Withholding Judgment on Obama

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein

She fits the cliché of the Canadian who is a celebrity abroad but is mostly ignored at home.

Naomi Klein shot to international fame eight years ago with her book No Logo, which has since sold 1 million copies.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, published 15 months ago, has already sold 800,000 copies and been translated into 26 languages. Last week, a documentary based on the book was released at the Berlin Film Festival.

Her speaking engagements and political activism keep her on the road, around the world. Her newsletter goes to 30,000 subscribers.

No Logo charted the corporate commodification of youth pop culture and the casualization of labour (what’s sold in the West are expensive brands, not products, which can be manufactured cheaply in the East).

The Shock Doctrine is about the globalization of the neo-conservative ideas pioneered by Chicago economist Milton Friedman and popularized by Ronald Reagan. There was the massive privatization – not only of public services at home but wars abroad (private security forces and contractors galore in Iraq and Afghanistan) and even disaster relief (post-tsunami and Katrina). There was the deregulation of the markets, which led, inevitably, to the current economic meltdown.

Critics attack her for seeing corporate conspiracies. They particularly sneer at her hypothesis, announced in the book’s subtitle, that right-wing economic policies have faced such popular resistance that they can only be introduced in the jet stream of shock-and-awe wars and natural disasters (laying off tens of thousands of Iraqis in order to sell state enterprises; building tourist beach hotels in Southeast Asian fishing villages washed away by the tsunami).

Her admirers see the economic crisis as proof of her prescience.

The New Yorker magazine recently ran a 12-page profile: “She has become the most visible and influential figure on the American left – what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were 30 years ago.”

She has campaigned against the University of Chicago’s plan to build a $200 million Milton Friedman Institute to honour its former professor, who died in 2006. “The crash on Wall St. should be for Friedmanism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for authoritarian communism, an indictment of an ideology,” she has said.

In a twist of fate, the economic crisis has dried up funding for the institute, and it has been put on hold – much to her delight.

In an interview Tuesday, Klein, 38, said she welcomes the election of Barack Obama. But she has two problems: his refusal to insist on accountability for recent American misdemeanours abroad and at home; and his “narrative that everything went wrong only eight years ago” with the election of George W. Bush.

It was Bill Clinton who periodically bombed Iraq and tightened the economic sanctions that killed 1 million Iraqis, including 500,000 children, according to UNICEF. It was he who axed the Depression-era restrictions that had prevented investment banks from also being commercial banks. He and Alan Greenspan resisted the regulation of the huge derivatives industry.

If you develop amnesia about all that, “then you do exactly what Obama is doing. You resurrect the Clinton economic and foreign policy apparatus, and you appoint Larry Summers, the key architect of the economic policy that has imploded at this moment.”

Obama’s economic recovery plan, especially the bank bailout, is a disaster.

It is “layering complexity over complexity. What got us into this mess in the first place were these complex financial instruments that nobody understood. Now they have a bailout that nobody understands.

“The facts are easy to understand, namely, that these banks are bankrupt and they should be allowed to go under or be nationalized because there also needs to be a workable financial sector.

“The amount of money that’s at stake in the bailout – if you include everything, the deposit guarantees, the loans, Fannie May and Freddie Mac and AIG – is now up to $9 trillion. The American GDP is only $14 trillion. So they’ve put more than half the American economy on the line to try to fix a mess that actually cannot be fixed in this way. Just look at what happened to Iceland. The debt that their three top banks held was 10 times their GDP. You can bankrupt the country this way.”

Obama’s stimulus package is not big enough. Almost 40 per cent goes to tax cuts. “And to pay for the cuts, they had to drastically scale back much more important and stimulative spending, on such things as public transit.”

Among the many parallels to the 1930s, the one Klein finds most useful is that president Franklin Roosevelt was under constant public pressure to improve the New Deal. That “history of resistance, struggle and community organizing” needs to be replicated to keep Obama honest.

“Obama is an important change from Bush, and the reason why he is important is that he is susceptible to pressure from everyone. He is susceptible to pressure from Wall Street, to pressure from the weapons companies, from the Washington establishment. But unlike Bush and (Dick) Cheney, I don’t think he’d ignore mass protest.

“The irony is that just at the very moment when that kind of grassroots organizing and mobilization could have an impact, we are demobilizing and waiting for the good acts to be handed down from on high, whether it is the withdrawal from Iraq or the perfect economic stimulus package.”

It is equally important that America come to terms with its recent past.

“So much of this moment for me comes down to whether there’s going to be any accountability for what happened – whether it’s the illegal occupation of Iraq or torture or the economic crimes that led to this disaster.

“The FBI believes that there’s a huge criminality at the heart of the economic meltdown but they’ve made a decision not to prosecute because they were afraid that might send panic through the market.

“All this argument for impunity, amnesia is really corrosive.”

Toronto Star

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Financial Elite Have No Shame

Bailout

Bailout

Let’s imagine, for a moment, how different the public debate would be today if it had been unions that had caused the current economic turmoil.

In other words, try to imagine a scenario in which union leaders – not financial managers – were the ones whose reckless behaviour had driven a number of Wall Street firms into bankruptcy and in the process triggered a worldwide recession.

Needless to say, it’s hard to imagine a labour leader being appointed to oversee a bailout of unions the way former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson was put in charge of supervising the $700 billion bailout of his former Wall Street colleagues.

My point is simply to note how odd it is that the financial community has emerged so unscathed, despite its central role in the collapse that has brought havoc to the world economy.

Of course, not all members of the financial community were involved in Wall Street’s wildly irresponsible practices of bundling mortgages into securities and trading credit default swaps. But the financial community as a whole, on both sides of the border, certainly pushed hard to put in place an agenda of small government, in which financial markets largely regulated themselves and citizens (particularly high-income investors) would be spared the burden of paying much tax.

The agenda advanced much further in the U.S., but had an impact in Canada, particularly on the tax front.

One would think that those who pushed this agenda so enthusiastically would, at the very least, be a tad embarrassed today.

But so influential are those in the financial elite – and their hangers-on in think-tanks and economics departments – that they continue to appear on our TV screens, confidently providing us with economic advice, as if they’d played no role whatsoever in shaping our economic system for the past quarter century.

Of course, we’re told there’s been a major change in their thinking, in that many of them are now willing to accept large deficits in today’s federal budget, in the name of stimulating the economy.

While this does seem like a sharp departure from the deficit hysteria of the 1990s, a closer look reveals the change may not be that significant.

In fact, financial types have always accepted deficits – when they liked the cause. Hence their lack of protest over George W. Bush’s enormous deficits, which were caused by his large tax cuts for the rich and his extravagant foreign wars.

What they don’t like is governments going into deficit to help ordinary citizens – either by creating jobs or providing much unemployment relief.

So the Canadian financial community has been urging that the stimulus package consist mostly of income tax cuts – even though direct government spending would provide much more stimulus and do more to help the neediest.

If the Harper government follows the financial community’s advice, we will simply move further along with the small government revolution launched by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.

Of course, tax cuts are not the same as financial deregulation. But they are twin prongs of a bundled package aimed at reducing the power of government to operate in the public interest.

Surely it’s time to rethink this resistance to government acting as an agent of the common good.

And maybe it’s time for a little humility on the part of a financial elite that long has enjoyed such deference while turning out to be so spectacularly inept.

insight-info

Who Cares about Omar Khadr ?

Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr is probably the greatest shame on Canada, because two governments, the Liberals under Paul Martin and the Conservatives under Harper have both made the overt decision to leave him in prison. The case against him is insane.

He was a child, aged 15. He was in Afghanistan because his parents took him there. His father and mother are militant Muslims. He was in a building that US commandos suddenly attacked. When people in the building shot back, they bombed the building and blew it to bits. Then they approached the building, and a US soldier got killed by a hand grenade thrown from the ruins of the building. When they entered the ruins Omar was still alive, but, others were too. In a revised report, they made him the only one left alive. He has been charged with murder. He was shot at close range by bullets (plural).

The case is insane for several reasons:

1) He is a child soldier, which means he is a victim of war not a war criminal.

2) Evidence was changed to make him the only person by inference who might have thrown a hand grenade.There is no witness that he did.

3) Soldiers killed while attacking a house in a foreign country cannot be victims of murder. They are casualties of war.

4) People in a house being attacked by foreigners are engaged in self-defense.

full article: www.insight-info.com

American Muslim Demographics

American Muslim Demographics

American Muslim Demographics

8 Million Muslims in North America

Four Even Quadrants
National Average1
African American
24%
Arab Americans
26%
South Asian
26%
All Other
24%
Total
100%
  • 7 million in the U.S.; 1 million in Canada.
  • Larger than Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland & Sweden.
  • Annual growth rate of 6% versus 0.9% for total U.S.2
  • Interaction between Indigenous and Immigrant Muslims is limited.
  • Same size community as Hispanics 25 years ago.

1Zogby International, August 2000           2 U.S. Census Data 2000


American Muslims are Younger

  • 67% of adult American Muslims are under 40 years old
  • 67% of the adult American population is over 40 years old3
  • American Muslims are younger and future of America:
Adult Age
American Muslim1
American Muslims2
Total Americans3
18-29 39.8% 26.1% 14.1%
30-49 49.5% 52.4% 31.1%
50-64 6.4% 16.7% 27.7%
65+ 1.0% 4.8% 27.2%

1Cornell University 2Zogby International, August 2000           3 U.S. Census Data 2000


American Muslims are Well-Educated

  • 67% of American Muslims have a Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 44% of Americans have a Bachelor’s degree or higher3
  • The Variance for Advanced Degrees is even greater.
  • One in ten American Muslim HH has a physician / medical doctor
Maximum Education
American Muslims1
American Muslims2
Total Americans3
Advanced Degree 42.7% 32.1% 8.6%
Bachelor’s 35.2% 30.0% 35.1%
Some College 9.5% 19.4% 32.3%
High School 10.1% 14.1% 18.9%
No HS Diploma 2.4% 4.7% 4.7%

1Cornell University 2Zogby International, August 2001     3 Statistical Abstract of the U.S. 2001

Full article: www.insight-info.com

The Price a woman had to pay to wear hijab

Noura Janan is a woman who wears the hijab was quoted on a Turkish television channel saying: “If something happens to me I will say that I love Imam Khomeini but not Attaturk.” This enraged the secularist groups of the country.

noura bazirgan

Raja News narrated from Fars News that Upok News (a Turkish news agency) made a detailed report about this woman.

Who is Noura Janan Bazirgan?

At the beginning Turkish media claimed that Noura Janan Bazirgan was a university student who got into trouble because she protected her hijab. But if one takes a step back they will come across important information.

 When Mrs. Bazirgan did this she was escorted out of the university by police and sentenced to six months in jail. Noura Janan Bazirgan miscarraiged because of the blows that she recieved by the police. Finally, she sought refuge in Canada. She is the first woman to recieve jail time for wearing Islamic clothing in Turkey.

full article: http://www.insight-info.com