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AlterNet / Donald Trump Lashes Out at LaVar Ball and the NFL in Racist Morning Tweetstorm
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 06:01:05 AM »
Donald Trump Lashes Out at LaVar Ball and the NFL in Racist Morning Tweetstorm

The president's message to his base couldn't be any clearer.


This morning, Donald Trump woke up to continue demanding that LaVar Ball bow down and be thankful.

It wasn?t the White House, it wasn?t the State Department, it wasn?t father LaVar?s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man?s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It?s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!

I don?t care if LaVar Ball is a jackass. I don?t care if LaVar Ball sells his shoes for $4000. I don?t care if LaVar Ball eats live kittens on TV. Because LaVar Ball hasn?t turned the commander in chief of the free world into a whining infant demanding that people change his sodden nappy ? and like it.

This is utterly disgusting, and represents a new low in Trump?s eternal quest to get lower. If the racist message of Trump?s demand weren?t clear enough, see his next tweet for a reminder of his other great quest to get people to behave the way he thinks they should.

The NFL is now thinking about a new idea - keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That?s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league! ..?

Trump apparently intended to everyone to connect those dots to ?black people don?t act right? as he next he retweeted a post about Ball?s ?ungratefulness? in failing to acknowledge that, for all of ten seconds, Trump might have done his job. Since this is the day before Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to toss Trump a Bible verse.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. ... And anyone who says, ?You fool!? will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:22



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Source: Donald Trump Lashes Out at LaVar Ball and the NFL in Racist Morning Tweetstorm
Richard Mellor / Market power again
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Yesterday at 06:03:04 PM »
Market power again

by Michael Roberts

In a previous post,  I covered the arguments of several mainstream economists who sought to  explain the slowdown in productivity and investment growth especially  since the beginning of the 2000s as due to market power.

Now there is yet another round of mainstream economic papers trying  to explain why investment in the major economies has fallen back since  the end of Great Recession in 2009.  And again most of these papers try  to argue that it is the rise in ?market power? ie monopolistic trends,  especially in finance, that has led to profits being accumulated in  finance, property or in cash-rich techno giants that do not invest  productively or innovatively.

That investment in productive assets has dropped in the US is  revealed by the collapse in net investment (that?s after depreciation)  relative to the total stock of fixed assets in the capitalist sector.

Note that the fall in this net investment ratio took place from the  early 2000s at the same time as financial profits rocketed.  That  suggests that a switch took place from productive to financial  investment (or into fictitious capital as Marx called it).

In a new paper, Thomas Philippon, Robin Döttling and Germán Gutiérrez looked at data  from a group of eight Eurozone countries and the US. They first  establish a number of stylised facts. They found that the corporate  investment rate was low in both the Eurozone and the US, with the share  of intangibles (investment in intellectual property such as computer  software and databases or research and development) increasing and the  share of machinery and equipment decreasing.  But they also found that  investment tracked corporate profits in the Eurozone, but fell below in  the US.  In other words, productive investment slipped in the Eurozone  because profitability did too.

But there appeared to be an ?investment gap? in the US.

But there is an important issue here of measurement.  As I showed in  my previous post, these mainstream analyses use Tobin?s Q as the measure  of accumulated profit to compare against investment.  But Tobin?s Q is  the market value of a firm?s assets (typically measured by its equity  price) divided by its accounting value or replacement costs.  This is  really a measure of fictitious profits.  Given the credit-fuelled  financial explosion of the 2000s, it is no wonder that net investment in  productive assets looks lower when compared with Tobin Q profits.  This  is not the right comparison.  Where the financial credit and stock  market boom was much less, as in the Eurozone, profits and investment  movements match.

Nevertheless, mainstream/Keynesian economics continues to push the  idea that there is an ?investment gap? because the lion?s share of the  profits has gone into monopolistic sectors which do not invest but just  extract ?rents? through their market power.  This argument has even been  taken up by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development  (UNCTAD) in its latest report.  In chapter seven of its 2017 report, UNCTAD waxes lyrical about the great insights of Keynes about the  ?rentier? capitalist, who is unproductive, unlike the entrepreneur  capitalist who makes things tick. 

UNCTAD?s economists conclude that  there has been ?the emergence of a new form of rentier capitalism as  a result of some recent trends: highly pronounced increases in market  concentration and the consequent market power of large global  corporations, the inadequacy and waning reach of the regulatory powers  of nation States, and the growing influence of corporate lobbying to  defend unproductive rents?.

But is the rise of rentier capitalism the main cause of the relative  fall in investment?  As I have pointed out above, the rentier appears to  play no role in the low investment rate of the Eurozone: it?s just low  profitability.  However, there does seem a case for financial market  power or financialisation as a cause for low productive investment in  the US.

Marx considered that there were two forms of rent that could appear  in a capitalist economy.  The first was ?absolute rent? where the  monopoly ownership of an asset (land) could mean the extraction of a  share of surplus value from the capitalist process without investment in  labour and machinery to produce commodities.  The second form Marx  called ?differential rent?.  This arose from the ability of some  capitalist producers to sell at a cost below that of more inefficient  producers and so extract a surplus profit ? as long as the low cost  producers could stop others adopting even lower cost techniques by  blocking entry to the market, employing large economies of scale in  funding, controlling patents and making cartel deals.  This differential  rent could be achieved in agriculture by better yielding land (nature)  but in modern capitalism, it would be through a form of ?technological  rent?; ie monopolising technical innovation.

Undoubtedly, much of the mega profits of the likes of Apple,  Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook are due to their control over  patents, financial strength (cheap credit) and buying up potential  competitors.  But the mainstream explanations go too far.  Technological  innovations also explain the success of these big companies.  Moreover,  by its very nature, capitalism, based on ?many capitals? in  competition, cannot tolerate any ?eternal? monopoly, a ?permanent?  surplus profit deducted from the sum total of profits which is divided  among the capitalist class as a whole.  The continual battle to increase  profit and the share of the market means monopolies are continually  under threat from new rivals, new technologies and international  competitors.

The history of capitalism is one where the concentration and  centralisation of capital increases, but competition continues to bring  about the movement of surplus value between capitals (within a national  economy and globally). The substitution of new products for old ones  will in the long run reduce or eliminate monopoly advantage.  The  monopolistic world of GE and the motor manufacturers did not last once  new technology bred new sectors for capital accumulation.  The world of  Apple will not last forever.

?Market power? may have delivered rental profits to some very large  companies in the US, but Marx?s law of profitability still holds as the  best explanation of the accumulation process.  Rents to the few are a  deduction from the profits of the many. Monopolies redistribute profit  to themselves in the form of ?rent? but do not create profit.  Profits  are not the result of the degree of monopoly or rent seeking, as  neo-classical and Keynesian/Kalecki theories argue, but the result of  the exploitation of labour.

The key to understanding the movement in productive investment  remains its underlying profitability, not the extraction of rents by a  few market leaders.  If that is right, the Keynesian/mainstream solution  of regulation and/or the break-up of monopolies will not solve the  regular and recurrent crises or rising inequality of wealth and income.
Source: Market power again
AlterNet / Is Ivanka Trump a Target of Investigation Now? It Seems Inevitable
« Last post by AlterNet on Yesterday at 06:03:02 PM »
Is Ivanka Trump a Target of Investigation Now? It Seems Inevitable

Ivanka is deeply implicated in her family?s involvement with foreign corruption.


Social media had a bit of fun this weekend making fun of this Thanksgiving table tweet from Ivanka Trump's "lifestyle" brand:



It is a bizarre looking display and Twitter went to town:







But in all the merriment about Ivanka's questionable taste and the juxtaposition between the tax cuts for the wealthy she's helping to sell and the lives of all those blue-collar workers her father supposedly represented with his "populist" campaign, few people have stopped to ask how it can possibly be that a top adviser to the president still owns a "lifestyle" company in the first place. We have become so inured to the outright corruption of this White House that we simply accept the fact that all the Trumps and Kushners have merged their business interests with their jobs working for the president.

It's not just the first family either. The NRCC is just coming right out and putting money directly into Donald Trump's pocket now:

In case you were wondering, the Trump Hotel is doing very, very well what with lobbyists and foreign dignitaries spending huge wads of cash there over the past year. Imagine that.

Scions Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are handling the business, with Trump himself looking over some quarterly reports while Ivanka has supposedly withdrawn from day-to-day involvement with the family business and her own company. Nonetheless, Ivanka's brand is everywhere, and she is still looked upon by the media as the quintessential Trump woman: a beautiful, brilliant businesswoman with great style and exceptional savvy.

But it turns out that her brand, like her father's, is more hype than substance. Ivanka is beautiful and her style is admired by many. But her business history is nothing to be proud of. Recent investigations into the Trump real estate empire show that she had been involved in the company's most suspicious dealings with shady oligarchs and mobbed-up money launderers. If Donald Trump is in the crosshairs of federal investigators for nefarious financial transactions with disreputable characters, his daughter will likely be caught in that same net.

Reuters and NBC reported over the weekend on a particularly unsavory deal in Panama called the Trump Ocean Club, which Donald Trump dubbed Ivanka's "baby." It was the Trump Organization's first international hotel venture in 2007, and Ivanka was the lead family member on the project, working closely with a Brazilian development broker named Alexandre Ventura Nogueira. He put together much of the financing for the deal, and let's just say it wasn't exactly on the up-and-up.

Involved in Ivanka's "baby" was a money launderer from Colombia who is currently incarcerated in the U.S., a Ukrainian human trafficker and a Russian investor who was jailed a few years earlier for kidnapping and threatening murder in Israel. Nogueira himself was arrested in Panama on unrelated fraud charges and fled the country; there are still four criminal cases pending over the Trump project. Ivanka apparently claims not to remember the man, although she knew him well enough to make a promotional video with him.

Another notorious Ivanka project was the 2014 Trump Tower Baku in Azerbaijan, which she personally oversaw. This was the project that, according to a recent New Yorker report, was partially funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and served as a cash laundromat for the country's government. This was no hands-off arrangement. Ivanka and the company were heavily involved in all the details, from the interior paneling to the landscaping. According to experts, this was unusual for this sort of deal and indicates a level of personal attention that exposed the Trump Organization to serious legal trouble.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act requires that American companies not make profits from illegal activities overseas, and simply saying you didn't know where the money was coming from isn't good enough. Federal authorities have put people in prison for doing business with money launderers in Azerbaijan in recent years. Courts have held that a company needn't be aware of specific criminal behavior but only that corruption was pervasive. It's not reasonable to believe that the Trumps were unaware of the business culture in the country. Nor is it likely they were unaware that the family they were in business with was known as ?the Corleones of the Caspian." After all, as The New Yorker reported:

In May, 2012, the month the Baku deal was finalized, the F.C.P.A. was evidently on Donald Trump?s mind. In a phone-in appearance on CNBC, he expressed frustration with the law. ?Every other country goes into these places and they do what they have to do,? he said. ?It?s a horrible law and it should be changed.? If American companies refused to give bribes, he said, ?you?ll do business nowhere.?

Clearly, he knew exactly what kind of assignment he'd given his daughter.

Several senators have called for an investigation into this project, which was finally shelved after Trump was elected. According to Think Progress, "at some point earlier this year, Ivanka removed all information about the Azerbaijan project from her website, although it remains available via Internet Archive."

When you look into the rest of Ivanka Trump's history in business, the story repeats itself over and over again. The company has licensed the Trump name in places known for networks of money launderers. As the anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness reported, "the result is that Trump?s current wealth has depended in part on securing significant infusions of untraceable foreign funds.?

It's very difficult to believe that the Trumps didn't know that they were involved in these massive corruption schemes. The evidence was right in front of their eyes. Now that evidence is right in front of an investigative team that has a mandate to go wherever the evidence takes them, Ivanka Trump is as legally vulnerable as her husband and the rest of her family.



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Source: Is Ivanka Trump a Target of Investigation Now? It Seems Inevitable
Inequality Out of Control: The Average 1% Household Is Over $2.5 Million Richer in the Past Year


Things are going to get even harder for families suffering the most from inequality.

Inequality, like a malignant tumor, is growing out of control, and the only response from Congress is to make it even worse. Those at the richest end of the nation seem to have lost all capacity for understanding the meaning and values of an interdependent society. They've convinced themselves that they deserve their passively accumulated windfalls, and that poorer people have only themselves to blame for their own misfortunes.

It's Getting Uglier Every Year

The average 1% household made nearly $2.6 million in the 12 months to mid-2017, mostly from the stock market. Here's how: 

  • The U.S. increased its wealth by over $8.5 trillion (see Table 2-4, mid-2016 to mid-2017). 
  • The 1% took $3.27 trillion of that (38.3 percent: see Table 6-5). 
  • Each of 1.26 million households, on average, took nearly $2.6 million. In greater detail, the poor segment of the 1% averaged about $1.44 million for the year, the .1% averaged about $7.2 million, and the .01% (12,600 households) averaged nearly $65 million in just the past year

This is the second year in a row that the average 1% household has taken over $2.5 million of our national wealth. The pattern has worsened every year since the recession, as the U.S. stock market has more than tripled in value, with about 90 percent of the $18 trillion dollar gain going to the richest 10% of Americans. Despite all this, the super-rich are essentially blackmailing Congress into approving a 1%-pleasing tax bill by threatening to withhold their political payoffs.

Americans Dying, Congress Does Nothing

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were over 60,000 drug overdose deaths last year, and according to the National Institutes of Health about 88,000 Americans die each year from alcohol-related causes. The number of teenagers hospitalized for suicidal tendencies has doubled in the past 10 years. 

Yet Congress is considering a tax bill that would eventually cause many middle- and low-income American families to pay more in income taxes

The children of poor Americans would be hit hardest. The Republican plan excludes 10 million children whose parents work for low wages?that's about 1 in 7 of all U.S. children in working families. To turn the screws a little more, rich families would benefit more than the poor. According to one source, "a family making $1 million would get 44 times more money from the government than a single mother earning the minimum wage."

Americans Without Housing, Congress Does Nothing

From New York City and New Orleans to San Francisco and Seattle, Americans are losing their homes as builders and landlords look for ways to make money off of high-paying customers.

More and more Americans cannot afford rent. There are only 12 rural counties in the whole country where a one-bedroom apartment is affordable for minimum-wage workers, based on the 30-percent-of-income standard. Between 2010 and 2016, according to Freddie Mac, the availability of low-income housing declined by over 60 percent.

How Can It Get Worse? Ask Congress

While underpaid American workers struggle with the basic needs of health and housing, households at the other end are each taking millions of dollars of our wealth, mostly from the surging stock market, tax-free until the stocks are cashed in. 

Yet, unbelievably, Congress is considering the elimination of the alternative minimum tax, which is the only assurance that the nation's numerous tax avoiders will pay for some of their plentiful benefits. And it's considering the elimination of the estate tax, which will leave untaxed windfall fortunes in the hands of people who did nothing to earn them. 

It's a frightening thought, but with inequality ripping us apart, and with few of our national leaders willing or able to confront the problem, we may never again be an equitable and functional society. That appears to be just fine with the 1%. 

Source: Inequality Out of Control: The Average 1% Household Is Over $2.5 Million Richer in the Past Year
Anarchist News dot Org / The surprising origin of Argentina?s brazen pastry names
« Last post by on Yesterday at 06:03:48 AM »
The surprising origin of Argentina?s brazen pastry names

By Rebecca Treon, from, 2 November 2017

The first time I visited a pastry shop in Buenos Aires, I thought my ears were deceiving me. All around me, porteños (Buenos Aires natives) were ordering their favourite pastries to accompany their morning coffee. But I couldn?t believe what they were requesting: did that person just order six friar?s balls? Along with half a dozen little cannons?

The sugar-topped fritters known as bolas de fraile (friar?s balls) and the puff-pastry cones filled with dulce de leche called cañoncitos (little cannons) are just two examples of Argentina?s oddly named facturas (pastries). There are also bombas (bombs), similar to profiteroles, and libritos (little books), folded pastry layers that resemble pamphlets.

While the pastries themselves are certainly sweet, the origin of their names is more sinister: in the late 1800s, a union of anarchist bakers used their pastries as propaganda.

?The majority of Argentines don?t really know the significance of the pastry names, and why they?re called what they are. They think they?re just quirky, tongue-in-cheek nicknames,? said Vicente Campana, pastry chef and professor at the National University of Entre Rios. ?But really, it was the anarchists ? who were anti-government, anti-police and anti-church ? who gave them those names to draw attention to their political leanings.?


Blasphemy and gastronomy have long gone hand in hand. Legend has it that in the early 16th Century during the Ottoman attack on Vienna, Austrians created a crescent-shaped puff pastry, similar to a croissant, in reference to the crescent moon and star that are a widely recognised symbol of Islam. Austrians would eat these crescents in front of Turkish soldiers as a way to blaspheme their occupiers. Centuries later when the European pastries made their way to South America; known today in Argentina as medialunas, the pastries are topped with a sticky layer of saccharine syrup.

Even the term ?facturas? is loaded. The Latin root of the word is facere, meaning to make or create, but the modern-day Spanish noun means ?invoice?. The use of the word ?facturas? to refer to all pastries (which is unique to Argentine Spanish) was a clever way for members of the baker?s union to subversively call attention to the value of their labour.

Throughout the mid- to late 19th Century, Buenos Aires welcomed large numbers of European immigrants, predominantly from Spain and Italy, who were looking for a chance at a new life. They brought with them ideas for a society free from sovereign, military or religious rule ? one in which everyone was treated equally.

One such anarchist was Italian exile Errico Malatesta, whose anti-government actions included writing socialist publications and organising anarchist rallies. After his revolutionary escapades led him to a prison sentence, he fled the continent by hiding in a shipping box containing a sewing machine that was bound for South America.

Arriving in Buenos Aires in 1885, he quickly fell in with other European anarchists, including fellow Italian Ettore Mattei, who had recently formed a trade union for the city?s bakers ? for what societal role could be more important than that of the people who provide the city with its daily bread?

Two years later, in 1887, the Sociedad Cosmopolita de Resistencia y Colocación de Obreros Panaderos (The Cosmopolitan Society of Resistance and Placement of Bakery Workers) went on strike, closing down the city?s bakeries for more than a week. As a part of the movement, union members renamed baked goods with blasphemous monikers targeting the government, the military and the church ? the institutions anarchists believed stood in the way of individual freedom. What better way to elevate awareness of a cause than by changing the names of something residents eat on a daily basis?

The coming years brought rolling work stoppages across a variety of industries, from carpentry to mechanics to shoemakers, with Malatesta standing at the forefront of the movement. He left Buenos Aires in 1889, but his legacy of inspiring workers to stand up for their rights was long lasting, with the anarchist movement thriving in Argentina throughout most of the 20th Century.

Today, in glass cases in bakeries across the country, dulce de leche-filled suspiras de monja (nun?s sighs) sit beside vigilantes (vigilantes), straight pastries meant to look like police batons. You can call the pastries cream puffs, profiteroles or croissants, but most Argentines still use the more irreverent names.

Now when I visit my favourite Buenos Aires cake shop and order a bag full of friar?s balls and little cannons, I know I?m not only about to enjoy something sweet with my café con leche, but I?m also honouring a fight for equality.

EDITOR?S NOTE: The text has been modified to clarify that the use of the crescent-shaped pastry by Austrians to blaspheme the Ottomans is a legend.


Source: The surprising origin of Argentina?s brazen pastry names
Anarchist News dot Org / Freedom Collective Statement on the London Anarchist Bookfair
« Last post by on Yesterday at 06:03:48 AM »
Freedom Collective Statement on the London Anarchist Bookfair

via Freedom News

Regarding the announcement by the London Bookfair collective that, following events at this year?s gathering, they will not be organising another one in 2018, the Freedom Collective has drafted the following statement:

The Freedom Collective condemns the actions of trans exclusionary radical feminist (Terf) activists at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017.

Distributing and displaying transphobic literature is an explicit attack on trans people?s existences and the safety of those people at the event. We stand in solidarity with our trans comrades, particularly trans women and other transfeminine folk, and all who were affected by the actions of Terf activists at the bookfair. We recognise that a politics and feminism that excludes the experiences of trans people has no place in the anarchist movement. Terfs regularly employ tactics of harassment, stalking and doxxing of trans people; outing them to their workplaces and families and exposing them to state violence. Again, this has no place in the movement.

Events at the bookfair have highlighted ongoing issues with the exclusion of marginalised groups from the anarchist movement. It is clear that the bookfair had reached a size and scope such that the current organising model needs to change to accommodate new demands and pressures.

In the light of the bookfair collective?s announcement that they will not be doing one next year there are now opportunities for others in the anarchist community to step up and look to organise events in 2018 that are inclusive and responsive to the movement.

We have been thinking about how we can work to show solidarity with the trans community in the aftermath of this, beyond our words and this statement, so put together a resources and suggestions list below. If you have suggestions for other things, let us know. If you?re unsure what all the fuss was about, educate yourself about why those leaflets were so messed up, on the history of Terf politics and of trans-misogyny in order to challenge it and fight it, some articles are provided (CW: some of these articles quote Terfs in order to challenge them, so do include examples of transphobia and trans-misogyny).


Being active

  • Organise an action, a film night or something else for the next Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th to remember all of the people that have been killed due to anti-transgender violence (overwhelmingly trans women and other trans feminine people of colour) See, and #TDOR for more information.
  • Organise a letter writing night, a benefit or some other event for the Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity on January 22nd.
  • Support Action for Trans Health who raise money and campaign to improve access to healthcare for trans people. You could become a member with a monthly subscription
  • send a one-off donation or buy a t-shirt on their ebay store.
  • Listen, centre and amplify the voices of trans people, particularly trans women and trans feminine people of colour.
  • if you are on twitter you can start doing the above by checking out: #30DaysofTransResilience, @travisalabanza, @junodawson, @reinagossett, @janetmock, @RaquelWillis_, @audrelorde, @TransActualUK, @TPrideBrighton, @TransMediaWatch, @BlackTransMedia,  @act4transhealth, @LDN4TransHealth, @qtipoc_CC, @TransLawCenter, @tgijp, @theMAJORdoc.
  • Challenge the trans-misogyny we see and hear in our everyday lives.stand up if you see someone facing transphobic abuse, including online when people get a torrent of hate from Terfs and other transphobes. @travisalabanza some love at the moment who continues to be targeted for demanding they use the changing room of their choice at topshop.

    Freedom Collective (majority view)


Source: Freedom Collective Statement on the London Anarchist Bookfair
Anarchist News dot Org / Commune Against Civilization
« Last post by on Yesterday at 06:03:48 AM »
Commune Against Civilization

via Pudget Sound Anarchists

Dispatch #1 from an uninvited guest on



It?s been one year since the Olympia railroad blockade of 2016 found itself growing for 7 rainy days and nights, prompted by solidarity actions with Standing Rock and eventually culminating in a fierce street fight with the police, while the baleful sound of the train whistle announced the resumption of business as usual. One year after this rupture, one revolution around the sun later, an assortment of the brave and the heartbroken, the tender and the enraged, are at it again. The hot, communal mess splayed across the train tracks has been resurrected, appearing again like a recurrent dream. Immediately, it feels like it never left us. Immediately we know that it never did.

This year, the festivity and rage happened to kick off on Nov.17th, at the same exact moment that the streets of Athens, Greece were erupting 6,000 miles away in fiery combat against the police, as anarchists and their friends observed (with riots) the 44th anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic university uprising that shook the Greek military dictatorship of 1967-1974, further catalyzing its decline. That upheaval, nearly half a century away now, saw a tank crash through the gates of the school, its drivers and their superiors perhaps knowing but not wanting to believe that their time had come. It was this cycle of events launched the Greek anarchist movement? pride and inspiration of anti-capitalist rebels the world over? into the contemporary era, swelling and bursting again in the generalized Greek insurrection of December, 2008 after 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was murdered in cold blood by police in the Exarchia neighborhood. We send warm greetings to the comrades on Greek territory. These nights still belong to Alexis.

Speaking of territory, this alleged place known as ?Olympia? is nothing other than a fictional geopolitical entity. It?s a cover. The spot was taken from its original inhabitants through a combination of lies and brute, genocidal force, its use denied to them or strictly regulated ever after through state machination and cynical capitalist maneuvering. Its non-human inhabitants silenced, exploited, and exterminated to the point of an eradication that is ongoing (while even among the privileged and pale-skinned the rates of cancer continue to climb). Its operations of surplus accumulation were achieved through the imposed grinding misery and racism of immigrant labor and the customs of sundown towns. Like all the cities and towns of the Empire, it is an unliving monster, an aggregate of production and consumption whose perpetuation of its version of life is incidental to the continued mass extraction of resources and profit.

Contrary to the admonitions of those who would much rather see everything return to ?normal,? none of this is ancient history. In light of current events, and every new attack on the dispossessed, this past isn?t so very long gone at all. As we learned from Asheville, NC on May Day a few years ago and in innumerable clashes every since, the past doesn?t pass.

Industrial Infrastructure, White Supremacy, and You

Once again, there will be lies uttered on all sides about the anarchists, anti-authoritarians, anti-fascists, queers, and indigenous militants and activists who constitute the blockade, the array of those who love and support it. The liberals (even the ?anarchist? ones!), conservatives, fascists, police, port commissioners, local progressive politicians, and shoppers will take turns casting doubts, condemnations, and fretful worries all over the thing. This does not necessarily trouble us, at least not any more than living through the terminal phase of terrestrial life on the earth troubles us, with its profound and rotten malaise in all hearts, its blood on all hands. Just as we don?t necessarily mind having the same debates and discussions year after year in the meetings and general assemblies. After all, even the most intransigent among us started somewhere.

Aside from the cascading catalogue of horrors, what is most troublesome during this? possibly the most critical moment in our own lives so far regarding the prospects for life and freedom in this world? are those who, while calling us ?comrade,? would split and mutilate the full social and ecological context of the catastrophe.

Of course, politicians will select the issue of fracking or of ?hate groups? or anything else and isolate them from the rest of the nightmare in order to drum up votes for their campaign. And it?s no surprise anymore either when fascists commandeer the increasingly pressing concerns of ecology, community, or autonomy for their own twisted agenda, refracting valid and resonant issues through the prism of their narrow, poisonous, sad, and deeply mistaken answer to the apocalypse. And centrists? Who knows or cares what they even think?

But it?s time (once again) that we make ourselves clear to our would-be accomplices: there are no industrial projects that are any more redeemable than fracking. Fracking, divorced from the greater context, is a side issue.

Civilization itself is the equivalent of an ongoing fracking operation. Every single day that elapses while the industrial infrastructure stands yields an amount of toxifying waste which is the same as an Exxon-Valdez oil spill. And that?s not from ?accidents? or ?disasters.? That?s the normal, non-disastrous functioning of the system. If the syndicalists and social ecologists among us (some of whom have indeed made valiant contributions to holding down anarchist spaces and bolstering blockades) have the stomach to look? and look deeply? into the basis for any of the structures of capital, be they railroads, ports, mines, factories, solar panels, or co-operative grocery stores? it?s hard to imagine they would like what they would find.

The railroad feeds the Port of Olympia, and moves fracking materials out to the Bakken oil fields. But why don?t we hear more or care more about the fact that it also continuously ships the massified, butchered bodies of old growth trees to far-flung places, all in order to line the pockets of timber barons? Or that it also feeds the enterprises that produce plastic bottles and soda (I invite you to research what plastic is, research the effects of even a miniscule amount of plastic on living bodies. If you do, you might realize that recycling is more a cruel and hilarious con job than a solution).

But it doesn?t stop there. Without railroads and the infantile, Europeanized artifice of a world that needs them, there would have been no impetus for the near-total annihilation of the American Bison. That ruthless, mechanized slaughter was not only undertaken to complete the railroads (with the coerced help of the broken, brutalized bodies of immigrant Asian laborers), but to disrupt the ancient and symbiotic relationship between the grass-eating fauna of this land and its human inhabitants. Go to the Midwest and behold the cracked, dry, desertifying remnants that pass for soil, the once-ecstatic skin of the earth which took thousands of years to build up, inch by inch, but took only a few generations to wipe out utterly. Look at the ?corn? that sits in place of the prairie, growing only because of its genetically-modified nature and the millions of gallons of synthetic, oil-based fertilizer dumped on it year after miserable year. Learn for yourself about the ?Green Revolution? in agriculture between the 30?s and the 60?s, about it?s furtherance of the iron-fisted subjugation of the so-called Third World, about the prelude to neo-colonialism that it represents, and then see if you can tell the enemies of civilization that they, somehow, are the ?genocidists.?

A question: If you, yourself, are not willing to go clear the land of its original inhabitants, dig a mine, forcibly shovel carcinogenic filth down each and every one of their throats, force native children into schools to ?learn,? split communal structures into the atomized boxes of private-property-based nuclear families, then why on earth would you feel entitled to the products of a mine? Solar panels?

Probe into the hellish annals of His-story long or far enough and realize: Genocide is inseparable from patriarchy is inseparable from ecocide. Tug on one strand or sinew of the web of domination and watch the others stretch and yawn, before reaching out for you.

The technologies dreamt up, designed, bought and paid for by millionaires, military scientists, and white supremacist techie gentrifiers cannot but do what they have been brought into existence to do. Text groups are not a community. Our ?communities? are not even communities. Until the machinery grinds to a halt and we really decide who feels entitled to its fruits, until we determine whether or not everyone (near and far, human and otherwise) affected by them can live and die in a dignified manner with their operation, we are not a community. As long as a single cop shop remains, as long as they lock food up in stores and charge us ransom to get it out of there, then we will not have realized even a paltry vision of freedom.

The Beginning of the End

A walk through camp this morning yielded these primary sounds: laughter, song, a few puppies at play giving out the occasional slight growl or yip followed by the coos or the gentle reproaches of the doting people at their side, old friends catching up, new friends being made, the rustling of food containers and some chomping from the kitchen, the crackle of wood coals in the metal drum mingling with the smell of wood smoke in my nostrils, reminding me of the aroma of my grandmother?s hearth in the earliest days I can remember on the other side of this Turtle Island, on the other side of a life that, for all its pain and failure, has been worth the living.

In camp, even those few who have little affinity or liking for each other begin to cooperate, the notes sounded between them soften. Arguments occasionally boil or simmer, tempers flare, but when they cool again understanding has deepened. Relationships take effort, but also time and space. Healing and truth sink into us only gradually, but our patience is rewarded. At long last, we let that which is petty truly slide. There is not much else to do in the face of our shared goal as it finally shimmers momentarily on the horizon: life in common.

Who cares that we must neutralize yet another troll this morning, or initiate more accountability proceedings for those lost in a cycle of abusiveness, or even eject the incorrigible? What matter that there are apparently napalm-wielding fascists who live in that tunnel over there? So what if the climax of this chapter is another pitched battle? Chances are that everyone you know is having a hard time. We are all hurt, scared, fed up, anxious to the point of despair and rage. This way of life suits not one of us, and we don?t want to perpetuate it anymore.

Most everyone can feel it, but I will give it a name for you: Life in the blockade is a small step away from the life of civilization. Let the most aghast and scandalized of the Leftists riot and curse our names if they don?t want to come to grips with this fact. But just think, if we all leave our ?homes? in the cold, rainy nights of November in order to go live together outside, to split up responsibilities in an egalitarian fashion and share in our joys and pains in the open air, if we develop autonomous and effective communal structures and customs of communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution, if we care for the young and vulnerable together and blur lines of ownership, if the goal increasingly being enunciated by the communards is not the attainment of this or that concession from those in power but instead for this to never end? if we stop this fucking train in favor of a life where we only take from the land that which we can eventually give back, in a continuation of the dance that has existed since time immemorial? then why shy away from the implications of our project? Why recoil from the next steps? This is objectively a de-civilizing trajectory, and we couldn?t be more pleased.

The continued existence of the Port of Olympia offers us next to nothing. It?s abuses and injuries far, far outweigh any potential benefit. The furred, feathered, and scale-clad denizens of our only home, the plants and mountains and seas, have never needed infrastructure such as this, and human people are no different. Those who insist that we are? that without the structures of bosses, cops, scientists, and rapists that we would collapse into a heap? have a particularly deep-seated case of Stockholm Syndrome. They are in love with their captors.

We must hurry to wipe the port off the map before another manipulator convinces us that to do so is madness. We must do the same with all the rest of the colonizer?s fictions. Finally, we must tear the map itself to ribbons and scatter it to the four winds. There is a world whose heart still beats, however faintly, waiting for us to live inside it.

Others have said it before us: expand the terrain of struggle, communize everything, demand nothing. If those in power don?t know what they can possibly do to placate you, then power will begin to slip like sand through their fingers and flow to you and yours. Give nothing and expect even less from the aspiring managers of social struggle. Mercilessly mock and cut down those who would assume a leadership based on anything other than the confidence and consent of their peers, or who would pacify the legitimate rage of the exploited.

FRIENDS, NEAR AND FAR, hear the cries of the comrades of the Grey Coast cluster: We are not going back to normal. Solidarity actions must proliferate everywhere. Autonomous blockades and actions (unconnected with any government, political party, trade union, top-down federation, or advocacy group) must roar into life. Form affinity groups or act alone and spread the revolt horizontally (by the multiplication of easy reproducibility, not by the addition of membership lists).

If we can do it, so can you. Strike, occupy, sabotage, disrupt, take over. Sever the tentacles of the unliving beast and open up space for the holiday without end.

It was true back then and it?s true now: we are an image from the future. Get going.

With love and free shit for the comrades,

With egalitarian desire gone feral,

From the weirdest little town in ?the West,?

/// some catastrophic commune kids






Source: Commune Against Civilization
Richard Mellor / US rate of profit update
« Last post by Richard Mellor on November 21, 2017, 06:04:42 PM »
US rate of profit update

by Michael Roberts

The latest data for net fixed assets in the US have been  released, enabling me to update the calculations for the US rate of  profit a la Marx up to 2016.

Last year, I did the calculations with the help of Anders Axelsson from Sweden, who not only replicated the results to ensure their accuracy (and found  mistakes!), but also produced a manual for carrying out the  calculations that anybody could use.

As I did last year and in previous years, I have also updated the  rate of profit using the method of calculation by Andrew Kliman (AK)  that he first carried out in his book, The failure of capitalist production AK measures the US rate of profit based on corporate sector profits  only and using the BEA?s historic cost of net fixed assets as the  denominator.

I also calculate the US rate of profit with a slight variation from  AK?s approach, in that I depreciate gross profits by current  depreciation rather than historic depreciation as AK does, but I still  use historic costs for net fixed assets.  The theoretical and  methodological reasons for doing this can be found here and in the  appendix in my book, The Long Depression, on measuring the rate of profit.

The results of the AK calculation and my revised version are  obviously much the same as last year ? namely that AK?s measure of the  rate of profit falls persistently from the late 1970s to a trough in  2001 and then recovers during the credit-fuelled, ?fictitious capital  period? up to 2006.  The 2006 peak in the rate is higher than the 1997  one.   My revised version of AK?s measure shows a stabilisation of the  profit rate at the end of the 1980s, after which profitability does not  really rise much (although there are various peaks up to 2006).  What  the new data for 2016 do reveal, however, is that profitability (on both  measures) has remained below the peak of 2006 (i.e. for the last ten  years) and has fallen for the last two.  And, of course, the long-term  secular decline in the US rate is confirmed on both measures, some  25-30% below the 1960s.

But readers of my blog and other papers know that I prefer to measure the rate of profit a la Marx by looking at total surplus value in an economy against total  productive capital employed; so as close as possible to Marx?s original  formula of s/c+v.  So I have a ?whole economy? measure based on total  national income (less depreciation) for surplus value; net fixed assets  for constant capital; and employee compensation for variable capital.   Most Marxist measures exclude a measure of variable capital on the  grounds that it is not a stock of invested capital but circulating  capital that cannot be measured from available data.  I don?t agree and G  Carchedi and I have an unpublished work on this point.   Indeed, even inventories (the stock of unfinished and intermediate  goods) could be added as circulating capital to the denominator for the  rate of profit, but I have not done so here as the results are little  different.

Updating the results from 1946 to 2016 on my ?whole economy? measure  shows more or less the same result as last year, as you might expect.  I  measure the rate in both historic and current cost terms.  This shows  that the overall US rate of profit has four phases: the post-war golden  age of high profitability peaking in 1965; then the profitability crisis  of the 1970s, troughing in the slump of 1980-2; then the neoliberal  period of recovery or at least stabilisation in profitability, peaking  more or less in 1997; then the current period of volatility and eventual  decline.  Actually, the historic cost measure shows no recovery in the  rate of profit during the neoliberal period.  The current cost measure  always shows much greater upward or downward movement.  On this measure,  the post-war trough was in 1982 while on the historic cost measure, it  is 2009 at the bottom of the Great Recession.

What is new about the 2016 update is that the US rate of profit fell  in 2016, after a fall in 2015.  So the rate of profit has fallen in the  last two successive years and is now 6-10% below the peak of 2006.
One of the compelling results of the data is that they show that each  economic recession in the US has been preceded by a fall in the rate of  profit and then by a recovery in the rate after the slump.  This is  what you would expect cyclically from Marx?s law of profitability.

In a recent paper, G Carchedi identified three indicators for when crises occur: when the change in profitability; employment; and new value are all negative at the same time.  Whenever that happened (12 times since  1946), it coincided with a crisis or slump in production in the US.   This is Carchedi?s graph.

My updated measure for the US rate of profit to 2016 confirms the  first indicator is operating.  The graph above shows that in the last  two years there has been a 5%-plus fall.  However, new value growth is  slowing but not yet negative; and employment growth continues.  So on  the basis of these three (Carchedi) indicators, a new recession in the  US economy is not imminent.  Also the mass of profit or surplus value  rose (if only slightly) in 2016, and so again does not provide  confirmation of an imminent slump.

What the updated data do confirm is my guess last year that 2016  would show a fall in the US rate of profit ? and by all the measures  mentioned. And, of course, Marx?s law of profitability over the long  term is again confirmed.  There has been a secular decline in US  profitability, down by 28% since 1946 and 15-20% since 1965; and by  6-10% since the peak of 2006.  So the recovery of the US economy since  2009 at the end of the Great Recession has not restored profitability to  its previous level.

Also, the driver of falling profitability has been the secular rise  in the organic composition of capital, which has risen nearly 20% since  1965 while the main ?counteracting factor?, the rate of surplus value,  has fallen 4%.  Indeed, even though the rate of surplus value has risen  5% since 1997, the rate of profit has fallen 5% because the organic  composition of capital has risen over 12%.

Has the US rate of profit slowed further in 2017?  We can use  quarterly data from the US Federal Reserve on the non-financial  corporate sector to get a rough idea.  The Fed data suggest that the  rate of profit in the first half of 2017 was flat at best.

So, if the rate of profit is a good indicator of an upcoming slump in  capitalism, then the jury is out on the likelihood of slump in 2018.   However, the rate of profit is still down from its peaks of 1997 and  2006 and now appears to be flat lining at best.
Source: US rate of profit update
AlterNet / Sexism Antidote: Democrats Should Commit to an All-Woman Ticket in 2020
« Last post by AlterNet on November 21, 2017, 06:04:40 PM »
Sexism Antidote: Democrats Should Commit to an All-Woman Ticket in 2020


For all the right reasons, Bernie, Joe, Cory and the rest should step aside.


The Democratic Party should embrace an all-female ticket and a platform centered around health care, income equality, diplomacy, humility and human rights?right now.

Should the best man win? That is not the right question. Are there women in the Democratic Party who can do a better job than Donald Trump? That?s the right question.  

Gillibrand and Oprah, Warren and Harris, hell, Michelle and Hillary, I don?t give a damn. There are 100 women? scratch that, there are 1,000 women... scratch that, there are a million women who could do a better job than Trump and the Republicans in running this country. Let?s pick two.  

Let?s break the glass ceiling and banish the louts once and for all.

Because It?s Time

Ninety-nine years, 364 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes?and not a minute more! 

Women secured the right to vote with passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. Women shouldn?t have to wait another day, no less another four to eight years to run the show. 

Lindy West, writing in the New York Times about Louis C.K., said, ?The solution isn?t more solemn acknowledgments from powerful male comedians. We have those. The solution is putting people in positions of power who are not male, not straight, not cisgender, not white. This is not taking something away unfairly?it is restoring opportunity that has been historically withheld.? Simply swap out ?comedians? and insert ?politicians,? and you get where I?m coming from. 

Bill Cosby was so extreme in drugging his victims, it was almost possible to see him as the exception?a sex-crime equivalent of mass murder. The college rape scandals were, well, in college. Harvey Weinstein is different. The frenzy began because Weinstein was a powerful media icon exposed by the world's most famous movie stars. For the movie business, where film production, festivals, markets and openings take place around the world, with the hotel often a temporary office, the ?casting couch? seemed baked-in. But these accusations set off a chain reaction because they were workplace-related and because the sheer number of women coming forward made it crystal clear?a predator at work with a 40-year career, is a predator who can do a world of damage to women for 40 years. 

In some perverse way, our groper-in-chief Donald Trump helped to fuel the personal bravery and outrage. This year's Hugh Hefner post-mortems also set the stage. One group, mostly men, wanted to celebrate his liberal politics, while many women were simply appalled. Here was your classic sleazy guy, rotating young women with ample breasts in and out of his bedroom until his dying day at 91?and being applauded. Trophy-wife behavior may have finally become a legacy disqualifier. Roy Moore and underage girls, Kevin Spacey and underage boys, Louis C.K. and aspiring female comedians, the outrage and our understanding of the scope of the problem growing every day. The genie is not going back in the bottle.

Because It?s Winning

The Vox headline read, ?Women defied conventional wisdom to win in droves in Tuesday's election.? Of the 15 seats held by Republican white males in Virginia, nine were won by women, one of them a transgender woman. Women now hold 28 seats in the Virginia legislature, the largest percentage in Virginia history. Across the country there were firsts for women holding elective office. 

According to Axios, ?More women are running for office at every elective level.? "More than 15,000 women have contacted She Should Run" and "more than 19,000 have contacted Emily?s List." The Women?s March is believed to be the largest single-day march in U.S. history. With a groundswell of this magnitude, don?t we want women at the top of the ticket, too? 

When the Washington Post exit poll asked, ?Which one of these five issues mattered most in determining how you voted for governor today?? by an overwhelming percentage, 39 percent respondents chose health care. Gun policy at 17 percent, taxes at 15 percent, immigration at 12 percent and abortion at 8 percent lagged far behind. 

Donald Trump?s mano-mano gamesmanship with North Korea has also given the average American fits, and according to Gallup, his approval rating for handling North Korea is at an all-time low. Only a third of Americans think he can do the job. Diplomacy has never looked so good. 

Women saved the Affordable Care Act with senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine casting two of the three deciding no votes. And women will defeat Donald Trump.

An all-woman ticket will bind the platform and energize the base. I can hear the candidates now. Health care is not a women?s issue, it's America?s issue. Inequality in wages and the workplace are not women?s issues, they are America?s issues. Human rights is not a women?s issue, it?s humanity's issue. Diplomacy is not a woman?s issue, it is the path to peace.

Tip of the Iceberg

Al Franken will not be the last story, not even close. There will be more politicians exposed for inappropriate sexual behavior. Each new revelation will make it just a little bit easier for the next woman, and in some instances, next man, to stand up and speak out. The revelations feed on each other to propel the next truth. 

We may still be three years out, but the bar will rise and scrutiny of male candidates going forward will intensify. The ground has shifted. What once may have been considered ?funny? is no longer acceptable behavior. The party can simply avoid the risk of a last-minute photo undermining a winnable 2020 election. There is no harm in men agreeing to step aside and clear a path. 

Bernie supporters will certainly argue he drives the conversation, is the strongest messenger and deserves a second shot. But there is a greater good, and an even more powerful message to be sent. Bernie can continue to keep the party honest and chair the key Senate committees needed to carry out the agenda.

After the pussy-grab tapes, I was certain Hillary would win in 2016. And I told anyone who would listen, when women enter the voting booth, they will vote for Hillary. Yet 51 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump. I was dead wrong.

There was the added sting for women of Hillary losing to that guy. Trump is the living definition of the word lout?an uncouth and aggressive man. But times can change, and lucky for us, Americans usually go in the opposite direction when picking their next president. Democrats can offer America the anti-lout, anti-bully, anti-predator ticket: two women who finally, after 100 years, break the glass ceiling and send the world a strong message about our values as a country and the role of women in our society. 


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Source: Sexism Antidote: Democrats Should Commit to an All-Woman Ticket in 2020
Inter Press Service - Labour / The World is Losing the Battle Against Child Labour
« Last post by Inter Press Service on November 21, 2017, 06:04:39 PM »
The World is Losing the Battle Against Child Labour

The IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour,  which drew nearly 2000 delegates from 190 countries to the Argentine capital, left many declarations of good intentions but nothing to celebrate. Child labour is declining far too slowly, in the midst of unprecedented growth in migration and forced displacement that aggravate the situation, […]

The post The World is Losing the Battle Against Child Labour appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: The World is Losing the Battle Against Child Labour
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