenged and stopped.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13641

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Over the Rainbow"

"Over the Rainbow" - by Stephen Lendman

This writer just completed a six-part series on Ellen Brown's remarkable 2007 book titled "Web of Debt." This article follows from it by picking up on the theme she struck, using L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" as a combination parable, monetary allegory, and political manifesto for change at a time it's most needed.

Published in 1900 as an American fairytale, it became a popular staple, later made into the classic 1939 film staring Judy Garland, the 1975 award-winning Broadway musical, The Wiz, featuring the first-ever all-black cast, followed by a hit film on the stage production.

As Brown explained, who would have thought this "charming tale....was drawn from that most obscure and tedious of subjects, banking and finance," and (in the wrong hands) the chokehold they have on societies. Who understood that it was "all about people power, manifesting your dreams, (and) finding what you wanted in your own backyard." Who also could have imagined that "the real-life folk heros who inspired (Baum's) plot may have had the answer to" today's global economic crisis.

Brown began by quoting Hans Schicht in a 2005 editorial headlined "The Death of Banking and Macro Politics" in which he stated:

"Through a network of anonymous financial spider webbing only a handful of global King Bankers own and control it all....Everybody, people, enterprise, State and foreign countries, all have become slaves chained to the Banker's credit ropes."

Schicht continued saying:

-- "Big Brother has come to us in the striped suit of the Banker" robbing everyone through "legal tribute in the form of interest...."

-- "Modern fiat banking has developed into an instrument of usurpation and people control....a form of government, 'bankdoms,' (much like) kingdoms, republics, (or) dictatorships" but more subtle.

-- Today, "The New World Order wants open frontiers for international finance, but (that's like) asking the house owner to leave the doors unlocked for the burglar to have easy access" and be able to strip it bare.

Today, international bankers are looting world economies with the aim of turning them into Guatemala - subjugated, unempowered, enslaved, and impoverished like in Orwell's classic dystopian novel - "Nineteen Eighty-Four." He warned that:

"Big Brother is watching you (and) If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

In "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Baum struck a different theme even though he claimed to have written it "solely to pleasure the children." Some scholars, however, see another purpose, allegorically portrayed in his characters:

-- Dorothy is the typical American girl; in her case, a rural Midwestern one;

-- the Scarecrow is the American farmer;

-- the Tin Woodman is the American factory worker;

-- the Cowardly Lion is silver advocate William Jennings Bryan, best remembered for his 1896 Democratic National Convention "Cross of Gold" speech in which he railed against banker-controlled gold-backed money;

-- the Munchkins are Eastern "little people" who didn't understand how banking wizards control money, the economy and government - much like how ignorant most people are today;

-- the Wicked Witches rule the East and West where Populists had little influence; the Good Witches control the North and South corresponding to agrarian regions of the country;

-- the Wicked Witch of the West refers to Republican imperialists who captured the Philippines (the Yellow Winkies representing all the enslaved), slaughtered six hundred thousand or more people, then occupied and controlled the country;

-- the Winged Monkeys represent Native Americans - slaughtered, displaced, and put under authoritarian rule;

-- the Hammerheads were hard-headed men who perpetuated regional differences between North and South;

-- the Wizard of Oz holds real power as the wizard of the gold ounce, oz being the abbreviation of ounce;

-- Oz is also where the wicked witches and banking wizards operate;

-- the Emerald City is Washington;

-- the Yellow Brick Road refers to a gold one (or gold standard) leading to Oz, home of the wicked banking Witches;

-- Dorothy's magic silver slippers represented the silver standard and Populists' goal of replacing gold with bimetallism; they were Ruby Red in the film to highlight the new Technicolor technology; by clicking her heels three times and repeating "There's no place like home," Dorothy's instantly transported to Kansas; after awakening, however, she discovers her slippers fell off, symbolizing the demise of silver coinage as a form of currency; and

-- she and her friends' march on Oz recreated businessman/populist Jacob Coxey's Army 1894 march on Washington to demand jobs and the return to debt and interest-free Greenbacks.

Like the early 20th century Populists, Brown explained that "Dorothy and her troop discovered that they had the power to solve their own problems and achieve their own dreams." The Wizard of Oz embodies "the American dream (and) national spirit" potential to realize it.

At the end of Baum's tale, the Witches are exposed as crude fakes and vanquished. Hope springs eternal as a result. The Tin Man actually has a heart. The Cowardly Lion finds courage. The Tin Woodman is emboldened by a bimetallic tool, a gold ax with a silver blade, and the Scarecrow learns he's intelligent, not stupid. When the Wizard disappears in his hot air balloon, he becomes leader of Oz. The Tin Woodsman rules the West, representing the Populist dream of empowered farmers and workers, and the Lion protects smaller beasts in "a grand old forest."

Thereafter, farm interests achieved national prominence, industrialism moved West, and Bryan commanded only a number of lesser politicians, far short of his hoped for goal.

Baum had dark message as well. As Brown explained: "there are invisible puppeteers pulling the strings of the puppets we see on the stage, in a show that is largely illusion." The Federal Reserve and most central bankers rule world economies by controlling their money, their very lifeblood without which commerce can't function. As long as that continues, Wicked Witch power will prevail.

Baum's "Parable on Populism"

Like Bryan, Baum supported the Free Silver Movement, and like many others at the time distrusted Eastern bankers. As a result, writers like Henry Littlefield described his charming fairytale as a "Parable on Populism."

Born in 1856 in Syracuse, New York, Baum developed an early interest in theater, wrote plays, and in 1887 left for Aberdeen, South Dakota where he edited a local weekly until it failed in 1891. It was a time when Western farmers lived daily with the stark reality of dry, open plains and all the hardships they brought - drought, low prices, manipulated freight rates, and the terrible blizzards of 1886 - 87.

At this time, the Populist Party was founded - as an agrarian People's Party opposing gold, supporting free silver, and seeking government aid without success. As a result, the movement was a desperate attempt for empowerment by the ballot.

In 1891, Baum moved to Chicago where he associated with reform elements. He saw the fallout of the 1893 depression, sided with working class people, consistently voted Democrat, then later marched in "torch-like parades" for William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 election. Yet he wasn't a political activist despite his sympathies with populist causes.

Henry Littlefield believes that "the original Oz book conceals an unsuspected depth....(Although) a children's story, (it) delineated a Midwesterner's vibrant and ironic portrait of (America) as it entered the twentieth century," beset with serious flaws.

Besides writing "solely to pleasure children," Baum delivered a powerful populist allegory. Littlefield wrote:

"The Wizard of Oz says so much about so many things that it is hard not to imagine a satisfied and mischievous gleam in Lyman Frank Baum's eye as he had Dorothy say (at his story's end), "And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!" - meaning, she "and her troop had the power to solve their own problems and achieve their own dreams." So do we, and that's the key message to remember and act on.

Lyricist E Y (Yip) Harburg's Anthem of Hope - "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz

His son called him "the man who put the rainbow in The Wizard of Oz." Born in New York in 1896, he became a successful electrical contractor, then went bankrupt after Wall Street's 1929 crash. Out of work, George Gershwin's brother Ira introduced him to musician Jay Gorney. In 1932, they wrote "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," an anthem reflecting the plight of the unemployed.

In 1970, Studs Terkel said this about it in his book, "Hard Times:"

"In the song the man is really saying: I made an investment in this country. Where the hell are my dividends? 'Can you spare a dime?' What the hell is wrong? Let's examine this thing. It's more than just a bit of pathos. It doesn't reduce him to a beggar. It makes him a dignified human, asking questions - and a bit outraged, too, as he should be."

In Hollywood, his memorable lyrics included issues of race and class in Finian's Rainbow, "Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz," and the special meaning he imparted. He wrote it for Judy Garland, Dorothy in the film, who was about to take a journey, and it began with the working title: "I Want to Get on the Other Side of the Rainbow," then shortened to "Over the Rainbow." It began:

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby."

It's about Dorothy taking a journey, wanting to get out and go somewhere. In Kansas, the rainbow was the only color she saw. She wanted to get "over the rainbow (where) skies are blue And the dreams that you dare to dream Really do come true." It continues:

"Someday I'll wish upon a star and
wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me

Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me

Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why, oh, why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
Why, oh, why can't I?"

Harburg's son Ernie wrote his biography titled: "Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz." Interviewed on Democracy Now, he called the film (and song) an "American artwork because the story, the plot with three characters, the brain, the heart, the courage, and finding a home is a universal story for everybody."

In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began investigating Hollywood's motion picture industry for suspected communist sympathizers. "Friendly witnesses" came forward and named 19 people accused of having leftist views. Of those, 10 refused to testify and became known as the "Hollywood Ten," among them authors Ring Lardner Jr. and Dalton Trumbo, noted for his powerful 1938 anti-war novel, "Johnny Got His Gun."

In all, hundreds of actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, musicians, songwriters, and other artists were blacklisted and denied employment for their progressive political beliefs. In 1951, Harburg was one of them. His son called it horrible seeing friends suddenly with no income. There were divorces, ruined lives, suicides, and in some cases people left the country.

Figures like Screen Actors Guild president, Ronald Reagan, and Walt Disney told the HUAC that communists threatened the film industry based on hearsay and the tenor of the times - McCarthyism, coined in 1950 for the demagogic senator, infamous for his politically-motivated witch-hunts until his own his own excesses brought him down.

Once blacklisted, Harburg returned to New York, found work on Broadway, then went back to Hollywood in 1962. In 1981, he passed away at age 84, and in 2005, the US Postal Service honored him with a commemorative stamp. It's taken from Barbara Bordnick's 1978 photographic portrait along with a rainbow and lyric from "Over the Rainbow" - where "dreams that you dare to Dream really do come true."

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13641