Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News Editorials & Other Articles General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Octafish's Journal
Octafish's Journal
October 1, 2012

H20 Man and his Anti-Fracking Friends Deserve Support and Thanks

The great DUer H20 Man has stood up to power -- and put his own health on the line -- in working to stop the "Fracking" of New York State. It seems like their Herculean efforts may be paying off.

According to the NYT, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration is restarting the regulatory process of hydrofracking from the beginning.

Shift by Cuomo on Gas Drilling Prompts Both Anger and Praise

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

ALBANY — A few months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was poised to approve hydraulic fracturing in several struggling New York counties, his administration is reversing course and starting the regulatory process over, garnering praise from environmental groups and stirring anger among industry executives and upstate landowners.

Ten days ago, after nearly four years of review by state regulators, the governor bowed to entreaties from environmentalists to conduct another study, this one an examination of potential impacts on public health. Neither the governor nor other state officials have given any indication of how long the study might take.

Then on Friday, state environmental officials said they would restart the regulatory rule-making process, requiring them to repeat a number of formal steps, including holding a public hearing, and almost certainly pushing a decision into next year.

The move also means that after already receiving nearly 80,000 public comments, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be soliciting more input from New Yorkers about hydrofracking, or fracking, as the drilling process for natural gas is known.



Let's give thanks to a great human being, H20 Man, and his colleagues who have done so much to raise awareness of fracking and done so much to oppose it.
September 29, 2012

Neil Bush Communist Photo Makes A Scene On Chinese Social Media Site Weibo

Neil Bush Communist Photo Makes A Scene On Chinese Social Media Site Weibo

The Huffington Post | By Nick Wing
Posted: 08/28/2012 11:50 am Updated: 08/29/2012 8:29 am

Neil Bush, younger brother of former President George W. Bush, raised some eyebrows on Monday after posting a picture showing him decked out in gear traditionally associated with members of the Chinese Communist Party.

“I’m thinking of joining the CCP. What do you think of my accessories?” read a message posted to Bush's account on Chinese social media site Weibo, alongside a Chinese translation of the caption.

The attached picture shows a smiling Bush holding a mug with a graphic of Chairman Mao Zedong. He's also wearing an archetypal green communist officer's field cap and has a similarly colored messenger bag with Mao imagery slung around his shoulder.

The Wall Street Journal, which flagged Bush's bizarre picture, notes that reaction in the Chinese community has been mixed, ranging in the Weibo community from confusion to outrage. Though many took it as a joke, one person likened it to dressing up in Nazi gear and posting a photo on Twitter, the Wall Street Journal reports.



Neil really doesn't get the press he deserves.
September 28, 2012

Propaganda is an amazing thing.

Alex Carey:

Corporations and Propaganda
The Attack on Democracy

The 20th century, said Carey, is marked by three historic developments: the growth of democracy via the expansion of the franchise, the growth of corporations, and the growth of propaganda to protect corporations from democracy. Carey wrote that the people of the US have been subjected to an unparalleled, expensive, 3/4 century long propaganda effort designed to expand corporate rights by undermining democracy and destroying the unions. And, in his manuscript, unpublished during his life time, he described that history, going back to World War I and ending with the Reagan era. Carey covers the little known role of the US Chamber of Commerce in the McCarthy witch hunts of post WWII and shows how the continued campaign against "Big Government" plays an important role in bringing Reagan to power.

John Pilger called Carey "a second Orwell", Noam Chomsky dedicated his book, Manufacturing Consent, to him. And even though TUC Radio runs our documentary based on Carey's manuscript at least every two years and draws a huge response each time, Alex Carey is still unknown.

Given today's spotlight on corporations that may change. It is not only the Occupy movement that inspired me to present this program again at this time. By an amazing historic coincidence Bill Moyers and Charlie Cray of Greenpeace have just added the missing chapter to Carey's analysis. Carey's manuscript ends in 1988 when he committed suicide. Moyers and Cray begin with 1971 and bring the corporate propaganda project up to date.

This is a fairly complex production with many voices, historic sound clips, and source material. The program has been used by writers and students of history and propaganda. Alex Carey: Taking the Risk out of Democracy, Corporate Propaganda VS Freedom and Liberty with a foreword by Noam Chomsky was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1995.

SOURCE: http://tucradio.org/new.html
September 26, 2012

What JFK Really Said

As Noam Chomsky reported, Shoup was alone among the Joint Chiefs to oppose escalation in Vietnam. However, in this case, the White House taping system caught the Marine Commandant in an act of insubordination -- denigrating the Commander in Chief before his fellow Joint Chiefs of Staff. The mis-translation of what was said in the meeting had been the "gold standard" among historians since the publication of tape transcripts created by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow, "academic" friends of the right.

What JFK Really Said

The author checked the Cuban-missile-crisis transcript in The Kennedy Tapes against the recorded words. He discovered "errors that undermine its reliability for historians, teachers, and general readers

by Sheldon M. Stern
The Atlantic


An unforgettable moment in these unique historical records concerns JFK's apprehension that military action in Cuba might touch off the ultimate nightmare of nuclear war, which he grimly describes at a meeting on October 18 as "the final failure." Brian McGrory, of The Boston Globe, who listened to this tape with me in 1994, after it was declassified, used those words in the lead of his article on the newly released tapes. But when I checked the transcript recently, I was unable to find "the final failure." Certain that the editors must be right, since they had technically cleaner tapes, I listened again; there is no question that Kennedy says "the final failure." The editors, however, have transcribed it as "the prime failure."


The participants then discuss evidence that work on the missile sites is continuing. They debate whether to add petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) to the list of quarantined materials immediately, or to wait twenty-four hours to see if talks proposed by UN Secretary-General U Thant produce a breakthrough. McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy's national security adviser, suggests that they "leave the timing until we've talked about the U Thant initiative." The inaccuracy in The Kennedy Tapes is especially bizarre in this case, with Bundy saying "leave the timing until we've talked about the attack thing." These last two examples—"the destroyers " and "the attack thing"—could easily leave a reader wondering what in the world these men were talking about. (Three days later, on October 29, U Thant was mentioned again. JFK asserts, "We want U Thant to know that Adlai is our voice." But The Kennedy Tapes transcribes this line as "We want you to know that Adlai is our voice.&quot

October 27 saw the darkest moment in the crisis. An unconfirmed report was received at midday that a U-2 spy plane had been shot down over Cuba by a Soviet SAM missile, and the pilot killed. On the tape of the late-afternoon meeting Kennedy discusses whether to order an air strike on the SAM sites if the incident is repeated (a delay that produced consternation at the Pentagon). He declares that two options are on the table: begin conversations about Khrushchev's proposal to swap Soviet missiles in Cuba for U.S. missiles in Turkey, or reject discussions until the Cuban crisis is settled. Kennedy chooses the first, with the caveat that the Soviets must provide proof that they have ceased work on the missile sites. He repeatedly refers to "conversations" and "discussions" and concludes, "Obviously, they're not going to settle the Cuban question until they get some conversation on Cuba." Incredibly, The Kennedy Tapes substitutes "compensation" for "conversation." It's easy to imagine how Cold War veterans like Rusk, Bundy, and McCone would have reacted to any suggestion of compensation for the Soviets in Cuba.

On October 29, the day after Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles, the President and his advisers, relieved but not euphoric, conclude that surveillance and the quarantine will continue until the missiles have actually been removed. After a lull in the meeting, during which the conversation turns to college football, the President observes, "I imagine the Air Force must be a little mad," referring to the division of responsibility for aerial photography between the Air Force and the Joint Chiefs' photo-reconnaissance office. The Kennedy Tapes transcribes this as "I imagine the airports must be looking bad," which must leave many readers scratching their heads: the removal of the missiles had nothing to do with Cuban airports. Kennedy then ponders why, in the end, the Soviets decided to back down. He notes, "We had decided Saturday night to begin this air strike on Tuesday." No effort was made to conceal the military buildup in southern Florida, and Kennedy wonders if the impending strikes pushed the Russians to withdraw their missiles. The Kennedy Tapes, however, has JFK saying "We got the signs of life to begin this air strike on Tuesday," making his shrewd speculation unintelligible.

ONE particular error, among scores not cited above, seems to epitomize the problems with these transcripts. On the October 18 tape Dean Rusk argues that before taking military action in Cuba, the United States should consult Khrushchev, in the unlikely event that he would agree to remove the missiles. "But at least it will take that point out of the way," The Kennedy Tapes has Rusk saying, "and it's on the record." But Rusk actually said that this consultation would remove that point "for the historical record." The historical record is indeed the issue here.



The "prime failure" is much different than "final failure." Presidents -- especially the Hawks since then -- have all made clear to the Soviets, Russians, terrorists, rogue states that nuclear war was winnable and survivable. Unfortunately, "survivable" could be defined as zero enemy and one American.
September 25, 2012

Generals mocking JFK behind his back during Cuban Missile Crisis caught on tape...

"Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it." -- Anonymous.

So. Talking about pressure:

'Go in there and frig around with the missiles, you're screwed'

The moment general mocked JFK behind his back at the height of Cuban Missile Crisis caught on tape

The Mail
24 September 2012

It was the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the nation was supposed to be pulling together.

But John F Kennedy’s top generals were actually bad-mouthing him behind his back - whilst standing in the White House.

When the former US President left the room Marine Corps Commandant General David Shoup said that Mr Kennedy was doing things ‘piecemeal’ and needed a talking to.


But the tapes reveal that after Mr Kennedy and Defence Secretary Robert McNamara went out the room, General Shoup launched into his own tirade - without realising the tape was still running.



It's almost odd that this wasn't mentioned in my hometown newspaper. They must want us to forget something important.
September 24, 2012

If you like Charter Schools, you're gonna love Charter Cities.

I kid you not. The Big Money boys are starting them up as I paste with permission:

THE WORLD'S FIRST CHARTER CITIES IN HONDURAS: From neo-liberalism to neo-colonialism

Friday, September 14, 2012
Posted by Rights Action Team

The Honduran National Congress is currently reviewing the law to geographically define the first four "Charter Cities" in the world, three sites along the Caribbean coast in Garifuna afro-indigenous territory, Trujillo, the Valle de Cuyamel and the Sico-Paulaya Valley, which includes Miskitu indigenous territory. One is proposed in the Gulf of Fonseca which would include the community of Sacate Grande.

The Charter Cities initiative cedes city-sized sections of Honduras to corporations or foreign governments to govern autonomously, indefinitely. Investors can make their own laws, build their own police force, administer services and regulate their economy.

On September 4, Michael Strong, representing the MKG Group, signed a memorandum of understanding in the Honduran Congress to establish the world's first Charter City, a contract is surrounded by confusion and secrecy. Strong provided no information about the MKG Group, which has no web site or any other readily available public information.


In blogs and international forums over the past year, a group of free market Libertarians have made clear their intention to channel their ideological vision into the blueprint outlined by New York University economist Paul Romer.

Strong founded the Free Cities Institute [FCI] to promote charter cities, which in July 2011 co-sponsored with Guatemala's Francisco Marroquin University [UFM] a forum in the Honduran Island of Roatan. Though the FCI web site has apparently been taken down, the UFM page on the event featured articles by Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman. Friedman and Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal, founded the Seasteading Institute in 2008 and Michael Strong is on its Board of Directors.

The Seasteading Institute is dedicated to promoting communities in the sea, free of states. Friedman late last year resigned as the Seasteading CEO to head the Future Cities Development Corporation, dedicated to developing a Charter City in Honduras.


Paul Romer explains that his plan is about starting over, with a clean slate with good laws. The Wall Street Journal's diehard neoliberal Mary O'Grady noted "What advocate of free markets hasn't, at one time or another, fantasized about running away to a desert island to start a country where economic liberty would be the law of the land?"

The problem is there are no clean slates. Honduras does not have untouched expanses of territory awaiting homesteaders to lay claim. Trujillo, the site most often mentioned for the first Charter City, has long belonged to afro-indigenous Garifuna communities and campesino farmers, and suffers from a long history of attempted usurpation, from the Republic of Poyas to the United Fruit Company.

US filibuster William Walker, after being chased out of Nicaragua, tried to take his thwarted plan to create a US slave state to Roatan, but was captured and executed in Trujillo in 1860.

Romer argues it is necessary to 'start from scratch,' in order to create economic opportunities for the impoverished people of the world. Poverty, he argues, could be ended if impoverished people, and nations, could only let go of the systems of bad laws and social mores that bind them to poverty.

Clearly wealth and poverty are about governance, who makes the rules, who they favor, who must abide by the rules and who is doesn't have to, who benefits, who doesn't.


Trujillo's Garifuna and campesino communities have, over the past 20 years, been preyed upon by violence unleashed as a consequence of a set of rules inspired by one of Michael Strong's ideological cohorts, and co-author of a book promoting 'entrepreneurial capitalism,' Hernando de Soto.

In the heart of the region apparently now proposed as the future home of a Charter City, on August 27 the Garifuna community of Vallecito awaited government officials, who never came, to measure a small portion their land, to which they hold full legal title. The huge majority of their lands has been taken over by businessmen and drug traffickers, mostly, they explain, through violence and fraud. The measurement would be a first step in recovering possession of the land.

The Vallecito community was surrounded by armed bands firing off weapons through the night. A group of heavily armed paramilitaries snuck into the middle of a Garifuna drumming circle, made their presence known and left, the death threat established with clarity. The armed bands have continued to circle the community.

The scene was typical of the region since the 1992 Land Modernization Law unleashed paramilitaries against agrarian communities. The law altered the Agrarian Reform Law from the 1960s, which prohibited the resale of land acquired through the agrarian reform program. Businessmen and drug traffickers, with deep ties to the military intelligence death squads infamous for political killings in the 1980s, used armed bands and other forms of coercion to force Garifuna and campesino communities to sell their land, illegally, and used their political clout to maintain control of the land despite the illegal title transfers.

'Unlocking the wealth' held in land through the promotion of land markets was a principal of the "Washington Consensus" ideologically promulgated by Hernando de Soto. The Washington Consensus also involved shifting access to financing from the public to the private sector. The single largest benefactor in Honduras of this shift in the early 1990s was clearly African palm oil businessman Miguel Facusse, who not only used fraud and violence to gain control of land in the Aguan region that Trujillo forms part of, but used political connections to generate even more wealth through access to loans from public entities including the WB (World Bank) and IDB (Interamerican Development Bank).


The written and unwritten rules of Honduras have been set into place over generations by the constant use of force, both violence and other forms of coercion, by the wealthy sectors in Honduras, and by the wealthy nations and corporations of the world.

A recent example is the June 2009 military coup that set the political stage for the Constitutional Amendment that provides the framework for Charter Cities. The on-going usurpation of Garifuna lands in Vallecito is another expression.

The Charter Cities proposal was linked to a government turnover in Madagascar in 2009, this one the consequence of massive protests. Paul Romer first traveled to Madagascar in July 2008, to propose a Charter City, but the deal was left in the air. The same month, the South Korean transnational Daewoo announced it struck a deal to cultivate 1.3 million hectares of farmland for free, over 99 years. In early December 2008, Daewoo announced the deal was uncertain as a contract had not been signed. In late December 2008, Paul Romer traveled to Madagascar and met with President Marc Ravalomanana, who soon announced the intention of creating Charter Cities in Madagascar.

By the end of January 2009, citizens of Madagascar - outraged by these proposals - took to the streets, the military took control and President Ravalomanana left the county. Within a few months both proposals had been scrapped. Though not explicitly linked the Daewoo deal and Charter Cities, the timing leads to the conclusion they were related.


Daewoo is a subsidiary of the South Korean transnational POSCO. Originally a steel corporation, it is today a diversified conglomerate which owns corporations involved in everything from machinery and automobile production to food and biofuel production, mining, textiles, etc. In May 2011, POSCO signed a contract with the Honduran government to carry out initial studies for infrastructure development for the Model Cities.

In March 2011, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo attended a ceremony to place the first brick in a cruise ship dock in Trujillo, there he announced that the IDB would finance studies for the construction of an airport and port for a Charter City.

The cruise ship dock is a venture of Life Vision Properties, a Canadian investment fund (with a Cayman Island shell corporation) promoted by Canada's "Porn King" Randy Jorgenson and Porfirio Lobo's brother, Ramon Lobo. The cruise ship dock and mega-tourism project associated with it are annihilating the Garifuna community of Rio Negro, which has literally been bulldozed away, and the families were resettled in a "model community" outside the neighboring Garifuna community of Cristales.

A clear violation of international law regarding indigenous territory and the obligation to gain consent for development projects carried out on indigenous land, community members who opposed displacement have been threatened, particularly Garifuna journalists with the community radio. In December 2011, families from Rio Negro presented a complaint against Randy Jorgenson in the Honduran justice system.


The proximity of coups and international law violations to the Charter Cities initiative probably does not faze the Libertarian cabal promoting them. They have been clear, they have their differences with democracy, and the plans for governance of model cities reflect this.

A recurring theme in interviews with Romer is the concept of 'voting with your feet,' as described in a July 2010 Atlantic Magazine article. "Rather than getting a vote at the ballot box, Romer is saying, the residents of a charter city would have to vote with their feet. Their leaders would be accountable - but only to the rich voters in the country that appointed them."

The article continues, "The real test for Romer's attitude toward democracy is not whether it conforms to Western ideals, but whether it appeals to the poor people whom Western aid agencies claim to be serving. And on this score, the answer is clear. In fact, you could say Romer's assertion - that voting with your feet can be a palatable alternative to casting a ballot - already has 214 million adherents, for that is the number of people who have chosen to leave their home countries and settle as migrants in places where they have no political vote."

In other words, people's political participation in the Model Cities would be limited to deciding whether or not they would live there, an option that Atlantic Magazine explains 214 million people have "chosen" in deciding to live without a vote outside of their home nation.

This argument, that the hundreds of millions of immigrants who do not benefit from the rights of citizenship where they live is somehow an option they freely "choose" ignores a multitude of elements of coercion, repression, war, poverty, discrimination, etcetera, involved in many such decisions.

Patri Friedman wrote, in an April 6, 2009, Cato Institute blog post, "Democracy is the current industry standard political system, but unfortunately it is ill-suited for a libertarian state." An appropriate precedent to his grandson's declared belief in the incompatibility of democracy and Libertarian ideals, Milton Friedman was close to Chilean dictator - and darling of free marketers - General Augusto Pinochet.

Peter Thiel wrote, just a few days later, on April 13, 2009, also in the Libertarian Cato Institute's blog, "Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." He later recanted the statement; it is, after all, an impetuous statement from one of the world's most wealthy and powerful men.


Billionaire Peter Thiel was a founder of PayPal and the financier that made Facebook possible, retaining 10% of its ownership. He then went on to create Palantir in 2004 with joint start-up capital from the CIA-owned technology venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.

Palantir, named for the all-seeing stone in "Lord of the Rings," is a technology company that - according to a November 22, 2011, Businessweek article - is "tying together surveillance video outside a drugstore with credit-card transactions, cell-phone call records, e-mails, airplane travel records, and Web search information," to generate dossiers on people of interest, and is used by the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security among many other government and private sector clients.

As if the concept of the ultimate 'big brother' technology controlled by a man who explained that democracy is not in line with his ideals is not disturbing enough, Thiel is also on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Meetings, annual meetings which since 1954 have brought together leading businessmen, politicians, academics, and journalists from Western European nations, Canada and the US for off the record discussions about the direction of the world.


As the Garifuna communities, whose territory is slotted to house the worlds' first Charter City, vocally oppose the project, in Honduras' capital of Tegucigalpa, there was a strong reaction. Xiomara Castro, Honduran presidential candidate for the new LIBRE party, leading the race in some polls, issued a statement: "The law imposed is inconsistent with the concept of sovereignty, independence in equal opportunities for domestic and foreign investment. Those who initiate projects under this unconstitutional 'model cities' scheme are risking the loss of their investment... We invite the President of the National Congress and the National Party, based on Article 5 of the Constitution which regulates the Plebiscite and Referendum, to submit the Law of "Model Cities" to a referendum and let it be the people who decide."

Since the September 4 contract was signed by Michael Strong a series of complaints have been presented to the Supreme Court arguing the contract is unconstitutional. On September 12 lawyers presented complaints of treason against the congressional representatives who voted for the Constitutional Amendment and Statute that established the Charter Cities.

On February 15, 2011, the Constitutional Reform that established the framework for Charter Cities in Honduras, dubbed Special Development Regions [RED], was published into law, and on August 23, 2011 the statutes that further defined the creation and administration of the REDs was published.

According to Jari Dixon Herrera, Oscar Humberto Cruz and four other lawyers representing the Honduran Jurists Association, the Charter Cities laws are unconstitutional. They presented a legal challenge to that effect on October 18, 2011 arguing the amendment and statute were unconstitutional. The lawyers argue that permitting foreign investors to enjoy territorial and administrative autonomy implies a separation of a section of the national territory, and violates the sovereignty of the nation since the people of Honduras would no longer exercise authority over the area circumscribed as a RED. They also argue that the initiative violates fundamental rights of Honduran citizens recognized by the Honduran constitution and international treaties, including the right to equality, no expatriation, free circulation, the public tutelage of labor relations and the right to not be obligated to change residence.

On January 12, 2012 the Honduran Attorney General's office gave its opinion to the Supreme Court, that the reform and statutes do violate the constitution and should be overruled.


Five 'Pro Tempore' Transparency Commission members were charged by acting Honduran President Porfirio Lobo with overseeing the creation of the initial Charter Cities on December 6, 2012. However, in an interview in The Guardian, Romer said they were not notified beforehand that the September 4 contract would be signed. Implying he was concerned about the constitutional challenge, Romer explained he and the other commissioners had backed away from the Commission. In a September 7 letter, the Commissioners told Lobo they were "relieving him of the obligation" to formalize the commission by publishing into law the December 6, 2011 presidential decree that established the Commission.

The Commission is chaired by Paul Romer, Economics Professor at NYU, and includes Harry Strachan, Nancy Birdsall, George Akerlof and Ong Boon Hwee. They said they were still fully supportive of the proposal and willing to come back to the Commission as soon as soon as "the obstacles to the full establishment of the institutional framework of the RED have been resolved."

George Akerlof created the field of 'identity economics', exploring how social psychology affects economics, arguing that social norms linked to a person's identity impact their behavior within an economy, a vision shared by Romer, which in effect presents poverty as a cultural problem. The key to prosperity is eliminating cultures or cultural norms that generate poverty.

Nancy Birdsall was an Executive Vice President of the IDB when the IDB aggressively promoted Plan Puebla Panama. She is also a former Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and currently is president of the Center for Global Development. She advocates for economic reforms within the framework of the 'Washington Consensus' a set of neoliberal economic policies.

Ong Boon Hwee, Brigadier General of the Singapore Army who specialized in crisis management, currently directs two different consulting firms: Beyond Horizon Consulting (BHC), which describes its activities as people development, strategic thinking and change management, and Temasek Management Services (TMS). He also owns Stratton Management Company (SMC) which manages his joint investments in a range of sectors, particularly renewable energy, and is the former CEO of Singapore Power (SP).

While Romer, Birdsall and Akerloff provide the Commission with a theoretical framework, Birdsall and Hwee undoubtedly also provide important connections to financial backers. Hwee's inclusion in the Commission gives an important insight into the vision for the Honduras RED. He has been a top ranking military officer in Singpore, widely described as an authoritarian police state.

Harry Strachan appears to be key to on the ground implementation. Over the past two decades, he has networked Central American oligarchs, constructing financial and political alliances, pushing Central American wealth management from family centered corporations into shared investment funds, and building up networks of strategic political influence.

A partner in the Boston financial advising firm Bain & Company, Harry Strachan started Central America's leading financial management firm, coordinating regional mergers and acquisitions. He was Rector of the leading Central American Business school INCAE. When he first moved to Costa Rica in 1992 he dedicated much of his time to promoting the Central America Free Trade Initiative [CAFTA] that unified Central America's mega-wealthy through a platform he helped to found, the US-AID-funded Caribbean Central America Alliance (C-CAA) which coordinated forums where Strachan presented at panel discussions with former Honduran president Ricardo Maduro. After CAFTA was ratified across Central America, in 2007 he founded the Central America Leadership Initiative, a networking platform.


In 1984, it was Strachan that connected Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney with El Salvadoran investors at same time they financed the ARENA party with its associated death squads. According to Huffington Post, the Salvadoran group provided a significant 40% of the start-up capital for a spin-off of Bain & Company, Bain Capital, launched in 1985 by Mitt Romney. The Salvadorans have been loyal patrons of Bain capital ever since.

Romney explains that his Salvadoran customers not only facilitated his massive fortune but he also learned from them: "These friends didn't just help me; they taught me." Romney describes as friends his initial investors, including the Salaverria, Poma, de Sola and Dueñas families who "were also at the time financing, either directly or through political parties, death squads in El Salvador."


In 1992, Strachan moved to his birthplace, Costa Rica, where he had grown up in a Presbyterian missionary family. In Costa Rica, Strachan founded Mesoamerica Investments, which INCAE's website describes as "the leading regional mergers and acquisitions firm with strategic consulting and private equity branches," while the firm's own website emphasizes its ongoing relationship to Bain Capital and Bain & Company.

Central American wealth and political power is coordinated through family dynasties, powerful oligarch clans that control different sectors of the economy in different countries - as Strachan describes them, family businesses. The trend over the past two decade has been to diversify, moving beyond financial alliances through marriages, to the creation of regional capital investment funds and corporations jointly owned by many families.

The Poma clan, whose patriarch Ricardo Poma is described by Harry Strachan as one of his best friends, is one of Central America's wealthiest families and is an investor in Bain Capital. Both Poma and Strachan are close to former Honduran president Ricardo Maduro. Maduros' company Inversiones la Paz manages Poma's Grupo Roble and Grupo Poma's Honduran subsidiarias.

The idea for the Charter City was reportedly presented to current Honduran leader Porfirio Lobo through Xavier Arguello Carazo, private secretary to the President of Honduras during Ricardo Maduro's term. Maduro is on the Presidential Model City Advisory Committee.


In the map of oligarchic fiefdoms that overlays Central America, the areas proposed as the home of the future Model City / Charter City is controlled by palm oil magnates, principally Honduran Miguel Facusse who gained control of the territory through violence and fraud, taking wealth from the State and its citizens, and using public funds from international development banks and national banks.

Though Facusse has never been associated with the Charter Cities in any public way, it is impossible to escape the fact that he has territorial control over much of the area surrounding proposed Charter Cities. His hold on much of that territory is challenged by campesino and Garifuna communities who never accepted the transfer of their lands to his control, and the control of a set of large landholders who appear to coordinate with Facusse, sharing security forces.

While the exact location of the first Charter City is unclear, there is virtually nowhere in Honduras that land conflicts of this nature do not exist, the legacy of the Washington Consensus' land modernization. It looks as though the free marketeers and Libertarians may be starting the world's first Charter City, with authoritarian governance, facilitated by a military coup, coordinated using political sway with business partners, using public funds from the IDB for infrastructure plans, and built on land stolen from indigenous communities, small farmers and the state of Honduras.

The Model (Charter) Cities proposal is hardly a new set of transparent rules, it follows the tradition of imposing laws through networks of power controlled by wealthy nations - neo-colonialism.

Annie Bird, co-director Rights Action

Gee. Wonder how much a time share will cost? In lives.
September 22, 2012

Censorship by any other name is the repealed Fairness Doctrine.

I say, put the Public back into the Public Airwaves, starting with free election commercials.

As for hate speech. Once the likes of Rush Limbaugh are off the air, the good people can drown them out.

September 22, 2012

''Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society'' is how Oliver Wendell Holmes put it.

In finding the above image of Justice Holmes, I passed a bumper sticker that said: "Taxes are the price we pay to become like Europe." Which, of course, reminded me of how there's been a concerted, organized effort was made to keep America from following Social Democracies of Europe. From an American commie intellectual and patriot:

Capitalism s Self-inflicted Apocalypse

Michael Parenti


The present economic crisis, however, has convinced even some prominent free-marketeers that something is gravely amiss. Truth be told, capitalism has yet to come to terms with several historical forces that cause it endless trouble: democracy, prosperity, and capitalism itself, the very entities that capitalist rulers claim to be fostering.

Plutocracy vs. Democracy

Let us consider democracy first. In the United States we hear that capitalism is wedded to democracy, hence the phrase, “capitalist democracies.” In fact, throughout our history there has been a largely antagonistic relationship between democracy and capital concentration. Some eighty years ago Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis commented, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Moneyed interests have been opponents not proponents of democracy.


It is only in countries where capitalism has been reined in to some degree by social democracy that the populace has been able to secure a measure of prosperity; northern European nations such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark come to mind. But even in these social democracies popular gains are always at risk of being rolled back.

It is ironic to credit capitalism with the genius of economic prosperity when most attempts at material betterment have been vehemently and sometimes violently resisted by the capitalist class. The history of labor struggle provides endless illustration of this.

To the extent that life is bearable under the present U.S. economic order, it is because millions of people have waged bitter class struggles to advance their living standards and their rights as citizens, bringing some measure of humanity to an otherwise heartless politico-economic order.



Taxes were as high as 92-percent on the top of the heap during Ike's tenure. He had it cut to 91-percent.


If the Rich-n-Powerful don't wake up soon, they may rue the day when taxes were all that got the axe.
September 22, 2012

James Galbraith on Income Inequality

More and more of the young people in Michigan leave for work in Texas and the Sun Belt, including my nephew. Not that there aren't good people there, like Dr. Galbraith:

How economists have misunderstood inequality: An interview with James Galbraith

Posted by Brad Plumer at 11:37 AM ET, 05/03/2012
The Washington Post

Before 1980, few academics in the United States gave much thought to the idea of economic inequality. It just wasn’t a glaring concern. But in the last 30 years, the incomes of the nation’s wealthiest 1 percent have surged, and more and more economists have been paying attention.

Occupy Wall Street protests in Los Angeles (LUCY NICHOLSON - REUTERS) Yet there’s still plenty about economic inequality that’s not well understood. What’s actually driving the gap between the richest and poorest? Does it hurt economic growth, or is it largely benign? Should it be reversed? Can it be reversed? Surprisingly, there’s little consensus on how to answer these questions — in part because good data on the topic is hard to come by.

In his fascinating new book, “Inequality and Instability,” James K. Galbraith, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, takes a more detailed look at inequality by assembling a wealth of new data on the phenomenon. Among other things, he finds that economic inequality has been rising in roughly similar ways around the world since 1980. And this rise appears to be driven, in large part, by the financial sector — and the changes that modern finance has forced in the global economy. We talked by phone recently about his book.

Brad Plumer: You bring together a lot of new data on inequality in the book across a variety of countries, from the United States to Europe to China to Latin America. What’s different about what your book discovers?

James Galbraith: One thing we found is that there are common global patterns in economic inequality across different countries that appear to be very strongly related to major events affecting the world economy as a whole. The most important have been changes in financial regimes and changes in systems of financial governance. It made a big difference when the Bretton Woods system ended in 1971. The debt crisis of the 1980s made a big difference. The debt crisis of the 1980s made a big difference. It made a big difference in 2000 when the NASDAQ crashed and interest rates were reduced These things all had global repercussions, and they affected inequality around the entire world in different ways.

BP: And this isn’t how many economists have looked at inequality, correct?

JG: No. The most unconventional thing in this book is about how inequality relates to macroeconomic performance and financial factors. The discussion of inequality tends to be heavily dominated by a marketplace perspective that stresses individual-level characteristics like the demand for skill. Economists have always classified this as a microeconomic problem. ... But when something’s happening at the same time around the world, in different countries that are widely separated, that’s a macro issue. There was a global movement toward higher inequality as a result of the financial stresses that the world is under.



More from Dr. Galbraith: University of Texas Inequality Project

Thanks, Initech, for staying in the fight.

September 22, 2012

Alex Carey: Corporations and Propaganda -- The Attack on Democracy

To help spread light, Maria Galardin's TUC (Time of Useful Consciousness) Radio:

Alex Carey: Corporations and Propaganda
The Attack on Democracy

The 20th century, said Carey, is marked by three historic developments: the growth of democracy via the expansion of the franchise, the growth of corporations, and the growth of propaganda to protect corporations from democracy. Carey wrote that the people of the US have been subjected to an unparalleled, expensive, 3/4 century long propaganda effort designed to expand corporate rights by undermining democracy and destroying the unions. And, in his manuscript, unpublished during his life time, he described that history, going back to World War I and ending with the Reagan era. Carey covers the little known role of the US Chamber of Commerce in the McCarthy witch hunts of post WWII and shows how the continued campaign against "Big Government" plays an important role in bringing Reagan to power.

John Pilger called Carey "a second Orwell", Noam Chomsky dedicated his book, Manufacturing Consent, to him. And even though TUC Radio runs our documentary based on Carey's manuscript at least every two years and draws a huge response each time, Alex Carey is still unknown.

Given today's spotlight on corporations that may change. It is not only the Occupy movement that inspired me to present this program again at this time. By an amazing historic coincidence Bill Moyers and Charlie Cray of Greenpeace have just added the missing chapter to Carey's analysis. Carey's manuscript ends in 1988 when he committed suicide. Moyers and Cray begin with 1971 and bring the corporate propaganda project up to date.

This is a fairly complex production with many voices, historic sound clips, and source material. The program has been used by writers and students of history and propaganda. Alex Carey: Taking the Risk out of Democracy, Corporate Propaganda VS Freedom and Liberty with a foreword by Noam Chomsky was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1995.

SOURCE: http://tucradio.org/new.html

Thank you, HangOnKids! If you find a moment, here's the first part (scroll down at the link for the second part) on Carey.


Helps explain how we got here and what we need to do to move forward, starting with putting the "Public" into Airwaves again.

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 55,745
Latest Discussions»Octafish's Journal