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O'Reilly's Book (on JFK) has been green-lighted to be a movie

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Havana. December 20, 2012

Clouds on the neoliberal horizon

Frei Betto

I spent a pleasant weekend in the company of Buenaventura de Sousa Santos and other friends. In a fruitful reflection, the Portuguese social scientist noted the heavy clouds over the current global panorama.

There is a flagrant deconstruction of democracy. European history has been stained with blood since the 16th century, due to the incidence of wars. In the last 50 years, however, it believed it had attained a stable peace due to democracy founded on economic and social rights.

It is a fact that these attainments functioned as an antidote to the threat represented by socialism, which extended over half of the east of the European continent. With the fall of the Berlin Wall capitalism destroyed the fantasy and showed its diabolical face (etymologically, disintegrating).

Social rights were eliminated and countries previously administered by democratically elected politicians came to be governed as they are now by the IMF-ECB (European Central Bank)-U.S. risk agencies.

No director of these institutions was democratically elected. And what credibility can the risk agencies have if, just before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, those agencies gave it the highest Triple-A rating?

Today, the only remaining uncontrolled space is the street, but even there a growing criminalization of popular demonstrations is taking place. Every day, television channels broadcast footage of protesting crowds being violently repressed by the police.

People on both sides of the Atlantic are protesting. But mobilizations have a limited effect. Indignation does not end in proposals. Cries are not transformed into projects. Wall Street is occupied but not brought down, as happened with the Berlin Wall. "Other possible worlds" are not to be seen on the horizon.

The well-being they are trying to assure today is that of the financial markets. The state ceased being solely financed by taxes paid by enterprises and citizens. Before, the richest people paid the most taxes (in the Nordic countries they still cover 75% of earnings) in a way that meant wealth was distributed via services offered by the state to the population.

From the moment that the elite began to demand a minimal state and the payment of less and less taxes (as we saw proposed in the U.S. presidential election campaign), states began to experience increased debt and turned to the banks which, fed up with liquidity, lent themselves to reduced interest rates. In this way, many countries became hostages of the banks.

A typical case is Germany’s relationship to its counterparts in the European Union. German banks lent money to Spain, so that the latter country could acquire German products. Now Germany is the creditor of half of Europe.

This is propagating a new wave of anti-German sentiment on the European continent. In the 20th century, Germany attempted to dominate Europe on two occasions, an attempt that ended in two great wars, in which it was defeated. Now, however, it is threatening to attain domination by means of economic warfare. And once again, the thorn in its side is the France of Hollande which, contrary to all expectations, this year escaped the recessive tide devastating Europe.

The countries of Latin America and Africa are resisting the crisis through the exploitation and export of natural resources-mining, agricultural products, fossil fuels etc. However, the prices of these are set by the United States, China and Europe. These countries are paying steadily less for larger volumes of merchandise. The futures market has already fixed the market price of harvests for the year 2016! In recent years, this speculation increased the total of people suffering chronic hunger from 800 million to 1.2 billion!

The market price of nature’s two principal resources: land and water, is increasing in a threatening manner. Transnationals are investing enormous sums in buying land and potable water springs in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Our countries are being de-nationalized by the divestment of our territories. It is unbridled stockpiling. The curious part is that these lands are acquired along with their inhabitants, as if they were part of the landscape.

There is progressive replacement of work. Human activity is giving way to robotization. In sectors where there is no robotization, outsourcing and slave labor abound, like the Bolivian and Asian workers used in Brazilian assembly plants.

There is no longer any distinction between paid and unpaid work. Who pays for the work that you do through electronic equipment, having left the physical place in which you are employed?

Before there were struggles for overtime pay and the time spent traveling between the workplace and home. Now, via computers, work is invading the home and stifling family space. The relationship of persons with machines tends to eliminate contact with co-workers. The real is ceding place to the virtual. The boundary between home and work is being suppressed.

Knowledge has become merchandise. What is important in universities is research capable of producing patents of commercial value. Knowledge is valued in terms of its market value, as is the case in the fields of biology and genetic engineering. The professor enclosed in his laboratory is not concerned about the advance of science but about his bank account, which must be swelled by the enterprise paying for his research.

This mercantilism of knowledge is reducing university departments considered non-productive, like those of human sciences. In this way the end of critical thought is being decreed. And coming to an end is inventive scientific knowledge, that born of a curiosity to unveil the mysteries of nature, and not lucrative manipulation, as is the case of transgenics.

Hope lies in the streets, in the organized mobilization of all those who, with their eyes in the clouds, are capable of avoiding the storm in order to transform hope into viable projects. (Taken from Adital)

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Ben Shapiro tried to turn it into a left/right issue, which it is not. ANd to say that Morgan is a LW shows you just how far to the loony right he is. Maybe as far as you.

Morgan then stuffed that on him when he took out a letter signed by Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford requesting congress pass an assault rifle ban.

He then tried to make the NRA out to be a poor besieged innocent lobbying group instead of the multi million dollar intimidation group it is.

The worst part was this: he first tries to attack Morgan for "standing on the dead bodies of the kids from Sandy Hook". Five minutes later he tries to say that if America gets strict about gun control there will be a Jewish Holocaust similar to the Nazis in America.

GIve me a break Craig.

Better, give us all a break. Take up painting.

It IS a L/R issue jimbo, always has been, always will be.

So Ronny signed the letter, good for him. He had his own opinion, which last time I looked was also enshrined in the constitution. His opinion is not golden.

And the gun gabbing left ALWAYS dances on the graves of some victim, and Morgan is doing it solely for ratings. Without this latest round of gun grabbing crap his would be in the toilet.

Tell us jimbo, you think anyone had duck hunting in mind when they wrote the 2nd? Or tyrannical governments run amok?

Shaprio laid it all out and you just showed you are a leftest gun grabber too. Surprise, surprise.

Got to love it it when lefties have their panties all twisted. You don't deserve a break jimbo, in fact you deserve more and more.

Edited by Craig Lamson
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The US has a Tyrannical Governement that is running amok.

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Lee, did you see Alex Jones on Piers Morgan arguing gun control?

Why repeat that debacle here.

Yea, the gun control side had no chance then either. And then Ben Shapiro destroyed poor Piers...

The numbers you site are pure junk because culturally speaking you know nothing about the world that exists around you other than what you read or what you are told to believe.

The U.K. Home Office figures concerning violent crime when compared to violent crime figures in the U.S. are skewed. They are skewed for a number of reasons but there is very much a primary cause. The U.K. violent crime statistics count an affray as a violent crime. An affray according to the Home Office is simply an altercation where acts of unlawful violence are threatened and they are recorded as a violent crime whether the threats are carried out or not. Unlike in the U.S.

Now, because you live inside your own bum hole when it comes to trying to understand the rest of the world, you wouldn't understand that the U.K. has quite a distinct problem when it comes to the culture of drinking. Each weekend thousands of young men and women go out in the many different bars and clubs that exist in every major town and city and get absoultely xxxx-faced. We have a culture of "binge-drinking". Every Friday and Saturday night there are thousands of altercations that are recorded as "affrays", many of them result in violence. Young studs fighting over young mares. Teenage testosterone mixing with 14 pints of European strength beer resulting in fighting every weekend certain areas in City Centre's like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, London, Glasgow etc. We as a society overall drink differently to you in the U.S. and we also have a different drinking culture to many places in Europe. The amount of altercations each weekend are in the thousands.

These "affray" figures skewer the overall crime statistics so badly that the European Union publishes reports that say that in the U.K. you have a 70% chance of being a victim of a violent crime. Absolute nonsense. Complete crap.

Now, if you are staggering around Mathew Street in Liverpool City Centre after having consumed 3 pints of Jagermeister at 2am I'd say your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime increase dramatically. And having a .357 Magnum in your safe at home ain't going to help you.

So the figures you are using has the U.K down as more violent place that Washington D.C. which is utterly ludicrous and completetly ridiculous. I've been to many major cities in the U.K., even been out drinking during the evening, and nothing comes close to the feeling of dread that is felt than the feeling of dread being outdoors in Washington after 10pm. Yes, Craig, unlike you I've actually travelled the world and experienced these things for myself. Believe me, no matter what the crime figures say, there are no places in London, Manchester or Liverpool, that compare to let's say, South Houston.

So take you figures and shove them where the sun don't shine because they're not unlike the other wares you hawk on this site. Complete and utter drivel from someone who has a couple of screws loose and a set agenda based upon his political beliefs.

Oh I just love this one. The bum numbers are MY fault. ROFLMAO! And my posts are complete and utter drivel because I have a few loose screws and and an agenda!

Wow this is really rich coming from whacky ct, with an agenda!

Its all the fault of binge drinkers...yea that the ticket. That's the very best you can do?

Care to apply that to home invasions, for example? No one has ever been stabbed and killed right at the front door of a multi million dollar home bristling with security measures over there?

ROFLMAO! You guys are a real hoot! No wonder the world considers you all kooks.

BTW, I have a lifetime permit to conceal carry. No need for that 357 in the gunvault if I choose. And the poor slobs in England getting beaten in England don't have this CHOICE. Gotta love the nanny state! Cal a cop after its all over to clean up the mess and hose the victims blood from the street

Edited by Craig Lamson
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Also worth pointing out, Lee, that if you got involved in a fist fight in a town centre with some drunken arse - and then shot them (assuming you were free to possess the firearm) - you'd be prosecuted for using disproportionate force. We had the case here of Tony Martin, who shot & killed a burglar. He was prosecuted for murder & found guilty. As I recall, mostly because he shot the fleeing burglar in the back, therefore the force Martin used was not proportionate to the threat to the homeowner at the time. Martin was a licenced shotgun owner at the time I seem to recall.

I would say that along with binge drinking, the biggest violent crime problem that Britain has is knives, and specifically the routine carrying of knives by people. People carry knives for their "self defence" and then, ironically, often have their own weapon used on them.

Binge drinking is enough of a problem, with the accompanying violence, that some bars serve beers in plastic "glasses" to reduce the amount of assaults with broken bottles or glasses.

Sure, I'd rather people didn't wander the streets of Britain carrying knives. I worry for my kids (although my area of Yorkshire is relatively quiet) But I'd rather people carried knives than guns. It's difficult to walk into a room and kill a large group of people, in a short time frame, with a knife. Not impossible, but difficult. Also, you are unlikely to be killed with a knife from a range of more than 10 feet. With a gun you can take out people from a lot wider range.

It is true that there are some countries that have lax gun ownership laws that don't have the same numbers of a) gun deaths or B) mass shootings as the US. So it is possible that the issue isn't the prevalance of guns per se.

You could examine the other causes of why gun crime is so high in the US, but that would be complex, costly and take a long time. The simplest way of putting out a fire is to remove the fuel (I suggest the gun in this example) rather than try to figure out why the fire is there in the first place.

There is a good argument about the choice of the individual but - and I'm no Constitutional expert - it would seem that the second amendment was not intended for society as it exists today.

Just my view, not trying to suggest that anyone is wrong....

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You could examine the other causes of why gun crime is so high in the US, but that would be complex, costly and take a long time. The simplest way of putting out a fire is to remove the fuel (I suggest the gun in this example) rather than try to figure out why the fire is there in the first place.

There is a good argument about the choice of the individual but - and I'm no Constitutional expert - it would seem that the second amendment was not intended for society as it exists today.

Just my view, not trying to suggest that anyone is wrong....

I would suggest the 2nd was intended for society exactly as it exists today. Lee whats to talk about crime stats in the UK being driven up by booze. LIkewise the stats in the US are in part fueled by drugs, gangs and the 'great society'.

Responsible and law abiding gun owners commit very few of the gun crimes in the US.

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Listen, you complete and utter imbecile. You cited the figures. You're the one promoting them as proof that the society I live in is more violent than the one you live in. I'm here telling you that you are spouting absolute nonsense.

Who is the imbecile here? Why that would be YOU. I cited no figures, unless you want to call "per 100,000" figures. I simply made a general statement. Thanks for proving once again what a lousy reader you really are. But then again you consider grabbing someone around the neck as a non violent crime.....

You have absolutely no idea what the hell you are talking about. I told you the figures are skewed because our figures include "AFFRAY." What bit of that don't you understand? Do you require a photograph to help you?

If I walk up to somebody and grab them around the neck and tell them I'm "going to smash their face in" I can be charged with "AFFRAY" that will be included on the eventual list of "violent crimes" whether I do smash their face in or whether I don't.

Except that by grabbing one around the neck , you just committed a violent crime. ROFLMAO! Great example there Lee!

On the subject of "binge drinking" you are speaking from a place of utter ignorance. Each and every Brit on this forum will back me up on this. This country has a serious "binge drinking" problem that has been escalating for the the last 10 years. It is considered at this stage to be of "epidemic" proportions and each weekend it puts an incredible strain on ALL emergency services and the NHS. It's so bad that it costs the NHS nearly £3 billion a year.

You wouldn't know this because you have built up a preconceived idea of what these violent crime figures mean based upon what happens in your own country. Apples and oranges.

You can "love it" all you like. The simple fact is that the majority of violence that occurs in this country takes place in very specific hotspots in the City Centre's of the United Kingdom every weekend. .


Actually I have a pretty good idea. Unlike you I can read.

Really? No violent crime elsewhere in the UK? You want to stick with that?

Because you are completely ignorant you really thought you'd be able to use these figures to prove a point only to have it blow up in your face. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Except it didn't blow up in my face, it blew up in yours. And yes its really a hoot watching you look so foolish.

Washington DC is less violent than London? Yeah, right.

What an idiot you are.

The only idiot here is you Lee, but that's really not news.

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Yes. You quoted figures. Are you really so detached from reality?

Learn to read yourself. Go back and see what I said and stop changing it to suit your own demented ends. Do you know what the word "majority" means? Idiot.

You have had your arse handed to you on a plate. Learn to live with it, tough guy.

You were spouting nonsense because of your ignorance.

Show me the quoted figures Lee.

Lets review the ACTUAL quote shall we.

"And yet you live in a country that has far MORE violent crime per 100,000 than mine."

You simply can't read.

Live with it. You made yourself look mightily foolish.

Again no news there. You are a ct after all.

Edited by Craig Lamson
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Responsible and law abiding gun owners commit very few of the gun crimes in the US.

What a brilliant observation.

Responsible and conscientious pedestrians commit very few of the jaywalking crimes in the U.S.

Brilliance is contagious... :sun

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Glasgow is scarier than South Central L.A.?

The scariest thing about Glasgow is the accent. They speak English in Edinburgh. But Glasgow?

I spent a week in Scotland back in the mid-90's. The people there were relentlessly polite. I had to go back to London and get treated like an idiot by a tube clerk just to feel back on planet earth.

Given the incredibly violent history of the Scots it's no wonder they're such an easy going people now.

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