Truthout Stories http://truth-out.org Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:04:37 -0500 en-gb Right to Work http://truth-out.org/art/item/29409-right-to-work http://truth-out.org/art/item/29409-right-to-work ]]> Art Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:54:58 -0500 The Administration's Dishonest Response to Elizabeth Warren's Attack on Secret Investor Arbitration Panels in Trade Deals http://truth-out.org/news/item/29407-the-administration-s-dishonest-response-to-elizabeth-warren-s-attack-on-secret-investor-arbitration-panels-in-trade-deals http://truth-out.org/news/item/29407-the-administration-s-dishonest-response-to-elizabeth-warren-s-attack-on-secret-investor-arbitration-panels-in-trade-deals

Sen. Elizabeth Warren.Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (Photo: Public Citizen)

Elizabeth Warren is clearly getting on the Administration’s nerves.

The Massachusetts senator has come out forcefully against the misleadingly named trade deals, the TransPacific Partnership and its ugly sister, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Mind you, these treaties are not about trade. Trade is already substantially liberalized and in keeping, only five of the 29 chapters of the TransPacific Partnership deal with tariffs.

What these pacts are primarily intended to do is strengthen intellectual property laws to help US software and entertainment companies, along with Big Pharma, increase their hefty profits, and to aid multinational by permitting the greatly increased use of secret, conflict-ridden arbitration panels that allow foreign investors to sue governments over laws that they contend reduced potential future profits. I am not making that up.

Warren focused on the so-called investor-state dispute settlement process in a Washington Post op-ed last week. We’ve discussed these panels in gory detail in previous posts.

That article led the White House to issue a “lady doth protest too much” rebuttal that we’ll shred shortly. But let’s first review the state of play.

The Administration had no luck in the last Congress getting so-called “fast track” authorization for the TPP due to widespread opposition. It wasn’t just that Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to table it in the Senate. John Boehner made it clear that he couldn’t get the votes in Republican-controlled House to pass it either. Over 200 representatives, including some Republicans, signed letters or otherwise voiced reservations about the trade deals, and another 30 to 40 were believed to be against it. Although the Administration has tried to claim otherwise, the opposition goes well beyond the small cohort of “progressives”.

Part of the reason for the Congressional revolt is that the Administration has made it impossible for Congress to review the drafts properly. But another is that even some conservatives are willing to come out against these agreements as pork for big multinationals. For instance, the right wing think tank Cato supported the Warren op-ed:

An important pillar of trade agreements is the concept of “national treatment,” which says that imports and foreign companies will be afforded treatment no different from that afforded domestic products and companies. The principle is a commitment to nondiscrimination. But ISDS turns national treatment on its head, giving privileges to foreign companies that are not available to domestic companies. If a U.S. natural gas company believes that the value of its assets has suffered on account of a new subsidy for solar panel producers, judicial recourse is available in the U.S. court system only. But for foreign companies, ISDS provides an additional adjudicatory option.

As a practical matter, investment is a risky proposition. Foreign investment is even more so. But that doesn’t mean special institutions should be created to protect MNCs from the consequences of their business decisions. Multinational companies are savvy and sophisticated enough to evaluate risk and determine whether the expected returns cover that risk. Among the risk factors is the strength of the rule of law in the prospective investment jurisdiction. MNCs may want assurances, but why should they be entitled to them? ISDS amounts to a subsidy to mitigate the risk of outsourcing. While outsourcing shouldn’t be denigrated, punished, or taxed – companies should be free to allocate their resources as they see fit – neither should it be subsidized.

The trade deals are coming up again for a fast track vote, perhaps as soon as this week. Warren’s focus on the investor panels has the potential to raise awareness of how dangerous they are and stir more voters to press their Congressmen to nix fast track authority. Here is the guts of her case against these tribunals:

ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.

If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat?

If the tilt toward giant corporations wasn’t clear enough, consider who would get to use this special court: only international investors, which are, by and large, big corporations. So if a Vietnamese company with U.S. operations wanted to challenge an increase in the U.S. minimum wage, it could use ISDS. But if an American labor union believed Vietnam was allowing Vietnamese companies to pay slave wages in violation of trade commitments, the union would have to make its case in the Vietnamese courts.

And what was the White House’s response? It was dishonest at a high level and in detail.

On a high level, it asserts that subordinating the jurisdiction of US courts to secret, undemocratically accountable arbitration panels and given them the power to fine the US government for its laws and regulations is not a loss of sovereignity. Help me.

Last week, Lambert flagged that the Administration can’t even get its story straight. The text states:

The reality is that ISDS does not and cannot require countries to change any law or regulation.

Looking more broadly, TPP will result in higher levels of labor and environmental protections in most TPP countries than they have today.

Not only are those two statements inconsistent, but extensive work by Public Citizen demonstrates that the claims are misleading.

Narrowly speaking, suing ex post facto to make a government pay a foreign investor for his future lost profits does not “require” a country to revamp its rules. But who are you kidding? The ISDS mechanism vitiates enforcement.

In addition, the claim that the TPP will strengthen environmental protection is spurious. Wikileaks published a draft of the environment chapter. From Professor Jane Kelsey of New Zealand’s analysis:

The most egregious threat to the environment is the investment chapter, in particular the prior consent by all countries except Australia to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The vast majority of investment arbitrations under similar agreements involve natural resources, especially mining, and have resulted in billions of dollars of damages against governments for measures designed to protect the environment from harm caused by foreign corporations. The US is also demanding that contracts between investors and states that involve natural resources also have access to ISDS.

Moreover, notice how the White House claims is “ISDS does not and cannot require countries to change any law or regulation. ” as opposed to “the TPP does not and cannot”? That word choice was deliberate. Other provisions in the agreement explicitly require all signatories to conform their laws to the TPP. From Public Citizen’s analysis:

What is different with TAFTA [pending Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement] (and TPP) is the extent of “behind the border” agenda

• Typical boilerplate: “Each Member shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures with its obligations as provided in the annexed Agreements.” …

• These rules are enforced by binding dispute resolution via foreign tribunals with ruling enforced by trade indefinite sanctions; No due process; No outside appeal. Countries must gut laws ruled against. Trade sanctions imposed…U.S. taxpayers must compensate foreign corporations.

• Permanence – no changes w/o consensus of all signatory countries. So, no room for progress, responses to emerging problems

• Starkly different from past of international trade between countries. This is diplomatic legislating of behind the border policies – but with trade negotiators not legislators or those who will live with results making the decisions.

• 3 private sector attorneys, unaccountable to any electorate, many of whom rotate between being “judges” & bringing cases for corps. against govts…Creates inherent conflicts of interest….

• Tribunals operate behind closed doors – lack basic due process

• Absolute tribunal discretion to set damages, compound interest, allocate costs

• No limit to amount of money tribunals can order govts to pay corps/investors
• Compound interest starting date if violation new norm ( compound interest ordered by tribunal doubles Occidental v. Ecuador $1.7B award to $3B plus

• Rulings not bound by precedent. No outside appeal. Annulment for limited errors.

In detail, the White House arguments were just as disingenuous. The text starts out by saying that arbitration is widely used and therefore the public should see it as safe and uncontroversial. Bollocks. Arbitration in the US is most often used in take-it-or-leave it contracts like brokerage and credit card agreements and cell phone contracts. And arbitration is hardly squeaky-clean even in the US; see the lawsuits and controversies faced by the National Arbitration Forum, for instance.

Moreover, the rebuttal attempts to depict these corporate star chambers as consistent with constitutional Fifth Amendment protections:

But when government takes its citizen’s property from them – be it a person’s home or their business – the government is required to provide compensation. This is a core principle reflected in the U.S. Constitution and recognized under international law and the legal systems of many countries.

So since this premise is so well accepted (and Warren reminds us that the TPP signatories all have grown-up legal systems), pray tell why do we need a special system of de facto above the legal system panels for the biggest, richest companies who are in a better position than just about anyone to press for their legal rights? The idea that a special legal venue that is for well-heeled multinationals has anything to do with the rights of ordinary citizens is an insult to the reader’s intelligence.

It’s ludicrous to compare run-of-the-mill US arbitration panels to ISDS forums. For example, in the US, arbitration clauses can be circumvented for reasons including failure of contract formation, unconscionability, and public policy. There’s no way out of ISDS. And recall Warren’s mention of conflicts of interest? It’s even worse than she intimated. Public Citizen examined how go between working for the companies and serving on the panels. A small and tight-knit group has disproportionate influence:

2015 0303ezw 1

Consider the implications of the fact that the 15, and the larger community of panel “regulars,” work both sides of the street. They draw cases that go before the trade panel, as well as hear them. Thus it’s in their interest to issue aggressive rulings in order to facilitate more cases being filed. Yet the White House has the temerity to describe repeatedly ISDS as “neutral arbitration”!

Voters are also supposed to take comfort from the fact that only 50 ISDS cases have been filed against the US and the US has won them all. That figure is meaningless without knowing the total filed, and irrelevant given, as Public Citizen stresses, investor rights are believed to be greatly strengthened in the TPP and TTIP, thus greatly increasing the role of these panels. Look at how this self-reinforcing system has been producing more case even before its gets its hoped-for turbo-charging through the pending trade deals:

2015 0303ezw 2

And these cases are typically high stakes for the targeted country. Naked Capitalism readers have often referred to the Philip Morris suit against Australia for its requirement of plain packaging for cigarettes with prominent health warnings. The Administration statement also tries hair-splitting over another case that galvanized opinion in Germany against these trade forums, also described briefly in Elizabeth Warren’s Washington Post article, that of Swedish power company Vattenfal suing the German government over lost potential future profits due to the phase-out of nuclear power in Germany. Vattenfal is a serial trade pact litigant against Germany. In 2011, it sued for expected €1 billion plus losses in the case mentioned by Warren. In 2009, Vattenfall sued the German federal government over stricter environmental regulations on its coal-fired power plant in Hamburg-Moorburg, seeking €1.4 billion plus interest in damages. The parties settled out of court in August 2010.

So how did the Administration try to brush that off? By saying basically that the case didn’t require Germany to change the law, just to pay investors “for abrogating existing commitments”. Since when do companies have a right to a stable business environment? Written law, case law, the competitive environment, consumer appetites, and input prices change all the time. The Administration is, with a straight face, trying to defend the notion that running a business should be made free of risk. And it brushes aside the point we raised earlier, that vitiating enforcement is tantamount to vitiating regulation.

The Administration also tries to minimize the area where the regulatory race to the bottom created by the pending trade deals is almost certain to work against the US: in the financial regulatory realm. As weak as US reforms have been, the US is nevertheless generally seen as having done more to re-regulate than European countries. Moreover, even to the extent UK and European regulators have strengthened their rules, they’ve taken approaches that differ somewhat from those of the US, such as using contingent capital (aka “bail ins”) while we have had stronger requirements for higher capital levels.

Now the White House missive does point out that “prudential measures” for financial firms are exempted from the ISDS process. But that notion is vague and untested. And some areas where the US has been very aggressive in taking action against foreign firms, such as money laundering, are clearly not about the safety of the financial system.

And finally, for the Administration to insinuate that the TPP will result in greater transparency is dubious, given that it’s made it well-nigh impossible for anyone in Congress to do a proper review of the text. While the US Trade Representative technically allows access, in practice, that right is empty. The Congressman himself must read the text; no sending staffers or bringing experts allowed, and only staffers from the committees with direct oversight of trade bills (the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee) are allowed to join their bosses. The USTR insists that the Congressman specify what chapter he wants to review in advance. The USTR then insists that the negotiator of those chapters be present. Since those negotiators travel, it usually takes three or four weeks to find a convenient time.

No note-taking is allowed. The text is full of bracketed sections where if language is disputed, the revisions suggested by other countries are in the brackets, with the country initials listed but then redacted, making it difficult to read (as in you can’t even read this dense text straight through; the flow of the document is interrupted by the various suggested changes). Having people from the USTR staring over your shoulder is distracting. And it’s an open question as to whether asking them questions is prudent, since it gives the USTR insight into what the Congressman is concerned about.

Perhaps these Congressmen have exceptional powers of concentration. But I read cases and legally dense material with some regularity, and I find my concentration starts going after an hour to an hour and a half. And I also find it is well nigh impossible to get much more than a general sense of a contract of any length in one pass. You need to go over it again and again to see how the various sections tie together to even have an approximate grasp of what it means. There’s simply no way that any Congressman has anything more than a very fuzzy idea of what is in the TPP and the TTIP.

They very fact that the Administration is going to such absurd lengths to prevent informed Congressional review should be sufficient reason in and of itself to turn down the Administration’s request for fast-track authority.

Call your Senators and Representative (find phone numbers here and here) and tell them to vote against fast track authority. If they are Democrats, stress that Elizabeth Warren is right, that the investor panels are a danger to America’s legal protections, and the Administration’s rebuttal is contradictory and belied by information already in the public domain. If they are Republicans, refer to the Cato analysis, that this is an unjustified de facto subsidy to multinational corporations that are better able to watch out for themselves than any other type of business. Encourage friends and family members to do the same. And tweet and circulate this post to help get the word out.

]]>
News Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:07:53 -0500
Greece Gets Some Breathing Room, but a Fight Looms http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29406-greece-gets-some-breathing-room-but-a-fight-looms http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29406-greece-gets-some-breathing-room-but-a-fight-looms

2015.3.2.Krugman.main(Image: AMMER; Austria / CartoonArts International / The New York Times Syndicate) Now that the dust has settled a bit, we can look calmly at the Greece deal. It's increasingly clear that the country came out in significantly better shape, at least for now.

The main action, as always, involves Greece's primary surplus - how much more will the country need to raise in revenue than it can spend on things other than interest? The question these past few days was whether the Greeks would be forced into agreeing to aim for very high primary surpluses under the threat of being pushed into immediate crisis. And they weren't.

One useful way to understand this is through careful parsing of the agreement's language, as done here by the economist Norbert Häring.

But I'd argue that in an important sense we're past that kind of word-chopping. Instead, we need to think about what happens substantively from here on out.

Right now, Greece has avoided a credit cutoff, and worse yet a move by the European Central Bank to pull the plug on the country's banks. And Greece has done so while getting its 2015 primary surplus target effectively waived.

The next step will come four months from now, when Greece makes its serious pitch for lower surpluses in future years. We don't know how that will go. But nothing that has happened so far is likely to weaken the Greek position in that future round. Suppose that the Germans claim that some ambiguously worded clause should be interpreted to mean that Greece must achieve a surplus of 4.5 percent of gross domestic product. Greece will say no, it doesn't - and then what? A couple of years ago, when all the Very Serious People of Europe believed utterly in austerity, Greece might have faced retaliation thanks to wording issues; not now.

So Greece has won relaxed conditions for this year, and breathing room in the run-up to the bigger fight ahead. It could be worse.

Phantom Fiscal Crises

Matthew Klein at the Financial Times recently took on a subject that is dear to my heart - the mysterious, persistent fear that Japan and other countries that borrow in their own currencies could suddenly face a Greek-style fiscal crisis if bond investors lose confidence, and that this is a reason to raise taxes or cut benefits even in a depressed economy.

I devoted my Mundell-Fleming lecture at the International Monetary Fund to this topic in 2013, where I had this to say: "Remarkably, nobody seems to have laid out exactly how a Greek-style crisis is supposed to happen in a country like Britain, the United States or Japan - and I don't believe that there is any plausible mechanism for such a crisis."

That's still true - but fear of such a crisis persists. It's true even though the apparent relationship between debt levels and borrowing costs has vanished now that the E.C.B. is doing its job as lender of last resort.

So what is the basis for this fear?

The answer I seem to get is fear of a dramatic flip in circumstances - that Japan, say, could engage in a sort of macroeconomic quantum tunneling, suddenly transitioning from deflation to runaway inflation and a crashing currency. That's not impossible. But it does seem an odd thing to be worrying about right now.

]]>
Opinion Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Would You Like Some Crushing Debt With That Degree? http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29397-would-you-like-some-crippling-debt-with-that-degree http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29397-would-you-like-some-crippling-debt-with-that-degree

Wall Street-style predatory capitalism has taken over our education system, and it's absolutely devastating a whole generation of young people.

When Latonya Suggs enrolled at Everest College, a branch of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system, she thought she was taking the first step towards realizing her "American Dream."

But tens of thousands of dollars later, she realized that Everest wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

As Suggs told Democracy Now! recently, Everest didn't do anything to help her find a job after she graduated and was more interested in making money off her student loans than it was in making sure her degree was put to good use.

Latonya Suggs now has around $63,000 in student loan debt to her name, which is why last week she joined fourteen other former Corinthian Colleges students in refusing to pay back her student loans.

This is the nation's very first student loan strike, and it comes just as the government takes action against Corinthian Colleges for running what it calls "an illegal predatory lending scheme."

According to the government, "Corinthian lured tens of thousands of students to take out private loans to cover expensive tuition costs by advertising bogus job prospects and career services. [It] then used illegal debt collection tactics to strong-arm students into paying back those loans while still in school."

In other words, Corinthian Colleges isn't an education company as much as it's a blood-sucking debt collection agency.

That, in a nutshell, is everything that's wrong with the higher education system in this country.

Education is supposed to be part of the commons, something we all invest in as a society to make sure that everyone has a fair shot at achieving their intellectual potential - and to keep moving innovation, invention and the arts ahead in our country.

But since the introduction of Reaganomics, we've outsourced huge chunks of our education system to private for-profit corporations like Corinthian Colleges. And those private corporations have, in turn, morphed the education system into yet another arm of Wall Street-style predatory capitalism.

The dirty little secret, of course, is that the for-profit college industry is less about teaching anybody anything than it is about creating debt - debt that then be very profitably sold off in tranches - and even aggregated into derivatives - to banksters and wealthy investors.

Like every other part of our economy these days, the education system has become financialized, and for-profit colleges like Corinthian are really just phony shells for the latest bankster get-rich-quick scheme.

This is insane.

In no other country in the developed world are financiers and scam artists entrusted with managing the education commons.

Most developed nations actually make going to college free for all their citizens, so when it comes to how screwed up our higher education system is, the US really is exceptional.

This needs to change, and it needs to change now.

A college education is more than just the ticket to finding a good job - it's the foundation of our intellectual infrastructure. And if we continue to outsource that foundation to greedy private corporations who then provide our students with a crappy education and a lifetime of debt, our entire society suffers.

Not only will eager students lose out on a chance to actually improve their lives, but the rest of us also lose out on the all the long-term national benefits that come with having a truly informed and educated society.

Higher education is a fundamental part of the commons. Let's start acting like it and kick the banksters out of the classroom once and for all.

]]>
Opinion Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:26:13 -0500
Higher Education and the Promise of Insurgent Public Memory http://truth-out.org/news/item/29396-higher-education-and-the-promise-of-insurgent-public-memory http://truth-out.org/news/item/29396-higher-education-and-the-promise-of-insurgent-public-memory

Higher education and the promise of insurgent memory(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Under the reign of neoliberalism, higher education appears to be increasingly decoupling itself from its historical legacy as a crucial public sphere, responsible for both educating students for the workplace and providing them with the modes of critical discourse, interpretation and experiences that deepen and expand democracy.

Higher education and the promise of insurgent memory(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

"What happens to the memory of history when it ceases to be testimony?" - James Young (1)

At a time when both political parties, anti-public intellectual pundits and mainstream news sources view the purpose of higher education almost exclusively as a workstation for training a global workforce, generating capital for the financial elite, and as a significant threat to the power of the military, corporate and financial elite, it becomes more difficult to reclaim a history in which the culture of business is not the culture of higher education. This is certainly not meant to suggest that higher education once existed in an ideal past in which it only functioned as a public good and provided a public service in the interest of developing a democratic polity.

Higher education has always been fraught with notable inequities and anti-democratic tendencies, but it also once functioned as a crucial reminder of both its own limitations and the potential role it might play in attacking social problems and deepening the promise of a democracy to come. As difficult as it may seem to believe, John Dewey's insistence that "democracy needs to be reborn in each generation, and education is its midwife" was once taken seriously by many academic leaders. (2) Today, it is fair to see that Dewey's once vaunted claim has been willfully ignored, forgotten or made an object of scorn. (3)

Throughout the 20th century, there have been flashpoints in which the struggle to shape the university in the interest of a more substantive democracy was highly visible. Those of us who lived through the 1960s remember a different image of the university. Rather than attempt to train MBAs, define education through the lens of mathematical utility, indoctrinate young people into the culture of capitalism, decimate the power of faculty and turn students into mindless consumers, the university presented itself as a site of struggle. That is, it served, in part, as a crucial public sphere that held power accountable, produced a vast array of critical intellectuals, joined hands with the antiwar and civil rights movements and robustly challenged what Mario Savio once called "the machine" - an operating structure infused by the rising strength of the financial elite that posed a threat to the principles of critique, dissent, critical exchange and a never-ending struggle for inclusivity. The once vibrant spirit of resistance that refused to turn the university over to corporate and military interests is captured in Savio's moving and impassioned speech on December 2, 1964, on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley:

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even tacitly take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears, upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all. (4)

The 1960s may have been the high point of that period in US education in which the merging of politics, justice, civil rights and the search for truth made clear what it meant to consider higher education as a democratic public sphere. Not everyone was pleased or supported this explosion of dissent, resistance to the Vietnam War and struggle to make campuses across the United States more inclusive and emancipatory. Conservatives were deeply disturbed by the campus revolts and viewed them as a threat to their dream worlds of privatization, deregulation, militarization, capital accumulation and commodification. What soon emerged was an intense struggle for the soul of higher education.

Read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project.

For instance, the Powell Memo was released on August 23, 1971, and authored for the Chamber of Commerce by Lewis F. Powell Jr., who would later be appointed as a member of the US Supreme Court. (5) Powell identified the US college campus "as the single most dynamic source" for producing and housing intellectuals "who are unsympathetic to the [free] enterprise system." (6) He recognized that one crucial strategy in changing the political composition of higher education was to convince university administrators and boards of trustees that the most fundamental problem facing universities was the lack of conservative educators, or what he labeled the "imbalance of many faculties." (7)

Conservatives have a long history of viewing higher education as a cradle of left-wing thought and radicalism.

The Powell Memo was designed to develop a broad-based strategy, not only to counter dissent but also to develop a material and ideological infrastructure with the capability to transform the US public consciousness through a conservative pedagogical commitment to reproduce the knowledge, values, ideology and social relations of the corporate state. Not only did the Powell Memo understand and take seriously the educative nature of politics, it also realized that if a crisis of economics was not matched by a crisis of ideas, it was easier to reproduce a society in which conformity could be bought off through the swindle of a neoliberal mantra that used the discourse of freedom, individuality, mobility and security to serve the interests of the rich and powerful. The Powell Memo was the most influential of one of a number of ideological interventions in the 1970s that developed political roadmaps to crush dissent, eliminate tenure and transform the university into an adjunct of free-market fundamentalism. But it certainly was not the first shot fired as part of a larger conservative struggle to shape US higher education. (8)

Conservatives have a long history of viewing higher education as a cradle of left-wing thought and radicalism. As early as the 1920s, conservatives were waging an ideological war against liberal education and the intellectuals who viewed higher education as a site of critical dialogue and a public sphere engaged in both the pursuit of truth and in developing a space where students learned to read both the word and world critically. Conservatives were horrified by the growing popularity of critical views of education and modes of pedagogy that connected what students were taught to both their own development as critical agents and to the need to address important social problems. During the McCarthy era, criticism of the university and its dissenting intellectuals cast a dark cloud over the exercise of academic freedom, and many academics were either fired or harassed out of their jobs because of their political activities outside the classroom or their alleged communist fervor or left-wing affiliations.

In 1953, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) was founded by Frank Chodorov in order to assert right-wing influence and control over universities. ISI was but a precursor to the present era of politicized and paranoid academic assaults. In fact, William F. Buckley, who catapulted to fame among conservatives in the early 1950s with the publication of God and Man at Yale, in which he railed against secularism at Yale University and called for the firing of socialist professors, was named as the first president of ISI. The former president of ISI, T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., delivered the following speech to the Heritage Foundation in 1989, a speech that perfectly captures the elitist and ruling-class ideological spirit and project behind ISI's view of higher education:

We must ... provide resources and guidance to an elite which can take up anew the task of enculturation. Through its journals, lectures, seminars, books and fellowships, this is what ISI has done successfully for 36 years. The coming of age of such elites has provided the current leadership of the conservative revival. But we should add a major new component to our strategy: the conservative movement is now mature enough to sustain a counteroffensive on that last Leftist redoubt, the college campus.... We are now strong enough to establish a contemporary presence for conservatism on campus, and contest the Left on its own turf. We plan to do this greatly by expanding the ISI field effort, its network of campus-based programming. (9)

ISI was an early effort on the part of conservatives to "'take back' the universities from scholars and academic programs regarded either as too hostile to free markets or too critical of the values and history of Western civilization." (10) As part of an effort to influence future generations to adopt a conservative ideology and leadership roles in "battling the radicals and PC types on campus," the Institute was just one of many right-wing foundations and institutes to have emerged since the 1980s, in particular, to provide numerous scholarships, summer programs and fellowships. (11)

In the 1980s, the idea of higher education becoming a space in which a new multiethnic middle-class generation of students might be educated was viewed as a dire threat to many conservatives. The most famous advocate of this position was Allan Bloom. (12) He responded to this alleged threat with a discourse that was as hysterical as it was racist. In his book, The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom was quite clear in his claim that admitting people of color to Ivy League schools was an insult to white elites whom he considered the only constituents qualified to manage and lead US society. The hidden structure of politics was quite visible in Bloom's work and revealed unapologetically his deeply held belief that the commanding institutions of the economy, culture and politics could only be led by mostly white, ruling-class males who were privileged and eager to do their best to maintain the class and racist structure that defined the United States at that particular historical moment. This was an era in which left academics and critical academic fields were under siege, particularly under the political and academic leadership of right-wing reactionaries such as Gov. Ronald Reagan, who began his career by attacking leftists such as Angela Davis at the University of California, Berkeley, and John Silber who as the president of Boston University prided himself on firing and denying tenure to numerous left educators, including myself. (13)

Throwaway academics are the new invisible poor fighting for better wages, job security, benefits and full-time positions.

The culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s gave way to the new McCarthyism of the post-9/11 era, which took a dangerous turn that far exceeded the attacks marked by the culture wars. In the aftermath of 9/11, the university was once again under attack by a number of right-wing organizations emboldened by a growing culture of fear and unflinching display of jingoistic patriotism. This was particularly exemplified by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which issued a report shortly after the attacks accusing an allegedly unpatriotic academy of being the "weak link in America's response to the attack." (14) The legacy of a full-fledged new style McCarthyism was resuscitated as academics and others who looked critically at the imperialistic registers of US foreign policy were routinely dismissed from their jobs or made the object of public shaming. Some universities in Ohio, California and other states started requiring job applicants to sign statements confirming they did not belong to any terrorist groups. Academics who criticized the war in Iraq or questioned the Bush administration's use of torture often found their names on blacklists posted on the internet by right-wing groups such as Campus Watch and Target of Opportunity.

The culture wars and the post-9/11 attacks on higher education under the reign of the new McCarthyism were followed by the hollowing out of the social state and the defunding of higher education. The more overt political attacks gave way to the economic wars waged against higher education, one current example being the attempt by billionaires such as the Koch brothers to turn higher education into nothing more than an ideological factory for neoliberal capitalism. In desperate need of money, more and more universities are selling off naming rights to their buildings, accepting gifts from hedge fund managers, and caving in to the demands of big donors to influence what is taught, what programs deserve to be sustained and what faculty should be rewarded. Moreover, as tuition skyrockets, poor people and people of color are being locked out of higher education so as to reinforce the two-tier system that Bloom and others once celebrated. At the same time as higher education is being defunded, corporatized and managed by an expanding class of administrators wedded to a neoliberal model of leadership, faculty has been downsized, creating an exploited and invisible class of underpaid, part-time workers.

Many faculty members are now consigned to the service of Walmart workers, stripped of full-time positions, relegated to the status of "stoop laborers," (15) lacking power, security and a living wage, and largely devoid of any hope for a full-time position in the academy in the near future. According to the American Association of University Professors, at the present moment more than 50 percent of faculty are adjuncts barely able to pay their rents, conduct research and exercise any influence over the increasing corporatization and militarization of higher education. Many part-time faculty members make less than $21,000 annually, and as Colman McCarthy points out "slog like migrant workers from campus to campus." (16) A record number of adjuncts are now on food stamps and receive some form of public assistance. Given how little they are paid this should not come as a surprise, though that does not make it any less shameful. (17)

These throwaway academics are the new invisible poor fighting for better wages, job security, benefits and full-time positions. The status and exploitation of the labor of part-time workers is shameful and is indicative of the degree to which neoliberalism's culture of cruelty, brutality and iniquitous power now shapes higher education. And while there are a number of serious movements among adjuncts and others to fight against this new form of exploited labor, it is fair to say that such resistance will face an uphill battle. The corporatized university will not only fight such efforts in the courts with their bands of lawyers and anti-union thugs; they will also use, as we have seen recently on a number of campuses, the police and other state repressive apparatuses to impose their will on dissenting students and faculty. But if this growing group of what Kate Jenkins calls the "hyper-educated poor" (18) joins with other social movements fighting against militarization, and the war on public goods, public servants and workers, there is a chance for the emergence of a new political formation that may succeed in turning the momentum around in this ongoing battle over academic labor and the fate of higher education in the future.

Memory is no longer insurgent; that is, it has been erased as a critical educational and political optic for moral witnessing, testimony and civic courage.

While the post-9/11 attacks have taken an even more dangerous turn, higher education is still a site of intense struggle, but it is fair to say the right wing is winning. The success of the financial elite in waging this war can be measured not only by the rise in the stranglehold of neoliberal policies over higher education, the increasing corporatization of the university, the evisceration of full-time, tenured jobs for faculty, the dumbing down of the curriculum, the view of students as customers, and the growing influence of the military-industrial-academic complex in the service of the financial elite, but also in the erasing of public memory. Memory is no longer insurgent; that is, it has been erased as a critical educational and political optic for moral witnessing, testimony and civic courage. On the contrary, it is either being cleansed or erased by the new apologists for the status quo who urge people to love the United States, which means giving up any sense of counter memory, interrogation of dominant narratives or retrieval of lost histories of struggle.

The current call to cleanse history in the name of a false patriotism that celebrates a new illiteracy as a way of loving the United States is a discourse of anti-memory, a willful attempt at forgetting the past in the manufactured fog of historical amnesia. This is particularly true when it comes to erasing the work of a number of critical intellectuals who have written about higher education as the practice of freedom, including John Dewey, George S. Counts, W.E.B. Du Bois, the Social Reconstructionists, and others, all of whom viewed higher education as integral to the development of both engaged critical citizens and the university as a democratic public sphere. (19)

Under the reign of neoliberalism, with few exceptions, higher education appears to be increasingly decoupling itself from its historical legacy as a crucial public sphere, responsible for both educating students for the workplace and providing them with the modes of critical discourse, interpretation, judgment, imagination, and experiences that deepen and expand democracy. As universities adopt the ideology of the transnational corporation and become subordinated to the needs of capital, the war industries and the Pentagon, they are less concerned about how they might educate students about the ideology and civic practices of democratic governance and the necessity of using knowledge to address the challenges of public life. (20) Instead, as part of the post-9/11 military-industrial-academic complex, higher education increasingly conjoins military interests and market values, identities and social relations while the role of the university as a public good, a site of critical dialogue and a place that calls students to think, question, learn how to take risks, and act with compassion and conviction is dismissed as impractical or subversive. (21)

The corporatization, militarization and dumbing down of rigorous scholarship, and the devaluing of the critical capacities of young people mark a sharp break from a once influential educational tradition in the United States.

The corporatization, militarization and dumbing down of rigorous scholarship, and the devaluing of the critical capacities of young people mark a sharp break from a once influential educational tradition in the United States, extending from Thomas Jefferson to John Dewey to Maxine Greene, who held that freedom flourishes in the worldly space of the public realm only through the work of educated, critical citizens. Within this democratic tradition, education was not confused with training; instead, its critical function was propelled by the need to provide students with the knowledge and skills that enable a "politically interested and mobilized citizenry, one that has certain solidarities, is capable of acting on its own behalf, and anticipates a future of ever greater social equality across lines of race, gender, and class." (22) Other prominent educators and theorists such as Hannah Arendt, James B. Conant and Cornelius Castoriadis have long believed and rightly argued that we should not allow education to be modeled after the business world. Dewey, in particular, warned about the growing influence of the "corporate mentality" and the threat that the business model posed to public spaces, higher education and democracy. He argued:

The business mind, having its own conversation and language, its own interests, its own intimate groupings in which men of this mind, in their collective capacity, determine the tone of society at large as well as the government of industrial society.... We now have, although without formal or legal status, a mental and moral corporateness for which history affords no parallel. (23)

Dewey and the other public intellectuals mentioned above shared a common vision and project of rethinking what role education might play in providing students with the habits of mind and ways of acting that would enable them to "identify and probe the most serious threats and dangers that democracy faces in a global world dominated by instrumental and technological thinking." (24) Conant, a former president of Harvard University, argued that higher education should create a class of "American radicals," who could fight for equality, favor public education, elevate human needs over property rights and challenge "groups which have attained too much power." (25) Conant's views seem so radical today that it is hard to imagine him being hired as a university president at Harvard or any other institution of higher learning.

All of these intellectuals offered a notion of the university as a bastion of democratic learning and values that provide a crucial referent in exploring the more specific question regarding what form will be taken by the relationship between corporations and higher education in the 21st century. It now seems naive to assume that corporations, left to their own devices, would view higher education as more than merely a training center for future business employees, a franchise for generating profits or a space in which corporate culture and education merge in order to produce literate consumers.

The university in the United States has become a social institution that not only fails to address inequality in society, but also contributes to a growing division between social classes.

US higher education is increasingly more divided into those institutions educating the elite to rule the world in the 21st century and second-tier and third-tier institutions that largely train students for low-paid positions in the capitalist world economy. It is increasingly apparent that the university in the United States has become a social institution that not only fails to address inequality in society, but also contributes to a growing division between social classes. At the same time, it has become a class and racial sorting machine constructing impenetrable financial and policy boundaries that serve as workstations to produce updated forms of economic and racial Darwinism. Moreover, as tuition exceeds the budgets of most Americans, quality education at public and private universities becomes primarily a privilege reserved for the children of the rich and powerful. While researchers attempt to reform a "broken" federal student financial aid system, there is "growing evidence ... that the United States is slipping (to 10th now among industrialized countries) in the proportion of young adults who attain some postsecondary education." (26)

Higher education has a responsibility not only to be available and accessible to all youth, but also to educate young people to make authority politically and morally accountable and to expand both academic freedom and the possibility and promise of the university as a bastion of democratic inquiry, values and politics, even as these are necessarily refashioned at the beginning of the new millennium. Questions regarding whether the university should serve public rather than private interests no longer carry the weight of forceful criticism as they did when raised by Thorstein Veblen, Robert Lynd and C. Wright Mills in the first part of the 20th century. Yet, such questions are still crucial in addressing the reality of higher education and what it might mean to imagine the university's full participation in public life as the protector and promoter of democratic values among the next generation. This is especially true at a time when the meaning and purpose of higher education is under assault by a phalanx of right-wing forces attempting to slander, even vilify, liberal and left-oriented professors, cut already meager federal funding for higher education, and place control of what is taught and said in classrooms under legislative oversight. (27)

While the US university faces a growing number of problems that range from the increasing loss of federal and state funding to the incursion of corporate power, a galloping commercialization and the growing influence of the national security state, it is also currently being targeted by conservative politicians that have hijacked political power and waged a focused campaign against the principles of academic freedom, sacrificing the quality of education made available to youth in the name of patriotic correctness and dismantling the university as a site of critical pedagogical practice, autonomous scholarship, independent thought and uncorrupted inquiry.

For instance, right-wing politicians, such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, unapologetically denounce the university as a threat to the success of market forces and go out of their way to defund its operating budget. In this case, Walker recently announced that he was slashing $300 million from the Wisconsin public university system's budget over a two-year period. At the same time, he announced that he is requesting $500 million to build a basketball arena. It gets worse. Walker's disempowering view of higher education was made quite clear in his attempt to sneak into his new budget an attempt to rewrite the purpose and mission of the university system, one that clearly was aimed at sabotaging the university as a public good. As Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson point out:

Buried in his proposed budget bill - on page 546 out of a whopping 1839 - Walker scratched out "the search for truth" and took an ax to Wisconsin Idea, the guiding philosophy that the university is created to solve problems and improve people's lives beyond the boundaries of the campus. Instead he wanted the university to "meet the state's workforce needs." For extra measure, he scratched out "the legislature finds it in the public interest" to provide a system of higher education; he instead made it a "constitutional obligation." (28)

Under the current regime of neoliberal savagery and its cruel austerity policies, Walker is not a political exception; he is the rule. The extremist wing of the Republican Party hates the notion that the university might function primarily to address important social issues in the name of the public good. Couple this particular fear and ideological fundamentalism with the rampant idiocy and anti-intellectualism that has become an organizing principle of the new extremists at all levels of government and it becomes clear that public and higher education are prime targets in the struggle to create a fundamentalist-driven culture that supports those identifications, desires and modes of agency receptive to the rise of an authoritarian society and police state in which criticism is viewed as a form of treason and even the mildest of liberal rhetoric is disparaged or dismissed out of hand.

For instance, in Oklahoma, the state's politicians and lawmakers have introduced a bill that eliminates the teaching of Advanced Placement US history courses in the public high schools. (29) The reason behind the bill defies logic and reflects the new stupidity and religious fundamentalism that are at the heart of the conservative assault against reason and critical thinking. According to Judd Legum, "Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher (R) has introduced 'emergency' legislation 'prohibiting the expenditure of funds on the Advanced Placement United States History course.' Fisher is part of a group called the 'Black Robe Regiment' which argues that 'the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists.'" (30) Ben Carson, a potential GOP presidential candidate and pediatric neurosurgeon, stated that the students who finished the course would be "ready to sign up for ISIS." (31)

The essence of the push back against the AP US history course was echoed by the Republican National Committee in a resolution claiming that it was too negative, and reflected "a radically revisionist view of US history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects." (32) What at first glance appears to be a case of egregious ignorance is in reality a religious fundamentalist attack on any viable notion of historical consciousness and public memory. (33) These politicians are the ground troops for the new authoritarianism that rewards and revels in thoughtlessness and despises any criticism of US domestic and foreign policy. Truly, the brownshirts of our time, they are a new breed of ideological muggers whose minds are unburdened by a complicated thought, who choke on their own ignorance and sutured political certainties. They represent another one of the forces, in addition to the apostles of a savage neoliberalism and the hedge fund criminals, out to destroy public and higher education, in the United States, even in its weakest liberal version.

Higher education is not going to save the United States from becoming more authoritarian, but its destruction as a democratic public sphere is a crucial signpost as to how far we have tipped over into the nightmare of authoritarianism.

Another example of this type of fundamentalism, wrapped in the mantle of American exceptionalism, can be found in comments by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani criticizing President Obama's loyalty to the United States. Giuliani claimed unapologetically at a fundraiser for rich donors supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bid for the presidency that Obama did not love the United States, and oddly enough that he "doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up through love of his country." (34) For Giuliani and his ilk, patriotism is the engine of conformity and any attempt to offer up constructive criticism in which US policies are interrogated is disparaged as an act of negativism, at best, and at worse, positions one as treasonous or un-American.

This poisonous ideology has a long history in the United States and is gaining ground once again with the emergence of a creeping authoritarianism. Moreover, it is an ideology that promotes a deep-seated anti-intellectualism and a climate of fear that seeps into criticisms of higher education. Giuliani's comments are not merely idiotic and stupid; they are infused with a racism and militant nationalism that resonates with the rise of totalitarian ideologies and regimes in the 1930s. (35) Moreover, they are suggestive of the degree to which all vestiges of democracy, liberty, dissent and equality have become a liability in a society that is now ruled by the financial elite and ideological barbarians who support this shameful anti-democratic rhetoric and policies that reinforce it. This is the discourse of totalitarianism and its endpoint is a recapitulation of the worst horrors that history has produced.

Higher education is not going to save the United States from becoming more authoritarian, but its destruction as a democratic public sphere is a crucial signpost as to how far we have tipped over into the nightmare of authoritarianism. The shutting down of the higher education system as a democratic public sphere is not a definitive marker of defeat. On the contrary, it suggests the need for a new understanding of politics, one in which the university has a crucial role to play in the struggle to defend radical democracy as the new commons, and education as central to a politics that takes it seriously. The winds are changing and this struggle is coming once again into view. We see it in Europe with the rise of radical political parties in Spain and Greece that connect the struggle over economic power with the struggle to create new modes of agency, culture, education and ideology, all of which now infuse the linking of politics to larger social movements.

If education does not become the center of politics, democracy as an ideal and site of struggle will fail to inspire and energize a new generation of young people.

In this struggle, there is a need to reclaim an insurgent public memory and the lost or suppressed narratives of older progressive battles in order to both learn from them and to build upon their insights. This is necessary in order for educators and others to rethink the meaning of politics, reclaim the radical imagination, launch a comprehensive education program that speaks to the concrete issues bearing down on peoples' lives, and develop new political formations capable of merging the various struggles together under the wide banner of a post-capitalist democracy "that serves people over corporations." (36) As Tariq Ali has mentioned in a different context, the history of the struggles and suppression of the US working class, Communist Party and other progressive struggles has been erased: "This is a history that is not emphasized. This wretched neoliberalism has downgraded the teaching of history. It is the one subject they really hate." If education does not become the center of politics, democracy as an ideal and site of struggle will fail to inspire and energize a new generation of young people. And a new wave of domestic terrorism will descend on the United States, already visible in the rise of the police and surveillance state. At stake here is the need to take seriously Pierre Bourdieu's insistence that too many progressives have underestimated that "the most important forms of domination are not only economic but also intellectual and pedagogical, and lie on the side of belief and persuasion." (37) It is well worth remembering that politics undermines its pedagogical functions and democratic goals when it underestimates "the symbolic and pedagogical dimensions of struggle" and fails to forge the "appropriate weapons to fight on this front." (38)

Such a failure generally produces not only the tactics of vanguardism, but also promotes strategies that underestimate the challenge of getting people to think differently and to invest something of themselves in an insurgent politics in which they can recognize their sense of agency and hope. Not only is there a need to challenge, disrupt and interrogate the market imaginaries, visions and vocabularies that undermine the great ideals that a range of social movements have fought for in the past, but also there is the need to combine the educative function of changing hearts and minds with sustained efforts to build robust, large-scale organizations and what Nancy Fraser calls "large-scale public powers." (39) The Occupy movement taught us that "emancipatory ideas not be confined to separate enclaved arenas where only those who already believe in them are exposed to arguments for them." (40) Occupy created a large umbrella under the call to eliminate inequality in a wide range of areas extending from the economic realm to a variety of spheres that included all manner of exclusions based on race, sexual orientation and the destruction of the environment. At the same time, Occupy failed to create a strong presence because it lacked the capacity for large-scale coordination and long-term organizations. That is, it failed to develop and sustain a public space in which a broad-based movement could be mobilized in the interest of creating sustainable counter publics. Tariq Ali captures this failure perfectly in his comment:

I was sympathetic to the Occupy movement, but not to the business of not having any demands.... They should have had a charter demanding a free health service, an end to the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies' control of the health service, a free education at every level for all Americans. The notion, promoted by anarchists such as John Holloway, that you can change the world without taking power is useless. I have a lot of respect for the anarchists that mobilize and fight for immigrant rights. But I am critical of those who theorize a politics that is not political. You have to have a political program. (41)

Surely, even a modest list of demands that would challenge market fundamentalism such as a call to break up big banks, a tax on trading, free education for all, free health care, reducing the military budget to create a jobs program, investing in crucial infrastructures, expanding public transportation, a high tax rate on big corporations and the salaries of the ultra-rich job destroyers such as the CEOs who run banks, hedge funds and other rouge financial institutions, would be a productive beginning to question and challenge the most basic assumptions of a normalized capitalism. The resistance to oppressive power structures demands a politics, public pedagogy and political formation that embraces struggle as part of developing a political program on a national and international scale that can inspire, energize and produce a collective show of sustained solidarity.

The current historical moment calls for a politics that is transnational in its scope, global in its sense of responsibility and capable of creating new democratic public spheres in which it becomes possible to show private troubles can be connected to larger social issues, and public connections and modes of solidarity can be sustained beyond the private sphere. Only then will the promise and possibility of creating a radical global commons in the service of a radical democracy come into view. (42)

History is open, and the times are rife with unrest accompanied by new levels of state terrorism, all of which call for new ways to subvert the theater of cruelty and class consolidation that has the globe in the stranglehold of a death wish. Neoliberalism in its many punitive forms has exhausted its credibility and now threatens the entirety of human life and the planet itself. Hope is in the air but it won't succeed in creating the promise of a new democratic future unless it first recognizes and grapples with the depth of the US nightmare. It is time for new visions, a new collective radical imagination, new tactics, new political formations and sustained, organized, international struggles. It is time to march into a future that will not mimic the dark authoritarianism haunting the present.

 

Footnotes:

1. James Young, "The Holocaust as Vicarious Past: Art Spiegelman's 'Maus' and the Afterimages of History," Critical Inquiry 24 (Spring 1998), p. 667.    

2. John Dewey cited in E. L. Hollander, "The Engaged University," Academe (July/August, 2000). Online: http://www.aaup.org/publications/Academe/2000/00ja/JA00Holl.htm

3. This position has been developed fully in the works of a number of educators. See especially, Kenneth Saltman, The Failure of Corporate School Reform (Boulder: Paradigm, 2012); Alexander J. Means, Schooling in the Age of Austerity: Urban Education and the Struggle for Democratic Life (New York: Palgrave, 2013); Diane Ravitch, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools (New York: Vintage, 2014). See also Henry A. Giroux, Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life (Boulder: Paradigm, 2005).

4. See John Hinck, "A Half Century After Mario Savio's Berkeley Speech and Today's Warming Planet." CommonDreams (December 2, 2014). Online: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/02/half-century-after-mario-savios-berkeley-speech-and-todays-warming-planet

5. I am drawing here on a previous analysis of the memo, see Henry A. Giroux, "The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists," Truthout (October 2009). Online: http://truth-out.org/archive/component/k2/item/86304:the-powell-memo-and-the-teaching-machines-of-rightwing-extremists

6. Lewis F. Powell, Jr., "The Powell Memo," ReclaimDemocracy.org (August 23, 1971). Online: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate_accountability/powell_memo_lewis.html

7. L.F. Powell, Jr., "The Powell Memo."

8. Many of the ideas here and in the next section are drawn from Henry A. Giroux, Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability (New York: Palgrave, 2009).

9. Editorial, "Targeting the Academy," Media Transparency (March 2003). Online: http://www.mediatransparency.org/conservativephilanthropy.php?conservativePhilanthropyPageID=11

10. Editorial, "Targeting the Academy."

11. Max Blumenthal, "How My Dispute with Joe Scarborough Sheds Light on the Civil War Within the GOP," Alternet (October 13, 2009). Online: http://www.alternet.org/story/143262/how_my_dispute_with_joe_scarborough_sheds_light_on_the_civil_war_within_the_gop

12. For a brilliant source on this issue, see Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011).

13. Even the popular press had to acknowledge left-wing criticism of Silber, see, for example, Gail Jennes, " Colossus or Megalomaniac, Boston University's John Silber Keeps His Campus in Turmoil," People 13: 22 (June 02, 1980). Online: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20076633,00.html. For a more serious treatment of Silber's tryanny, see Nicholas D. Kristof, "John R. Silber: War and Peace at Boston University," The Harvard Crimson (November 28, 1979). Online: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1979/11/28/john-r-silber-war-and-peace/?page=single. For an analysis of the post-9/11 turn to the culture of fear and its repression on educators, see Susan Searls Giroux, Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010).

14. Jerry L. Martin and Anne D. Neal, Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can be Done About It, ACTA Report (November 2001). Online: http://www.la.utexas.edu/~chenry/2001LynnCheneyjsg01ax1.pdf. This statement was deleted from the revised February 2002 version of the report available on the ACTA website: http://www.goacta.org/publications/Reports/defciv.pdf

15. Colman McCarthy, "Adjunct Professors Fight for Crumbs on Campus," The Washington Post (August 22, 2014). Online: ttp://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/adjunct-professors-fight-for-crumbs-on-campus/2014/08/22/ca92eb38-28b1-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

16. Ibid.

17. Stacey Patton, "The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps," The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 6, 2012). Online: http://chronicle.com/article/From-Graduate-School-to/131795/

18. Kate Jenkins, "The Tall Task of Unifying Part-Time Professors," The Atlantic (February 15, 2015). Online: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/the-tall-task-of-unifying-part-time-professors/385507/

19. William B. Stanley, Curriculum for Utopia: Social Reconstructionism and Critical Pedagogy in the Postmodern Era (New York: SUNY Series, 1992). See also Henry A. Giroux, Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life (Boulder: Paradigm, 2005).

20. I take this issue up in great detail in Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, Take Back Higher Education; and Henry A. Giroux, Against the Terror of Neoliberalism (Boulder: Paradigm, 2008). Also, see, Henry A. Giroux, The University in Chains: Challenging the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2011).

21. See Henry A. Giroux, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Chicago: Haymarket, 2014); Henry A. Giroux, America's Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013); Stanley Aronowitz, Against Schooling: For an Education that Matters (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008).

22. Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), p. 88.

23. John Dewey, Individualism: Old and New (New York: Minton, Balch, 1930), p. 41.

24. Richard J. Bernstein, The Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion Since 9/11 (London: Polity, 2005), p. 45.

25. James B. Conant, "Wanted: American Radicals," The Atlantic (May 1943).
Online: http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/95sep/ets/radical.htm

26. Doug Lederman, "Rethinking Student Aid, Radically," InsideHigherEd.com (September 19, 2008). Online: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/09/19/rethink

27. For an excellent analysis of this attack, see Beshara Doumani, "Between Coercion and Privatization: Academic Freedom in the Twenty-First Century," in Academic Freedom After September 11, ed. Doumani (Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 2006), pp. 11-57; and Evan Gerstmann and Matthew J. Streb, Academic Freedom at the Dawn of a New Century: How Terrorism, Governments, and Culture Wars Impact Free Speech (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006). A sustained and informative discussion of academic freedom after 9/11 can be found in Tom Abowd, Fida Adely, Lori Allen, Laura Bier, and Amahl Bishara et al., Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibility After 9/11: A Handbook for Scholars and Teachers (New York: Task Force on Middle East Anthropology, 2006). Online: http://www.meanthro.org/Handbook-1.pdf; Anthony J. Nocella II, Steven Best, and Peter McLaren, eds. Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex (Baltimore: AK press, 2010); Edward J. Carvalho and David Downing, eds. Academic Freedom in the Post 9/11 Era (New York: Palgrave, 2011); Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira, eds. The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014).

28. Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Tripped Up by Truth," CommonDreams (February 6, 2015). Online: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/06/wisconsin-gov-scott-walker-tripped-truth

29. Colleen Flaherty, "Whose History?," Inside Higher Education (February 15, 2015). Online: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/02/23/oklahoma-legislature-targets-ap-us-history-framework-being-negative

30. Judd Legum, "Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement US History." ThinkProgress (February 17, 2015). Online: http://thinkprogress.org/education/2015/02/17/3623683/oklahoma-lawmakers-vote-overwhleming-ban-advanced-placement-history-class/?elq=~~eloqua..type-emailfield..syntax-recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type-campaign..campaignid-0..fieldname-id~~

31. Valerie Strauss, "Ben Carson: New AP US history course will make kids want to 'sign up for ISIS," The Washington Post (September 29, 2015). Online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/29/ben-carson-new-ap-u-s-history-course-will-make-kids-want-to-sign-up-for-isis/

32. Ibid.

33. Thom Hartmann and The Daily Take Team, "The Conservative Attempt to Rewrite the United States' Progressive History," Truthout (February 23, 2015). Online: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/29270-the-conservative-attempt-to-re-write-our-progressive-history

34. For an insightful critique of Giuliani's hypocritical appeal to love, see Wayne Barrett, "What Rudy Giuliani knows about love - a response to his 'doesn't love America' critique of Obama," New York Daily News (February 20, 2015). Online: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/wayne-barrett-rudy-giuliani-love-article-1.2122253
See also, Amy Davidson, "Rudy Giuliani and the Meaning of Love," The New Yorker (February 19, 2015). Online: http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/rudy-giuliani-obama-meaning-love

35. Giuliani's criticisms are almost always tinged with racism, see Janet Allon, "5 Absurd, Deeply Racist Things Rudy Giuliani Said this Week," AlterNet (November 27, 2014). Online: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/5-absurd-deeply-racist-things-rudy-giuliani-said-week

36. Mark Karlin, "Robert McChesney: We Need to Advocate radical solutions to systemic Problems," Truthout (January 2015). Online: http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/28294-robert-mcchesney-we-need-to-advocate-radical-solutions-to-systemic-problems

37. Pierre Bourdieu and Gunter Grass, "The 'Progressive' Restoration: A Franco-German Dialogue," New Left Review 14 (March-April, 2002), P. 2.

38. Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance (New York: Free Press, 1998), p. 11.

39. Sarah Stein Lubrano and Johannes Lenhard, "Crises and Experimental Capitalism: An Interview with Nancy Fraser," King's Review Magazine (April 11, 2014). Online: http://kingsreview.co.uk/magazine/blog/2014/04/11/crises-and-experimental-capitalism-an-interview-with-nancy-fraser/

40. Ibid.

41. Chris Hedges, "Tariq Ali: The Time is Right for a Palace Revolution." Truthdig (March 1, 2015). Online: http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/tariq_ali_the_time_is_right_for_a_palace_revolution_20150301

42. See, for instance, Carlos Declós, "Radical Democracy: Reclaiming The Commons," Countercurrents (February 22, 2015). Online: http://www.countercurrents.org/declos220215.htm

]]>
News Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0500
What Works, What Doesn't to Counter Extremism: It's Not More of the Same http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29392-what-works-what-doesn-t-to-counter-extremism-it-s-not-more-of-the-same http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29392-what-works-what-doesn-t-to-counter-extremism-it-s-not-more-of-the-same

Spent shell casings pile up as a soldier fires his weapon down-range during weapons qualification on Fort Riley, Kansas, July 26, 2011. U.S.(Photo: Sgt. Roland Hale/US Army)

The president has affirmed that military force alone cannot fight violent extremism, both in the media and in last week's White House global summit, which focused on countering violent extremism. We celebrate this step.

Yet the summit missed opportunities to address the role of our own policies as root causes of violence and how we might interrupt the cycles of violence and retribution. Now the White House is requesting a new, broad Authorization for Use of Military Force, even while recognizing that this approach won't bring an end to the violence it purports to address.

Our organization, the American Friends Service Committee, has a 100-year history of working within some of the globe's most intractable conflicts. That experience has taught us that some of the most obvious solutions can be the hardest to see. We believe the following key points are missing from the national conversation about violent extremism.

It's time to get serious about addressing the root causes of violence.

Violence begets violence. Years of war desensitize populations and feed cycles of violence for generations to come. We need to find ways to interrupt these cycles. Perhaps the most dangerous, persistent myth in the world today is that military intervention is straightforward, fast and decisive, that overwhelming force can "win" today's complex conflicts. 

The birth of ISIS is a perfect example. Born in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this violent movement emerged from devastation of sectarian conflict and was fueled by divisive US sectarian policies, US arms, and in abusive US-run Iraqi prisons. We ignore this history at our peril. Durable peace can be built only by ending, rather than increasing, flows of arm; restoring human security; making space for civil society to grow; and protecting the basic human rights that form the foundation for a healthy society.

We get what we pay for. We spend over half of our nation's discretionary budget on the military: More than all of Asia combined. More than every country in Europe combined, including Russia. As Vice President Biden says, "Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value." Our federal budget clearly shows us our preferred method of global engagement, and it is clear that this investment isn't working.

It's time to get serious about addressing the root causes of violence. We must prioritize peacebuilding in our spending as well as our rhetoric, investing in early interventions and development that address root causes of conflict long before violent extremism festers and conflict erupts. This means changing the balance and makeup of the US foreign policy toolbox - getting rid of outdated machinery that serves little purpose in today's world and investing seriously in nonviolent tools to protect civilians, prevent conflict, and build durable peace.

We're not seeing the whole picture. While images or stories of brutal violence shock us and urge an equally violent response, it is important to note that the numbers show the world is much safer than ever. As a recent Slate article notes, "the small picture is very bad, but the big picture of violence around the world is about as good as it's ever been." We also see a slanted view of who perpetrates violence. According to FBI data, Islamist extremists were responsible for just 6 percent of terror attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005.

Since 9/11, University of North Carolina professor Charles Kurzman documents that Muslim-American "terrorism" has claimed 37 lives in the United States out of more than 190,000 murders during this period. Yet we focus inordinate attention, resources and fear on the idea of Muslim extremism. Addressing the whole picture of violent extremism will require responsible messaging and inclusive engagement by politicians, community leaders and media voices across the ethnic, religious, racial and political spectrum.

People want peace. After decades of costly, ineffective militarized actions and interventions, local, regional and international communities are increasingly seeking peaceful solutions to conflict. Communities affected by violence are hungry for resources and alternatives to this militarized model of global engagement. Opinion polls show that most of the US public has a pragmatic and hopeful outlook on how our country should act in the world. A large majority believes we should be engaged in the world, but almost half believe the United States relies too heavily on the military. Most favor more cooperative approaches to solving world problems. 

Complex challenges require new ways of thinking about our security, cooperative strategies for shared solutions and new tools that match means with ends. A successful strategy will amplify the voice of courageous, local peace-builders: religious and community leaders working every day in communities around the world, often risking their lives to bravely promote nonviolence and mediating with those committing violence. To end violent extremism we need more engagement with disaffected communities and a serious global commitment to diplomatic and political solutions.

]]>
Opinion Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Antiquities Scholar: Islamic State's Destruction of Museum and Library Is Cultural and Ethnic Cleansing http://truth-out.org/news/item/29391-antiquities-scholar-islamic-state-s-destruction-of-museum-and-library-is-cultural-and-ethnic-cleansing http://truth-out.org/news/item/29391-antiquities-scholar-islamic-state-s-destruction-of-museum-and-library-is-cultural-and-ethnic-cleansing

Video has surfaced showing militants from the Islamic State destroying ancient artifacts at a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Men are seen toppling statues and using sledgehammers and drills to destroy the artifacts. The Guardian reports one of the statues destroyed was a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 9th century B.C. The Islamic State has also reportedly destroyed the Mosul public library, which housed more than 8,000 rare books and manuscripts. On Thursday, UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, called for the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage. "I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred," said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. We speak to Zainab Bahrani, professor of Near Eastern and East Mediterranean art and archeology at Columbia University. She has worked extensively in Iraq, including periods as senior adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Culture and a UNESCO consultant.

TRANSCRIPT:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Iraq, where video has surfaced showing militants from the Islamic State destroying ancient artifacts at a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Men are seen toppling statues and using sledgehammers and drills to destroy the artifacts. The Guardian reports one of the statues destroyed was a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 9th century B.C.

AMY GOODMAN: On Thurday, UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, called for the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said, quote, "I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred."

UNESCO has also warned about the self-proclaimed Islamic State generating income from the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items. Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council banned all trade in antiquities from wartorn Syria and reaffirmed a ban on Iraqi artifact sales from about a decade ago.

Joining us here in New York is Zainab Bahrani, professor of Near Eastern and East Mediterranean art and archeology at Columbia University. She has worked extensively in Iraq, including periods as senior adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Culture and, back in 2004 or so, a UNESCO consultant.

We welcome you, Professor Bahrani, to Democracy Now! Talk about what is happening, the significance—let’s start with the Mosul museum.

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, the Mosul museum is a major museum in the Middle East. It’s one of the largest museums in the area, and it has a remarkable collection of finds that date back to the Neolithic era and continue into the Islamic period, so covering thousands of years, going back to about 8,000 B.C.

AMY GOODMAN: What was your reaction when we saw the video yesterday?

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, I think we, all of us who are in the field, were completely horrified. I mean, of course we expected that something like this might happen, ever since ISIS took over the area, took over Mosul. But to see it actually happen was devastating.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what is their rationale or their reasons for doing this?

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, the rationale seems to be, from what they are saying on the video, that these are idols, and therefore they are false gods and should be destroyed. But, to me, this actually doesn’t make that much sense, since, of course, a lot of this cultural heritage and these antiquities have been visible since the seventh century A.D., and they have been there unharmed. So, it’s not really clear why now this should happen.

AMY GOODMAN: On the one hand, the rationale of it being heretical, right, the false idols—

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —and on the other hand, it’s believed—I mean, I can’t confirm this myself independently—that the militants have sold the ancient artifacts on the black market?

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, it seems to be that there is a great deal of selling of antiquities by ISIL. And this has been confirmed by certain people who are watching the trade in antiquities. So they are selling antiquities. One of the arguments is that the objects they destroyed yesterday were the larger pieces that could not be moved out and sold, so they were more likely to be able to destroy them.

I think that a great deal of the discussion here in the West, and perhaps throughout the world, has focused on the looting rather than the issue of cultural cleansing. The destruction of monuments on site is also something to be concerned about. I mean, the looting for the antiquities market, which is an illicit international market, is very important to consider, because this is very destructive. But the blowing up of shrines and monuments on site is really horrendous, and this is a form of cultural cleansing, certainly, but also ethnic cleansing.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain.

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, it’s a form of ethnic cleansing because this is a region of the world—Mesopotamia has always been a multicultural, mutli-ethnic, multilinguistic and multireligious community, the entirety of the country. And what’s happening now is that diversity is being wiped out. So when you wipe out people’s monuments and heritage, you erase any record of their ever having been there. And it’s a way of creating a terra nulla, if you will, a kind of an empty land that you can conquer and then claim that there was nothing there before. So it’s a general erasure and rewriting of history of Mesopotamia.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, UNESCO’s director-general expressed outrage following the Islamic State’s attack on the Mosul museum. Irina Bokova said, quote, "This attack is far more than a cultural tragedy—this is also a security issue as it fuels sectarianism, violent extremism and conflict in Iraq. ... The systematic destruction of iconic components of Iraq’s rich and diverse heritage that we have been witnessing over the past months is intolerable and it must stop immediately." And, of course, Iraq went—Iraq went through similar problems—not at this scale—during the—in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the disorder that followed, when there was also some destruction and looting that occurred.

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, I think that’s right. And I think too many people have forgotten that all of this actually began a long time ago. Of course, the scale now is far greater, and the slaughter that’s taking place of human beings is truly horrendous, but the rewriting of Iraq’s history and the erasure of its past actually started with the 2003 war, if not even with the earlier one. So there has been a great deal of destruction of heritage sites, and the attempt to say that this is ingrained in the culture. I think one large problem is that pundits here in the West often say, "Well, these acts are grounded, are based, in the historical reality of Iraq, of Mesopotamia. This is a kind of an internal fight between Shia and Sunni peoples, and we should just mind our own business and leave it alone." But it seems to me that this is completely misguided, because what we are saying is that this is based in history. We’re trying to say—the pundits are trying to say that this is based in a historical reality, when it’s not. It’s a complete rewriting of what was the historical reality. Now, let’s take, for example, the idea of the resurrection of a medieval Islamic state. So, of course, here, everybody says, "Well, they are truly barbaric. They are medieval." But everybody who has read history knows that in the Abbasid empire, the caliphs of the Abbasids valued scholarship. They translated Greek classical texts. They loved the arts and promoted arts and architecture. So, it’s actually quite false to say that in the Middle Ages they were opposed to these things.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Professor Bahrani, going back to 2003, the day after Baghdad fell, that famous scene of the looters coming from the Iraqi museum—

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —and the criticism of the U.S. for not protecting the museum. Going back to that time, declaring that freedom is "untidy," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the looting in Iraq was a result of "pent-up feelings" of oppression, that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein. He said, "Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here." Looting, he said, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. Rumsfeld said, "Stuff happens."

ZAINAB BAHRANI: I remember his statements very well. I also remember that he was quite taken aback that there was more than one vase in the entire country. And he seemed to have not realized that Iraq is Mesopotamia, the cradle of the world’s civilization. And how he did not know that, I’m really not sure. But he was clearly very mistaken.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the historical legacy of Muslims protecting antiquities, knowledge, philosophy, science?

ZAINAB BAHRANI: Absolutely. I mean, it’s not my specific area of expertise, because I’m a specialist in the pre-Islamic past, but I know enough to know that this heritage has always been there, that Islamic geographers and travelers and historians have written about places like Babylon and Nineveh in the Middle Ages. The caliphs, the Abbasid caliphs especially, supported the scholarship of the ancient Greek classical texts and philosophy and the sciences, in a way that is truly unparalleled not just in the history of Iraq, but, I would say, in a great part of the world. It’s one of the high points of the world’s history of scholarly knowledge.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what’s been the reaction in the rest of the—throughout the rest of the Middle East, of other governments and civil society organizations after they’ve heard about this from yesterday?

ZAINAB BAHRANI: I think that most of the news that I’ve heard from all over the Middle East is that people are horrified, that everybody is taken aback, because nobody was expecting this extent of just senseless destruction. Of course, this is a very small thing to consider after the mass slaughter, the kidnapping, the rapes, the torture, the daily murdering. So, this is really very much just a kind of a last straw on top of a terrible annihilation of people.

But what I want to stress is that the destruction of this sculpture, of the heritage sites and the ancient Assyrian and Hadrian sculpture that we saw destroyed in the video, that this is not just about the past. This is about a destruction and an erasure of the history of the people of Iraq, as a way to say that they never belonged here.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much for being with us, Zainab Bahrani, professor of Near Eastern and East Mediterranean art and archaeology at Columbia University. Her most recent book is called The Infinite Image: Art, Time and the Aesthetic Dimension in Antiquity.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’re going to Pasco, Washington. It was there that police killed Antonio Zambrano-Montes. Cellphone video shows him putting up his hands. He was unarmed. Stay with us.

]]>
News Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:41:24 -0500
Police Killing of Unarmed Mexican Farmworker in Washington State Sparks Protest http://truth-out.org/news/item/29390-police-killing-of-unarmed-mexican-farmworker-in-washington-state-sparks-protest http://truth-out.org/news/item/29390-police-killing-of-unarmed-mexican-farmworker-in-washington-state-sparks-protest

Authorities in Pasco, Washington, have revealed police fired 17 shots at Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an unarmed Mexican farmworker who was shot dead on February 10. Cellphone video shows Zambrano turning to face police and raising his hands before he is shot. The shooting has sparked weeks of protests. Live from Pasco, we speak with Felix Vargas, chairman of Consejo Latino, a group of local businessmen in Pasco who are working with Zambrano’s family. We also talk to Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state and a member of the Community Police Commission in Seattle.

TRANSCRIPT:

AMY GOODMAN: After our next segment, we’ll talk about Governor Scott Walker comparing unions to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. But first, this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, for the second time in about two weeks, the Mexican government has expressed outrage over police shootings of unarmed immigrants by police officers in the United States. Mexican authorities say police in Grapevine, Texas, violated a decades-old treaty by waiting four days to inform them of the killing of Rubén García Villalpando. Police say they shot García early Saturday morning during a traffic stop, after he defied orders to halt and walked toward a patrol car with his hands in the air. García’s attorney and a local activist described their account of the shooting to news station KDFW.

CARLOS QUINTANILLA: When the officers said, "Don’t move, mother F," he stayed there. And for one reason or another, Rubén begins to walk towards a police officer, and that one second passed, and the officer fired twice—pop, pop—and Rubén was dead.

DOMINGO GARCIA: When this video is released, you will show that there is a man, who has no prior criminal record, a wife and four children, who puts his hands on his head, and is shot through twice because he asked the officer to treat him with respect and dignity and not to be calling him "mother F," multiple times.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The shooting in Texas comes just 10 days after the police killing of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Washington. Zambrano was reportedly throwing rocks at police officers when he was killed. The incident happened at a busy intersection. Several eyewitnesses recorded cellphone video that shows Zambrano turning to face police, raising his hands before he’s shot. On Thursday, authorities confirmed how many times they fired at Zambrano. This is Sergeant Ken Lattin of the Kennewick County Police Department.

SGT. KEN LATTIN: Ultimately—this was a question that you had had—we’ve determined that they fired their weapons 17 times. Seventeen rounds were fired. Of those, five or six rounds struck Mr. Zambrano. We say five or six rounds because there’s obviously been two autopsies: one by—conducted by the medical examiner that was brought in by the coroner, and then, as Mr. Sant specified last week, the body was released to the family, they brought in their own independent pathologist to do an autopsy. And so, those results of both autopsies are not yet complete. Without going into any sort of gruesome detail, it’s not easy to determine, when you look at entry wounds and exit wounds, for sure, how many rounds.

AMY GOODMAN: The Pasco police also said Zambrano was not shot in the back, contradicting an independent autopsy by the victim’s family that found two entry wounds on the back of his body—one on the back his right arm and another in his buttocks. Zambrano’s family has now hired the attorney for Michael Brown’s family in Ferguson, Missouri, Benjamin Crump, who visited Pasco to meet with them this week. Pasco is about, oh, three-and-a-half hours southeast of Seattle.

All of this comes as the Mexican government reports 75 Mexicans have been killed by law officers in the United States since 2006.

For more, we go to Pasco, Washington, where we’re joined by Felix Vargas, the chairman of Consejo Latino, a group of local businessmen in Pasco who are working with Zambrano’s family and helping to call for justice in his shooting death. Vargas is a retired U.S. diplomat and Army colonel.

And we’re joined in Seattle by Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state and a member of the Community Police Commission in Seattle. She wrote a letter urging the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the fatal police shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, saying the local police probe is needlessly focusing on his activities prior to the incident.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s go directly to Pasco. Felix Vargas, explain what happened and the fact there’s so much video of this. It was during rush hour?

FELIX VARGAS: Yes, it was. A crowded intersection, downtown Pasco, a gentleman is seen throwing rocks at cars. Police are called. There’s a minor scuffle. And then you see the gentleman running across the street away from the police. The police draw their weapons and fire an initial volley of shots at him. It appears that they hit him. He gets to the other side of the street, he turns left, heads west. The police are in pursuit of him, three, four yards behind him. He’s wounded. He turns around, appears to raise his arms up. He does not have a knife or a gun in his hand. And then he is effectively executed by the second volley of shots. In all, as you said, 17 shots were fired. The initial autopsy shows that five to six rounds made impact. We have a second autopsy, which was performed by the family’s forensic examiner, and that shows seven to eight impacts on the body. So, that is what has happened. It has really disturbed this community as never before.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mr. Vargas, what has been so far the reaction of local authorities in terms of the police officers involved?

FELIX VARGAS: Well, the authorities have promised to withhold judgment until a police investigation of the police shooting takes place. There’s a special investigative unit, which is set up, excluding the participation by the Pasco police. But that particular unit is talking to witnesses and doing their own investigation. They do emphasize that this will be an impartial, objective investigation. That is really the process, after which the Franklin County prosecutor will determine if there are sufficient grounds to levy charges against the three police shooters, and then the case will go to trial. There’s also a call for a coroner’s inquest after this particular investigation. It is simply not a credible investigation—I need to add that.

AMY GOODMAN: Why isn’t it credible?

FELIX VARGAS: It’s not credible because it involves a group of police officers, who are brothers in uniform of the perpetrators of the shooting. It is not credible because in the last six months we’ve had four incidents, including this one; in the three previous incidents, the police have been exonerated. There is one other example of a shooting here six months ago of a young man also who suffered from mental illness, as did Antonio Zambrano, and also suffered from substance abuse—similar circumstances, again, shot with excessive—by excessive use of force here by the police. There is an inherent conflict of interest here whenever you have a police organization investigating its own. We need a higher-level investigation here, and that can only come from the Department of Justice here, that the—you know, that the community can have some reasonable grounds to believe that it will be independent. So, it’s important that we have this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the general state of relations in your part of the state, there’s been, obviously, a growing population of Mexican, especially Mexican, population as a result of the large agriculture there in the area. Can you talk about the state of relations in Washington?

FELIX VARGAS: Well, the state of relations is really quite good. We do have a city of 68,000, 60 percent of which are Hispanic. They’re drawn here primarily because of our very vibrant agricultural economy that we have here. And we really haven’t had any incidents. There is some unease with the police, because they don’t have enough certified language speakers. It is a police made up primarily of Anglo policemen. So, the relations are cordial. I wouldn’t say they’re warm. We have, as an organization, tried to improve that relationship and to build confidence within the community towards the police force. We met with the police chief two weeks before the incident to review his policies and procedures and to assure ourselves that we will not have an incident similar to the one in Ferguson. We received assurances that the training, the protocols were all in place to avoid this kind of situation. We’re greatly disappointed, really, in the leadership of the police chief, because we simply do not know if he knows what goes on within his police force.

AMY GOODMAN: You are a leading member of the community, a businessman, former military. Are you calling for the police chief to step down?

FELIX VARGAS: Not at this point. You know, there are things that have happened which caused us to believe that he’s not in control of his police force. It’s premature to do that. I think we need to let certain investigatory practices proceed. We would like to see active engagement by the Department of Justice in this regard. While the police chief has, I think, some lack in credibility, we’re not prepared to call for his—for him to step down at this point. We may do so later on.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And we’re also joined by Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state and a member of the Community Police Commission in Seattle. She wrote a letter urging the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, saying the local police probe was needlessly focusing on his activities prior to the incident. Could you—Jennifer, could you summarize your concerns for us?

JENNIFER SHAW: Well, sure, and thank you for reaching out to us. You know, we’re seeing across the country a real need for a culture change within our police departments. As Mr. Vargas points out, it is concerning to have police investigating their own, and particularly the notion of trying to find something wrong with the person that was shot as a justification for the shooting. We saw the same thing with Trayvon Martin. There was comments about he smoked pot. Other—you know, the comments about Michael Brown, that he had engaged in other criminal activity, at a time when the officer wasn’t even aware of it. So it’s really not relevant what the victim of the shooting was doing two weeks ago, or two weeks prior to the shooting, and to have that be what appears to be the primary focus is really concerning. It’s also concerning that the police officers that were involved in the shooting have still not been interviewed by the investigators.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what needs to happen right now, Jennifer Shaw?

JENNIFER SHAW: Well, certainly, there needs to be a full and impartial investigation of this incident, but also there needs to be a review of the current policies and practices and training within the Pasco Police Department. What we’re seeing in Washington, and really across the country, is that police departments have been using outdated use-of-force policies. Their training is really much more focused on how to use force, not how to avoid using force. And so, tragically, we keep seeing these kinds of incidents.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Sergeant Ken Lattin of the Kennewick County Police Department answering questions during Thursday’s news conference.

REPORTER: Have you interviewed the three officers?

SGT. KEN LATTIN: Good question. So as we’ve—that seems to be a big question each week. And we’ve got to have all the information before they sit down with those, so they’ve got to get those transcriptions done, so that the lead investigator that will sit down and interview with the officers has all the information. So, that—we’re not to that point yet. It’s still being set up.

REPORTER: So all the other witnesses that you want to talk to would be interviewed first, all that material transcribed—

SGT. KEN LATTIN: Absolutely.

REPORTER: —and the three officers will be the last people you interview?

SGT. KEN LATTIN: Correct.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennifer Shaw, your comment on this? The witnesses will be interviewed first, and then the officers will be interviewed last.

JENNIFER SHAW: Well, when you think of any other investigation of a shooting by an individual, of another individual, with witnesses around, imagine that the police would wait 10 days, two weeks, before interviewing the person who was doing the shooting. It seems unreasonable. It seems, actually, kind of dangerous, for public safety purposes, to wait that long for the witnesses—or, for the officers to sit down and kind of read through everything and come up with a story. I mean, the idea of an investigation is to find out what happened from everybody that was involved. And it seems like these officers are being given special consideration because they’re police officers.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennifer Shaw, we want to thank you for joining us from the Washington ACLU in Seattle, and, Felix Vargas, for joining us from your home in Pasco, Washington, with Consejo Latino. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we move on to our last segment. Juan?

]]>
News Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:36:33 -0500
Will the F-35A Fighter Bomber Be Based in Burlington, Vermont, in 2020? http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29389-will-the-f-35a-fighter-bomber-be-based-in-burlington-vermont-in-2020 http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29389-will-the-f-35a-fighter-bomber-be-based-in-burlington-vermont-in-2020

 

 

A F-35A Lightning II 002 jet plane. (Photo: Airman Magazine; edited: LW / TO)A F-35A Lightning II 002 jet plane. (Photo: Airman Magazine; edited: LW / TO)

A plan to base F-35 fighter bombers in Burlington, Vermont, has been sent into a tailspin, due to contradicting government information about their safety.

Charts released by the Department of Defense Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JSF) contradict information given by the Vermont Air National Guard, throwing the plan by Vermont political and military leaders (1) to base F-35 fighter bombers in Burlington into a tailspin. The charts (2) show that the cumulative hours the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office anticipates will be flown by F-35A jets before the jets arrive for basing in Burlington is a fraction of the number the Vermont Air National Guard says will be flown to assure safety.

In response to concerns about the high accident rate typical for all new jet fighters, Lt. Col. Chris Caputo, an F-16 pilot, squadron commander, and now head of the Vermont Air National Guard's F-35 Integration Office, held a news conference in October 2013 about F-35A basing, where he announced, "There will be 750,000 flight hours before it comes to Burlington."

The Air Force Record of Decision states that 18 F-35A aircraft are "anticipated to start arriving [at Burlington Air Guard Station] in 2020." Making the date more specific, on May 2, 2014, Col. TJ Jackman, Commander of the Vermont Air National Guard 158th Fighter Wing told WPTZ TV that "eighteen F-35s will arrive in Burlington in June 2020."

According to the authoritative Joint Strike Fighter Program Office charts, the F-35A will only have a fraction of the flight hours specified by Lt. Col. Caputo by the end of FY2020.

The charts were released by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The charts show that the JSF anticipates that:

• The Air Force version of the F-35 that will be based in Burlington, called the "F-35A," will have only 248,250 cumulative aircraft flying hours by the end of fiscal year 2020 (page 1), one-third of the number of hours stated by the Vermont Air National Guard.

• All three versions of the F-35 together - the F-35A plus the very different Marine F-35B and the Navy F-35C - will have only 437,386 fleet flight hours by the end of FY 2020 (page 6), only 58 percent of the number of hours stated by the Vermont Air National Guard.

Information provided by the Air Force in its final environmental impact statement (EIS) comparing F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighter jets shows that in their first few hundred thousand hours of flying, all these jet fighters have an extremely high accident rate. But by 1 to 2 million cumulative flight hours, enough learning and fixes were implemented so the accident rate of the F-15 and F-16 declined substantially.

An article in the Burlington Free Press by Sam Hemingway, "Final F-35 environmental impact statement released, Statement contains information on crash risks, noise levels" September 26, 2013, brings more vividly to life the information on page 3-28 of the Final EIS:

According to a chart added to the final report, four F-16s crashed in fiscal 2012 during a 207,158 flight hours, compared to 17 crashes in calendar year 1982 during 107,343 flight hours.

F-16 jets had flown fewer than 100,000 flight hours when 1982 began. They had accumulated over 9 million fleet flight hours before 2012 began. The crash rate in 1982 was 11.5 times greater than the crash rate in 2012.

By contrast, the F-22 has so far accumulated fewer than 200,000 flight hours, and its FY2012 accident rate was 8.2 times the FY2012 accident rate of the F-16. This is why responsible military officials will normally require at least 1 million fleet flight hours to assure that a new jet fighter is safe to base in a densely populated area, such as Burlington Vermont. Interestingly, the Air Force EIS says that the F-35 accident rate is expected to be like that of the F-22.

To its credit, the Air Force did not base F-16 jets at the Burlington airport until 1986, during which year the chart in the EIS shows that the F-16 reached its first million flight hours. Enough learning and fixes had been implemented so the F-16 accident rate was reduced nearly 4 fold from the rate in 1982. Even so, the accident rate was still well above the current F-16 accident rate, with its 9 million accumulated fleet flight hours.

The airport in Burlington, where Senator Leahy is leading the drive to base the new F-35A jets, is completely surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Unlike military air bases that are adjacent very large open areas, the Burlington International Airport, a commercial airport shared with the Vermont National Guard, has no open area in any direction near the airport. Some 124,000 people live in the seven towns on all sides and within eight miles of the airport in the most densely populated part of Vermont.

The runway at Burlington airport aims directly at the center of one of these towns, Winooski, with over 7,000 people only one mile from the end of the runway.

In the opposite direction, the runway aims directly at the largest shopping area in Vermont, with two dozen big-box stores one mile away in Williston. Long ago, a military jet crashed in the very area of those stores, killing the two Vermont Air National Guard pilots. But back then, the entire area was an open field.

Six weeks after the news conference at which Lt. Col. Caputo announced that the F-35A jets would have 750,000 flight hours before arriving in Burlington, the Air Force officially announced its decision to select Burlington to be the first Air National Guard station that would receive F-35 jets.

However, because that 750,000 hours number appeared improbably high to achieve by 2020, given the slow rate at which F-35A jets are being produced, a concerned citizen filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Defense Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program Office at the Pentagon asking for charts showing the year-by-year anticipated fleet flight hours.

Not until 2027 does the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office chart say that the F-35A will accumulate one million actual flying hours.

"These numbers are of critical importance to the safety of Burlington area citizens for two reasons," said Pierre Sprey, a codesigner of the F-16 and A-10 jets. "First, 50 years of accident records show that all new fighter planes are many times more dangerous at 100,000 fleet hours than at 1,000,000 hours. Second, to judge the crash rate of a new fighter with even minimal statistical confidence requires at least a million hours of accident data."

But it gets worse: Reality has not been kind even to the just-released JSF projections: according to figures announced by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 manufacturer, as of early December 2014, all three versions of the F-35 had together logged only about 23,000 flying hours, barely half of the 45,756 flying hours through the end of September 2014 that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office projected in its chart for all three versions FY2014 (see page 6 of the charts). This, despite Lockheed including hours for both operational planes and test airplanes while the JSF Program Office projected only operational plane hours.

The reason so few hours are actually being flown is simple: All three versions of the F-35 planes are experiencing consistently higher failure rates and more repair downtime than projected (and allowed under Lockheed's contract). The significantly higher-than-anticipated failure rate and maintenance downtime of the F-35A is officially reported in the Department of Defense Director, Operational Test and Evaluation annual report, 2014, pp 39-69. "The high failure rates and high F-35 flammability described in that report do not augur well for the safety of the F-35," said Sprey.

As a result, Pierre Sprey calculated that the F-35A is likely to reach only about 100,000 flight hours by 2020. Nor are the three versions together likely to reach anywhere near the 437,386 combined flight hour projection by 2020.

Regardless of whether Lt. Col. Caputo intended his projected 750,000 flight hours to be exclusively for the F-35A that will be based in Burlington or for the total of the F-35A hours, plus the not-relevant hours of the quite different F-35B and F-35C models, reaching 750,000 hours is totally incompatible with F-35A arrival in Burlington in 2020.

In view of the F-35 planes actually flying only about half of the inadequate JSF-projected flying hours, the plan to base F-35 jets at Burlington airport in 2020 has itself crashed and burned. If Senator Leahy and other Vermont political leaders persist in pushing the plan for basing in 2020, thousands of Vermonters will be at severe risk.

"248,000 cumulative flying hours is grossly inadequate for judging the safety of the F-35A," said Sprey. "It would be both 'dangerous' and 'irresponsible' for the Air Force to base these new and sophisticated jets in a highly populated area, such as South Burlington, before they've logged enough flight time to work out all the bugs," Sprey told Seven Days newspaper in an interview in 2013.

In view of the year-by-year anticipated fleet flight hours projected by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office for 2020 being less than a quarter of what is needed for adequate safety, the idea of basing F-35A jets in Burlington in 2020 should now be rejected by each and every one of Vermont's political and military leaders. In view of the report by Lockheed Martin that the planes have actually been flying barely half of the JSF projection through 2014, "going ahead with basing in the most densely populated part of Vermont in 2020 would show arrogant contempt for the safety of our citizens," said Sprey.

If Vermont's political and military leaders refuse to pay attention to the information provided by the Department of Defense Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and by Lockheed Martin, the task remains to ordinary citizens to continue to organize and mobilize against the basing of F-35 jets at Burlington airport.                                       

During the past four years, citizens participating in the "Stop the F-35 Coalition" have organized numerous protest actions. They initiated a lawsuit that is now underway in federal court. They initiated another lawsuit now awaiting decision in the Vermont Supreme Court. And a ballot item asking whether citizens wish Winooski to join the federal lawsuit is up for a vote in Winooski on March 3.

 

Notes:

1. Vermont political leaders supporting F-35 basing in 2020 include Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

2. The acronym "PAA" in the charts stands for Primary Aircraft Authorized, that is, the number of aircraft authorized to be flown by operational squadrons, not to include flight test aircraft.

]]>
Opinion Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:42:39 -0500
On the News With Thom Hartmann: Students Are Taking On College Debt, and More http://truth-out.org/news/item/29388-on-the-news-with-thom-hartmann-students-are-taking-on-college-debt-and-more http://truth-out.org/news/item/29388-on-the-news-with-thom-hartmann-students-are-taking-on-college-debt-and-more

In today's On the News segment: If corporations paid back their full debt to society, they'd be paying each of our households about $10,000 a year; it appears another discriminatory ban in the military may be changed; students are taking on college debt, demanding relief for their federal student loans; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...

You need to know this. When I say that it's time to make corporations pay their fair share, you're probably thinking taxes. But, if corporations paid back their full debt to society, they'd be paying each of our households about $10,000 a year. That figure comes from Paul Buchheit over at Alternet, and he says, "That estimate is based on facts, not the conservative-style emotion that might deny the responsibility for any debt to the American people." Using data from the National Science Foundation, Paul calculated that about half of that yearly stipend would be our return for all the public money invested in research. About 30 percent of all development, applied, and basic research is paid for by the tax payers, and thirty percent of $2 trillion in annual corporate profit works out to $5,000 a year for each household. Another two grand would be payment for pollution and other disaster relief costs paid for by John Q. Taxpayer, and it would reimburse the American public for things like drilling for oil on public lands and cleaning up toxic chemical spills. In addition to the $2 trillion stashed in offshore tax havens, corporations rake in tons of cash in direct and indirect subsidies. So, the remaining $3,000 would reimburse us for corporate welfare and tax dodging, like overseas tax havens and government subsidies to giant, corporate industries. When we add all that up, it comes to $10,000 per household, per year – and it's a pretty "small-c" conservative estimate. That's the real price of corporate power in the U.S., and that's a cost being paid by the American public. Corporations used to return these public investments in the form of larger paychecks and pensions and benefits. Today, they simply buy back their own stocks and call workers greedy for demanding a living wage. We give them the opportunity to do business in our great nation, so if the corporations won't pay up the way they used to, perhaps it's time they simply cut each of our households a $10,000 check.

It seems like only yesterday that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy came to an end in our military. And now, it appears that one more discriminatory ban may be changed as well. At a recent town hall event in Afghanistan, our new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that he doesn't believe gender identity should disqualify someone from military service. According to the Williams Institute, there are more than 15,000 transgender active duty service members or reservists, and more than 130,000 transgender retirees and veterans. Many of these individuals were willing to give their lives to defend our country, and they should never have to hide who they are. The question about transgender service came from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, who works with an LGBT military family organization and has cared for many transgender service members as an office in Navy Health Care. Cmdr. Ehrenfeld said, "I am continually struck by how these individuals, who risk their lives every day to support our mission, live not in fear of the enemy, but rather in fear of being discovered for who they are." Perhaps our newest Defense Secretary will help bring this discrimination to an end.

The frigid temperatures last month were particularly daunting for the homeless. One New York City charity wanted to do something about that, but the Port Authority blocked their efforts. Volunteers from Saxon/Hart went to Grand Central Terminal and other train and bus stations to hand out blankets to the homeless, but they were told that the Port Authority didn't "want the homeless to get too comfortable there." Temperatures in New York City dropped to single digits in February, and wind chills were even colder. A Saxon/Hart spokesperson said, "We weren't trying to make people more comfortable in the station, we just wanted people not to freeze." Of course, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released a statement saying that they are "committed to assisting the homeless," but their actions say otherwise. In the richest nation on Earth, no one should be freezing to death in the winter, and groups like Saxon/Hart should be applauded – not turned away.

Do you want to know which restaurants pay their workers a living wage? Well, there's an app for that. The ROC United Diner's Guide app will show you the restaurants near you, how they pay workers, and whether or not they provide benefits. And, that app will even allow you to report on the working conditions of restaurants you visit, such as noting server-to-diner ratios and tipping policies. Despite waves of protests and increased social awareness, many food service workers still get paid only $2.13 an hour, and they're taxed on tips they may or may not even earn. While we should never give up the fight to ensure all workers earn a living wage, in the mean time, we can make sure that businesses are rewarded for treating employees well. Restaurants all over our country are moving away from tips and paying all workers well, and we should be giving them our business when we can.

And finally... Students are taking on college debt. Fifteen young people who attended Everest College, a subsidiary of Corinthian, are refusing to pay for the useless degrees they got from that university. Corinthian is under investigation by state and federal officials because of their predatory lending practices, and as such the college is providing students with relief for their private loans. However, the so-called "Corinthian 15" are demanding relief for their federal student loans as well. Nathan Hornes, one of the students who refuses to pay, said, "I did not get the education that I was promised. I did not receive any knowledge that I could use in my day-to-day life, to get a career." Like graduates of so many for-profit institutions, Nathan and the rest of the Corinthian 15 realized that they were duped, and they're doing something about it. Standing up to for-profit colleges is a great place to start in the fight for affordable higher education.

And that's the way it is - for the week of March 2, 2015 – I'm Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.

]]>
News Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:13:45 -0500