The EU is an unfair, exclusive political system and Brexit is worth considering: Outsider thoughts

I ran out of RAM researching this topic about the moment that I found the EU has *four* presidents. President of the European Council (since 1 December 2014, Donald Tusk), President of the European Commission (since 1 November 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker), President of the European Parliament (since 1 July 2014, Martin Schulz), Presidency of the Council of the European Union (since 1 January 2016, The Netherlands). I don't have time to plug in the links but I want to share this incomplete piece anyway.

The vibes around the Brexit situation are pretty toxic. But they are not in isolation. How many months ago was Scotland was basically polling to leave and fell a ways short, then the Scottish National Party swept out Labor, against Tory austerity, across the whole area. They've avoided total disaster but young people are fed up, and in London spend most of their money on rent. The National Health Service and other public services get gobbled up by SERCO, G4S and other all-encompassing contractor giants.

Beyond Pax Britannia, Italy has a major proposal that would reorganize its strange national system, and the Five Star comedian / right populist movement just got Rome. Its banking system is also said to be weak - who knew? Catalonia has been locked in a long conflict with its central government. France has been in a labor-driven social insurrection for what, a month now? France is like ~60% negative on the EU compared to Britain's ~50% according to one poll I saw.

10+% employment across the EU (which surely includes all precariat and bit work as a Job as the US does) with much higher youth unemployment is perpetual and structural and is a direct consequence of the EU's rigidity and sluggish, isolated decision cycle structure.

How many "remain" proponents have chosen to focus on how the EU makes legislation and budgets, the central functions of government? This next bit is kind of amazing - brace yourselves:

There are four legislative procedures through which Community acts can be adopted. Each begins with a proposal from the Commission, which the Commission may withdraw at any point before the legislation is finally adopted. Although the Commission has a monopoly in initiating legislation, the Council, European Parliament and Member States can suggest to the Commission that it table a proposal. This procedure is referred to in French as "l'initiative de l'initiative", which can be described as initiating the initiation of legislation. The Commission is not obliged to act on this request and remains the sole institution capable of proposing Community acts.
The four procedures ensure that the European Parliament is involved in the Community decision-making process to a greater or lesser extent.

Yes this is how it actually works, via

And of course it is only available in a few languages. Great customer service here.

If this was how the US worked -- admittedly it's close, but it's like if ALEC and party apparatchiks had all the power of the US House, staffed entirely by the friends of Beltway regulars -- you can see how whole regions might switch over to seething, reactionary parochialism, with a far bigger violent fringe than we have in America today.

The European Commission, not the European Parliament, is the body that originates legislation. This is hugely important. It is designed to work like a ratchet. This has caused British conspiracy wags to claim that the EU was designed as the Soviet Politburo's German-powered counterpart, with an untouchable core deep state set to control everything for its nefarious purposes. The conspirators then of course trolled everyone by parking the rump parliament in a building obviously modeled on the Tower of Babel.

In the US, only the House of Representatives can originate budget legislation. The finance committees are controlled by legislators directly elected every 2 years. That is a pretty short line and a close circle. It isn't totally lost behind vague, appointed extra parties.

In the US, any time at a state legislature will illustrate that legislators' churning proposals are part of something like the opposite of this ratcheting, technocratic system. A lot of conservatives, and progressives, go after different kinds of entrenched things. Federal and state governments keep thickening but there are a lot of cross currents the EU doesn't have. There is no oxygen in the EU system for the spirit of criticism and willingness to knock down really bad rent seeking behavior.

In the US the usual suspects may usually win, but at least they can be confronted and big things can hit the next election, with more legislative turnover. This affects the tone from one session to the next, and through this muddled process, a somewhat larger group of people in the whole polity actually get some kind of representation.

The EU poses as if it provides huge representation to all these member peoples, but if their direct representatives are stripped of major traditional powers–originating legislation and budgeting–how can there be outcomes that reflect a wide range of different peoples' interests?

Making matters worse, a lot of European affairs are still controlled by bloodline aristocrats. Does the EU help social mobility or entrench top classes? Juncker is kind of a standard sort, and has ticked off a lot of people lately, he is one of the four presidents of the EU.

For Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, the threat of immediate market turbulence means the usual norms of transparency don’t apply.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Juncker, who as the chairman of the regular meetings of eurozone finance ministers is one of the currency union’s key spokesmen, said in recent remarks. (source)

See also The time of Juncker’s troubles (Politico)
I am voting for Lexit because the EU isn't the socialist project you think it is:

In January 2015, the radical left party Syriza was elected, with its leader Alexis Tsipras declaring “Greece is leaving behind destructive austerity.” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, baldly responded that “To suggest that everything is going to change because there's a new government in Athens is to mistake dreams for reality… There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
The economic warfare unleashed on Greece by the Troika has seen living standards slashed, services privatised and workers' rights dismantled as part of what the Jubilee Debt Campaign has called “The Never-Ending Austerity Story”.

Wait who is in charge?

Gonna go wiki on this one.

The Commission was set up from the start to act as an independent supranational authority separate from governments; it has been described as "the only body paid to think European".[40] The members are proposed by their member state governments, one from each. However, they are bound to act independently – neutral from other influences such as those governments which appointed them. This is in contrast to the Council, which represents governments, the Parliament, which represents citizens, the Economic and Social Committee, which represents organised civil society, and the Committee of the Regions, which represents local and regional authorities.[2]
Through Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union the Commission has several responsibilities: to develop medium-term strategies; to draft legislation and arbitrate in the legislative process; to represent the EU in trade negotiations; to make rules and regulations, for example in competition policy; to draw up the budget of the European Union; and to scrutinise the implementation of the treaties and legislation.[41] The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission's operation and organisation.[7]
.......The Commission differs from the other institutions in that it alone has legislative initiative in the EU. Only the Commission can make formal proposals for legislation: they cannot originate in the legislative branches. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, no legislative act is allowed in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In the other fields the Council and Parliament are able to request legislation; in most cases the Commission initiates the basis of these proposals. This monopoly is designed to ensure coordinated and coherent drafting of EU law.[47][48] This monopoly has been challenged by some who claim the Parliament should also have the right, with most national parliaments holding the right in some respects.[49] However, the Council and Parliament may request the Commission to draft legislation, though the Commission does have the power to refuse to do so[50] as it did in 2008 over transnational collective conventions.[51] Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU citizens are also able to request the Commission to legislate in an area via a petition carrying one million signatures, but this is not binding.[52]

The European Parliament, the thing with members people actually regularly vote on, can't write its own legislation.

What? Its finance committees, policy committees etc are a kind of perfunctory window dressing. They get issued stuff to go up/down from the European Commission. It is like Fast Track as an entire system of government, and not surprisingly the overall thing resembles these terrible secretive TTP and TTIP deals.

They are as far outside the flow of power as the US Senate is when the president is making his appointee picks. Senators can assent to the appointees but they don't directly control who the President sends them. MEPs can assent to the policies and the budgets sent by the Commission but they can't set their own.

What a terrible this setup really is, because it dramatically limits wide range of class & networks to have any real access to actual EU policymaking. On the one hand it allows a kind of perpetual deep state of technocrats to keep cranking their plans - and indeed their wealthy friends' plans as well. This is similar enough to the US, but happens through a system that is like a nuclear reactor for resentment.

Go to a museum sometime and look at all the different currencies of history. Have you ever seen the ancient rough gold blobs of the Lydians, probably the first minters of coin? Why did all these currencies emerge? Why do countries typically have currencies? How do currencies work, anyway? What computers does the money supply come from? Would there be harmful effects from pooling the same primary currency across deeply different regions of the world?

Is it really possible to manage the bulk of the EU's economic affairs inside one currency? In some ways monetary policy in the US is divided into Federal Reserve Districts. Although the dollar buys much less than it did in 1920, the district system was able to cope with a lot of regional disparities. The US, which is in many ways more politically and economically homogenous than Europe, had a district based system.

The European Central Bank system generating the eurozone has not proved capable of setting the stage for good monetary policies for the member nations of the EU. I honestly felt this way getting into France and seeing a Euro for the first time many years ago. Greece can never weaken its currency, which would attract tourism and make its exports more competitive.

Sturm Clouds over the EU

The Brexit Movie here is perfect for UKIP people, it is all from that certain class perch and doesn't have virtually any viewpoints representing any of the diversity in the UK. There is one thing they focused on, an extended sequence about the far-right parties increasing all over Europe, with Britons arguing they want out because of these movements. For the most part the EU is not effectively advancing the standard of living of its residents and they have no direct representation into the technocratic government's workings. Hence, European nations (with the important exception of Ireland) are steadily moving towards far-right parties that are xenophobic, nationalist and intolerant of immigrants.

This is a pretty major threat. If say 20% of the MEPs are far-right parties, now imposing their views on your country through various committees, isn't that eventually going to summon more nationalist-driven resentment from your side? And/or embolden your own extreme right??

While many people can accept that the US and EU are broadly class-based societies, where upper classes have more power over the economy and decisionmaking, there is also an international network of far right parties that are rallying more to their cause and coordinating, even if they disagree on issues. As Nafeez Ahmed and other concerned observers have noticed, both Russia and US Republicans links of friendship and support into this network. Russians have loaned money to National Front, to cite a key example. Obviously Russia, a major geopolitical power in Europe, has a strategic interest in fostering far right-wing "euroskepticism". And as Ahmed notes helps makes sense of the Putin-Trump mutual admiration society. Far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin is a key bridge figure in this network.

In Germany the AfD (Alternatives for Germany)... well 10 hours ago it was reported they declined to expel Wolfgang Gedeon in southern Germany's Baden-Wuerttemberg over antisemitic writing. Reuters says they have 15% public support now. Their vice chair Alexander Gauland recently said that Germans would not want soccer star Jerome Boateng with African heritage to be their neighbor.

So in Germany the main party that is against the EU and euro is of course the one that is obviously a home for those angry about the Jews. The British have noticed this, and have asked their table if it's time to pay the check and head for the door. Where is there any euroskeptic left, that rejects a dodgy superstate for an open, tolerant and egalitarian German society? This is the vacuum quickly being filled by these forces.

Ireland has managed to find a way to prevent any huge far-right Catholic-driven cluster from forming, apparently through a ton of social organizing. If Americans want to avoid having a Trump-esque National Front type political force take hold over, say, 20% of the population by 2020, it's key to study what Ireland has done right, and quickly.

I have to leave it there for now... it is really quite ominous on several levels and I can understand why anyone would want to get out. I hope that tolerant people can prevail against xenophobes and the world doesn't get embroiled in something terrible again.

Special report: New Cleveland RNC Police & Military Docs: FEMA Base to Setup at NASA

The big report I have been focused on for a month finally dropped. Thanks to the support of colleagues we have it out the door and people have a much better sense of the security state they might face at the 2016 Republican National Convention. I am disappointed as always that our limited resources on this planet go not to research, science or the arts but to the brutal bloatware of the National Special Security Events.

Full report: New Cleveland RNC Police & Military Docs: FEMA Base to Setup at NASA. Extra appendices are located here.

A trove of new documents exposes how Cleveland’s impending Republican National Convention will subject the public to a massive domestic military operation. Following decades of planning and millions of dollars spent, the RNC this July will amass into an unprecedented security state, constricting the constitutional rights of thousands of people.

As the panopticon descends on Cleveland, military forces will begin staging security operations at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, while other federal forces begin staffing a “Multi Agency Communications Center” (MACC), located at the International Exposition Center (IX) near the Hopkins International Airport.

The mechanics of America’s most distilled form of political lockdown, the National Special Security Event (NSSE), are spelled out in a series of posted PDFs, some from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (these have since been taken down). NSSEs are massive security operations managed by the Secret Service, which activate many supporting federal and military agencies, such as Homeland Response Forces, and tactical units from state and local police departments across the region.

Large event planning has evolved dramatically since the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention marshaled massive police, federal and military support. NSSEs were defined and systematized as perpetually repeating large activations by President Bill Clinton in 1998's Presidential Decision Directive 62 (PDD-62). In 2016, the NSSE framework remixes the Incident Command System (ICS) for civilian law enforcement aided by FEMA, along with a "Dual Status" Joint Task Force military command.

Please check out the rest of the story. It's 3000+ words but the Moar You Know... Here is a video my colleagues at Unicorn Riot produced with Kris Hermes about NSSEs.

Author Kris Hermes Discusses National Special Security Events (NSSE) from Unicorn Riot on Vimeo.

Here is my 27 minute rundown:

2016 RNC Exposed: New Cleveland police & military docs: FEMA base to setup at NASA from Unicorn Riot on Vimeo.

The November 2010 story that I published both here and was on the Late Great Twin Cities Indymedia server, is helpful. It took me from April to November to put that thing together -- fortunately this year's project, with the help of friends, only took a month.

Here is the 2010 intro video:

Also in 2012 I went on the Alex Jones show a couple times, mostly because of the Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) lawsuit. The notes from that appearance are here, which I am including because I used that situation to educate the audience about all of this stuff. (Relevant side note: On April 1 2016 Chief U.S. District Judge, District of Minnesota, John R. Tunheim, tossed the DRE case and ruled it was okay for cops to drug people under guardianship if they fail to lay out their life circumstances to a random drug-wielding cop. Seems legit.)

Anyway I am glad to be keeping busy on the path of weird truths no matter where they lead, especially bringing transparency and sunshine to domestic militarization. We can't win every round but knowing is half the battle. Please follow @UR_Ninja and support the volunteer work there.

After all of that research it is another clue that Iran Contra is still alive. What other explanation can there be for Oliver North style FEMA domestic military ops thirty years later? See:

Also coming to the 2016 RNC, the National Communications System was part of the Iran Contra equation as Peter Dale Scott highlighted. More of my notes from 2008 about how Iran Contra is still alive here. Too bad Tom Cruise's movie about Barry Seal won't be out until after election season.

Journalist Al Giordano concisely explains why Sen. Bernie Sanders is not winning the 2016 Democratic primary

al giordano

Al Giordano is a seasoned journalist with a background in political activism, having worked for years with Abbie Hoffman, against nuclear power and US intervention in Nicaragua, as Rolling Stone noted, among various undertakings. The wildly corrupt Mexican bank Banamex, now part of Citigroup, tried to silence his work in court but failed. In 2000 he launched one of my favorite websites, NarcoNews, reporting the grim realities of a corrupt and sprawling war on drugs with continental scope. (which has been on the permanent sidebar here for who knows how long). He also has organized the School of Authentic Journalism to train young journalists.

More recently, outside of the NarcoNews project, Al has been unyielding in pointing out the shortcomings of Sen. Bernie Sanders' primary campaign and the activities of his supporters. When I first noticed this I was a bit surprised since I think of Hillary Clinton as the quintessential establishment, pro-war-on-drug politician, but I appreciated that Giordano was sticking to the facts. He is very, very good at predicting primary election results, although he was wrong about the 2016 Michigan Democratic primary.

I was able to briefly engage Giordano tonight on Allen Richardson's Facebook post about Arizona results and get him to spell out a little bit more of his logic for how, why and when Sanders fell so short among many important segments of the US primary voting public. He noted that Sanders' vote nine years ago against Sen. Ted Kennedy's immigration reform bill didn't help matters, and also has called attention to the lack of deep training which contrasts to the more thorough Camp Obama trainings as documented here in summer 2007.

DF: I am curious what strategy could have worked better for Sanders if we could rewind the campaign time period Al Giordano, or do Sanders' inescapable liabilities stretch back to the 1990s or before? He kinda seemed like a more hacky version of Paul Wellstone before the campaign started.. i definitely agree w you there was never a good training camp that could have put the volunteers on a better footing as you have pointed out lately.
Giordano: Yes, one of the things that distinguished Paul Wellstone was his Camp Wellstone trainings, which are still happening. One is coming up in May in Virginia:
Sanders blew it with most black voters when he kept running against Obama's record and putting Obama haters like Cornel West out there to be a surrogate. He blew it with Latino voters when he had no remorse or good explanation for his 2007 vote vs Ted Kennedy's immigration reform vote. Clinton voted wrong on Iraq but had the sense to reflect, say it was a mistake and apologize for it. Sanders just really shows no reflection at all about himself - a key warning sign to many people when white men do it.
DF: thanks for the concise explanation, that seems pretty logical.
Giordano: Instead Sanders made himself a magnet for the Obama haters, readers of the Intercept, same bunch of people who said he was "Bush in blackface" and other racial slurs, West who called him a "niggerized president." And those people sucked up so much oxygen that the organizer left simply said "gross" and didn't want to be associated with it. Then Clinton smartly pivoted to hugging Obama (after initially trying to distance herself). When Bernie said in January that Clinton was hugging Obama "to pander to black people" that ruined him with most of that demographic, that which loves the president. When he said "you can be a progressive or you can be a moderate but you can't be both" that purity trolling ruined him with many on the left who rejected that kind of fundamentalism over the years. When his people attacked John Lewis and Dolores Huerta - some even attacked Liz Warren for remaining neutral! - the wheels came totally off the bus. The rest has just been mopping up since then.
DF: I've been a fan of narconews forever, I'm glad you're talking people down from the bubble reality of campaign season
Giordano: Not all of them are glad, but it's a "teaching moment."

For progressive ideas to succeed in the electoral arena in this country, it will be critical in future cycles to avoid the kind of problems that Giordano outlines here. I could rave on about how terrible the elections administration is in the United States, the huge wave of voter suppression on the way due to new "Voter ID" hurdles and the Voting Rights Act Section 4 Supreme Court strikedown in June 2013 which will block countless votes, or the email server scandal could pop up again as Pat Lang suggests, but those are issues for another post. Truly Sanders and his leadership staff have to be held accountable for their own shortcomings in the campaign, and we all have to take the teaching moments as they come. Like millions of Americans I am tired of the bubble reality of election season politics, but we still have a long ways to go, don't we?

Please follow Al on Twitter, the TSU social network and support Narco News as well!

Photo is Creative Commons via Wikimedia.

Quick thoughts on open source ecosystems after a decade dabbling in Drupal and Wordpress

Hope everyone's doing well out there. I'm aiming to update to Drupal 8 within a month or so. Lately I've been doing more work with WordPress than Drupal. Neither one is perfect. I must wish a happy 15th birthday to the Drupal community since the software was named and released under the GPL a decade and a half ago. Hard to believe I've been generally in that orbit for 2/3rds of the time! [I registered on 9 years 8 months ago, and in June 2005]

There is some consternation with WordPress updates out there breaking old sites and whether it's changing too fast. I had to throw the following on the thread:

Having been in and out of Wordpress and Drupal development for a decade, there is no perfect approach or methodology for a good ecosystem that minimizes hassle.

In the last year got a polished continuous integration system set up so that git patches are pushed through testing on several different sql & PHP versions. I think a major push to modernize plugin support thread management and introducing CI ( meshing this with github or a free software equivalent if necessary) would help plugin maintainers deal with API changes much more effectively. It's not possible to attach patches through the threads and that should change, first of all. [after all, has it really changed in a decade? Does anyone benefit from threads that get locked quickly, when the same problems recur year after year etc?]

Also in Drupal world the community is the ultimate steward of the fate of modules while in Wordpress the authors have more exhaustive control. When authors abandon their plugins, if others could claim plugins that are idle this would result in fewer, better plugins. Drupal modules are not allowed to promote their author's wares either, which might be worth considering, although perhaps this pesky internal advertising system helps keeps more devs afloat. It's quite a contrast to Drupal.

Also as complexity increased Drupal forked off into Backdrop CMS, which is a lightweight, slightly modified for performance and easier maintainability with static files. Wordpress Lite with a smaller API and mostly similar theme layer could work well as the core expands into trickier areas like REST implementation.

Lastly I think that the Dependency Injection / Service Container system pioneered by Symfony and implemented in Drupal 8 would be good for Wordpress to look at. It would let people knock out the code areas that they need for very custom apps (i.e. Buddypress) while still maintaining a lean core API. It would be great in the long run if Wordpress 5 or whatever were totally rewritten to have a more modern structure than it has now... but only with good CI would the ecosystem keep up.

UnicornRiot Deprogram: Episode 23 interview covers information security and mobile encryption

My colleagues with the new activist oriented news service interviewed me about encryption and privacy/security and it went pretty well overall. Check out the video and please support their efforts!! (original post) Deprogram airs every Wednesday night around 8PM central.

Ep. 23: #NSA #GCHQ #TPP #AirFrance #Kunduz #Calais #NoBorders #HaciBirlik #Turkey #Brazil #ClimateChange #MMIW #Palestine #DariusPinex #SouthCarolina #SCFloods #IndigenousResistance #Surveillance #Encryption

After the 12 topic rundown and music video, we had two interviews. In the first interview, we were graced with the presence of Kanahus Manuel to discuss Indigenous environmental issues in so-called Canada.

For our second interview, we were joined by Dan Feidt, who discussed privacy protection options for computer and phone users in the growing surveillance state.

“Deprogram”, a live show hosted by Zo and Niko that attempts to examine the roots of the struggles that preside throughout different communities. “Deprogram” airs live every Wednesday night at 9pmEST.

Ford Foundation: Darren Walker says "Our obligation to capitalism" - Big mission for Capitalism you say?

The Ford Foundation is a heavy hitter in nonprofit world. Originally it was set up so that shares of Ford Motor Co. wouldn't get so dispersed through inheritances dissolving the fortune. There was a lot of political intrigue later on that is worth checking into, but I won't get into all of it here. Suffice it to say they are a core primary player in this kind of world.

The leader just sent out a pretty big missive and it really discussed how the Ford Foundation is all about protecting capitalism, which struck me as a little off the normal tone of reforms and whatnot that they usually are hooked into. If you want to understand the role of big foundations in American politics this is a handy document.

hat tip to B.S. for catching this. Also I don't really think M.L.King Jr. was a huge fan of Capitalism but hey...


Dear Friends,

As I begin my third year at the Ford Foundation’s helm, I am reminded of how privileged I am—and we all are—to serve this institution.

For my colleagues and me, these past 15 months have entailed both deep introspection about this privilege and broad exploration of how we can harness and direct it to advance our mission. For us, what has unfolded is a process of discovery and renewal that has led us to reorganize our programming around the global crisis of inequality. We call this ongoing renewal FordForward.

Next month, I’ll be sharing more details about our thematic areas and the specific grantmaking lines of work through which we will carry out our programming. I look forward to beginning a new phase for the foundation that builds on Ford’s rich and varied history.

Since sharing the news of our focus on inequality, I’ve been encouraged—and, candidly, surprised—by the overwhelming response. As the chasm of inequality widens and deepens in communities around the world, we seem to have struck a nerve.

Yet while inequality certainly merits attention and effort, some have fairly pointed out a tension—if not a contradiction—between philanthropic efforts to address inequality and the structural economic realities that make it possible for foundations to exist at all.

The origins of modern philanthropy
This tension stretches back more than a century. In 1889, the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie composed his “Gospel of Wealth,” a short essay with far-reaching impact. It is, in many ways, the intellectual charter of modern philanthropy, and its basic precepts remain the underpinning of US giving and, in turn, have greatly influenced an era of burgeoning philanthropic enterprise around the world.

Carnegie articulated his philosophy at a time when inequality had reached unprecedented levels in the United States. In an age of excess, titans of industry enjoyed lives of startling opulence; ordinary people endured low wages, dangerous working conditions, and overcrowded, unhealthy living quarters. He argued—as some still do—that inequality on this scale is an unavoidable condition of the free market system and that philanthropy is one effective means of ameliorating the conditions the market produces.

Today, in this new period of rising inequality, it is timely that we reflect on the principles of philanthropy as originally set forth in Carnegie’s influential “Gospel of Wealth”—to consider to what degree they point to the realities and responsibilities of philanthropy in our time, and to openly acknowledge and confront the tension inherent in a system that perpetuates vast differences in privilege and then tasks the privileged with improving the system.

To be sure, philanthropy today is broader and more diverse than ever before. Its tens of thousands of individual practitioners around the world follow a variety of approaches, as intentional and unique as they are. As ever, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Moreover, philanthropy continues to advance through bold experiments with new models. From the global Giving Pledge initiated by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, to the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City, to major philanthropic communities emerging in China, India, Latin America, Africa, the Gulf States, and elsewhere, a 21st-century style of “giving back” is lifting the lives and lots of millions of people around the world. It is building schools, preserving cultural and natural diversity, and generating new vaccines, agricultural innovation, and the social entrepreneurship of a millennial generation of change agents. In the sheer persistence and proliferation of the philanthropic idea, Carnegie’s “Gospel” reverberates loud and clear—and I deeply admire the leadership and example of philanthropists and foundations around the world that we are honored to work with and learn from.

And yet, despite this vast ledger of undeniable public good, the tension persists. Why, in too many parts of the world have we failed to provide employment, education and health care, decent nutrition and sanitation? What underlying forces drive the very inequality whose manifestations we seek to ameliorate?

Rethinking the gospel of giving
My thinking on this issue has been shaped by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who made a profound statement not long before his death: “Philanthropy is commendable,” he wrote, “but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

I hasten to add that it is not solely economic injustice that philanthropy exists to address, and I believe Dr. King had a broader idea at heart: He challenges us still to look at underlying structures and systems, the roots of injustice, the causes of human suffering, and the sources of our own privilege.

In other words, perhaps the time has come to take the radicalism of Carnegie’s 19th-century revolution, mesh it with the courage of Dr. King’s, and make it our own. Perhaps it is time for a reimagined gospel of giving.

To borrow a phrase from Carnegie’s “Gospel” itself, we might recognize “the changed conditions of this age,” and adopt “modes of expressing this spirit suitable to the changed conditions under which we live.” We might disentangle the web of conditions that make philanthropy both possible and necessary.

If we’re being honest, we might acknowledge that we are crashing into the limits of what we can do with a 19th-century interpretation of philanthropy’s founding doctrine.

A 21st-century view of inequality
First of all, no one in philanthropy has the independent resources to solve our collective problems. In his lifetime, Andrew Carnegie gave away some $350 million. Even in today’s currency, this is a pittance in comparison with the world’s trillions of dollars of needs for food and housing, education, infrastructure, and health care.

What’s more, even though Carnegie understood and set out to address the notion of inequality (though he understood the problem more narrowly as “poverty”), he did so with a very different set of insights and a very different set of conditions within which to work. Compared with 125 years ago, we live in more enlightened, egalitarian, and participatory societies. In part because of what modern philanthropy helped set in motion, our polities have expanded in significant ways, making room to hear and heed more diverse voices and perspectives.

We also have technology, data, and a century of randomized controlled trials, which, together, enable us to broaden our scope and understand increasingly intricate patterns of injustice and how they persist and reproduce over time. In doing so, we are able to cast light on deep-seated, systemic problems—problems that in the absence of these insights would be attributed solely to individual failures or subject to misleading generalization.

Where Carnegie might have identified illiteracy as a source of inequality, for example, we now understand that the reverse is true—or, at the very least, that a complex symbiosis is at work. We understand, in a way he did not, that social, cultural, political, and economic inequalities set in place reinforcing conditions from the very start of life—in homes, in neighborhoods, and in schools—that create cycles of poverty, illiteracy, and lack of opportunity.

We also know that inequality is built on antecedents—preexisting conditions ranging from ingrained prejudice and historical racial, gender, and ethnic biases to regressive tax policies that cumulatively define the systems and structures that enable inequality to fester.

Because today we know more and are exposed to a diversity of views and insights, we can engage in a more thorough examination of the underlying barriers that prevent people from advancing in society. We can grapple not just with what is happening but also with how and why. And I believe that change must come in three basic forms.

Three steps toward reducing inequality
First, we need to open ourselves up to more critical, honest discussions about deeply rooted cultural norms and structures, including racial, gender, ethnic, and class biases.

We have made impressive progress on these issues, but some social and economic progress cannot blind us to the reality that far too many are left behind because of inequality’s asphyxiating grip on the aspirations of people in every corner of every country.

Second, we foundations need to reject inherited, assumed, paternalist instincts—an impulse to put grantmaking rather than change making at the center of our worldview.

For philanthropists working globally, our efforts shouldn’t be a matter of Western institutions directing NGOs in the Global South, or treating our grantees as contract project managers rather than as valued partners. Instead, we should be strands in the web—South to South, South to North—making connections and modeling the kind of equality we hope to achieve by listening, and learning, and lifting others up.

Furthermore, we’d be well served to recognize that the more excluded people are, the harder it is truly to hear them. We all believe that those most affected by policy ought to have a voice in creating it. So our work should lend agency—and legitimacy—to slum dwellers and rural farmers, incarcerated people and refugees, migrants pursuing a better life and families on public assistance.

Third, we need to interrogate the fundamental root causes of inequality, even, and especially, when it means that we ourselves will be implicated.

It is incumbent upon each of us to dig deeper and relish the dirt beneath our fingernails; what for Carnegie was bedrock, to us has become topsoil. There are obscured root causes buried deep in our history, our institutions, and our cultural practices—causes we have to unearth and evaluate in the harsh light of day.

For one example, when we talk about economic inequality, we might acknowledge an underlying, unspoken hierarchy, in which we relate everything back to capital. In most areas of life, we have raised market-based, monetized thinking over all other disciplines and conceptions of value.

We might ask related questions, too.

Within legacy institutions like ours, we should ask, How does our privilege insulate us from engaging with the most difficult root causes of inequality and the poverty in which it ensnares people?

How does our work—our approach to awarding grants, our hiring and contracting policies, even our behavior toward our partners and grantees—reinforce structural inequality in our society?

Why are we still necessary, and what can we do to build a world where we no longer are as necessary?

For individual philanthropists, it may well be appropriate to ask a similar set of questions: Is the playing field on which I accumulated my wealth level and fair? Does the system privilege people like me in ways that compound my advantages?

Our obligation to capitalism
These questions are at the heart of our collective work, but also at the core of our aspiration for an economic system that works for more people.

As Henry Ford II, framer of the modern Ford Foundation, wrote in a 1976 letter to his fellow trustees, the foundation is “in essence, a creature of capitalism.” Therefore, he suggested, we ought to “examine the question of our obligations to our economic systems and to consider how the foundation, as one of the system’s most prominent offspring, might act most wisely to strengthen and improve its progenitor.”

To put it more bluntly, we were established by a market system and endowed by the money of the past century’s 1 percent. We are stewards of enormous resources—participants in and beneficiaries of a market system. As a result, our work is quite literally enabled by returns on capital. In turn, I believe we are obligated “to strengthen and improve” the system of which we are part. My conviction is no anathema to capitalism. Adam Smith himself argued that the “invisible hand” could not be blind to the condition of society, and that “no society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” This from a visionary who was not only the forefather of American capitalism but also the author of Theory of Moral Sentiments, which he regarded as more important than his Wealth of Nations.

Philanthropy’s role is to contribute to the “flourishing” of the “far greater part”—to help foster a stronger safety net and a level playing field. With each generation, we should be guided by our legacy of support for social progress and human achievement in the spirit of the Green Revolution, advances in public health and human rights, social movement building, creative expression and cultural innovation, and so much more.

Ultimately, this reckoning with—this reimagining of—philanthropy’s first principles and its relationship to our market system will not be easy, but this moment requires that we not go easy on ourselves.

Some might see this as a problem or as pressure. To me, however, it is inseparable from our privilege—because with privilege comes responsibility.

In this spirit, let us commit ourselves to proffering, and preaching, and practicing a new gospel—a gospel commensurate with our time.

Let us bridge the philosophies of Smith, and Carnegie, and King, and break the scourge of inequality. For when we do, to paraphrase another of Dr. King’s most powerful insights, we at last will bend the demand curve toward justice.

I welcome your thoughts—so please reply to this e-mail or share your ideas on social media.

With thanks,

Darren Walker
President, Ford Foundation

Linkdump: Another hard day on global stock markets has started

Linkdump: Another hard day on global stock markets has started, see

Dumping in pension funds doesn't slow the drop //
Shanghai also listed here

the US stock market future ES S&P500 is bad //

more - // This mess is not slowing down at all. Ugh.

Shanghai also listed here

World's richest lose $180 billion. As the sand trickles...

There are lots of macroeconomic problems piling up

Telegraph: "Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control - China currency devaluation signals endgame leaving equity markets free to collapse under the weight of impossible expectations" -- There are lots of macroeconomic problems piling up: plummeting aggregate demand; with international currency instability starting to cause chaos in the bond markets & inability to raise central bank interest rates without popping the bubble, we are really faced with an increasingly bad situation. They don't have many more 'tools in the kit'. People who have money in the market may want to pull back, as this fall seems pretty likely for a big 'correction' to finally roll in like a thunderstorm.

On the positive side I thought this had a lot of constructive ideas: Get local, get away from the bubble etc

Straight Outta Compton, Bastards of the Party & Freeway: Crack in the System

"Straight Outta Compton" is pretty good but kind of corny. Good review here.

I think the evil Suge Knight got off relatively easy with this portrayal. Near the set of this film, he killed one man and nearly killed technical consultant Cle "Bone" Sloan. ( ) Knight may have been the police counterintelligence plant in the scene, as he violently rips NWA apart in the film (see ).

Sloan directed the must-watch documentary on roots of street gangs, CIA drug trafficking & COINTELPRO disruption in Bastards of the Party (2005) & happily I found full version here >> pt1 pt2 .

Also Freeway Ricky Ross​'s Freeway: Crack in the System about LA CIA drug trafficking is available here: pt1 pt2 These films provide really important context that Compton touches on only briefly. Lots of other interesting movement videos here >

The "authorized" film doesn't really cover Dre's pretty well documented violent streak. See more here.

After the film I checked Twitter and of course the first tweet was about the cops wasting another random person of color. Almost thirty years go by and politically almost nothing has changed. :(

Fascinating Greek parallel euro payment network nearly activated in crisis, after hacking into EU-controlled systems to clone tax IDs

It can't be emphasized enough that the global debt complex we are all trapped in is reproduced daily by sophisticated (and in many cases quite old & deteriorated) computers. There is no magic man behind the curtain, just a bunch of nasty computer systems whose authority is enforced by central banking authorities like the Troika, IMF, World Bank, Bank for International Settlements and the Federal Reserve System.

This is one of the biggest stories at this level I have seen in ages, perhaps ever. Fascinating story very worth reading: A secret lolcat team in Greece's finance ministry hacked into their own EU-controlled systems and had a parallel financial network ready to go, but it all got wound down. Apparently FM Varoufakis resigned as a result of the plan being halted - and overall it was a pretty cool plan under dire national circumstances of emergency survival vs austerity.

Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger 'Plan B' for Greece, awaits treason charges - Telegraph;


A secret cell at the Greek finance ministry hacked into the government computers and drew up elaborate plans for a system of parallel payments that could be switched from euros to the drachma at the "flick of a button" .

The revelations have caused a political storm in Greece and confirm just how close the country came to drastic measures before premier Alexis Tsipras gave in to demands from Europe's creditor powers, acknowledging that his own cabinet would not support such a dangerous confrontation.

Yanis Varoufakis, the former finance minister, told a group of investors in London that a five-man team under his control had been working for months on a contingency plan to create euro liquidity if the European Central Bank cut off emergency funding to the Greek financial system, as it in fact did after talks broke down and Syriza called a referendum.

People really need to pay more attention to the crappy computers running the whole financial system, see also very important here: Bank IT, Grexit, and Systemic Risk | naked capitalism - lots of gory details:

On the IT front, the challenge is vastly larger due to the state of financial firm IT systems. We intend to return to this topic, because we see bank IT systems as an unrecognized source of systemic risk. They are required to run to mission critical standards: enormous transaction volumes, extremely high demands for accuracy of end output, high uptimes. Yet the code base is an agglomeration, with many important operations relying in meaningful ways on legacy systems. Thus, as our expert with relevant experience stressed, changes that seem simple are anything but.

VaroufakisStare_0.pngThis is precisely why it is so important to understand these systems and come up with intermediate replacements, as your local version of the ECB is always waiting to make its next move for artificial austerity & assorted lethal games all taking place inside these computers…

More: Reports Of Secret Drachma Plots Leave Tsipras Facing Fresh Crisis | Zero Hedge, Syriza "Rebels" Planned To Ransack Greek Mint, Seize Cash Reserves, Arrest Central Bank Governor | Zero Hedge.

Varoufakis claims had approval to plan parallel banking system | News |

Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed that he was authorized by Alexis Tsipras last December to look into a parallel payment system that would operate using wiretapped tax registration numbers (AFMs) and could eventually work as a parallel banking system, Kathimerini has learned.

In a teleconference call with members of international hedge funds that was allegedly coordinated by former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont, Varoufakis claimed to have been given the okay by Tsipras last December – a month before general elections that brought SYRIZA to power – to plan a payment system that could operate in euros but which could be changed into drachmas "overnight" if necessary, Kathimerini understands.

Varoufakis worked with a small team to prepare the plan, which would have required a staff of 1,000 to implement but did not get the final go-ahead from Tsipras to proceed, he said.

The call took place on July 16, more than a week after Varoufakis left his post as finance minister.

The plan would involve hijacking the AFMs of taxpayers and corporations by hacking into General Secretariat of Public Revenues website, Varoufakis told his interlocutors.This would allow the creation of a parallel system that could operate if banks were forced to close and which would allow payments to be made between third parties and the state and could eventually lead to the creation of a parallel banking system, he said.

As the general secretariat is a system that is monitored by Greece’s creditors and is therefore difficult to access, Varoufakis said he assigned a childhood friend of his, an information technology expert who became a professor at Columbia University, to hack into the system. A week after Varouakis took over the ministry, he said the friend telephoned him and said he had “control” of the hardware but not the software "which belongs to the troika."


"The prime minister before he became PM, before we won the election in January, had given me the green light to come up with a Plan B. And I assembled a very able team, a small team as it had to be because that had to be kept completely under wraps for obvious reasons. And we had been working since the end of December or beginning of January on creating one.

"What we planned to do was the following. There is the website of the tax office like there is in Britain and everywhere else, where citizens, taxpayers go into the website they use their tax file number and they transfer through web banking monies from the bank account to their tax file number so as to make payments on VAT, income tax and so on and so forth.

“We were planning to create, surreptitiously, reserve accounts attached to every tax file number, without telling anyone, just to have this system in a function under wraps. And, at the touch of a button, to allow us to give PIN numbers to tax file number holders, to taxpayers.

"That would have created a parallel banking system while the banks were shut as a result of the ECBs aggressive action to deny us some breathing space.

"This was very well developed and I think it would have made a very big difference because very soon we could have extended it, using apps on smartphones and it could become a functioning parallel system and of course this would be euro denominated but at the drop of a hat it could be converted to a new drachma.

"But let me tell you - and this is quite a fascinating story - what difficulties I faced. The General Secretary of Public Revenues within my ministry is controlled fully and directly by the troika. It was not under control of my ministry, of me as minister, it was controlled by Brussels.

Ok, so problem number one: The general secretary of information systems on the other hand was controlled by me, as minister. I appointed a good friend of mine, a childhood friend of mine who had become professor of IT at Columbia University in the States and so on. I put him in because I trusted him to develop this……

a week or so after we moved into the ministry, he calls me up and says to me: 'You know what? I control the machines, I control the hardware but I do not control the software. The software belongs to the troika controlled General Secretary of Public Revenues. What do I do?'


"So we decided to hack into my ministry’s own software program in order to be able break it up to just copy just to copy the code of the tax systems website onto a large computer in his office so that he can work out how to design and implement this parallel payment system.

"And we were ready to get the green light from the PM when the banks closed in order to move into the General Secretariat of Public Revenues, which is not controlled by us but is controlled by Brussels, and to plug this laptop in and to energize the system.

Obviously it was a disappointment to many sane people that Syriza seems to have mostly folded to the Troika but perhaps the Secret Team tactic could be used when the next big one hits the fan and an entrapped debtor nation decides to quickly assert technical sovereignty.

But how to pull this again without tipping the hand? And could it be used again by Greece, now that the word is out? What will happen to Varoufakis' rather exposed techie friend, assuming it's accurate? A fascinating and very pertinent story, I can only hope gets dramatized in some fashion.

Get these computers because one way or another, they are definitely gonna getcha, getcha, getcha…

Update: worth pointing out the Federal Reserve drama over banks wanting their electronically created money kicked back from the Fed. Interesting because it unravels a 100-year-old pact between Congress and banks, as well as highlighting the bizarre secretive and lucrative bank membership in Fed regional entities. Great source of electronic "money" to put into the roads, Ace work whoever managed to slide this policy under the nose of the bank lobbyist fleet.

The Hill, 7/25/2015 - Banks revolt over plan to kill $17B Fed payout by Peter Schroeder

Industry lobbyists say they were blindsided by the inclusion of the provision, which would help policymakers cover the bill’s cost by cutting the regular dividend the Federal Reserve pays to its member banks.

One lobbyist went so far as to reread the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 after getting wind of the proposal to determine what was at stake.
“I think it took everyone by surprise,” said Paul Merski with the Independent Community Bankers of America. “There was no study of the issue, no hearings, no consultation with the Federal Reserve itself.”

“It came on very quickly,” said James Ballentine of the American Bankers Association, who said he first caught wind of the idea a little over a week ago. “It’s certainly a scramble.”

In a Congress where lawmakers are always hunting for politically palatable ways to raise revenue or cut costs to cover the expenses of additional legislation, the Fed provision was a novel, and rich, one. The proposal is estimated to raise $17 billion over the next decade, and is by far the richest “pay for” included in the bill.

Lobbyists said they were not aware of any previous time when lawmakers had attached the language to a piece of legislation, which would scrap a perk banks have come to expect for over a century.

When banks join the Federal Reserve system, they are required to buy stock in the central bank equal to 6 percent of their assets. However, that stock does not gain value and cannot be traded or sold, so to entice banks to participate, the Fed pays out a 6 percent dividend payment.

The Senate proposal says it would slash that “overly generous” payout to 1.5 percent for all banks with more than $1 billion in assets. While the summary language outlining the proposal said that change would only impact “large banks,” industry advocates argued that banks most would identify as small community shops could easily have assets in excess of that amount.

Banks are working to mobilize against the provision, even as lawmakers are pushing to pass a highway bill before program funding expires at the end of the month.

Merski said ICBA had launched a “nationwide grassroots effort,” enlisting its numerous member banks and bankers and told them to call Senate offices to oppose the provision.

And Ballentine said his group was engaged in a concerted education effort for members, outlining why the industry believes the policy change would be disruptive and has no place in highway legislation.

Five major industry groups also sent a letter to lawmakers blasting the provision, saying it “undermines a key agreement that has underpinned the United States banking system for 100 years.”

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) opposes the provision, and invited Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen to opine on it when she appeared before his panel earlier this month.

She told lawmakers that if the dividend payment is reduced, some banks may not want to buy into the Fed.

“This is a change that likely would be a significant concern to the many small banks that receive the dividend,” she said.

Donald Kohn, the former vice chair of the Fed, told House lawmakers Wednesday that the proposal would be one directly felt by banks.

“Let’s recognize that by lowering it to, say, 1.5 percent on the proposal, in effect you are placing a tax on banks,” he told the House Financial Services Committee.

A review of previous policy proposals suggests that the idea may have first been thought up by House liberals. The 2014 budget proposal from the Congressional Progressive Caucus put forward the idea to raise revenue, and a CPC aide said he believed it was the first time someone in Congress proposed the idea. But the Senate highway bill apparently marks the first time members have actually placed it in actual legislation.

This all reminds me that the Federal Reserve Bank [Atlanta] branch in Miami would have some fascinating figures benefiting its busy member banks from the 1980s in the Iran Contra cocaine salad days, but that's another story... [Jeb Bush's angle in the Miami Dade Republican Party/Cartel days is treated in this hilarious Daily Beast limited hangout, spurring hope of awesome JebCokeCIA campaign stories (or videos?) yet to come.]

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