“There are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but are frankly sick.
“It is a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society, people allowed to feel the world owes them something, that their rights outweigh their responsibilities and their actions do not have consequences. Well, they do have consequences.”
You’re darn right! The global elites have gone too far! The banksters have stolen trillions from ordinary taxpayers, and then demanded and received massive government bailouts. Politicians have lost any sense of responsibility toward their constituents, only listening to their corporate masters and their lobbyists. Yes there are consequences and these wealthy elites will discover there are consequences for their corrupt and immoral actions.
The U.S. Federal Reserve gave out $16.1 trillion in emergency loans to U.S. and foreign financial institutions between Dec. 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010, according to figures produced by the government’s first-ever audit of the central bank.
Last year, the gross domestic product of the entire U.S. economy was $14.5 trillion.
Of the $16.1 trillion loaned out, $3.08 trillion went to financial institutions in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium, the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) analysis shows.
Additionally, asset swap arrangements were opened with banks in the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Mexico, Singapore and Switzerland. Twelve of those arrangements are still ongoing, having been extended through August 2012.
Out of all borrowers, Citigroup received the most financial assistance from the Fed, at $2.5 trillion. Morgan Stanley came in second with $2.04 trillion, followed by Merill Lynch at $1.9 trillion and Bank of America at $1.3 trillion.
This scepticism toward the potency of democratic politicians – and therefore democratic politics itself – is oddly echoed by the looters themselves. Certainly no one outside the Iranian state media is calling them “protesters”, but even “rioters” seems the wrong word, carrying with it a hint of political purpose. For some, especially at the start in Tottenham, there was clearly a political dimension – with the police the prime focus of their anger. But many of the copycat actions across London and elsewhere have no apparent drive beyond the opportunistic desire to steal and get away with it. It’s striking that the targets have not been town halls or, say, Tory HQ – stormed by students last November – but branches of Dixons, Boots and Carphone Warehouse. If they are making a political statement, it is that politics does not matter.
Lambert notes that at least these looters didn’t steal $16 trillion from the U.S. Treasury.
And while the revulsion at the looting has been widespread and bipartisan – with plenty of liberals admitting to “coming over all Daily Mail” at the ugliness of the vandalism – that sense of the impotence of politics is widespread, too. One aspect of the phone-hacking scandal that went deep was its revelation that those we might think exert authority – police and politicians – were in fact supine before an unelected media corporation. The sheer power of News Corp contrasted with the craven behaviour of those we elect or entrust to look out for us.
But elected officials are supposed to protect all citizens–even the poor, the unemployed, and the elderly–aren’t they? Yet in the U.S. and Europe, the burden of the economic crisis is falling on those with the least ability to pay, while the wealthy continue to receive their government handouts. When people are pushed to the point that they feel they have nothing to lose, this is what happens. Why it is coming as such a surprise to the comfortable elites is the real mystery.
Let’s take a look at what some of the rioters themselves have said about the meaning of their actions. From Yahoo News:
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, making deep cuts to public services to tackle a record budget deficit, has been quick to deny that the unrest was linked to austerity measures, calling the disorder “pure criminality.” [….]
Public anger over the widespread looting of shops appears to have strengthened the government’s argument, with stolen goods ranging from the expensive — televisions and jewelry — to the absurd — sweets and bottles of alcohol.
However, community leaders and rioters themselves said the violence was an expression of the frustration felt by the poorest inhabitants of a country that ranks among the most unequal in the developed world.
“They’ve raised rates, cut child benefit. Everyone just used it as a chance to vent,” one man who took part in unrest in the east London district of Hackney told Reuters.
Surprise, surprise. Cutting social services to pay for the bankers’ failures has real life consequences. Austerity measures create more unemployment, and people who don’t have jobs get hungry and scared. When you take everything from people who can least afford it, they get angry. What on earth do these people expect? What planet are they living on anyway? And no, I’m not condoning violence. I’m just saying that it’s going to happen when you push people too far.
Here are some quotes from two young women who participated in the British riots:
Two girls who took part in Monday night’s riots in Croydon have boasted that they were showing police and “the rich” that “we can do what we want”.
“I came here to get my penny’s worth,” said a man who gave his name as Louis James, 19, a slightly built participant in the widening riots that have shaken London to its core. With a touch of guilt on Tuesday, Mr. James showed off what he described as a $195 designer sweater that he said he took during looting in Camden Town, a gentrified area of north London.
Politicians from both the right and the left, the police and most residents of the areas hit by violence nearly unanimously describe the most recent riots as criminal and anarchic, lacking even a hint of the anti-government, anti-austerity message that has driven many of the violent protests in other European countries.
But the riots also reflect the alienation and resentment of many young people in Britain, where one million people from the ages of 16 to 24 are officially unemployed, the most since the deep recession of the mid-1980s.
Don’t these politicians, police, and other observers understand that poverty and jobless *are* sociopolitical issues? Just because people are acting out of desperation or even opportunism doesn’t mean that their actions are not political. Just because someone is young and poor does not mean he or she isn’t aware that government and corporate corruption have caused much of their distress. Back to the NYT article:
In many ways, Mr. James’s circumstances are typical. He lives in a government-subsidized apartment in northern London and receives $125 in jobless benefits every two weeks, even though he says he has largely given up looking for work. He says he has never had a proper job and learned to read only three years ago. His mother can barely support herself and his stepbrothers and sisters. His father, who was a heroin addict, is dead.
He says he has been in and out of too many schools to count and left the educational system for good when he was 15.
“No one has ever given me a chance; I am just angry at how the whole system works,” Mr. James said. He would like to get a job at a retail store, but admits that he spends most days watching television and just trying to get by. “That is the way they want it,” he said, without specifying exactly who “they” were. “They give me just enough money so that I can eat and watch TV all day. I don’t even pay my bills anymore.”
Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in London, says that Mr. James’s plight reflects a broader trend here. More challenging students, Mr. Portes says, have not been receiving the attention they should as teachers, under pressure to meet educational goals, focus on children from more stable homes and those with greater abilities and social skills. Disillusioned, those who cannot keep up just drop out.
The Tottenham riots that blindsided Britain were sparked by the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man. Over the past few days, they’ve continued and spread, turning into what has largely become youths’ looting and destroying parts of London. But no one is exactly sure why they’re doing it. Prime Minister David Cameron called it “criminality, pure and simple.”
But why have the riots continued day after day?
The riots are neither politically or racially fueled, wrote Doug Sanders of the Globe and Mail. They’re the result of a “lost generation” of youth under 20 who have little to lose and a bleak future. Here’s an excerpt:
Whether the thousands of rioters actually did express disillusionment — some did say they were angry at police or the world, but many appeared gleeful or greedy — it is clear that most had nothing else to do with themselves, and no reason to fear or feel responsible for the consequences of their actions.
This is a chronic problem in Britain, which has a “lost generation” of young high school dropouts far larger than most other Western countries’.
It’s so simple-minded to expect that youthful rioters are going to calmly explain their behavior in a reasoned, intellectual manner or that they are not going to act euphoric once they let go of restraint and begin acting out as part of a mob. None of that means that the reasons for their behavior are not political.
It seems to me that masses of young people who have “little to lose and bleak future” is in fact a powerful political issue for any society. And when people are powerless, there are few ways for them express their anger. Violence is one way to get attention from the powerful.
Can it happen here? You bet it can. As long as the President and Congress continue enacting austerity measures and ignoring unemployment and general misery among ordinary Americans, it’s guaranteed the U.S. will see riots in the streets–as we have in the past. When it happens here, will our elites be as dumbfounded and out-of-touch with reality as those in Great Britain? Probably.
I posted this in a comment yesterday, but I’m going to put it up again here. It’s an interview of writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe by a clueless BBC “journalist.”
That’s my suggested reading for today. What do you recommend?
UPDATE: I found a piece in the Guardian that reflects my thinking.
It is essential for those in power in Britain that the riots now sweeping the country can have no cause beyond feral wickedness. This is nothing but “criminality, pure and simple”, David Cameron declared after cutting short his holiday in Tuscany. The London mayor and fellow former Bullingdon Club member Boris Johnson, heckled by hostile Londoners in Clapham Junction, warned that rioters must stop hearing “economic and sociological justifications” (though who was offering them he never explained) for what they were doing.
When his predecessor Ken Livingstone linked the riots to the impact of public spending cuts, it was almost as if he’d torched a building himself. The Daily Mail thundered that blaming cuts was “immoral and cynical”, echoed by a string of armchair riot control enthusiasts. There was nothing to explain, they’ve insisted, and the only response should be plastic bullets, water cannon and troops on the streets.
We’ll hear a lot more of that when parliament meets – and it’s not hard to see why. If these riots have no social or political causes, then clearly no one in authority can be held responsible….If this week’s eruption is an expression of pure criminality and has nothing to do with police harassment or youth unemployment or rampant inequality or deepening economic crisis, why is it happening now and not a decade ago? The criminal classes, as the Victorians branded those at the margins of society, are always with us, after all. And if it has no connection with Britain’s savage social divide and ghettoes of deprivation, why did it kick off in Haringey and not Henley?
…To refuse to recognise the causes of the unrest is to make it more likely to recur – and ministers themselves certainly won’t be making that mistake behind closed doors if they care about their own political futures.
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
When one of us common people questions the Bush failures before 9/11 or the Warren Commission’s insistence that JFK was killed by a lone gunman, we are laughed at by the corporate media and lectured by politicians. But when one of the Global Elite gets in trouble, conspiracy theories are suddenly in vogue. Now that a global banker and possible candidate for the French presidency is accused of a sexual attack on a lowly hotel maid, elite conspiracy theories are running rampant in the U.S. and international media. I’ll give you a few examples.
At the Pakistan Observer, Ali Ashraf Kahn argues that Strauss-Kahn had to brought down, first because he would very likely have beaten the “American poodle Sarakozi” in a race for the presidency of France, and second because he (Strauss-Kahn) had offended the international banksters and corporations by proposing more liberal policies at the IMF which would have been a threat to the dollar. According to Ali Ashraf Kahn, getting rid of Strauss-Kahn would–along with U.S. military actions in Libya and Pakistan–would help to “save American predominance in the world.”
This incident goes to prove the hidden agenda of an international vested interest group trying to build and secure an American Empire for their master, which has not spared even Strauss-Kahn, who has been fixed in a rape attempt with a 32 year old hotel maid in a country where teen aged unwed mothers are a normal accepted feature. The former French Foreign Minister Strauss-Kahn, once if he was elected as president of France would have worked to strengthen the Euro to bring down dollar, which was of serious concern for the Federal Reserve Board in the already ongoing currency war with China. John F. Kennedy, US president was murdered for his only sin of canceling Federal Reserve Act of 1913 in 1963, when for the first time dollar currency was issued with the seal of US government, soon after his assassination President Lyndon B. Johnson revived this Act to continue their financial exploitation.
The author of this article appears to have a problem understanding the distinction between rape and consensual sex that results in pregnancies, but I’ll let that go for the moment. Kahn explains that Strauss-Kahn was trying to make radical changes at the IMF–so much so that Strauss Kahn won high praise from Joseph Stiglitz, which was apparently the final “kiss of death.”
Strauss-Kahn was trying to move the bank in a more positive direction, a direction that didn’t require that countries leave their economies open to the ravages of foreign capital that moves in swiftly-pushing up prices and creating bubbles, and departs just as fast, leaving behind the scourge of high unemployment, plunging demand, hobbled industries, and deep recession. Strauss-Kahn had set out on a “kinder and gentler” path, one that would not force foreign leaders to privatize their state-owned industries or crush their labour unions. Naturally, his actions were not warmly received by the banker’s mafia and multi national corporations who look to the IMF to provide legitimacy to their ongoing plunder of the rest of the world. These are the people who think that the current policies are “just fine” because they produce the desired results they’re looking for, which is bigger profits for themselves and deeper poverty for everyone else.
I have to admit, I’m in sympathy with those goals. There’s a lot more, so read the whole thing if you want more detail.
A woman from West Africa, assaulted by a famous white male, a future president of France, to be listened to by the New York Police, is amazing. But is it? [….]
New York police has [sic] been rummaging through DSK’s diaries, hotel registries, phone records, yearbooks and have made sure that the “great seducer” always appears handcuffed and dressed in a “pervie” raincoat with three-days stubble before they parade him in front of the media. He gets this treatment even though he has no criminal record and nothing, but the sketchy accusations of a room service cleaner.
What is his real crime? Strauss-Kahn was mounting an attack against the dollar and had called for a new world reserve currency that would challenge the dominance of the dollar and protect against future financial instability. He suggested adding emerging market countries’ currencies, such as the Yuan, to a basket of currencies that the IMF will administer to add stability to the global system….Strauss-Kahn saw a greater role for the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, (SDRs) which is currently composed of the dollar, sterling, euro and yen, over time but said it will take a great deal of international cooperation to make that work.”
I love the way these male authors toss aside the charges against Strauss-Kahn–in Nkuba’s case, while complaining about racial prejudice. I guess he goes by the “bros before hos” rule: racism bad, sexism invisible.
Moreno and Mata have not been asked to strip naked for “evidence” photos, were not initially denied bail, and were not held in solitary confinement, and are not being strip-searched daily. Their entire case has followed the usual timetable of many months, as evidence was gathered, testimony compiled and arguments made.
On the other hand, Wolf writes,
After a chambermaid reportedly told her supervisor at the elegant Sofitel hotel that she had been sexually assaulted, the suspect was immediately tracked down, escorted off a plane just before its departure, and arrested. High-ranking detectives, not lowly officers, were dispatched to the crime scene. The DNA evidence was sequenced within hours, not the normal eight or nine days. By the end of the day’s news cycle, New York City police spokespeople had made uncharacteristic and shockingly premature statements supporting the credibility of the victim’s narrative — before an investigation was complete.
The accused was handcuffed and escorted before television cameras — a New York tradition known as a “perp walk.” The suspect was photographed naked, which is also unusual, initially denied bail and held in solitary confinement. The Police Commissioner has boasted to the press that Strauss-Kahn is strip-searched now multiple times a day — also unheard-of.
Prison brass and the NYPD have an airtight plan to safeguard the jet-setting French moneyman by having him isolated, chained, shackled — and repeatedly strip-searched — before and after court appearances, including a bail hearing newly scheduled for today.
“He will be strip-searched when he leaves Rikers Island. He will be strip-searched when he arrives in court. He’s strip-searched when he leaves court, and he’s strip-searched when he gets back to Rikers,” said Norman Seabrook, head of the correction officers union.
“When he arrives to the courthouse, he’s going to be put in an isolated cell away from other inmates,” said Seabrook. “This is for fear that another inmate would try to kill him to make a name for himself.”
men like former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was investigating financial wrongdoing by the insurance giant AIG, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Strauss-Kahn — whose efforts to reform the IMF gained him powerful opponents — can be, and are, kept under constant surveillance. Indeed, Strauss-Kahn, who had been the odds-on favorite to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s French presidential election, probably interested more than one intelligence service.
This does not mean that Strauss-Kahn is innocent or that he is guilty. It means that policy outcomes can be advanced nowadays, in a surveillance society, by exploiting or manipulating sex-crime charges, whether real or inflated.
She has a pretty good point there. But the maid who reported Strauss-Kahn’s attack was a member of a union, as Dean Baker pointed out. Could that be why her employer made sure she was treated well by the police?
The reason that this is an important part of the story is that it is likely that Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim might not have felt confident enough to pursue the issue with either her supervisors or law enforcement agencies, if she had not been protected by a union contract. The vast majority of hotel workers in the United States, like most workers in the private sector, do not enjoy this protection.
Reading all these arguments for a conspiracy against Dominque Strauss-Kahn has given me pause. It certainly makes sense that the U.S. government would want to end his tenure at the IMF and prevent him from becoming President of France. But how could they know he would attack a hotel maid? Does the conspiracy require her involvement? That’s the serious hangup I have in buying into these authors’ claims–much as I do always enjoy a good conspiracy theory.
Patrica J. Williams touches all the bases in an article about the case at NPR. On the conspiracy issue, she argues for a skeptical approach to conspiracy theories, while keeping an open mind.
Politics is a complicated, dirty business, as the impeachment hearings of President Clinton ought to have instructed us. (Who guessed back then that Newt Gingrich, while skewering Clinton’s morals, was cheating on his then-wife with his present wife?) For Americans, who by and large have never heard of DSK, the possibility of his arrest being a set-up is inconceivable. But in the immediate aftermath of his detention, a majority of French citizens believe he has been purposely brought down. Why? Dominique Strauss-Kahn was well on track not just to become France’s president but its first Jewish president. As head of the IMF, he led that institution in a distinctly progressive manner. He sharply critiqued corrupt American bankers and banking practices and, early on, predicted the collapse of the mortgage market. As a center-left Socialist party member, he was close to negotiating a European Union bailout for Greece. And his elimination from the election empowers the candidacy of Marine LePen, head of the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic National Front party, whose popularity, alarmingly enough, currently polls higher than that of Nicolas Sarkozy.
I’m certainly going to keep all this in mind as I follow the developments in the Strauss-Kahn case. I’d love to know what you all think about it too, so please chime in!
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
About our Banner
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.