Welcome back everyone to the Daily Ghion Water and of course Happy New Year! For the time being, until we dedicate someone to doing this segment, we are more like a quasi-daily chronicle of news and tidbits from independent journalists and non-corporate voices. If you would like to throw your hat in the ring and join the Ghion Journal to administer the Daily Ghion Water, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now on to the daily rundown of news from around the world.
War o’ Errors
Dostoyevsky astutely observed that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Likewise, one could say the same about how a nation conducts its wars and the role it allots to the people in that conflict. Seen this way, 21st-century America increasingly resembles a mercenary, garrison state.
Second, reliance on an all-volunteer, professional force has made it far too easy for policymakers to take America to war. The U.S. Congress hasn’t declared war since 1942. Upwards of 100,000 men and women have thus died in undeclared hostilities. Presidents—Republican and Democratic—wage war at will, with ever less public debate. Fewer congressional combat veterans translates to weak checks on war and executive power. Retired colonel and West Point grad Andrew Bacevich summed it up thus: “With the people opting out, war became the exclusive province of the state. Washington could do what it wanted and it did.” Perhaps that helps explain why American troops now operate in 70 percent of the world’s countries. [from Truthdig]
Contravening the Fifth Amendment
The Times reporter also leaves out that police who kill unarmed innocent people, sometimes even unarmed children like Tamir Rice, generally do not get convicted or go to prison. Our police have been militarized and given a license to be judge, jury, and executioner. Furthermore – also ignored by the Times – when the police are caught doing something illegal, they usually arrest the person filming them.
A recent study – which unfortunately was ALSO missed by the NY Times reporter – shows that there are simple steps the police could take to stop murdering so many innocent people. Also, leaked documents show that police unions help protect bad cops even when they continually commit police brutality. The unions have guarantees from the states that police officers will not be disciplined or will only be disciplined lightly. …I guess the NY Times missed that small detail. [from Lee Camp]
Economic Inequality is the Ocean of Injustice
The recent, stunning rise in inequality in America started in 1979, with the top 1% capturing 54% of all the increase in income between that year and 2007. While the Great Recession briefly paused the trend, between 2009 and 2013, the 1% took 85% of income growth and the situation has only worsened since. During that time, however, homicide rates showed nearly the opposite pattern: they rose through the 1960s and 1970s, reached a peak in 1991 and fell by nearly half between that year and 2015.
The last two years, however, have seen some rises: the rate in 2016 was nearly 9% higher than in 2015 and 2017 also seems likely to show a jump. Daly says that no one knows what time lag to expect between a rise in inequality and a rise in murder – but if it does take a few decades, this could be the start of a troubling trend, not a blip. [from Naked Capitalism]
More on the Economy
As the rich get richer and the middle class and poor get poorer, the society-wide benefits of productivity increase — automation — break down, and actually make things worse. In an economy like the US that now imports much of its factory machinery, automation doesn’t even create many new jobs in the US, like it used to. However there is an additional problem that Keynes could not have foreseen, that is, the decreasing competence of the American managerial class to produce, partly because of the effects of military production. Military production leads to a management that is not trained to produce for the civilian market, that is, it doesn’t know how to increase the quality of goods or decrease the price by improving machinery or the organization of work, it only knows how to increase profits, often by making goods more expensive and less reliable. Since profits are assured, much of the manufacturing sector gravitate toward military production. The extreme case of this was the Soviet Union, whose manufacturing prowess was almost completely destroyed by the time of its collapse. [from Counter Punch]
Neocon and Neoliberal Watch
The size of the protests is much smaller than those of 2009, according to reports, but Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told Italian newspaper La RepubblicaSunday she believes “the protests are not going to end soon” and could very well swell. At the moment though, writes Reza Marashi, research director for NIAC, “these protests more closely resemble a continuation of Iran’s long-standing civil rights movement rather than an attempt to overthrow the government.”
But Marashi says one thing is clear: “Washington would be wise to acknowledge the limits of its power inside Iran. Policymakers and pundits cannot change this simple truth: The problems are Iranian, the protesters are Iranian, and the solution will be Iranian.” [from Common Dreams]
News from the District of Caligula
Allred, who says she has raised around $30,000, says the money has been used to pay depositions and other costs — not her legal fees. At least not yet. She’s disinterested in why someone might fund her defamation suit, telling the Times she has “neither the time nor the interest to interview each donor and ask them why they would want to support our client.” She maintains that she has “no way to know whether they have a political agenda, or they just think truth matters.”
In one of the more explosive revelations in the piece, Lisa Bloom told the Times that she contacted a “pro-Clinton Super PAC” — identified as American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, founded by David Brock — shortly after Trump became the Republican nominee. Bloom sought money to verify sexual harassment claims against Trump. [from Rare News]
From the YouTubes
Quote of the Day
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
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