Tears of a Drone
Arthur Silber writes with power and eloquence about the Aurora killings -- and the monstrous hypocrisy of our national "leaders," who mouthed saccharine pieties about how fragile and precious life is, and how tragic it is that innocent lives are so cruelly taken from us ... this while raining down terror and mass murder on innocent human beings all over the world. A brief excerpt:
"Consider the staggering number of murders of innocent human beings committed by the United States government -- and ask yourselves how many Auroras those murders represent. ... Listen for the public lamentations about even a small fraction of these deaths. Listen as carefully as you can. What do you hear? Why, nothing at all. ...
"President Obama and ...the U.S. government [assert] that he and they have the "right" to murder anyone at all anywhere in the world, for any reason they choose -- and that they need never disclose any details of their murders, including the fact that they have ordered them. ... This monstrous crime, what is in fact an ongoing, systematic series of monstrous crimes, is greeted by near universal silence in America. The U.S. government orders an unending series of Auroras: it ordered an Aurora last week, it will order an Aurora this week, it will order an Aurora next week. Almost no one cares. Almost no one even notices."
Silber then quotes Obama's statement after the killing, and notes:
"... These are the remarks of a man who has suffered an irreparable break with reality, a man who who has rendered himself unable to connect obviously related facts. If Obama genuinely meant these comments -- if he understood how these remarks apply with far greater force to him ("we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this") -- his realization of the monster he has allowed himself to become would reduce him to gibbering incoherence for the remainder of his life. In varying degrees, the same is true of any individual who remains in the national government at this point.
"More generally, this is American culture today. Like the killer in my story, many Americans hurl themselves with fundamentally false, deeply disturbed enthusiasm into public demonstrations of grief over the needless deaths of some human beings -- those human beings they see as being much like themselves, when the deaths happen in what could be their own neighborhood. As for all the murders committed by their government with a systematic dedication as insane as that of any serial killer: silence.
"But every murder committed by the United States government, every murder ordered by Obama, represents a tragedy exactly like Aurora to someone."
There is much, much more; go read the whole thing.
Den of Thieves
As we all know, the world is suffering through a severe economic crisis. Governments at every level are on evangelical fire with the gospel of austerity, slashing services and people and selling off essential public goods at knock-off prices to a few rapacious elites. Everywhere, at every turn, we are told that there is simply "no money" to sustain anything remotely like the quality of life known by the past few generations before us. ("No money," that is, except for the hundreds of billions in tax dollars -- our money -- these same austerian evangels continue to dole out to those same rapacious elites.)
OK, fine; for the sake of argument, let's take these plutocrat-serving poltroons at their word: there is no money. So where did all the money go then?
As the Observer reported this weekend, an extraordinary new study shows exactly where the money went: into the off-shore tax havens of the super-super rich. How much of the world's wealth has been squirreled away by this tiny group of gilded buccaneers? At least $21 trillion.
That's right: $21 trillion. And that's just the lowball end: the actual figure could be up to $32 trillion. The Observer reports:
"A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary -13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore -- as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together -- according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.
"James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.
"He shows that at least -13tn -- perhaps up to -20tn -- has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, 'protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy.' According to Henry's research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than -4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from -1.5tn five years earlier.
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