Wednesday, June 10, 2015

...while germans laugh at the vampire squid



BBC | In a kitchen in rural South Carolina one night, Hunter Bliss told his mother he wanted to apply to university in Germany. Amy Hall chuckled, dismissed it, and told him he could go if he got in.
"When he got accepted I burst into tears," says Amy, a single mother. "I was happy but also scared to let him go that far away from home."
Across the US parents are preparing for their children to leave the nest this summer, but not many send them 4,800 miles (7,700km) away - or to a continent that no family member has ever set foot in.
Yet the appeal of a good education, and one that doesn't cost anything, was hard for Hunter and Amy to ignore.
"For him to stay here in the US was going to be very costly," says Amy. "We would have had to get federal loans and student loans because he has a very fit mind and great goals."
More than 4,600 US students are fully enrolled at Germany universities, an increase of 20% over three years. At the same time, the total student debt in the US has reached $1.3 trillion (£850 billion).
Each semester, Hunter pays a fee of €111 ($120) to the Technical University of Munich (TUM), one of the most highly regarded universities in Europe, to get his degree in physics.
Included in that fee is a public transportation ticket that enables Hunter to travel freely around Munich.
Health insurance for students in Germany is €80 ($87) a month, much less than what Amy would have had to pay in the US to add him to her plan.
"The healthcare gives her peace of mind," says Hunter. "Saving money of course is fantastic for her because she can actually afford this without any loans."
To cover rent, mandatory health insurance and other expenses, Hunter's mother sends him between $6,000-7,000 each year.
At his nearest school back home, the University of South Carolina, that amount would not have covered the tuition fees. Even with scholarships, that would have totalled about $10,000 a year. Housing, books and living expenses would make that number much higher.
The simple maths made Hunter's job of convincing his mother easy.
"You have to pay for my college, mom - do you want to pay this much or this much?"

vampire squid sucking the blood out of it's most productive...



Slashdot | 
There are some valid points raised in Lee Siegel's 1,100 word rant against college loans (if not so much against college education). There are also some bad ones. But two things are clear: the words "personal" and/or "responsibility" were used precisely zero times. Siegel, who described himself as "the author of five books who is writing a memoir about money," is hardly a glowing advertisement for the return on nearly a decade in university just to achieve a Master of Philosophy degree. (ed: emphasis mine)

New York Times | ONE  late summer afternoon when I was 17, I went with my mother to the local bank, a long-defunct institution whose name I cannot remember, to apply for my first student loan My mother co-signed. When we finished, the banker, a balding man in his late 50s, congratulated us, as if I had just won some kind of award rather than signed away my young life.

By the end of my sophomore year at a small private liberal arts college, my mother and I had taken out a second loan, my father had declared bankruptcy and my parents had divorced. My mother could no longer afford the tuition that the student loans weren’t covering. I transferred to a state college in New Jersey, closer to home.

Years later, I found myself confronted with a choice that too many people have had to and will have to face. I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.

I chose life. That is to say, I defaulted on my student loans.

As difficult as it has been, I’ve never looked back. The millions of young people today, who collectively owe over $1 trillion in loans, may want to consider my example.

It struck me as absurd that one could amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college. Having opened a new life to me beyond my modest origins, the education system was now going to call in its chits and prevent me from pursuing that new life, simply because I had the misfortune of coming from modest origins.


Am I a deadbeat? In the eyes of the law I am. Indifferent to the claim that repaying student loans is the road to character? Yes. Blind to the reality of countless numbers of people struggling to repay their debts, no matter their circumstances, many worse than mine? My heart goes out to them. To my mind, they have learned to live with a social arrangement that is legal, but not moral.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

bruce's brain just more at home in panties, a bustier, and mascara...,


NYTimes | “My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.

This was the prelude to a new photo spread and interview in Vanity Fair that offered us a glimpse into Caitlyn Jenner’s idea of a woman: a cleavage-boosting corset, sultry poses, thick mascara and the prospect of regular “girls’ nights” of banter about hair and makeup. Ms. Jenner was greeted with even more thunderous applause. ESPN announced it would give Ms. Jenner an award for courage. President Obama also praised her. Not to be outdone, Chelsea Manning hopped on Ms. Jenner’s gender train on Twitter, gushing, “I am so much more aware of my emotions; much more sensitive emotionally (and physically).”

A part of me winced.

I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes. Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.

That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.

People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

For me and many women, feminist and otherwise, one of the difficult parts of witnessing and wanting to rally behind the movement for transgender rights is the language that a growing number of trans individuals insist on, the notions of femininity that they’re articulating, and their disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.

identity, caste position, or procreative reality?


newyorker |  The dispute began more than forty years ago, at the height of the second-wave feminist movement. In one early skirmish, in 1973, the West Coast Lesbian Conference, in Los Angeles, furiously split over a scheduled performance by the folksinger Beth Elliott, who is what was then called a transsexual. Robin Morgan, the keynote speaker, said:
I will not call a male “she”; thirty-two years of suffering in this androcentric society, and of surviving, have earned me the title “woman”; one walk down the street by a male transvestite, five minutes of his being hassled (which he may enjoy), and then he dares, he dares to think he understands our pain? No, in our mothers’ names and in our own, we must not call him sister.
Such views are shared by few feminists now, but they still have a foothold among some self-described radical feminists, who have found themselves in an acrimonious battle with trans people and their allies. Trans women say that they are women because they feel female—that, as some put it, they have women’s brains in men’s bodies. Radical feminists reject the notion of a “female brain.” They believe that if women think and act differently from men it’s because society forces them to, requiring them to be sexually attractive, nurturing, and deferential. In the words of Lierre Keith, a speaker at Radfems Respond, femininity is “ritualized submission.”

In this view, gender is less an identity than a caste position. Anyone born a man retains male privilege in society; even if he chooses to live as a woman—and accept a correspondingly subordinate social position—the fact that he has a choice means that he can never understand what being a woman is really like. By extension, when trans women demand to be accepted as women they are simply exercising another form of male entitlement. All this enrages trans women and their allies, who point to the discrimination that trans people endure; although radical feminism is far from achieving all its goals, women have won far more formal equality than trans people have. In most states, it’s legal to fire someone for being transgender, and transgender people can’t serve in the military. A recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found overwhelming levels of anti-trans violence and persecution. Forty-one per cent of respondents said that they had attempted suicide.

we know we're awful, but they're sooo much worse...,


NYPost |  Oh, how the feminist movement has lost its way. And the deafening silence over ISIS’s latest brutal crimes makes that all too clear.

Fifty years ago, American women launched a liberation campaign for freedom and equality. We achieved a revolution in the Western world and created a vision for girls and women everywhere.
Second Wave feminism was an ideologically diverse movement that pioneered society’s understanding of how women were disadvantaged economically, reproductively, politically, physically, psychologically and sexually.

Feminists had one standard of universal human rights — we were not cultural relativists — and we called misogyny by its rightful name no matter where we found it.

As late as 1997, the Feminist Majority at least took a stand against the Afghan Taliban and the burqa. In 2001, 18,000 people, led by feminist celebrities, cheered ecstatically when Oprah Winfrey removed a woman’s burqa at a feminist event — but she did so safely in Madison Square Garden, not in Kabul or Kandahar.

Six weeks ago, Human Rights Watch documented a “system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces.” Their victims were mainly Yazidi women and girls as young as 12, whom they bought, sold, gang-raped, beat, tortured and murdered when they tried to escape.

In May, Kurdish media reported, Yazidi girls who escaped or were released said they were kept half-naked together with other girls as young as 9, one of whom was pregnant when she was released. The girls were “smelled,” chosen and examined to make sure they were virgins. ISIS fighters whipped or burned the girls’ thighs if they refused to perform “extreme” pornography-influenced sex acts. In one instance, they cut off the legs of a girl who tried to escape.

These atrocities are war crimes and crimes against humanity — and yet American feminists did not demand President Obama rescue the remaining female hostages nor did they demand military intervention or support on behalf of the millions of terrified Iraqi and Syrian civilian refugees.
An astounding public silence has prevailed.

Monday, June 08, 2015

waco witnesses call cops killers (MSM nowhere to be found on this)


agingrebel |  Schmall quotes three recent veterans who have the experience to hear the difference between gunshots from different caliber weapons. Marine veteran William English remembers two shots from a small caliber weapon followed by “a rapid succession of shots from what sounded to me like an assault rifle.”

Navy veteran Steve Cochran “heard one pistol shot. All the rest of the shots I heard were assault rifles.”

Schmall writes, “Ron Blackett, a Confederation of Clubs and Independents leader who is a former Army and Coast Guard officer, also reported hearing one or two pistol shots followed by a blast of assault rifle fire.”

Accounts of the exact number of pistol shots fired before the police fusillade vary. They vary  because witnesses are always surprised and alarmed and not only hear shots from different directions but also may or may not hear echoes. However the AP account is consistent with a recurring version in which one biker non-fatally shot another at close range and a second biker standing on the Twin Peaks patio brandished and possibly fired a second handgun. It is likely that police opened fire after seeing the biker on the patio pull his gun. The AP version would also explain how Vietnam veteran Jesus Delgado Rodriguez, who was not a member of any club and who had just gotten out his automobile was shot in the head and torso. And it explains how so many people were shot in such a brief time.

overseers shot those bikers in waco, anybody tell you different is lying...,


theatlantic |  As the Texas shootout that killed nine motorcyclists fades from national headlines, local newspapers and a few larger media organizations have broken a series of small stories that prompted one alert Houston Press journalist to predict,“in the coming years, the Waco authorities' handling of the Twin Peaks biker gang shootout will become a textbook example of how not to handle an emergency situation.”

Two weeks later, Waco authorities still aren’t telling how many of the dead bikers were shot by police officers, how many cops fired their weapons, or how many total rounds they discharged.

Yahoo News filed public records requests to try to learn more, but reported last night that Waco authorities have asked state officials for permission to withhold documents.

Police haven’t released any video of the shoot-out to the public.

But a few news outlets have seen footage from one security camera. The New York Daily News sums up part of it: “Most of the leather-clad patrons ran away from the shooting or ducked under tables to dodge violence, video showed. Some bikers tried to direct other people to safety. One camera angle showed people piling into the men’s bathroom for cover. When there was no more room left, the bikers dashed toward the kitchen.” That doesn’t much sound like everyone present was conspiring to fight.

And Brian Doherty argues that the AP’s coverage of the video it saw raises questions about police behavior. “Despite police reports that the fighting and shooting began inside the restaurant and spilled out, closed-circuit footage of the restaurant seen by AP and reports from the restaurateurs indicate the shooting began outside, which is where the police already were,” he writes. “Police were already surrounding the restaurant in force, ready for action. How and why they began firing on the bikers and what happened before then should not necessarily be trusted merely from their mouths.”

Sunday, June 07, 2015

the science of scarcity


harvard |  scarcity had stolen more than flesh and muscle. It had captured the starving men’s minds.
Mullainathan is not a psychologist, but he has long been fascinated by how the mind works. As a behavioral economist, he looks at how people’s mental states and social and physical environments affect their economic actions. Research like the Minnesota study raised important questions: What happens to our minds—and our decisions—when we feel we have too little of something? Why, in the face of scarcity, do people so often make seemingly irrational, even counter-productive decisions? 

And if this is true in large populations, why do so few policies and programs take it into account?

In 2008, Mullainathan joined Eldar Shafir, Tod professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton, to write a book exploring these questions. Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much (2013) presented years of findings from the fields of psychology and economics, as well as new empirical research of their own. Based on their analysis of the data, they sought to show that, just as food had possessed the minds of the starving volunteers in Minnesota, scarcity steals mental capacity wherever it occurs—from the hungry, to the lonely, to the time-strapped, to the poor.

That’s a phenomenon well-documented by psychologists: if the mind is focused on one thing, other abilities and skills—attention, self-control, and long-term planning—often suffer. Like a computer running multiple programs, Mullainathan and Shafir explain, our mental processors begin to slow down. We don’t lose any inherent capacities, just the ability to access the full complement ordinarily available for use.

But what’s most striking—and in some circles, controversial—about their work is not what they reveal about the effects of scarcity. It’s their assertion that scarcity affects anyone in its grip. Their argument: qualities often considered part of someone’s basic character—impulsive behavior, poor performance in school, poor financial decisions—may in fact be the products of a pervasive feeling of scarcity. And when that feeling is constant, as it is for people mired in poverty, it captures and compromises the mind.

This is one of scarcity’s most insidious effects, they argue: creating mindsets that rarely consider long-term best interests. “To put it bluntly,” says Mullainathan, “if I made you poor tomorrow, you’d probably start behaving in many of the same ways we associate with poor people.” And just like many poor people, he adds, you’d likely get stuck in the scarcity trap.

why good pan-troglodytes do bad things...,


sciencedaily |  The study, "Anticipating and Resisting the Temptation to Behave Unethically," by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Behavioral Science and Marketing Professor Ayelet Fishbach and Rutgers Business School Assistant Professor Oliver J. Sheldon, was recently published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. It is the first study to test how the two separate factors of identifying an ethical conflict and preemptively exercising self-control interact in shaping ethical decision-making.

In a series of experiments that included common ethical dilemmas, such as calling in sick to work and negotiating a home sale, the researchers found that two factors together promoted ethical behavior: Participants who identified a potential ethical dilemma as connected to other similar incidents and who also anticipated the temptation to act unethically were more likely to behave honestly than participants who did not.

"Unethical behavior is rampant across various domains ranging from business and politics to education and sports," said Fishbach. "Organizations seeking to improve ethical behavior can do so by helping people recognize the cumulative impact of unethical acts and by providing warning cues for upcoming temptation."

Saturday, June 06, 2015

implementing social democracy at the municipal level won't be easy...,


wikipedia |  In cities of ancient Greece, the boule (Greek: βουλή, boulē; plural βουλαί, boulai) was a council of citizens (βουλευταί, bouleutai) appointed to run daily affairs of the city. Originally a council of nobles advising a king, boulai evolved according to the constitution of the city; in oligarchies boule positions might be hereditary, while in democracies members were typically chosen by lot, and served for one year. Little is known about the workings of many boulai, except in the case of Athens, for which extensive material has survived.

The Athenian Boule

The original council of Athens was the Areopagus. It consisted of ex-archons and was aristocratic in character.

Solonian Boule

The Athenian boule under Solon heard appeals from the most important decisions of the courts. Those in the poorest class could not serve on the Boule of 400. The higher governmental posts, archons (magistrates), were reserved for citizens of the top two income groups.[1]

The Reforms of Cleisthenes

Under the reforms of Cleisthenes enacted in 508/507 BC, the boule was expanded to 500 men, made up of 50 men from each of the ten new tribes also created by Cleisthenes. The 500 men were chosen by lot at the deme level, each deme having been allotted certain number of places proportional to population. Membership was restricted at this time to the top three of the original four property classes (the Pentacosiomedimni, Hippeis and Zeugitae, but not the Thetes) and to citizens over the age of thirty. The former restriction, though never officially changed, fell out of practice by the middle of the 5th century BC. Members of the boule served for one year and no man could serve more than twice in his life, nor more than once a decade. The leaders of the boule (the prytany) consisted of 50 men chosen from among the 500, and a new prytany was chosen every month. The man in charge of prytany was replaced every day from among the 50 members. The boule met every day except for festival days and ill-omened days. According to Aristotle, Cleisthenes introduced the Bouleutic Oath.[2]

The Boule in the Democracy of the late 5th century BC

After the reforms of Ephialtes and Pericles in the mid-5th century BC, the boule took on many of the administrative and judicial functions of the Areopagus, which retained its traditional right to try homicide cases. It supervised the state's finances, navy, cavalry, sacred matters, building and shipping matters and care for invalids and orphans. Its own members staffed many boards that oversaw the finer points of these many administrative duties. It undertook the examination of public officials both before and after leaving office (most offices lasting one year) to ensure honest accounting and loyalty to the state. It heard some cases of impeachment of public officials for high crimes and mismanagement or serious dereliction of duties.[3] At some point in the late 5th century, pay was instituted for those serving in the boule; this may have been a way to encourage poorer citizens to volunteer, who would otherwise be reluctant to serve. The boule was considered the cornerstone of the democratic constitution, providing a locus for day-to-day activities and holding together the many disparate administrative functions of the government. Because of the rotation of members, it was assumed that the boule was free from the domination of factions of any kind, although there is some evidence that richer citizens served out of proportion to poorer citizens. This may be due to the heavy investment of time required, time that poorer citizens would not have had to spare.[4]

can it be that it is all so simple?






Friday, June 05, 2015

Bro.Feed says "social democracy doesn't work at the state level" - mayor of barcelona implements it at the municipal level


democracynow |  A longtime anti-eviction activist has just been elected mayor of Barcelona, becoming the city’s first female mayor. Ada Colau co-founded the anti-eviction group Platform for People Affected by Mortgages and was an active member of the Indignados, or 15-M Movement. Colau has vowed to fine banks with empty homes on their books, stop evictions, expand public housing, set a minimum monthly wage of $670, force utility companies to lower prices, and slash the mayoral salary. Colau enjoyed support from the Podemos party, which grew out of the indignados movement that began occupying squares in Spain four years ago. Ada Colau joins us to discuss her victory.

the mollusc saying "austerity won't work in America" doesn't make it so...,


archdruidreport |  Stories in the media, some recent, some recently reprinted, happen to have brought up a couple of first-rate examples of the way that resources get locked up in unproductive activities during the twilight years of a failing society. A California newspaper, for example, recently mentioned that Elon Musk’s large and much-ballyhooed fortune is almost entirely a product of government subsidies. Musk is a smart guy; he obviously realized a good long time ago that federal and state subsidies for technology was where the money was at, and he’s constructed an industrial empire funded by US taxpayers to the tune of many billions of dollars. None of his publicly traded firms has ever made a profit, and as long as the subsidies keep flowing, none of them ever has to; between an overflowing feed trough of government largesse and the longstanding eagerness of fools to be parted from their money by way of the stock market, he’s pretty much set for life.
This is business as usual in today’s America. An article from 2013 pointed out, along the same lines, that the profits made by the five largest US banks were almost exactly equal to the amount of taxpayer money those same five banks got from the government. Like Elon Musk, the banks in question have figured out where the money is, and have gone after it with their usual verve; the revolving door that allows men in suits to shuttle back and forth between those same banks and the financial end of the US government doesn’t exactly hinder that process. It’s lucrative, it’s legal, and the mere fact that it’s bankrupting the real economy of goods and services in order to further enrich an already glutted minority of kleptocrats is nothing anyone in the citadels of power worries about.
A useful light on a different side of the same process comes from an editorial (in PDF) which claims that something like half of all current scientific papers are unreliable junk. Is this the utterance of an archdruid, or some other wild-eyed critic of science? No, it comes from the editor of Lancet, one of the two or three most reputable medical journals on the planet. The managing editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, which has a comparable ranking to Lancet, expressed much the same opinion of the shoddy experimental design, dubious analysis, and blatant conflicts of interest that pervade contemporary scientific research.
Notice that what’s happening here affects the flow of information in the same way that misplaced government subsidies affect the flow of investment. The functioning of the scientific process, like that of the market, depends on the presupposition that everyone who takes part abides by certain rules. When those rules are flouted, individual actors profit, but they do so at the expense of the whole system: the results of scientific research are distorted so that (for example) pharmaceutical firms can profit from drugs that don’t actually have the benefits claimed for them, just as the behavior of the market is distorted so that (for example) banks that would otherwise struggle for survival, and would certainly not be able to pay their CEOs gargantuan bonuses, can continue on their merry way. 
 
....
These days, despite a practically endless barrage of rhetoric to the contrary, the great majority of Americans are getting fewer and fewer benefits from the industrial system, and are being forced to pay more and more of its costs, so that a relatively small fraction of the population can monopolize an ever-increasing fraction of the national wealth and contribute less and less in exchange. What’s more, a growing number of Americans are aware of this fact. The traditional schism of a collapsing society into a dominant minority and an internal proletariat, to use Arnold Toynbee’s terms, is a massive and accelerating social reality in the United States today.

As that schism widens, and more and more Americans are forced into the Third World poverty that’s among the unmentionable realities of public life in today’s United States, several changes of great importance are taking place. The first, of course, is precisely that a great many Americans are perforce learning to live with less—not in the playacting style popular just now on the faux-green end of the privileged classes, but really, seriously living with much less, because that’s all there is. That’s a huge shift and a necessary one, since the absurd extravagance many Americans consider to be a normal lifestyle is among the most important things that will be landing in history’s compost heap in the not too distant future.
At the same time, the collective consensus that keeps the hopelessly dysfunctional institutions of today’s status quo glued in place is already coming apart, and can be expected to dissolve completely in the years ahead. What sort of consensus will replace it, after the inevitable interval of chaos and struggle, is anybody’s guess at this point—though it’s vanishingly unlikely to have anything to do with the current political fantasies of left and right.

pan-troglodytic deuterostems cannot attain organic competence against ancient, evil, cephalopod molluscs...,


philly |  When a self-described cabal repeatedly engages in what the attorney general calls "brazenly illegal behavior" and pleads guilty to criminal acts, it is reasonable to expect its members will get some jail time. But not in the paradoxical world ruled by mega banks and paralyzed by fears that being too harsh with banks deemed too big to fail might implode the economy.

Consequently, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Citigroup, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate international currency markets, will collectively pay only $5.7 billion in state, federal and foreign fines for a scam that ran six years and netted them $85 billion. A fifth bank, UBS, cooperated with investigators and pleaded guilty to a charge in a separate investigation.

Currency manipulation inflates the cost of imported consumer goods ranging from phones to clothing. That means Americans who purchased these items have already paid for the banks' crimes. But they will pay even more. The banks will likely charge higher service fees to recover the cost of their fines.

That's not justice. Some people busted for small amounts of marijuana face jail time. Was no one in the executive suites aware of the banks' criminal acts? These sweetheart plea deals are hardly a deterrent to future misdeeds. Before the deals were even struck, the banks extracted assurances from banking regulators that their businesses would in no way be inconvenienced by the guilty pleas.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Bro.Feed: What Happened to the Rt. Hon.Michael Manley's Organic Competency Development Agenda?


systemicdisorder |  A small country immiserates itself under orders of international lenders; unemployment and poverty rise, the debt burden increases and investment is starved in favor of paying interest on loans. If this sounds familiar, it is, but the country here is Jamaica.

So disastrous has austerity been for Jamaica that its per capita gross domestic product is lower than it was 20 years ago, the worst performance of any country in the Western Hemisphere. In just three years, from the end of 2011 to the end of 2014, real wages have fallen 17 percent and are expected to fall further in 2015, according to the country’s central bank, the Bank of Jamaica.
Such is the magic of austerity, or “structural adjustment programs,” to use the official euphemism of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Partners in Austerity: Jamaica, the United States and the International Monetary Fund,” reports that the amount of money Jamaica will use to pay interest (not even the principal) on its debt will be more than four times what it will spend on capital expenditures in 2015 and 2016. And despite a new loan, the country actually paid more to the IMF than it received in disbursements from the IMF during 2014!

As a further sign of the times, the current pro-austerity government of Jamaica is led by the National People’s Party, the party of former democratic socialist President Michael Manley. President Manley took office in 1972 on promises to combat social inequality and injustice, and he is credited with enacting legislation intended to establish a national minimum wage, pay equality for women, maternity leave with pay, the right of workers to join trade unions, free education to the university level, and education reforms that enabled students and teachers to be represented on school boards.
He also became an international figure advocating for progressive programs to be implemented elsewhere. Naturally, this did not sit well with the United States government. When President Manley stood with Angola against the invasion by the apartheid South African régime and supported Cuban assistance to Angola, he defied a warning from U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The CIA presence in the Jamaican capital, Kingston, was doubled.

A Jamaica Observer commentary noted parallels between the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile and unrest in Jamaica later in the 1970s:
“The imperialists applied the same ‘successful’ Chile model of destabilisation in Jamaica. They applied the same strategy of ‘making the economy scream,’ creating artificial shortages of basic items, promoting violence, including the savage murder of 150 people in a home for the elderly. Violence erupted in Jamaica as was never seen before in the ‘shock and awe’ tactics mastered by the imperialists whenever they want to create fundamental change in someone else’s country. Manley and Jamaica yielded under the pressure and eventually took the IMF route.”
Replacing human development with austerity
The conservative who took office in 1980 reversed President Manley’s programs. By the time that President Manley returned to office in 1989, he had moved well to the right under the impact of changing world geopolitical circumstances and the dominance of neoliberal ideology. As an obituary in The Economist dryly put it, “He did as the IMF told him, liberalised foreign exchange and speeded up the privatisation of state enterprises.”

The one-size-fits-all program, a condition of IMF and World Bank loans, includes currency devaluation (making imports more expensive), mass privatization of state assets (usually done at fire-sale prices), cuts to wages and the prioritization of the profits of foreign capital over a country’s own welfare. The 2001 film Life and Debt, produced and directed by Stephanie Black, depicted a country on its knees thanks to “structural adjustment.” The film’s Web site sets up the picture then this way:
“The port of Kingston is lined with high-security factories, made available to foreign garment companies at low rent. These factories are offered with the additional incentive of the foreign companies being allowed to bring in shiploads of material there tax-free, to have them sewn and assembled and then immediately transported out to foreign markets. Over 10,000 women currently work for foreign companies under sub-standard work conditions. The Jamaican government, in order to ensure the employment offered, has agreed to the stipulation that no unionization is permitted in the Free Trade Zones. Previously, when the women have spoken out and attempted to organize to improve their wages and working conditions, they have been fired and their names included on a blacklist ensuring that they never work again.”

tosca isn't for everyone...,


nationofchange |  On Saturday at the Left Forum in New York City, Chris Hedges joined professors Richard Wolff and Gail Dines to discuss why Karl Marx is essential at a time when global capitalism is collapsing. These are the remarks Hedges made to open the discussion.

Karl Marx exposed the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called “the bourgeois mode of production.” He foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites, since “the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production” and “the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships … the relationships which make one class the ruling one.” He saw that there would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse. He did not know when that day would come. Marx, as Meghnad Desai wrote, was “an astronomer of history, not an astrologer.” Marx was keenly aware of capitalism’s ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable. And as we witness the denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism, Karl Marx is vindicated as capitalism’s most prescient and important critic.
In a preface to “The Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” Marx wrote:
No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself.
Therefore, mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since looking at the matter more closely, we always find that the task itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist, or are at least in the process of formation.
Socialism, in other words, would not be possible until capitalism had exhausted its potential for further development. That the end is coming is hard now to dispute, although one would be foolish to predict when. We are called to study Marx to be ready.

The final stages of capitalism, Marx wrote, would be marked by developments that are intimately familiar to most of us. Unable to expand and generate profits at past levels, the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it. It would prey upon, in the name of austerity, the working class and the poor, driving them ever deeper into debt and poverty and diminishing the capacity of the state to serve the needs of ordinary citizens. It would, as it has, increasingly relocate jobs, including both manufacturing and professional positions, to countries with cheap pools of laborers. Industries would mechanize their workplaces. This would trigger an economic assault on not only the working class but the middle class—the bulwark of a capitalist system—that would be disguised by the imposition of massive personal debt as incomes declined or remained stagnant. Politics would in the late stages of capitalism become subordinate to economics, leading to political parties hollowed out of any real political content and abjectly subservient to the dictates and money of global capitalism.

But as Marx warned, there is a limit to an economy built on scaffolding of debt expansion. There comes a moment, Marx knew, when there would be no new markets available and no new pools of people who could take on more debt. This is what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis. Once the banks cannot conjure up new subprime borrowers, the scheme falls apart and the system crashes.
Capitalist oligarchs, meanwhile, hoard huge sums of wealth—$18 trillion stashed in overseas tax havens—exacted as tribute from those they dominate, indebt and impoverish. Capitalism would, in the end, Marx said, turn on the so-called free market, along with the values and traditions it claims to defend. It would in its final stages pillage the systems and structures that made capitalism possible. It would resort, as it caused widespread suffering, to harsher forms of repression. It would attempt in a frantic last stand to maintain its profits by looting and pillaging state institutions, contradicting its stated nature.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

the scientist and the church


rwer |  The Scientist and the Church is a wide-ranging biography of research, showcasing Bichler and Nitzan’s attempts to break through the stifling dogmas of the academic church and chart a new scientific cosmology of capitalism. Central to the authors’ work is the notion that capital is not a productive economic category but capitalized power, and that capitalism should be conceived and researched not as a mode of production and consumption but as a mode of power.

The articles collected in this volume outline the general contours of their approach, flesh out some of their recent research and offer personal insights into the broader politics of their journey. The first chapters reexamine the common foundations of the neoclassical and Marxist doctrines, sketch the contours of the authors’ alternative cosmology of capitalized power, identify the asymptotes – or limits – of this power and explore the all-encompassing logic of modern finance. Subsequent chapters research the connection between redistribution and cyclical crises, reassess the Marxist nexus between imperialism and financialism, rethink the oft-misunderstood role of crime and punishment in the capitalist mode of power and articulate a new theory and history of Middle-East energy conflicts. The closing chapters include two big-picture interviews, as well as riveting reflections on the authors’ own scientific clashes with the church.

wikileaks offers $100K reward for secret chapters of the TPP


democracynow |  Despite the Senate vote approving a measure to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, opposition to the deal continues to mount ahead of this month’s House vote. Critics, including a number of Democratic lawmakers, oppose the TPP, saying it will fuel inequality, kill jobs, and undermine health, environmental and financial regulations. The negotiations have been secret, and the public has never seen most of the deal’s text. Well, this morning the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks launched a campaign to change that. The group is seeking to raise $100,000 to offer what they describe as a bounty for the leaking of the unseen chapters of the TPP. We speak to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Despite the Senate vote approving a measure to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, opposition to the deal continues to mount ahead of this month’s House vote. Critics, including a number of Democratic lawmakers, oppose the TPP, saying it will fuel inequality, kill jobs, and undermine health, environmental and financial regulations. The negotiations have been secret, and the public has never seen most of the deal’s text. Well, this morning, the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks launched a campaign to change that. The group is seeking to raise $100,000 to offer what they describe as a bounty for the leaking of the unseen chapters of the TPP. WikiLeaks just posted this video online.

who does the state work for?



paecon |  States acting as lenders of last resort in the aftermath of the 2007/2008 financial crisis clearly illustrated the central role that states have in the operations of financial markets. Despite their active roles, however, states continue to be presented as passive actors that dance to the tunes of the financial markets.  This paper, however, takes a close look at how states’ geopolitical concerns influence financial regulation.

States are perceived as serving the interests of their citizens, yet future rescue operations (as lenders of last resort) at the costs of the taxpayers remain a strong possibility in particular, Too Big To Fail (TBTF) banks persist and their leverage ratios have not greatly improved.

To better understand why this is the case, this paper argues that geopolitical concerns influence the triangular relationships between the (democratic) state, the financial sector, and the state’s citizens (and taxpayers) in favour of the financial sector.  Accordingly, the paper argues that we should more explicitly ask ‘what drives states (and politics) in their approaches to finance?

how the richest .0001 pay income taxes

thinkprogress |  Tax day doesn’t sting much if you live at the gilded edge, according to new data on how the top one-hundredth of one percent and the top one-thousandth of a percent of all filers pay their income taxes. People who make tens of millions of dollars enjoyed falling income tax rates and ballooning wealth for a decade as middle-class taxpayers floundered.

The new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data helps illustrate the logic behind Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) call for radically reshaping the American income tax system to create pricey new brackets for extremely high earners. The numbers provide a deeper look inside the highest income echelon, breaking out data on income tax rates and total yearly earnings in previously unpublished detail. In the last year of the Bush tax cuts, there were well over a thousand people who reported more than $60 million in earnings but paid federal income tax rates far below 20 percent.

In late May, Sanders called for restoring top income tax rates as high as 90 percent. The graduated income tax system means that policymakers could create new tax brackets up at that level without raising taxes on everyone below whatever level of wealth they choose to target.

Sanders based his comments on generalized information about wealth inequality, but the new IRS data on income inequality bolster his argument. Currently, the highest income tax bracket and capital gains tax bracket each kick in at a little over $400,000 in annual income. But there are nearly 14,000 tax filers who earned more than $12 million in 2012 as members of the best-paid 0.01 percent of all taxpayers, according to the IRS, and about 1,360 who earned over $62 million that year. Their vast earnings were not taxed any more heavily – and indeed, they paid a lower overall income tax rate than their merely one-percent brethren.

It is the first time the IRS has ever broken out income tax data at the very top end of the earnings spectrum. Previous releases have shown the top 1 percent and the top 0.1 percent of filers, but the new data drill deeper. There were a little under 1,400 income tax returns filed in that very richest sliver of data in 2012, the agency reports, with an average income of roughly $161 million for the year.

The poorest filer to qualify for that group in 2012 made $62,068,187 in adjusted gross income (AGI). Like a tax wonk’s version of the “must be this high to ride” sign at a carnival, these threshold income levels for each grouping in the IRS data offer working definitions of the economic class each category depicts.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

the unrealized horrors of population explosion


NYTimes |  In Mr. Pearce’s view, the villain is not overpopulation but, rather, overconsumption. “We can survive massive demographic change,” he said in 2011. But he is less sanguine about the overuse of available resources and its effects on climate change (although worries about the planet’s well-being could be a motivator for finding solutions, much as demographic fears may have helped defuse the population bomb).

“Rising consumption today far outstrips the rising head count as a threat to the planet,” Mr. Pearce wrote in Prospect, a British magazine, in 2010. “And most of the extra consumption has been in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population, while most of the remaining population growth is in countries with a very small impact on the planet.”

“Let’s look at carbon dioxide emissions, the biggest current concern because of climate change,” he continued. “The world’s richest half billion people — that’s about 7 percent of the global population — are responsible for half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 percent of the population are responsible for just 7 percent of emissions.”

To some extent, worrying about an overcrowded planet has fallen off the international agenda. It is overshadowed, as Mr. Pearce suggests, by climate change and related concerns. The phrase “zero population growth,” once a movement battle cry, is not frequently heard these days; it has, for instance, appeared in only three articles in this newspaper over the last seven years.

But Dr. Ehrlich, now 83, is not retreating from his bleak prophesies. He would not echo everything that he once wrote, he says. But his intention back then was to raise awareness of a menacing situation, he says, and he accomplished that. He remains convinced that doom lurks around the corner, not some distant prospect for the year 2525 and beyond. What he wrote in the 1960s was comparatively mild, he suggested, telling Retro Report: “My language would be even more apocalyptic today.”

why did they invade iraq?


medialens |  It is certainly a harder question to answer honestly:
'Some of the warmongers believed that deploying shock and awe in Iraq would enhance American power and influence around the world. Some saw Iraq as a sort of pilot project, preparation for a series of regime changes. And it's hard to avoid the suspicion that there was a strong element of wagging the dog, of using military triumph to strengthen the Republican brand at home.'
Here Krugman was trying very really hard to focus on any obscure corner of the living room to avoid noticing the elephant. In his book, 'Fuel on the Fire', based on declassified British Foreign Office files, Greg Muttitt explains:
'The most important strategic interest lay in expanding global energy supplies, through foreign investment, in some of the world's largest oil reserves – in particular Iraq. This meshed neatly with the secondary aim of securing contracts for their companies.'
Ironically, having himself failed to write frankly about this key issue, Krugman then speculated on the causes behind the political and media silence:
'Some of them, I suppose, may have been duped: may have fallen for the obvious lies, which doesn't say much about their judgment. More, I suspect, were complicit: they realized that the official case for war was a pretext, but had their own reasons for wanting a war, or, alternatively, allowed themselves to be intimidated into going along. For there was a definite climate of fear among politicians and pundits in 2002 and 2003, one in which criticizing the push for war looked very much like a career killer.'
Again, this was a deeply irrational analysis from Krugman. Politicians and journalists were foolish, duped, intimidated, fearful of losing their careers, of course. But this hardly explains a pattern of political and corporate media subservience to corporate power over decades, with the same mendacity on virtually every issue impacting power and profit.

A rational analysis would at least glance at the structure and corporate funding of political parties; at the profit-orientation, elite ownership and advertiser-dependence of the corporate media. Why focus on poor 'judgement' and a 'climate of fear' when political and economic structures endlessly producing the same pattern of media 'failure' are staring us in the face? Why was rational analysis of this kind suddenly impossible for someone as astute as Krugman? Had he suddenly become a fool? 

Of course not, he was exactly repeating the self-censoring behaviour he lamented in other journalists - honest analysis of the corporate media is taboo in the corporate press.
Krugman also seriously misled his readers when he wrote:
'On top of these personal motives, our news media in general have a hard time coping with policy dishonesty. Reporters are reluctant to call politicians on their lies, even when these involve mundane issues like budget numbers, for fear of seeming partisan. In fact, the bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud, the more hesitant the reporting. And it doesn't get much bigger — indeed, more or less criminal — than lying America into war.'
In fact, corporate media are the corporate arm of the propaganda system they are supposed to be monitoring. Far from having 'a hard time coping with policy dishonesty', they have a hard time coping with the occasional journalists who attempt to expose the dishonesty. Immensely powerful economic and political forces select, shape, mould, reward and punish editors, journalists and whole organisations to ensure that they do not deliver the kind of 'frank discussion' Krugman promised but failed to supply.

Apart from the motives for war and the structural conditions behind media performance, there was one other crucial consideration missed by Krugman. What reasonable analysis would discuss a spectacular contemporary example of political mass deception without placing it in some kind of historical context? Was the great Iraq deception a one-off? Was it an outlier event? Was it a standard example, a carbon copy of similar events over years and decades? Have we seen similar events since 2003? Are they happening now? Again, one of US journalism's finest – at the extreme left of the 'mainstream' spectrum – had nothing at all to say about these key questions.

And in fact, as we and others have documented, the Iraq deception was not at all an outlier. It was a standard example of corporate political-media deception that just happened to go so catastrophically wrong that the reality could not be entirely ignored - although the propaganda system was far more effective in burying the truth than we might imagine. According to a 2013 ComRes poll, 44% of UK respondents estimated that fewer than 5,000 Iraqis had died since 2003. 59% thought fewer than 10,000 had died. Just 2% put the toll in excess of one million – the likely real toll.

Krugman did not even mention that Iraqis had died, let alone discuss the almost unimaginable scale of the bloodbath. He concluded:
'But truth matters, and not just because those who refuse to learn from history are doomed in some general sense to repeat it.'
Crucially, Krugman was unable to recognise that history had already repeated itself, not least in the repetition of his own self-censoring analysis. The West's overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011 was based on exactly the same kind of lies and media complicity, the same enthusiasm for war waged by Western powers who somehow, miraculously, were said to retain moral credibility as humanitarian agents.

In fact, this was an even more extreme example of propaganda deception than Iraq, precisely because it happened in the aftermath of that earlier deception. And, unlike Iraq, the media have not yet summoned the courage to expose even a portion of the US-UK governments' lies, or the media's complicity in them. All of this falls beyond Krugman's idea of a 'frank discussion'.


the global land-ownership network


kimnicholas |  Nearly two out of three countries in the world today participate in a new kind of “virtual land trade,” where not only the goods produced but land ownership itself is traded internationally. This was the finding of our new study, published 7 November 2014.

This phenomenon of large-scale global land acquisitions, sometimes called “land grabbing,” is receiving increasing international attention because of its potential to contribute to development and raise yields in developing countries, but amidst concerns about local land rights and livelihoods. 

We found that the land trading network is dominated by a few key players with many trading partners- led by China, which imports land ownership from 33 countries, closely followed by the UK and the US (Figure 1).

One-third of countries both import and export land ownership. Of the 80 countries that export land ownership, most export to only a handful of trading partners, with a third having just one import partner. On the other hand, Ethiopia exports land to 21 different countries, and the Philippines and Madagascar both export land to 18 countries. 

Geographically, countries in the global North primarily act as land importers, while the global South acts primarily as land exporters (Figure 2). There are four main areas that import land: North America, Western Europe, the Middle East, and developing economies in Asia. Southeast Asia is also an exporter of land, along with South America, Eastern Europe, and especially Africa. Many of the areas exporting land currently have low agricultural productivity, so have potential to boost yields with technological improvements.  Fist tap Arnach.

macroscale musical chairs on the deck of the titanic...,


 scientificamerican |  Fertile land is becoming scarce worldwide, especially for crops for food, feed, biofuels, timber and fiber such as cotton. To produce those goods, wealthy countries such as the U.S. and small countries with little space are buying up or leasing large tracts of land that are suitable for agriculture in other nations. Products are shipped back home or sold locally, at times squeezing out native farmers, landowners and businesses. In the past 15 years companies and government groups in “investor” countries have grabbed 31.8 million hectares of land, the area of New Mexico (column on right), according to the Land Matrix Global Observatory's database of transactions that target low- and middle-income countries. Crops are being produced on only 2.7 million of those hectares thus far (column on left). Overall, a large transfer of land ownership from the global south to the global north seems to be under way. Fist tap Arnach.


Monday, June 01, 2015

is there a case for treason?


rsn |  So yes, war is on the table, and innocent people die as a result of the ongoing Natural Resource Procurement Wars every day – including Americans.

Against that backdrop comes the effort by the Obama administration, in concert with Congressional Republicans, to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and its deeply troubling Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system provisions.

What is specifically of interest to the investors whose interests are central to the TPP agreement is natural resources. Not production, of course. Goods can now be produced anywhere. As long as workers are willing or compelled to accept ruthless exploitation, the international investor class has plenty of “jobs” available for them. Will American workers see more jobs? Yes – if they are on their knees.

From old-growth forests to agricultural products, to fracked natural gas, to Arctic oil, to bobcat pelts, the international investor class will pay, and pay well. This is where the betrayal begins.

Enforcing a global agreement of this scope requires muscle, military muscle. That is where the Global Force for Good, as the U.S. military likes to market itself, comes in. Effectively, the U.S. military, which routinely channels and directs the efforts of young Americans who have enlisted to serve America, is into protecting not U.S. national security but the interests of the international investor class.

For the record, peace leads to stability, which in turn leads to security. But not to profit. Therein lies the motivation for perpetual war.

What makes the TPP treasonous is its betrayal of America’s natural resources, vital economic interests, military service members, and national security as a whole.

The TPP seeks to directly subjugate and invalidate American law, granting to multinational investors and to the agreement itself and its dispute resolution process ultimate authority, literally, over American home rule. All while American service members fight and die to protect the interests of whoever the investors are.

american house and senate rife with corruption


guardian |  Fast-tracking the TPP, meaning its passage through Congress without having its contents available for debate or amendments, was only possible after lots of corporate money exchanged hands with senators. The US Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – the fast-tracking bill – by a 65-33 margin on 14 May. Last Thursday, the Senate voted 62-38 to bring the debate on TPA to a close.

Those impressive majorities follow months of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing by the world’s most well-heeled multinational corporations with just a handful of holdouts. 

Using data from the Federal Election Commission, this chart shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate:
  • Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes.
  • The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
  • The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.
The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.

Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May, distinguishing themselves from the Senate’s 54 Republicans and handful of Democrats as the votes to sway.
  • In just 24 hours, Wyden and five of those Democratic holdouts – Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida – caved and voted for fast-track.
  • Bennet, Murray, and Wyden – all running for re-election in 2016 – received $105,900 between the three of them. Bennet, who comes from the more purple state of Colorado, got $53,700 in corporate campaign donations between January and March 2015, according to Channing’s research.

mexican military, federal, state, and municipal police rife with corruption


HuffPo |  I’ve been reading your book Narcoland, and your vision of Mexico’s drug war caught my attention -- it’s very different from what we’re accustomed to reading in the U.S. press. What are the biggest misconceptions that you see in the media about the drug war?

When I started to work on that book about Chapo Guzmán back in 2005, I had the same misconceptions that most of the media and journalists had in Mexico, the U.S. and the rest of the world. I had swallowed the story that Chapo Guzmán was just a brilliant criminal -- a man so intelligent that he was capable of subjecting the governments of Mexico and the United States to his will. The Mexican government constantly said they couldn’t catch him because he lived in a cave in a mountain in the Sierra Sinaloa surrounded by people who protected him. 

And those of us in the media had only concentrated on the legend of Chapo Guzmán, based on his violence, on the tons of drugs he trafficked, without asking ourselves, “How does he do it? How can this man be so powerful?" And the only way of explaining how the Sinaloa cartel and Chapo Guzmán became so powerful is with the complicity of the government. 

It was that way, reporting on the story of Chapo Guzmán and the power he was accumulating during the Felipe Calderón administration, that I found that this so-called drug war was completely false. When I started investigating, I began receiving information in documents and testimony in the U.S. courts and interviews I did with drug traffickers that the Sinaloa cartel enjoyed government protection since the Vicente Fox administration, and that protection continued through the government of Felipe Calderón. [editor's note: Former Mexican President Vicente Fox was in office from 2000 to 2006. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón served from 2006 to 2012.]

I starting doing public information requests in Mexico to see if these things being said in [the U.S.] courts were true. What I found was that during Felipe Calderón’s so-called drug war, the cartel that was attacked the least, that had the fewest arrests, was the Sinaloa cartel. And in government statistics, throughout the Felipe Calderón administration’s six years, there were increases in marijuana production, increases in opium production, increases in amphetamine production, increases in drug consumption in Mexico. What kind of drug war is this where a cartel gets stronger, becomes the most powerful cartel in the world, and on the other hand, drug production reaches historic levels in Mexico?