Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Can you sign this petition to Chris Van Hollen?.


  Can you sign on to this enclosed petition?  Can you gather signatures? Get back in touch with me, and I will share with Mike any comments. Note he is checking to see if you were able to attend a meeting with the Democratic candidate for senator.



Monday, May 30, 2016 1:24 PM
Chris Van Hollen Petition


Can you circulate, ASAP. Are you able to turn this into an on-line petition so it can have broader outreach, along with hand written sheets?

Would you be available for a meeting with Van Hollen?

Michael Tabor

                                                              PETITION TO
                                    CONGRESSMAN CHRIS VAN HOLLEN                            Page ______

As Maryland Progressives, we, the undersigned, would like to support you to be our next Senator who will exemplify and act on our values and beliefs.  Understanding that a yearly war budget of over $600 billion subverts our ability to better address the issues of CLIMATE CHANGE, GENDER EQUALITY, RACISM, UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, A LIVING WAGE and other means of enhancing a democratic country.

There are several questions we have and would appreciate your response.  Will you:

1.  Agree once during your 6-year tenure to visit and hold an open community forum in every Maryland County?
2.  Champion a constitutional amendment that would reserve constitutional rights to Natural Persons only, declare that money is not protected speech, and guarantee that every citizen has the right to vote and have their votes counted?
3.  Work to promote GMO labeling?
4.  Work against fracking initiatives in Maryland and the rest of the country?
5.  Work to eliminate ATRAZINE and other agricultural pollutants in Maryland’s drinking water?  (According to the latest EPA testing, Atrazine was found to be up to 198 times more concentrated than the level the government deems safe for mammals.)

NAME                                                                   CITY                                                                     EMAIL


Monday, May 30, 2016

"Its all about the money!" Jessica Reznicek/Hammering for Peace

Thursday, May 26, 2016 8:50 AM
   "Its all about the money!" Jessica Reznicek

  Jessica Reznicek returned to District Judge Patricia Lamberti Sarpy Co courtroom yesterday afternoon and was sentenced to pay just under
$5000 in fines and restitution for her destruction of property charge and sentience to 72 days of jail time, time served for her trespass charge.

   Despite Jess's repeated assurances that she was not going to pay any money to the (Unjust) Justice System and request for jail time instead of fines and restitution, Judge Lamberti ignored Jess' public promise' not to pay and sentenced Jess to pay close to $5000 in fines and restitution.

  LIED TO...... $1,000 bond kept!  We could not help but feel soiled and unclean as we left the court room. We were lied to! Surprise!!! We were told the special $1,000 cash bond Jess put up for her freedom last March would be returned to her in full after her trial. We were lied to. Judge Lamberti ordered Jess' bail money to be used for her fines and restitution.

  Thank you's! Thanks to all the folks who supported Jess in this journey, especially Bill Quigley and Bob Sigler, her outstanding standby attorneys!

Thank you all...

Jessica Reznicek <jessicareznicek@gmail.com>
941 323 9051
Frank Cordaro <frank.cordaro@gmail.com>
515 282 4781 / c 515 490 2490

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Hammering for Peace


    Jessica Reznicek arrested outside of Northrop Grumman Corporation in Nebraska.  (Photo: via tumblr)

    Last winter, at the Voices home/office in Chicago, we welcomed two friends who were in town for a Mennonite church gathering focused on the symbol of beating swords into plowshares. Their project embraces a vision from the biblical “Book of Isaiah” which longs for the day when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war anymore.”  Our friends quite literally enact this vision. They use saws to cut guns and rifles in half and then hammer on the broken weapons, turning them into useful tools for gardening and light construction.

   Throughout the service, one of the men could be seen, on a screen, standing outside the Mennonite church hall, fashioning, with hammer and anvil, a rifle into a garden tool. Sparks flew with his hammer, but no-one was inflamed into anger. The fire our friends wanted to ignite was inside us. With what work can we replace war? If we are no longer training for war, what else could we be doing?” 

    That winter night, at the Mennonite church, I couldn’t help but think of another activist who had swung a tool last December, in this case, a sledgehammer, because she was inspired to confront weapon makers and encourage alternatives to war. Jessica Reznicek, age 34, didn’t own the weapon system she wanted to transform.  But she felt responsible to help the general public own up to its complicity with weapon systems funded by U.S. taxpayers. She took a sledgehammer to the doors of a major weapon producing company, Northrop Grumman, outside Offut Air Force base. In a written statement explaining why she swung her tool at the plate glass, Jessica asks people to understand that Northrop Grumman's weapon systems shatter and destroy the lives of people the world over.

    As one of the manufacturers with the

    Northrop Grumman profits immensely from peddling complex weapon systems often designed to be eyes in the skies monitoring targets for assassination. This kind of surveillance and extrajudicial execution generates intense anger and backlashes in other lands. It also promotes proliferation of robotic weapons. But the U.S. military and acquiescent institutions encourage us to feel that we've been made safer by complex weapons of destruction, and we should instead be frightened of a young woman wielding a sledgehammer to break a plate glass window.

    On May 24, Jessica Reznicek, will go to trial in Nebraska for her action. She has chosen to go “pro se,” – to defend herself. Courts in the U.S. seldom allow the necessity defense. If the judge in Jessica’s case does so, Jessica could try to defend herself saying she acted to prevent a greater harm.  She could establish that the U.S. government consistently provides Northrop Grumman with lavish funding, devoting immense resources of materials and scientific ingenuity to the study of war, all desperately needed elsewhere. Northrop Grumman steadily experiments in perfecting the high-tech advantage of an empire bent on endlessly dominating the world through endless war.

    I wish that the testimony of my friends who literally beat guns into garden tools  could be part of the courtroom proceeding.  They urge us to make guns and other weapons unnecessary, using raw tools of compassion and service to heal the conflicts in which weapons are used. I wish my young Afghan friends here in Kabul, who live under constant surveillance of Unmanned Aerial Systems, could testify about their desire to refine tools of peace making and constructive service. 

   They could assure the court that it’s far more worthwhile to develop raw tools for producing needed goods and services than to develop weapon systems of mass destruction.

    Jessica’s action makes me wonder if the “norm” in our society is the opposite of the biblical plowshares exhortation.  Our major institutions study the ways of war comprehensively and our “top crop” in the U.S. has become weapons. Jessica encourages, one might even say provokes, discussion of the role militarism plays in our world.  

     I hope the words of a legendary barrister in Ireland, Mr. Nix, who defended “The Pitstop Plowshares,” can be recalled as Jessica’s trial nears conclusion. Shortly before the U.S. led coalition began bombing Iraq in 2003, five activists invoked the swords to plowhsares saying from the Book of Isaiah and hammered on a U.S. warplane parked on the tarmac of Shannon airport.  Ireland is a neutral country, and they believed that the U.S. Navy warplanes making “pitstops” en route to a war zone violated that neutrality. They undertook the action shortly after attending a retreat during which the Sisters of St. Brigid, in Kildare, Ireland had asked me to speak about Iraqis who suffered under 13 years of U.S. led UN economic sanctions.   Before returning to Baghdad, I gave  them enlarged, laminated photos of  Iraqi children who were among the half million who died, according to the U.N., as a direct result of economic sanctions along with photos of children killed  by an earlier U.S. aerial attack on the city of Basra. They used these photos to set up a memorial shrine next to the warplane they had damaged. Mr. Nix, preparing for trial, asked that I come to Dublin as a witness to help establish the defendants’ motivations. I will never forget  his closing statement in which he delivered a fiery indictment of war makers and described the hideous punishment wars inflict on innocent people, especially children. He ended his remarks by addressing  everyone assembled in Dublin’s Four Courts, saying:  “The question isn’t ‘Did these five have a lawful excuse to do what they did?’ The question is ‘What’s your excuse not to do more? What will rise ye?!’ The Irish jury acquitted the defendants on all charges. 

     No matter what the outcome of Jessica’s trial, Mr. Nix’s question, “What will rise ye?” abides. How can we, each of us, help lift the hammer of justice, cultivating a world at peace?

     This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Deciphering the Mysterious Decline of Honey Bees

Bees are beautiful and hardworking.  And they play such an important role in providing us with sustenance.  We have a responsibility to protect our little friends.

Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org)

Deciphering the Mysterious Decline of Honey Bees

By Elina El Niño [1] / The Conversation [2]
May 26, 2016

    Honey bees are arguably our most important commercially available pollinator. They are responsible for pollinating numerous food plants that make our diets more exciting and nutritious, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Beekeepers expect some of their bees to die off from season to season–typically, around 17 percent annually. But in recent years, losses have been more than twice as high [3].

     As an extension apiculturist for the University of California Cooperative Extension [4], I talk to many people, from beekeepers and growers to members of the general public, about honey bees. Most of my audiences are concerned about how honey bee losses could affect the security of our food supply. While the massive and sudden colony collapses that occurred a decade ago have abated, honey bees are still dying at troubling rates. Laboratories like mine are working to understand the many factors stressing bees and develop strategies for protecting them.

Impacts of honey bee losses

    In 2006 beekeepers in the United States reported that a mysterious affliction, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder [5] (CCD), was causing widespread die-offs of bees. In colonies affected by CCD, adult workers completely disappeared, although plentiful brood (developing bees) and the queen remained. Beekeepers found no adult bees in and around the hives, and noted that pests and bees from neighboring hives did not immediately raid the affected hives, as might be expected.

     Scientists now agree that CCD was likely caused by a combination of environmental and biological factors [6], but nothing specific has been confirmed or proven. CCD is no longer causing large-scale colony death in North America, but beekeepers all over the United States are still reporting troubling colony losses – as high as 45 percent annually [7].

    While beekeepers can recoup their losses by making new colonies from existing ones, it is becoming increasingly costly to keep them going. They are using more inputs, such as supplemental food and parasite controls, which raises their operating costs. In turn, they have to charge growers higher prices for pollinating their crops.

Multiple stresses

    Beekeepers' biggest challenge today is probably Varroa destructor [8], an aptly named parasitic mite that we call the vampire of the bee world. Varroa feeds on hemolymph (the insect “blood”) of adult and developing honey bees. In the process it transmits pathogens [9] and suppresses bees' immune response [10]

    They are fairly large relative to bees: for perspective, imagine a parasite the size of a dinner plate feeding on you. And individual bees often are hosts to multiple mites.

    Beekeepers often must use miticides to control Varroa. Miticides are designed specifically to control mites, but some widely used products have been shown to have negative effects on bees, such as physical abnormalities, atypical behavior [11] and increased mortality rates [12]. Other currently used commercial miticides have lost or are rapidly losing their efficacy becauseVarroa are developing resistance to them [13].

     Our laboratory [14] is evaluating several novel biopesticides for effectiveness against Varroa and safety to bees. These products are mostly plant-based, and are designed to be used as part of an integrated pest management [15] (IPM) plan. IPM emphasizes prevention and monitoring of pests and using a range of control methods to minimize negative effects on the environment.

    Another potential strategy is breeding Varroa-resistant bees. Our research [16] explores biological processes that regulate the honey bee queen mating process [17]. To breed pathogen- and parasite-resistant honey bee stock, we often need to use instrumental (artificial) insemination [18]. We hope to help improve that process by understanding which seminal fluid proteins from male honey bees (drones) cause specific post-mating changes in queens, such as triggering egg-laying or contributing to queen bees' longevity.

    Honey bees also are exposed to viruses, bacterial diseases and fungi [19]. For example, deformed wing virus (DWV) causes wing deformities that prevent bees from performing normal work functions such as foraging for food. Viruses have been implicated as an important factor in honey bee health declines, but we are just starting to understand how honey bees' immune systems fight against them [20]. We may be able to help strengthen bees' immune responses by making diverse foraging resources, such as a variety of wildflowers, easily accessible.

Pesticide impacts

  Questions about how pesticides affect honey bee health have spurred passionate debate. One key issue is whether neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that affect insects' nervous systems, are causing widespread bee deaths. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing possible risks to pollinators [21] from neonicotinoids. Its first results, released earlier this year, found that the pesticide imidacloprid [22] can have negative effects when it is present at concentrations above thresholds that can sometimes be found in certain crops, including citrus and cotton.

   There are many gaps [23] in our knowledge about neonicotinoids and other types of pesticides. We have little understanding about the impacts of pesticide combinations and how they affect developing bees and other pollinators [24]. To fill some of those gaps, our lab is testing combinations of various agriculturally important pesticides on adult worker survival and queen development.
Studies show that when bees have access to optimal nutrition, they are better able to deal with diseases [25] and pesticides [26]. But intensive farming and urbanization have reduced the amount of readily available forage that bees need to thrive. Research labs at UC-Davis [27] and elsewhere are analyzing what types of flowering plants provide the best supplemental forage for bees. Growers can support bees by planting these species near their crops.

Be bee-friendly

   Many people who are not beekeepers or growers want to know how they can help. One easy step is to grow forage plants, especially varieties that bloom at different times during the year. For suggestions, see our Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven Plant List [28].

  Second, reduce your pesticide use for gardening and landscaping, and follow guidelines to reduce bee exposure [29]. Finally, you can support local beekeepers by buying their honey [30]. Ultimately, however, making our society more pollinator-friendly will likely require some drastic and long-term changes in our environmental and agricultural practices.

Elina El Niño is Assistant Extension Apiculturist, University of California, Davis.


[1] http://www.alternet.org/authors/elina-el-nino
[2] http://www.theconversation.com
[3] https://beeinformed.org/results/colony-loss-2014-2015-preliminary-results/
[4] http://www.caes.ucdavis.edu/outreach/ce
[5] http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572
[6] http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0006481
[7] https://beeinformed.org/2016/05/10/nations-beekeepers-lost-44-percent-of-bees-in-2015-16/
[8] http://ucanr.edu/blogs/bugsquad/index.cfm?tagname=varroa%20mite
[9] http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/vir.0.023853-0
[10] http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0501860102
[11] http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-0493-95.1.28
[12] http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076536
[13] https://hal.inria.fr/file/index/docid/891866/filename/hal-00891866.pdf
[14] http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/
[15] http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/GENERAL/whatisipm.html
[16] http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/research.html
[17] http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imb.12016
[18] http://articles.extension.org/pages/28332/instrumental-insemination-of-honey-bee-queens
[19] http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2011.09.003
[20] http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004713
[21] https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/schedule-review-neonicotinoid-pesticides
[22] https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/epa-releases-first-four-preliminary-risk-assessments-insecticides-potentially-harmful
[23] http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136928
[24] https://theconversation.com/not-just-bees-the-buzz-on-our-other-vital-insect-helpers-52373
[25] http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152685
[26] http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2014.10.002
[27] https://polleneaters.wordpress.com/
[28] http://hhbhgarden.ucdavis.edu/plantsofthehaven
[29] http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PDF/PMG/pnw591.pdf
[30] http://www.honey.com/
[31] mailto:corrections@alternet.org?Subject=Typo on Deciphering the Mysterious Decline of Honey Bees
[32] http://www.alternet.org/
[33] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, May 29, 2016

WikiLeaks Says Secretive Trade Agreement Paves Way to 'Corporatization of Public Services'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)

WikiLeaks Says Secretive Trade Agreement Paves Way to 'Corporatization of Public Services'

By John Dyer, VICE
28 May 16

   WikiLeaks has released a thousands of documents that critics of free trade said shows how officials negotiating the Trade in Services Agreement, or TiSA, could force privatization on public institutions around the world.

   The most surprising revelations in the WikiLeaks documents released this week involve state-owned enterprises, or SOEs — government-owned corporations that often operate like private businesses but pursue public goals, experts said.

   The United States Postal Service might be considered a SOE. The service has a monopoly on snail mail. But it also competes against private companies by selling money orders, retail merchandise and express deliveries. When the postal service needs more money, it raises the price of stamps and other products or, when times are desperate, goes hat in hand to Congress.

   WikiLeaks and others claim that negotiators from the United States and 22 other countries want to erode SOEs to clear the way for multinational corporations to take over their functions. TiSA would seek to lower trade barriers for finance, telecommunications and other service industries. It would cover around 75 percent of the world's $44 trillion services market, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

    "This corporatization of public services — to nearly the same extent as demanded by the recently signed TPP — is a next step to privatization of SOEs on the neoliberal agenda behind the 'Big Three,'" said a WikiLeaks statement.

    The "Big Three" referred to TiSA, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a deal that the US and 11 other governments have finished negotiating but not yet ratified, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. American and European diplomats are now negotiating the TTIP. European trade officials have said they would like to conclude TiSA talks by the end of the year.

    Defenders of the trade agreement said TiSA critics were crying wolf. Nobody expects the pact to abolish Britain's National Health Service, for example, said Claude Barfield, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former consultant to the US Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan. Instead, TiSA would prevent governments giving favorable treatment to state-owned enterprises at the expense of foreign competitors.

   "There will continue to be SOEs, but it's just the biases and special deals they get from governments will be, if not ended — that's probably not possible —at least curtailed a great deal," Barfield said. "Treat SOEs the same way you treat private corporations."
The US Postal Service, for example, would need under TiSA to behave according to the same rules as German courier service DHL when shipping express mail, a function that's outside its normal 'public service' duties of delivering regular mail and parcels, according to the internal documents WikiLeaks claims to have obtained. It couldn't depend on Congressional handouts, in other words.

   "Each Party shall ensure that any state-owned enterprise that it establishes or maintains, when engaging in commercial activities... acts in accordance with commercial considerations in its purchase or supply of services, and in its sale of goods," the WikiLeaks documents said.

   Those rules would especially impact China, where the communist state controls much of the economy via state-owned businesses. Echoing arguments in favor of the TPP — which does not include China — Barfield said nailing down TiSA now would help set ground rules for when China also joined the accord. "When you are talking about SOEs, China is the big elephant in the room," he said.

   Celeste Drake, a trade and globalization policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, agreed. She was skeptical of the deal but saw merits in the TiSA's proposals.

    "We want trading rules that set up a level playing field," Drake said, adding that the AFL-CIO hadn't yet taken an official position on the deal. "It's not level if one country is providing subsidies to allegedly 'private enterprises' that other countries are not providing because it is against the rules. That's one of the threats from China: that it is using public monies to subsidize state-controlled businesses so they can behave in a predatory manner and destroy US jobs."

   US trade officials declined to comment on or confirm the authenticity of the WikiLeaks disclosures.

   But TiSA critics said the deal wasn't as straightforward as its supporters suggested.
"We know trade theory predicted that there would be greater economic activity if trade barriers were lifted on commodities and manufacturing," said Mark Langevin, subregional secretary of Public Services International, a coalition of labor unions. "That's generally our experience. Some people benefit from that. Some don't. Trade theory has not really been tested out on services. The advocates of TiSA are guessing."

   WikiLeaks dropped internal documents passed around by TiSA negotiators in 2014 and 2015, too. They and the most recent leaks contain provisions that have concerned Langevin and others.

   The deal could bar signatories from establishing new significant state-owned enterprises because in theory they might impinge on foreign competition, experts said.

   "If TiSA had existed prior to the establishment of the National Health System in the UK, then it would not have been able to exist," said Deborah James, director of international programs at the Center for Economic Policy Research. "I can't imagine how we could be able to have a single-payer health system here. There would never be change in a way that would disadvantage a foreign company. This is their intention."

   The deal also would bar government entities from undoing privatization.

  "Pearson sells a lot of educational services around the world to public school authorities," said Langevin, referring to the British multinational that makes textbooks and other learning materials. "What happens when a public school authority says 'We aren't going to buy these texts anymore? We are going to make our own.' Under this, they would be sued."

   The WikiLeaks document said TiSA would exempt schools, water utilities, and similar public sector businesses. Countries could exempt specific sectors, too, like businesses that operate on Native American reservations in the US.

   But it's not easy to separate, say, government-owned mass transit's responsibilities to the community from other, purely moneymaking functions, said Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where officials privatized and then renationalized their railroad, ferries, and national airline in the past 15 years after private companies let those networks fall into disrepair.

   "Attempts to carve out the 'public good' functions is... extremely difficult in a practical sense," she said in an e-mail. Kelsey wrote an analysis for WikiLeaks documents that accompanied the group's release of the documents.

    Barfield believed profit-seeking managers would always run businesses better than bureaucrats or government-appointed executives. He admitted, though, that big state-owned corporations couldn't be privatized overnight.

    "A lot of the inefficient SOEs in China employ hundreds of thousands of workers," he said. "If you are going to cut them down to size you need to do that gradually. You cannot dump these workers out on the streets."

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

"Operation Condor: Cross-Border Disappearance and Death"

Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet reviews troops as he enters La Moneda Palace in the capital Santiago. (photo: Reuters)
Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet reviews troops as he enters La Moneda Palace in the capital Santiago. (photo: Reuters)

"Operation Condor: Cross-Border Disappearance and Death."

By J. Patrice McSherry, teleSUR
28 May 16

 Operation Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships.

  Operation Condor was a covert, multinational “black operations” program organized by six Latin American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru), with logistical, financial, and intelligence support from Washington.

   In the Cold War climate of the 1960s and ’70s, when U.S. leaders and Latin American militaries regarded popular movements and political dissidents as “internal enemies,” any methods were considered legitimate in the “war against subversion.” In fact, many of these new social movements were indigenous nationalist, leftist, socialist, or radically democratic forces fighting to represent the voiceless and the marginalized.
As leftist and nationalist leaders won elections throughout Latin America in the 1960s and early 1970s, and new revolutionary and progressive movements gained strength, U.S. security strategists feared a communist-inspired threat to U.S. economic and political interests in the hemisphere. Local elites similarly feared that their traditional political dominance and wealth were at risk. Washington poured enormous resources into the inter-American security system, of which Condor was a top-secret part, to mobilize and unify the militaries in order to prevent leftist leaders from taking power and to control and destroy leftist and popular movements in Latin America. Anticommunism and “preventing another Cuba” were the national security priorities of the U.S. in Latin America.

     The reigning national security doctrine incorporated counterinsurgency strategies and concepts such as “hunter-killer” programs and secret, “unconventional” techniques such as subversion, sabotage, and terrorism to defeat foes. Much of counterinsurgency doctrine is classified, but scholars have documented many of its key components. Michael McClintock, for example, analyzed a classified U.S. Army Special Forces manual of December 1960 Counter-Insurgency Operations, one of the earliest to mention explicitly, in its section "Terror Operations," the use of counterinsurgent terror as a legitimate tactic. He cites other secret U.S. army special operations handbooks from the 1960s that endorsed "counterterror," including assassination and abduction, in certain situations. One March 1961 article in Military Review stated, "Political warfare, in short, is warfare. . .[that] embraces diverse forms of coercion and violence including strikes and riots, economic sanctions, subsidies for guerrilla or proxy warfare and, when necessary, kidnapping or assassination of enemy elites.” In short, “disappearance” was a key element of counterinsurgency doctrine.

    Operation Condor was a multinational system to specifically target exiles who had escaped the wave of military coups and dictatorships in their own countries. Thousands of Argentines, Uruguayans, and Brazilians fled to Chile in the early 1970s when the progressive Unidad Popular government was in power. After the September 1973 CIA-backed coup against President Salvador Allende, thousands escaped to Argentina. Operation Condor focused on these people — many of whom were under United Nations protection — using covert, cross-border abduction-disappearance, “rendition” to other countries, torture, and extrajudicial execution.

    Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships, as well as guerrillas or armed insurgents (all of whom were entitled to due process and freedom from torture). Exiles were considered dangerous enemies by the regimes because of their powerful influence in the developing global human rights movement. The Chilean exiles, for instance — some 200,000 Chileans were forced out of the country in the first years after the coup — were pioneers in organizing solidarity and anti-dictatorship groups worldwide, providing information to the U.N. and human rights groups, and transmitting through their music and art the hopes and promise of the Unidad Popular.
(photo: teleSUR)

     Under a top-secret agreement known as “Phase III” Condor also assassinated, or attempted to assassinate, key political opposition leaders exiled in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Special teams of assassins from member countries were formed to travel worldwide to eliminate “subversive enemies”— political leaders who could organize and lead pro-democracy movements against the military regimes. One Condor assassination targeted former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, a prominent critic of the Pinochet regime. He and his U.S. colleague Ronni Moffitt were murdered in a 1976 car bombing in Washington, D.C. Other targets included constitutionalist Chilean general Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert, assassinated in Buenos Aires (1974), and two Uruguayan legislators and opponents of the Uruguayan military regime, Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, disappeared, tortured, and killed in Buenos Aires (1976). Washington and its Latin American allies feared elected leftist leaders as much, if not more, than revolutionary guerrillas in the region, as the plots against Presidents Goulart of Brazil and Allende, among others, demonstrated.

    In 1973 or early 1974, before the Condor apparatus acquired its code name and formal structure, the counterinsurgents created the prototype of Condor. A February 1974 meeting took place in Buenos Aires to plan deeper collaboration of the police of six South American states. Between 1973 and 1975 cross-border disappearances and forcible, extralegal transfers of exiles (“renditions”) by multinational Condor squadrons intensified under an unwritten agreement enabling the associated militaries to pursue individuals who had fled to neighboring countries. This was the essence of Condor, as yet unnamed.
Chilean colonel Manuel Contreras, head of the fearsome Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), was a key Condor organizer. He called for a founding meeting in Santiago to institutionalize the Condor prototype in 1975. In 2000, the CIA acknowledged that Contreras had been paid by the CIA between 1974 and 1977, a period when the Condor network was planning and carrying out assassinations in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

    In 1974 a Uruguayan abduction-disappearance squadron took up residence in Buenos Aires and worked with its Argentine and Chilean counterparts to “disappear,” torture, interrogate, and illegally transfer exiles. Selected Uruguayan navy units began to coordinate secret repressive actions with personnel from the notorious Argentine Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) in 1974, and an ESMA delegation traveled to Uruguay that year to train officers in torture techniques in counterinsurgency courses. In an emblematic case, Uruguayan exile Antonio Viana was kidnapped from his home in Buenos Aires by a joint Argentine-Uruguayan squad, taken to the federal police headquarters, and tortured by Uruguayan officers he recognized. Viana soon realized that the squad included officers from the Argentine Federal Police and the Uruguayan Organismo Coordinador de Operaciones Antisubversivas (OCOA) and Dirección Nacional de Información e Inteligencia (DNII). In the Argentine federal police headquarters, La Superintendencia de Seguridad Federal, Viana was tortured both physically and psychologically. Viana testified that his torturers and interrogators included Argentine police officers Miguel Angel Iñiguiz and Alberto Villar and Uruguayans Carlos Calcagno, José Gavazzo, Hugo Campos Hermida, Jorge Silveira, and Víctor Castiglioni, names that are infamous in Uruguay. 

   Viana's case is one of many confirming that Condor was operative long before its official founding meeting in November 1975, thus highlighting the importance of the February 1974 meeting in Buenos Aires. Viana was transported back to Uruguay where he remained “disappeared” for years (he survived).

   Documents discovered in Argentina show that the Chilean DINA and Argentine intelligence agencies were working together in 1974 to abduct members of the Chilean Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) and the so-called OPR-33 of Uruguay in Argentina. Condor officers in Argentina used an abandoned auto repair shop, Orletti Motors — code-named OT [Operaciones Tácticas] 18 — as a secret torture and detention center for foreign detainees. Survivors reported seeing Bolivians, Chileans, Uruguayans, as well as two young security guards from the Cuban embassy in Argentina, imprisoned and tortured there. Most were killed.

   Recent testimonies, such as that of Brazilian coronel Paulo Malhaes, who appeared before Brazil’s Comisión de la Verdad, provided confirmation of joint covert operations by Brazil’s Centro de Informaciones del Ejército and Argentine Batallón 601 de Inteligencia de Campo de Mayo against Argentines who were in Rio. Malhaes confessed to following and “disappearing” many Argentines, some who were protected by the U.N. and others who were members of the Montoneros. Malhaes died of a heart attack in 2014 after three men broke into his house and held him hostage for ten hours, ransacking the place and taking files and weapons.

   Condor, “officially” institutionalized in November 1975, filled a crucial function in the inter-American counterinsurgency regime. While the militaries carried out massive repression within their own countries, the transnational Condor system silenced individuals and groups that had escaped the dictatorships to prevent them from organizing politically or influencing public opinion. The anticommunist mission, of which Condor was a part, ultimately crushed democratic as well as radical movements and individuals. Condor was not solely a Latin American (or Chilean) initiative; nor was it a simple instrument of Washington. Condor was secret component of the continental counterinsurgency regime. The militaries’ use of “disappearance” was central for carrying out covert counterinsurgency wars, provoking terror, and at the same time providing plausible deniability — the ability to camouflage links to the state and create impunity.
Justice is still pending for many crimes committed under the Condor system.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Why Paul Krugman Is Wrong About the 1990s

Why Paul Krugman Is Wrong About the 1990s

May 27, 2016

Rana Foroohar

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Time magazine

  I’ve been pondering Paul Krugman’s recent column [1] in the New York Times about how great the 1990s were economically. Hillary Clinton has, of course, been saying the same thing on the campaign trail. In fact, she wants to put her husband Bill back in charge of the economy if she’s elected—a mistake, in my opinion, both on economic grounds and because it smacks of nepotism.

   The key question is this: What is the true economic narrative about the 1990s? In other words, was it a time of shared American prosperity brought on by smart policy? Or was it a time when the style of laissez-faire attitudes forged in the 1980s was co-opted by Democrats and began to create the growing inequality and periodic crises we’ve since become used to?

   It’s risky to take issue with a Nobel laureate, but having just written a book [2] that looks deeply at some of these issues, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Krugman has it partly wrong when he waxes nostalgic about the “boom” days of the 1990s.

  For starters, most of the 1990s did not produce a boom for ordinary people. Wages for the bottom 90% of the population in America were flat until 1996. (If you want to track the data yourself, check out this wonderful interactive graphic [3] from the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank affiliated with the labor movement, which allows you to set the frame anywhere you like over the last 100 years.) After that, the wage share of the lower 90 % began growing slightly, and in the last couple years of the 90s, America got some decent wage growth for average people.

  Why did this happen? Because the Federal Reserve kept interest rates quite low which allowed for full employment. This was in part because there was little risk of inflation due to globalization and new technologies; unemployment was around 3.9% in the late-1990s. That also encouraged a stock boom, which for a period of time meant more private investment into the economy. Finally, there was a brief productivity boom from new technology, which made investors bullish on the future and helped contribute to some wage growth.

    As we know, however, none of this lasted. By 2001, the dot com crash (a result of that stock bubble) had wiped out much of the investment boom. Productivity dipped and hasn’t gone up since. Incomes for average people have been stagnating, and we’ve gone back to business as usual—the 1% taking the vast majority of all income gains.

    In his column, Krugman advocates thinking about the policies of the 1990s as a model for how to create another bout of prosperity. But what were those policies, exactly?

   Bob Rubin, then Treasury secretary, balanced the budget and focused on market-led growth, rather than the massive public investment plan advocated by the other Bob, former labor secretary Robert Reich. Reich’s strategy of real, sustained investment in infrastructure and education (which Bill Clinton actually campaigned on) was deep sixed in favor of a more market-oriented, quick hit growth plan.

   “I pushed hard for a major public investment strategy, but it got ground up in demands from Republicans and some Democrats to cut the budget deficit,” says Reich, now a professor at Berkeley. “In some ways, it was an early exercise in austerity economics.”

    Would the Rubin strategy work today? Absolutely not. If we tried to balance the budget right now, we’d get European-style austerity. And while we still rely on the sugar high of super low interest rates, their effectiveness for boosting Main Street has decreased. Low rates have led to record stock prices, but Main Street growth is still sluggish, and wages are still relatively flat (as is productivity).

   The Band-Aid of easy money that worked in the 1990s simply won’t work anymore. It only changes asset prices–not what’s actually happening on Main Street. Central banks can buy time for governments to do real fiscal stimulus. But they can’t fix what’s wrong with the underlying system all by themselves.

   What’s more, one of the solutions Krugman advocates is actually the one that Bill Clinton’s administration didn’t take up–a massive infrastructure program. In fact, public investment as a percentage of GDP in the U.S. began falling in the 1990s. While it’s true that Clinton made some investments in education and infrastructure (and spent a lot of time talking about the “information superhighway [4]”), they weren’t anywhere near the levels that would have changed the underlying growth paradigm.

  The wrong Bob won the liberal economic debate of the 1990s. That’s why the decade brought a false, financialized growth that quickly evaporated at the first bubble popping, rather than the real thing. (I actually left journalism briefly to work in a high-tech incubator and, for this sin, I got to watch the bubble pop first-hand).
This is exactly why I worry when I hear that Hillary wants to put Bill back in charge. The suggestion begs an uncomfortable question: Has she learned the lessons of the 1990s?

   Maybe. Clinton recently proclaimed her desire to pull off a bold public infrastructure program. And she’s been somewhat critical of the ramifications of certain go-go 90s phenomenon like share buybacks (which create saccharine growth by artificially jacking up the value of company stock, which increases inequality).

   But I have yet to hear a full tally of what Hillary thinks was right about the 1990s, policy wise–and what wasn’t. In today’s economic climate, simply laying claim to the good parts of the 90s without explicitly outing the bad is not enough.
Certainly, we should be thinking about how to achieve a healthier labor market, but we also need to recognize that just letting the markets do their thing, as many in Bill Clinton’s administration advocated, isn’t a real growth strategy. It’s a head fake. In that sense, it’s misguided to lavish unadulterated praise for the era. The economic policy of the 90s only worked for some people, some of the time.

   Rana Foroohar is an assistant managing editor at TIME and the magazine’s economics columnist. She’s the author of Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business [5].


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs