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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement isn’t anti-Israel

It is impossible to believe the misinformation in the letter from Allon Friedman affirming the General Assembly for its vote on the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, House Bill 1378. He says that BDS is anti-Israel, and anti-Semetic. He also states that “the BDS movement seeks to demonize, delegitimize, isolate and ultimately destroy the Jewish state of Israel.”
He apparently knows nothing about BDS, which is definitely not anti-Semetic and has no intention of destroying the Jewish state of Israel. The greatest danger to the continuation of the State of Israel is the actions of the Israeli government itself. People in the BDS movement have tried various other methods hoping to get Israel to recognize its precarious position in the nations of the world because of its treatment of the Palestinians and continuing to refuse peace efforts. BDS is non-violent and seeks to bring peace to both Israel and Palestine. It is supported by many Jewish persons in our country because of their love of Israel and a desire to find a road to peace and the continuation of their State of Israel. There is correct information to be found which is not biased. I hope those of you who do care will learn more and not just accept sound-bites, which, themselves, are damaging to Israel.
Dorothy Gerner
Indianapolis

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Netanyahu bet the future of US-Israel relations on the GOP. Now he has a Trump problem.

The rise of Donald Trump has terrified a lot of people around the world, and rightly so. But one person should be especially worried: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump, alone in the modern Republican Party, has tacked away from unconditional support for Israel. He has said he would take a "neutral" stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and suggested that if negotiations fail it might well be Israel's fault.
These comments don't reflect a fundamental challenge to America's Israel policy. Every American president has maintained neutrality on the Israel-Palestine conflict; each of the past three presidents has put pressure on Israel over the conflict.
Rather, Trump is challenging the way you're supposed to talk about Israel in the Republican Party. GOP presidential candidates have, for years now, felt the need to demonstrate unconditional support for Israel. While Trump's statements are in line with American policy, they're out of step with this traditional rhetorical requirement.
Trump, despite drawing attack from other GOP candidates on this issue, has paid no obvious electoral price for it. And that suggests Netanyahu could have a problem in Trump.
Netanyahu's core strategy for managing the US-Israel relationship depends on the GOP remaining a hard-line pro-Israel party, which he can rely while in power on to enact pro-Israel policies, and while out of power to pressure Democrats to tilt policy more in Israel's favor. This dynamic is particularly pronounced when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict and whatever pressure the US puts on Israel to find peace and end the occupation of the Palestinians.
Trump's success suggests that the GOP electorate may be only so committed to that position, as Haaretz's Chemi Shalev explains well in a recent column:
Exactly a year after Netanyahu took this logic to its extreme and stood on the podium of Congress as Leader of the Republican opposition to President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, the conception is falling apart. The notion that the Republican Party is a monolithic bastion of support that will withstand the test of time is evaporating. The belief that any Republican president who will follow Obama will be better for Israel is eroding with each passing day. Faced with the Trump phenomenon, Netanyahu’s Fortress GOP strategy is collapsing like a house of cards.
Trump's rise, and what it could portend for GOP politics and policies, suggests that Netanyahu's strategy for deflecting American pressure on the Israel-Palestine conflict may not be as foolproof as he'd hoped.

Netanyahu's "fortress GOP" strategy, explained

netanyahu boehner(Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Benjamin Netanyahu is a right-wing Israeli politician who has long clashed with Democratic presidents. He believes, probably correctly, that Republicans would be less likely to pressure Israel into comprehensive peace negotiations, and more likely to take an aggressive approach to Israeli enemies in the region such as Iran.
So Netanyahu has formed a tacit alliance with the GOP, even though this comes at the expense of his relationship with Democrats.
When Netanyahu first ran for prime minister in 1996, Bill Clinton all but openly campaigned against him, inviting incumbent Prime Minister Shimon Peres to visit the White House just before the vote. Clinton thought Netanyahu's opposition to a Palestinian state would jeopardize peace negotiations. Netanyahu won anyway, resulting in constant tension in the US-Israel relationship until Netanyahu's defeat in 1999.
Netanyahu retook the premiership in 2009, and clashed with President Obama from day one on issues such as Iran and the peace process. Most famously, he conspired with Republicans to give to a major speech to Congress behind Obama's back, in March 2015, opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
This tension stems from a fundamental disagreement between Democrats and Netanyahu over policy — particularly his deep skepticism about the desirability of a Palestinian state. To counteract that, Netanyahu has pioneered a novel approach to Israel's relationship with the US: Ally with the Republican Party, and leverage overwhelming GOP support to defray the consequences of any conflict he has with Democrats.
Netanyahu has thought something like this for a long time. When Clinton was president, the prime minister built up relations with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and evangelical leader Jerry Falwell. In 2012, he practically endorsed Mitt Romney over Obama, to the point where clips of Netanyahu speeches were being featured in pro-Romney campaign ads.
This might seem odd, since historically both parties have been pretty friendly to Israel and presidents from both parties have pressured Israel on the occupation. But there's a difference in the kind of support you see within the parties. While Democrats generally have a positive view of Israel, Republicans overwhelmingly do — as you can see in the below chart:
 (Gallup)
Moreover, the nature of the two parties' support for Israel is different. Republicans favor uncritical support for Israel; they see its enemies as America's enemies, and see a Palestinian state as less important than Israel's security from terrorism. Democrats take a more measured view, diverging with Israel's right-wing leadership on the Iran deal and on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
You can see this divide in Gallup's latest poll data on US attitudes toward Israel: 58 percent of Democrats, but only 26 percent of Republicans, support establishing a Palestinian state today. Desiring a Palestinian state is not an anti-Israel position, of course, but it helps to make Democrats more likely to clash with Netanyahu, who in practice has tended to oppose a Palestinian state.

Why Trump challenges Netanyahu's strategy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in front of a giant American flag(Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
A premise of Netanyahu's fortress GOP strategy is that Republicans will remain, for the foreseeable future, unconditional Israel supporters. Trump's rhetoric calls that into question. He is far from anti-Israel, but his willingness to be anything less than maximally pro-Israel, even if just in rhetoric, is a symbolic break.
The demographics suggest Trump could represent an even larger problem for Netanyahu's strategy.
According to political scientists, two forces make the GOP the hardcore pro-Israel party we know today. First is the rise of the religious right, which sees hard-line support for Israel as a religious obligation. Second is the neoconservative movement, which convinced most Republican leaders that being pro-Israel should be a core conservative value.
Trump is turning that conventional wisdom on its head. He has been winning with evangelical voters, for example, particularly with self-identified evangelicals who attend church less frequently.
This doesn't mean that evangelicals have suddenly softened in their support for Israel. But it does suggest that Trump offers them something — whatever theory of Trump's appeal you find most convincing — that is more powerful than their desire for a maximally pro-Israel candidate.
Meanwhile, neocons have united against Trump, most notably in an open letter vowing not to support Trump even if he wins the GOP nomination. That means that Israel's most prominent elite backers in the GOP would be on the outs in their own party.
This doesn't mean that the GOP is becoming an anti-Israel party. Trump has called himself "pro-Israel" for years. During Israel's 2013 elections, he endorsed Netanyahu for prime minister. Nothing he's said suggests major changes in American policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Rather, Trump's rise suggests that a Trump-style candidate can lead the GOP to be less hard-line pro-Israel than is typical of the party. Maybe that's because GOP support for Israel was weaker than it looked or, perhaps more likely, that Trump's appeal over the other candidates is simply so powerful that it overcomes his heresy on this issue. But the point is Trump's rise shows that a maximally pro-Israel GOP, even if just in rhetoric, is not necessarily guaranteed anymore.

What this means for the future

Netanyahu's GOP-firewall strategy was meant to solve a problem: Israel's political trajectory seems likely to soften the alliance.
Surveys of US public opinion show that broad American support for Israel rests on the sense of a shared democratic identity between the two countries. But Israel's increasingly indefinite occupation of the Palestinians undermines this perception. This and Israel's increasingly right-wing politics risk alienating more liberal Americans.
This doesn't mean that American liberals, much less America itself, would ever abandon the alliance with Israel, but rather that the alliance would become a little less close, a little more conditional.
And already, important Democratic constituencies — younger voters, black voters, Latino voters — support Israel at lower rates than do other American demographic groups.
Netanyahu's Republican firewall was always risky — openly courting Republicans and spurning Obama appears to have accelerated the process of political polarization on Israel. But Netanyahu appears to have concluded a partisan-tinged alliance was better than a purely bipartisan alliance, because Republicans would be less likely to pressure him over Israel-Palestine issues such as settlements.
But Trump's rise calls this theory into question. Not because Republican voters are about to change their minds on Israel en masse, but because they're clearly willing to embrace GOP candidates who waver on Israel support, if those candidates deliver Trump-style politics.
It's way too soon to predict that the rest of the GOP will come to resemble Trump; the establishment still vehemently opposes him, including over Israel. But he is chipping away, however unintentionally, on the party norm of absolute and unflinching support for Israel. There's no guarantee Trump represents a coming wave of Republican Trumpism, and likewise there is no reason that future Trump-style Republicans will necessarily break with party orthodoxy on Israel.
The point is that Netanyahu has premised his strategy for managing the United States on a bet that the Republican Party's approach to Israel won't change. Trump is making that gamble look a little more dangerous.

Nobody Knows the Identity of the 150 People Killed by U.S. in Somalia, but Most Are Certain They Deserved It

The U.S. used drones and manned aircraft yesterday to drop bombs and missiles on Somalia, ending the lives of at least 150 people. As it virtually always does, the Obama administration instantly claimedthat the people killed were “terrorists” and militants — members of the Somali group al Shabaab — but provided no evidence to support that assertion.
Nonetheless, most U.S. media reports contained nothing more than quotes from U.S. officials about what happened, conveyed uncritically and with no skepticism of their accuracy: The dead “fighters … were assembled for what American officials believe was a graduation ceremony and prelude to an imminent attack against American troops,” pronounced the New York Times. So, the official story goes, The Terrorists were that very moment “graduating” — receiving their Terrorist degrees — and about to attack U.S. troops when the U.S. killed them.
With that boilerplate set of claims in place, huge numbers of people today who have absolutely no idea who was killed are certain that they all deserved it. As my colleague Murtaza Hussain said of the 150 dead people: “We don’t know who they are, but luckily they were all bad.” For mindless authoritarians, the words “terrorist” and “militant” have no meaning other than: anyone who dies when my government drops bombs, or, at best, a “terrorist” is anyone my government tells me is a terrorist. Watch how many people today are defending this strike by claiming “terrorists” and “militants” were killed using those definitions even though they have literally no idea who was killed.
Other than the higher-than-normal death toll, this mass killing is an incredibly common event under the presidency of the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate, who has so far bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries. As Nick Turse hasreported in The Intercept, Obama has aggressively expanded the stealth drone program and secret war in Africa.
This particular mass killing is unlikely to get much attention in the U.S. due to (1) the election-season obsession with horse-race analysis and pressing matters such as the size of Donald Trump’s hands; (2) widespread Democratic indifference to the killing of foreigners where there’s no partisan advantage to be had against the GOP from pretending to care; (3) the invisibility of places like Somalia and the implicit devaluing of lives there; and (4) the complete normalization of the model whereby the U.S. president kills whomever he wants, wherever he wants, without regard for any semblance of law, process, accountability, or evidence.
The lack of attention notwithstanding, there are several important points highlighted by yesterday’s bombing and the reaction to it:
1) The U.S. is not at war in Somalia. Congress has never declared war on Somalia, nor has it authorized the use of military force there. Morality and ethics to the side for the moment: What legal authority does Obama even possess to bomb this country? I assume we can all agree that presidents shouldn’t be permitted to just go around killing people they suspect are “bad”: they need some type of legal authority to do the killing.
Since 2001, the U.S. government has legally justified its we-bomb-wherever-we-want approach by pointing to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), enacted by Congress in the wake of 9/11 to authorize the targeting of al Qaeda and “affiliated” forces. But al Shabaab did not exist in 2001 and had nothing to do with 9/11. Indeed, the group has not tried to attack the U.S. but instead, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage noted in 2011, “is focused on a parochial insurgency in Somalia.” As a result, reported Savage, even “the [Obama] administration does not consider the United States to be at war with every member of the Shabaab.”
Instead, in the Obama administration’s view, specific senior members of al Shabaab can be treated as enemy combatants under the AUMF only if they adhere to al Qaeda’s ideology, are “integrated” into its command structure, and could conduct operations outside of Somalia. That’s why the U.S. government yesterday claimed that all the people it killed were about to launch attacks on U.S. soldiers: because, even under its own incredibly expansive view of the AUMF, it would be illegal to kill them merely on the ground that they were all members of al Shabaab, and the government thus needs a claim of “self-defense” to legally justify this.
But even under the “self-defense” theory that the U.S. government invoked, it is allowed — under its own policies promulgated in 2013 — to use lethal force away from an active war zone (e.g., Afghanistan) “only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons.” Perhaps these Terrorists were about to imminently attack U.S. troops stationed in the region — immediately after the tassel on their graduation cap was turned at the “graduation ceremony,” they were going on the attack — but again, there is literally no evidence that any of that is true.
Given what’s at stake — namely, the conclusion that Obama’s killing of 150 people yesterday was illegal — shouldn’t we be demanding to see evidence that the assertions of his government are actually true? Were these really all al Shabaab fighters and terrorists who were killed? Were they really about to carry out some sort of imminent, dangerous attack on U.S. personnel? Why would anyone be content to blindly believe the self-serving assertions of the U.S. government on these questions without seeing evidence? If you are willing to make excuses for why you don’t want to see any evidence, why would you possibly think you know what happened here — who was killed and under what circumstances — if all you have are conclusory, evidence-free assertions from those who carried out the killings?
2) There are numerous compelling reasons demanding skepticism of U.S. government claims about who it kills in airstrikes. To begin with, the Obama administration has formally re-defined the term “militant” to mean: “all military-age males in a strike zone” unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” In other words, the U.S. government presumptively regards all adult males it kills as “militants” unless evidence emerges that they were not. It’s an empty, manipulative term of propaganda and nothing else.
Beyond that, the U.S. government’s own documents prove that in the vast majority of cases — 9 out of 10 in fact — it is killing people other than its intended targets. Last April, the New York Times published an article under the headline “Drone Strikes Reveal Uncomfortable Truth: U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die.” It quoted the scholar Micah Zenko saying, “Most individuals killed are not on a kill list, and the government does not know their names.”
Moreover, the U.S. government has repeatedly been caught lying about the identity of its bombings victims. As that April NYT article put it, “Every independent investigation of the strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit.”
Given that clear record of deliberate deceit, why would any rational person blindly swallow evidence-free assertions from the U.S. government about who it is killing? To put it mildly, extreme skepticism is warranted (after being criticized for its stenography, the final New York Times story yesterday at least included this phrase about the Pentagon’s claims about who it killed: “There was no independent way to verify the claim”).
3) Why does the U.S. have troops stationed in this part of Africa? Remember, even the Obama administration says it is not at war with al Shabaab.
Consider how circular this entire rationale is: The U.S., like all countries, obviously has a legitimate interest in protecting its troops from attack. But why does it have troops there at all in need of protection? The answer: The troops are there to operate drone bases and attack people they regard as a threat to them. But if they weren’t there in the first place, these groups could not pose a threat to them.
In sum: We need U.S. troops in Africa to launch drone strikes at groups that are trying to attack U.S. troops in Africa. It’s the ultimate self-perpetuating circle of imperialism: We need to deploy troops to other countries in order to attack those who are trying to kill U.S. troops who are deployed there.
4) If you’re an American who has lived under the war on terror, it’s easy to forget how extreme this behavior is. Most countries on the planet don’t routinely run around dropping bombs and killing dozens of people in multiple other countries at once, let alone do so in countries where they’re not at war.
But for Americans, this is now all perfectly normalized. We just view our president as vested with the intrinsic, divine right, grounded in American exceptionalism, to deem whomever he wants “Bad Guys” and then — with no trial, no process, no accountability — order them killed. He’s the roving, Global Judge, Jury, and Executioner. And we see nothing disturbing or dangerous or even odd about that. We’ve been inculcated to view the world the way a 6-year-old watches cartoons: Bad Guys should be killed, and that’s the end of the story.
So yesterday the president killed roughly 150 people in a country where the U.S. is not at war. The Pentagon issued a five-sentence boilerplate statement declaring them all “terrorists.” And that’s pretty much the end of that. Within literally hours, virtually everyone was ready to forget about the whole thing and move on, content in the knowledge — even without a shred of evidence or information about the people killed — that their government and president did the right thing. Now that is a pacified public and malleable media.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Democrats and Republicans Are Quietly Planning a Corporate Giveaway — to the Tune of $400 Billion

People attend a rally outside of the office of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to protest an extension of tax breaks for the wealthiest two percent of Americans in December 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
This post originally appeared at The Nation.
Young people are the good news of 2016. They see the stressful realities of American life more clearly than their elders and are rallying around the straight talk of Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, the big hitters back in Washington politics are working on an ugly surprise not just for the kids but for all of us — another monster tax break for US multinational corporations.
The bad news is that key leaders of the Democratic Party — including the president — are getting on board with Republicans, despite some talk about confronting income inequality. Influential Democrats intend to negotiate with Republican counterparts on the size and terms of post-facto tax “forgiveness” for America’s globalized companies. This is real money they’re talking about — a giveaway of hundreds of billions.
Why haven’t voters heard about this from candidates? Because Republicans and Democrats both know it would make angry voters even angrier.
The major multinationals complain about a tax problem that most citizens would love to have for themselves: Thanks to a loophole in the tax code, the companies do not have to pay US taxes on profits they have earned in foreign countries until they bring the money home to American shores. Altogether, the globalized US companies have accumulated $2.1 trillion in untaxed profits, most of it parked in overseas tax havens.
The multinationals are waiting for Congress to forgive them their debts.
The facts are obscure but not secret. Even so, political reporters covering the candidates have shown little interest in alerting the public. I blame them for failing democracy.
That is, the US companies insist they won’t bring the money home and pay the taxes they owe until Washington pols steeply reduce the rate to bargain-basement levels. That’s tax “forgiveness” on a grand scale. What the companies also demand is a permanently lowered tax rate on their future earnings. Some leading Republicans advocate eliminating taxation of foreign corporate income entirely.
Imagine if average citizens were given this kind of discretion for their personal income tax. You could tell the IRS you regard your tax liability as unfair, so you’re not going to pay it until Congress enacts a lower rate. Don’t try this dodge in real life. They will come after you.
Many politicians are attracted to cutting a deal with the corporations because they’re in a bind of their own. Given the intense budget battles, the House and Senate often can’t even agree on how to pay for essential government projects and services. The tax-forgiveness scheme could bring home hundreds of billions in supposedly “new” revenue for those vital projects.
For cynical politicians, the deal looks like a “twofer.” You can please constituents with infrastructure projects and reward corporate patrons in the same stroke. In reality, of course, the revenue loss from the giveaway will inevitably be dumped on other taxpayers, either by cutting domestic programs or running up the national debt.
To put it plainly, this trade-off is certain to worsen income inequality, because the money goes to the very people — shareholders and corporate execs — who have already done fabulously well at the expense of other Americans.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, as she often does, found the right words to describe this transaction. She called it “a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers.” Warren and Senator Sanders have repeatedly charged that the system is rigged. What’s particularly outrageous about this new rigging of the tax code is that even though the politicians are engineering it in the midst of a presidential election, most voters don’t have a clue.
The facts are obscure but not secret. Even so, political reporters covering the candidates have shown little interest in alerting the public. I blame them for failing democracy. Campaign reporters are horse-race junkies who typically take their cues from political insiders, not untutored citizens.
The threat of corporate flight is now made explicit by the lobbyists and cheerleaders: If Congress doesn’t give them a sufficiently generous tax break, some of the biggest corporate names may decide to leave.
The politicians are actually plotting a repeat plundering. Back in 2004, when President George W. Bush was running for re-election and John Kerry was his opponent, they agreed upon a similar proposition. Both were snookered, but it was ordinary citizens who were really screwed. The measure was called the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, and companies repatriated $362 billion at a reduced tax rate of 5.25 percent.
Then they walked away from the jobs promise. In fact, the largest companies killed jobs after they got the money — some 60,000 jobs — moving them overseas to low-wage, low-tax countries. They used their windfall to boost stock prices and thereby enrich investors and CEOs. Now the same crowd is planning a rerun, counting on the wayward press to maintain public ignorance.
Warren’s “tax dodgers” are not what are usually thought of as scumbag swindlers. They are the blue chips of American capitalism, drawn from the high-tech and pharmaceutical sectors as well as the biggest barons of Wall Street. Let’s name some names.
The top 10 multinationals that would reap the largest boodle from this deal are Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Citigroup, Amgen, Qualcomm, JPMorgan Chase, Gilead Sciences, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, these 10 collectively owe $162 billion in unpaid taxes on the $540 billion in profits they’ve parked offshore.
Under the proposal offered by President Obama, the standard statutory tax rate of 35 percent would be reduced to a onetime, bargain-basement rate of 14 percent. This would enable the fortunate 10 to save $97 billion. An alternative Republican proposal would raise the giveaway to $122 billion.
The entire list of winners — the scores of multinationals holding $2.1 trillion in offshore profits — could save as much as $400 billion in taxes owed if bipartisan Washington gives in to the corporate bandits.
Citizens may be weary of Washington scandals, but this squeeze by the multinationals is a grand champion of corrupted democracy. It looks like bank robbery at gunpoint. The corporates are saying to Congress: Give us the money or we pull the trigger.
If average citizens learned about this grand heist, they would be reaching for pitchforks. People who love Donald Trump would be especially troubled to learn that Trump has, in his way, endorsed what the corporate bandits are after.
The trigger in this case is the threat to use another notorious tax loophole called “corporate inversion.” A company can decide for tax purposes to drop US citizenship and move to Ireland or some other inviting nation by arranging a merger or acquisition by a foreign corporation. Some 50 corporations — most recently Pfizer, the giant drugmaker — have announced that they are using this device to escape US tax obligations. They don’t actually have to move factories or headquarters. It’s a tax gimmick (a lot of this offshore money is actually deposited in US banks).
But the threat of corporate flight is now made explicit by the lobbyists and cheerleaders: If Congress doesn’t give them a sufficiently generous tax break, some of the biggest corporate names may decide to leave. Instead of repealing the outrageous loopholes, gullible members of Congress now claim they have no choice but to appease the bankers, the techies and the drugmakers.
If average citizens learned about this grand heist, they would be reaching for pitchforks. People who love Donald Trump would be especially troubled to learn that Trump has, in his way, endorsed what the corporate bandits are after. He tells audiences that corporate inversions are a terrible, terrible problem…but not to worry! His good friend Carl Icahn — the notorious corporate raider — knows how to fix the problem. What Trump neglects to say is that Icahn’s solution is for Congress to enact the monster tax reduction the multinationals are demanding.
The only way to stop the inversions, Icahn insists, is to give the companies what they want. Furthermore, he’s created a $150 million super PAC that he intends to use to punish members of Congress “responsible for this ridiculous and unconscionable situation.” Icahn says in broad daylight what the money guys usually say behind closed doors.
If this deal goes through, Icahn’s investment firm will itself reap $440 million in tax forgiveness on its stock holdings in Apple alone. Of course, Icahn doesn’t need the money. He’s worth $18.5 billion, the 43rd-richest person in America, according to Forbes magazine. If voters grab pitchforks to go after Trump, they should go after his pal Icahn, too.
The informal politics surrounding this issue proceeds more like a silent auction than a public campaign. Starting last summer, various Washington players began posting “bids” on how much tax revenue they think Congress should pay in ransom to the bandits. Not until the lobbyists settle on the correct bid will the companies allow Congress to proceed with the legislation. Nothing demonstrates the corporate stranglehold over both political parties more starkly than this maneuver.
Obama’s business-friendly, onetime bid of 14 percent was dismissed as too little, too late, not just by Republicans but by leading Democrats, too. The president also proposes permanently lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 to 28 percent. Republicans, it is understood, want more generous forgiveness — a onetime rate of less than 10 percent. According to his website, Trump has bid for a onetime rate of 10 percent on repatriated profits and a reduction of the permanent rate from 35 to 15 percent. That should make the multinationals feel loved by the Donald.
Others chimed in. California Senator Barbara Boxer, usually depicted as an arch-liberal in the media, represents Silicon Valley tech companies and has teamed up with Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky GOP libertarian, to propose a onetime tax rate of 6.5 percent — a very wet kiss for Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and other globe-trotting American heroes.
These preliminaries gained momentum in recent weeks when two GOP leaders — House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes tax legislation — separately announced their intention to introduce broader measures for “international tax reform” in time for debate this fall. Hatch’s grand reform would virtually eliminate the offshore tax problem by telling companies to pay taxes only in the countries where they produce things — inviting global competition among nations to attract factories by slashing rates. The GOP legislators want their groundwork to frame the debate, regardless of which party wins the White House.
An announcement last summer by Senator Charles Schumer of New York was a telling hint of his party’s intentions. Schumer, the senator from Wall Street, is expected to become the Democrats’ floor leader in 2017. He has partnered with GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio in recruiting fellow senators for a bipartisan alliance on tax “reform.”
The group hasn’t announced a specific bid, but Schumer and Portman agree that President Obama’s bid is not generous enough to our richest corporations and their CEOs and shareholders. The Schumer group instead described the organizing principles for a two-party deal. Among their goals was “a onetime transition toll charge significantly lower than the statutory corporate rate.” That sounds like the steep tax discount that America’s global champions want.
Democrats are a soft touch for cutting business taxes, one insider told me, because the party of the working class has to vote against business on so many other issues like climate change and labor standards.
Some Dems find it strange — and disturbing — that their prospective Senate leader is making common cause with a GOP senator who faces a tough re-election race this fall. Shouldn’t Schumer be trying instead to defeat Portman and other GOP senators to regain a Democratic majority? Instead, Schumer boasted that he’s recruiting senators from the left and center of his party to cooperate with Republicans. He mentioned Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a loyal advocate for workers and jobs, and Mark Warner of Virginia, a pro-business moderate.
I have been a longtime admirer of Senator Brown, but this news makes me nervous. He has vowed that “under no circumstances” would he support another “tax holiday” for the corporations. Brown sits on the Finance Committee, where maybe he can gather allies to prevent Schumer from making a rotten deal. But he only has one vote, and obviously he wants to do a deal.
In fact, Democrats opposed to the “wet kiss for the tax dodgers” are in a very weak position in the halls of Congress. In their campaigns against inequality and for tax fairness, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren may be describing the Democratic Party of the future, but it’s certainly not the one that exists right now. The insider baseball is rigged to marginalize left-liberal members. The Finance Committee has no Democratic member who is flatly opposed to the deal-making. And 1,500 corporate lobbyists are working for the other side.
Democrats are a soft touch for cutting business taxes, one insider told me, because the party of the working class has to vote against business on so many other issues like climate change and labor standards. This helps to explain the growing alienation of working-class Americans.
Taxation is complicated stuff, and a fog of deceitful propaganda already envelops the subject. To get straight facts, I recommend two tough-minded, truth-telling organizations: Citizens for Tax Justice, led by Robert McIntyre, and Americans for Tax Fairness, run by Frank Clemente, are rallying opponents of this royal scam.
The essential lie peddled by corporate camp followers is that the US corporate tax rate of 35 percent is the highest in the world and crippling America’s globe-trotting companies. As lobbyists well know, this is a load of crap. The actual effective tax rate is far lower than 35 percent (maybe around 20 percent), once corporations apply all their wondrous loopholes and creative accounting. Some major names like General Electric are so adept at dodging that they frequently pay zero taxes. Some years, the government owes money to GE. And this is all legal.
More to the point, the politically neutral Congressional Research Service concluded that the effective US corporate tax rate is actually about the same as the effective tax rate of the companies’ leading competitors in other industrial economies, all things considered.
But never mind facts. It’s very difficult to reason with a robber holding a gun to your head. A good many elected politicians suffer from the Stockholm syndrome; they identify with their captors. It will require a political strike force and more than one election cycle to rescue democracy from the bandits and liberate the country for citizens.
If the big corporations wish to leave America, I say good riddance — call their bluff. On their way to the door, though, Congress should present them with their unpaid due bills. It should cover not only the taxes they have dodged for years but also the much larger debt they owe the country for all the free services and subsidies they received from taxpayers as they developed their profit-making machinery. If accounts were settled fairly, Congress would have plenty of money to spend. If lawmakers found the courage to cut off the corporate free riders, that would be a political revolution.
It sounds improbable, but this scandalous predicament is actually a rare opportunity for progressive reformers. The people can win this fight if they learn the facts and bring this shocking mess out into the daylight. I believe a very public and noisy effort from citizens would break through the silence and shame the players in both parties who timidl — or all too eagerly — go along their captors.
What does Hillary Clinton think about this scandal? Citizens should ask her everywhere she goes. But don’t leave out Republican candidates. Ask them too, and ask those Tea Party irregulars. Are they on board with bank robbers? Or fed-up citizens? Ask your senators and representatives which side they are on.
They say this is the year of rebellion. I hope it’s only the beginning. There is the promising possibility that this time, voters will instruct the powerful rather than the other way around. People are learning they can do more than listen.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) is a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the stated goals of the movement: the end of Israel's occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the Golan Heights, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.[1][2][3][4][5]
The campaign is organised and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.[6][7] The campaign was started on 9 July 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations in support of the Palestinian cause for boycottdivestment and international sanctionsagainst Israel. Citing a body of UN resolutions and specifically echoing the anti-apartheid campaigns against white minority rule in apartheid era South Africa,[8] the BDS campaign called for "various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law".[9]

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton Lesbian Lover Huma Abedin Indicted

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) (R) walks with her traveling chief-of-staff Huma Abedin as they approach a group of police officers after cancelling a rally in Fort Worth, Texas February 22, 2008. A Dallas police officer was killed Friday when his motorcycle struck a pillar as he was escorting democratic presidential candidate Senator Clinton to a rally in Dallas. Clinton cancelled the rally in Forth Worth, saying it would be inappropriate to hold a rally in light of the tragic circumstances. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) (R) walks with her traveling chief-of-staff Huma Abedin the two are known Lesbian Lovers.
Today a Federal Grand Jury investigating Hillary Clinton and her Emails on her private server has Indicted Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s long time Lesbian Lover, Aid and Companion.
Sources indicate the Sealed Indictment against Huma Abedin could upon conviction could put Huma in Prison and most likely will cause further indictments against Hillary Clinton and others.
The question now remains when will Hillary Clinton drop out of the Democratic Presidential Race.
Related below:
Legendary U.S. attorney ‘confident’ Hillary grand jury convened
Predicts ‘an eruption you cannot believe’ if no prosecution
Jerome R. Corsi Mar 1 2016
NEW YORK – Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova is confident Department of Justice prosecutors have convened a grand jury in the Hillary Clinton email case, based on comments from Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Lynch was interviewed Monday on Fox News’ “Special Report with Brett Baier.”
DiGenova, who was U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., for four years, during which time he handled cases involving international drug smuggling, espionage, insider trading, public corruption, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and more, also told WND he was confident the FBI is in the process of developing a solid criminal case against Hillary Clinton.
If there’s no prosecution, said diGenova, who served as chief counsel for the Senate Rules Committee as well as counsel to the Senate Judiciary, Government Affairs and Select Intelligence committees, there will be “an eruption you cannot believe” within the intelligence community.
“Yesterday, when Brett Baier asked Attorney General Lynch whether there was a grand jury in Hillary Clinton’s email case, she did not deny a grand jury had been convened,” diGenova pointed out. “If no grand jury had been convened, Attorney General Lynch could easily have denied a grand jury had been convened without violating grand jury secrecy.
“Based on Lynch’s refusal to deny a grand jury had been called in Hillary’s case, I’m convinced a grand jury has already been called and is at work in the State Department email case,” he said.
Hillary at the top of the pyramid
DiGenova further noted that Lynch, in the interview with Baier, confirmed the FBI is working with “career independent lawyers” at the Justice Department, providing what diGenova took to be additional confirmation the grand jury convened in the Clinton case was actively at work issuing subpoenas.
“Based on this and other information I have been given, I not only believe a grand jury has been convened in Hillary Clinton’s email case, I also believe that grand jury is actively at work with the FBI interviewing people in the case and the grand jury subpoenaing witnesses to testify,” he added.
“It is routine in an FBI investigation to interview lower- and mid-level people in a case to get documents and records from them before you ever approach senior individuals like Hillary Clinton or her top assistants at the State Department, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills” he continued.
“Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl Mills would be at the top of the pyramid of the investigation and they would be approached only at the end of the investigation, after all the other people in the case have been interviewed and all available documents and records obtained,” diGenova explained.
“I believe the FBI is proceeding in the traditional way with Hillary’s email case, by working their way up the pyramid, from the lower people all the way up to the top.”
A tale of two investigations
DiGenova explained to WND there are two FBI investigations going on simultaneously, with the first one involving Hillary Clinton’s private server and possible violations of the national security laws regarding the handling of classified information.
The second investigation involves what Justice Department prosecutors call an “official acts” investigation, regarding a possible correlation between “official acts” performed by Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, her office and the State Department, and large donations made to the Clinton Foundation by countries, corporations and individuals.
“The second investigation is more complex, more document-oriented, more subpoena-oriented investigation, but it is clearly underway,” diGenova said.
“The inspector general at the State Department has started a similar, parallel investigation to determine whether or not official acts were committed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff in exchange for contributions to various Clinton Foundation initiatives,” he added.
“The nexus between the ‘official acts’ and contributions to Clinton Foundation initiatives is becoming so clear and the evidence has convinced me that if the Justice Department has not already convened a grand jury, there is no doubt there’s corruption within the Justice Department,” he insisted.
“With regards to the first investigation, when you set up the private server in the Clinton home in Chappaqua, for use solely of Secretary Clinton’s government communications, she knew that classified information inevitably would come through that server,” diGenova stressed.
“When Hillary Clinton set up the server, she therefore had the intent to transfer classified information in a non-secure network, and she thereby automatically violated the statute that makes it a crime to store and maintain improperly classified documents,” he continued.
“In addition, knowing that you have a private server, you of course are naturally going to take off the markings that show a document is classified, because you know you cannot have those documents with the security markings on that private server system,” he said.
“The taking off of the security markings is in and of itself a crime in that the removal of classification is a felony. Then transmitting the documents without security markings on the server is another felony,” diGenova detailed. “You don’t need any more evidence of criminal intent other than the establishment of the private server initially and the stripping of the classification markings later.”
‘An eruption like you cannot believe’
“The criminal case against Hillary Clinton is a no-brainer,” he concluded. “If people are not prosecuted for this server, there will be an eruption like you cannot believe within the intelligence community.
“The evidence there will be an eruption comes from Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the NSA, who when being interviewed in August, said the ‘original sin’ of creating Hillary Clinton’s private server as the sole communications device for the secretary can never be fixed,” he said with determination. “That starts it and ends it – it’s over – the original sin of the private server creates the crime and ends the investigation. The rest is icing on the cake.
“You cannot believe what is going on in the intelligence community,” he added. “They are going crazy – there is going to be a revolt like you have never seen if people are not indicted for this.”
DeGenova was appointed in 1992 as independent counsel in the Clinton passport file search matter. He later was appointed to be chairman of the grievance committee of the D.C. district court and in 1997 was named special counsel by the U.S. House to probe the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
In 2007, diGenova was retained by the New York state senate to investigate then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the Troopergate matter. He led the prosecution of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and was the principal assistant U.S. attorney during the prosecution of attempted presidential assassin John W. Hinckley.

Ernesto Zedillo

Ernesto Zedillo, in full Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León   (born December 27, 1951Mexico City, Mexico), president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000.
Reared in a working-class family in Mexicali, Mexico, just south of the California border, Zedillo returned to his native Mexico City in 1965 to study at the National Polytechnic Institute. In 1971 he joined the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the dominant political party in Mexico since 1929. Zedillo also studied in the United States, receiving his doctorate in economics from Yale University in 1981. He then worked for Mexico’s central bankand at the Ministry of Programming and Budget, becoming secretary in 1988. As such, he successfully controlled Mexico’s immense foreign debt and reduced the inflation rate from 160 percent to only about 8 percent in five years. He also helped Mexico achieve its first balanced budget. Appointed secretary of education in 1992, Zedillo decentralized the public school system and attempted to revise textbooks and raise the literacy rate. In 1993 he became campaign manager for PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, and when Colosio was assassinated on March 23, 1994, Zedillo was named the party’s candidate. He won by a comfortable margin, although the election was the closest in the PRI’s history. As president he continued the economic policies of his predecessor, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, but devoted a major effort to restoring public confidence, which was so badly damaged by the scandals of the Salinas administration.
Soon after taking office, Zedillo faced an economic crisis as the country was forced to devalue the peso, causing the Mexican stock market to plunge. In 1995 he accepted the terms of a U.S. plan to stabilize the currency, and by the late 1990s Mexico’s economy was slowly improving. Zedillo also instituted a number of reforms designed to end political corruption and create freer elections. Barred by the constitution from running for reelection, he announced in 1999 that the PRI would, for the first time, hold a presidential primary; critics, however, charged that the vote was rigged. Francisco Labastida Ochoa was selected PRI’s candidate, but he was defeated in the 2000 presidential election by Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN). Zedillo left office later that year, ending the PRI’s 71-year rule of Mexico.

Environmental and indigenous rights leader murdered in Honduras

An environmental rights activist known for her fight to stop hydroelectric plants and mines from encroaching on indigenous lands was shot dead early on Thursday in Honduras.
Berta Caceres, a 43-year-old teacher, was shot and killed by two men at her home in La Esperanza, Honduras, 112 miles (180 kilometers) west of the capital, Tegucigalpa, Honduran security minister Julian Pacheco said, condemning the attack.
One other person was wounded in the incident, which is under investigation.
Caceres, who had received death threats, won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for her struggle to prevent the construction of a $50 million dam that threatened to displace hundreds of Indians.
“The cowardly killing of Berta is a tragedy that was waiting to happen. For years, she had been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and threats to stop her from defending the rights of indigenous communities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
The project, which was subcontracted by a local company to Chinese builder Sinohydro, has been temporarily suspended thanks to protests led by Caceres. 
Reuters